PeeknPoke offers you now to play the Commodore 64 classic, Batalyx
for download to play on a C64 emulator (The link is above is for VICE
windows). This game was legally given to PeeknPoke from the author,
Jeff Minter in chat at one of the Back in Time events "Just don't
sell it" :)
Batalyx is a mad mix of sub game action mixing some of the most
important gameplay released in the 80's. Download, switch the lights
low, Speakers high and indulge.
Below is a copy of the instructions that came with the game
including some chat from Jeff himself.
Obligatory Pseudo-Sci-Fi Bit (skip this if you want)
A mighty Empire. A darkened Galaxy. Thus was the situation with the
combined might of the Irata/Zzyaxian empire enslaving sentient life
across known space. Barely a free world glimmered in that evil night.
Not many - but to those that believed, enough...
For there were those who would be free, who dreamed of shaking off the
black Imperial mantle and restoring freedom to the enslaved worlds. A
band of brave rebels (just like Star Wars this bit!) hunted by the
Imperials but sufficiently strong to avoid eradication.
Upon a secret Rebel world, hidden in the dark recesses of the
Metadonkey Nebula, some of the finest minds of the Free Species came
to form what was known as Project BATALYX
(after the home-sun of the plan's shaggy originator). The plan was
daring: a raid on the Imperial capital planet of Zzyax Prime. Smash
the Imperial hold on Zzyax Prime and the Empire would fall like a
headless Rigellian Glzzurkka-antelope.
Before the Zzyaxians took it for their own, Zzyax Prime (then called
K'ghokka-K'ghowla) had been a planet of peace and powerful magic,
(actually it was just really really advanced technology but to us it
would have looked like magic).
The Free Species intended to send a task-force to Zzyax with the
intention of re-activating some of the ancient magical structures.
With the Power once restored, the Zzyaxians could be made to flee by
trained Rebel Wielders of the Power.
There were three main mission objectives. The legendary Iridis Base
was said to be responsive to selectivity directed streams of prismatic
photon energy. Once re-activated the Power would flow through the
giant pyramid in a laser-bright beam, re-emerging in a giant prism of
- Then there was the synchronisation of the 8 levels of the Great
Psionic Generator of Dhi-O; once the spheres of all 8 levels were
aligned legends told of "a really really decent sort of
Finally there was the reactivation of the Metapsionic Power Wave Guide
Channel (or 'grey corridor' as it was jokingly known). This could be
achieved by a specially-enhanced Psi Operative just touching the
sections and thinking really hard.
Unfortunately the Zzyaxians were well defended. (They'd better be or
you'd have nothing to BLAST, huh?). They planted Hallucin-O-Bomblets
in orbit. They realised just how much the Human members of the Free
Species loved those damn camels of theirs, so they made gigantic Robot
Camels and turned them loose in the manner of that ancient battle on
Earth, millennia ago. So it was that the humans had to jump in their
ships and fire at camel-shaped things although it was entirely
against their better judgement. Within the Grey Corridor they
released Iratan PsiSats to ricochet off the walls, distorting the psi-sensitive
matter within into unpredictable and possibly lethal configurations.
The plan involved a group of Master Psi-ops. They would enter psionic
linkage with members of the task force, leaping from mind to mind as
was necessary. Thus a Psi-op could, by vectoring his empathy, be
controlling a reaction-mass probe against Hallucin-O-Bomblets one
moment, then seconds later switch to the mind of an Ancipital
patrolling the Corridor, then to a Human pilot flying against the
Such a scheme required that the Psi-ops have really mega minds. They'd
have to keep track of a multitude of different strategies, flicking
from one to the other as necessary...
...which brings us nicely to the game.
Turn on your disk drive, turn on your computer. Insert the disk. Now
type; LOAD "*",8,1 . Press RETURN. (Well some people might
be loading their first game - it has to be said). Loading is automatic
until the option screen appears. D'you like my little psychedelic
N.B. ONLY plug your joystick into Port 2 AFTER loading.
Once you've loaded the game it'll be sitting in Options screen. Now's
the time to plug that Joystick in Port 2. Press FIRE a few times. Ooo,
that's pretty isn't it? But nothing whatever to do with the options so
leave it alone for now.
Pressing F1 sets the game level - effectively, the length of game
you'll play. Level One lasts for over an hour, while Level Five only
goes on for about five minutes.
Pressing F3 toggles The Stroboscopix on and off. I love strobo fx, but
if your eyes are tired or you've a headache then you can turn them
off. Mind you if my eyes were tired or I had a headache I wouldn't be
playing a video game. But there you go.
