Atari Eight-bit followers: that is your subsequent learn

I’ve received a shelf filled with laptop historical past books, a lot of which I like and have reread a number of instances. However I needed to write down one which centered on the primary actual laptop I grew up with, the one which ultimately led me to the tech trade and journalism: the Atari 800.

We’ve coated classic computing many instances earlier than on ExtremeTech. I wrote a retro gaming function again in 2010 (and a 2017 rewrite of that’s within the works and will likely be prepared actual quickly now). However I’ve at all times needed to do a deep dive on Atari’s Eight-bit laptop, its peripherals, and most significantly, its video games. It was an astounding machine. It was the primary actual gaming PC, one with graphics coprocessors and sprite animation. It blew the modern competitors out of the water, and was even superior in some respects to the Commodore 64 — additionally an awesome early laptop, however one which lacked a few of the Atari Eight-bit’s improvements regardless of popping out three years later.

Breakout: How Atari Eight-Bit Computer systems Outlined a Era appears again at how the Atari Eight-bit lineup got here to be, the way it was designed, and its whole 13-year manufacturing run, from the unique 400/800 via the XL and XE strains. The e book additionally particulars over 100 of the most effective video games out there for the platform and what makes them important. And it covers as we speak as effectively, with a roundup of and software program mods made by enterprising Atari followers over the previous a number of many years, together with recommendations on shopping for and gathering machines, peripherals, and software program now. I additionally go over essentially the most vibrant communities you’ll discover discussing the Atari Eight-bit as we speak.

Greater than something, although, I needed this e book to be a love letter the Atari 800 – to all its nice options, video games, software program, programming capabilities, and even foibles (normally self-inflicted by Atari administration someplace alongside the best way). Regardless of its flaws, I couldn’t think about rising up with out it.

After two years of sweat and toil, the e book is lastly finished, and it’s out as we speak. Breakout: How Atari Eight-Bit Computer systems Outlined a Era is printed by Ziff Davis LLC (ExtremeTech’s dad or mum firm). You should purchase it in paperback and Kindle variations. Right here’s a free excerpt: Get pleasure from!

Breakout: How Atari Eight-Bit Computer systems Outlined a Era
Ziff Davis LLC
p. 113-127

Chapter 6: Golden Age Gaming

There’s no manner round it: Atari’s Eight-bit laptop lineup was terrific for gaming. There have been a number of thousand titles made for the platform, and of these, no less than 300 to 400 had been value enjoying. Plus, loads of titles appeared for different machines or within the arcade first. To slim issues down, I’ll concentrate on the largest and greatest platform exclusives, the place the Atari Eight-bit model was first. I’ll be aware some key titles with fascinating traits particular to the Atari Eight-bit conversion. Some video games had been simply incredible to play and an enormous a part of the expertise of proudly owning an Atari laptop, even when there had been ports out there on different platforms. Lastly, I’ll embody just some key video games that didn’t dwell as much as the hype, and I’ll clarify why. Whether or not you will have an emulator or actual Atari laptop helpful, otherwise you simply need to keep in mind the nice instances, let’s undergo essentially the most important video games to grace the Atari Eight-bit platform.

Culling the Checklist

Some video games by design don’t supply an appreciably totally different expertise on the Atari Eight-bit than they do on different platforms. Working example: interactive fiction, which, due to its text-based nature, works on all computing platforms. Infocom is arguably essentially the most well-known of textual content journey recreation builders, with even its early titles consisting of subtle language parsers and complicated plots and maps. Infocom workers started programming video games on a DEC PDP-10 mainframe at MIT, however the entire greatest titles made their manner over to the Atari inside just a few years, notably between 1982 and 1986. Video games like these within the Zork and Enchanter collection, and The Hitchhiker’s Information to the Galaxy, are basically novels you’ll be able to play, and I performed them by myself Atari 800 on a regular basis. Infocom video games had been additionally notable for his or her included “feelies,” or trinkets, maps, and different supplies, which helped breathe life into the well-written text-based video games with out a computer-based visible part. For those who plan on reexperiencing these video games in an emulator, as an alternative of with precise Atari and software program, it’s value heading over to websites like to obtain the manuals and field artwork photographs. (In some circumstances it’s needed, because the supplies additionally functioned as de facto copy safety.)

