Tag Archives: Atari 8-bit

Atari A to Z: Necromancer

I love weird games. Scratch that; I don’t really like using the term “weird”, because what people inevitably mean when they say “weird” in the context of a creative work is “highly creative, unusual and original”. I love highly creative, unusual and original games.

Synapse Software’s Necromancer certainly qualifies as all of those things. It’s pretty much a manifestation of the sort of things old-school heavy metal groups sing about; the sort of thing that sounds like a fever dream, but which you can’t help but get drawn into within moments of starting to play.

With its unconventional control scheme, extremely disparate mechanics between its various stages and its formidable level of difficulty, Necromancer is a classic from the Atari 8-bit’s library with good reason!

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

Atari A to Z: Master of the Lamps

Once upon a time, Activision was not the bloated mess of a money-hungry corporate behemoth it is now. Well, it was slightly less of one, anyway.

The key difference between the Activision of now and the Activision of then is that the latter was much more willing to take significant risks on games that were as much a work of art as they were a piece of interactive entertainment.

One of the best examples of this practice — and one of Activision’s best games, full stop — is Master of the Lamps, one of the earliest ever music games and a spectacular example of what the Atari 8-bit was capable of in the hands of talented programmers.

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

Atari A to Z: Laser Hawk

Horizontally scrolling shooters are perhaps most commonly associated with the 16-bit Japanese consoles, but there were some great ones on offer on earlier home computers.

One such example was Laser Hawk from Red Rat Software, developed by Kiwi programmer Andrew Bradfield with graphics by Harvey Kong Tin. This was an enjoyable, speedy, helicopter-based horizontal scroller with a cheeky line in fanboy-baiting — the structures you had to destroy at the end of each level all bore an uncanny resemblance to rival, non-Atari computer manufacturers’ logos!

It’s a game that I greatly enjoyed revisiting, and was very pleasantly surprised to discover still plays rather well today. Give it a shot!

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

Atari A to Z: Keystone Kapers

Today it’s time for one of my favourite early Activision titles, and a great game from designer Garry Kitchen. Kitchen, if you’re unfamiliar, was responsible for the Atari 2600 version of Nintendo’s Donkey Kong, and also the wonderful Pressure Cooker, the spiritual precursor to popular indie title Overcooked.

Keystone Kapers kasts you in the role of Keystone Kelly, a kopper who is keen to katch his kriminal nemesis, Hooligan Harry. Harry, it seems, likes hanging out in department stores, and thus begins an increasingly ridiculous series of chase scenes up to the rooftop of the store, with Kelly being forced to dodge all manner of mundane yet perilous obstacles that put his mission at risk.

Loosely inspired by the old Keystone Kops movies, Keystone Kapers is simple to learn but tough to master — and a near-perfect example of what early ’80s Activision was all about.

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

Deluxe Mini Monster: Take Your Retro Gaming to a New Level

Although I tend to use emulation to record my Atari A to Z videos for the sake of convenience, when I actually want to sit down and play something on the Atari 8-bit or Atari ST, I prefer to use the original hardware.

There are myriad reasons for this, probably chief among them being that strange sense of nostalgia for things that used to be inconvenient, like disk loading times (and the noise of disk drives!), playing on a small CRT TV (or TV-monitor in my case, since we had — and I still have — a lovely Trinitron hybrid thing) and all those delightful compatibility issues we used to have to deal with.

There’s one aspect that can prove quite annoying, however, and that’s the tendency of old joysticks to fail. While games for many home computers of the ’80s offered keyboard control as an alternative, on Atari systems it was often joystick or nothing. So clearly the way was open for a company to put out a modern joystick that would work on an old system.

Continue reading Deluxe Mini Monster: Take Your Retro Gaming to a New Level

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: Hover Bovver

We’re back with another Jeff Minter classic, and a game that I like to describe as one of his most unusual but least “weird” games.

Hover Bovver is a game about stolen property, vicious canine attacks and… mowing the lawn. Playing as the personification of the middle-class curse-words Gordon Bennett, it’s up to you to mow an assortment of increasingly awkward lawns while attempting to placate your temporarily loyal dog and your less-than-happy neighbour.

Remember to stay off the flower beds!

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