Tag Archives: Atari A to Z

Kaboom!

One of Activision’s most fondly regarded games from the Atari 2600 library is Kaboom! — a simple affair that gratuitously rips off Atari’s own Avalanche, because apparently Atari had very little interest in porting that themselves.

Kaboom! also got a port to Atari 8-bit, and it’s a good ‘un. The enhancements over the original 2600 version may be fairly subtle, but they all add to the experience, making for a straightforward but enormously addictive little game that you’ll find yourself spending a surprising amount of time with if you let it get its claws in.

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.

Gossip

Today’s indie scene is quite rightfully regarded as one of the most creative spaces in the games industry. But it’s been that way for a lot longer than most people realise.

Some truly fascinating games came out through the Atari Program Exchange or APX, a programme run by Atari where consumers (or indeed Atari employees) could submit their pet projects and get them published by the company — perhaps the earliest take on today’s “indie specialist” publishers such as Devolver Digital and its ilk.

One such example that it seems never quite made it to final release was Gossip, a fascinating game by Atari’s master of simulations, Chris Crawford. Gossip is an attempt to simulate social interactions using a mathematical model of affinity as a basis. As a game, it takes a bit of getting used to, but as you start to figure out what’s going on it becomes a fascinating experience. Check out my attempts to woo the virtual ladies in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Pandora

Many of the most passionate people in the gaming industry got their start in its early days.

This was most definitely the case for Shahid Ahmad who, for a number of years, was well-known as a champion of indie games on the PlayStation Vita platform. Prior to that, he put out a number of well-regarded games in the 8- and 16-bit home computer eras — with one of those being the subject of today’s video.

Pandora tasks you with exploring and solving the mystery behind a spaceship that has been missing for a very long time. See how I get on with it in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Vicky

There were two girls called Vicky in my tutor group at secondary school. One was short and angry, and the other was pretty chill most of the time. My best friend at the time “went out” with the chill one. This game isn’t about either of them.

Instead, it’s about a Viking warrior descending into the underworld to do… something or other involving a bunch of objects that have been scattered around a randomly generated maze. Sadly, it’s all in Polish so that’s about all I can tell you about the context of what’s going on — but it has a very nice intro sequence and is a fun exploration-centric game that doesn’t require any knowledge of Eastern European languages beyond said intro!

Enjoy my experiences in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.

Knicker-Bockers

Now hold on a minute… something’s a little familiar here!

Yes indeed; we’ve previously seen Kirk Chaney’s Lock ‘n’ Chase-inspired maze puzzler on the 8-bit Atari A to Z series, but it turns out he also made an ST version! In fact, it’s not entirely clear which one came first, since they’re both dated around the same time.

Hit up the video below to check out how the 16-bit version compares to its 8-bit counterpart — and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Warlords

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!

Atari Soccer

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

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?

Pool Shark

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.

Pastfinder

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.