When the above options are set to your satisfaction, you can enter the
game of your choice by pressing keys 1-6 according to which of the
subgames you want to play. (Even within a subgame, you can jump
instantly from one subgame to another by using those keys. The game
remembers your position within each subgame and restores it when you
return). Selecting a game from the Options screen starts play at the
selected level. When playing, you can finish the game in progress at
any time by pressing F7.
The upper bit of the screen displays the action of whatever subgame
you're in. The lower bit I'll explain now:
There's a long skinny horizontal rainbow line above the score and
icons, right? That's the game timer. It ticks away and once it's gone
the game finishes. It also represents game difficulty. If you enter a
subgame when the timer's full, that game will be set on EASY. The
later you enter a subgame, the harder it'll be to play. The moral of
the story is that you should do the bits you find hardest early in the
Below that on the left are six little boxes. These little icons
represent subgames 1-6 as follows: 1=Hallucin-O-Bomblets in space; 2=A.M.C.
II (the DromeDroids); 3=the Activation of Iridis Base; 4=Cippy on the
Run (in the Grey Corridor); 5=Resyncronisation of the 8 Levels (or
Syncro II as we call it) and finally 6=Psychic Swedish Massage (well
Psychedelia is like Swedish-Massage-for-the-Brain, right?).
To the right of the icons is a space for more icons (the Completion
Icons for each stage) and the score. It's up to you whether or not you
want to go for a mega score, or all-completed Icons, or both. I did
the hi-score on the numbers rather than the icons 'cos that was what
people would expect. And the programming wes easier.
About Each Sub-game
I'll explain a little about each game, and a bit about the design of
each bit too for those who are interested.
You control a little robot droid attacking the Hallu... ok let's call
'em aliens then. You fire by leaning the stick in the direction you
want to fire. Thanks to Newton, your ship is thrust in the opposite
direction to bullets you fire. Thus you steer your ship by carefully
firing in the direction you don't
want to go whilst simultaneously trying to blap the aliens with your
Each time you blap an alien with a bullet,
you get a little square added to the tally at the bottom of the
screen. If you should blap an alien with your ship
(naughty naughty!) you have a number of squares taken off. So think
'bullets not ship', ok? When the tally reaches the right-hand-side of
the screen, it resets and you get a bonus and half the Completion
Icon. Thus you need to do it twice to gain the full Icon.
The aliens change their flight paths and appearances according to the
timer and the finest Minter traditions.
Design Notes: I'd had the idea
of the ship and bullets-as-reaction-mass for ages and this seemed like
a good opportunity to try it. The control seems weird at first but you
soon get the hang. Sort of like a weird Asteroids I suppose. I thought
I could do some nice trad-Minter multi-wave-wacky sprites here too,
and the bits flying off are simple but effective. Unlimited lives here
- as indeed throughout the game. I wanted to take some of the
frustration out of learning. I do like the sonics though, the 'doomff'
when you shoot one and the jangling crash when you get hit.
2. AMC II
I'm sure this will need no introduction. Attack the dromedroids with
your ship's bullets. Repeated hits on the camels weaken and eventually
destroy them (strength being shown by the colour of each camel on the
scanner). Hits on your ship by camel's bullets, or by flying into the
camels, reduce your shields. You can get by a camel's legs if you fly
low. The camels march towards the right hand side of the scanner. If
they reach it they are 'taken up' and an extra beast is added to the
Your objective is to destroy all the dromedroids within the level,
then warp to the next level. You get one quarter of the completion
icon following a successful warp, but only if you cleared all the
camels. (You can warp at any time, even with loads of camels left).
Thus, you must clear 4 different levels to get the whole Icon. (To
warp, just keep accelerating). If you run out of shields, you are
chucked down one level. The camel's bullets can be pretty devious.
Watch out for those ones which stop and start. The higher the level
you're on the more points you'll get for each camel.
Design Notes: Well, I'd often
wanted to update AMC on the 64 but couldn't really justify it on its
own. Putting it in as a subgame seemed like the perfect solution.
Still a good blast after all these years...
3: the Activation of Iridis Base
You are sitting on the back of this Mutant Camel, see, riding towards
Iridis Base and attempting to activate it by displaying a
carefully-vectored trail of phosphenes. Very simple, basically. Watch
the Vector Indicator. The 9 pixels represent the 8 joystick directions
and the FIRE button in the middle. The Indicator feeds you a vector,
and you must respond with your joystick as fast as you can react. Your
reaction time is measured and points awarded for being quick. Each
time you're too slow, you lose a phosphene from the trail. If you lose
all six you must do the sequence again. You have to do 100-step
sequences; for each phosphene you bring through to the end of the
sequence, you get one layer of the pyramid illuminated. When all
levels are done you get your completion icon and the pyramid lights
Learn to recognize some of the pre-set sequences that crop up. Some
are pure random but some are stored sequences. Watch the trail of
spheres; when it gets close to you you'll need to press FIRE with your
next vector. Actually, the game can be played watching only the vector
indicator, but you'll find that watching the spheres helps you
anticipate certain actions.
