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Platform game


Jimmy Mardell

Ticalc.org URL

TI-83 Ion version
TI-83+ Ion version
TI-83+ MirageOS version
TI-85 version
TI-86 version
TI-92 version

Release Date



TI-83(+), TI-85, TI-86, TI-92


Z80 Assembly / 68K Assembly

Sqrxz is a platform game, similar in some ways to Mario. It was programmed originally for the TI-85, TI-86 & TI-92 calculators by Jimmy Mardell, and then later ported to the TI-83(+) series.

All levels are stored as external files, and the zip file includes a PC level editor so that players can build their own levels.

Sqrxz was awarded ticalc.org's POTM for August 2000.

Product Screenshot

(Screenshot of Sqrxz on the TI-83+)


(Taken from the TI-85 readme file)



Sqrxz for Usgard is a Mario Bros similiar game. The Usgard version is a
clone of a PC game with the same name which I happened to like very much
(Get it at http://www.algonet.se/~mja/sqrxz.zip). The goal of the game
is to control an ugly bug (a Sqrxz) through a dangerous world filled
with traps and enemies such as Blobs, Hedgehogs, Bats and more.


The Usgard LITE installation, a shell, the sqrxz string and a world.

Usgard 1324
sqrxz 6944
sqrxzwd1 1785 (4 levels in this world)
usgdsimp 386

You also need 2k free RAM when running. This is used to store the level
you are currently running. Since the level changes while playing, the
changes can't be made directly to the Sqrxz string.


When you start Sqrxz the title picture will appear. Just press any key to
continue. You will then reach the option menu, which also can be reached
while playing. You can choose between

Starts the game (of course)

Since the game scrolls most of the time, moving sprites (the enemies) can
flicker quite much, making them hard to see. If there are only a few
enemies visible (1-2) it should be no problem, else it could be annoying.
There is a cost of using a virtual screen however - it slows down the
game. The speed loss is not THAT great however, the game is definately
playable. However, if you have a non-turboed TI calc, you should not
use a Virtual screen IMHO. Instead, increase the contrast more than usual
and the flicker shouldn't cause to much problem. If you have a turboed
calc however, you should definately use the virtual screen, because it
would not cause any speed loss (NOTE: Sqrxz hasn't been tested on a
turboed calc when I'm writing this so it's just what I believe will

You can choose between three different speeds - SLOW, NORMAL and FAST.
The default is Normal, and you shouldn't really change it to something
else. If you have a turboed calc - don't choose slow just because you
think the game would be too fast else, because that's wrong!
The game tries to run after the speed you've chosen, but if a lot
of things happen at the same time (scrolling when there are >2 enemies
visible at the same time), the game will be slower than it should. If
you choose Fast and don't have a turboed calc, the game will be very
fast when the screen doesn't scroll, but will slow down quite much
when it starts to scroll. Choosing Slow will make the game go at a slow
pace all the time, thus reducing the speed changes. In any case, I doubt
the game gets easier if you play in Slow mode.

To choose between the options, you use the UP and DOWN arrow, press ENTER
to change option (or start the game if you are at the first option). EXIT
will return to the Usgard shell.


Now you have to choose which World (set of levels) you want to play. The
game scans through all strings on the calc, and finds out which are Sqrxz
Worlds. If it can't find and Worlds, a message "No worlds found" is shown
and you will end up in the Usgard shell.

When the list is shown, just use the arrow keys to choose world. If you
have more than 8 worlds on the calc (not very likely) you can press MORE
to see the next page (NOTE: the MORE key is not mentioned in the help row
at the bottom - it didn't fit there :) ). If you have more than 80 worlds
on the calc, strange things could happen, but since each world is quite
big, you never have that many. Pressing ENTER on a world chooses that


Before each level start (and each time you lose a life) a page is shown
telling you which world you play, the worlds Creator, which level you
are at and how many lifes you have left. Pressing EXIT will quit the game.
Pressing any other button than that (except the arrow keys) will start the

You control the ugly little bug with the arrow keys as follows

LEFT - move left
RIGHT - move right
UP - jump (2ND can also be used for this purpose)
DOWN - walk slower (see below)

Why would you want to walk slower than regular? It's because that usually
Sqrxz will run over holes in the ground that are one tile wide (if you
don't happen to stop directly above a hole, which isn't likely). But
if you hold the DOWN button down, and move left/right, the speed is reduced
and you can thus fall down in holes more easily. Another reason you maybe
want to walk slow is that most enemies (not all!) walk in that pace, and
sometimes you might want to follow them.

