January 24, 2022 8:46 AM   Subscribe

RE: running on modern systems:
QB64 (originally QB32) is a self-hosting BASIC compiler for Microsoft Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, designed to be compatible with Microsoft QBasic and QuickBASIC. QB64 is a C++ emitter, which is integrated with a C++ compiler to provide compilation via C++ code and GCC optimization.

QB64 implements most QBasic statements, and can run many QBasic programs, including Microsoft's QBasic Gorillas and Nibbles games. Furthermore, QB64 has been designed to contain an IDE resembling the QBASIC IDE. QB64 also extends the QBASIC programming language to include 64-bit data types, as well as better sound and graphics support. It can also emulate some DOS/x86 specific features such as INT 33h mouse access, and multiple timers.
posted by genpfault at 8:58 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]

In 1993 my school's computer lab was a bunch of pizza box Mac LCII's running At Ease which I think was locked down via password.

We didn't have GORILLA.BAS, but we did have Mouse Practice
posted by RonButNotStupid at 9:03 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]

I've been waiting for the GORILLA.BAS Hollywood feature film.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:15 AM on January 24 [19 favorites]

I have very fond memories of bypassing At Ease using... I think it was a keyboard shortcut that accessed the debugger? Certainly there was a trivial way of doing it.
posted by atrazine at 9:18 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]

QBasic is probably the last system I could fully grasp all of what it did. It was my scripting language in the early 1990s and I wrote so many crude personal "cow tools" utilities in it. I miss it, slightly. I have witnessed someone do Raspberry Pi hardware things in QBasic running (as root) in dosbox, with the various /proc, /sys and /dev virtual filesystems mounted as dosbox drive letters. Not pretty, but it worked for them.

If you're missing the QBasic experience, MMBasic runs on tiny computers like the Raspberry Pi Pico. While there's some assembly required, it gives you the immediacy of the BASIC command line.
posted by scruss at 9:51 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]

I remember GORILLA.BAS. But really, I remember Tank Wars.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:56 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]

I remember GORILLA.BAS. But really, I remember Tank Wars.

I don’t remember either, as I was all in on Scorched Earth. To hell with you, Funky Bomb!
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 10:06 AM on January 24 [17 favorites]

like 6 moths from this post, are we going to discuss Tank Wars and the supremacy / hotseat competition that it turned into? Gorillas was vaguely fair. Tank Wars involved a variety of additional explosions.

On preview... yeah, what they said.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:29 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

A friend and I modded the code to create giant explosions, alternate day/night mode, play theme songs for the gorillas, etc. Taught me a lot about coding basics (no pun intended.)

Also, TORUS2.BAS was possibly the coolest thing high-school-me had ever seen in QBasic. Anyone else remember that one?
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 10:31 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]

We had a lot of fun playing 'monkeys and bananas' with my mother.

We had a lot less fun playing with my father, who had experience with artillery.
posted by LD Feral at 11:15 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]

I spent hours playing (and hacking) this game, though I was pretty well versed in BASIC by the time this came out. I cut my teeth hacking on the MS-BASIC port of TREK by Michael Burns in the mid-80s.
posted by JeffK at 11:29 AM on January 24

The game I remember most (errr, from the 80's) is Battlezone, a wireframe tank game originally developed for Arcades but ported to all the popular systems of the day. Here's a download link . It's considered the progenitor to FPS games, which scans since that's what I mostly play. Looks like there's a new VR flavor for the switch, a reboot from 98 (an RTS, now on steam), and another RTS game from the same folks, also on steam. Along with a browser (DOS) version playable on line.
posted by evilDoug at 11:31 AM on January 24

GORILLA.BAS was probably my first computer game that wasn't some edutainment stuff like Googol Math Games (1989). My brothers and I moved onto Scorched Earth and its multiple weapon silliness and later I discovered the joy and silliness of the Worms series, but there's something to be said for the raw simplicity and fun of two King Kongs throwing bananas at each other from rooftops.
posted by JauntyFedora at 11:40 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]

GORILLA.BAS was formative for my friends and me in 1991 or 92.

My high school was attached to a university, giving us access to some of the computers in the lab, but not to programming classes. Those were reserved for engineering majors.

My friend A. had either a Commodore 64 or an Amiga 500 (the older I get the more fuzzy the timeline gets), and my friend D. had access to his dads Apple. I had taken a LOGO class in 1986 and was itching to write some code but did not own a computer (I've told the story elsewhere of copying code listings from magazines in the American bookshop and then going to test it out on the C64 display models at a department store). Neither did my friends S., G., and H. We used to beg A. and D. to let us code on their machines, and did most of our coding on paper.

The university computer lab was the only place where we could each sit at their own computer and play with code. We messed around with GORILLA.BAS until we figured it out, and in some primitive version of pair programming made it multiplayer, added new weapons and effects, new game modes (random gravity, tiny gorillas, nuclear war, etc), and in the end turned it into a primitive scorched earth. From the lessons learned we wrote a text adventure game, then convinced the school to teach us a programming class were we wrote an application to manage book loans.

