Space Arena 16K

You probably know the Space Arena game from Fandal. It is a simple space shooter for 2 - 4 players, a frenetic chase of small rockets shooting each other. Each player controls one of the rockets shooting down as many other rockets as possible and avoiding enemy shots.

Space Arena was originally published in 2009 (FLOP issue 52) with paddle controls. It was adapted for MultiJoy in 2014 and published under the name Space Arena M4 in FLOP issue 58.

Now, five years later, we are given another adaptation of the game. This time, the game was adapted for 4 joysticks without MultiJoy. How is that possible? The first computers of our favorite brand - Atari 400 and Atari 800 were equipped with four joystick ports.

As the 400 and 800 models celebrate their 40th anniversary, we decided to bring them some gifts. Last few years, many old games for four players (originally developed for Atari 400/800) have been adapted for MultiJoy. It occurred to us that some of the new MultiJoy games could be "backported" to the machines with four joystick ports.

As a result of random chance (or Fandal's conscious decision), Space Arena M4 was selected. The original author "remelted" the game to Space Arena 16K. Why 16K? Fandal was so considerate having limited memory of the two old dependable machines in mind. The game can be run on machines with only 16 KiB of RAM!

In the world of limited resources, everything has its price. Running a game in so small memory cannot be done without loading from a very low address. This renders running from DOS (and also from the FLOP reader) impossible.

The SA16K.COM binary load file located on the disk B can be run from QMEG, for example. To our disappointment, we discovered that the SDrive utility software doesn't run on Atari 400 with 16 KiB RAM. We didn't manage to boot from SIO2SD either.

It turned out that the solution is a special boot sector binary loader, written by Bob!k in the past to run the Laura game (FLOP issue 61). With this loader, we really launched the game on Atari 400 with just 16 KiB of RAM.

To save your time, we have prepared a special bootable disk (side C) that contains only the Space Arena 16K game together with Robert's binary loader. Just insert the disk in the drive connected to Atari 400 and boot from it.

Technical note for SDrive owners:
As the SDrive utility doesn't work on machines with 16 KiB of RAM, it is necessary to ensure that the FLOP_64C.ATR disk boots without a need to select it manually. This can be accomplished by renaming it to SDRIVE.ATR and placing it to the root directory of the SD card. Preserve the original SDRIVE.ATR (rename it or move it to a different directory). The game will run automatically after connecting SDrive and switching the computer on, or after selecting SDrive's system drive (diodes of all 4 disks are on). When you finish playing, rename SDRIVE.ATR to FLOP_64C.ATR and return the original SDRIVE.ATR to the root directory.