Royal Dealer

INTELLIVISION CARTRIDGE [Mattel Electronics #3758]

Release #37 1982

Working titles: Cards, Card Fun

Produced by APh Technological Consulting for Mattel Electronics

Program: Rich O'Keefe

Package illustration: Jerrol Richardson

Instructions Posted Here


If you don't always have someone to play cards with and you're not challenged enough by Solitaire, this cartridge introduces you to three players and three different card games: Hearts, Rummy and Crazy Eights. Your computer deals the cards and keeps score. You can choose to play against one, two or three players.

• One player game

• Choose from three different games

• One, two, or three computer opponents


While a fairly minor release (36,000 initial shipment), Royal Dealer had a major effect on the development cycle inside Mattel Electronics. Long overdue from APh, when the game was finished it went straight into production with only brief playtesting by a few other programmers. When it was too late, it was discovered that the cartridge contained a major -- and easy to come across -- bug that crashed the game. Because of the low sales expected, Marketing decided to ship the cartridge anyway with an errata slip, but they were furious. The Quality Assurance department, which had frequently been bypassed on late games such as this one and B-17 Bomber, was immediately given life-or-death authority over all future games: nothing was allowed to be released until the official game testers Traci Roux and Dale Lynn had signed off on it. They were merciless: stomping on a game then gleefully showing the videotaped results to the programmer when they found a bug. But it paid off; to this day, we haven't seen any reports of bugs in games they approved.

BUG: Recreating the bug discussed above was outlined in a September 30, 1982 memo from game tester Traci Roux to Joel Crain, head of Quality Assurance:

The following steps lead to the problems with Royal Dealer. They occur in all four games.

     1.     You are rearranging your cards and have a card out of the deck. Then one of the players lays down her final card and that round ends.

     2.     The new round starts and you hit the disk. The card from the last hand appears. Depending on how you rearrange and throw your cards, different errors can occur. (If you hit rearrange first, the game will progress normally, and the errors never occur.) The errors that occur are:

     a.     You can rearrange the blank cards that are displayed. If you rearrange enough times,the program gets confused and the screen blanks out. You have to hit reset to start over.

     b.     Sometimes when you lift up a card to rearrange, you see it where the card was. This usually occurs if this is one card by itself.

     c.     If you have to draw 15 cards and they are all in a row, it usually will not let you pass. The result is that you have to hit reset to start over.

     d.     In Rummy, if you win the round the music plays and the card screen comes up. The screen doesn't show "GIN" by your hand and a card shows up in your final hand that wasn't there before. Results are that you can't continue to the next hand, and you have to hit reset to start over.

     e.     If a gap appears between your cards, you cannot get to the cards on the left side of the gap. The gap will go away if you can discard your cards on the right of the gap. If you need a heart, for example, and you draw until you have 15 cards, you may have to pass. If there is a heart on the left side of the gap, you cannot get to it, the program sees the heart, and will not allow you to pass. The result is you have to hit reset to start over.

Because of this bug, the following errata slip was added to the packaging: "Please correct your instruction booklet on Page 2 to read: You can only rearrange your cards each time it is your turn before playing or discarding a card from your hand. Once you have played or discarded, you must wait until your next turn before rearranging your cards."