Tag Archives: atari

Black Widow

I don’t like spiders. I do, however, absolutely LOVE Black Widow, a delightful vector-based twin-stick shooter.

In Black Widow, you play a spider trying to defend their web from all manner of incoming creepy crawlies. And, unfortunately, it seems that they are sick and tired of you doing your spidery thing, and as such are more than capable of taking you out with a single, fatal touch.

Fortunately, you aren’t just any spider. You are the Black Widow, a laser-spitting spider of doom, the kind of thing that you really wouldn’t want to find under your toilet seat when you wake up in the middle of the night to go for a dump…

Atari Basketball

Basketball is another sport I know next to nothing about, but I know more about it than I do baseball, in that I understand how to win and what the players on the court are actually supposed to do. Therefore, I am much better equipped to comment on Atari Basketball than I was for Atari Baseball.

Atari Basketball is a simple one-on-one affair in which you and another player or the computer square off against one another and try to score more baskets than the other. That’s… pretty much it, really, but there’s something about this game that makes it surprisingly addictive.

I think it’s the controls — the original arcade machine made use of a trackball controller, which translates quite well to modern analogue devices. I can imagine a game against another human opponent getting rather frantic when standing up against the original machine — but it’s still fun here when played on the sofa with a wireless controller, or even on the go with the Switch in handheld mode.

Xevious

“Are you devious enough to play Xevious”? Well yes, yes, I am, particularly if it’s an apparently unreleased prototype of indeterminate origin for my favourite 8-bit home computer system.

Namco’s Xevious is a defining influence in the shoot ’em up genre, so of course there were plenty of home ports for a variety of systems. One that never quite made it to market, however, was the Atari 5200 version, which was subsequently ported by some helpful soul to play on standard Atari 8-bit computers. (This was not a huge leap, really, because the 5200 was basically an Atari 8-bit with a horrible controller and no keyboard.)

While questionable as to whether or not it’s “finished”, it’s certainly a competent enough port that I had a good time with, so take a look!

Avalanche

1978 arcade title Avalanche is a game I’d not heard of prior to encountering it on Atari Flashback Classics for Nintendo Switch, and it’s entirely possible you might not have come across it either.

The reason for this is that its official home port (developed by the creator of the arcade game, Dennis Koble) only came to Atari 8-bit computers rather than the popular 2600, and even then only through Atari’s “Atari Program Exchange” system, whereby community-developed games and software would be published by Atari.

Meanwhile, Activision, seeing a good concept that wasn’t being leveraged as much as it could be for the home market, decided to release Kaboom! for the Atari 2600 in 1981, and as a result, the idea of paddle-controlled platforms catching falling things at an increasingly unreasonable tempo tends to be credited to them rather than Atari.

You now know the truth! Shout it from the rooftops!

Vanguard

This one was a new one on me until quite recently. I present to you Vanguard, an unusual shoot ’em up originally released by SNK in the arcades.

Vanguard is unusual because it’s not just being one thing, unlike a lot of shoot ’em ups at the time. Instead, it shifts between horizontal, vertical and diagonal scrolling at various points in the levels, and even has some rudimentary boss fights. It’s also quite unusual to find a game of this era with a proper “continue” system, particularly in its home incarnations.

While its visuals may not look like much these days, it’s a great shoot ’em up that is still worth revisiting today — and there’s an Atari 2600 version too, for those who prefer to console it up.

Asteroids Deluxe

How do you make Asteroids better? Add the word “Deluxe” to its name, obviously.

Okay, 1980’s Asteroids Deluxe adds a bit more to the basic Asteroids formula than that, but it’s still very much recognisable. The whole experience is a bit smoother than the original, the presentation is sharper and cleaner (and blue!) and there are some additional enemies to deal with. But you’re still rotating and firing and dodging. And dying. Dying a lot.

I’m still no good at AsteroidsDeluxe or otherwise, but I actually enjoy it a lot more today than I did back when it was “current”. It’s a game that’s held up extremely well, and it’s a pleasure to revisit both of its most famous incarnations in the Atari Flashback Classics collection for Switch.

Asteroids

Asteroids is a longstanding classic with good reason: it made a solid impact on the early video games industry, and it has influenced a great many subsequent games over the years ever since.

There’s a beautiful simplicity to the sparse black and white vector graphics of the original arcade game, and it’s still enjoyable and playable today… so long as you can get your head around the whole “turn and thrust” movement system, which is something I’ve always struggled a bit with over the years!

Still, if you want to play early era space games, it’s a mechanic you better get used to pretty quick… and there’s no better place to practice than the original never-ending field of space rocks.

Track & Field

“Multi-discipline athletics” is a subgenre of sports gaming that seems to have mostly fallen by the wayside in recent years.

In the ’80s, however, it was all the rage — and games such as Konami’s Track & Field proved to be the bane of many a joystick throughout the decade.

This Atari 8-bit port of the arcade classic is a surprisingly solid adaptation, wonky scrolling and inadvertent hairpieces aside. If you’ve had a hankering for a wagglin’, well, you can do far worse than this!

Missile Command

Here on Zardon, we are peaceful, we don’t like to fight. Here on Zardon, we work hard, and try to do what’s right. We would never be the first ones to stage an attack. But when someone shoots at us… we shoot back!

Kudos (and condolences) to you if that means anything to you; it’s from the official vinyl adaptation of Atari’s Missile Command by Kid Stuff in the ’80s — which someone has graciously uploaded to YouTube in its entirety here.

We’re here to take a look at the Atari ST version of Missile Command from 1987, however. This is a port I didn’t know existed until recently, but given Atari also published solid ST ports of Moon Patrol, Asteroids Deluxe and Crystal Castles, it’s not surprising. Is it any good, though…?

Klax

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!