Back in the day, we all knew that home ports of the most impressive arcade games were never going to match up to playing on original hardware. But we took what we could get.
Such was the case with Argonaut Software’s port of Sega’s After Burner to Atari ST. It, of course, pales in comparison to the arcade version — but when you didn’t have ready access to that arcade version, I can attest that you would absolutely find a way to be happy with this!
As we’ve seen a fair few times on this series to date, it was quite fashionable for home computer developers to put together “unofficial” sequels to arcade classics.
Sega’s OutRun certainly wasn’t immune to this, and enjoyed several home-exclusive follow-ups over the years — including OutRun Europa by Probe. In this game, you’re on the run from the police — attempting to outrun them, you might say — and must speed your way across Europe in a variety of vehicles. And it’s not bad!
Pardon me, boy, is that Sega’s Super Locomotive? Why no, good sir, it’s Alligata Software’s Loco, a gratuitous “homage” to Super Locomotive which creator Antony Crowther got away with thanks to Super Locomotive’s relatively unknown status!
Loco is an interesting concept for a game; you’re driving a steam locomotive down never-ending tracks, fending off attacks from small aeroplanes and inconveniently placed handcars that have been carelessly discarded around the railway network. You’ll never get where you’re supposedly going — this is an arcade-style game through and through — but in games like this it’s all about the journey, not the destination.
Early arcade ports certainly varied quite significantly in quality, and opinion appears to be a bit divided online as to whether or not Ron J Fortier’s Atari 8-bit take on Sega’s classic Zaxxon is “good” or not.
Well, “good” or not, that’s what we’re taking a look at today — and it turns out there are two slightly different versions of the game out there. (I discovered after I made the video that these are due to there being a 16K cassette version and a 48K disk version — in the video you’ll see the disk version first, followed by the more limited cassette version.)
Ah, OutRun. A true classic of the “vanishing point” racer genre. A fine example of Sega’s “Super Scaler” technology at work. And, apparently, recipient of an absolutely terrible Atari ST port by Probe and US Gold.
I’ve always been a believer in giving things a fair chance on their own merits, though, and I never played the ST version of OutRun back in the day. I played Turbo OutRun, which was terrible, but never the original.
Back in the early days of home computing, you couldn’t rely on arcade game companies to provide official ports of their own games.
Nope; they tended to be farmed out to other publishers and developers who had more experience with working on the 8- and 16-bit platforms of the era. One such example of this was the relationship between Sega and Activision; this resulted in a number of Sega arcade classics getting ported to systems like the Atari ST.
Here’s Enduro Racer, one of several products of this partnership. Can the humble ST stand up to the might of this Super Scaler classic?
The dot-eating maze game formula is most readily associated with Namco’s Pac-Man — but the genre had actually been around for a while already by the time our hungry hero had made his first appearance!
Atari’s Dodge ‘Em released for Atari 2600 in 1980, providing a peculiar combination of racing, dodging and dot-eating — but this wasn’t the first one, either! Dodge ‘Em was actually a clone of a 1979 Sega arcade title called Head On.
The reasons for the Sega game’s title will become apparent very, very quickly…
Who’s up for the ruination of a perfectly good walk? Well, you’re in luck, because here comes Elite with their ST conversion of Sega’s Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf.
Tournament Golf, as it was rebranded for its home computer release thanks to the ditching of the license for cost-cutting reasons, is an interesting example of a relatively early golf game trying to incorporate some more complex simulation-style elements into the mix.
Unfortunately, said mix also includes incredibly twitchy arcade-style controls that you need the reflexes of a particularly hyperactive kitten to master, making the whole thing rather more challenging than it needs to be! Still, I had fun…
Here’s an interesting one: an unreleased port of an unreleased game.
Yes indeed, Ixion never officially saw the light of day way back when, either in its original arcade incarnation or its home ports. And yet here it is, perfectly preserved in its Atari 8-bit incarnation, all thanks to the efforts of the filthy dirty pirates of the 1980s. Yar-har, fiddle-de-dee.
The game itself is an interesting combination of arena shooter, puzzler and collect ’em up, and I like it very much. If you have an Atari 2600, AtariAge even released an actual physical version of that port — check it out here!