Tag Archives: Atari 8-bit

Atari A to Z: MasterType

How’s your typing speed? How’d you like to improve it with the help of a lightning-spewing wizard IN SPACE?!

Such is the concept of Lightning Software’s MasterType, a typing trainer for the Atari 8-bit that I always used to enjoy a great deal as a kid — and, it turns out, I still enjoy an awful lot now, too.

If you’ve ever had trouble quickly and accurately typing BASIC commands or the word “Oriole” under intense time pressure, then you’ll definitely want to check this one out…

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

Atari A to Z: Leggit

Not every game can be a classic. But sometimes notorious stinkers can be worth looking at, too.

A good example of this is Leggit by Imagine, originally released on ZX Spectrum as Jumping Jack then ported to Atari with a new name. While not a particularly good game in its own right, it did inspire a number of clones, suggesting it had some influence back in the day — and its basic formula can be rather indirectly traced forward towards some more modern releases that do things a bit better.

It’s also interesting to look at this game in terms of what not to do from a game design perspective… or, if nothing else, to ensure that my suffering through this nonsense wasn’t in vain!

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

Atari A to Z: Kangaroo

The ’80s were a strange time, particularly for Atari, who, it seems, were never quite sure how to release or market things properly.

One of their well-received arcade games received an official port to the Atari 2600 and 5200, and the latter version then ended up on the 8-bit Atari computers. Unusually, however, this was published via the Atari Program Exchange or APX, which more commonly published consumer-submitted games rather than licensed ports.

That game was Kangaroo, and it’s an enjoyable single-screen platformer with lots of monkey-punching and fruit-grabbing. It also used to terrify me as a kid and I can’t remember why…

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

Atari A to Z: Jane’s Program

Sometimes when you sit down in front of your 1980s microcomputer, you don’t really want to do anything particularly productive or meaningful.

If you’ve ever found yourself in this situation, you have long been well catered to, since both interactive and non-interactive demos and software toys have been part of the public domain software landscape pretty much since the earliest days of computing.

A great example of something that is fun to play with but has no real “meaning” to it is Jane’s Program, an addictive exploration of sound, colour and rudimentary physics that might be just the thing if you’ve had a hectic day!

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

Atari A to Z Flashback: Asteroids (5200)

Hey look everybody, it’s Asteroids! Again. You’ll be pleased to hear that this is the last time Asteroids appears in the Atari Flashback Classics compilation, at least.

Today we’re looking at the Atari 5200 version of the game, which didn’t actually see a commercial release despite originally being intended as a launch title for the platform. It’s based closely on the version released for Atari 8-bit computers, and is a solid adaptation of the formula for 1-4 players simultaneously.

I didn’t like this all that much when I was kid (primarily because I was bobbins at it) but nowadays I find its chunky shooting action rather satisfying!

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

Atari A to Z: Illinois Smith

You’re probably familiar with various methods of software distribution from over the years.

In the Atari 8-bit era, we had a lot of public domain software that was freely distributable, often sold for the cost of a disk or two from user groups, local software outlets and national publications. But “Begware”, a twist on public domain that literally begged you to pay what you thought the game was worth according to some specific criteria, is a new twist on the formula I’ve not seen in quite this form before.

Illinois Smith, possibly the first (and last?) Begware game, is a mildly entertaining if simplistic romp through a maze as you hunt for treasures. Would I pay up in support of creator Greg Knauss’ unashamed (and rather amusing) begging? These days, sure. Back in the ’80s? Don’t be ridiculous, no-one paid for software back then!

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

Atari A to Z: Hijack!

We’ve come across English Software a few times previously on this series; they were a real mainstay of the Atari 8-bit scene throughout the ’80s.

Over their lifetime, they released a wide variety of games — some of which, like Elektra Glide, have an enduring legacy of being well-regarded, even if their flaws are all the more apparent from a modern perspective.

And then they also released stuff like Hijack!, which isn’t a bad game so much as it’s a relatively unremarkable one. It’s still fun for five or ten minutes at a time, though, so let’s take to the skies and rescue some VIPs!

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