Tag Archives: Atari

Atari A to Z Flashback: Fire Truck

If, in 1978, you ever entertained any childish fantasies of being a fireman, then Atari had the video game for you!

Fire Truck was an unusual spin on the top-down driving game in which you took control of a distinctly retro (even at the time) fire engine on its way to deal with some sort of flame-related emergency. The fire truck has limited fuel and thus is unable to ever get to its destination, but at least you can score some points along the way! Because as we all know, real firemen are rated according to how close to the emergency they got.

Obviously this is mostly made up; the “fire truck” concept is actually an excuse to provide some interesting and unusual two-player cooperative driving gameplay, in which one player steers the cab of the truck and the other the trailer. You can play it single-player too, but for maximum amusement, bring a friend.

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

Atari A to Z Flashback: Dominos

Dominos, another black and white title from Atari’s early days, surprised me by not at all being what I expected.

I was anticipating a fairly faithful adaptation of the tabletop game Dominoes — which wouldn’t have been altogether difficult to put together even with the rudimentary technology of the time — but instead I got a rather enjoyable, addictive two-player game in the vein of what we now know as the Snake genre.

While most people are familiar with Snake from its late-’90s Nokia phone incarnation, the idea of one or more players moving around a field and leaving an impassable trail behind them has been around since the earliest days of video games. Dominos was a very early example, following the genre progenitor Blockade by just a year. As such, it’s very simple in execution… but that doesn’t stop it being fun, particularly alongside a friend.

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

Atari A to Z Flashback: Destroyer

As we’ve previously seen with Canyon Bomber, sometimes all you need to make an addictive, enjoyable game is a simple concept… and perhaps some gimmicky controls.

Such is the case with Destroyer, a game that featured some satisfyingly clunky physical controls on its original arcade release, which are obviously lost somewhat in this home translation. Interestingly, this never got a home port of its own prior to the release in Atari Flashback Classics; it was instead incorporated into the Atari 2600 port of Canyon Bomber, which was developed by David “Pitfall” Crane.

It’s a simple idea, but an effective one… and one that really does not like being captured at 30fps, so if you can’t see the depth charges for part of this video… uh, sorry! Such are the limitations of my hardware!

Atari A to Z Flashback: Crystal Castles

Do you know what “trimetric projection” is? If not, take a good look at Atari’s Crystal Castles. That, dear reader, is trimetric projection at work.

This 3D perspective take on the Pac-Man formula is a popular game from Atari’s early days, and enjoyed numerous home ports over the years, particularly on Atari’s own platforms. It’s a fun — if challenging — game, and remains noteworthy from a historical perspective for being one of the first arcade games out there that it’s actually possible to “beat”. Although good luck with doing that.

Also, if you score first place on the high score table, you get to enjoy your initials presented in 3D trimetric projection for everyone to admire on the first level of each new playthrough!

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

Atari A to Z Flashback: Centipede

Not every retro game has stood the test of time quite as well as others. But one I think we can all agree remains just as fresh today as it was back in the day is Centipede.

Developed as a specific attempt to appeal to a broader audience than just the stereotype of young male gamers, Centipede’s bright colours, energetic gameplay, trackball controller and relatable concept made it a big hit with male and female players, both young and old.

This game was a favourite of my whole family growing up… and my mother was nigh-unbeatable at both this and its sequel Millipede!

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

Atari A to Z Flashback: Canyon Bomber

Time after time in gaming, we’ve seen that the simplest concepts can be some of the most effective and addictive.

Atari’s Canyon Bomber, originally released to arcades in 1977, is a prime example of this. You only need one button to play, and that button drops bombs. The concept is so simple anyone — even someone not at all familiar with video games — can understand and enjoy it. Drop bombs, hit things, score points. Whoever scores most points, wins.

And one of the best things about this game when compared to some of its contemporaries is that the simplistic concept means that it was very straightforward to implement a “computer-controlled” opponent to compete against if you didn’t happen to have a friend handy. So even those of us with no friends can still enjoy this game… and end up playing it a lot longer than you might expect!

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

Atari A to Z Flashback: Black Widow

I don’t like spiders. I do, however, absolutely LOVE Black Widow, a delightful vector-based twin-stick shooter.

In Black Widow, you play a spider trying to defend their web from all manner of incoming creepy crawlies. And, unfortunately, it seems that they are sick and tired of you doing your spidery thing, and as such are more than capable of taking you out with a single, fatal touch.

Fortunately, you aren’t just any spider. You are the Black Widow, a laser-spitting spider of doom, the kind of thing that you really wouldn’t want to find under your toilet seat when you wake up in the middle of the night to go for a dump…

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