While the Dizzy games are primarily associated with the 8-bit microcomputer platforms for many people, a lot of them came out on the 16-bit computers, too.
Third title Fast Food deviated from the traditional “arcade adventure” format of the series, instead providing a maze-based munch ’em up in which the things you are tasked with munching are all moving around as much as you are. K.C. Munchkin would be proud.
The history of how a lot of old games came to be is deeply fascinating.
One such tale that I’ve found rather interesting is how Atari’s Dark Chambers found its way to release. This is a game that has its roots in John Palevich’s Dandy, which is the reason the all-time classic cooperative top-down dungeon crawler Gauntlet exists, but then there’s also several versions of Dark Chambers out there to enjoy, too.
Now hold on a minute… something’s a little familiar here!
Yes indeed; we’ve previously seen Kirk Chaney’s Lock ‘n’ Chase-inspired maze puzzler on the 8-bit Atari A to Z series, but it turns out he also made an ST version! In fact, it’s not entirely clear which one came first, since they’re both dated around the same time.
Hit up the video below to check out how the 16-bit version compares to its 8-bit counterpart — and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!
There was a time when we couldn’t take first-person adventures for granted; a dark time when you could only turn by 90 degrees and move by 5 feet at a time.
Okay, we still have games like that, but at least we have a choice these days. Back when Slaygon was released for Atari ST, it’s pretty much all we had if we wanted to infiltrate some sort of complicated installation… such as a futuristic tech company looking to unleash a deadly virus into the atmosphere for… some reason!
Slaygon put an interesting twist on the dungeon crawler formula by putting you in control of a futuristic cybertank with all manner of fancy systems for you to use. It was still all about finding the right keys for the right doors though…
You’re probably familiar with various methods of software distribution from over the years.
In the Atari 8-bit era, we had a lot of public domain software that was freely distributable, often sold for the cost of a disk or two from user groups, local software outlets and national publications. But “Begware”, a twist on public domain that literally begged you to pay what you thought the game was worth according to some specific criteria, is a new twist on the formula I’ve not seen in quite this form before.
Illinois Smith, possibly the first (and last?) Begware game, is a mildly entertaining if simplistic romp through a maze as you hunt for treasures. Would I pay up in support of creator Greg Knauss’ unashamed (and rather amusing) begging? These days, sure. Back in the ’80s? Don’t be ridiculous, no-one paid for software back then!
This one’s a cool addition to the Atari Flashback Classics collection: a “lost” game from the Atari archives.
Maze Invaders sadly never saw an official release either as an arcade machine or a home port, languishing in the archives until recently. The International Centre for the History of Electronic Games managed to acquire a whole bunch of old Atari goodies back in 2014, and part of that heap of fun times was Maze Invaders.
It’s kind of surprising this never got an official release for one reason or another; it’s a really interesting, unusual and highly addictive game with a ton of personality to it!
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!
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!
I love it when game developers get creative. This is not an altogether unusual sight these days, of course, but back in the early to mid ’80s, it was always a real treat to see someone step outside of genre “norms”.
Such was the case with Time Bandit by Bill Dunlevy and Harry Lafnear, a top-down action adventure with elements of text adventures, role-playing games, Pac-Man and all manner of other goodness. While superficially resembling Gauntlet — which actually came out after Time Bandit was fully developed — there’s a hell of a lot of depth here, and some fiendish puzzles to unravel.
If you want a game that pretty much sums up what the Atari ST gaming experience is all about, you can do far worse than give Time Bandit the, uh, time of day.
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!