Atarisoft Arcade Games
This is my first post so I guess it is a good place to firstly introduce myself as a long term fan of gaming, which some of you will pick up from the title of this particular piece of writing.
When I first started in gaming there were a number of gaming platforms and not many software companies around and for sure one of the biggest around in the early eighties was Atarisoft. Atarisoft rarely coded games themselves, but more often than not they bought games from third-party developers and adapted them for particular computers.
The computers of this era that I was lucky enough to use were the BBC Micro (though school), the friendly named Commodore VIC20, The more "powerful" Commodore64 and eventually on to the IBM PC (the Apple seed never germinated in me). Which games were available to play? Well the choice was quite limited, but my personal favourites included Asteroids Deluxe, Donkey Kong, Track & Field and Defender.
Asteroids was available to play on the BBC Micro at first and this game was super simple in graphics design with the space ship being a simple triangular design and the asteroids being basic rounded, randomized sprite based blocks. The main objective in the game was to blast the asteroids to smithereens, avoiding any lethal contact with the debris or asteroids them selves. The feeling of the ship moving though space was always a good one as you felt you had real power under the keypad and the craft moved fast, and skid like throughout its many needed turns and twists.
Donkey Kong has a permanent warm place in my heart for this type of game was the first to offer a story in the overall package. The believable story that revolves around a carpenter, called Jump man, who at some stage mistreats his Ape (a common problem of the day) so the Ape in a mad frenzy decides to kidnap Jumpman's girlfriend and of course an immediate search and rescue mission is begun involving a number of precarious platform climbing levels.
Track & Field is best described as one of the first Olympic based arcade games to be launched. Players could take part in a 100 Meter Dash, sprinting by frantically alternating keyboard presses. There was also a long jump – Running the same way plus a timed button press and then you hold the button to set angle of the launch. Other events include the Javelin throw, Hammer throw, 110 Meter Hurdles and the tricky High jump. A fun game to play with your family and friends.
Last but by no means least, Defender. I spent days playing this game. The game offered up a 2D side level view of a spacecraft and your role, as the name suggests was to protect your fellow astronauts on this unnamed, remote planet, whilst blasting wave after, heavy wave of aliens. A highly addictive game of its day and one that set the precedence for all scrolling type games to follow. A video clip of the classic game can be found below.
The author of this article, Gary, is an avid gaming fan and helps run http://www.cargames.us.com : a car games website.