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Parsec is a TI-99/4A original video game created by Jim Dramis (programmer of Car Wars and Munch Man) and Paul Urbanus, who was a summer intern at the time. [1] Parsec was release in the third quarter of 1982 and was published by Texas Instruments (TI), and was released on Solid State SoftwareTM Command Module. The original price was $39.95 (USD). Parsec is perhaps, the most known and loved video game made for the TI-99/4A. The TI Solid State SpeechTM Synthesizer enhanced gameplay by adding alerts and warnings, but the game could be played without it.

Parsec Manual (Front Cover0
Parsec Manual (Front Cover) [2] [3]
Publisher(s) Texas Instruments (TI)
Original Retail Price $39.95 (USD)
Programmer(s) Jim Dramis and Paul Urbanus
Part# PHM 3112
Format(s) Solid State SoftwareTM Command Module
Release 1982 (3rd Quarter)
Genre(s) Shooter, Space


Parsec can be played with or without the use of the TI Solid State Speech SynthesizerTM. The speech synthesizer helps alert the player to upcoming waves of attacks. Jim Dramis, the programmer of Parsec, chose a female's voice for the game because "It seems to have a sort of mystical effect. Also, somebody told us that you couldn't digitize female speech because of things like high-frequency patterns. So, we just had to go off and do it." [4]

The optional speech synthesis, although advanced at the time, adds drama to the gameplay: Although it warns of advancing enemy craft (except for Killer Satellites) and of low fuel levels, both of these features are duplicated by on-screen visual cues and are easily predictable by an experienced player. The sole exception is in the asteroid belts between levels, whose length increases with the level number: The speech synthesizer provides a spoken countdown not duplicated by any on-screen display, such that without the speech synthesizer there is no indication of how long the asteroid belt will last.

The voice of the on-board computer was performed by Aubree Anderson, who at the time was a student at Texas Tech University.[5]


  • "Press fire to begin."
  • "Alert! Alien craft advancing!"
  • "Alert! Ships attacking!"
  • "Nice shooting."
  • "Good shot."
  • "Great shot, pilot!"
  • "Laser on target."
  • "Enemy destroyed."
  • "Warning! Time to refuel."
  • "Congratulations." (when refueling, i.e., at halfway point of refueling tunnel)
  • "Nice flying." (after exiting a refueling tunnel)
  • "Extra ship."
  • "Caution! Asteroid belt."
  • "Countdown... 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... Advance to next level."
  • "Sorry, you are out of fuel."


The speech data for Parsec, Alpiner and Moon Mine was later acquired by Plogue Art et Technologie, Inc. The data for all three games was used for the software Chipspeech to create the voice of the character "Lady Parsec".[6]


The game begins when the player presses fire. The game proceeds in the following order of enemies on each level:

  1. Swoopers
  2. Urbites
  3. Light Triangular Fighter (LTFs)
  4. Dramites
  5. Saucers
  6. Bynites
  7. Asteroid Belt

One exception, beginning at the beginning of level 4, is that Killer Satellites start to appear and can do so randomly starting with the beginning of level 4.


The first of the enemies, the Swoopers, advance from the right of the screen and moving to the left (the exact opposite of the player's ship). Swoopers don't fire on the player's ship, but continually pick up speed until destroyed, making it imperative that the player destroys them as quickly as possible. Five Swoopers make up a wave of attack, and all six must be destroyed to move on.


The next enemy is an armed fighter called the Urbites. Unlike the swoopers, the Urbites fire on the player's ship, thus, the player must both avoid getting hit with enemy fire while maneuvering in a way to allow themselves the opportunity to destroy the enemy. Urbites enter the screen on the right and move to the left, and fire two parallel lasers at the player. The player must destroy four Urbite ships to advance.

Light Triangular Fighters (LTFs)

The next of the enemies to appear are the Light Triangular Fighters or LTFs. Like the Swoopers, these enemies do not fire on the player and enter the screen from right to left coming at the player head-on. The LTFs are somewhat harder to shoot than the swoopers because of their streamlined shape, and like the swooper, gain speed the longer they are around making it important to destroy them quickly. A player must destroy all five LTFs to advance.


The next enemy is the armed fighter known as the Dramites. Just like the Urbite ships, the Dramites fire upon the player. The ship itself appears exactly the same as the Urbites, but Dramites fire a different weapon upon the player, a single laser. Dramites appear on the right of the screen and advance towards the player on the left. Dramites seem to be more aggressive and intelligent than Urbites.


