Tag Archives: Atari 800

Knicker Bockers

You probably have no idea what to expect from a game with a title like “Knicker Bockers”. I didn’t really know either.

What we actually get is a surprisingly fun, if challenging, maze game that combines elements of Lock ‘n’ Chase, Pengo and a teeny tiny bit of Drelbs. It’s a good time!

Well, okay, the narrative setup for the game — which features a guy named Knick playing in a door factory while being pursued by the local toughs — perhaps needs some work… but it was the 8-bit era and no-one cared about narrative if the game was enjoyable!

Deathchase XE

A popular thing for modern programmers of retro systems to do is to make new ports of games that previously remained confined to a specific platform.

Such is the case with Deathchase XE, a 2013 entry in the famous ABBUC software contest, which pits modern programmers of Atari systems against one another to produce the most impressive piece of software — be it “useful” or a game.

Deathchase XE reimagines ZX Spectrum classic Deathchase for the Atari, and does a pretty good job of it — even if the competition deadline meant that the creator wasn’t quite able to implement everything he wanted!

Curse of Ra

Our adventures in the Temple of Apshai Trilogy are finally coming to an end as we delve into the third part: Curse of Ra.

This particular module is designed for adventurers who have spent a bit of time gaining experience and gathering equipment in The Temple of Apshai and The Upper Reaches of Apshai, and as such is pretty tough.

It does, however, present some of the most interesting, well-crafted dungeon designs in the whole series, though, so it’s worth exploring if you think your character is up to the challenge!

Blue Max

Before we had “3D” we had the illusion of 3D, typically created through the use of an isometric or oblique perspective.

Various types of game experimented with this “diagonal” format to varying degrees of success, but Blue Max for Atari 8-bit is widely regarded as one of the best, successfully transplanting the shoot ’em up formula into a whole new dimension. Kind of.

Regardless of your feelings on the “realism” of the presentation, Blue Max remains a solid, challenging game — and believed by many to be one of the best games the dear old Atari had to offer. So let’s play!

Ants in Your Pants

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!

Zybex

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.

 

Yogi Bear & Friends in The Greed Monster

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.

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…?

Viro-Mania

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.

The Upper Reaches of Apshai

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!