|★ APPLICATIONS ★ PROGRAMMATION ★ Basic Extensions and Toolbox ROM (c) Micro Power ★|
|Micropower - Basic Extensions And Toolbox Rom||Applications Programmation|
Locomotive Basic is generally accepted as being one of the best available on a home micro, but doubtless everyone could name some features that they would like added - whether it is games oriented sprite control or highbrow structured procedures.
The thing that Amsoft received most criticism for after the launch of the 664 was that there was to be no ROM upgrade available lor 464 users to employ the graphics commands. If nothing else this is a disincentive to commercial companies to use them. However for those who want to have access to the facilities for their own programs, or for converting listings, you are supplied with the equivalent of most of them and much more besides on this chip, a very smart move since it could add considerably to its sales appeal. The only missing command that I would like to see is the disc error function Derr.
Ultimately your decision on whether it is worth the price tag depends on the available commands, and I could do no better than to list the major ones here. The version I had was pre-production, and it is possible that some additions will be made later so check with Micropower for more details. Of the 664 commands you are given these equivalents - graphics Pen and Paper colour control, transparent mode, masking to produce patterned hnes, colour Fill Copychr$ for reading characters off the screen and frame for smoothing animation.
Many people will welcome the music micro language as in the MSX machines - no more hunting through frequency tables - just type GGBEDD etc.
Programming aids include 'Ltron and Ltroff'- sends the trace output to the printer, RemKill, string find and replace for your Basic programs, screen switching, an editor and a memory editor -the latter two are functional but not the best I have seen. There is an in-built UDG designer that automatically produces the appropriate Basic lines for inclusion in your programs. You can also obtain Info about start locations, length of files, etc, and Unprotect files. The Command command gives you on screen details about the function and syntax of all the new words.
Printer controls have been expanded to include a monochrome and a shaded screen dump and an Echo function that reproduces what is printed on screen. Printers can be toggled between Epson and Amstrad types.
More than any other language Basic has lost all pretensions to standardisation in favour of control over the hardware.
Some of these facilities are fudging the definition even more between ordinary commands and in-built utilities. but there is no doubt that this is a step up for the 464's sound and graphics.
Tony Kendle , PopularComputingWeekly