To make a very long story short, there is a straight line from messing around with GORILLA.BAS to a group of 6 teenagers hogging half of Mexico's internet bandwidth for a year downloading stuff and playing silly bot wars, to very interesting careers in technology that defied all the odds for a group of Mexican highschoolers in 1991.

I would be confident saying that if in the last few years you have searched for scholalrly information on the web, looked at a digitized book, watched videos online, played some of the top AAA video-games, applied for a small loan, or are really into DNA computing, you have used code written by one of us kids messing around with GORILLA.BAS in 1992.
posted by Dr. Curare at 11:48 AM on January 24 [22 favorites]

I came here for the Tank Wars and the Scorched Earth references and was not disappointed.

Sometime in like, 2006, I somehow came across a massively multiplayer online game that was like if Scorched Earth had been reskinned in Japan, and it was somehow free, but I have zero recollection of what it was called.

I suspect Worms was of this genre as well, but I never got around to trying that out.
posted by Leviathant at 12:36 PM on January 24

The QBasic game we played the most was Dynamite Men (a bomberman clone if the name doesn't give it away), which had a hotseat coop mode where up to four players could cram in on one keyboard to try to beat a series of levels. Over a semester of playing I don't think my friends and I ever actually beat it because the levels get very unfair even with three or four players.

Worms 2 / Armageddon are probably the pinnacle of the artillery game genre, although the much earlier Scorched Earth has a lot of charm.
posted by Pyry at 12:43 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]

*virtual camera zooms over a bombed out cityscape - smouldering ruins, cloud of smoke, the usual*
*camera moves in on GORILLA#1, sheltering by a broken wall, cradling a glowing yellow banana*
"You thought I was done. You thought I was finished. YOU STOLE MY FAMILY!"
*GORILLA#1 throws the banana and the camera follows it against a backdrop of slate grey clouds as it flies impossibly high in the air*
*in the far distance is a brightly lit city of glass towers towards which the banana is moving ever faster*
GORILLA.BAS: REBOOTED - a new grimdark open world experience from the Lazy Game Company
posted by thatwhichfalls at 1:46 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]

Oh wow, we played this in my Pascal class. The teacher was NOT amused.
posted by 1adam12 at 1:51 PM on January 24

I feel old. It's nice to hear that a bunch of youngsters of the early '90s cut their teeth on a gorillas throwing explosive bananas BASIC game. My first real BASIC programming was on an Apple II with an extra floating point BASIC card and writing a program to calculate the intersection of two pipes of arbitrary diameters and arbitrary angles. Plot the points, draw them out on a paper template, use that to mark the pipe and break out the torches to cut then weld them together. Dad was an engineer at a steel fabrication plant.... Turns out 8-bit computers aren't a possible replacement for programmable calculators, not enough precision.

It sounds like so much more fun to be learning programming a decade later when computers are much more mainstream and capable. Back then we all learned from books and magazines and wrote our code on paper to try out later. It's own sort of fun.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:52 PM on January 24

I recently found a 35th anniversary version of Munch-Man which originated on the TI99/4a.
posted by MollyRealized at 3:01 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]

1. No love for DONKEY.BAS?

2. I was in university from 90 to 95 and the three games that I remember as formative were
- Scorched Earth
- Lemmings, and
- Civilization I.

3. articles like this always cause me to revisit a vague irritation that I spent so much time around computers as a kid but never actually bothered to learn any programming.
posted by hearthpig at 4:54 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]

Sometime in like, 2006, I somehow came across a massively multiplayer online game that was like if Scorched Earth had been reskinned in Japan, and it was somehow free, but I have zero recollection of what it was called.
oh nooo I think I know exactly the game you're talking about but the only useful thing I can offer is "I'm pretty sure it was from Korea"
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:22 PM on January 24

We had access to an IBM PS-2 in highschool because we started a "computer club". We made one newsletter (pysical) and called it a day, played Gorillas every lunch until I worked out how to call in to a BBS.
posted by J.R. Hartley at 6:37 AM on January 25

I still can't tell if DONKEY.BAS was a piece of performance art exploring the outer limits of how little gameplay you can have and still be called a game. It made Pong look like Call of Duty. One control button. Two player states, left lane or right lane. Pseudorandom obstacles. A bit of ASCII art. That's it. Once I left it running overnight to see how high a score I could get by never moving. I think it got to 24. Which implies that it played something like 16 million times.
posted by wnissen at 9:51 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]

If you have Python and the Pygame module installed, I translated the QBasic code to Python a few years back. It doesn't have sound though: https://github.com/asweigart/gorillapy
posted by AlSweigart at 2:42 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]

OH! The game was called Gunbound!
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:37 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]

« Older The golden age of music is now.   |   Free Thread & Robin Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments