Activision may be a company that a lot of gamers like to steer well clear of these days thanks to issues like predatory DLC and microtransactions, but back in the days of the 8-bit micros, they were one of the finest companies out there.
They credited their programmers and designers, they put out games that pushed the boundaries of underpowered hardware such as the Atari 2600… and they just made great games, full stop.
One fantastic example is MegaMania, a thoroughly weird but extremely enjoyable fixed shooter that will get you bobbing and weaving between waves of hamburgers, engagement rings, bow ties and steam irons. No symbolism there, no sir.
Wicked is a great game that I used to really like when I was younger… even if it did freak me out a bit.
An occult-themed strategic shooter with horror elements, Wicked is a seriously unusual and highly original game that I’ve never seen anything quite like ever since. Truly, it was an untamed and highly experimental time in the games business!
Anyway, let’s revisit it after all these years… has it still got that ol’ black magic?
We made it to Z once again, folks, and it’s time for an all-time classic shoot ’em up for the Atari 8-bit: it’s Zybex, from Zeppelin Games.
Zeppelin began their life as a company specialising in budget-priced titles on cassette; the first time I came across them was when they released today’s game Zybex and motorcycle racer Speed Ace for £2.99 each. Speed Ace was fairly decent, from what I recall — though at the time of writing it’s not one we’ve revisited as yet — but Zybex was something truly special.
Featuring frantic shoot ’em up action for one or two players, Zybex truly brought the arcade-style scrolling shoot ’em up home in style — and it still holds up pretty well today.
It’s that time again! Yes, Centipede is back for a third time — this time in the form of the speedy and challenging Atari 5200 version.
Technically speaking, this version is probably closest to the arcade version, but it’s also one of the most difficult — particularly if you dare to play it with the original Atari 5200 controller, one of the most notoriously awkward pieces of technology ever created.
In other words, if you really reckon yourself at Centipede… then the Atari 5200 version is the one you should be challenging yourself with!
Telecomsoft, a division of British phone provider British Telecom, was a pretty prolific software publisher throughout the 8- and 16-bit home computer eras.
The brand was split into several parts: “Firebird” released big-name, high-profile games designed to have broad appeal; “Rainbird” released games intended for more mature audiences such as adventures, strategy games and simulations; and “Silverbird” provided budget-price experiences, usually in the form of arcade-style games.
One title released on the latter label was I, Ball, a game which was particularly well-received on the 8-bit home computers for its Rob Hubbard soundtrack; sadly, this is absent from the Atari ST version, but it’s still a solid — if monstrously difficult — shoot ’em up with some entertaining sampled sounds to enjoy!
Mattel’s “M Network” label brought over a variety of classic Intellivision titles to Atari’s 2600 platform.
One of these games that seems to have always proven quite popular is Astroblast, originally known as Astrosmash on its original host platform.
It’s a fairly simple fixed shooter in which you blast space rocks into smithereens while attempting to protect your planet… but hoo boy, is it ever addictive!
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!
Welcome back to the last letter of the alphabet! We’ve made it around another cycle.
This time around, we’re taking a look at Zynaps from Hewson, a company who built a reputation for mechanically and technically solid games in the 8-bit era, but who sometimes struggled to adapt to the changing — sometimes fickle — desires of the 16-bit home computer market.
Zynaps is a good — if monstrously difficult — shoot ’em up, but many argued at the time of its original release that it would have been best left in the 8-bit era. What do you think?
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeep BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE–
Better get used to that sound! It’s Fantastic Voyage, an extremely timely 1982 release from Sirius Software that adapts the 1966 movie (or possibly Isaac Asimov’s novelisation) about injecting tiny submarines into scientists to blast health problems from within.
It’s actually a very enjoyable shooter — albeit one that isn’t going to blow your mind with its visuals, being barely distinct from its Atari 2600 counterpart. It plays well, though… and you’ll be hearing that beep-beep-beep in your sleep!
The ABBUC Software Competition is an annual contest that, since 2003, has been challenging modern Atari enthusiasts to show what they’re capable of with their favourite home micros.
We’ve already seen one previous example of a competition winner in the form of X:8; today we take a look at the title which took second place in 2012. I present to you: Callisto.
Callisto is a very solid, very challenging shoot ’em up that really shows off the Atari 8-bit at its best. It just wasn’t quite enough to win the contest that year. 2012 was a very good year, it seems!