Back in the ’80s and ’90s, it wasn’t unusual to see developers for home computers take it upon themselves to make “sequels” to arcade games.
Hard Drivin’ II: Drive Harder… for Atari ST is a good example. It takes the basic format of Atari Games’ polygonal classic Hard Drivin’ and polishes it up with a better handling model, more tracks and a rather clunky track designer, allowing you to create your own challenges.
We’re nearly there! We’re nearly there! We’re so nearly through the RealSports gauntlet! Just a bit of friendly Tennis action to get through, followed by some beach volleyball, and then we’re done!
RealSports Tennis for Atari 5200 is a decent tennis game that suffers a bit from an awkward control scheme — an awkward control scheme which hasn’t been emulated particularly well in Atari Flashback Classics, as it happens. Consequently, it’s best treated as more of a curiosity than something you can really spend a lot of time with — but it’s worth acknowledging, at least!
Porting an arcade game to home computers often wasn’t an immediate process back in the days of the 8- and 16-bit microcomputers. In fact, sometimes it took a good few years!
Such was the case with Paperboy from Atari Games, which first hit arcades in 1985 and didn’t come to Atari ST until a full four years later! Elite put together a rather solid port that played well, but which was regarded as somewhat “outdated” by reviewers of the time.
I love me some Qix, and it’s a game I developed quite an early fondness for thanks to the Atari 8-bit version I grew up with.
There’s an Atari 5200 version that is almost arcade-perfect available, but the Atari 8-bit edition went in a slightly different direction, making itself more distinctive and unique to the 8-bit platform in the process.
Do you like dungeon crawling? Do you like shooting things? Do you like games that begin with the letter “X”, which are in unsurprisingly short supply? Then do I have a treat for you!
Atari Games’ Xybots — originally envisioned as a sequel to Gauntlet but reskinned to sci-fi because someone in a suit figured that a sequel to one of the company’s most popular games of all time would not, in itself, be popular — is an interesting game. And, moreover, one that was probably ahead of its time; turns out that making it sci-fi didn’t make it popular either!
It also features one of my least favourite mechanics from Atari Games releases of this era, but it’s not quite enough to spoil the rest of the experience. This ST port is remarkably true to the arcade version, warts and all…
Driving tanks has been a proud part of video gaming culture almost since the very beginning.
With 1988’s Vindicators, Atari went back to its Combat roots and tasked up to two players with infiltrating a series of space stations in their “strategic battle tanks” and then, naturally, blowing them up from inside.
It’s probably most remembered today as one of the games Tengen released for NES that was unlicensed, making use of custom cartridge hardware to defeat the NES’ “lockout” chipset. The Atari ST port is pretty solid too, though!
After checking out the not-very-good-but-I-still-like-it Atari ST version on Atari A to Z earlier this week, I thought it was worth taking a closer look at the arcade original of S.T.U.N. Runner.
It’s an interesting game, for sure; although Sega is widely credited with popularising the polygonal racer in arcades thanks to its excellent Virtua Racing, Atari Games had actually been experimenting with filled 3D racers for some years previously.
Probably the most well-known of these is Hard Drivin’, a game that took itself a little too seriously — to date it’s still the only arcade racer I know of with a clutch pedal — but the futuristic bobsled run that is S.T.U.N. Runner was also innovative in its own way.
The futuristic racer subgenre tends to mostly be attributed to Nintendo’s F-Zero series these days, but there were a number of other companies experimenting with the formula too.
One such company was Atari Games, who put out the arcade version of S.T.U.N. Runner in 1989, a good year before F-Zero hit the Super NES. Running on a variation of the Hard Drivin’ hardware, its polygonal graphics and blistering speed impressed anyone who was lucky to come across a machine.
Its home ports… well, they did their best, and despite the ST version being what can politely be called “barely passable” I had a surprising amount of fun with it…
Whew, now there’s a mouthful, eh? As you may have guessed from the title, this one- or two-player arcade romp — originally developed by Atari Games — channels the very best of 1950s B-movies into a fun and satisfying isometric blaster.
Sadly, the home ports lack the arcade version’s “Hall Effect” joystick, which allowed movement and aiming in sixteen directions instead of the usual eight — a precursor to our modern analogue sticks — but the ST version seen here still plays well with a nice joystick!
Just remember to turn off Sticky Keys in Windows if you’re emulating to, say, record a video… you need that Shift key quite a bit in this game! Oh well, you live and learn, huh…?