Saucers are the third non-firing enemies that the player encounters. Unlike Swoopers and LTFs, however, Saucers enter the screen from the left, behind the player, potentially quickly rear-ending the player unawares. They then sling back towards the player, and continue through the left edge of the screen and re-appear via the right-hand screen just like the other enemies. The player must destroy six Saucers to advance.


Bynites are the third of the armed enemies that fire upon the player. Instead of firing lasers, Bynites fire a photon cannon which consists of a large cluster for the player to avoid. Bynites aren't quite as aggressive as Dramites, however, on levels 2 and onward, they disappear after being hit the first time, and the player has to hit them blind.

Asteroid Belt

After destroying all the waves of fighters, the player faces the asteroid belt. The asteroid belt consists of hundreds of asteroids that hurtle themselves at the player simultaneously, instead of one at a time like the fighters. The asteroid belt lasts longer with each level and becomes more difficult to pass.

Laser Overheating

One feature that makes Parsec different than many space shooters is that the player can't simply lay on the fire button for the whole game. Pressing fire increases the heat of the laser, and eventually cause the player's ship to explode when overheated. The lasers overheat quicker with each level, so the player has to ensure his/her aim is as accurate as possible.

Advertising Blurbs

Front Cover of Manual

You are commander of the starship PARSEC under attack by the most hostile, deadly aliens in the galaxy. Your mission: destroy as many aliens fighters and cruisers as possible.

Triton Catalog - Fall 1984

As you battle alien ships, a voice keeps telling you the current changing conditions. These terrible terrors include battleship attacks, guiding your ship through refueling tunnels, and weaving through asteroid belts. (Speech Synthesizer and Joysticks recommended.)


  • Two of the cruiser ships (armed fighters) are named Urbites and Dramites after the co-creators of Parsec, Jim Dramis, and Paul Urbanus.
  • The various planet surfaces hold the authors' initials as well JED and URB for James E. Dramis and Paul Urbanus.
  • Parsec was the first TI-99/4A game to use bit map graphics which is why its quality exceeds the visual quality of previous TI games.


  • After the game says "Press Fire to Begin," if the player crashed into the ground instead of firing, the player will sometimes be warped to a further stage in the game. This doesn't always work, however.
  • Holding down the fire buttons on two joysticks simultaneously will make it so the player never overheats.



You are the commander of the starship PARSEC patrolling an alien planet. Suddenly, the onboard computer announces that you are about to come under attack by small alien fighters and large, heavily armed, hostile alien cruisers!

The fighters are highly mobile, and unless they are eliminated by your laser, they fill the screen, restrict maneuvering of your craft, and may cause a deadly collision. The cruisers are highly aggressive and their armament devastating. Armed with photon missiles, they track your ship and fire on it. You must outmaneuver and destroy them with accurate fire from your ship's laser. If you survive the waves of alien craft, do not let down your guard, for you also have to blast through an asteroid belt or refuel your ship, demanding the utmost in skillful flying.

The Parsec Solid State Cartridge is a challenging, exciting game packed with thrills. Danger and excitement are brought on with each new attack. Some of Parsec's features include:

  • Waves of attack from seven different alien craft.
  • Challenging flights through refueling tunnels.
  • Asteroid belts through which you must blast a path for your starship.
  • Synthesized speech to warn of approaching alien craft or when it's time to refuel.
  • Three different lifts to vary the speed at which the ship moves vertically.
  • Increased difficulty levels to challenge you.

Parsec is a one-player game which tests your skills and strategy. Movement of the ship on the screen may be controlled by the arrow keys on the keyboard or by the Wired Remote Controllers.

Parsec is designed to work with or without the Texas Instruments Solid State SpeechTM Synthesizer (sold separately). However, the Speech Synthesizer must be attached to activate the voice of the computer. The voice enhances the game by simulating an onboard computer in your starships. It warns you of oncoming alien craft and refueling tunnels, and it congratulates you for good performance.

Getting Started

After you select Parsec, the title screen appears. Press any key to leave the screen and go to the game, or wait a few seconds and the title screen ends automatically and is replaced by a space scene.

On the screen the patrolling starship, Parsec, is cruising above the surface of the planet. Directly beneath the surface of the planet is the command PRESS FIRE TO BEGIN. Below this command the word FUEL and an orange band indicate how much fuel your patrol ship has. An arrow at lower right indicates your score.

