Category Archives: Atari A to Z

Atari ST A to Z: Purple Saturn Day

You know how these days Japanese games are often stereotyped as being “weird”? Well, in the early to mid ’90s, it was French developers who were saddled with this perception.

To be fair, it was at least partially justified — although it may perhaps have been a little more polite to refer to these developers’ works as being “creative” rather than “weird”.

They don’t come much more creative/weird than Purple Saturn Day, a game developed by a branch of ERE Informatique that claimed to be receiving their inspiration directly from an interdimensional technological god-entity named Exxos, and a title that put an interesting sci-fi twist on the multi-sports formula.

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

Atari A to Z: Vultures III

The concept of the “video game auteur” is regarded as something of a modern thing, with Japanese creators like Hideo Kojima, Hidetaka Suehiro, Goichi Suda and Taro Yoko typically being held up as some of the best examples.

But back in the Atari 8-bit era, we had our fair share of recognisable names, too. Okay, they tended to be renowned more for technical ability and prolificacy than the artistic achievement and vision that tends to get celebrated today, but there were definitely “big names” working in both commercial and public domain software.

One such example of the latter was Stan Ockers, who is sadly no longer with us having departed this mortal coil in mid-2017. In the early days of home computing, Ockers gave us a wide variety of games and software composed in BASIC, initially published in the newsletter for Eugene, Oregon’s Atari Computer Enthusiasts user group and later in Antic and Page 6 magazine.

Today’s game, Vultures III, is perhaps not his best work, but is a good example of how he could harness the limited power of Atari BASIC to produce playable and addictive games — and, like most of his other creations, provided something for aspiring programmers and designers to study and learn from.

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

Atari A to Z Flashback: Sprint 2

Back before makers of arcade games figured out how to do a vaguely convincing 3D effect, racing games tended to be strictly top-down affairs.

Sprint 2, developed by Kee Games (actually Atari in disguise so as to get around contractual obligations) was one of several examples from this early era. Pitting either one player against a computer-controlled car or two friends against one another over twelve different tracks, it helped define the early days of a genre that has grown and changed significantly over the ages.

The oldies can still be goodies, though, and I still have a lot of time for Sprint 2, as simplistic as it is!

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

Atari ST A to Z: Oids

It’s always pleasant to revisit something you once bounced off pretty hard, only for you to discover that the passage of time has made you much more receptive to what it has to offer.

Such is the case for me and FTL’s Oids, a game which was relatively low-key in its native America, but which became something of a cult hit when Mirrorsoft brought it across the pond to the UK and Europe.

I did not get on with this game when I was a kid. Now, however, I definitely understand its enduring appeal…

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

Atari A to Z: Uncle Henry’s Nuclear Waste Dump

It’s kind of strange to think that puzzle games — at least how we know them today — were a relatively late evolution compared to other genres.

Today’s Atari 8-bit title is a type-in BASIC listing from popular Atari magazine Antic, and was developed by someone who had never seen or heard of Tetris at the time. It’s a fun little puzzler, and an interesting example of the very early days of a genre we take for granted today.

It’s also surprisingly bloody hard, despite the simple concept! After a while all that nuclear waste just melts your brain, I think…

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

Atari A to Z Flashback: Super Breakout

At this point, most people know that Super Breakout is a bona fide classic of the early days of gaming. But no-one really talks about how monstrously difficult its original arcade incarnation is.

Well, I’m here to change all that today! Super Breakout for the arcade is really, really hard, primarily because the paddle you control is such a stingy, pathetic little size that it’s very difficult to actually return the ball once… let alone enough times to clear the damn screen.

Doesn’t stop me coming back for more, though… particularly with three different game modes to take on in the vain hope I might be good at one of them!

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

Atari ST A to Z: Never Mind

How’s your spatial awareness? Reckon you could put together a picture puzzle from an isometric perspective? Easy, right?

Okay, now you have to do so by controlling a little dude who can walk on walls. Oh, and the pictures are sometimes (often) moving. And malevolent chess pieces want nothing more than to mess up all your hard work for no other reason than “because they feel like it”.

Doesn’t sound quite so easy now, does it? Oh well. Never Mind.

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