You ever play a game that you really want to like, but almost everything about it just makes it nigh-impossible to do so?
That was me with The Assembly Line’s Helter Skelter, an unusual platform game in which you control a bouncy ball and attempt to squish enemies in a preset order. Sounds simple, right?
It is very much Not Simple.
The “E” is for “Einstein”. So says The Assembly Line, anyway, in this curious physics-based puzzler for Atari ST featuring “ray-traced” graphics.
E-Motion is the predecessor to Vaxine, which you may recall from our first time around the ST’s A to Z. This time around it’s all about bouncing balls around rather than blasting away viruses, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less hectic! The world of subatomic particle physics is, it seems, rather dangerous.
E-Motion drew praise at the time of its original release for its colourful visuals, digitised sound and unusual premise. Today, it’s still an enjoyable — if rather frustrating — experience, and a charming, technically impressive highlight of this era of gaming.
Next time you get bacteria in your ilium, call me up and I’ll come blast your balls for you.
Vaxine from The Assembly Line is one of the most technically impressive games on the Atari ST, featuring gorgeous and colourful ray-traced graphics, convincing sprite scaling routines and an interesting blend of physics puzzle and first-person shoot ’em up.
Developed as a sequel to the team’s previous game E-Motion, which marketed itself as “the first New Age computer game”, Vaxine is a simple but enjoyable time that shows what Atari’s 16-bit computers were really capable of when in the hands of someone who knew what they were doing.
Today’s Atari ST game is one of my favourites from my childhood… and a cool example of a developer thinking creatively.
Interphase, developed by The Assembly Line and published by Image Works and Mirrorsoft, is a game about infiltrating a building. The twist is, you don’t control the one doing the infiltrating; instead, you are hooked into the building’s electrical systems, manipulating them from an abstract 3D representation of “cyberspace”, while your off-screen companion is doing the difficult bit of actually getting through the building.
It’s a really cool game, and one that had a decently long lifespan too, thanks to its original commercial release being followed up by the complete game being given away as a freebie on an ST magazine’s cover-mounted floppy disk — ST Format, if I remember correctly. It remains solidly playable today, and well worth a look.