Tag Archives: arcade conversion

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!

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!

Asteroids

Hey look everybody, it’s Asteroids! Again. You’ll be pleased to hear that this is the last time Asteroids appears in the Atari Flashback Classics compilation, at least.

Today we’re looking at the Atari 5200 version of the game, which didn’t actually see a commercial release despite originally being intended as a launch title for the platform. It’s based closely on the version released for Atari 8-bit computers, and is a solid adaptation of the formula for 1-4 players simultaneously.

I didn’t like this all that much when I was kid (primarily because I was bobbins at it) but nowadays I find its chunky shooting action rather satisfying!

Asteroids

It’s that time again: the time when we strap ourselves into a small triangle and blast some space rocks into increasingly smaller space rocks until they disappear.

Yes, it’s Asteroids again, this time in its Atari 2600 incarnation. This was a well-regarded port at the time of original release, and noteworthy from a historical perspective for being one of the first games to make use of “bank-switching”, allowing for higher-capacity cartridges that made use of more data. Asteroids for 2600 is twice the size of earlier 2600 games at a mighty 8K!

It also offers “66 video games”. Can’t say better value than that, can you? Even if there’s actually only 33 video games, and they’re all very similar to one another…

Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters

Whew, now there’s a mouthful, eh? As you may have guessed from the title, this one- or two-player arcade romp — originally developed by Atari Games — channels the very best of 1950s B-movies into a fun and satisfying isometric blaster.

Sadly, the home ports lack the arcade version’s “Hall Effect” joystick, which allowed movement and aiming in sixteen directions instead of the usual eight — a precursor to our modern analogue sticks — but the ST version seen here still plays well with a nice joystick!

Just remember to turn off Sticky Keys in Windows if you’re emulating to, say, record a video… you need that Shift key quite a bit in this game! Oh well, you live and learn, huh…?

Dominos

Dominos, another early black and white title from Atari’s early days, surprised me by not at all being what I expected.

I was anticipating a fairly faithful adaptation of the tabletop game Dominoes — which wouldn’t have been altogether difficult to put together even with the rudimentary technology of the time — but instead I got a rather enjoyable, addictive two-player game in the vein of what we now know as the Snake genre.

While most people are familiar with Snake from its late-’90s Nokia phone incarnation, the idea of one or more players moving around a field and leaving an impassable trail behind them has been around since the earliest days of video games. Dominos was a very early example, following the genre progenitor Blockade by just a year. As such, it’s very simple in execution… but that doesn’t stop it being fun, particularly alongside a friend.

Centipede

Not every retro game has stood the test of time quite as well as others. But one I think we can all agree remains just as fresh today as it was back in the day is Centipede.

Developed as a specific attempt to appeal to a broader audience than just the stereotype of young male gamers, Centipede’s bright colours, energetic gameplay, trackball controller and relatable concept made it a big hit with male and female players, both young and old.

This game was a favourite of my whole family growing up… and my mother was nigh-unbeatable at both this and its sequel Millipede!