Circus Atari

Today’s Atari Flashback Classic is Circus Atari, an interesting and challenging twist on the Breakout formula.

The origin story of this one is quite interesting, too; it began life as a third-party spin-off of the Breakout arcade hardware, then was subsequently ported by Atari itself to the 2600 platform. Original developer Exidy, who were struggling to compete with Atari at the time, must have been real pleased about that!

Anyway, if Breakout wasn’t hard enough already for you, Circus Atari challenges you to bounce two little clowns on a see-saw and pop a bunch of balloons. Good luck; you’ll need it!

Rod Land

Ah, Rod Land! I frigging love Rod Land, as I believe we’ve previously discussed elsewhere.

Turns out the Atari ST version is a very, very good port indeed — and a game that I absolutely coveted back in the day. I never had my own copy though, so I had to satisfy myself with the short demo I had from a magazine cover disk.

Thanks to Patron Ken, however, I was able to secure myself my own copy after many years! Time to enjoy; I’ve got a lot of catching up to do!

Xmas House

It’s Christmas! Well, okay, no it isn’t. It’s quite a while after Christmas, but whatever. I needed a game for “X”.

And so here we are with a type-in listing from ZONG Magazine. Not just any old type-in listing, though; this one is written in Turbo Basic XL, a popular programming language that followed the principles of Atari BASIC while increasing its speed dramatically and adding all manner of cool new functions.

The game itself is a bit… well, type-in listing-y, but it’s not a bad effort at all. I’ve certainly seen far worse Christmas-themed games!

 

Championship Soccer

I detest most real-life sports, but I’ve been known to have a bit of fun with digital recreations of sporting activities over the years; they make great, easily understandable competitive affairs, after all.

My favourite sporting games are those that don’t try too hard to be realistic simulations; those that simply make use of straightforward, abstract mechanics that provide a rough approximation of the basic rules of the sport. Games that you can just pick up and play without having to worry about the more complex side of things.

As it happens, Championship Soccer for Atari 2600 is a great example of this. It resembles football in only the most cursory of ways — but it’s actually quite an enjoyable competitive game of skill, even for those of us who don’t really like sports!

QBall

You like pool? Reckon you’re good at pool? Well, how about if it was in an antigravity cube with pockets in the corners and customisable air friction?

Those are the questions that the unusual QBall for Atari ST attempts to answer, presenting a simple but impressively slick 3D view of the playfield in question, detailed controls and a stiff challenge for even those who think they have a fine command over the laws of physics.

QBall was the work of Adam Billyard, who is perhaps best known for his 8-bit 3D racer Elektra Glide; QBall represents a rare 16-bit appearance for both him and publisher English Software.

Warhawk

The shoot ’em up is a genre of gaming with a long and proud history. While the best shoot ’em ups tend to be associated with arcades and consoles, home computers played host to some right crackers too.

One such example is Firebird’s Warhawk, a vertically scrolling shooter with big, chunky sprites and smooth, slick gameplay. It’s an immensely satisfying but challenging shooter — and one that still holds up really well today.

Plus the Rob Hubbard soundtrack on the title screen is absolutely iconic… but hang on, doesn’t it sound a bit familiar…?

Centipede

It’s that time again! Yes, Centipede is back for a third time — this time in the form of the speedy and challenging Atari 5200 version.

Technically speaking, this version is probably closest to the arcade version, but it’s also one of the most difficult — particularly if you dare to play it with the original Atari 5200 controller, one of the most notoriously awkward pieces of technology ever created.

In other words, if you really reckon yourself at Centipede… then the Atari 5200 version is the one you should be challenging yourself with!

Atari games, software, hardware… and memories