Category Archives: Atari A to Z

Atari ST A to Z: Winnie the Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood

Nostalgia is a funny old thing. Since starting this project, I’ve found myself really appreciating some of the games that, for one reason or another, had an impact on me growing up. Not necessarily the best games, but those which have some sort of meaning to me.

One of my favourite examples to date is today’s game: Winnie the Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood, an early title from Sierra during their partnership with Disney. As well as being a game I loved playing with my family as a child and possibly one of the most charming, kid-friendly adventures of all time, it’s an interesting game from a historical perspective, too, since it’s one of the earliest titles Al Lowe put out.

Al Lowe, if you’re unfamiliar with your Sierra history, is the man who would later give us the Leisure Suit Larry series, a mainstay of Sierra’s portfolio alongside King’s Quest, Space Quest and Police Quest for many years… but a little different in subject matter to what we have here!

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

Atari A to Z: Baja Buggies

You know me, I love an arcade racer. And while the Atari 8-bit era was very much a time where this genre was just starting to define itself, there were still some fun, interesting games to enjoy.

Baja Buggies from Gamestar is a game from the early days of the system that I didn’t play that often back in the day, primarily because it was on cassette, and who has time to sit around waiting for those things when you have a US Doubler-equipped 1050 disk drive for high-speed floppy loading goodness? (Said drive died recently, please raise a glass in memoriam. Thank you.)

Anyway. It’s an interesting racer that eschews the Pole Position timers-and-checkpoints formula in favour of an endurance race format: pass 80 opponents before you wreck your buggy or cross the finish line. The desert awaits!

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

Atari A to Z Flashback: Centipede

Not every retro game has stood the test of time quite as well as others. But one I think we can all agree remains just as fresh today as it was back in the day is Centipede.

Developed as a specific attempt to appeal to a broader audience than just the stereotype of young male gamers, Centipede’s bright colours, energetic gameplay, trackball controller and relatable concept made it a big hit with male and female players, both young and old.

This game was a favourite of my whole family growing up… and my mother was nigh-unbeatable at both this and its sequel Millipede!

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

Atari ST A to Z: Vaxine

Next time you get bacteria in your ilium, call me up and I’ll come blast your balls for you.

Vaxine from The Assembly Line is one of the most technically impressive games on the Atari ST, featuring gorgeous and colourful ray-traced graphics, convincing sprite scaling routines and an interesting blend of physics puzzle and first-person shoot ’em up.

Developed as a sequel to the team’s previous game E-Motion, which marketed itself as “the first New Age computer game”, Vaxine is a simple but enjoyable time that shows what Atari’s 16-bit computers were really capable of when in the hands of someone who knew what they were doing.

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

Atari A to Z: Attack of the Mutant Camels

That’s a title and a half, isn’t it? Even thirty-five years after its original launch, “Attack of the Mutant Camels” is still a delightful piece of titling prowess that just rolls off the tongue.

Attack of the Mutant Camels is one of the most well-known games put out in the 8-bit era by the hairiest man in games, Jeff Minter. Based quite obviously on the Atari 2600 adaptation of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, it’s a real showcase game for what the humble Atari 8-bit was really capable of when in the hands of someone who very much knew what he was doing.

Combining Minter’s love of underappreciated animals, sci-fi, prog rock and psychedelia, Attack of the Mutant Camels may be simplistic in structure and mechanics, but it remains a beloved part of many Atari 8-bit collections with very good reason.

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

Atari A to Z Flashback: Canyon Bomber

Time after time in gaming, we’ve seen that the simplest concepts can be some of the most effective and addictive.

Atari’s Canyon Bomber, originally released to arcades in 1977, is a prime example of this. You only need one button to play, and that button drops bombs. The concept is so simple anyone — even someone not at all familiar with video games — can understand and enjoy it. Drop bombs, hit things, score points. Whoever scores most points, wins.

And one of the best things about this game when compared to some of its contemporaries is that the simplistic concept means that it was very straightforward to implement a “computer-controlled” opponent to compete against if you didn’t happen to have a friend handy. So even those of us with no friends can still enjoy this game… and end up playing it a lot longer than you might expect!

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

Atari ST A to Z: U.N. Squadron

If you thought games journalists wringing their hands over “problematic” subject matter in games was a new phenomenon… well, I got news for you, my dear reader.

U.S. Gold’s home computer conversion of Capcom’s arcade title U.N. Squadron (originally known in Japan as Area 88, after the manga it was originally based on) drew criticism from UK computer magazine ST Format in December of 1990 for being “self-righteous”, “crass” and even “propaganda”. Why? Because you shoot enemies in an obviously Middle Eastern-inspired setting — at least in the first level, anyway — and in 1990 the Gulf War had just broken out in full force.

Of course, Area 88 first came out in 1979, but let’s not let facts get in the way of a good bit of outrage, shall we? Sigh. Some things never change. Anyway, this is a reasonably solid shoot ’em up, though unsurprisingly not a patch on the awesome SNES version…

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