Tag Archives: shoot ’em up

I, Ball

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!

Astroblast

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!

Crack’ed

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!

Zynaps

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?

Fantastic Voyage

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!

Callisto

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!

Zone Ranger

We’ve made it to Z again, folks! And today’s a real stonker of a game that I used to really love playing back in the day. And still do today, in fact.

Zone Ranger was released in 1984 by Activision, back when they still made good games, and was the work of one Dan Thompson. Drawing loose inspiration from Asteroids and Sinistar, two favourite games of Thompson, Zone Ranger tasks you with shooting down a bunch of space junk because… why not?

It’s the quintessential mid-’80s arcade blaster in many ways: easy to learn, hard to master and very, very addictive.

Tempest

Dave Theurer, creator of the beloved Missile Command, is back once again with another all-time classic: “tube shooter” Tempest.

Tempest featured Atari’s then-new multi-coloured Quadrascan vector graphics display, plus an interesting feature whereby you could start later in the game based on how far you (or the previous player) had managed to progress on the previous credit. This later became a standard fixture in many Atari Games releases.

I’ll level with you, Tempest is one of those games I’ve always respected greatly but never really liked all that much… can spending a bit of time with it this weekend change my mind?

X:8

It’s really cool that enthusiasts are still developing new games for old platforms such as the Atari 8-bit.

Today’s game is one such example; it won a competition hosted by German user group ABBUC back in 2013, and is quite well-regarded as a result.

While its blasting action does get a little repetitive after a while, there’s little denying that X:8 is a technically impressive release that pushes the humble Atari 8-bit hard to pull off some smooth, slick arcade action.

Quest for Galaxia

The 16-bit home microcomputer era was a bit of a golden age for public domain software and shareware — even long before the advent of the Internet made distributing such things child’s play.

A key player in this space here in Europe was Budgie UK, who became well-known for distributing good quality public domain software, typically taking the form of 16-bit takes on classic arcade games.

Today’s game is a prime example of that, providing a thoroughly serviceable and enjoyable clone of Namco’s fixed shooter classic Galaxian… with a cool demoscene-style title screen!