Trailblazer is an early game from Gremlin Graphics — and one which still holds up well today. Just as well, really, as it’s actually had a surprising number of rereleases and ports over the years!
The concept is simple: control a rolling ball as it speeds down cosmic causeways, doing your best not to fall in the big black holes. And there are a lot of big black holes to fall into, as well as speedy-uppy tiles, jumpy tiles and warp tiles. Never a dull moment!
The Atari ST version of Screaming Wings is, as we’ve seen elsewhere on this series, kind of poop. The Atari 8-bit version, meanwhile, is a superb shoot ’em up with just a couple of annoying little features here and there.
Based heavily on Capcom’s classic 1942, Screaming Wings puts you in the pilot’s seat of a Lockheed Lightning over the Pacific as you attempt to blast down a variety of enemies who want nothing more than to sink you into the briny ocean in a flaming ball of death.
Red Max! It’s nothing to do with Blue Max, if you were wondering, though I was always curious about that back in the day.
Nope, instead Red Max is a top-down sci-fi motorbike adventure in which you drive around a spaceship in an attempt to defuse mines, fix reactors and wake up hibernating crew members. It’s very hard, but it has great music, a beautifully rendered dashboard panel and a tiny view window.
The Atari Program Exchange label played host to some really interesting, creative games — as well as some useful pieces of software. At least, they were useful pieces of software back in the day; for the most part, APX games have held up a bit better!
Quarxon is a great example of what this label really offered. By focusing on user-submitted programs rather than corporate mandated projects, we got a whole host of weird and wonderful things to experience — including this neato competitive shoot ’em up with a rather interesting ruleset!
Did you like Caverns of Mars? Then I recommend you play its sequel! No, not Caverns of Mars II, though I rather like that too — I’m talking about Phobos, its much less well-known follow-up.
Phobos takes the vertically scrolling formula of Caverns of Mars and builds atop it with a variety of interesting new mechanics — including significant chunks of level where you descend at your own pace rather than at a constant speed. It’s a ton of fun — and a game that will very much set you on edge while you play!
The practice of “cloning” got a fair bit of attention in the earlier days of the mobile gaming marketplace — but by then it had been going on for a lot longer than many people might have thought.
Oil’s Well, a game from early-days Sierra, is a great example. It’s a clone of the arcade game Anteater, though as fate often tends to have it, Oil’s Well actually ended up more popular by virtue of appearing on more different platforms. And however dishonourable its origins might be, it’s still a great maze muncher!
I’ve always known subLOGIC and Bruce Artwick for their work on bringing Flight Simulator into the world — but I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that they produced one of the most impressively accurate (and customisable) pinball sims of the 8-bit era, too.
Night Mission Pinball may seem simple and straightforward on paper, since it only features a single table, but the depth of simulation on offer — plus the commitment to recreating the physicality of pinball on original hardware — is impressive stuff, particularly when you start delving into the highly tweakable “fix” mode.
One of the fun things about the modern retro community is its willingness to take on common criticisms of past classics and work on those things to make them better.
Such is the case with Moon Patrol Redux, a project which takes the already pretty good version of Irem’s classic Moon Patrol for Atari 8-bit and enhances it with a better player sprite, a colour palette that’s truer to the arcade original and a few other tweaks here and there. The result is the best version of Moon Patrol you can play on the good ol’ Atari!
There are some people out there who, if you tell them that it’s “impossible” to do something, will do their best to do it anyway — and often prove that original naysayer completely wrong.
Such was the case with Livewire, a type-in machine code listing for Atari 8-bit that came about when ANALOG magazine’s Tom Hudson overheard someone saying that it would be possible to do a good version of Tempest on the Atari 8-bit. Challenge, as they say, accepted — and overcome with aplomb.