... Kevin Horton
By Joe Santulli
I sat across the smoky barroom peering through a thin
ray of light that was allowing just a silhouette of the man to be visible. He
leaned back, lit up another cig, and pointed at me. "OK", he started as he took
in his first drag, "ask me".
DP: Thanks for spending a few moments with us. The obvious first, Kevin. What inspired you to write a ColecoVision game in 1996, more than ten years after the system's demise?
Actually, I wrote it in 1995... it's been on sale since
around April, 1996. I bought a ColecoVision, because I heard how good the
graphics and games were... I popped Jumpman Jr. into the cart slot and fired it
up. I was amazed at the quality of the graphics, sound, and gameplay! I knew at
that moment that I must learn more about this machine. I searched the 'net high
and low; but could not find *any* info on how the machine worked. I consulted
the ColecoVision FAQ that I found on the 'net and read up on this machine... I
found the cart pinout and decided to build a cart reader to figure more out
about how the games worked. I then opened my machine up, and with multimeter and
chip pinouts in hand, got to work figuring out exactly what made the machine
I was playing my Nintendo games and decided to pop Tetris in. I thought to myself 'even I could make a better version of Tetris than Nintendo did!'... with that, the idea was set to not only program a game, but I knew exactly what game I was going to program!
DP: Have you programmed for other systems? If so, what have you found separates the ColecoVision from the others?
I've done lots of coding for various processors in
industrial controls, as well as 'home-grown' devices such as those electronic
'moving message' signs, as well as playing around quite a bit exploring my C64,
but nothing approaching the complexity of Kevtris. I like to view each 'project'
I work on as a learning experience... and I knew that Kevtris would be a great
way to learn more about how videogames in general are written, and to hone my
skills on the Z80; the processor used in the ColecoVision.
I guess I prefer the ColecoVision over any of the other classic-era systems, due to it's using of 100% off-the-shelf parts. As far as I know, the CV is the only gaming system in existence to use off-the-shelf parts! This made figuring out how it worked much easier for me.
DP: How long did it take you to program KevTris?
Kevin Horton: Umm... good question! I started work on it around September of '95, and finished around March of '96, and then sold them shortly after... that's around 5-6 months, give or take. There was around two months of idle time around the holidays when I got 'burned out' on the project... I have to thank the many people on IRC for coaxing me to finish the game... without their support, the game most likely would have never been completed.
DP: Was there anything you wanted to include in KevTris that had to be left out? The game seems VERY complete (but we hear often that memory limits everyone on the classic systems).
Kevin Horton: Nope! Everything you see is all I wanted to implement. The game is only 16K; I could've used up to 32K, but I chose to set a 16K limit for my self to see what kind of game I could've produced in 1982. (most games were 16K to save money; since ROMs were quite expensive.) I used up almost all of the 16K I had alloted, but there was some left-over space... I filled said space with a couple easter-eggs... :-)
DP: I noticed that the game is numbered (mine is labeled 53/100). Will there be a limited number of KevTris cartridges produced?
Kevin Horton: Yes, there will only be 100, due to cost and my sanity (since I have to build each one. :-) I have over 30 left, so I think everyone who wants one will have a shot.
DP: What are your favorite ColecoVision games (explain)?
Kevin Horton: That's tough... there are so many! I have to give Space Fury top marks because it's so playable and fun... I like Jukebox because it has great music (but unfortunately not much gameplay), and Mr. Do!'s Castle for it's immense gameplay and killer music! Jumpman Jr.'s fun for it's nostalgic value; I remember playing this one for hours on the C64, and this is a very accurate translation. Escape From the Mindmaster has some of the best gameplay of any CV game.. too bad it was never released commercially.
DP: What other systems and games do you enjoy (explain)?
Kevin Horton: I enjoy the whole spectrum of classic systems. I'm very fond of the 2600. I remember when we got one in 1980. Because this was the Sears version, the pack-in was Target Fun (Air-Sea Battle). We played that for hours! After seeing Adventure at a friend's house; I knew what game I wanted next! My sister and I played that for days at a time. :-) I still pull out the 2600 and play a few games of Adventure now and again. In around 1983 we got a 5200... however, we always went back to the 2600.
DP: Do you "collect" classic video games? If so, what is the prize of your collection?
Kevin Horton: I collect 2600 and Coleco mostly. I had to get rid of my 5200 collection because of space considerations. :-( I have around 430 2600 carts and about 70 Coleco carts. From a collecting point of view, my Chase The Chuckwagon with mint label and instructions would have to take it; however call me crazy, but I like Smurfs Save the Day. This was such a neat concept for a video game; too bad it was released around the time of the crash.
DP: Do you plan to design another ColecoVision game, or perhaps a game for a different system? If so, what are your plans?
Kevin Horton: I have a large Coleco game in the works at the moment; 256K to be precise. I'm going to 'break the 32K barrier' by using Bankswitching. This promises to be the best CV game in both graphics, music, and gameplay. It'll be quite awhile before I can say much more about it, since most of the stuff is still up in the air at the moment. After that game is finished, I'm going to work on my first 5200 title! It promises to be a great game as well, weighing in at 256K also. It's going to be along the lines of an RPG, only better. I may even allow the player to save his/her game status with a battery-backed RAM, similar to Super Nintendo/Genesis games!
DP: Your instructions hint that there are some "secrets" and you just alluded to "easter eggs" in KevTris. Can you give us some more hints at how to find them
Kevin Horton: OK, there are exactly two. They're not too hard to find... you do need two controllers to activate them, and you do not need to play the game...
DP: What is your favorite brand of beer?
Kevin Horton: Hahaha! I'd have to say Miller Genuine Draft. :-)
DP: They can either e-mail me (preferred) or send me a letter/postcard. I will then reply with another postcard, telling them to send the money. This is to let the person know if I still have cartridges left, and if they should send the money. I work it on a first-come-first-served basis. So, if someone doesn't send the money in two months, it goes to the next person on the list. Oh, the carts cost $23, including shipping. For $23, you get a Kevtris cart and an instruction sheet packed in a padded mailer sent to you.
Kevin Horton: Kevin, thanks again. KevTris is an exceptional game. We're looking forward to your future projects!
Check out Kevin's website at: http://www.tripoint.org/kevtris/
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