The “masocore” platformer, in which you learn by dying repeatedly in seemingly unfair circumstances, has become particularly popular in the age of Let’s Plays and streaming.
The reason for this is that, although playing the damn things tends to be rather frustrating, they’re quite entertaining to watch. And their reliance on puzzle-solving and memorisation make them quite a distinct experience from more conventional platform games and action adventures.
Here’s the Atari ST version of Rick Dangerous, developed by Core Design (of Tomb Raider fame) and published by Telecomsoft imprint Firebird in 1989. Oh, boy, it’s irritating… and yet I found myself trying again and again and again… Waaaaaaaa!!
An unusual and very pretty shoot ’em up today, from the mind of the man who gave us Spindizzy.
Quartz is a game that combines free-roaming, vaguely Asteroids-esque sequences with more traditional forced scrolling stages in a variety of different directions. It’s simple but effective… and damned addictive.
It’s also a great example of a popular graphical style at the time — raytracing, or at the very least, a pixel art approximation of raytracing. Today, graphics cards are just starting to get into real-time raytracing for the latest “new thing” in graphical fidelity, but back in the ST era, prerendered raytraced graphical assets were quite commonly used as a means of making sprites look “3D” without going full-on polygonal.
Whether it’s “real” raytracing or not doesn’t really matter at the end of the day… what does matter is that this is a gorgeous game that’s a ton of fun to play!
There have been numerous attempts to improve on Pac-Man over the years by both Namco and third parties.
One such attempt by the former was Pac-Mania, a game which transplanted Pac-Man’s simple single-screen maze-based gameplay into a scrolling, oblique-perspective affair with jumping, power-ups and visually themed worlds.
Opinions vary as to whether it’s actually an improvement on Pac-Man or not, but one thing is certain: Grandslam’s port to Atari ST was very solid indeed, and one of the few Atari ST games I actually remember buying for myself back when I was a kid!
It wasn’t unusual to see lightgun shooters adapted to the 16-bit computers of the late ’80s and early ’90s. However, you didn’t tend to see a lot in the way of lightgun peripherals.
You did, however, see a lot of these games making use of mouse control to simulate aiming a gun. Some of these made use of a clear, obvious mouse cursor, allowing for precise aiming, albeit at the expense of a certain feeling of “authenticity”. Meanwhile, some, like Ocean’s solid adaptation of Taito’s Operation Thunderbolt, provided the interesting twist of making where you were aiming invisible until you fired — much like a “real” lightgun would behave.
While the ST struggles to provide a completely authentic arcade experience — particularly in the sound department, as always — Operation Thunderbolt is actually a pretty solid port, and its unusual aiming mechanics make it surprisingly satisfying and addictive to play, even today.
Atari computers have been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories involve using the Atari 400 and Atari 800XL for both playing games and performing tasks like typing out stories or making banners. And as I think back through my formative years, Atari computers of various descriptions — 400, 800XL, 130XE, 520ST, 520STE (with RAM upgrade) — were always there by my side right up until the IBM compatible PC truly asserted its complete dominance over the home computer market.
I’m keen to preserve both those memories as well as a record of some of the things I enjoyed so much growing up. To that end, I managed to convince my parents to brave the perils of their loft and retrieve whatever they could so I could shamelessly indulge my nostalgia… that and immediately expand my already extensive collection of video games and consoles with some true relics of the early days of personal computing.