Design Notes: This is probably
the most abstract of all the phases. I was originally thinking of
doing a shoot-em-up using the spheres as bullets and firing them off
into the distance, but by chance I was playing with the spheres one
day and I strung 'em all out like they are, and the trail effect was
so zarjaz I just wrote the rest of the game around it. It's very
pretty, the same kind of appeal as those kites with long tails I
suppose. Very much a pure reaction-time game, but quite effective
4: Cippy on the Run
Cippy runs along a grey corridor. Wherever he walks, bands of rainbow
light appear. The objective is to paint all the walls with colour.
There are hostile spheres, however. They don't affect Cippy, but they
change the colour of the wall sections wherever they hit. If Cippy
walks on one of the changed sections then strange things happen; he
may be inverted, or made to jump, or teleported, or his grav changed,
depending on the colour of the changed panel. Cippy fires out a stream
of bullets which may be used to blap the spheres. A scanner below the
screen shows progress. You have to paint in all the grey bits allowing
the spheres to claim as few bits as possible. Each complete corridor
you do, you get a quarter of the Completion Icon. Every two phases
there are Bonus Runs, with no spheres and a psychedelic Cippy. The
game mechanic changes slightly on higher levels.
Cippy can run by pushing the stick left and right, and jump between
surfaces by up/down. You can also execute a jump on the surface you're
on by pressing fire. The bullets flow constantly and you can steer
them with your motion. Watch out for the black holes with the red bits
Design Notes: I had a lot of
fun with this one. It was just a case of sitting down and coding and
seeing what came out. I got to use my beloved grav and inertia modules
too, and the whole is fairly pretty. Roots are in the Q-bert and
painting genre I suppose, but quite a long way removed. I particularly
like the 'furry' noise when you jump, and the psychedelic Cippy in the
bonus phase. The bullets are all associated with various people on the
Compunet system; I asked them for a little sprite each to use in the
5: Syncro II
Here you see spheres bouncing about over a grid of coloured squares.
By moving the joystick you can select any square you like. (The
selected square is bracketed by flashing grey). If you press the
button and move the stick, the selected square can be made to
'rotate'. All squares of the selected colour assume such rotation.
The objective is to make all the spheres on the grid stop dead. The
spheres' velocities are modified by the rotation of any square they
pass over. Thus, to halt a sphere, you cause it to pass over a square
you've set up with a velocity exactly opposite to that of the sphere.
Halted spheres stay halted a finite length of time; eventually they
drift, so don't hang about. Once all spheres are stopped, you get a
bonus and go to the next level. Completing all 8 levels gives you the
whole completion icon. On later levels you encounter invisible
squares, too. These may be used just like normal ones, just that you
can't see them!
Design Notes: This is a
development of the idea behind SYNCRO, which was published in
Commodore Horizons last year. They asked me to do another game, so I
thought I'd do a SYNCRO derivative, and include it in BATALYX
as a subgame having given it more levels. What I like most about it is
the weird music. You can play with it for ages, it's a bit like
Well I was going to put a PAUSE mode in, but this is much better. When
you need to, drop into SUB6 and relax. The timer stops and you can
stay in the subgame until you've got your head together enough to play
on. The controls are a subset of real PSYCHEDELIA, allowing S=symmetry
change and C=cursor speed. You can also use F1 and SHIFT-F1 to change
fore- and background colours.
Design Notes: Well it's more
interesting than freezing the screen.
About the Game Generally
It's best to tackle those stages you find most difficult, early on in
the game. The stages you're most skillful at can be tackled later on
when the main timer is a bit closer to running out.
You can end the game in play at any time by pressing F7. This isn't a
true abort, but an early termination (high-score checks are still
If you leave the game in option screen for more than 30 secs, it will
display a picture of Batalyx.
To restore the option screen press any key.
Anyway, have fun playing it. So far when I play I usually go for
completing as many icons as I can rather than taking a lot of notice
of my actual numeric score, but that's a matter of taste anyway. You
can, of course, just play each game as a game in its own right - play
AMC for half-an-hour, say, and use normal scoring...
was written in about 4 months. A lot of the early design was done on a
bus in Athens. It was developed using Merlin on an Apple ][e system
hooked up to the 64. There is a secret message in the game, I'd be
interested to see who can find it without resorting to hacking.
Special thanks to the Laserium for coszmik eyeball stimulation and to
Compunet for keeping me up till 3am every nite for 3 months, and also
to MACH81, DDE 86, GR3, ANTELOPE for sprites and of course COUGAR for
his zarjaz graphic.