New Halo game: Out now (Atari 2600 version)

If you can't wait until 14 September to get your new Halo adventure fix, and you can't be bothered to play in the online tournament to win the chance to kill Rio Ferdinand (on the game, not in real life), then Ed Fries may have just come up with the answer.

Because Fries has designed an Atari 2600 version of the popular franchise complete with the Master Chief who you control, and a load of Elites, who you need to kill.

Fries stuck to the strict limits of the Atari 2600 with his design, meaning a game that could run on a machine with 128bytes of RAM and a program size of no more than 4000bytes, which is a tiny 0.004MB.

Fries explains:

"There are just two 8-pixel wide monochrome sprites, two 1-pixel bullets, a 'ball' and a 40-pixel wide background, and even that is exaggerating.

"There is no memory to store the screen image like any modern console or PC, instead it has to be drawn a line at a time by changing the values of the registers that control the sprites and background".

"The processor is so slow that only 76 clock cycles occur while a line of the screen is being drawn, and the simplest 6502 instructions take at least 2 clock cycles. So just to draw an image of the Master Chief is pretty tough. To create a complete game while living within these constraints is much harder".

The map in which you play has four zones each with its own unique baddies. The bosses at the end of each zone, which use the maximum sprite width, are 24-pixels tall compared to 12-pixels for other sprites.

It sounds like a lot of hard work, but Fries seems to have enjoyed the process. "I hope you have as much fun playing Halo 2600 as I had making it", he says.

Halo 2600 is available to play for free at this website and you can read Fries' detailed explanation of the game here.

 



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