Pong and Breakout were winning formulae for Atari, so it makes perfect sense they would want to try and do everything possible with this style of game over the years.
Warlords was one of the more interesting experiments, adding a healthy dose of theme, four-player competitive (or team-based) action and a couple of interesting additional mechanics.
It’s even reasonably fun by yourself… but get three friends together and you can expect the trash talk to flow freely within moments of starting!
Yes, yes, yes, I know the “A to Z” angle in this series is already questionable and this one following Tempest makes it even more so, but we only just managed to find time to have a two-player match!
Indeed, today’s game is Atari Soccer, an arcade title which can only be played with two or four people simultaneously, so bad luck if you have either no friends or two friends. As a follow-up to Atari Football, it again had a cocktail cabinet form factor and exhausting trackball controls to blister your palms with.
Thankfully, the port in Atari Flashback Classics can be enjoyed with nothing more than a couple of analogue controllers, and even for those who aren’t big soccer fans, the game makes for an entertaining, competitive pastime for a few minutes every so often.
Yahtman is a game that hails from simpler times; a time when a video game about rolling a few dice a few times was enough to keep people occupied for… ooh, a good few minutes, at least.
It was also a time where there were plenty of people making software based around popular board and tabletop games — some licensed adaptations, others… less so.
Yahtman skirts the usual copyright-infringing tendencies of the era by providing us a game of “dice poker” or “yacht”, and absolutely, positively not Yahtzee, you hear me?
It might be hard to imagine now, but there was a time in gaming history when it was considered to be a seriously impressive technical achievement to get more than two or three things moving simultaneously on a screen.
Atari’s 1977 release Pool Shark is an early example of the company continuing to push the fledgling medium of video games forward. Not only was it a game that demonstrated the power of microprocessor-based hardware rather than the earlier transistor-to-transistor logic technology, but it also had, like, a whole mess of balls flying everywhere.
And like many of these early Atari arcade games, it’s simplistic… but really rather addictive! Be sure to give it a try.
Ah, Activision. What a wonderfully creative variety of games you put out in the 8-bit era. What a hollow shell of yourself you are today.
Ahem, sorry, got a bit nostalgic there for a moment. Anyway, here’s Pastfinder, one of my favourite shoot ’em ups on Atari 8-bit, and one of the most peculiarly interesting ones to boot. You take on control of a little jumping bug of a spacecraft as you attempt to track down alien antiquities.
Better be careful, though; the whole planet is irradiated, so time is of the essence if you want to keep all your hair and/or internal organs intact to enjoy your loot.
It’s Pong! The grandaddy of them all. Well, okay, not the absolute first ever computer game ever EVER, but it was certainly the first widely successful one.
If you have the slightest familiarity with gaming, surely Pong needs little to no introduction, but you might be surprised to know that it actually still holds up rather well today. It’s gaming stripped down to its bare essentials, both in terms of graphics and mechanics — and it still works wonderfully as a competitive game.
Fortunately, with how well-known it is and how easy it is to program a convincing clone (even I could probably do it if I tried hard enough!) there’s no shortage of ways to play it these days… but if you really want the true experience, you gotta go Atari.
Well, here’s… a thing.
Onslaught, apparently also known as Klystron Raider, is a game that appears mostly shrouded in mystery. And, having spent far longer with it than it probably deserved, I feel it should probably remain shrouded in mystery.
But I am nothing if not a glutton for punishment, so here it is for your enjoyment regardless.