It is the ’90s, and there is time for Klax.
To be fair, there is time for Klax whenever you care to make time for Klax. It is currently 2018, for example, and there is still time for Klax, so I always thought this particular marketing slogan was rather odd. But it was certainly memorable if nothing else, and few would argue that the dude depicted playing Klax on the cover of Tengen and Domark’s Atari ST release of this match-3 puzzler is not a quintessential example of a distinctly ’90s-looking gamer.
Anyway. Klax is one of the earliest puzzle games I recall having a good time with — I actually played it before I played Tetris for the first time, I believe — and it still holds up well today. Though I’m absolutely not as good at it as I used to be. And the Atari Lynx version is better. But this ST version is still worth a look!
Back in the ’90s, there was a bit of a rivalry between people who played games on home computers and those who played games on consoles.
What am I talking about, “back in the ’90s”, this is still a thing! Well, the difference is that back then, the home computer players were secretly envious of the console players, since during that period, consoles were the more powerful, specialised games machines.
As such, we saw a fair few computer games that attempted to emulate the success of “mascot games” on consoles. One such example that saw some success — and a couple of sequels — was James Pond, a rather British underwater agent with a penchant for environmental do-gooding…
Today’s Atari ST game is one of my favourites from my childhood… and a cool example of a developer thinking creatively.
Interphase, developed by The Assembly Line and published by Image Works and Mirrorsoft, is a game about infiltrating a building. The twist is, you don’t control the one doing the infiltrating; instead, you are hooked into the building’s electrical systems, manipulating them from an abstract 3D representation of “cyberspace”, while your off-screen companion is doing the difficult bit of actually getting through the building.
It’s a really cool game, and one that had a decently long lifespan too, thanks to its original commercial release being followed up by the complete game being given away as a freebie on an ST magazine’s cover-mounted floppy disk — ST Format, if I remember correctly. It remains solidly playable today, and well worth a look.
Sometimes you feel nostalgia for something not because it was “good”, but because you associate it with happy times.
One such example of this from among the library of Atari ST games I’ve played over the years is Eidersoft’s public domain title Haunted House, a pretty terrible platform game that is essentially a take on the Jet Set Willy formula. Explore, collect things, try not to die.
Atrocious collision detection, the worst run cycle you’ll ever see and the fact it might not even be possible to actually finish the damn thing doesn’t stop me thinking quite fondly of it, however, because I will forever associate it with pleasant memories of childhood. Ahh, simpler times…
We all have games that we enjoy a bunch, but are absolutely no good at whatsoever. For me, one of those games is Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts… in pretty much any incarnation.
The Atari ST version was a pretty great port that offered a convincingly “console-style” experience on home computers that were never quite able to match up to dedicated gaming hardware. I may have never seen beyond about halfway through the first level (including in today’s video) but I’ll still always have fond memories of it.
Join me as I wax lyrical on the game’s excellent use of the ST’s meagre sound chip, the novelty value of platform games with undulating landscapes and, once again, my brother’s girlfriend’s father.
Today’s Atari ST game is a good example of the sort of technically impressive titles that came from the development company Hewson.
Probably best known for their impressive platformer Nebulus (known on some platforms in some regions as Tower Toppler), Hewson was a company that became renowned for its visually striking games, making use of a variety of techniques to provide the illusion of pushing the hardware “beyond its limits”.
Eliminator sees the company turning its hand to the quasi-3D effect of late ’80s racing games… and then layering a brutally challenging bit of shoot ’em up action atop it. I also have fond memories of it for admittedly strange and anecdotal reasons that are little to do with the game itself…
Today’s Atari ST title is a good example of the general standard of arcade conversions during the 16-bit home computer era.
Technos Japan’s Double Dragon II is a classic of the beat ’em up genre with good reason, and the Atari ST port wasn’t awful — compare it to footage of the arcade original and you’ll see that graphically, at least, it’s surprisingly close.
Like many arcade conversions of the era, though, it was missing a few features… like the background music from the original game. There are many possible reasons this might have been the case — most likely it was either the fact that the ST’s sound chip was never really up to the job of doing sound effects and music simultaneously, or that many of these Western-developed home computer ports of the era were put together from scratch rather than being able to make use of the arcade machine’s original code and audio-visual assets.
Either way, it’s far from an amazing game from the Atari ST, but it’s a good time if you’re looking for some brawler action, or just to experience what an arcade conversion of the era was like.
I never played this game back in the day, but it was one of those titles you saw all over the place in the early days of the ST.
Throughout the ST’s lifespan, it played host to a variety of different bundle packages, many of which were extremely generous in terms of the number of games and applications they included. Beyond the Ice Palace was a regular inclusion in such bundles, and as such became reasonably well-known.
Loosely inspired by action platformers such as Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins, Beyond the Ice Palace sees your green-booted, gender-ambiguous hero(ine?) battling their way through hordes of enemies and admiring how the ST’s lack of sound channels meant that a single sound effect could mess up an entire musical composition.
First released in 1985, Atari’s ST range of 16-bit computers were the official follow-ups to the 8-Bit range.
Over their eight years on the market, they saw a variety of weird and wonderful games, as developers were provided with greater graphical fidelity and faster processing speeds… even if the ST’s Yamaha YM2149 PSG sound chip was technically inferior to the POKEY chip of the 8-bit range!
Let’s kick off our exploration of the ST’s extensive and varied library with Atomino, a 1990 release developed by Blue Byte and published by Psygnosis. This is a science-themed puzzle game in which you build molecules from atoms in increasingly complicated circumstances!
Hello, dear Atari fans! It’s been a while, and for that I apologise!
Fact is, I found myself with a bit less time to work on this site alongside all the other things I was doing than I thought I might have, so I’ve had to rethink things somewhat. However, I’m still keen to develop a useful (or at least hopefully interesting/nostalgic) resource for those interested in the Atari 8-Bit and ST computers and the software available for them!
With that in mind, I kicked off a YouTube series called Atari A to Z, which at the time of writing features short playthroughs of Atari 8-Bit games, some of which I grew up with and some of which are new to me. It has had a good response so far, so I thought I would expand it to this site as a means of promoting it in another way, and of collecting all the videos and related content together.
The thinking behind Atari A to Z is to initially explore the Atari 8-Bit’s library of games, a letter at a time… then go around and do it all again! I’d like to expand this over time to Atari ST games and perhaps some pieces of software too.
I hope you’ll join me on this journey; Atari computers are super-important to me, so I’m keen to share these things I love with those interested in such things!