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Other Comments: This one is a fun reworking of the Mego "Robotstronomy" game. Where that game had two 8-tracks with two games each (for a total of 80 minutes), this one has one tape with one game at 32 minutes. However, in the traditional Tiger style, the questions radically change depending on how you answer, so if you're willing to deliberately get answers wrong (and thus "throw the game") to find new questions, then there's a lot to find.
Another advantage of using the Tiger one-program method is that 2-XL can keep closer track of how you're doing on the game by sending you down a particular thread of questions, and tell you directly how you're doing.
Like Robotstronomy, Stars & Planets gives you a chance to play either by yourself (in which case you try to get your piece through the solar system and to the Sun) or with another player (in which case you would each try to get the farthest). In the old game, if you played by yourself and got all the questions right, you'd be waiting at the sun for a while. In the name game, it's carefully planned out so if you get everything right, your last move will land you on the sun. Very nice!
The questions are the same for both 1-player and 2-player versions, unless of course someone gets a question wrong or chooses a different difficulty level when 2-XL gives you the choice.
Since it is a 1-program tape, the questions are rushed along a little faster; with the old 2-program tape version, 2-XL would occasional give you more in-depth information as he "stalled" you on the Question button on Game 1 while the other buttons were being used for Game 2.
In some cases that's better though, as some of the info on the old version was wrong. For example, in the original Robotstronomy game, 2-XL said that Laika (the first dog in space on Sputnik II) was brought back to Earth alive, which is (sadly) incorrect. In this version, he doesn't really go into any details on Laika, it's just on to the next question.
Along those lines, this program also tries very hard to keep itself current even though information on astronomy is constantly changing. For example, when discussing the number of moons in the solar system, 2-XL qualifies it by adding "I say 'about how many' because they discover new moons all the time."
In the old Robotstronomy game, 2-XL was dressed up like an astronaut on the game pieces, where as on this version he's just plain old 2-XL. Still, the 2-XL game pieces are quite cute.
An interesting note with the music: For "Space Music," if you're on buttons A, B, or C, 2-XL tells you halfway through the music that you can turn him off if you need more time. On the Question button, he stays quiet through the music. Another cool little easter egg!
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A NOTE ABOUT MUSIC: All music titles have been arbitrarily chosen by Frank and myself. These titles were picked based on many different things: the program we first heard the song on, or the project we first used it in, or whatever imagery it made us think of the most. 15 second wav samples (approximately 325k each) have been included for your convenience to be used as a reference. The running times listed in the description above are NOT the sample length. They are the length of the song as it is used on the 2-XL tape pictured.
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* A NOTE ABOUT PRINTING GAMEBOARD AND GAME PIECES: I'm attempting to make these files in the original sizes. Unfortunately computers are odd beasts, and something that looks the correct size doesn't always print at the correct size (or even show up as the same size on different computers). If it doesn't print at the correct size for you, your best bet is to save the file and open it through an image program such as Adobe Photoshop and resize it there.