Under the current score is the word TOP, which indicates the highest score in the series of games currently underway.

To control the speed of the vertical movement of your ship, choose from three LIFTS. Lift 1 is the slowest and is generally used when refueling. Lifts 2 and 3 are used for combat. The game always starts in Lift 3. Change Lifts simply by pressing the 1, 2, or 3 key. The Lift your ship is using is displayed at the bottom center of the screen.

Directly to the left of the Lift indicator is the remainder of your fleet. You begin patrol with five ships. If your current ship is destroyed during the course of the game, one of the reserve ships automatically takes its place to continue fighting. The total number of ships in your fleet is the sum of the ships in reserve at the lower left of the screen plus the ship involved in combat.

Controlling Your Ship

Your ship can be vertically or horizontally maneuvered for fighting by pressing the arrow keys. Pressing the ←(S) key cuts the rockets in your ship back to an idle, and your ship drifts back to the left. Pressing the → (D) key increases the rockets' thrust and accelerates the ship to the right. Pressing ↑ (E) or ↓ (X) moves your ship up or down to maneuver you into firing position or out of danger of being hit by an alien ship, a photon missile, or an asteroid. To fire the starship's laser, press the Period (.) key. You may also press a or Y to fire; however, the ship will not move while you are firing with these two keys.

If you are using the Wired Remote Controllers, move the lever right or left to maneuver the ship horizontally on the screen, and move the lever forward (toward the FIRE button) or backward (away from the FIRE button) to maneuver vertically on the screen. Press the FIRE button to activate the laser.

Stopping the Game

If at any time in the game you wish to stop the action, press the P key (for pause) and hold it down momentarily. The screen action stops and the words TIME WARP ACTIVATED appear directly below the planet surface. Press any key to resume the game.

Playing the Game

After going to the game screen from the title sequence as described in the previous section, press the FIRE button on the Wired Remote Controller or the Period (.) key to start the game. A series of six different craft appears, one type at a time, which must be destroyed with your laser. Carefully position your ship and fire at the alien craft.

Note: If the laser is continuously fired, the ship begins to flash red and green. If it is fired too long, your ship will explode from an overheated laser.

Alien Craft Advancing!

First to appear are the SWOOPERS, which attack from the upper right of the screen and drop down to varied altitudes above the surface of the planet. They pose the danger of collision, and the longer they are allowed to fly, the faster they become. If you lose a ship through collision with an enemy craft or with the ground, you must start over until all have been successfully eliminated.

Now comes the first of the armed cruisers. The URBITES, larger than the SWOOPERS, are heavily armed with twin photon cannon. They appear on the right side of the screen and track the vertical movement of your ship. Each time your starship crosses their sights, they fire.

Next comes another group of small fighters. The LIGHT TRIANGULAR FIGHTERS or LTF's are similar to the SWOOPERS, except that their streamlined, triangular shape makes them a more challenging target. LTF's also bring about the danger of collision, and their acceleration makes them difficult to hit if left on the screen too long. Losing a ship to them requires that you face them again until all are eliminated.

If you are successful with the LTF's, prepare to meet what many commanders consider to be the most vicious, deadly group of aliens within light years of the galaxy. The DRAMITE cruisers are armed with a single photon cannon, but the maneuverability of each cruiser and the rapid-fire capability of its cannon make them utterly wicked. They are vertically faster than the URBITES, and they attack your ship with ferocity, drawing nearer to you as they track your up-and-down movement.

The next set of fighters, the SAUCERS, have the sinister habit of sneaking up from behind, trying to crash into you from the rear. If they miss, they pass you, reverse their course, and try to ram you from the front. The number of ships you have determines their attack pattern. If you have four or more ships in reserve, the SAUCERS attack in random patterns. If you have three or less ships left, they attack in a pattern starting at the top of the screen and moving down. Aim well and fly carefully, for the SAUCERS are dangerous. Losing a ship means that you must fight another wave of them until you get them all.

The last cruiser group is the BYNITES. Similar to the URBITES and DRAMITES, they are armed with a photon cannon that shoots clusters of photon missiles. They are just as deadly as the other cruisers. WARNING-Do not underestimate any of these aliens!

Asteroid Belts

After successfully eliminating all of the aliens, you next encounter the asteroid belt. A wall of asteroids threatens to destroy your ship. You must blast through with your laser. Again, be careful not to fire so long that your laser overheats.

