Type-in listings in computer magazines in the ’80s were more than just an opportunity to get some “free” software, with the only expense being the cost of the magazine and your time. They were also a chance to learn something.
In many cases, type-in listings were accompanied by commentary from the author explaining the processes and techniques they’d used in order to create the various functions within the program. In the case of Ants in Your Pants by Allan Knopp, published in issue 27 of Page 6, the technique in question was “page flipping” — a method of getting the computer to draw several screens in advance, then seamlessly switching between them to create the illusion of full-screen animation.
As a game, it’s fairly limited, but as a demonstration of some of the things it’s possible to do in Atari BASIC, it’s definitely worth a look!
We made it to Z once again, folks, and it’s time for an all-time classic shoot ’em up for the Atari 8-bit: it’s Zybex, from Zeppelin Games.
Zeppelin began their life as a company specialising in budget-priced titles on cassette; the first time I came across them was when they released today’s game Zybex and motorcycle racer Speed Ace for £2.99 each. Speed Ace was fairly decent, from what I recall — though at the time of writing it’s not one we’ve revisited as yet — but Zybex was something truly special.
Featuring frantic shoot ’em up action for one or two players, Zybex truly brought the arcade-style scrolling shoot ’em up home in style — and it still holds up pretty well today.
Licensed games were a real mixed bag in the 8- and 16-bit eras, because mechanical genres were still being defined and refined — and it was sometimes tricky to relate an established style of game to a particular property.
Hi-Tec was one company that got a bit experimental with their various licensed games. They had the rights to all the Hanna-Barbera cartoons, after all, and to their credit, rather than simply churning out various reskins of the same game, they tried lots of different ways of doing things — even between multiple games featuring the same character.
Yogi Bear & Friends in The Greed Monster is an example of a game where they got it right. It’s an interesting and enjoyable game, even today, and distinguishes itself by being just that bit different from other licensed games of the period.
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…?
One fun thing about type-in listings from back in the 8-bit home computer era is that they often provided free versions of classic games for you to enjoy on your system of choice.
Okay, they “cost” time and effort to actually type the damn things in… but when you were done you had a freely redistributable program that you could share with your friends and enjoy whenever you saw fit.
This week’s game is an example of a Turbo BASIC XL type-in game from ZONG Magazine — and it’s a pretty shameless clone of a Nintendo classic puzzler.
Today we delve once again into the Temple of Apshai Trilogy as we attempt to unravel the mystery of what on Earth is going on in the innkeeper’s back garden.
Yes, it’s time for The Upper Reaches of Apshai, the second part of the trilogy and a title that was originally released as an expansion pack for the first version of Temple of Apshai. Sporting a rather more light-hearted feel — mostly thanks to the excellent, witty writing in the companion Book of Apshai, intended to be carried alongside you as you play — The Upper Reaches of Apshai makes use of familiar mechanics to tell a distinctly unfamiliar emergent narrative.
There’s still a hell of a lot to like about this game, it seems — and it says something that I’ve been continuing my adventures off-camera ever since I started playing!
I love role-playing games… now. Back in the ’80s, I didn’t really understand what they were, how to play them or how to enjoy them.
That’s why I’ve been particularly interested to revisit Epyx’s Temple of Apshai series knowing what I know now! Now that I well and truly “get” the genre, it’s been fascinating to discover one of the earliest examples of a graphical computer-based RPG and finally make some progress in it.
Today we’re playing the later Temple of Apshai Trilogy release for Atari 8-bit with enhanced graphics, sound and speed of play — but it’s otherwise identical to the original classic from the late ’70s, and just as fascinating an experience as I’d hoped!