Infocom textual content adventures weren’t even the primary to succeed in the Atari Eight-bit. Scott and Alexis Adams based the lesser-known Journey Worldwide, one of many earliest recreation growth studios, in 1978. Taking its cue from the well-known “first” textual content journey, Colossal Cave, Journey Worldwide launched a collection of adventures for varied laptop platforms, together with the Atari Eight-bit. Every one had a particular font on the Atari, with a few of the extra notable titles being The Depend and Ghost City. There have been greater than a dozen in all, plus some graphic adventures as effectively, earlier than the corporate ultimately folded in 1985. Whereas the corporate’s parser wasn’t as superior as Infocom’s, Journey Worldwide beat Infocom to market by a few years.

A few of Atari’s personal early video games had been mediocre; they had been exceedingly fundamental, rushed variations of Basketball, Hangman, and different video games populated early firm catalogs and brochures. Most of Atari’s enterprise, academic, and residential administration software program didn’t do sufficient to show the large capabilities of the platform, apart from to scream “me too” subsequent to the Apple II within the early years of the Eight-bit Atari. Worse, just a few main titles by no means made it over to the Atari Eight-bit platform in any respect. As a certifiable role-playing recreation nut, I lamented the shortage of Wizardry, May and Magic, and Bard’s Story video games. Origin Techniques stopped its famed Ultima CRPG collection on the Atari with Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar. However there was a lot gaming goodness available with an 400 or 800, it didn’t matter. (Virtually.)

Constructing an Eight-Bit Ecosystem

Whereas Atari refused to credit score its personal builders, some recreation programmers from this period gained fame nonetheless. Invoice Budge, Invoice Williams, Philip Value, and Scott Adams had been 4 of the largest, whereas programmers growing throughout a number of platforms like Richard Garriott and Dani Bunten additionally grew to become well-known to Atari customers. Finally, a complete wholesome ecosystem of recreation software program studios catered to the put in base of Atari Eight-bit laptop house owners. Stalwarts included Lucasfilm Video games, Avalon Hill, Parker Bros., Datasoft, Datamost, Digital Arts, Epyx, First Star Software program, Synapse Software program, Brøderbund, and subLogic.

One of many greatest early tendencies was the conversion of well-liked arcade coin-up machines like Asteroids and Centipede. What stood out in my thoughts—and as a child, what was of paramount significance—was simply how shut the house model might get to the arcade. This fashion you can play at dwelling totally free as an alternative of begging your mother and father to take you to the arcade (and stuff your pockets with quarters). Avid gamers from the period might keep in mind full-page advertisements depicting six or 9 tv screenshots in a grid, exhibiting how the house conversion of, say, Q*bert or Popeye regarded on varied recreation consoles in addition to Atari and Commodore computer systems. The worst sin of all was placing up faux screenshots in journal ads. The advertisements didn’t doc the on-screen graphics, however as an alternative confirmed an idealized, Platonic model with seemingly limitless display screen decision (I’m you, Activision).

The arcade conversions performed considerably otherwise on the 400 and 800 than on the VCS. Pac-Man was stable and Missile Command was wonderful, however others didn’t fare as effectively; Area Invaders and Asteroids specifically got here in for some criticism, which I’ll get to. Afterward, as extra third-party builders started working with the platform, we began to see unique titles seem on the Eight-bit Atari laptop lineup first.

