ANTIC PIX GAMES
It's well known that Atari computers are unparalleled as game machines. During the first few years that the 400 and 800 were available, however, good game software was relatively scarce. Today, that situation has changed significantly. Hundreds of games are available, and more are introduced all the time. For the benefit of our newer readers, we present this selection of some of our favorite Atari games, old and new. Our primary criteria in selecting these games were quality and enduring interest. The initial thrill of playing some games wears off all too quickly, but these games you can return to again and again. (See end of article for manufacturer information).
In Joust's, Atari, Inc., fantasy scenario, you ride a giant flying ostrich and carry a lance. Your primary task is to unseat wave upon wave of enemy buzzard riders, but you'll also meet several nasty pterodactyls along the way. Joust is unique in several respects. You maneuver by flapping your wings, and you don't shoot your opponents, you bump into them. Joust also features a simutaneous two-player mode in which cooperative and competitive play alternate. This game is so addictive that it ought to be outlawed.
Climb into your World War I biplane, and assume the role of Max Chatsworth of the R.A.F. Employing a three-demensional, diagonally-scrolling playfield, Blue Max, Synapse Software, recreates a bombing and strafing run by a fighter-bomber more realistically than you may have thought possible on a home computer. Its graphics and gameplay put its forerunner, Zaxxon, to shame. Gamesters everywhere await designer Bob Polin's next creation with bated breath.
Released by Atari in 1979 (at the same time as its computers), Star Raiders, Atari, Inc., is still one of the greatest space-war games available for any microcomputer. You zoom througha startlingly realistic 3-D starfield as you defend your beleaguered starbases against the marauding Zylons. After you eliminate all enemy ships from a given sector of space, check your galactic chart for the location of the nearest enemy, the hyperwarp to that sector. If your ship is hit in battle, you may have to dock at a friendly starbase for repairs. There are four levels of play, but I doubt that anyone has ever completed the highest level.
It all started with Donkey Kong, but computerists generally agree that Miner 2049er, Big Five Software, is the superior climbing contest. Miner offers ten screens to Donkey Kong's three. To get to one screen from the next, you must maneuver your on-screen persona, Bounty Bob, through various levels, collecting prizes and avoiding or neutralizing "mutants" along the way. To "skip" to any level you wish, boot the cartridge, and wait until "Bob" reaches the bottom of the screen and Big Five's phone number appears. Write it down, then start the game. Next, jump onto the first level, and type in the phone number. Finally, press [SHIFT] and the number of the level at which you wish to play.
Chess 7.0 Odesta Corporation, is a definative computerized version of the classic board game. Seventeen levels of play are available, including "Peretual" (the computer plays at its best at this level, but takes practically forever to move), and "matefinder" (which can be used to solve complex mating problems). The game's features and special functions are too extensive to list here. But if you like chess, Chess 7.0 is the only chess program you'll ever need.
Archon, Electronic Arts, is arguably the best board game ever created for the home computer. The game pits the forces of light against the forces of darkness on a square checkerboard in a chess-like scenario. However, when vying for a square the two combatants are wisked electronically to a seperate battlefield, where they battle to the death. Archon combines strategy and arcade-quality action in a dynamic, unique and utterly enjoyable game.
Temple of Apshai, Epyx, Inc., was the first role-playing game introduced for the Atari computers, and it's still one of the best. You define the character who will play for you, and give him various degrees of strength, intelligence, and so on. You then venture into a vast, intricate dungeon replete with all sorts of nasties and goodies. The dungeon contains four levels, each with 56 or more rooms, so you can explore it for months without retracing your steps. Epyx has recently introduced a cartidge version of the game called Gateway to Apshai. Gateway is easier to play, since all functions are controlled with a joystick and the console keys, but it's just as much fun.
Choplifter by Broderbund, the helicopter rescue game, is widely recognized as a homecomputer classic. You must fly your chopper into enemy territory and land to pick up hostages. When the hostages have boarded, you take off and fly them back to safety. Each time you set fourth on a new sortie, enemy tanks and jets attack you more furiously, so fast reflexes are a must. You can fire at your enemies, but it's more effective to outmaneuver them. The game contains violence, but the main emphasis is on saving lives rather then ending them. This positive theme, combined with superior graphics and gameplay, make it an ideal family arcade game.
Zork, Infocom, Inc., was the first in an illustrious line of text adventures from Infocom. Many aficionades of thegenre claim that it's still the best. The adventure begins in front of a seemingly innocuous white house, but your explorations soon lead you into a vast underground universe that is faintly reminiscent of Alice's Wonderland. Chief among Zork's special qualities is a never-ending sense of wonder and discovery. Threats and opportunities surround your search. Playing this game is a unique adventure.
Exodus:Ultima III, Origin Systems, Inc., is the third in a series of epic adventures by the notorious Lord British. Accompanied by up to three companions( a departure from previous, one player Ultimas), you traverse the legendary Sosaria on a quest to discover and vanquish the unknown evil that scourges the land. On your journey, you'll meet all sorts of friendly and not-so-friendly characters. Your quest will take you over land and sea, and through perilous dungeons. Exodus combines the Atari's graphics and sound with solid programming expertise. The result is a game you'll return to often.
Origin Systems Inc.
1545 Osgood #7
North Andover, MA 01845
5221 Central Ave. #200
Richmond, CA 94804
Big Five Software
14640 Keswick St.
Van Nuys, CA 91405
2755 Campus Dr.
San Mateo, CA 94403
1043 Kiel Court
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
P.O. Box 427
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
3186 Doolittle Dr.
Northbrook, IL 60062
55 Wheeler St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
San Rafael, CA 94903