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 Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey – What I Want to Do

cropped-atelier-megafeature-header-1.pngThis post is one chapter of a MegaFeature!
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As we started to explore in the previous part of this feature, one of the things that makes Atelier Firis so interesting as a modern role-playing game is that once you’re into the game’s “second quest”, there’s no set goal where you can say that you have definitively “finished” the game.

I mean, okay, if you do literally everything the game has to offer, fill out all the collections to 100%, max out all your characters and make it so the only quests available are repeating ones, then yes, you’ve probably “beaten” Atelier Firis. But what I mean is that for people who aren’t obsessive completionists, you can pretty much choose what your own personal “win state” is, reach that condition and then, if you choose, set the game aside.

If you’re anything like me, of course, the temptation to just have “a quick look” at what else the game has to offer may be too much to bear, however… so let’s talk about this side of things, with a particular focus on what it means for Atelier Firis’ overall narrative.

Continue reading Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey – What I Want to Do

Atari A to Z Flashback: SwordQuest EarthWorld

There’s “games that haven’t aged well”, and then there’s the SwordQuest series for Atari 2600, a range of three games (out of a proposed four) that primarily existed for the purpose of running an extravagant competition.

Without the draw of the competition aspect, it’s easy to see these games for what they really are: poorly designed, needlessly obtuse, frustrating, boring messes that learned nothing from earlier attempts at top-down adventures on the platform such as Adventure and Haunted House. And there’s three of them to endure! Oh joy. Still, in for a penny, in for a pound and all that…

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

Atari A to Z

Retro Select: Tyrian 2000

The all-time classic shoot ’em ups of days gone by can typically be found in the arcades and on home consoles — devices with specialist hardware than can handle speedy scrolling and flinging masses of sprites around the screen at once.

But don’t for one second think that there aren’t great shoot ’em ups designed for classic home computers, too. Because there are some fabulous ones out there — and Tyrian is one of the very best, particularly if you crave something with a little more depth and long-term appeal than a standard arcade-style affair. Best of all, it’s free these days, too.

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

Atari ST A to Z: Yogi’s Big Cleanup

Licensed games, as we’ve established pretty well by this point, can go either way. Sometimes they can be excellent games, bolstered by the “brand recognition” of what they’re based on. And sometimes they can be absolute pap that comes across as little more than a cheap cash-in.

Yogi’s Big Cleanup for Atari ST sits squarely in the middle. It’s not terrible — in fact its overall structure and design is quite likeable. But some unfortunately atrocious controls and collision detection make it a lot harder to enjoy than it perhaps could have been, which is a real shame.

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: Fire Bug

As we’ve seen numerous times on the Atari A to Z series to date, an important part of computing history in the 8-bit era in particular is type-in listings in magazines.

The American ANALOG magazine specialised in lengthy, technically impressive type-in machine code listings, often by Kyle Peacock and Tom Hudson. If you’d spend the time and effort required to type these in (or buy the issue’s companion disk), you’d end up with a rather good game for your troubles. And here’s just one of many examples: Fire Bug.

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 Flashback: Swordfight

The evolution of the fighting game is interesting to observe, because it got its start a lot earlier than a lot of people might realise.

One very early example that is still surprisingly fun to play today despite its simplicity is Swordfight for Atari 2600, originally intended for release in the early ’80s, but which never ended up on store shelves for various reasons. We can enjoy it now, though, thanks to Atari Flashback Classics — and if you’ve got a friend willing to learn the ropes, it’s a good time!

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

Atari A to Z

Retro Select: Dungeon Hack

Enjoy D&D games but hate that they have to end eventually — and if you want to play again you end up playing the same old story over and over?

Enter Dungeon Hack, the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition take on the roguelike genre, making use of Westwood’s Eye of the Beholder engine. That’s quite a pedigree, I’m sure you’ll agree — and it’s a great game, too, particularly if you enjoy hack-and-slash treasure huntin’ dungeon crawlin’.

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

Atari ST A to Z: X-Out

The games that people consider to be “the best of all time” vary considerably according to what platforms they’ve spent the most time with — and nowhere is that more apparent than in the shoot ’em up genre.

X-Out (pronounced “cross out”) is supposedly one of the best ever shoot ’em ups for 8- and 16-bit home computers — and for sure, it has its impressive elements. But can it stand up to the heavy hitters of the console sector? You already know the answer to that, but let’s give it a go anyway.

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: The Eidolon

First-person shooters came about with Wolfenstein 3-D, right? Wrong! Not only did they not come about with Wolfenstein 3-D’s spiritual precursors in the Catacomb series, they date right back to the ’80s and Lucasfilm’s incredible work on Atari 8-bit.

The Eidolon uses the same fractal landscape engine as the company’s classic Rescue on Fractalus, but here it’s used to create labyrinthine cave systems filled with terrifying monsters. Can you make it out alive, or will you become a dragon’s dinner? Only one way to find out!

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 Extra: Return of the Fungi

Over the course of the last few months, I’ve been part of a rather extraordinary story — my videos inspired the maker of some of my favourite Atari 8-bit games to revisit a series that had lain dormant for 35 years!

Best of all, you can be part of the story too for yourself by downloading and giving the new game Return of the Fungi a go for yourself — simply stop by Retrounite to read the full story behind this lovely game and download a copy of the Digger Dan Trilogy for yourself!

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

Atari A to Z