A smattering of video games even help multiplayer—not simply within the “your flip, then my flip” mode of early arcade video games, however true two-player motion. Relying on the sport, it may be a split-screen aggressive mode (Spy vs. Spy and Ballblazer), a four-player mode for the Atari 800’s 4 joystick ports (M.U.L.E.), a good-versus-evil mode (Bruce Lee), or real two-player fight (Archon). For those who received inventive, you can do issues like play Star Raiders with the joystick after which assign your greatest good friend because the wingman to manage the keyboard.

Determine 6.1: An advert for Frogger exhibiting the way it regarded on 9 totally different competing programs of the time. The Atari Eight-bit normally got here out on high in these.

Which Model Was First?

Timing the releases additionally will get a bit tough. A developer might program the sport on the Atari Eight-bit first—normally as a result of that was the pc they already owned—after which port it to different platforms. Or, as was typically the case, a developer focused the Apple II first, after which ported it to the Atari—video games with restricted shade palettes and sound functionality had been typically created this manner. One of many maddening issues about being an Atari laptop proprietor was ready for ports of well-liked video games from different platforms, which grew to become increasingly more frequent because the Apple II and particularly Commodore 64 continued to outsell the Atari lineup. Normally the preferred titles appeared on these platforms first, and present up on the Atari later. It grew to become a chicken-and-egg downside; as different platforms started to take maintain and Atari couldn’t successfully compete, bigger builders started to plan their roadmaps with the Atari as a second or third consideration.

Even so, by the point the XL line was in full swing in 1983, there have been many extra software program builders on board for writing and porting video games for the 800. And as soon as Atari let up on its restrictive third-party growth insurance policies, it opened up the doorways for a real golden age in Atari software program. These video games weren’t only for house owners of the most recent Eight-bit Atari computer systems, although. Many (upgraded) 400 and 800 house owners might additionally make the most of these titles, as none of them required greater than 48KB, although some required a disk drive.

Lastly, all dates given for video games are for once they arrived on the Atari Eight-bit laptop platform, not once they had been first launched in arcades or on one other laptop platform. For instance, Taito launched Area Invaders in 1978 as a stand-up arcade recreation, however the Atari 400/800 cartridge model arrived in 1980, so it’s marked as a 1980 launch.

A.E. (Brøderbund, 1982)

Anybody studying Atari magazines circa 1982 or 1983 will doubtless keep in mind the full-page shade advertisements for A.E. The Eugene, Oregon–primarily based Brøderbund Software program was recognized early on for its wonderful video games, and was reported to look abroad to seek out the most effective programmers. “‘The Japanese are by far the most effective at this. It’s their consideration to element,’ stated [cofounder] Gary Carlston—and their dedication to perfection. Carlston needed to fish the code for the sport A.E. (Japanese for stingrays) out of [programmers] Jun Wada’s and Makoto Horai’s wastepaper basket. They didn’t suppose it was adequate to promote. It’s at present one in all Brøderbund’s high gross sales performers.”[1]

This Brøderbund recreation is a distant cousin of Galaxian and Galaga. You play by combating off successive waves of house aliens, which swirl round in altering formations. You might see the Apple II roots within the fundamental shade palette, rendered on the Atari Eight-bit because of artifacting. Even so, the gorgeous house backgrounds for the sport had been really otherworldly for those who had been coming from a VCS and even some early arcade machines. The Atari model has significantly better audio, with polyphonic music and extra sturdy sound results throughout gameplay.

From floppy disk, it takes some time to start out enjoying; you need to load your complete first disk after which flip it over earlier than you’ll be able to start, because of all of the graphics information. Surprisingly sufficient, though A.E. was a 48KB disk-based recreation, Atari apparently thought of porting it to a 16KB model and releasing it as a cartridge for the 5200 SuperSystem. It made it as far as a full-blown prototype, nevertheless it was finished two years late and after the Nice Video Recreation Crash of 1983 and was by no means launched.[2]

Determine 6.2: A.E. is an early vertical shooter that options gorgeous background graphics on the Atari Eight-bit.

