Space Invaders

I remember when I was around 10 years (in the early 80’s) old my family started to go to Genting Highlands for vacation during the Chinese New Year holidays, almost every year. As our parents and my uncles and aunts went to the casino to try their New Year fortunes, my brother and other older cousins head towards the arcade games room with me tagging along. That was when I first saw them.

It was Space Invaders first, then Pac-Man and Galaxian. We were totally hooked. 20 sen coins went fast and furiously into those machines, until our cash reserves were exhausted. Life was never quite the same after that. It wasn’t as if I was really that good either — I never went past the first few levels anyway. I suppose I never really had enough coins to play for too long but those times at the arcade games changed me in different ways. I realised that machines can be intelligent and interactive, and fun.

I suppose after so many years this has never left me — I’m still trying to ‘play’ with every single machine I see, every time I buy a new piece of hardware, the first thing that comes to my mind is — ‘how do I program it?’ Well, I bought a Gameboy for my son a few months back, and an NDS Lite for myself last month. The question of programming both of them naturally came to my mind especially when the NDS has mouth-watering wifi capabilities, two screens, with one of the being a touch screen and amazing graphics and sound system.

Of course I’m no game programmer — have been doing only enterprise applications for most of my working career (11 years and counting) but it’s something that really caught my imagination. I started thinking back to my days at the arcade with the Space Invaders. Well, yes, it’s the first arcade game and it’s really primitive but it’s fun as well. So that’s what I wanted to do — a Space Invaders clone on the Gameboy. There’s one already in the market but this one will be all mine.

I promised myself to do it after my GCIA exams, and here I am about to embark on it. I spent a couple of hours fiddling around it and I got a sprite bouncing back and forth the screen. Nothing spectacular but it’s a start. At the end of it I’ll write a short tutorial on how it could be done. Wish me luck!

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