Today’s Atari Flashback Classic is Circus Atari, an interesting and challenging twist on the Breakout formula.
The origin story of this one is quite interesting, too; it began life as a third-party spin-off of the Breakout arcade hardware, then was subsequently ported by Atari itself to the 2600 platform. Original developer Exidy, who were struggling to compete with Atari at the time, must have been real pleased about that!
Anyway, if Breakout wasn’t hard enough already for you, Circus Atari challenges you to bounce two little clowns on a see-saw and pop a bunch of balloons. Good luck; you’ll need it!
We’re all pretty accustomed to arcade-perfect conversions these days, but what about back in the ’80s where programmers had to make home versions of arcade games from scratch without any handy emulation?
The results varied enormously — at least partly because in some cases the programmers in question didn’t have any original source material to work with — but there were a few very solid examples over the years.
One pretty great arcade conversion for Atari 8-bit was the Atari-published version of Namco’s Pac-Man. It’s certainly better than the notorious 2600 version!
Sports games have always been a staple of video gaming. In fact, in the earliest days of the medium, they were a good source of basic rules and mechanics for designers to rely on.
Basketball for Atari 2600 was a noteworthy example of one of these early sports games for being an early title that didn’t require two human players. In fact, the single-player mode even claimed to offer an adaptive difficulty of sorts, with the computer player supposedly playing “better” if the scores were closer.
In practice, this mostly equates to the computer player running the wrong direction if he’s winning too much, but it was 1978… give them a bit of credit!
Computers make good opponents for classic tabletop games, and have done since the earliest days of the 2600.
They get on with their turns rather than checking their phones or talking about the football (although 2600 board games on the hardest difficulty warn they may take up to 20 minutes to make a decision about their next move, which is almost as bad as my friend Sam deciding whether or not he wants to build the Well in Agricola) and they’re able to provide a reasonable challenge for both beginners and masters in a variety of disciplines.
Today, then, we look at an entry in Atari’s “Mindgames” range for ST: it’s Go-Moku/Renju, two very similar “five in a row” games very loosely based on classic Chinese game Go.
The puzzle game genre as a whole arguably didn’t really hit its stride until the 16-bit home console era rolled around. But there were numerous attempts prior to that “golden age” to provide mind-bending puzzles for gamers at home.
One fascinating example was Atari Video Cube, a three-dimensional colour puzzle loosely based on the famous Rubik’s Cube. In fact, in a subsequent reprint of the game, Atari acquired the Rubik license and rereleased it as Rubik’s Cube — much to the chagrin of Atari 2600 collectors, who note that it is the exact same game, released with a different part number.
I really like this game. It melts my brain a bit, but I enjoy it a great deal. If you’re looking for an interesting way to flex your mental muscles a bit, this remains an enjoyable challenge to wrap your grey matter around even today!
Errant apostrophes aren’t just for fantasy RPGs any more; sometimes they show up in the most unexpected of places… and inconsistently, to boot.
No, I have no idea what the apostrophe is doing in Crack’ed’s title, or indeed why it isn’t present on the actual spine of the box it comes in, but… well, there you go.
The game itself is classic Atari arcade funtimes — simple but addictive gameplay, some good use of the ST’s graphical capabilities and mouse control… and hairy poo monsters!
An all-time classic of the Atari 2600’s library is launch title Air-Sea Battle, a simplistic but enjoyable fixed shooter with a variety of different ways to play.
Air-Sea Battle is an excellent example of what you could expect from early 2600 titles that promised “27 video games” or similar. Those “27” video games would be a lot of variations on the same theme — but there’d sometimes be some surprising and enjoyable differences between them!
Air-Sea Battle shines as a two-player game, even today, but it’s still an enjoyable high score-chaser solo. Which is your favourite of the 27 variations?