Agent USA (Scholastic, 1984)

“Someplace in America, this harmful FuzzBomb™ is on the free!” (I do not know if the phrase FuzzBomb is trademarked, nevertheless it positive appears prefer it wants one.) So goes the start of Agent USA, a terrific romp via America within the guise of a sci-fi B-movie. The FuzzBomb is popping individuals into wandering balls of fuzz (FuzzBodies), that are touring by practice and contaminating the entire nation.

You could trip the nation’s practice system from metropolis to metropolis, gathering clues to the FuzzBomb’s location primarily based on how the illness is spreading. Alongside the best way, you find out about U.S. cities, state capitals, time zones, and the nation’s total geography. However Agent USA doesn’t really feel in any respect like an academic recreation—which is a praise. The larger cities have higher-speed rocket trains. You may get free tickets for practice rides at cubicles, and in state capitals you may get information about which cities have fuzzed individuals in them. To gather a ticket, although, you need to sort the total identify of the town, which helps you study its identify.

To defuzz individuals, you employ crystals; you begin the sport with 10, however can get extra by dropping just a few and letting them multiply. When FuzzBodies contact the crystals, they’re cured; common individuals simply steal them. It takes 100 crystals to kill the FuzzBomb. You must work out the place it’s at present, go there, and never contact any of the fuzzed individuals till you get to it or they’ll deplete your crystal provide. As is usually the case, the Atari Eight-bit model has a cool sound observe. The people, akin to they had been, are little black hats with easily animated legs. You have got a white hat. Uh, get to it.

Alley Cat (Synapse Software program, 1983)

This unique Atari Eight-bit title—which was later ported to MS-DOS in a horrendous cyan-and-magenta CGA-compatible model—is one in all my favourite video games. John Harris began work on it, however handed the undertaking to Invoice Williams after being sad together with his one-screen prototype model.[3] Williams first developed Salmon Run (see under), then Alley Cat and Necromancer for the Atari 800—three of the platform’s greatest authentic video games—after which some Amiga video games together with Sinbad and the Throne of the Falcon for Cinemaware.

At any price, as Freddy the Cat, you should navigate 5 totally different rooms, every of which serves as a discrete minigame. One room incorporates a fishbowl on a desk; you should soar in, swim round, and catch the fish with out touching any of the electrical eels. One other room incorporates a birdcage you need to knock off the desk so you’ll be able to free and catch the chook it incorporates.

Within the kitchen, you need to catch the mice that seem in a large block of Swiss cheese. Then head to the lounge to discover a fun-to-climb bookcase, on high of that are three ferns you should knock over whereas avoiding a large spider. The fifth room incorporates sleeping canine; you need to eat the meals within the dishes with out waking the canine. There’s additionally a bonus spherical through which you should attain your valentine kitty date whereas avoiding Cupid’s arrows, which pierce the hearts forming the platforms you stroll on, making you fall.

Determine 6.three: Alley Cat labored completely on my authentic Atari 800, nevertheless it requires a Translator disk on XL and XE machines.

Tons of intelligent touches abound. Within the kitchen, for instance, by working forwards and backwards, you permit paw prints on the ground, which a Fantasia-style animated broom has to wash up first earlier than coming again after you. The primary display screen includes a collection of rubbish cans and clotheslines you should soar on to succeed in one of many rooms (which the sport selects at random).

Alternate Actuality: The Metropolis (Datasoft, 1985) and The Dungeon (1987)

Among the finest and most distinctive video games ever to be developed for the Eight-bit is Alternate Actuality: The Metropolis. It was meant to be the primary in a six-part collection by Philip Value: The Metropolis, the Enviornment, The Palace, The Wilderness, Revelations, and Future. Sadly, solely the primary two video games had been ever written and launched—and so they had been initially purported to kind the primary recreation collectively. Datasoft compelled an early launch, and so break up the primary recreation within the collection in half.[4]

