Any time you undertake a project like this, you have to accept that some elements of it are just going to be less of a “spectator sport” than others.
Such is the case with today’s Atari ST game, the not-much-to-look-at-but-fun-to-play Shanghai by Activision, an adaptation of Mahjong Solitaire that makes use of the ST’s built-in graphical user interface GEM as the foundation of its aesthetic. This was not at all an unusual approach back in the day, and is akin to more modern PC games running on Windows 95 and beyond making use of a windowed interface and standardised Windows controls. Not the most beautiful look, no, but perfectly functional — and a lot more intuitive to those who perhaps don’t play a lot of games.
Compared to more recent adaptations of Mahjong Solitaire, Shanghai is fairly limited, but it nonetheless remains a pleasingly relaxing, Zen sort of experience. Once you figure out how to read the screen properly, that is…
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!
Attempts to realistically simulate things it would be near-impossible for the average person to experience have been around for a long time… even when the technology wasn’t quite up to the job.
Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, one of the most prolific creators of simulations — with a particular (though not exclusive) focus on military jet fighter simulators — was MicroProse, erstwhile home of Sid “Civilization” Meier. As time went on, these games got more and more satisfyingly complex and true to life… but the genre had to start somewhere!
F-15 Strike Eagle was first released in 1984 for various 8-bit computers and ported to a variety of other platforms (including the Atari ST) over the course of the next three years. It’s a fairly “arcadey” take on the jet fighter sim, but it remains enjoyable to this day… even if its core tech looks severely dated even compared to MicroProse’s own titles from just a year or two later!
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!