The setting is a futuristic gladiator tournament, where combatants duel each other to the death for the pleasure of the galactic empire. The game will comprise the player’s fighting career, with the difficulty and rewards ramping up with each match.

Release notes from jrok:

Here’s my latest build:

Finally got scanline under control with a small kernel edit and some optimization of the player control scheme. The game runs at a smooth 262 except for overflows during the death animations, which I’ll have to investigate further.
Replaced left and right walls with a PF0=128 vertical frame in the vblank
Set a limits on laser beams to stop their progress at the left and right walls (still working on stopping vertical and diagonal beams)
Created a color phase animation for the combatants while waiting for a new match to begin.
Increased hittable area of both combatants
Revised AI routine
Expanded number and style of playfields
Expanded number of unique enemies

For me, the most exciting part was being able to finally get my core game routines to run at a reliable 262, since I was at the verge of giving up. I have lots of ideas where I want to take the game next, so its a big relief to know that, at the very least, I might still have a program that’s functional.

Now that I can have scores of unique “looking” enemies, I really want to work on getting unique “acting” ones. I’ve left placeholders in my enemy data set that I will try to use as pointers for different weapons, and maybe even alternate AI routines. I have plenty of ROM left in my AI bank, so I just have to figure out what I want them to do differently that varies the challenge as you proceed through the game.

I also would like to add in a few new player control options, which will be pretty easy since I’m already tracking the time that the player is holding down the fire button. But I could use some advice:

Quick button “taps”:
Which do you think would be more interesting and/or useful: a quick dodge manuever or a melee attack?

Overcharging the gun:
Should this produce a negative effect for the player, like the weapon becoming unavailable for a short period of time? Or should it be some sort of super-attack or manuever that can be stocked up like smartbombs?

Also, I’ve realized if I keep this a 32K game, I still have 2 completely empty banks to create completely alternate gameloops, to keep the player guessing about what’s coming in the next level. For instance, instead of facing a lone gladiator with a laser beam, I want to create the following alternate round-styles:

Fend off groups of alien wildlife that emerge from a pit.
Battle a snakelike creature that moves like a Tron light cycle.
Battle a killer robot that can teleport around the screen.

It’s probably biting off more than I or bB can chew, but if I can squeeze even one alternate play-style in there I think I’ll be happy with this project.