In consequence, Alternate Actuality: The Metropolis is barely half a recreation within the conventional sense, though it’s not apparent at first. The sport begins with you being kidnapped, introduced aboard a spaceship, and brought from present-day Earth to (you guessed it) an alternate actuality. From there, you create a personality, start exploring the town, get jobs to earn cash, defeat monsters, sleep at inns, and stage up. It’s addictive and enjoyable for fairly some hours and even days—and the setting is actually immersive. However as it will definitely turns into clear, when you discover your complete map of the town, there’s no actual objective and even plot. The Metropolis was meant as a roaming space to bridge the opposite chapters, and solely one of many different chapters made it to market (and I’ll get to it under).

Determine 6.four: An intro display screen from the wonderful Alternate Actuality: The Metropolis.

Regardless of all of this, Alternate Actuality: The Metropolis is past compelling in its environment and realism. It featured subtle 3D texture-mapped graphics, sound, and music for the time, all of which take full benefit of what the Atari Eight-bit platform has to supply. No different model comes, not even on 16-bit machines, and the Commodore 64 port is downright pathetic. The sport additionally retains observe of your character’s well-being, which incorporates starvation, exhaustion, and whether or not you’re drunk or poisoned. To at the present time, I nonetheless keep in mind the primary track, full with lyrics. I play it sometimes simply to listen to and see it run. Additionally satisfying is the 16-bit Atari ST model, which helps you to be a part of guilds and gives a tiny bit extra of a way of accomplishment. Composer Gary Gilbertson redid the three-voice variations of his songs in order that they benefit from the Atari ST’s less-powerful sound chip.

The Dungeon, in the meantime, is a traditional dungeon crawl in a three-dimensional perspective. Contained in the dungeon, you should purchase weapons and different provisions, and also you’ll encounter fountains, wizards, secret doorways, and loads of monsters in your travels. Whereas exploring, it’s essential to eat foods and drinks water to remain alive. You want a compass to navigate, and also you’ll discover keys, gems, and jewels as a part of your quest.

The 4 ranges contained in The Dungeon had been purported to be the sewers beneath The Metropolis. Philip Value ended up leaving the sport trade in the midst of The Dungeon’s growth; two different programmers completed the sport for Datasoft. Whereas The Metropolis was a real breakthrough and technical achievement in 1985, The Dungeon already regarded a bit dated by the point it hit the market. A evaluation in Dragon journal criticized each video games for his or her extreme disk swapping, particularly when simply attempting to save lots of your recreation after which proceed enjoying. You wanted a separate clean disk simply to save lots of your character information, and it needed to be a special disk than the one in your character in The Metropolis. (The identical 1988 Dragon evaluation additionally criticized the Mac model for not letting you copy it to a tough drive, however Atari Eight-bit customers didn’t anticipate this form of luxurious.) The identical 12 months, FTL Video games launched the real-time Dungeon Grasp on the Atari ST, with a bigger view and celebration of 4 characters to manage, and dungeon exploration was by no means the identical once more.

Archon: The Mild and the Darkish (Digital Arts, 1983)

Archon is a recreation of violent chess—and I imply that as a praise. Either side has a frontrunner: the Wizard on the Mild aspect, and the Sorceress on the Darkish aspect. The sport takes place on a nine-by-nine-square grid with alternating colours. It in any other case appears like a chessboard, albeit with so-called energy factors on the high, backside, left, proper, and heart. And, as in chess, each bit has totally different talents. Your objective is to both seize the 5 energy factors on the board, or defeat the entire opponent’s items in real-time fight.

Determine 6.5: The traditional Archon: The Mild and the Darkish.

Each of those paths to victory are trickier than they sound. At any time when two items occupy the identical house, one aspect fights the opposite to the dying. The colour of the sq. impacts how a lot vitality either side has. So if a Mild piece battles a Darkish opponent on a Darkish sq., the sunshine aspect could have fewer hit factors than traditional and the darkish aspect could have extra. The full additionally modifications relying on the form of piece it’s; some simply naturally have extra stamina. This makes it robust to defeat a aspect on its native shade squares (white or black).

