Over the course of the last few months, I’ve been part of a rather extraordinary story — my videos inspired the maker of some of my favourite Atari 8-bit games to revisit a series that had lain dormant for 35 years!
Best of all, you can be part of the story too for yourself by downloading and giving the new game Return of the Fungi a go for yourself — simply stop by Retrounite to read the full story behind this lovely game and download a copy of the Digger Dan Trilogy for yourself!
You like pool? Reckon you’re good at pool? Well, how about if it was in an antigravity cube with pockets in the corners and customisable air friction?
Those are the questions that the unusual QBall for Atari ST attempts to answer, presenting a simple but impressively slick 3D view of the playfield in question, detailed controls and a stiff challenge for even those who think they have a fine command over the laws of physics.
QBall was the work of Adam Billyard, who is perhaps best known for his 8-bit 3D racer Elektra Glide; QBall represents a rare 16-bit appearance for both him and publisher English Software.
Splish-splash, I was taking a bath, and then suddenly I was beset with crabs. Crabs, crabs everywhere.
In Neptune’s Daughters from English Software, you take on the role of Aquaman as he strives to rescue the eponymous young ladies from the slimy clutches of a mean ol’ sea serpent. Along the way, he’ll encounter poisonous sucker plants, oxygenated amoebae, an amorous octopus and the most dangerous walls on the planet. Can he survive the perils that lie beneath the waves?
There’s a glimpse of pixellated boob in it for you if you’re victorious. Don’t get too excited, though. It seems those daughters just aren’t that into you. Maybe it’s the gills…
Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.
We’ve come across English Software a few times previously on this series; they were a real mainstay of the Atari 8-bit scene throughout the ’80s.
Over their lifetime, they released a wide variety of games — some of which, like Elektra Glide, have an enduring legacy of being well-regarded, even if their flaws are all the more apparent from a modern perspective.
And then they also released stuff like Hijack!, which isn’t a bad game so much as it’s a relatively unremarkable one. It’s still fun for five or ten minutes at a time, though, so let’s take to the skies and rescue some VIPs!
After the success of Diamonds, programmer Simon Hunt decided that he wanted to make a sequel using the characters he’d established.
Inspired by the vertical scrolling of Firefleet, another game from English Software, he decided he wanted to expand beyond the original game’s single-screen gameplay, and thus Dan Strikes Back was born.
Digger Dan’s most precious of treasures has been stolen away by the evil Brian the Blob! Can Dan make his way through the many perilous layers of Brian’s vault to reclaim his prize? Probably not, given that I’m in charge, but it’s fun having a go anyway…
Here’s one I vividly remember from back in the day… but for which there’s a surprising lack of information about online!
Fire Chief was developed by Tim Huntington and released through English Software, who we’ve already seen a couple of times on Atari A to Z. Beyond the fact it was included on one of English Software’s Atari Smash Hits compilations (number 4, to be precise), there’s not a lot more that can be said from a historical perspective — even its original box art (and/or if it was ever released as a standalone title!) remains seemingly lost to time.
Oh well. We’d better just take a good hard look at how it plays then, huh? Hold on to your hats, this one goes like the clappers!
Pretty much everyone who plays games can probably name at least one title that they respect, but absolutely can’t abide the thought of playing ever again.
For me, one of those games is Elektra Glide, an incredibly popular title developed by Adam Billyard and published by English Software. It’s a technical tour-de-force for the Atari 8-bit, for sure, featuring spectacularly speedy 3D-style graphics, parallax scrolling, wonderful use of colour and an incredibly memorable soundtrack.
I also despise playing it with almost every fibre of my being; I’d thought returning to it some thirty-two years after its original release might have caused my opinions to mellow on it somewhat, but nope! Still, it sure is pretty…
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.
Today’s Atari 8-Bit game shows us that even back in the 1980s, programmers weren’t above churning out something just to make a quick buck.
Enter Henri by one Adam Billyard, a developer who would later go on to produce great things for The English Software Company — specifically the technically stunning (but exceedingly irritating) racer Elektra Glide, and the well-animated one-on-one fighting game Chop Suey.
At the time he put out Henri, however, he was just trying to scrape together enough money for his air fare to get home. The result was a competent, if relatively unremarkable Mr. Do! clone. I hope you like the sound of Bach…
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The best of overlooked and underappreciated computer and video games, from yesterday and today