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!
Want to practice your typing skills? There were a bunch of different ways to do that back in the Atari 8-bit era, with one of the most fun being Typo Attack.
Typo Attack is one of several success stories that stemmed from the Atari Program Exchange, where independent, amateur developers could submit their work to Atari, who would publish and distribute it and pay the creators royalties. In several cases, the creators of APX titles went on to become full-time Atari employees — or, at the very least, their games became “official” releases.
The ’80s were a strange time, particularly for Atari, who, it seems, were never quite sure how to release or market things properly.
One of their well-received arcade games received an official port to the Atari 2600 and 5200, and the latter version then ended up on the 8-bit Atari computers. Unusually, however, this was published via the Atari Program Exchange or APX, which more commonly published consumer-submitted games rather than licensed ports.
That game was Kangaroo, and it’s an enjoyable single-screen platformer with lots of monkey-punching and fruit-grabbing. It also used to terrify me as a kid and I can’t remember why…
For the retro gaming and retro computer enthusiasts among you, here’s the continuation of my ongoing project to explore the library of the Atari 8-Bit.
Released through the Atari Program Exchange (or APX), an initiative by Atari that allowed amateur and professional programmers alike the opportunity to get their projects distributed commercially, Dandy by John Howard Palevich turned out to be a rather influential game.
Originally intended as a multiplayer networked adaptation of Dungeons & Dragons before being simplified and refined into the four-player action dungeon crawler it ultimately became, Dandy would be a defining influence on Atari’s later arcade hit Gauntlet… and it’s not hard to see why.
The best of overlooked and underappreciated computer and video games, from yesterday and today