Tag Archives: atari 800

Atari A to Z: Upward

Type-in listings written in BASIC were a common sight in Atari 8-bit magazines — as were BASIC listings that were used to create executable machine code programs on disk or cassette.

The magazines Antic and ANALOG in the United States also had a strong interest in the programming language Action!, though, and published a number of listings written using this speedy, game-friendly setup. Today’s Atari 8-bit game is one such example, bringing some solid and challenging platforming action home for us to enjoy.

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: Tax Dodge

“Let’s make a video game about doing our taxes!” thought John Freeman and Anne Westfall of the brand spanking new software company Free Fall Associates. “I’m sure that will resonate with the game-playing community!”

Sadly, it did not — but that doesn’t mean that Tax Dodge for Atari 8-bit isn’t a good game. Quite the opposite, in fact — it’s a really fun, interesting take on the maze chase genre with a non-violent twist. Although it does benefit you to have at least a passing understanding of all things financial, especially if you don’t have a manual to hand…

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: Karmic Caverns

The 8-bit home computing era played host to some great single-screen platform games: Donkey Kong, Miner 2049’er and Jumpman, to name but a few.

I hadn’t come across Karmic Caverns before. There might be a good reason that people haven’t talked about this much over the years — but it does have a few interesting ideas, most notably with how it’s more of a mobility puzzle than an action platformer.

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: Triad

Although their name might suggest otherwise, Adventure International put out many different types of game for the Atari 8-bit.

One interesting example from the relatively early days is Triad, a game that combines noughts and crosses with shoot ’em up action, in which each square on the board contains a specific type of enemy — and each type of enemy requires a specific means of defeating them! It’s a fun combination of shoot ’em up and puzzler that is still surprisingly addictive 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: Shamus

Shamus is one of those games that probably every Atari 8-bit enthusiast has played at one point or another; like many other games from publisher Synapse Software, it’s an all-time classic.

Developed by Cathryn Mataga (credited as William Mataga in the game), Shamus is a top-down action adventure that draws some inspiration from the classic shoot ’em up Berzerk and combines it with a more coherent world that you need to explore in order to proceed to the next level. Offering massive mazes and tons of replay value, Shamus is still a great time 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: 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: Zaxxon

Early arcade ports certainly varied quite significantly in quality, and opinion appears to be a bit divided online as to whether or not Ron J Fortier’s Atari 8-bit take on Sega’s classic Zaxxon is “good” or not.

Well, “good” or not, that’s what we’re taking a look at today — and it turns out there are two slightly different versions of the game out there. (I discovered after I made the video that these are due to there being a 16K cassette version and a 48K disk version — in the video you’ll see the disk version first, followed by the more limited cassette version.)

Enjoy this take on a classic in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Atari A to Z: Unicum

The type-in listing scene for 8-bit home computers gave us some genuinely excellent games — with some even rivalling commercially released counterparts.

Such is the case with the unusually named Unicum, a take on the Arkanoid-style block-breaking formula that many regard as significantly superior to the official port of Taito’s classic to Atari 8-bit.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, “Unicum” is apparently a Hungarian liqueur, though whether or not that actually has anything to do with this game is anyone’s guess. Be sure to subscribe on YouTube for more valuable facts about international culture!

Atari A to Z