Tag Archives: Atari

Atari A to Z Flashback: Missile Command

Dave Theuer’s Missile Command is an absolute classic of the “golden age” of arcade games, and still puts up a formidable challenge today!

Embodying the paranoia many people were feeling towards the Cold War and potential nuclear conflict in the early ’80s, Missile Command is a relentless, frantic affair. Despite that, it’s more important than anything to stay calm and take careful, strategic shots rather than just blasting away in a mad panic.

I am bad at Missile Command, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy playing it! So let’s get on and do just that, shall we?

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

Atari A to Z Flashback: Millipede

Legend has it that in the Davison household, the usually entirely justified righteous fury of our matriarchal figure towards yet another example of silly men and boys doing silly men and boys’ things could only be quelled by one thing: Millipede.

And for sure, Millipede makes for a great stress-reliever, with its frantic, non-stop blasting action not really leaving you any time to be annoyed about who dribbled wee on the floor, didn’t load the dishwasher or failed to tidy their room when requested.

Of course, if you’re not already stressed, its defining characteristics are also a pretty good means of elevating your own anxiety levels somewhat, too… so please bear in mind that this is not in any way intended to be clinical advice!

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

Atari A to Z: Keystone Kapers

Today it’s time for one of my favourite early Activision titles, and a great game from designer Garry Kitchen. Kitchen, if you’re unfamiliar, was responsible for the Atari 2600 version of Nintendo’s Donkey Kong, and also the wonderful Pressure Cooker, the spiritual precursor to popular indie title Overcooked.

Keystone Kapers kasts you in the role of Keystone Kelly, a kopper who is keen to katch his kriminal nemesis, Hooligan Harry. Harry, it seems, likes hanging out in department stores, and thus begins an increasingly ridiculous series of chase scenes up to the rooftop of the store, with Kelly being forced to dodge all manner of mundane yet perilous obstacles that put his mission at risk.

Loosely inspired by the old Keystone Kops movies, Keystone Kapers is simple to learn but tough to master — and a near-perfect example of what early ’80s Activision was all about.

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

Atari A to Z Flashback: Major Havoc

Major Havoc is one of the more unusual games from Atari’s back catalogue of arcade titles, and it’s interesting from a historical perspective for being one of the first games Mark “PlayStation” Cerny was involved with.

Making use of vector graphics to provide seamless transitions between three very disparate types of gameplay, Major Havoc challenges you to blast enemies in space, land accurately on an enemy space station, navigate a perilous route to a reactor and then get the hell out of there before the whole thing blows.

It’s frantic, high-energy, super-difficult and a whole lot of fun. Take a look!

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

Deluxe Mini Monster: Take Your Retro Gaming to a New Level

Although I tend to use emulation to record my Atari A to Z videos for the sake of convenience, when I actually want to sit down and play something on the Atari 8-bit or Atari ST, I prefer to use the original hardware.

There are myriad reasons for this, probably chief among them being that strange sense of nostalgia for things that used to be inconvenient, like disk loading times (and the noise of disk drives!), playing on a small CRT TV (or TV-monitor in my case, since we had — and I still have — a lovely Trinitron hybrid thing) and all those delightful compatibility issues we used to have to deal with.

There’s one aspect that can prove quite annoying, however, and that’s the tendency of old joysticks to fail. While games for many home computers of the ’80s offered keyboard control as an alternative, on Atari systems it was often joystick or nothing. So clearly the way was open for a company to put out a modern joystick that would work on an old system.

Continue reading Deluxe Mini Monster: Take Your Retro Gaming to a New Level

Atari A to Z Flashback: Lunar Lander

I was extremely intimidated by Lunar Lander as a kid. Revisiting it today, I see that it’s not really anything to be scared by… but it still puts up a pretty stiff challenge, particularly on its harder levels!

Providing one of the earliest examples of a completely non-violent arcade game — and one with significant simulation-esque elements, at that — Lunar Lander is a game that would go on to influence a wide variety of other computer, console and arcade games. Primarily through that “turn and thrust” mechanic I tend to have such difficulty with!

Oh well. Let’s see if we can touch down safely at least once in my lifetime…

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

Atari A to Z Flashback: Gravitar

We all know “harder than Dark Souls” is a cliche today. If you really want to show your hipster retro gaming cred, describe something as being “harder than Gravitar”.

Gravitar is indeed monstrously difficult, at least partly because of its “turn and thrust” control scheme, but there’s an undeniably addictive quality that keeps you wanting to play just once more… just once more and you might nail that level you nearly completed… just once more and you might beat that high score…

I may have a problem. And I’m pretty sure Gravitar caused it.

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