The Atari ST version of Screaming Wings is, as we’ve seen elsewhere on this series, kind of poop. The Atari 8-bit version, meanwhile, is a superb shoot ’em up with just a couple of annoying little features here and there.
Based heavily on Capcom’s classic 1942, Screaming Wings puts you in the pilot’s seat of a Lockheed Lightning over the Pacific as you attempt to blast down a variety of enemies who want nothing more than to sink you into the briny ocean in a flaming ball of death.
Screaming Wings for Atari 8-bit was an excellent clone of Capcom’s arcade classic 1942, complete with loop-the-loops, a Lockheed Lightning under the player’s control and some satisfying gameplay.
Screaming Wings for Atari ST, meanwhile, is probably one of the worst shoot ’em ups on the system, since it abandoned almost everything that made the 8-bit version good and instead produced a steaming pile of pap whose only real redeeming feature is its use of digitised sound effects.
You think we have problems now? Back in the ’80s, video game distributors would refuse to stock games if they felt they would be “harmful to children”. And Red Rat’s Nightmares for Atari 8-bit was a victim of this moral panic.
It stung doubly hard for UK-based Atari 8-bit enthusiasts, becuase the stockist in question was Silica Shop, a longstanding supporter of Atari platforms and a popular choice for mail order. Unusually, it was actually the press that stepped in to help — Page 6 Magazine took on the task of distributing the game in place of retailers who refused to stock it, and perchance made themselves a few quid in the process.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and all that… or so they say, anyway. I wonder how Sega felt about Red Rat Software’s not-so-subtle take on Pengo… particularly given it came out quite a few years later?
To be fair, Pengy is a perfectly competent version of Pengo for Atari ST… but once we hit the 16-bit home computer era, people were starting to expect a little bit more from their computer and video games than knockoffs of arcade games from several years ago.
Still, looking back on it now, it’s an enjoyable enough game, so let’s spend a bit of time with it today!
The Lombard RAC Rally, known today as the Wales Rally GB, is a high-profile race in the annual rally calendar.
Back in 1988, we had the opportunity to strap ourselves into a state-of-the-art Ford Sierra Cosworth and take part in this prestigious event for ourselves. Some massive prizes of up to a hundred English pounds per stage were up for grabs!
Lombard RAC Rally by Red Rat software was a neat game that did few things rather unconventionally for the driving game genre. So let’s take a look!
Horizontally scrolling shooters are perhaps most commonly associated with the 16-bit Japanese consoles, but there were some great ones on offer on earlier home computers.
One such example was Laser Hawk from Red Rat Software, developed by Kiwi programmer Andrew Bradfield with graphics by Harvey Kong Tin. This was an enjoyable, speedy, helicopter-based horizontal scroller with a cheeky line in fanboy-baiting — the structures you had to destroy at the end of each level all bore an uncanny resemblance to rival, non-Atari computer manufacturers’ logos!
It’s a game that I greatly enjoyed revisiting, and was very pleasantly surprised to discover still plays rather well today. Give it a shot!