Category Archives: Atari A to Z

Atari ST A to Z: Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters

Whew, now there’s a mouthful, eh? As you may have guessed from the title, this one- or two-player arcade romp — originally developed by Atari Games — channels the very best of 1950s B-movies into a fun and satisfying isometric blaster.

Sadly, the home ports lack the arcade version’s “Hall Effect” joystick, which allowed movement and aiming in sixteen directions instead of the usual eight — a precursor to our modern analogue sticks — but the ST version seen here still plays well with a nice joystick!

Just remember to turn off Sticky Keys in Windows if you’re emulating to, say, record a video… you need that Shift key quite a bit in this game! Oh well, you live and learn, huh…?

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

Atari A to Z: James Bond 007

There have been quite a few James Bond games over the years, some of them excellent, some of them… less so.

1984’s attempt by Parker Brothers was an unusual affair that saw you taking control of Bond’s amphibious Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me and attempting to shoot and/or bomb the crap out of everything that stood in the superspy’s way. The four main levels were loosely themed around popular Bond movies from the time, but really, it’s just an excuse to shoot stuff in different environments.

GoldenEye was certainly a big step forward!

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

Atari A to Z Flashback: Lunar Lander

I was extremely intimidated by Lunar Lander as a kid. Revisiting it today, I see that it’s not really anything to be scared by… but it still puts up a pretty stiff challenge, particularly on its harder levels!

Providing one of the earliest examples of a completely non-violent arcade game — and one with significant simulation-esque elements, at that — Lunar Lander is a game that would go on to influence a wide variety of other computer, console and arcade games. Primarily through that “turn and thrust” mechanic I tend to have such difficulty with!

Oh well. Let’s see if we can touch down safely at least once in my lifetime…

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

Atari ST A to Z: Days of Thunder

In the 8- and 16-bit home computer era, movie license games were typically developed either as platform games with a tenuous link to the movie in question, or some sort of minigame compilation, with each major scene from the movie being represented as some sort of interactive challenge.

Mindscape’s Days of Thunder was different. Here was a game that took the basic concept of the movie and simply used it as a basis to create a fully fleshed out experience — one that complemented rather than attempted to imitate the original work. The subject matter — motorsport — was ideal for such a treatment, and, on paper, Days of Thunder was a great idea.

Sadly, less than stellar performance meant that the game wasn’t as good as it could have been — a lack of speed and responsiveness in a racing game is a bit of an issue! — but it remains an interesting proof of concept as well as an intriguing anomaly that broke with the conventions and norms of the time. So I salute the effort involved, if not necessarily the final product we ended up with!

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

Atari A to Z: Ixion

Here’s an interesting one: an unreleased port of an unreleased game.

Yes indeed, Ixion never officially saw the light of day way back when, either in its original arcade incarnation or its home ports. And yet here it is, perfectly preserved in its Atari 8-bit incarnation, all thanks to the efforts of the filthy dirty pirates of the 1980s. Yar-har, fiddle-de-dee.

The game itself is an interesting combination of arena shooter, puzzler and collect ’em up, and I like it very much. If you have an Atari 2600, AtariAge even released an actual physical version of that port — check it out here!

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

Atari A to Z Flashback: Liberator

All right, Atarian. Are you man enough to join Commander Champion’s Atari Force and liberate the planets suffering under the oppression of the Malaglon army?

Described by some as the opposite of Missile Command, Liberator sees you taking to the skies and firing orbital strikes on enemy missile bases… while attempting not to get hit by the torrent of missiles that comes flying back in your direction!

It’s a fun game that didn’t get a very widespread release back in the day, but thanks to compilations such as Atari Flashback Classics, now everyone can enjoy it.

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

Atari ST A to Z: Castle Master

The “Freescape” games released by Incentive Software were all rather interesting for a variety of reasons.

Most notably, they represented some of the earliest examples of a multi-purpose, cross-platform 3D engine at work — Freescape was so flexible that it would run on everything from the ZX Spectrum up to Atari ST, Amiga and MS-DOS PC, though obviously with some limitations on the less powerful platforms!

Castle Master was one of the last Freescape games to be released on 16-bit platforms, and it’s also one of the most mysterious and intriguing. Let’s go for a little explore, shall we?

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