Tag Archives: Atari STE

Atari ST A to Z: Yolanda

Remakes and remixes of existing video games have been around for some time now, with some dating right back to the early days of home computer gaming.

One interesting example is 1990’s Yolanda from Millennium, a game that reimagines the well-regarded but atrociously presented 1984 Commodore 64 title Hercules for a slightly more modern audience. Well, in fact, it outright recreates Hercules with better graphics and sound, and puts a hot girl in the lead role instead of a badly drawn approximation of one of Greek mythology’s most famous figures.

Dubbed “the fastest and most difficult platform game ever” in advertising from the time, it’s… well, it’s quite something, for all the wrong reasons. Take a look.

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Atari ST A to Z: Winnie the Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood

Nostalgia is a funny old thing. Since starting this project, I’ve found myself really appreciating some of the games that, for one reason or another, had an impact on me growing up. Not necessarily the best games, but those which have some sort of meaning to me.

One of my favourite examples to date is today’s game: Winnie the Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood, an early title from Sierra during their partnership with Disney. As well as being a game I loved playing with my family as a child and possibly one of the most charming, kid-friendly adventures of all time, it’s an interesting game from a historical perspective, too, since it’s one of the earliest titles Al Lowe put out.

Al Lowe, if you’re unfamiliar with your Sierra history, is the man who would later give us the Leisure Suit Larry series, a mainstay of Sierra’s portfolio alongside King’s Quest, Space Quest and Police Quest for many years… but a little different in subject matter to what we have here!

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

Atari ST A to Z: Shanghai

Any time you undertake a project like this, you have to accept that some elements of it are just going to be less of a “spectator sport” than others.

Such is the case with today’s Atari ST game, the not-much-to-look-at-but-fun-to-play Shanghai by Activision, an adaptation of Mahjong Solitaire that makes use of the ST’s built-in graphical user interface GEM as the foundation of its aesthetic. This was not at all an unusual approach back in the day, and is akin to more modern PC games running on Windows 95 and beyond making use of a windowed interface and standardised Windows controls. Not the most beautiful look, no, but perfectly functional — and a lot more intuitive to those who perhaps don’t play a lot of games.

Compared to more recent adaptations of Mahjong Solitaire, Shanghai is fairly limited, but it nonetheless remains a pleasingly relaxing, Zen sort of experience. Once you figure out how to read the screen properly, that is…

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Atari ST A to Z: Quartz

An unusual and very pretty shoot ’em up today, from the mind of the man who gave us Spindizzy.

Quartz is a game that combines free-roaming, vaguely Asteroids-esque sequences with more traditional forced scrolling stages in a variety of different directions. It’s simple but effective… and damned addictive.

It’s also a great example of a popular graphical style at the time — raytracing, or at the very least, a pixel art approximation of raytracing. Today, graphics cards are just starting to get into real-time raytracing for the latest “new thing” in graphical fidelity, but back in the ST era, prerendered raytraced graphical assets were quite commonly used as a means of making sprites look “3D” without going full-on polygonal.

Whether it’s “real” raytracing or not doesn’t really matter at the end of the day… what does matter is that this is a gorgeous game that’s a ton of fun to play!

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Atari ST A to Z: Pac-Mania

There have been numerous attempts to improve on Pac-Man over the years by both Namco and third parties.

One such attempt by the former was Pac-Mania, a game which transplanted Pac-Man’s simple single-screen maze-based gameplay into a scrolling, oblique-perspective affair with jumping, power-ups and visually themed worlds.

Opinions vary as to whether it’s actually an improvement on Pac-Man or not, but one thing is certain: Grandslam’s port to Atari ST was very solid indeed, and one of the few Atari ST games I actually remember buying for myself back when I was a kid!

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Atari ST A to Z: Operation Thunderbolt

It wasn’t unusual to see lightgun shooters adapted to the 16-bit computers of the late ’80s and early ’90s. However, you didn’t tend to see a lot in the way of lightgun peripherals.

You did, however, see a lot of these games making use of mouse control to simulate aiming a gun. Some of these made use of a clear, obvious mouse cursor, allowing for precise aiming, albeit at the expense of a certain feeling of “authenticity”. Meanwhile, some, like Ocean’s solid adaptation of Taito’s Operation Thunderbolt, provided the interesting twist of making where you were aiming invisible until you fired — much like a “real” lightgun would behave.

While the ST struggles to provide a completely authentic arcade experience — particularly in the sound department, as always — Operation Thunderbolt is actually a pretty solid port, and its unusual aiming mechanics make it surprisingly satisfying and addictive to play, even today.

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