Other keys are

EXIT - give up this life (if you get stuck)
MORE - lets you reconfigure the options (virtual screen/speed)

(The MORE key is also used as the Pause key. Note that there is no Teacher
key yet, but there will be one in a future version.)

To the right of the screen you find two bars; the left is how much oxygene
you have left in your lungs (decreases when you're in water) and the right
bar is how much time you have left. You usually have more than enough time
to beat a level, but it could be changed so that you have to hurry through
the level. When the time is up, you lose a life.


There are a lot of different tiles in Sqrxz. Some are background, some
are forground (obstacles). Here is a complete list:

Small stones
Sign - usually before the exit door
Exit door - the goal of each level!
Water - When you're in water, the left bar will decrease.
When not in water, it will increase. If the bar reached
the bottom, you drown. Note: bugs can't swim, and you'll
fall as fast in water as in air.

Bricks - these can be crushed with your (Sqrxz) head
Steel brick - harder bricks, can't be crushed
Bridgeramp - Forground obstacles that are just in the way
Bridge - When standing on a bridge, it will fall apart immediately.
You have to run on a bridge if you don't want to fall down.
Portcullis - When you walk under a portcullis, it will fall down when
you've left that square and thus not allowing anything
passing through. Can be good to stop enemies, but can also
trap you…
Spikes - Avoid these by all means! Sqrxz is a poor bug with no armor.
Spike traps - These are nasty ones! When walking on a trap, it will spring
immediately and you die. And there is no way to find out if
a tile is a spike trap until it's too late…
Lever - Pulling a lever will save your position. If you die on the
level, you don't have to start from the beginning.
Sausages - Yummy! Sqrxz LOVES sausages, and there seem to be someone
leaving a damn lot of sausages in each world. If you manage
to eat 32 sausages without dying inbetween (the counter
resets if you die), you get an extra life. NOTE: the counter
is never visible in this beta (it isn't in the PC version
either) but will probably be in a later version.
Extra life - Sometimes you can find an extra life on a level. It looks
like a small Sqrxz. Touching it will give you an extra life.
However, when you see an extra life you should beware! A
Creator of the World is usually nasty to put a lot of traps
around an extra life so it's either hard, or impossible to
reach it!


There are five different enemies, and all will walk/move straight forward
and turn around at obstacles. All enemies walk/move slower than Sqrxz
(except the green man).

Blob - A primitive enemy. Just jump on it and it will die.
Hedgehog - These can be quite annoying. You can't kill it by jumping
on it because of it's spikes (you'll be the one who die
Bat - Since the bat is flying, it never changes it's vertical
coordinate. Jumping on it will kill it though.
Green man - A man running around with a helmet on his head - the
definately most advanced enemy in Sqrzx. It's running
at the same speed as Sqrxz do, which means it doesn't fall
down in small holes. Also, because of the helmet, you can't
kill the man by jumping on it. If you do, the man will hide
inside the helmet, and wait a few seconds before running
again. When he starts running again, he will change
direction. (This guy was green in the PC version which
can't be seen on the TI-85 though)
Fish - Swims in water, always at the same height. You can't
kill it though, so it's a combination between a hedgehog
and a bat (since it doesn't fall down).

When you jump on an enemy (except Hedgehog and Fish), you can jump from the
back of the enemy and thus reaching higher than you usually should. To
do this you have to jump on the enemy and hold down the jump button (UP
or 2ND) at the same time. However, you can't hold the button down - you
have to release it after the jump and the pressing it again before landing.
This is made on purpose as Sqrxz shouldn't be bouncing around that easily…


In some occasions (very seldom), there might be some trash left on the
screen after you have killed an enemy. The trash is often just one or
a few pixels and won't disturb the playing. Beside that, no known bugs.


0.1á First released version. 6x6 sprites, quite buggy. Not that many
0.3á Added vertical scrolling. More features than 0.1 (portcullis, spikes,
traps etc) and a lot of new graphics. Still no enemies.
0.7á Removed vertical scrolling (unpractical and slow). Four different
enemies. External worlds. Speed and mode options added. Change some
graphics + added a few tiles.
A level editor for the PC is included.
0.99á Some minor bug fixes. The lever now works. Water tiles added and with
that the new Fish enemy and also the water bar. Supports two
different world formats - noncompressed and compressed. The latter
compress the levels with at least 50%, usually more.
1.0 New title picture. Some minor bug fixes and some other stuff.
1.01 Minor bug fixes. You can now jump over background tiles which are
on the first row (previously you would die if you tried to jump over
a spike on the first row). A new world included - the last part of
the default worlds.


