Powerstar (Atari)

Games for Spectrum, C64, Amstrad, Amiga, Apple ][ and the rest of the 8-bit and 16-bit platforms. Pleas for help, puzzles, bug reports etc.

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Alastair
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Re: Powerstar (Atari)

#16 Post by Alastair » Sun Nov 27, 2022 7:56 pm

Garry wrote:
Sun Nov 27, 2022 1:41 am
I'm impressed that you were able to decompress it at all.
You may remember the Quest adventures Catacombs and Cornucopia, on the off chance that it may work I applied the same technique here (see below). It worked as far as the verbs and nouns, but unlike the Quest games I have been unable to decode the location descriptions and game messages.

Garry wrote:
Sun Nov 27, 2022 1:41 am
Regarding the spacesuit, I dug out my old notes. There is a room described as "The shelves and storage cabinets here are filled with the tools and equipment necessary for space station repair." When facing west in this room, you see a space suit.
I imagined that the steam and space station repair rooms were one and the same, Alex's comment and instructions confirm this.


Decoding the Games
I use a freeware hex editor called XVI32, it has the advantage that it can run scripts.

In this particular case I loaded a copy of Powerstar.rom into the editor and then ran a script I had developed for the Quest adventures. The script contains a series of commands (ADR 0 just means move to address zero, i.e., top):

ADR 0
REPLACEALL A0 BY 20 20
ADR 0
REPLACEALL A1 BY 21 20
ADR 0
REPLACEALL A2 BY 22 20
(etc. until)
ADR 0
REPLACEALL FF BY 7F 20

For further decoding I created an additional script:

ADR 0
REPLACEALL 21 BY 61
ADR 0
REPLACEALL 22 BY 62
(etc. until)
ADR 0
REPLACEALL 3F BY 7F

As can be seen, this results in a better decoding than the one I gave above:
inventory look north south east west fuel hilox score fire shoot ugotit use take off put on wear get take pick carry put drop place read save load kick hit play push press stop turn off shut off hold start turn on turn cut burn weld light open unscrew remove torch bomb oxygen tank radio battery
volt lantern flashlight lamp boots pistol laser gun printout paper message cardkey coins matches book key suit amulet mirror shuttle engines rocket ship computer terminal printer door lock steam grate vent screws valve wheel red button buttons green buttons robot guard game equipment panel keyswitch bottles bureau cabinet desk it them antenna earth face galley lakes loudspeaker lounge office password reel rods shower stove tick tools top pandora ‚amuzoz attach by copyright •cryogenic dense did die dock hope loose me move ok respond slid software inc ughversion
‰was yet  the a is you to in of here are space through see there on an have for this up with control from blow around your that large away at room station air table feet floor ocean altitude bar bay bed beach bits chairs clouds direction distance emergency end field flash front furniture gravity ground hall hiss house instrument ladder left life medicine mountains object orbit reactor shaft shelves side sign sky sound source star state tap telescreen thing transmitter unit voice wall water wave way window and Œthen be because bounce can can t come crash destroy do don t emits enter fail fill go has includes kill lead meet not parked power repair reveals run says seems sit slopes stand stretch surround travel want will all already back blue brilliant brown closed dark down empty faint few four good green immense lost magnetic main many necessary no now nuclear off one opposite out sick silver some storage two above before gone nearby under i what ; = micro c sub por > s Œing €ed es š‚ness al d ful

Alastair
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Re: Powerstar (Atari)

#17 Post by Alastair » Sun Nov 27, 2022 7:58 pm

Alex wrote:
Sun Nov 27, 2022 4:36 pm
I finished the game with 216 points.
Well done, but have you worked out why it is Ceasar Cipher +20?

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Re: Powerstar (Atari)

#18 Post by Alex » Mon Nov 28, 2022 6:57 pm

Thank you for sharing your method to decode the text. Interesting. I usually do everything manually, but using a script certainly is a lot faster. I use UltraEdit which it not free, but it works well.

Unfortunately I did not find any clue inside the game why to use +20.

