Zaxxon

Early arcade ports certainly varied quite significantly in quality, and opinion appears to be a bit divided online as to whether or not Ron J Fortier’s Atari 8-bit take on Sega’s classic Zaxxon is “good” or not.

Well, “good” or not, that’s what we’re taking a look at today — and it turns out there are two slightly different versions of the game out there. (I discovered after I made the video that these are due to there being a 16K cassette version and a 48K disk version — in the video you’ll see the disk version first, followed by the more limited cassette version.)

Enjoy this take on a classic in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Maze Craze

If you’ve ever called your local bobby to come and sort out some youths in your neck of the woods, only for them to turn up four hours later well after they were actually needed, Maze Craze may provide some explanation.

Apparently coppers like nothing more than getting lost inside randomly generated city blocks with varying degrees of invisibility, desperate to make their way to the exit on the eastern edge of the district before the robbers they’re supposed to be catching actually catch them instead.

Okay, Maze Craze doesn’t make a ton of sense, but since when has that mattered for Atari 2600 games? Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.

Shufflepuck Cafe

Hitting a thing back and forth across a playfield in an attempt to get it past your opponent is a fundamental of gaming — after all, Pong is one of the original video games!

It’s interesting to see the numerous twists that there have been on the formula over the years, though. One of the most beautifully presented is Broderbund’s Shufflepuck Café, a game that sees you descending the smoky stairs into a sci-fi cantina in the hopes of reaching a telephone. But between you and that phone are some of the meanest Shufflepuckers in the galaxy — and they want to play.

Enjoy the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Yogi’s Great Escape

Yogi Bear is, it is said, smarter than the average bear. He was certainly smart enough to find himself in several licensed games for a variety of home computer platforms in the early ’90s.

Here’s the Atari 8-bit version of Yogi’s Great Escape, a platform game that we’ve previously seen on the Atari ST A to Z series already. While technically inferior, the 8-bit version actually plays quite a bit better, with tight controls and clear mechanics that make it surprisingly enjoyable to play.

Enjoy the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.

International Soccer

It’s time for another sports game! Hooray, hoorah, hooroo!

This time around, we’re looking at International Soccer for Atari 2600, which is one of Mattel’s numerous M Network cartridges. If you’ve not come across these before, these were ports of games from Mattel’s Intellivision console, often scaled down a little bit to fit the limited hardware of the Atari 2600.

International Soccer is based on the officially licensed NASL Soccer for Intellivision, and it’s a game for the very patient retro gamer. Find out more in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Rana Rama

Rana Rama is one of those games that most ST owners probably played at some point, since it was distributed as part of the “Super Pack” bundle of software with new STs in 1988. And from there, the rampant piracy of the period meant that the disks of the Super Pack tended to find their way into other people’s hands, too!

It’s an interesting game, though, and had quite an influence on a number of subsequent developers. Notably, it’s use of “fog of war” to gradually reveal rooms as you enter them inspired Simon Phipps to adopt a similar approach when developing his exploration-centric platformer Switchblade for Core Design.

There’s also some very interesting mechanics going on under the hood. Watch me try and figure things out in the video below — and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Xirius Defect XXL

In the mood for a good puzzle? Well, fire up the ol’ Atari 8-bit because I’ve got a right cracker for you today.

Xirius Defect XXL is, as the name suggests, an expanded version of Xirius Defect, a modern Atari 8-bit title developed for the ABBUC software competition. This newer version adds a bunch of new levels, tightens up the mechanics (and the explanations thereof) and is an altogether polished package for anyone to enjoy.

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Human Cannonball

Are you a bad enough dude to fire a small black stick figure out of a cannon into a rough approximation of a water tower?

If so, Human Cannonball for Atari 2600 may be for you. It’s a game probably best described as an early example of a physics puzzle, and it has its roots in the usually competitive “artillery game” genre.

There may not seem like there’s much to this game, but there’s a surprisingly addictive challenge while it maintains your interest. Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Quadron

So you reckon you’re a Tetris pro, hmm? Well, how would you manage if required to play two overlapping games of Tetris at the same time?

That’s the premise behind public domain release (and game development library showcase) Quadron, a game which takes the classic falling-block action of Tetris into a whole other dimension… and perhaps in not quite the way you might have expected it to!

It’s a mind-frying challenge, to be sure, but there’s definitely fun to be had here if you want to take your puzzling to the next level. Check out the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Worms?

EA, lest we forget, stands for “Electronic Arts”. And back in this company’s early days, they really stood by that name, releasing a variety of fascinating, experimental pieces of work that were notably different from a lot of other games at the time.

One great example from EA’s initial batch of five games is Worms?, a take on a cellular automata model known as Paterson’s Worms. In the game, you control between one and four worms in an attempt to capture as much territory as possible by “programming” the worms’ behaviour.

It’s more of a software toy than a “game” as such, but there’s a lot of fun to be had here — particularly if you enjoy creating interesting patterns through judicious application of mathematics. Find out more in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.

Atari games, software, hardware… and memories