The Custom TRS‑80 and Other Mysteries
The March 1981 Alpha Products advertisement featured the first appearance of the DOUBLE-STICK-80. This package included two joysticks, interface, and demo game for $59.95.
The first commercial joystick for the TRS‑80, the STICK-80, was created by Alpha Products (originally Alpha Product Co.). The first advertisement I can find was in the December 1980 issue of 80 Microcomputing. The STICK-80 package included an Atari joystick and interface and originally cost $29.95.
Yves Lempereur wrote nine games for the TRS‑80, but the five he wrote for Funsoft are his most famous. His games are of very high quality, with a great visual style, and are among the best ever written for the TRS‑80.
Bill Hogue is arguably the most famous of the TRS‑80 game programmers. The games he wrote for Big Five Software, the company he established with Jeff Konyu, rank among the best ever created for the TRS‑80.
Apple Panic was based on the arcade game Space Panic, released by Universal in 1980. The original version was written for the Apple II by Ben Serki in 1981 and sold by Brøderbund Software. There were also versions of Apple Panic sold for the Atari 400/800 and the IBM PC (both written by Olaf Lubeck) and for the Commodore VIC-20 (by Creative Software). The TRS‑80 version was written by Yves Lempereur in 1982 and published by Funsoft, the fifth of nine games that he wrote for the TRS‑80.
Funsoft, Inc., based in Agoura, California, was a game publisher which sold five games for the TRS‑80. All five were written by Yves Lempereur, and were among the best available for the TRS‑80.
Galaxy Invasion Plus was an update to Galaxy Invasion with a few new features added. An important difference from the older game is the voices. The speech include “Galaxy Invasion” (at the title screen), “Prepare to die, human!” (as the game starts), and “Game over, Player 1” (when the game ends). Other phrases that are used include: “You’re dead!”, “Flagship alert!”, and “Extra ship!” If you achieve a high score, the game says, “Great Score, Player 1”. But if you beat the top score, it says “Super Score, Player 1”. The speech is very clear and one of the best examples of voice in a TRS‑80 game.
The names Big Five Software and Bill Hogue were legendary in the field of TRS‑80 games. Bill Hogue and Jeff Konyu created Big Five Software in order to market their TRS‑80 games. Two early Big Five games, Super Nova and Galaxy Invasion, redefined the way TRS‑80 games looked and acted and influenced the games that followed. For many, the final Big Five game for the TRS‑80 marked the end of the TRS‑80 game market.
Weerd was written by Arthur Gleckler and released in 1982. It was the final TRS‑80 game released by Big Five, and only the second one not written by Bill Hogue. Weerd was released near the very end of the TRS‑80 game market.
Defense Command was the last TRS‑80 game written by Bill Hogue. It was very loosely based by the arcade game Defender, which Williams Electronics released in 1980.
Defense Command has the best and clearest voices of any Big Five Software game. It also has very clever graphics and transitions between different screens. In my opinion, Defense Command is the most impressive of the Big Five games for the TRS‑80.