  • Teacher key
  • A level editor on the calc (a late project)
  • More…?

Q: WHAT THE TELL DOES SQRXZ MEAN!?!? How do you pronounce it!?
A: I have NO IDEA. I will ask the author of the PC game when I see him.
As for pronouncing, I pronounce it SKWER-ks (not -zee at the end).

Q: Since you made ZTetris shareware will Sqrxz end up that way too?
A: NO, the idea hasn't even popped up in my head. There was a huge difference
in writing ZTetris and writing Sqrxz.

Q: How about the source code…?
A: Relax! The source code will be released in the next version FULLY
COMMENTED (more than 50% have been commented so far) with an external
text file describing all algorithms in the game. I intend Sqrxz to
be a watch-and-learn game.


This is a very nice features allowing everyone who wants to make his/her
own set of levels (aka World). What you need is a PC and the level editor
SQLE (stupid name I know) which are included with the original zip file.
However, SQLE isn't exactly a userfriendly program (it's the COMPLETE
opposite) and I won't tell you what every key does (most keys on the keyboard
does something!) mainly because I don't rememeber :)

You also need a couple of other files:

SQSPR.BIN Graphics, ripped from the PC game :)
BIN285S.EXE A useful tool to convert a binary file to a 85 string
SLESPLIT.EXE This program is required if you want your levels compressed.
It splits up the world into several file.
HUFFMAN.EXE This file compresses the world. And, yes, it's the same
file that came with Usgard (and with the Fargo release
of hufflib also) - compatibility!
SLE.BAT This batch file makes the whole process of making a
world easy.

The syntax is 'SLE <file>' and you should not use any extension (.BIN will
be added automatically). For example, if you wish to create a world called
MyWorld (the TI-85 string will get the same name as the PC filename) you
would type

SLE myworld

In the editor, you use the following buttons:

ESC - quit editor (without saving the world)
F2 - save the world. Do this often since you won't be warned if you
haven't saved the level when quitting.
F3 - Change World information. The name of the world can be up to
21 character long, and the name of the Creator can be longer.
F4 - Undo. You can undo 5 steps.
F5 - Delete a column at the cursor position
F6 - Insert a column at the cursor position
F7 - Change to the previous level
F8 - Change to the next level
F9 - Decrease the number of levels
F10 - Increase the number of levels
SHIFT-F3 - Cut a level (ie Copy & Delete at the same time)
SHIFT-F4 - Copy level
SHIFT-F5 - Paste level
+ - Increase the level width (max 255)
- - Decrease the level width (min 15)
DEL - Delete the tile at the current cursor position
UP,DOWN,LEFT,RIGHT - move cursor
PGUP - scroll left
PGDN - scroll right
HOME - moves to the beginning of the level
END - moves to the end of the level

And how do you put a tile? By pressing the keys A-Z, 0-9, .,['; Use the trial
and error method to find out which key puts which tile hehehe. Some keys puts
more than one tile. For example, Trees, Fences, Tombstones, the Exit Door and
more consist of more than one tile, but you can put out all these tiles with
one keystroke. The F key is for the Earth tile - the program chooses (at
random) which of the 5 different earth tiles is to be put. If you hold down
shift (or CAPS LOCK) and press a letter, that letter in the cool font will
be put on the current cursor location.

If you put more than one Sqrxz ('4') on the screen, the one farthest
right will be the start position (the other will vanish). Howver, if you
choose Sqrxz start position farther right than the first screen… the
game will be strange I think, it would scroll immediately until Sqrxz
is in range.

One last thing - you can't yet change the time of each level. It's stupid
I know, but I never got around doing that simple thing.

As you see, almost every key (I've probably forgotten something) does
something. The editor WILL get better I promise, probably with mouse
support. The editor is probably also quite buggy…


Marcus Westerlund - for the original Sqrxz
Andreas Ess - for making routines & level editor although I used
neither… also for USGARD of course
Wayne Chen - for converting the PC Sqrxz levels
Jonas Minnberg - for the idea of making selfmodifying source
Nicholas Reed - for the title picture
ticalc.org team - Excellent job on a very professional site and the best
TIcalc site on the web

Also thanks to all those who have given me moral support (quite many

Jimmy M†rdell <es.tenogla|ajm#es.tenogla|ajm>
IRC: Yarin