Tag Archives: atari xl

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.

Atari A to Z: Attack of the Mutant Camels

That’s a title and a half, isn’t it? Even thirty-five years after its original launch, “Attack of the Mutant Camels” is still a delightful piece of titling prowess that just rolls off the tongue.

Attack of the Mutant Camels is one of the most well-known games put out in the 8-bit era by the hairiest man in games, Jeff Minter. Based quite obviously on the Atari 2600 adaptation of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, it’s a real showcase game for what the humble Atari 8-bit was really capable of when in the hands of someone who very much knew what he was doing.

Combining Minter’s love of underappreciated animals, sci-fi, prog rock and psychedelia, Attack of the Mutant Camels may be simplistic in structure and mechanics, but it remains a beloved part of many Atari 8-bit collections with very good reason.

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

Atari A to Z: Zeppelin

Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve done it! Well, we’ve done it once, anyway.

Yes, indeed, with this week’s Atari A to Z video, we finally make it all the way to Z, with Cathryn (formerly William, as seen on the title screen) Mataga’s Zeppelin, an interesting multi-directional adventure shoot ’em up in which the challenge is not just from shooting bad guys and avoiding environmental hazards, but also from navigation and item manipulation.

This is a great example of the sort of quality software publisher Synapse became well-known for, although that quality tended to come at a price — Zeppelin was a whopping $34.95 when it came out in 1983, or nearly $90 in today’s money, taking inflation into account! And if Mataga’s name is familiar, you may have come across another Synapse-published title called Shamus that I’m sure will feature on this series at some point in the near future! But that’s a story for another day…

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

Atari A to Z: Way Out

Mention early first-person perspective 3D games to someone and they’re most likely to picture a “gridder” — the projection of a 2D map into a fake 3D perspective, through which you move by “step”, one cell at a time.

The reason for this is that it was the easiest way to create a 3D effect without actually having to do any real “3D” — hell, one of the earliest and most famous examples of this was on the humble ZX81 in the form of 3D Monster Maze. And indeed this style of presentation (if not necessarily the exact execution) remains popular today for many first-person perspective dungeon crawlers from both Eastern and Western developers, allowing for intricate, interesting level design without the need for complex 3D modelling.

Some talented coders in the early 8-bit era figured out ways to get more natural movement through these “projected 2D” maps, allowing you to rotate through angles other than 90 degrees and move relatively freely. One such example on the Atari 8-bit was 1982’s technically impressive Way Out (sometimes stylised as Wayout). The creator of this game, one Paul Allen Edelstein, remains part of the games industry to this day, albeit now with a specialism in video and audio compression technology rather than 3D graphics.

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Atari A to Z: Up Up and Away

Some days it just feels like everything is out to get you, when all you want to do is go for a nice peaceful ride in your beautiful hot air balloon.

Of course, in Ringblack Software’s Up Up and Away, everything literally is out to get you, whether it’s punks on the ground throwing rocks at you, birds who have apparently been eating nothing but razor blades for the last week or even Mother Nature herself.

This “avoid ’em up” goes well beyond “NES Hard” into a whole new territory of difficulty. If you even clear the “training” level you’re doing well… but I suspect you’ll be plummeting towards the ground long before that happens.

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Atari A to Z: Track & Field

“Multi-discipline athletics” is a subgenre of sports gaming that seems to have mostly fallen by the wayside in recent years.

In the ’80s, however, it was all the rage — and games such as Konami’s Track & Field proved to be the bane of many a joystick throughout the decade.

This Atari 8-bit port of the arcade classic is a surprisingly solid adaptation, wonky scrolling and inadvertent hairpieces aside. If you’ve had a hankering for a wagglin’, well, you can do far worse than this!

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