Toaplan shoot ’em ups are pretty beloved by collectors of classic arcade and console titles — but they got a few ports to home computers, too.
Flying Shark for Atari ST is one such example. And while in some ways it demonstrates the ST’s weaknesses when compared to more dedicated gaming hardware, it’s actually a pretty competent version of the original game and certainly one that I enjoyed playing quite a bit back in the day.
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Telecomsoft, a division of British phone provider British Telecom, was a pretty prolific software publisher throughout the 8- and 16-bit home computer eras.
The brand was split into several parts: “Firebird” released big-name, high-profile games designed to have broad appeal; “Rainbird” released games intended for more mature audiences such as adventures, strategy games and simulations; and “Silverbird” provided budget-price experiences, usually in the form of arcade-style games.
One title released on the latter label was I, Ball, a game which was particularly well-received on the 8-bit home computers for its Rob Hubbard soundtrack; sadly, this is absent from the Atari ST version, but it’s still a solid — if monstrously difficult — shoot ’em up with some entertaining sampled sounds to enjoy!
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The “masocore” platformer, in which you learn by dying repeatedly in seemingly unfair circumstances, has become particularly popular in the age of Let’s Plays and streaming.
The reason for this is that, although playing the damn things tends to be rather frustrating, they’re quite entertaining to watch. And their reliance on puzzle-solving and memorisation make them quite a distinct experience from more conventional platform games and action adventures.
Here’s the Atari ST version of Rick Dangerous, developed by Core Design (of Tomb Raider fame) and published by Telecomsoft imprint Firebird in 1989. Oh, boy, it’s irritating… and yet I found myself trying again and again and again… Waaaaaaaa!!
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