Q&A: November 2020

Welcome to the first of what will hopefully become a monthly feature, in which I invite my S-Rank Patrons to submit some questions for me to mull over, then I answer them in a video at the end of the month!

We kick off this month with a series of four interesting and varied questions that cover my workflow (and workload), plus my all-important opinions on both the Shantae and Super Mario series.

Enjoy the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more. If you’d like to be part of the next Q&A, sign up to become an S-Rank Patron at my Patreon page here: https://patreon.com/petedavison

RealSports Baseball

The time I’ve been dreading is finally here — it’s time to run the RealSports gauntlet, with a variety of different sports games for both Atari 2600 and Atari 5200.

To be fair, I’ve actually had way more fun with the sports games in Atari Flashback Classics than I ever thought I would, and part of that is down to the fact that most of them have been designed as fun video games rather than accurate adaptations of the sports. Does RealSports Baseball for the Atari 2600 live up to that description? Well, only one way to find out.

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

Ivan “Ironman” Stewart’s Super Off-Road

Before 3D became particularly widespread, there were quite a few top-down racing games in the arcades. And this perspective made them ideal for multiplayer competition.

A relatively late entry to this subgenre of arcade racing was Ivan “Ironman” Stewart’s Super Off-Road, rebranded to simply Super Off-Road on subsequent re-releases due to licensing shenanigans. This got an extremely solid Atari ST port by Graftgold, who were well-known for their good work on a variety of platforms.

It’s definitely a challenge, but it holds up surprisingly well today. Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Omidor

In this episode of our ongoing exploration of the Atari 8-bit’s library, it’s time to look at Omidor!

What’s that? You think it sounds a little familiar? No, you must be mistaken. This absolutely 100% original do-not-steal game originates from Compy-Shop Magazin, an on-disk magazine released regularly as an interactive catalogue for German retailer Compy-Shop. Each issue contained articles, software, games and an up to date price list for the retailer.

Check out this shameless but highly competent Amidar clone in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Radar Lock

It is a ballsy developer who tries to recreate the After Burner experience on a machine as humble as the Atari 2600. But Doug Neubauer was nothing if not ballsy.

Radar Lock made use of the same engine he had developed for Star Raiders follow-up Solaris, but transplanted the action from the black void of space to the blue skies of Earth. Radar Lock also ditched the strategic adventure aspect of Solaris in favour of something a little more arcadey, and is a well-regarded game from the latter years of the 2600.

Check it out in the video below — including my repeated failed attempts to understand what the manual is quite clearly telling me — and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Hudson Hawk

Remember the movie Hudson Hawk? Probably not. It was a Bruce Willis passion project that the people who actually watched found rather enjoyable, but it ultimately ended up forgotten by most.

Like many movies in the ’80s and ’90s, Hudson Hawk got a video game adaptation by Ocean. The remarkable thing this time around is that said video game adaptation didn’t suck; it was actually a rather good platformer that combined dexterity challenges, puzzling and light combat. It also didn’t feel the need to be super-true to the movie, which probably helped it in the long run.

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

Nightmares

You think we have problems now? Back in the ’80s, video game distributors would refuse to stock games if they felt they would be “harmful to children”. And Red Rat’s Nightmares for Atari 8-bit was a victim of this moral panic.

It stung doubly hard for UK-based Atari 8-bit enthusiasts, becuase the stockist in question was Silica Shop, a longstanding supporter of Atari platforms and a popular choice for mail order. Unusually, it was actually the press that stepped in to help — Page 6 Magazine took on the task of distributing the game in place of retailers who refused to stock it, and perchance made themselves a few quid in the process.

Was the game actually any good though? Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.

Race

Of all the genres that have been with us since the earliest days of the medium, racing games have probably been through the most significant changes.

There’s still an undeniable appeal to classic single-screen top-down affairs, though, particularly when they control as elegantly as Race (aka Indy 500) for Atari 2600 does. Originally making use of a custom “Driving Controller” and today mapping excellently to the analogue sticks on our standard joypads, Race remains a fine way to while away a few minutes, whether you’re by yourself or in the company of a friend.

Check out the solo experience in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.

Gem’X

When is a colourful Japanese puzzle game not a colourful Japanese puzzle game? When it’s made by Germans!

Gem’X, despite appearances, is indeed a German-born game designed to resemble Japanese arcade titles, thanks to one of its designers’ love of Japanese anime and manga. While there are certain areas where they didn’t quite nail the presentation, it certainly has a distinctive look and feel among the rest of the Atari ST’s library.

And it’s an interesting, surprisingly cerebral puzzle game, too! Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.

Maniac Mover

Type-in listings were a key part of 8-bit home computer culture, both in Europe and across the pond in the States.

The quality of games varied wildly, but it was always an interesting and satisfying experience to type something in to the computer’s BASIC interpreter, save it to a disk or cassette and have something you could enjoy at any time — just like something you’d bought from a shop.

Here’s an example from the latter days of Atari User magazine; a machine code type-in known as Maniac Mover. Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.

Atari games, software, hardware… and memories