Bosconian is a 1981 arcade game developed by Namco and released in the United States by Midway. The arcade version uses three Z80 CPU’s, a Namco PSG for sound, and a custom DAC for voice. In Bosconian the player controls a fighter ship that fires both forward and backward simultaneously. In each round, the enemy space stations must be destroyed. Each space station has six pods, surrounded by a central core. The player must either destroy all six pods or destroy the core. In later rounds, the space station core defends itself, by firing missiles.
Additionally, the player must avoid or destroy asteroids, mines, and a variety of enemy ships. The enemy will also launch a squadron of ships (in formation attacks). Destroying the leader causes all remaining enemies to disperse but destroying all enemies in a formation scores extra points. A spy ship will also appear, which must be destroyed, or the round will go to ‘Condition red!’. Condition red also occurs if the player takes too long to complete the round.
During the game, a synthesized voice alerts the player:
- ‘Blast off!’ (ready for action!)
- ‘Alert! Alert!’ (enemy in vicinity)
- ‘Battle stations!’ (enemy formation approaching)
- ‘Spy ship sighted!’ (Spy ship in vicinity)
- ‘Condition red!’ (enemy send entire attack fleet; occurs when the player takes too long to clear a round, or misses the spy ship)
Until now, Bosconian had not been ported to any of the popular video systems of the day. Recently, it has been ported to the Colecovision by OPCODE games (for use with their super game module) and to the Atari 2600 by Darrell Spice, Jr.
Draconian is the name that Darrell picked for his Atari 2600 port of Bosconian. Darrell started working on Draconian in early 2014 and finished it up just in time for release at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo last fall. Darrell has developed several great games for the 2600, including Medieval Mayhem and Space Rocks, but Draconian is really some game.
For starters, the game includes the synthesized voice alerts as in the arcade version. In what I believe is a first for any Atari 2600 game, the voice happens fluidly during the game action. Previously, without add-on hardware, voice could only happen on the 2600 between game sequences, due to the limited processing power of the 6507 CPU. Additionally, the game is flicker free. There is so much action, so many enemies, scrolling in all directions, and almost no visible flicker. This is made possible by the hardware of the melody board used for this cartridge and some incredible programming.
Darrell credits Chris Walton and Fred Quimby for help with the CDF driver for the Melody board; Chris Walton for additional programming; Nathan Strum for the label, box, and manual design; and several other folks for help with quadrant designs and game testing.
Another thing that stands out is the incredible presentation of the Draconian game. A full color, eight-page manual, beautiful box, custom labels, and a 10”x14” color poster are all included in this game release.
In comparing Draconian to the arcade version of Bosconian, Darrell has done an amazing job. There is less variety in colors of some objects and the scanner is simplified, but the game is all there. Darrell includes five quadrants (yep five) of action, including Namco, Midway and random versions. He also includes the spy ship, formation attacks, and firing weapon pods on the space stations. Extra lives are granted at 20K, 70K, and, then, every 70K. Some of the recent AtariAge releases for the 2600 are awesome games, but Draconian, with the in-game voice, takes it to another level. Draconian is a ‘must have’ for your Atari 2600 collection and should make everyone’s list of top ten Atari 2600 games.@Atarigameguy
P.S. Draconian also plays great on the Atari 7800!