Every genre needs to start somewhere, and in the top-down run-and-gun shooter’s case, it pretty much started with Taito’s Front Line.
By modern standards, Front Line might look a bit laughable — particularly when it comes to its animations. But give it a bit of time and you’ll find a thoroughly playable — and very hard! — game to enjoy in the mix here. Without this game, we likely wouldn’t have had SNK classics like TNK III and Ikari Warriors!
Supposedly, “pooyan” is a Japanese word that means “little pigs”, but I am yet to find a more authoritative source for this piece of information online than some random blog that said this was the case with no supporting evidence whatsoever.
Regardless, Pooyan is indeed a game about little pigs, and an unusual twist on the fixed shooter formula. It’s a game that I used to find oddly unsettling as a child, also — and as an adult, I find the more you play it and the more you think about it, the more unsettling it becomes once again. Fun, though!
I love Moon Patrol, but it’s actually been quite a while since I played it seriously — and I’ve never spent that much time with the arcade original.
Still, all it took to get me interested in playing again was some discussion of the Atari 8-bit version (and its dodgy moon buggy sprite) on the 1200XL Podcast — after that, I was ready with my PayPal account to download the Arcade Archives version on Switch, marking what I suspect is the beginning of a worrying addiction. But oh well.
Sometimes, as we’ve seen numerous times on this series already, the simplest game concepts really do work quite well. And such is the case with Steeplechase for Atari 2600, one of three games to be exclusively distributed through Sears’ Tele-Games label.
Offering simple, easy to understand horse racing action for one to four players, Steeplechase is a fun game to bust out when you have friends over and can’t be arsed to explain anything that needs more than one button. This also makes it an ideal fit for those people in your life who claim not to “do” video games.
Before Star Raiders, there was Star Ship. And it’s… umm… not quite as good.
That said, when you consider this came out in 1977 — a time when no-one really knew what a “video game” was, let alone what a “first-person perspective space combat simulator” might look like — then they didn’t do all that bad of a job considering the limitations of the hardware.
One of my favourite games of theirs that doesn’t have Gal*Gun in the title is Mighty Gunvolt Burst, a game which is essentially nothing but Inti Creates fanservice. Dripping with the “enhanced retro” aesthetic the team are such masters of, this is a challenging platform adventure with satisfying progression mechanics.
Yes, it’s yet another RealSports game! We’re nearly done, though. Hang in there!
This time around, we take a look at RealSports Soccer for the Atari 5200 which, like its American Football counterpart, offers a somewhat more realistic, in-depth experience, perhaps at the expense of some accessibility. It’s still a much more approachable game than either incarnation of RealSports Football, however!
Up until this point in the Atelier MegaFeature as a whole, we’ve explored the games in release order.
They were released in clear “sets”, after all — we had the Atelier Iris trilogy, then the Mana Khemia duology and then the three Arland games. And while the stories don’t always follow on directly from one another — most notably in the Atelier Iris series — each game in each series, at the very least, feels like it has a number of stylistic and thematic elements in common with its contemporaries. But in 2018, something interesting happened; after three Dusk games and three Mysterious games, Gust issued the surprise announcement that the twentieth game in the mainline Atelier series would not kick off a new trilogy; instead, it would return to Arland for (probably) one last time.
So with that in mind, we’re skipping forward from 2011’s thirteenth Atelier game Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arlandto check out 2019’s twentieth installment Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland. Then we’ll go back and look at all the ones in between. Sound good? Good. Let’s get cracking — beginning with an overview of what this game is all about and how it fits in with its predecessors.
Of all the genres that have been with us since the earliest days of the medium, racing games have probably been through the most significant changes.
There’s still an undeniable appeal to classic single-screen top-down affairs, though, particularly when they control as elegantly as Race (aka Indy 500) for Atari 2600 does. Originally making use of a custom “Driving Controller” and today mapping excellently to the analogue sticks on our standard joypads, Race remains a fine way to while away a few minutes, whether you’re by yourself or in the company of a friend.
After a period of… let’s call it “dormancy”, standalone, non-freemium puzzle games are very much alive and well, and I am 100% here for it.
Petal Crash, a Game Boy Colour-inspired puzzler from Friend & Fairy, published by Freedom Planet creators Galaxy Trail, is a fine example. Featuring gorgeous visuals inspired by 8-bit handhelds and a fantastic chiptune soundtrack — plus excellent gameplay — I was immediately smitten with it when I wrote about it.