Licensed games have been around for a long time… and they’ve gotten quite a bit better over the years. For the most part!
Back in the 16-bit home computer era, publisher Hi-Tec had the license to produce video games based on Hanna Barbera cartoons, including properties such as Hong Kong Phooey and Yogi Bear.
Today’s game is one of several Yogi Bear games that Hi-Tec put out at a budget price point. It’s a competent, if fairly unremarkable platformer — which, not coincidentally, is a descriptor that can be applied to 90% of licensed games on the Atari ST!
Do you like dungeon crawling? Do you like shooting things? Do you like games that begin with the letter “X”, which are in unsurprisingly short supply? Then do I have a treat for you!
Atari Games’ Xybots — originally envisioned as a sequel to Gauntlet but reskinned to sci-fi because someone in a suit figured that a sequel to one of the company’s most popular games of all time would not, in itself, be popular — is an interesting game. And, moreover, one that was probably ahead of its time; turns out that making it sci-fi didn’t make it popular either!
It also features one of my least favourite mechanics from Atari Games releases of this era, but it’s not quite enough to spoil the rest of the experience. This ST port is remarkably true to the arcade version, warts and all…
Tetris is a timeless classic that remains relevant today. Its various sequels and spinoffs, on the other hand, have varied somewhat in how well they’ve persisted over the years.
One such title that has been largely forgotten today is Alexey Pajitnov’s official follow-up to the original Tetris, known as Welltris. Developed in Soviet Russia, ported to a variety of platforms and published by Spectrum Holobyte and Infogrames around the world, Welltris takes Tetris into the third dimension.
It’s a solid game… but you have to approach it very differently to Pajitnov’s more enduring classic!
Driving tanks has been a proud part of video gaming culture almost since the very beginning.
With 1988’s Vindicators, Atari went back to its Combat roots and tasked up to two players with infiltrating a series of space stations in their “strategic battle tanks” and then, naturally, blowing them up from inside.
It’s probably most remembered today as one of the games Tengen released for NES that was unlicensed, making use of custom cartridge hardware to defeat the NES’ “lockout” chipset. The Atari ST port is pretty solid too, though!
Horror games really took off with the advent of the “survival horror” subgenre that Alone in the Dark and Resident Evil introduced in the late ’90s.
That’s not to say that there were no horror games prior to that, however. And one of the most creepy, disturbing and unsettling of them all was Uninvited by Icom Simulations.
Uninvited was one of Icom’s “MacVentures” series of point-and-click games, but it was ported to numerous platforms after it proved popular on its original platform. One of those was Atari ST, so here we are…
Who’s up for the ruination of a perfectly good walk? Well, you’re in luck, because here comes Elite with their ST conversion of Sega’s Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf.
Tournament Golf, as it was rebranded for its home computer release thanks to the ditching of the license for cost-cutting reasons, is an interesting example of a relatively early golf game trying to incorporate some more complex simulation-style elements into the mix.
Unfortunately, said mix also includes incredibly twitchy arcade-style controls that you need the reflexes of a particularly hyperactive kitten to master, making the whole thing rather more challenging than it needs to be! Still, I had fun…
The futuristic racer subgenre tends to mostly be attributed to Nintendo’s F-Zero series these days, but there were a number of other companies experimenting with the formula too.
One such company was Atari Games, who put out the arcade version of S.T.U.N. Runner in 1989, a good year before F-Zero hit the Super NES. Running on a variation of the Hard Drivin’ hardware, its polygonal graphics and blistering speed impressed anyone who was lucky to come across a machine.
Its home ports… well, they did their best, and despite the ST version being what can politely be called “barely passable” I had a surprising amount of fun with it…