Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Last Starfighter and Air Race emulation.

(Video from the real hardware)

(Running in mame)

"Here's an interesting pair which never saw life outside of the Atari labs.

The Last Starfighter is of course, Atari's aborted game adaptation of the film/game within the film. If you haven't already done so, I recommend checking-out the proposal for the game.

On show here is an unfinished cave-chase sequence. You can shoot and destroy the enemy ships in the cave but that's pretty much it (there's no end to the enemies nor the cave). A dogfight sequence was also programmed and can be seen in this game footage.

The unsightly coloured-blocks are due to missing graphics data for the text and HUD :(

Air Race is a slightly more advanced prototype where you pilot a ship around a futuristic indoor race course. Very impressive-looking stuff for 1985. Perhaps too impressive as the high cost of the hardware was the main factor that kept the games from market.

Both games ran on System IV hardware (whatever happened to System III?), comprising a 68000 and a TMS32010 DSP for geometry calculations (an extra DSP was added for Air Race). Rasterization is performed by custom hardware (Hard Drivin' and later games used a software approach).

AFAIK, the hardware for these games no longer exists. There are no ROMs - we're running the binaries that were uploaded to the RAM of the development hardware. You could go as far to say that these games are MAME-exclusives :)"


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