Here is another prototype cart for the Atari 8-Bit computer. This game is Super Huey UH-IX which was a cool helicopter game on Atari 7800 and was in development to be ported over to a grey cartridge release for the Atari XEGS.
This particular prototype version was not done yet but it was a great looking game.
Super Huey was released for the XL/XE on floppy but not on cartridge. If you've played Super Huey on the 7800 you'll remember how serious of a flight simulator it was. It wasn't a normal shooter game like Choplifter where you immediately start flying around and shooting. Since the time that we filmed this video I found original instructions for Super Huey on XL/XE. Once you get in the cockpit, you first press OPTION. Then you type POW to turn on the power to the helicopter. Then you press START to start the engine, and then you need to rev the engine up past 1600 rpm by pressing forward on the joystick. Then you press SELECT to clutch the rotor and being the throttle up to 3000 RPM.
First off, I was wondering what was inside the prototype cartridge. So Steven took it apart for me, and low and behold, what appeared to be a stock Atari ROM, not an E-PROM. So far all of the proto carts I've received from Atari were E-PROMs. ROMs are for mass production. So I told Steven "bummer, most likely it cannot be copied" because it's a ROM chip, the legs do different things on a ROM, than an E-PROM does.
But, some can be copied, if its a one time burn E-PROM, which has no window, so it looks like a ROM. There are other versions also that I am not familiar with.
So I copied it, ROMs can be copied, but will not run as an E-PROM, and I do not have a ROM programmer. I was holding my breath as it copied. It should have been 64k. It turned out it was NOT 64k, and I was stunned, its 32k. On the floppy it was 48k. So I am assuming this is not a done version.
I burned it onto a 32k E-PROM, plugged it into an E-PROM cart, and turned on the computer, it froze solid, blue screen saying ready. Tried it again, got the same thing.
So I thought, I wonder if it will run on the Super Huey board, it should not, because of the differences in how the board is wired for roms. i plugged it into the board, put the board into my XE game machine, turned it on, got the same picture as the other one, but with one difference...
When I pushed OPTION, we got more action, then I typed in pow, pushed start, and we got lots of action, but both sides of the screen show pixilation. It's not done. Steve and I got it to fly, but it freezes sometimes. We got no further than that. There might be more, but it freezes sometimes. So I looked at the board, I saw some differences compared to other Atari XE Super Cart boards, and of course an E-PROM board.
It might be wired for use with an E-PROM, and or what ever type of one time E-PROM, or some sort of ROM chip that i was able to copy, all at the same time. Sometimes boards are wired differently, due to how it was programmed, and where in RAM the program resides.
All i know so far is that it's not like other E-PROMboards, or ROM boards.
So because of this, I was reading up on ROMs tonight. What i found out was there is a PROM chip. It's a one-time programable chip that is burned like an E-PROM. I bet that is what the Atari XE Super Huey chip is, and why I could copy it. It seems Atari was using three different technologies on their cart boards. This is the first one that I have ran into. Knowing Jack, it was for cheapness purposes. What ever was cheaper at the time, he used. I say this needs to be investigated and filmed.
So, I am going to try to get the board replicated, and we will test the game further. It's possible the board may have to be wired further, to tie the programming into certain parts of the RAM. I will keep you informed as we discover more about this game.
I filmed this video with the help of my good friend Steve who is an Atari.io member here under the name BlackCatz40. Here's a look at the Super Huey UH-IX prototype cart for the Atari XL/XE Series computers: