Dark Side is a game I have very fond memories of from back in the day, and it’s a game that actually holds up rather well today.
The second game to make use of Incentive Software’s revolutionary cross-platform “Freescape” 3D engine, Dark Side challenged players to explore a network of interconnected sectors while attempting to untangle a mess of power cables supplying energy to a deadly laser. While you can beat the whole thing in less than 15 minutes if you know what you’re doing, the fun is in figuring out exactly how you pull that off.
Well, aside from one really stupid puzzle, but I show you all how to complete that in the video below. So watch it! Then subscribe on YouTube for more if you aren’t already. Thank you muchly!
Dave Theurer, creator of the beloved Missile Command, is back once again with another all-time classic: “tube shooter” Tempest.
Tempest featured Atari’s then-new multi-coloured Quadrascan vector graphics display, plus an interesting feature whereby you could start later in the game based on how far you (or the previous player) had managed to progress on the previous credit. This later became a standard fixture in many Atari Games releases.
I’ll level with you, Tempest is one of those games I’ve always respected greatly but never really liked all that much… can spending a bit of time with it this weekend change my mind?
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?
Do you know what “trimetric projection” is? If not, take a good look at Atari’s Crystal Castles. That, dear reader, is trimetric projection at work.
This 3D perspective take on the Pac-Man formula is a popular game from Atari’s early days, and enjoyed numerous home ports over the years, particularly on Atari’s own platforms. It’s a fun — if challenging — game, and remains noteworthy from a historical perspective for being one of the first arcade games out there that it’s actually possible to “beat”. Although good luck with doing that.
Also, if you score first place on the high score table, you get to enjoy your initials presented in 3D trimetric projection for everyone to admire on the first level of each new playthrough!
Mention early first-person perspective 3D games to someone and they’re most likely to picture a “gridder” — the projection of a 2D map into a fake 3D perspective, through which you move by “step”, one cell at a time.
The reason for this is that it was the easiest way to create a 3D effect without actually having to do any real “3D” — hell, one of the earliest and most famous examples of this was on the humble ZX81 in the form of 3D Monster Maze. And indeed this style of presentation (if not necessarily the exact execution) remains popular today for many first-person perspective dungeon crawlers from both Eastern and Western developers, allowing for intricate, interesting level design without the need for complex 3D modelling.
Some talented coders in the early 8-bit era figured out ways to get more natural movement through these “projected 2D” maps, allowing you to rotate through angles other than 90 degrees and move relatively freely. One such example on the Atari 8-bit was 1982’s technically impressive Way Out (sometimes stylised as Wayout). The creator of this game, one Paul Allen Edelstein, remains part of the games industry to this day, albeit now with a specialism in video and audio compression technology rather than 3D graphics.
At any point in gaming history, it seems that there’s always one particular territory doomed to be singled out for making “weird” games.
What “weird” actually translates to in most circumstances is “interesting, unconventional, subversive and highly creative”; regrettably, while “weird” is undoubtedly a more concise description, it also carries with it somewhat pejorative connotations.
While today Japan tends to be singled out as the “weird” locale of choice, back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, it was France putting out the most creative, unusual and fascinating games on the market, and Infogrames was a leading developer and publisher during this period.
Here’s The Light Corridor, Infogrames’ delightfully abstract 3D take on the traditional “bat and ball” game — an oddly hypnotic experience that, while simple to play, is extremely addictive…
Today’s Atari ST game is one of my favourites from my childhood… and a cool example of a developer thinking creatively.
Interphase, developed by The Assembly Line and published by Image Works and Mirrorsoft, is a game about infiltrating a building. The twist is, you don’t control the one doing the infiltrating; instead, you are hooked into the building’s electrical systems, manipulating them from an abstract 3D representation of “cyberspace”, while your off-screen companion is doing the difficult bit of actually getting through the building.
It’s a really cool game, and one that had a decently long lifespan too, thanks to its original commercial release being followed up by the complete game being given away as a freebie on an ST magazine’s cover-mounted floppy disk — ST Format, if I remember correctly. It remains solidly playable today, and well worth a look.
Follow Atari ST A to Z on its own dedicated site here!
Attempts to realistically simulate things it would be near-impossible for the average person to experience have been around for a long time… even when the technology wasn’t quite up to the job.
Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, one of the most prolific creators of simulations — with a particular (though not exclusive) focus on military jet fighter simulators — was MicroProse, erstwhile home of Sid “Civilization” Meier. As time went on, these games got more and more satisfyingly complex and true to life… but the genre had to start somewhere!
F-15 Strike Eagle was first released in 1984 for various 8-bit computers and ported to a variety of other platforms (including the Atari ST) over the course of the next three years. It’s a fairly “arcadey” take on the jet fighter sim, but it remains enjoyable to this day… even if its core tech looks severely dated even compared to MicroProse’s own titles from just a year or two later!
Follow Atari A to Z on its own dedicated site here!
Sonic’s earliest forays into 3D are, today, popularly regarded as where things started going “wrong” for the blue blur.
But this is one of those viewpoints that has become so ingrained in popular gaming culture that many people simply take it for granted without actually checking the games out for themselves to determine whether those claims have any veracity to them.
That, as you know, is not what we’re all about here on MoeGamer, so let us make that jump into the third dimension and see exactly what’s up.
There have been quite a few “sex games” from Japanese developers over the years, but outside of visual novels that incorporate erotic elements to varying degrees, relatively few of them make it West in an official capacity.
This is a bit of a shame, really, since although the most immediately obvious appeal factor of them is the fact that they are interactive pornography (and many of the most modern ones have virtual reality headset support), for many, the most enjoyable aspect of these games is a creative one: the fact you can use a detailed set of tools to design a character of your choosing.
Those who are interested in such things will doubtless be delighted to hear that renowned hentai publisher and localiser Fakku has picked up Honey Select Unlimited for official Western release. And those who have no clue what I’m talking about… read on.