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Re: Powerstar (Atari)

#19 Post by stonic » Tue Nov 29, 2022 11:17 pm

Thanks Alex! A friend of mine suggested the password might involve replacing the letters. Apparently there's a Sierra game that involved taking a word and changing each letter with the 3rd letter 'up' in the alphabet. I tried going up to 3 letters both directions and stopped at that point. If only I kept going.. lol

As for how I found the spacesuit in the steam room, I had the idea of, I wonder if I can drop an object in a steam room and pick it up (w/o being able to see it), and I could. I looked everywhere on the station for a suit, realizing that there had to be one in order to get off the station and back to Earth. I noticed there occasionally was a room in the steam where the volume dropped slightly, and I thought that might be the tip-off that something was in there, and I was right. I never found the valve to turn off the steam :/

And I'm glad you're here to finally see the solution after all this time, Garry! I actually thought about trying to see if I could find you online, to see if perhaps you arrived at a solution that might have been printed in a later issue. I even contacted the person who currently owns the rights to the game, Lance Ringquist of Video61, to see if he might have a copy of the hint sheet, but he didn't. He did mention that Pandora consisted of 4 people and that all were fairly old by the time he purchased the rights and remaining inventory of the carts. All 4 owners have since passed. Less than 800 carts were sold, and he had planned on releasing more carts, but never did. He does have a copy of the source code.

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Re: Powerstar (Atari)

#20 Post by Garry » Wed Nov 30, 2022 2:11 am

stonic wrote:
Tue Nov 29, 2022 11:17 pm
I had the idea of, I wonder if I can drop an object in a steam room and pick it up (w/o being able to see it), and I could.
Yep, the steam room is a maze and that's the secret to mapping it.
stonic wrote:
Tue Nov 29, 2022 11:17 pm
I noticed there occasionally was a room in the steam where the volume dropped slightly, and I thought that might be the tip-off that something was in there, and I was right. I never found the valve to turn off the steam :/
Once you have mapped the steam room maze, make sure you face each direction in each room. In one of the rooms, you can see a door when facing north. In another room, you can see a valve when facing east. When you turn off the valve, the steam dissipates and all the steam rooms become one room. (I think it's the equipment room.) You can then face each direction to recover all the objects you dropped when mapping the maze.
stonic wrote:
Tue Nov 29, 2022 11:17 pm
And I'm glad you're here to finally see the solution after all this time, Garry!
I am too. I have a folder of unfinished games and this one was on top. I must return to it and replay it. After all these years, it will be like playing it from scratch.
stonic wrote:
Tue Nov 29, 2022 11:17 pm
I actually thought about trying to see if I could find you online, to see if perhaps you arrived at a solution that might have been printed in a later issue.
You can find me online either here (as Garry), at Facebook (under my real name) or intfiction.org (under my real name with the alias Warrigal). You can find my published adventures online at https://warrigal.itch.io/. They're all free.
stonic wrote:
Tue Nov 29, 2022 11:17 pm
I even contacted the person who currently owns the rights to the game, Lance Ringquist of Video61, to see if he might have a copy of the hint sheet, but he didn't. He did mention that Pandora consisted of 4 people and that all were fairly old by the time he purchased the rights and remaining inventory of the carts. All 4 owners have since passed. Less than 800 carts were sold, and he had planned on releasing more carts, but never did. He does have a copy of the source code.
That's interesting to know. I bought one of those carts. There was also a demo version. I can't remember where I got that. Wherever it was, it would have been legit. (I was very anti-piracy in those days.) I didn't know there was a hint sheet. It would be good to find that.

Sorry to hear that the original owners have passed away. Does Lance know who wrote Powerstar, as we don't have that in the database? It might be in the source code.

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Re: Powerstar (Atari)

#21 Post by stonic » Wed Nov 30, 2022 3:02 am

Alastair wrote:
Sat Nov 26, 2022 3:52 pm
There are some errors in the above partial solution, in particular the directions when leaving the robot room and also after picking up the bomb.
My directions work for both. But following them passes on some points (ex: seeing the telescreen message, turning the steam valve off, not reading the amulet, etc).

