Tag Archives: Atari 8-bit

Atari A to Z: Java Jim

It’s both fun and frustrating when you come across a game that no-one seems to quite understand how to play.

Such is the case with today’s Atari 8-bit game, Java Jim in Square Shaped Trouble. It doesn’t help that the Commodore 64 and Atari 8-bit versions have markedly different mechanics and structure to one another, and very few people appear to understand either of them.

Having looked into it a bit further, the 8-bit version appears a little more straightforward, so let’s explore it in the video below. Don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Atari A to Z: Icky Squishy

Today’s Atari 8-bit game is not one I’d heard of before, and with good reason: it never sold any copies!

Despite this, it somehow managed to find its way out into the wild — as a lot of unreleased, prototype or otherwise difficult-to-find software tended to do back in the day — and, many years later, the original author even made a video talking about the making of the game on YouTube.

Sadly, said author — one Jeffrey McArthur — is no longer with us, as he passed away in 2017. But we can honour his memory by enjoying his work today! So let’s take a look at Icky Squishy. Don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Atari A to Z: Hollywood Medieval

Back in the early days of home computing, developers were experimenting not only with how different game genres worked, but also with using game-like mechanics in various contexts.

One pioneer of these experiments was Douglas Crockford, who we’ve seen a couple of times on this series previously. Today we look at his Hollywood Medieval project, which combines music effectively arranged by the “player” with the game-like mechanic of navigating a maze — with your location determined by the musical phrases you’re hearing.

A peculiar experience to be sure! Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.

Atari A to Z

Atari A to Z: Gossip

Today’s indie scene is quite rightfully regarded as one of the most creative spaces in the games industry. But it’s been that way for a lot longer than most people realise.

Some truly fascinating games came out through the Atari Program Exchange or APX, a programme run by Atari where consumers (or indeed Atari employees) could submit their pet projects and get them published by the company — perhaps the earliest take on today’s “indie specialist” publishers such as Devolver Digital and its ilk.

One such example that it seems never quite made it to final release was Gossip, a fascinating game by Atari’s master of simulations, Chris Crawford. Gossip is an attempt to simulate social interactions using a mathematical model of affinity as a basis. As a game, it takes a bit of getting used to, but as you start to figure out what’s going on it becomes a fascinating experience. Check out my attempts to woo the virtual ladies in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Atari A to Z: Flip and Flop

Today’s Atari 8-bit game is one of my favourites from back in the day — and, I’m pretty sure, one of the earliest video games I remember playing as a kid.

It’s Flip and Flop from Jim Nangano and First Star Software, a take on the Q*Bert isometric “painting” formula with a few interesting twists — most notably some more complex level design, an emphasis on outwitting enemy behaviour, and some peculiar changes in perspective just to throw you off every so often!

If you’ve never checked out the Atari 8-bit’s library before, this is definitely one of the games you should give a shot. Enjoy the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Atari A to Z: Elevator Repairman

As we’ve seen a few times previously on the Atari A to Z series, the North American Atari-centric publication ANALOG was a prime source of top-quality machine code games that you could type in yourself, then save to a disk or cassette and enjoy whenever you pleased.

Today’s game hails from ANALOG issue number 34 (September 1985), and is a simple but enjoyable arcade game about avoiding elevators and climbing buildings. That main character looks a little familiar, too… though of course any resemblance to certain Italian plumbers, living or dead, is almost certainly unintentional and should not be considered any sort of infringement on established, trademarked intellectual property. Or something. Probably.

Enjoy the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Atari A to Z: Death Race

Sadly, this game is nothing to do with the movie of the same name. Instead, it’s Atlantis Software’s budget-price attempt to recreate the experience of Sega’s early arcade game Turbo, albeit a few years late.

The latter years of the Atari 8-bit saw a lot of publishers specialising in budget-price, cassette-only releases for around the £2 mark. This put them firmly in “pocket money” territory for a lot of young gamers, but the quality did vary quite a bit, with Atlantis Software’s titles generally not being received all that well by the press of the day.

How does Death Race stack up in the grand scheme of things? Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Atari A to Z: Computer War

Nuclear war is a scary prospect, but as a general rule we, the people of the world, don’t seem to be nearly as nervous about its possibility as we were back in the 1980s, for one reason or another.

The ’80s, as we’ve seen a few times on this series, played host to a variety of media that acknowledged and explored the strong degree of paranoia and fear that existed with regard to the United States’ Cold War with Russia in various ways. One of those pieces of media was the excellent movie WarGames, which in turn inspired several video game adaptations on various platforms.

One such video game was Thorn EMI’s Computer War for Atari 8-bit, a game I very much enjoyed when I was a kid — and still like firing up now and then today. Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Atari A to Z Flashback: Millipede

You might wonder what the appeal of having several different versions of the same game in one compilation is. Indeed, dear viewer, I was right there with you until recently.

Then I played the Atari 5200 version of Millipede — an unreleased prototype that was essentially a port of the version for Atari home computers. And I was blown away by quite how enjoyable it was. For me, it’s ended up being an even more appealing way to play the game than the arcade original.

To be fair, any Millipede is good Millipede, but to see what makes this version special check out the video below — and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Atari A to Z: Baby Berks

For me, one of the most exciting things to see happen in the retro gaming community is when the original creator of a classic work returns to it and does something cool with it.

Today, we have an example of that. Baby Berks was originally a type-in listing for the Commodore 16, and after an AtariAge forum poster noted that it might be nice to see an Atari 8-bit port of it, who just happened to show up in the thread but the original creator Jon Williams himself?

A month later, there was an official Atari port of this fun arena shooter. Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z