Aztec Challenge

Aztec Challenge is one of the first ever examples of what we now know as the “auto-runner” genre.

First released in 1982 by Cosmi and subsequently rereleased in 1983 with considerably improved graphics, the game sees the player taking on the role of an Aztec warrior (who may or may not be wearing pants) as they attempt to jump over a series of increasingly awkward obstacles.

The game has a reputation for being incredibly unforgiving in terms of its collision detection, but it’s a fondly remembered game for its impressive graphics (in its 1983 incarnation, at least) and addictive challenge.

A Revamp and an Update

Hello, dear Atari fans! It’s been a while, and for that I apologise!

Fact is, I found myself with a bit less time to work on this site alongside all the other things I was doing than I thought I might have, so I’ve had to rethink things somewhat. However, I’m still keen to develop a useful (or at least hopefully interesting/nostalgic) resource for those interested in the Atari 8-Bit and ST computers and the software available for them!

With that in mind, I kicked off a YouTube series called Atari A to Z, which at the time of writing features short playthroughs of Atari 8-Bit games, some of which I grew up with and some of which are new to me. It has had a good response so far, so I thought I would expand it to this site as a means of promoting it in another way, and of collecting all the videos and related content together.

The thinking behind Atari A to Z is to initially explore the Atari 8-Bit’s library of games, a letter at a time… then go around and do it all again! I’d like to expand this over time to Atari ST games and perhaps some pieces of software too.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey; Atari computers are super-important to me, so I’m keen to share these things I love with those interested in such things!

Dark Side

3D engines are everywhere these days — you can probably name at least two off the top of your head — but in the late 1980s, they were a new and exciting phenomenon.

One of the first companies to figure out a means of making a reusable 3D engine that could be applied to multiple games without too much difficulty was Incentive Software from Reading in the UK, who developed a system they dubbed “Freescape”.

The first game released that made use of Freescape was named Driller, and unfortunately at the time of writing I’m yet to play it. This was subsequently followed up in 1988 by Dark Side, which I did play, however, and have some rather fond memories of.

Continue reading Dark Side

Donkey Kong

Today, Nintendo is primarily known for its excellent first-party games that it produces for its unique consoles and handhelds. But there was a time when Nintendo games were a lot more platform-agnostic than they are now.

That time was the early ’80s — specifically, the years before the release of the Famicom in 1983, and its Western incarnation, the Nintendo Entertainment System, in 1985. During this time, Nintendo was making arcade games. And there was a great hunger for ports of these arcade games to home-based systems of the time.

Nintendo’s 1981 classic Donkey Kong was a game that got ported to pretty much every platform imaginable at the time. And the 1983 version for Atari home computers was one of the best.

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Preppie!

During the early days of gaming, there were many titles out there attempting to ape the success of popular arcade hits by either providing new twists on an existing formula, or simply reskinning an existing game.

Sometimes, these clones were pretty shameless, with little reason to play them over and above the original and best. Sometimes, the clones ended up being better than the home ports of their source material.

And sometimes, like in the case of Russ Wetmore’s Preppie!, released for the Atari 8-Bit computers in 1982, they did enough to distinguish themselves from their inspiration to become great games in their own right.

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Buggy Boy

Buggy Boy was one of the first games I played on the Atari ST — and it’s one that still holds up very well today.

The game was originally released in arcades in 1985 by Tatsumi, and is known is some territories as Speed Buggy. Home ports were released over the course of the following few years by prolific developer-publisher Elite, with the 16-bit home computer versions hitting ST and Amiga in 1988.

It’s a single-player checkpoints-and-timer racing game with an emphasis on relatively low-speed, technical driving, which immediately makes it stand out against the many high-speed racers based on the Pole Position mould from the era.

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Introduction

Welcome to AtariXL, and thanks for stopping by.

Atari computers have been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories involve using the Atari 400 and Atari 800XL for both playing games and performing tasks like typing out stories or making banners. And as I think back through my formative years, Atari computers of various descriptions — 400, 800XL, 130XE, 520ST, 520STE (with RAM upgrade) — were always there by my side right up until the IBM compatible PC truly asserted its complete dominance over the home computer market.

I’m keen to preserve both those memories as well as a record of some of the things I enjoyed so much growing up. To that end, I managed to convince my parents to brave the perils of their loft and retrieve whatever they could so I could shamelessly indulge my nostalgia… that and immediately expand my already extensive collection of video games and consoles with some true relics of the early days of personal computing.

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Atari games, software, hardware… and memories