My directions for getting up to the space station used more moves than yours, but those for going back to Earth used one less than yours. I refined mine from where you're back in the ship and looking at the docking bay door, up to where you turn the engine off:
UP, UP, UP, UP, LEFT, UP, UP, UP, RIGHT, UP, LEFT, UP - 12 moves
Not that it matters how many moves you make, because you don't earn any points either way.

Speaking of points, you only noted 192 in your solution. The points you missed are dropping bomb in airlock room (8 points), entering the docking bay with the suit on (8 points) and turning the keyswitch (8 points)

Also, the red and green buttons don't turn the transmitter on/off, they open (green) or close (red) the door leading out to the airlock.

It's odd that you get points for pushing the airlock door button twice - the first time when it's empty and the 2nd time when the bomb is inside. You get 8 points both times you push the button, not 8 for the first and 16 for the second as you noted.
Last edited by stonic on Wed Nov 30, 2022 3:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Powerstar (Atari)

#22 Post by stonic » Wed Nov 30, 2022 3:19 am

Garry wrote:
Wed Nov 30, 2022 2:11 am

That's interesting to know. I bought one of those carts. There was also a demo version. I can't remember where I got that. Wherever it was, it would have been legit. (I was very anti-piracy in those days.)
I'll attach a photo of the cart (not mine).

Atarimania has a copy of both versions - released and demo:

http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-40 ... s4080.html
http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-40 ... _4111.html
Garry wrote:
Sun Nov 27, 2022 1:41 am
I didn't know there was a hint sheet. It would be good to find that.
You mentioned there might be one in your review:

https://www.page6.org/archive/issue_25/page_16.htm
"If you're really desperate, I believe a hint sheet for Powerstar is available from Pandora Software at the address in the instructions."

Neither the manual or ad mention a hint sheet.
Sorry to hear that the original owners have passed away. Does Lance know who wrote Powerstar, as we don't have that in the database? It might be in the source code.
I'll ask Lance again, but he didn't seem to recall much about them other than there were 4 of them were involved with making the game.
Garry wrote:
Sun Nov 27, 2022 1:41 am
All in all, my memory of the game is very hazy. I distinctly remember the steam room, but not much else. I can see from my notes that you get killed a lot, so I would rate it as cruel.
LOL, yeah. Like when you go into the game room and type PLAY GAME, the game reboots!
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Garry
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Re: Powerstar (Atari)

#23 Post by Garry » Wed Nov 30, 2022 10:54 am

Regarding the hint sheet...
You mentioned there might be one in your review:
I should've read my own review. :lol:

Thanks for the memories.

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Re: Powerstar (Atari)

#24 Post by Alastair » Wed Nov 30, 2022 11:05 pm

Stonic it was Alex who wrote the new solution, please don't give me the credit.

As to the errors I mentioned, they might have crept in when Strident pasted your almost complete solution in the thread but they are there in the above pasted solution (after entering the corridor from the robot room and turning right there is no further turning until you reach the bomb, and after picking up the bomb you turn right).
stonic wrote:
Wed Nov 30, 2022 3:02 am
Also, the red and green buttons don't turn the transmitter on/off, they open (green) or close (red) the door leading out to the airlock.
The red and green buttons do turn the transmitter on and off, as well as closing or opening the door.
stonic wrote:
Wed Nov 30, 2022 3:02 am
It's odd that you get points for pushing the airlock door button twice - the first time when it's empty and the 2nd time when the bomb is inside. You get 8 points both times you push the button, not 8 for the first and 16 for the second as you noted.
Thanks, this explains why I failed to achieve maximum points, it never occurred to me to press the button twice.

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Re: Powerstar (Atari)

#25 Post by stonic » Thu Dec 01, 2022 11:39 pm

stonic wrote:
Wed Nov 30, 2022 3:19 am
I'll ask Lance again, but he didn't seem to recall much about them other than there were 4 of them were involved with making the game.
Lance just messaged me to say:

"i will try to find their names, there were four of them, they are gone. i acquired the rights to the game about 30 years ago. can't remember their names, may have them somewhere. "

I learned about him purchasing the rights from this forum post about 10 years ago:

https://forums.atariage.com/topic/19683 ... y-pandora/

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