Category Archives: Atari A to Z

Atari A to Z: MasterType

How’s your typing speed? How’d you like to improve it with the help of a lightning-spewing wizard IN SPACE?!

Such is the concept of Lightning Software’s MasterType, a typing trainer for the Atari 8-bit that I always used to enjoy a great deal as a kid — and, it turns out, I still enjoy an awful lot now, too.

If you’ve ever had trouble quickly and accurately typing BASIC commands or the word “Oriole” under intense time pressure, then you’ll definitely want to check this one out…

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.

Atari A to Z Flashback: Backgammon

A big part of the early Atari 2600 library consisted of digital adaptations of tabletop games — including several that could be played solo against a computer opponent.

One such example was Backgammon, a fairly comprehensive package that allowed one or two players to play Backgammon or Acey Deucey, with or without a “doubling cube” to facilitate gambling.

I’m not good at Backgammon, but aside from this adaptation’s bizarre paddle-based control system, this seems like as good a way as any to learn!

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.

Atari ST A to Z: Fast Lane

The “sim racer” has very much become its own distinct thing over the course of the last 20 years or so.

Back in the 16-bit home computer era, the lines between arcade racers and more simulation-like affairs were a little more blurred thanks to the limitations of the technology of the time. And that’s where games like Fast Lane come in, combining old-school “vanishing point” racing with an arcade feel and more simulation-style aspects such as damage, wear and tear and realistic pit stops.

Praised by several publications around the time of its original release, Fast Lane holds up surprisingly well today… although its lack of save functionality means you’d better set a whole day aside if you want to run that whole championship!

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.

Atari A to Z: Leggit

Not every game can be a classic. But sometimes notorious stinkers can be worth looking at, too.

A good example of this is Leggit by Imagine, originally released on ZX Spectrum as Jumping Jack then ported to Atari with a new name. While not a particularly good game in its own right, it did inspire a number of clones, suggesting it had some influence back in the day — and its basic formula can be rather indirectly traced forward towards some more modern releases that do things a bit better.

It’s also interesting to look at this game in terms of what not to do from a game design perspective… or, if nothing else, to ensure that my suffering through this nonsense wasn’t in vain!

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.

Atari A to Z Flashback: Atari Video Cube

The puzzle game genre as a whole arguably didn’t really hit its stride until the 16-bit home console era rolled around. But there were numerous attempts prior to that “golden age” to provide mind-bending puzzles for gamers at home.

One fascinating example was Atari Video Cube, a three-dimensional colour puzzle loosely based on the famous Rubik’s Cube. In fact, in a subsequent reprint of the game, Atari acquired the Rubik license and rereleased it as Rubik’s Cube — much to the chagrin of Atari 2600 collectors, who note that it is the exact same game, released with a different part number.

I really like this game. It melts my brain a bit, but I enjoy it a great deal. If you’re looking for an interesting way to flex your mental muscles a bit, this remains an enjoyable challenge to wrap your grey matter around even today!

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.

Atari ST A to Z: E-Motion

The “E” is for “Einstein”. So says The Assembly Line, anyway, in this curious physics-based puzzler for Atari ST featuring “ray-traced” graphics.

E-Motion is the predecessor to Vaxinewhich you may recall from our first time around the ST’s A to Z. This time around it’s all about bouncing balls around rather than blasting away viruses, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less hectic! The world of subatomic particle physics is, it seems, rather dangerous.

E-Motion drew praise at the time of its original release for its colourful visuals, digitised sound and unusual premise. Today, it’s still an enjoyable — if rather frustrating — experience, and a charming, technically impressive highlight of this era of gaming.

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.

Atari A to Z: Kangaroo

The ’80s were a strange time, particularly for Atari, who, it seems, were never quite sure how to release or market things properly.

One of their well-received arcade games received an official port to the Atari 2600 and 5200, and the latter version then ended up on the 8-bit Atari computers. Unusually, however, this was published via the Atari Program Exchange or APX, which more commonly published consumer-submitted games rather than licensed ports.

That game was Kangaroo, and it’s an enjoyable single-screen platformer with lots of monkey-punching and fruit-grabbing. It also used to terrify me as a kid and I can’t remember why…

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.