Tempest

One of the nice things about the Atari Flashback Classics collection is how it includes a bunch of previously unreleased prototypes — some of which are really great.

Tempest for Atari 2600 is unfortunately not exactly one of the great ones — but it’s an interesting one, nonetheless, largely because no-one seems to know who was responsible for it! Originally assumed to be the work of Carla Meninsky, it seems that it was actually produced by someone else after Meninsky left Atari — but no-one knows who! And no-one is in a hurry to come forward and take responsibility, either…

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

Blood Money

First, there was Menace. Now, Psygnosis presents… a DMA Design game. BLOOD MONEY!

Thus ran the intro to Blood Money, spiritual successor to DMA Design’s excellent 16-bit shooter Menace, and a game that draws heavy inspiration from a variety of its contemporaries. It’s a good game with a few glaring issues that hold it back from true greatness — but it’s worth a play or two, particularly if you can bring a friend along for the ride!

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

International Karate

The fighting game genre has been around for a very long time — and unlike many other gaming genres, it’s never really fallen completely out of favour.

It has evolved considerably over time, though; today’s fighting games are nearly unrecognisable when compared to the earliest titles in the genre. But the fundamentals are still there; while games like International Karate are all about landing single, clean hits on your opponent rather than whittling their health down, the core principles of the genre still very much apply!

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

SwordQuest WaterWorld

We’ve done it, everyone; we’ve made it through the SwordQuest games without killing anyone. And thankfully, the last of the three games that actually made it to release is the best by a long shot — though that’s still not saying much.

SwordQuest WaterWorld was initially only released to Atari Club members, making it a very rare cartridge for the dear ol’ 2600 today. But thanks to Atari Flashback Classics, now we can all enjoy its… whatever it offers, but without the prospect of a $25,000 jewelled crown to spur us on. I will say this, at least; this is probably the SwordQuest game you’ll be most likely to actually beat!

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

After Burner

Back in the day, we all knew that home ports of the most impressive arcade games were never going to match up to playing on original hardware. But we took what we could get.

Such was the case with Argonaut Software’s port of Sega’s After Burner to Atari ST. It, of course, pales in comparison to the arcade version — but when you didn’t have ready access to that arcade version, I can attest that you would absolutely find a way to be happy with this!

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

Heavy Metal

We’ve seen a fair few type-in listings on this series so far, and some of the best of all time come from the mind of Paul Lay, who is still making Atari games to this day under the name Playsoft.

Heavy Metal is a type-in machine code game that Lay published in Page 6 magazine issue 33. It’s an isometric adventure that draws some inspiration from titles such as Marble Madnessand Spindizzy, but also has its own distinct elements, too. It’s a good time, but looks like it would have been a bit of a mission to type in back in the day!

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

SwordQuest FireWorld

Just… don’t. I don’t want to talk about it. I can’t. I just… please. Help me.

SwordQuest FireWorld is one of the most miserable video games I have ever played. And, as anyone who knows me well will attest, this is not something I say lightly. Forget E.T., forget Pac-Man, this is the true festering dog turd of the Atari 2600’s library.

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

Z-Out

Although X-Out is considered to be one of the best shoot ’em ups on the Atari ST, I didn’t rate it all that much from a modern perspective; I think console-style shoot ’em ups have spoiled me!

Its sequel Z-Out is another matter, however; despite being a pretty shameless clone of R-Type, this is a much more enjoyable horizontally scrolling shoot ’em up when played today — it even has R-Type’s iconic monstrous difficulty!

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

The Great American Cross-Country Road Race

Whew, that’s a title and a half, eh? Good job it’s memorable, because it’s attached to probably one of the best racers on the Atari 8-bit.

The Great American Cross-Country Road Race is, in some ways, a spiritual successor to Enduro on the Atari 2600, but it’s also a considerably more complex game. It was one of the first racers to incorporate some distinctly sim-like elements — and a game that made me cry on more than one occasion when I was a kid because I didn’t understand how cars worked.

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

SwordQuest EarthWorld

There’s “games that haven’t aged well”, and then there’s the SwordQuest series for Atari 2600, a range of three games (out of a proposed four) that primarily existed for the purpose of running an extravagant competition.

Without the draw of the competition aspect, it’s easy to see these games for what they really are: poorly designed, needlessly obtuse, frustrating, boring messes that learned nothing from earlier attempts at top-down adventures on the platform such as Adventure and Haunted House. And there’s three of them to endure! Oh joy. Still, in for a penny, in for a pound and all that…

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

Atari games, software, hardware… and memories