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New game uploaded: Petaxian

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I had been lurking on the forums for a few months when I found Prog8 and though this looked interesting. I.e. I could learn a new language and test out the emulator.

I recently saw some good demos using C64 emulator but just based on PETSCII graphics and I though this looked surprisingly cool. Then I remembered the old Galaga game on the C64, the one using just (a few) petscii chars. I thought making something similar would be a nice challenge.

The game is continuing to move toward what I consider a complete (but short) game. There are now 12 levels at which point the game will end in victory (bonus points for lives remaning). I am currently inclined to thinking that it's ok to end up with a fairly short and "completable" game. I still need to add some sort of simple high score handling. And there are always places that could use a bit of extra polishing but perhaps it would be better to spend that effort on another game.


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  • 2 weeks later...

I've uploaded a new version of Petaxian. Lots of updates since the first version

  • More variations of enemies and movement patterns
  • Simple sound effects
  • Actual "score" counting 
  • Joystick control (though the NES keyboard stuff is causing some issues)
  • And lots of various smaller adjustments and optimization of code etc. etc.

Just be warned that the NES keyboard emulation seem start up with joystick byte 1 set to 0 (= all buttons pressed) instead of 255. That causes the game to autostart the first time. I could work around this using a non-NES keyboard key to start the game, but since I added joystick support that seems inappropriate. Everything works fine if the game is started with -joy SNES (or NES).

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  • 2 weeks later...

A new update of Petaxian has been uploaded with the following main changes :

  • Added random "attacks" for enemies (with increased bomb frequency)
  • Updated to non-uniform waves. Remixed to 12 stages.
  • Add stage start "announcement"
  • Add stage completion time bonus points

Unsurprisingly there is a lot work left after the basic gameplay mechanics is implemented. It certainly makes one appreciate all the other non-coding work that goes into games (I certainly see why having professional level designers and testers are necessary).

I want to add some sort of proper "game end" (and show current high score) but after that I suspect updates to this game will slow down. I have a couple of other game ideas I'm considering (none especially original).

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2 hours ago, msx said:

Very nice game, very playable. I reached level 6 🙂 With some more enemy types it would be great, perhaps bigger one, composed of more than 1 character.

Thank you. There is actually a slightly bigger enemy (though marginally so) that appears at stage 9 and later. I guess you just have to practice 🙂 to get that far.

BTW, the enemies are actually 4 (2x2) characters in size. I support movement "within" the characters using the 16 PETSCII characters that cover all the variations of 2x2 "sub bits". I was inspired by PET/C64 Galaga (which this is basically a clone of).

I don't currently support any larger enemies though that is of course completely possible, e.g. Galaga had a 3x2 char sized enemy. It is something I have noted down as a possible improvement.

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  • 3 weeks later...

After the initial burst of work on this game to a reasonable looking state, things have as expected slowed down. Only a few things added this time 

  • Changed game over to defeat/victory with score "calculation" (bonus points for any lives at end of game)
  • Some enemies have a chance to drop seeker bombs (slower bombs that move toward player)
  • Made credits more like other info pages


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  • 1 year later...

@borgar would you be okay with Petaxian being shown as part of a sort of public showcase for the X16?  @Kevin Williams asked on the discord about this for "VCF Midwest 17" on september 10th.

I've built a new version of Petaxian based on the current git master branch. (I am not sure if the version available here as download is still up to snuff)

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Yes, that is a quirk in the old version that is still posted here. It has been fixed quite a long time ago in the github repository, but the author hasn't uploaded a new version here yet. You can compile it yourself pretty easily though if you want

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On 8/16/2022 at 1:17 AM, desertfish said:

@borgar would you be okay with Petaxian being shown as part of a sort of public showcase for the X16?  @Kevin Williams asked on the discord about this for "VCF Midwest 17" on september 10th.

Sure, feel free to use for showcasing.

On 8/16/2022 at 2:16 AM, kelli217 said:

Is there a way to make the player stop moving other than hitting the left or right side of the playing area? When I play on the web emulator I can't seem to stop in place, and that would be really useful.

I did rewrite this part as desertfish mentioned. And a few other things as well. But this is now built for the later versions of the emulator and since the "Try it now" function isn't update yet I've kept delaying updating the X16 game page etc.

I'll just add the latest version here for convenience.

I more or less thought I was done with this when I was at the version that is on the X16 game page but I keep tinkering with it every now and then.

Updates since the .5 version includes

  • More enemies and a new bomb type
  • More levels
  • Higscore tracking (though this sort of a temporary solution at the moment)
  • Lots of code optimizations to improve C64 version (which isn't really relevant here)
  • And generally trying to make the code better organized


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