Raid Over Moscow

Don’t you hate it when you just can’t get your thing in the hole to blow your payload?

It’s especially troublesome when the fate of the free world is at stake and those pesky Cold War Russkies are flinging inter-continental ballistic missiles at various landmarks. Why, what did you think I was talking about?

Hopefully in the event of an actual nuclear war, the pilots of the small blue aircraft tasked with protecting us all from high above the Earth’s surface will be piloted by someone a little more competent than yours truly…

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Red Baron

Chocks away, tally-ho and all that! It’s time for Red Baron!

A contemporary of the rather more well-known and successful BattlezoneRed Baron sees players taking to the skies in a World War I biplane and challenging an endless variety of enemy pilots, blimps and ground targets to aerial combat.

This is an underappreciated gem from Atari’s back catalogue, so while it may not have been a bit success back in the day, it’s well worth playing today!

Knights of the Sky

’80s and ’90s MicroProse was most well-known for its jet fighter sims, but now and again they branched out into something a bit different.

Knights of the Sky was an ambitious attempt to simulate rickety old World War I biplanes rather than high-tech jet fighters — something that only became possible due to improving technology and mastery over the available hardware.

It’s a cool game, for sure — but be prepared to live without a bunch of modern conveniences you might have come to take for granted in more recent aircraft!

Quadromania XL

It’s another “mystery game” today!

Quadromania XL appears to have originated as a type-in listing for a German Atari magazine, but beyond that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of information out there online aside from the name of its creator — one T Meyer — and the person in charge of Loesungsalgorithmus (“solution algorithm”, apparently), A Blohm.

It’s a simple but enjoyable puzzler based on a straightforward concept: pick a block to swap the colour of, and all the blocks surrounding it will also swap colours. Repeat until the whole screen is one colour or you run out of moves. Easy, right?

Pool Shark

It might be hard to imagine now, but there was a time in gaming history when it was considered to be a seriously impressive technical achievement to get more than two or three things moving simultaneously on a screen.

Atari’s 1977 release Pool Shark is an early example of the company continuing to push the fledgling medium of video games forward. Not only was it a game that demonstrated the power of microprocessor-based hardware rather than the earlier transistor-to-transistor logic technology, but it also had, like, a whole mess of balls flying everywhere.

And like many of these early Atari arcade games, it’s simplistic… but really rather addictive! Be sure to give it a try.

Pastfinder

Ah, Activision. What a wonderfully creative variety of games you put out in the 8-bit era. What a hollow shell of yourself you are today.

Ahem, sorry, got a bit nostalgic there for a moment. Anyway, here’s Pastfinder, one of my favourite shoot ’em ups on Atari 8-bit, and one of the most peculiarly interesting ones to boot. You take on control of a little jumping bug of a spacecraft as you attempt to track down alien antiquities.

Better be careful, though; the whole planet is irradiated, so time is of the essence if you want to keep all your hair and/or internal organs intact to enjoy your loot.

Pong

It’s Pong! The grandaddy of them all. Well, okay, not the absolute first ever computer game ever EVER, but it was certainly the first widely successful one.

If you have the slightest familiarity with gaming, surely Pong needs little to no introduction, but you might be surprised to know that it actually still holds up rather well today. It’s gaming stripped down to its bare essentials, both in terms of graphics and mechanics — and it still works wonderfully as a competitive game.

Fortunately, with how well-known it is and how easy it is to program a convincing clone (even I could probably do it if I tried hard enough!) there’s no shortage of ways to play it these days… but if you really want the true experience, you gotta go Atari.

Atari games, software, hardware… and memories