The opposite complicated subject is time. Time constantly progresses within the recreation, and shifts between day and evening. This impacts roughly half the squares on the board, together with the entire center squares in a cross sample. Three of the 5 energy factors are situated on these altering squares. By the point you maneuver sufficient items to seize a lot of the squares, the colours will flip towards you—an ideal alternative in your opponent to assault and defeat you.

Archon: The Mild and the Darkish continues to play effectively as we speak. First developed for the Atari Eight-bit by Free Fall Associates, it grew to become one of many first video games printed by Digital Arts. It gives an ideal steadiness of technique, pace, and polish. And there’s no mistaking the opening music riff, with its rising introductory fanfare and bombastic theme. A number of later variations of Archon tried to replace the unique recreation, notably in 1994 with Archon Extremely (with blended outcomes) and in 2010 with Archon Basic (way more efficiently) for the PC. There was additionally a short-lived iOS model.

Archon II: Adept (Digital Arts, 1984)

Archon II: Adept modifications up the primary board format and mechanics. This time round, as an alternative of a chess-style design, the sport is organized in bands across the 4 parts of air, earth, fireplace, and water. You management one in all 4 wizards (adepts) on either side, both Order or Chaos. The 5 energy factors are nonetheless very important to the sport, perhaps much more so, since there’s a larger emphasis on spell casting—you might be not restricted to one in all every spell. You spend a lot of the sport summoning varied sorts of elementals and demons to combat the opposite aspect, together with kraken, juggernauts, wraiths, and gorgons. There are 5 methods to win as an alternative of two, together with triggering an Apocalypse with a last battle within the void.

It could be a stretch to name Archon II: Adept higher than its predecessor—more durable can be a extra correct phrase. But it surely’s positively value enjoying, and a few even want it to the unique. Oddly, the Commodore 64 misplaced its graphical benefit over the 400/800 model; the 2 regarded just about an identical this time round. I’ve at all times discovered this recreation exceedingly troublesome to play, and in a great way. At present it’s fascinating to look again on simply how progressive this sequel was, in a world the place “sequel” normally means “extra of the identical.” Archon II: Adept takes a few of the greatest parts of the primary recreation and brings the storyline to a grander, nearly epic scale—even when it’s not as tightly honed as the unique.

Asteroids (Atari, 1981)

Within the early 1980s, you couldn’t have a house laptop platform with out some model of Asteroids, and Atari wanted to maneuver heaven and earth to construct up the Atari Eight-bit’s cartridge library at first. But even this brain-dead-obvious alternative for a port of an present 1979 Atari coin-op took greater than a 12 months to reach on the 400 and 800. Sadly, administration actually was satisfied the 800 must be a house laptop first and a recreation system second; it took the wild success of Star Raiders, which I’ll get to under, to get Atari to rethink its plan for the pc lineup and put conversions like Asteroids again on the schedule.

For the three individuals nonetheless on the planet who haven’t performed this phenomenal traditional arcade recreation, you management a tiny ship in an asteroid area. You could clear every display screen of asteroids with out crashing into any of them, and destroy the small and enormous UFOs that seem at common intervals to assault you. You’ll be able to soar into hyperspace as a final resort to forestall a collision, however there’s no assure you received’t reappear within the path of a special asteroid and die anyway. The physics of your ship’s thruster and bullets felt as actual when the sport was launched as something you’ll play as we speak.

Though this Eight-bit Atari conversion is satisfactory, it’s not thrilling. The primary downside with it, as with all Asteroids clone, is replicating the arcade model’s spotless, tack-sharp vector graphics. The Eight-bit Atari does a bit higher than the lower-resolution VCS on this regard, breaking apart the asteroids into a number of smaller items if you shoot them. However its pale-blue asteroids are bizarre; whoever determined to make use of totally different colours for the VCS model to make up for the decrease decision was onto one thing. The Atari Eight-bit loses out on the general gameplay steadiness, although. For some unusual motive, you’ll be able to’t fireplace straight to the left or proper; it doesn’t matter what you do, the bullets at all times veer somewhat bit to the above or under.

