TI-82 Basic

I first learned to program while in high school by making games for TI-82, and amazingly these same calculators are still used in schools today! I now have a TI-86 (very similar to the 82) that I’ve used all through college and for almost every job on my resume. These calculators run on the same chip as the original Nintendo Game Boy, the Zilog Z80. When it was first introduced the TI-82 games ran programs only in basic which was very slow. Eventually after a few years some people discovered a trick to make the TI-82 run custom Z80 assembly code which is much faster, but by that time I was well into my college career.

Unfortunately nearly all of the games I created are now lost to the winds of time. Some of the games I made versions of were: Breakout, Aspen, Darwin’s Dilemma, AD&D, Pong, Minesweeper, Baseball, Pipe Dream, Snake, Black Jack, Poker, Checkers, and Space Invaders. My most epic creation was “Road Kill Dave”, an interactive adventure game that used nearly all of the TI-82’s memory.

Advanced TI-82 Basic Programming Techniques

These are reprints of the column I wrote for TI Graphing Calculator Magazine.

  1. Logic Tricks and Getkey
  2. Bypassing Ifs, Ans, and Simplifying Code
  3. Subprograms, Get Networking, and Getkey Template
  4. Pxl-On vs Pnt-On, Line, Circles, and Pre-drawn Backgrounds
  5. IS> and DS<, Log, and Subprograms
  6. Letters, Networking, Lower Case, and The $4 Link



  • Breakout was one of the most advanced TI-82 basic game that I created. Using every trick in the book I made a fast and complete version of breakout with multiple block types and many unique levels. The high score for every level was recorded and it even allowed for custom add on levels. Breakout 2 improved on the formula by adding the ability to shoot vertically to quicken up the pace of gameplay.



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  • Breakout 1.4 – By Frank Force
  • Overall Rating – 4.5 / 5
  • Published in TI Graphing Calculator Magazine – May 1996

> Nick Pappas

Breakout is just what you think, the classic Atari game where you bounce a ball off a paddle and break a series of blocks at the top of the screen. This Breakout runs a little differently though. Instead of having a finite number of balls throughout the entire game, you get 3 balls at the beginning of each level. Also, when you restart the game later, it begins at the same level you ended on, unless otherwise specified.

This version of Breakout for the TI-82 is far superior to anything else I’ve seen. It’s much faster and has a smooth feel to it. The ball doesn’t have such a jerky motion as do other versions. Also, like Frank’s other game Dungeons and Dragons, the graphics are really incredible.

There are some problems though. First, this program, like Frank’s other game Dungeons and Dragons, is very large at approximately 10k. It’s big for two reasons, one, because there are a total of 35 different levels and the program stores a high score for each individual level, and two, because of the extensive graphics. Another problem is it’s still too slow to be stimulating, but I don’t think the speed of the TI-82 will allow a fast enough version of Breakout to ever be written. It’s also difficult to see the ball bounce around the screen.

Overall, a good, user friendly program with no bugs. But Frank, you have to realize that there isn’t room on a TI-82 for giant programs with a lot of graphics. Personally I think a game should be entertaining but at the same time, as tight as possible without a lot of extra features. You should be writing CD ROM games instead where you have some space for graphics; not calculator games. Rating: ***

> Josh Craig

I found breakout to be a very good game. I am the only one in my school (out of 3000 kids) with a graph link so everyone comes to me for games. This was especially their favorite. Many of them had comments on how it was very similar to Alleyway on the Gameboy. I would say that over 1000 kids have this at my High School and I seem to have only one complaint. That is that the ball is only one pixel and it is very hard to follow. As far as I can see that is the only improvement that can be done. The levels are very difficult. I would give this a rating of ***** out of Five. Very Nice!

> Warren Thiptus

This is the best game I’ve reviewed this month. Breakout is a more advanced pong. It’s just a nicer version of Pong. And, more complicated. Also: A Correction. Last month I reviewed DRAGONS.82G. Well a more advanced version has been issued by MR. FRANK FORCE. It is much better! Hopefully it will be reviewed next issue. Rating: *****

Darwin’s Dilemma


  • Darwin’s dilemma is a cool little logic game where you push 2 numbers together to make a number one higher. For example if you push two 1’s together and they turn into a 2. This requires careful planning though because when you push a number it will slide until it bumps into a wall or another number. It’s sort of like sokoban but with randomly generated puzzles.



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Aspen Gold


  • Aspen is a simple action game that simulates skiing. This game was a big success because of how much faster it was then other TI-82 basic game at the time. The reason it is able to render at such a blazing speed is by utilizing the calculator’s built in ability to advance the text display up one line.