was Bill Hogue’s first TRS-80 game. It is usually not included in listings of Big Five Software games, and some sources have denied that it was ever sold. But it was advertised in the August, September, and October 1980 issues of 80 Microcomputing
. It seems to have been withdrawn at that point, and it never appeared in any future advertisements. I don’t know how many copies of Meteor Mission
were ever sold (I’ve only ever seen one copy). Unlike the other Big Five games, there was only a Model I cassette version, but it would work on a 4K Level I computer.
Super Nova was based on the very popular arcade game Asteroids, which was released by Atari in 1979. It was the first big success for Bill Hogue and Big Five Software.
Originally, Super Nova was available only on cassette tape. It required a Model I with 16K and Level I or Level II BASIC. Later, Big Five Software sold a disk version which saved high scores and required a 32K Model 1. They also sold both cassette and disk versions for the Model III.
was based on the arcade game Berzerk
, which was released by Stern Electronics in 1980. The game concept itself is older than that, and can be found in any number of BASIC games, such as Chase
, and Daleks
. Robot Attack
was notable as the first talking game released by Big Five Software. The game supports the TRISSTICK and Alpha Joystick, but not the original STICK-80 (unless you perform a hardware modification to it). In my opinion, it makes the best use of the joystick of any TRS-80 game.
Alpha Products produced many hardware products for the TRS-80, including the Green Screen, the Interfacer-80, the Analog-80, the Newclock-80, the A-BUS, and the VS-100 voice synthesizer. They also created the STICK-80, a joystick supported by almost all TRS-80 games.
In 1981, Bill Hogue wrote Robot Attack
, a variation on the arcade game Berzerk
. Unlike most TRS-80 games, in Robot Attack
you can move and fire in all directions. You fire in a direction by moving the joystick in that direction and pressing the FIRE button. This shows up a problem with the STICK-80 mapping; how can a game determine if the player was moving the joystick up or down and firing if the FIRE
button is mapped to a combination of UP
In October 1981, Alpha Products created a new version of their joystick which included a mode switch to allow a choice between the STICK-80 and TRISSTICK FIRE
button behavior. The advertisements from then on referred to the joystick as the Alpha Joystick, and the price remained at $39.95.
Radio Shack introduced the eventual replacement to the Model I, the Model III, in 1980 (the Model II, introduced in 1979, was part of a separate line of business computers). Unlike the Model I, the Model III was an all-in-one design; the monitor, keyboard, and disk drives were all in the same unit. This cut down on radio interference and helped with school sales (which were concerned with students walking away with computer components in their bags). Like the Model I, the Model III used a Z-80, but running at 2.0 MHz this time. The Model III was largely, but not completely, software and hardware compatible with the Model I. It featured a more powerful 14K Level II BASIC ROM, lowercase support, and had a numeric keypad built right in. It had sockets to support up to 48K RAM internally, two internal drive bays, and with an optional floppy disk controller, operated in double-density by default.