Additionally of be aware is one fascinating gameplay variation: As much as 4 individuals can play without delay, towards one another or the asteroids, because of the 400 and 800’s 4 joystick ports.

Astro Chase (First Star Software program, 1982)

Astro Chase, with its clean scrolling and enticing launch sequence display screen, was one of many first third-party video games to point out what the Eight-bit Atari was able to. It was the primary main launch from the prolific (and still-in-business!) First Star Software program studio, and developed by the primary winner of Atari’s Star Awards for the Atari Program Alternate. Parker Brothers picked up the rights to port the sport for a then-astounding $250,000 advance. The sport additionally received awards from Electronics Video games, Artistic Computing, and Pc Video games magazines.

This recreation places you in command of defending Earth (in fact) from an alien assault (in fact). You’ll be able to transfer and fireplace in any of eight instructions on the 2D house panorama. Extra essential, you’ll be able to fireplace in a route independently of motion. This normally requires two separate joysticks, as in video games like Robotron: 2084 or Area Dungeon, however Astro Chase makes it work. There are 34 ranges; your objective is to destroy all 16 megamines whereas combating eight various kinds of enemy spacecraft. The playfield is many screens large. 4 vitality mills mark the furthermost corners of house, together with defend depots throughout the highest, sides, and backside.

Like many video games for the Atari, Astro Chase got here on each cassette and disk; each variations required 32KB to play. This shut out Atari 400 house owners, no less than earlier than reminiscence upgrades grew to become out there. At present, the sport appears dated. The sound is weak for an Atari Eight-bit title, and although transferring your ship in eight instructions on a large playfield was clearly a novel feat initially, the controls really feel stiff. The aforementioned launch sequence appears somewhat lame now, too. For the same recreation, I’d advocate Sinistar or Zone Ranger over this one for those who’re enjoying as we speak, however Astro Chase actually earned its place in Atari Eight-bit lore.

Assault of the Mutant Camels (Llamasoft, 1983)

This horizontally scrolling shooter is actually a clone of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes again for the VCS, besides with big camels. Discuss a bizarre pedigree: It’s the work of Jeff Minter, the famed recreation developer who designed Tempest 2000 and Defender 2000 for Atari’s Jaguar console within the early 1990s, and later, a Tempest clone referred to as Area Giraffe for the Xbox 360.

There’s an precise plot, nevertheless it’s too complicated and unrelated to the precise gameplay to hassle with. Right here’s what occurs: Throughout every wave, a number of big camels march slowly and to the appropriate towards your property base. Your spaceship can destroy the camels, nevertheless it takes roughly 100 photographs to kill every one. If a camel reaches your property base, it’s recreation over. The physics work the identical manner as in The Empire Strikes Again. It’s robust to maintain your spacecraft in a single spot, so that you’ll end up continuously overshooting the camel goal and doubling again till you get higher at it. The camels additionally shoot multicolored bullets at you. Like I stated: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Again with big camels.

It’s unclear whether or not Minter developed the sport for the 800 or the C64 first. Both manner, the 800 model is superior, because of its extra detailed, graded backgrounds; psychedelic transferring playfield strains with quickly altering colours; and detailed, distant mountain ranges. In 2012, the Smithsonian featured this recreation amongst others in its (now ended) “The Artwork of Video Video games” exhibit. It’s a tough recreation and positively value a glance as we speak, regardless of its finally repetitive play, and it’s one other instance of a title that simply appears and performs higher on Atari Eight-bit computer systems.


  1. InfoWorld, April four, 1983, p. four
  2. program/ae/ae.htm