Tag Archives: video

Xybots

Do you like dungeon crawling? Do you like shooting things? Do you like games that begin with the letter “X”, which are in unsurprisingly short supply? Then do I have a treat for you!

Atari Games’ Xybots — originally envisioned as a sequel to Gauntlet but reskinned to sci-fi because someone in a suit figured that a sequel to one of the company’s most popular games of all time would not, in itself, be popular — is an interesting game. And, moreover, one that was probably ahead of its time; turns out that making it sci-fi didn’t make it popular either!

It also features one of my least favourite mechanics from Atari Games releases of this era, but it’s not quite enough to spoil the rest of the experience. This ST port is remarkably true to the arcade version, warts and all…

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Warlords

Pong and Breakout were winning formulae for Atari, so it makes perfect sense they would want to try and do everything possible with this style of game over the years.

Warlords was one of the more interesting experiments, adding a healthy dose of theme, four-player competitive (or team-based) action and a couple of interesting additional mechanics.

It’s even reasonably fun by yourself… but get three friends together and you can expect the trash talk to flow freely within moments of starting!

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.

Atari Soccer

Yes, yes, yes, I know the “A to Z” angle in this series is already questionable and this one following Tempest makes it even more so, but we only just managed to find time to have a two-player match!

Indeed, today’s game is Atari Soccer, an arcade title which can only be played with two or four people simultaneously, so bad luck if you have either no friends or two friends. As a follow-up to Atari Football, it again had a cocktail cabinet form factor and exhausting trackball controls to blister your palms with.

Thankfully, the port in Atari Flashback Classics can be enjoyed with nothing more than a couple of analogue controllers, and even for those who aren’t big soccer fans, the game makes for an entertaining, competitive pastime for a few minutes every so often.

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?

Wavy Navy

I’ve always kind of been fascinated by games that get “bad” reviews. And my gaming experience over the last few years has demonstrated that it’s always best to make up your own mind about things rather than going purely by one person’s rant — as amusing as those rants can be sometimes.

Today’s Atari 8-bit title, Wavy Navy from Sirius Software, is a great example of this. Poorly received by at least one reviewer for its similarities to the system’s excellent port of Galaxian, it’s actually a rather fun fixed shooter with an interesting twist.

Sometimes it pays to go back and revisit those “bad” games… in many instances they’re actually nowhere near as bad as you might think!

Purple Saturn Day

You know how these days Japanese games are often stereotyped as being “weird”? Well, in the early to mid ’90s, it was French developers who were saddled with this perception.

To be fair, it was at least partially justified — although it may perhaps have been a little more polite to refer to these developers’ works as being “creative” rather than “weird”.

They don’t come much more creative/weird than Purple Saturn Day, a game developed by a branch of ERE Informatique that claimed to be receiving their inspiration directly from an interdimensional technological god-entity named Exxos, and a title that put an interesting sci-fi twist on the multi-sports formula.