Today we pay another visit to a beloved publisher of the Atari 8-bit days: Synapse Software — and one of the company’s most well-regarded games.
Rainbow Walker isn’t an especially original premise — it’s a Q*Bert-style game in which you have to hop on all the squares to change them to the correct colour — but the remarkable thing here is the incredibly slick presentation, featuring a gorgeous 3D effect, smooth movement and some fancy special effects. It’s not hard to see why the game is regarded as one of the finest in the Atari 8-bit’s library.
These days, we tend to expect multi-format releases to have if not complete parity, then certainly as close an experience as possible to one another.
That wasn’t always the case, though, and I can think of few better examples of this that Adventure International’s The Eliminator, which somehow became an entirely different game between its original TRS-80 incarnation and its Atari 8-bit “port” by Steve Coleman.
It’s a fun little blast ’em up, though, so I’m not mad or anything; I just thought it was interesting!
Kick, punch, it’s all in the mind! Pushing diagonally backwards and up while holding the fire button to swing your sword, however? Somewhat less intuitive…
Enter Mastertronic’s Ninja from 1986. This was a game developed by Steve Coleman (who was previously responsible for Pharaoh’s Curse, which we’ll be coming to in a few weeks) that combines open-world 2D adventuring with a fusion of one-on-one fighting and beat ’em up mechanics to produce something altogether unique.
Ninja was a game of “firsts” for me growing up. It was the first time I saw a ninja and learned what it was. It was the first time I saw (and learned the name of) a lot of pieces of traditional Japanese architecture such as torii gates. And it was one of the first games I played where fighting mechanics were a little more complex than simply mashing the fire button to do a single type of attack. It’s still pretty fun, too… though it puts up a lot more of a fight than I remember!
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The best of overlooked and underappreciated computer and video games, from yesterday and today