Tag Archives: atari 800

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: 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.

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.

Atari A to Z: Gridrunner

It’s time to pay another visit to the strange and wonderful world of Jeff Minter… albeit with one of his least strange games.

It may not be particularly peculiar compared to some of his other work, but Gridrunner is still a classic shooter from his back catalogue, drawing some inspiration from Centipede and building on the formula.

It’s hard though. Or I’m just rubbish. No, that can’t be it, it is the game that is hard!

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

Atari A to Z: Fire Chief

Here’s one I vividly remember from back in the day… but for which there’s a surprising lack of information about online!

Fire Chief was developed by Tim Huntington and released through English Software, who we’ve already seen a couple of times on Atari A to Z. Beyond the fact it was included on one of English Software’s Atari Smash Hits compilations (number 4, to be precise), there’s not a lot more that can be said from a historical perspective — even its original box art (and/or if it was ever released as a standalone title!) remains seemingly lost to time.

Oh well. We’d better just take a good hard look at how it plays then, huh? Hold on to your hats, this one goes like the clappers!

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

Atari A to Z: Diamonds

I do enjoy a good “dirt and boulders” game. And Simon Hunt’s Diamonds, published by English Software in 1983, is certainly a good “dirt and boulders” game.

Casting players in the role of Digger Dan, part-time member of Blue Man group and long-time precious stones enthusiast, it’s up to you to gather the titular diamonds while avoiding the unwanted attentions of Brian the Blob, Philip the Filler, The Fireflies, The Eyes, Simon the Snake and The Demon. Brian also wants diamonds; the others just want you dead. Which isn’t very nice.

This is a longstanding personal favourite of mine from the Atari 8-bit era, and a game I still like returning to today quite often! Check it out when you get the opportunity.

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

Atari A to Z: Capture the Flag

Towards the end of our first cycle of Atari A to Z, we came across an interesting little first-person maze game called Way Out, developed by Paul Edelstein and published by Sirius Software.

That game got a sequel! And like all good sequels, it provides more of the same, but better. Specifically, it provides split-screen competitive two-player action (with an optional AI-controlled computer opponent) and an unconventional but nonetheless effective control scheme that provides us with one of the earliest ever examples of “strafing” in 3D.

It’s also a very early example of a game that George “The Fat Man” Sanger contributed to; his distinctive music was a mainstay of ’90s PC gaming and beyond, so it’s interesting to see where his “roots” lie!

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