When you are into the asteroid belt, your onboard computer begins a countdown to indicate the distance to the end of the belt. When you reach the end, the entire yellow surface of the planet turns green, indicating that you have reached the second level.

Advancing to Different Levels

Second-level play is similar to first level, except that alien ships must be hit twice to be destroyed. When hit once, they change color. Hit them again and they are destroyed. After the second-level asteroid belt, the planet surface turns red, and you have reached the third level.

Starting in Level Two, the BYNITE ships become invisible when hit once, but continue to fire at you until they are hit the second time. They continue this throughout the higher levels.

During third-level play, you must hit the aliens three times to destroy them. From this point on in the game, no matter what level you may achieve, you must hit the aliens three times to eliminate them.

As you progress to the higher levels, the armed cruisers appear closer and closer to your ship, rather than on the far right side of the screen. Also, the small fighters accelerate more quickly as the levels increase. Good luck!

Special Features


In Level One the first two groups of aliens, the SWOOPER fighters and the URBITE cruisers, are worth 100 points per ship. The next two groups, the LTF's and the DRAMITES, are worth 200 points, and the last two groups, the SAUCERS and the BYNITES, are worth 300 points. Each asteroid which is destroyed counts 100 points. Getting through the asteroid belt successfully adds 1000 points to your score.

In Level Two, the aliens increase in value by 100 points. Thus, the first two groups of aliens count 200 points for each ship you destroy. The second and third groups of two are worth 300 and 400 points respectively. The asteroid belt is worth 2000 points, although individual asteroids still count only 100 points.

In the third level, the aliens' values are increased by another 100 points to 300, 400, and 500 points for the different groups of two, and the asteroid belt is worth 3000 points.

From this point on, the aliens maintain the third level values. However, the asteroid belts keep adding point value. In the fourth level (blue planet surface), the asteroid belt is worth 4000 points. In the fifth level (magenta planet surface), surviving the asteroid belt adds 4500 points to your score, and the belt begins to add point value at 500 per level until it reaches a total of 10,000 points for successful completion. Asteroid belts build up in value because they become progressively longer and more difficult with each level.

Dramite, Urbite, Bynite.png
Dramite, Urbite, Bynite.png
Dramite, Urbite, Bynite.png
Killer Satellite.png
Level Screen Color Swoopers Urbites LTFs Dramites Saucers Bynites Asteroid Belt Killer Satelites
1 Dark Yellow 100 100 200 200 300 300 1000 -
2 Dark Green 200 200 300 300 400 400 2000 -
3 Dark Red 300 300 400 400 500 500 3000 -
4 Dark Blue 300 300 400 400 500 500 4000 400
5 Magenta 300 300 400 400 500 500 4500 400
6 Light Red 300 300 400 400 500 500 5000 400
7 Light Green 300 300 400 400 500 500 5500 400
8 Cyan 300 300 400 400 500 500 6000 400
9 Dark Blue 300 300 400 400 500 500 6500 400
10 Medium Red 300 300 400 400 500 500 7000 400
11 Light Blue 300 300 400 400 500 500 7500 400
12 Medium Green 300 300 400 400 500 500 8000 400
13 Grey 300 300 400 400 500 500 8500 400
14 White 300 300 400 400 500 500 9000 400
15 Dark Yellow 300 300 400 400 500 500 9500 400
16 Dark Yellow 300 300 400 400 500 500 10000 400

Refueling Tunnels

If you keep a ship fighting long enough, it eventually depletes its entire fuel supply. When your ship runs low on fuel, refueling tunnels appear in the planet's surface, and you must fly into and out of them, without crashing, to refuel. The first tunnel is worth 1000 points. The second is more difficult to fly through, and it adds 2000 points to your score. The third tunnel is harder still and much longer and is worth 3000 points.

New Ships

At a score of 5000 points, you are awarded another ship. If you still have a total of five ships, the new ship does not appear on the screen when it is awarded. But the computer holds it in memory and displays it on the screen if you lose a ship. If you have less than five ships when the new ship is awarded, it is displayed immediately. A second ship is awarded at 15,000 points and a third is awarded at 25,000. Thus, ships are awarded at intervals of 10,000 points.

Advanced Play

Following the asteroid belt in Level Four, a type of alien appears that is not seen in the first three levels. KILLER SATELLITES, worth 400 points each, appear for a surprise attack, as they are able to elude the sensing devices of your onboard computer. They need only be hit once to be destroyed. However, they attack a randomly generated number of times. You never know how many you will meet in a single attack.



External links