Antic Pix Ten
by Deborah Burns
Over the past year, ANTIC has seen or heard about nearly all the game software commercially available for the ATARI computers. Some games have been reviewed by our writers and others have been mentioned in our New Products department-but we haven't covered them all by any means. We aim to give more attention to games in upcoming issues-particularly the way they look and play. Color pictures of the playfields will frequently accompany our reviews. As a start, we have conducted an informal survey of our dealers, distributors and friends to come up with this list of ANTIC PIX. We have chosen ten games that we found to be among the most popular, interesting and valuable programs yet written for your amusement.
MINER 2049er, Big Five Software. "Bounty Bob", a typical gold-rush prospector, climbs the treacherous mine shaft in pursuit of precious treasures, but also finds obstacles from the 21st century. These futuristic difficulties include deadly mutant organisms and radioactive waste. Ten different zones appear in which the challenges of the mine shaft increase. In each zone you must avoid contact with the roaming mutants unless you neutralize them first. As you climb and jump to the next zone, you score points by gathering tools and zapping mutants while dodging laser beams and the pulverizers. This cartridge-based game has several speed levels which require strategy changes as well as quick reflexes.
DEFENDER, Atari, Inc. In this home-computer version of the coin-operated arcade game, the airship must defend the humanoids from dreaded mutants. Your object is to land and retrieve the humanoids and transport them to safe ground. You will be harassed by the Landers, Baiters, Swarmers, Bombers and the Pods. The Landers kidnap your humanoids and change them into mutants who join the forces against you from all sides. The other enemies lay mines to trap you, surround you and fire at you at every turn. Your players has three lives to save by dropping Smart Bombs and firing laser shots, but it takes a quick wrist to master this game. The game provides a radar map that monitors your position and helps you plan your best strategy.
GORF, Rocklan Corporation. The object in this game is to repel the evil Gorfian robot invasion and launch a counterattack. You may use the protective force field arc and the quark-laser weapon to aid your defense. In the various scenarios you must avoid fire from two antiparticle laser beams and the kamikaze Gorfian ships that attack you while emerging from a space vortex. If the Gorfian flagship is destroyed, you get a new ship and the game returns to the first scenario, except that it's moving at a faster pace. This is a translation of a popular arcade game, and is similar to Galaxian and Space Invaders.
EASTERN FRONT, Atari Program Exchange. This classic war game is played out on a scrolling map of Europe during World War 11. As the player, you control the German forces pitted against the Russians. Play is turn-sequenced, meaning you have plenty of time to consider your move, but you'll need it-because the Russians are played by the computer-and in real life the Germans lost. As the game progresses time passes. Rain falls and mires your tanks. Snow falls to freeze your troops. Supplies run low and morale cracks. The realism of this campaign has never been matched (to hear wargamers tell it) and you will certainly earn your stars if you can win this one.
SHAMUS, Synapse Software. This game is a meld of action and adventure. Shamus, the player-detective, must fight his way through four levels of labyrinth where various baddies block his path. En route he gathers the keys to secret rooms and passages on different-colored levels. Things are easy on the first level, where slow-moving drones fire at Shamus, but you dare not dawdle. You must make a map (mentally at least) to quickly find the keyholes for the corresponding keys Shamus collects. If he loses all his lives, he loses his keys and you'll never solve the case. The Shadow, his arch-enemy, passes through walls and will try to stop him at every turn.
PREPPIE!, Adventure International. A "Day on the Nasty Nine with Wadsworth Overcash" is the setting for this game where Ivy Leaguers pursue their sport. Most of the time, however, the player is chasing golf balls that are knocked into the wilds by the malicious Groundskeeper. You must maneuver Preppie through the ever-shifting hazards to retrieve these balls. Contact with many other objects such as lawnmowers, bulldozers, golf carts, alligators, canoes, and a giant frog also prove fatal to the unfortunate caddie. Preppie! is a lot like Frogger (SierraVenture) which is currently at the top of the software charts.
CHOPLIFTER!, Broderbund Software. This fast-action game realistically simulates a night rescue mission by helicopter, perhaps during recent history. The setting is an American prison camp in a Middle Eastern desert where the aircraft arrives to save the hostages. Your joystick controls the movement of the chopper and you must be careful not to crush the prisoners. Watch out for the enemy tank that approaches as the hostages board the "choplifter". When you've finally taken off and begun to feel safe, fighter jets are likely to attack. You may shoot bullets (not missiles) in defense, but score points by succeeding with your rescue attempt.
CANYON CLIMBER, DataSoft. The "Canyon Climber" attempts to climb to the top of a constantly scrolling scene of ladders and bridges. While he ascends he must avoid the mountain goats running back and forth, and the Indians who shoot at him with arrows. If he jumps too high or climbs too quickly he may either fall to the ground or be blown up by dynamite. As he falls you will see your climber kicking and fussing, and the ground shakes when he hits bottom. There are three main screens with four levels of difficulty in each zone, and the higher you go, the tougher it gets. Young players will enjoy this game.
DEADLINE, Infocom. As the only text adventure in our group, Deadline represents many computer games, some among the earliest, and some surely among the most popular of all computer games. For example, the Scott Adams series (Adventure International), the ZORK series (Infocom), and Empire of the Overmind (Avalon Hill) deserve mention. Deadline takes this genre further, presenting the player with a murder, and a packet of clues including a photo of the scene of the crime. The challenge is to use the clues to identify the murderer, who is among the cast of characters you may question with the computer. Text games can be real mind benders, and probably presage an era of computer interaction where the user really plays a role.
K-RAZY ANTIKS, CBS Software. How could we not like a game called ANTIKS? In this cartridge based maze game, your object is to keep the white ants safe from hostile enemy ants and the dreaded Anteater. The enemy ants attempt to invade the Anthill, and when you least expect it the Anteater pokes his muzzle into your abode and sucks you up. The best way to ensure your survival is to deposit white eggs within the maze's passages and lure enemy Ants into the path of the Anteater. You may also save the Anthill by allowing the deadly flood of waters to flush the enemy out. The maze changes size and shape with each succeeding level and the action becomes faster and more complicated.