All posts by Pete Davison

Former games journo (GamePro, USgamer) and expert on all those Japanese games and visual novels the mainstream press likes to go "ew, pretty girls" at. I write things at great length.

Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book – Stirring the Pot

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As is tradition for the series at this point, Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book shakes things up considerably when it comes to its core alchemy mechanics.

And again in keeping with past installments, the reinvention isn’t so radical that it feels incongruous with the rest of the series, but it’s distinctive enough to make Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book stand out nicely amid its many, many peers.

So today let’s take a closer look at that alchemy system — along with how the people around the town of Kirchen Bell can help out with your studies!

Continue reading Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book – Stirring the Pot

Atari A to Z Flashback: Steeplechase

Sometimes, as we’ve seen numerous times on this series already, the simplest game concepts really do work quite well. And such is the case with Steeplechase for Atari 2600, one of three games to be exclusively distributed through Sears’ Tele-Games label.

Offering simple, easy to understand horse racing action for one to four players, Steeplechase is a fun game to bust out when you have friends over and can’t be arsed to explain anything that needs more than one button. This also makes it an ideal fit for those people in your life who claim not to “do” video games.

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Atari ST A to Z: Kid Gloves

Do you like pixel-perfect jumping and dodgy hitboxes? Then you’re gonna love this pretty platformer from Millennium and Logotron!

This is one of those games that I remember seeing screenshots of back in the day and thinking it looked really cool thanks to its console-style visuals. Gameplay-wise, it’s not terrible — but be prepared for plenty of frustration as you battle your way through 50 screens of precision platforming!

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Atari A to Z: Quest for Quintana Roo

Sometimes, you just want to raid a pyramid. Because it might have treasure in it, of course! That’s Yucatan Sam’s thinking, anyway; somewhere in Quintana Roo are riches beyond his wildest dreams.

Quest for Quintana Roo is a peculiar action adventure game in which you explore the aforementioned pyramid in the hopes of tracking down some mysterious stones that will open the way to great fortune. It’s become known as a somewhat obtuse game where it’s not super clear what you’re supposed to be doing, but it can be figured out with a bit of effort!

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book – Alchemist on the Road

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Having taken a high-level look at Atelier Sophie’s place in the series and its overall game structure, it’s time to look more specifically at the way it does certain things.

In this part of the Atelier MegaFeature, we’re going to take a look at what Sophie gets up to when she leaves the safety of her hometown Kirchen Bell and heads out into the big, wide world. As we’ve seen elsewhere in the Atelier series, exploring and gathering ingredients is an important part of an alchemist’s lifestyle — and Sophie’s life as depicted in Atelier Sophie is certainly no exception in that regard.

So empty that Basket and throw on those gathering gloves — it’s time to hit the road!

Continue reading Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book – Alchemist on the Road

Atari A to Z Flashback: Star Strike

Mattel’s M Network label was set up so that Mattel, makers of the Intellivision, could have a piece of the Atari pie while also working on their own console.

Star Strike, released through the programme, is a port of one of the Intellivision’s most successful games; the original version sold around 800,000 copies in a single year, which is a huge amount for the time. Sadly, the 2600 version is… well, let’s just say it’s not quite as good as the source material.

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Atari ST A to Z: Jupiter’s Masterdrive

While Ubi Soft is regarded as one of the big corporate publishers these days, with much of their work consisting of annualised, creatively bankrupt titles, back in their early days they were beloved for their creative releases.

Jupiter’s Masterdrive for Atari ST is a great example. It takes the top-down racing game and adds a futuristic spin — and the result is a highly playable game that is a lot of fun to challenge, even today. Just watch out for those boats — they’re tricky to handle!

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Atari A to Z: Pitstop

Early takes on the racing game genre often seem quite primitive by today’s standards — but some of them still had some ambitious ideas.

Epyx’s Pitstop for Atari 8-bit is a good example. While its game structure is fundamentally flawed if playing solo and its racing action is nothing special, it was the first game to not only incorporate pit stops as part of a race, but also to allow you to take control of your pit crew and actually perform the pit stop yourself.

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book – Getting Into Role

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What, exactly, is an “RPG” anyway? The term covers such a broad spectrum of different game types these days that it’s fast becoming less useful than it once was — and yet it’s still understood by many people to mean a few things.

Growth in power over the duration of the story; strength, competence and other things that can grow (and shrink!) represented as numerical values; abstract mechanics that represent things which would be difficult to simulate “realistically”. All of these are pretty constant, regardless of what type of RPG you’re playing.

But the approach to story — and indeed the main “point” of the experience — varies wildly from game to game. And with Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book, we see a game with a noticeably different feel to many of the titles that have come before in the Atelier series.

Continue reading Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book – Getting Into Role

Atari A to Z Flashback: Star Ship

Before Star Raiders, there was Star Ship. And it’s… umm… not quite as good.

That said, when you consider this came out in 1977 — a time when no-one really knew what a “video game” was, let alone what a “first-person perspective space combat simulator” might look like — then they didn’t do all that bad of a job considering the limitations of the hardware.

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z