“I HUNGER. RUN, COWARD!” – Sinistar, 1983

A while ago, I picked up an Arduboy. I liked the idea of having a small, dedicated game console in my wallet for a fun little time-killer, and I liked the idea of making a game or 2 for it. I think I only fired up the IDE once before I realized I was way over my head with this. Everything was byte code, the libraries for it weren’t there yet, the example code was complicated, and it didn’t seem like there was much incentive to doing this (I had plenty of other projects going on at the time). So, shelved it was for a long time.

A few months ago, I asked a coworker to help me with my first soldering project. I had never used a solder before, and always wanted to do something with solder, but never could figure out a decent project. My coworker found something: a DIY RGB LED Cube. This looked like the perfect project to get started on. It was simple, it was cool-looking, and it was powered by an Arduino. Awesome. Long story short, we built it to much success, and when loading the code onto the board, I got a hang of how the Arduino works. That got me to dig out the Arduboy once again to take a look.

I took a look at what was available now – Bitmap libraries, Sound, and updated Arduboy libraries – and decided I’d take another swing at this. My mother had, unfortunately, broken her leg, but this gave me a great chance to do a one-man at-home Game Jam. And I decided to make my own version of Sinistar.

I loved Sinistar as a kid. The 3 classic video game “holy shit run for your life I wish I was never born” of my childhood were the Mask from Super Mario 2, the Sun from Super Mario 3, and Sinistar. For anyone who is unfamiliar with Sinistar, do yourself a favor and play it. I shouldn’t have to explain a game that’s 34 years old. The general run-down was that you had to fly around, shooting asteroids and enemies, collect bombs, and stop Sinistar from becoming whole. You then use the bombs to destroy Sinistar. Oh, and Sinistar tries to eat you. Violently.

My version was much more simple than that, due to memory and hardware limitations.

  • My Sinistar (called ArduSTAR) wasn’t being built – he was growing. Once he grew to full size, he would then attack AND be attack-able.
  • Enemies where just there to try and kill you. If you shot an enemy, ArduSTAR would shrink down and not move. If you shoot ArduSTAR, he also shrinks down (only less) and stops.
  • Score is based on survival. Attacking ArduSTAR and the enemies awards you more points, but this is strictly a survival game.
  • Sinistar plays more “open world” where you can fly around a near endless void. ArduSTAR has screen wrapping. Only the player wraps.

So, with this, you can go check out ArduSTAR. One day I’ll post up a video, or someone will, but, if you want, you can check out all the source code for the game here. I hope you enjoyed this little Game Jam game. I want to try making more of these simple one-off games. Maybe make an Android app or 2. We’ll see!

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