Where I’ve had my Atarimax MyIDE ][ cartridge for a short time it has allowed me to get into a few games that I never really got to play or revisit some old titles that I haven’t played in many years. Here are some thoughts.
Ridiculous Reality – Where this was a game made for a contest as couple of years ago it didn’t get the glory of being praised in the heyday of Atari computers. It is one of those games however that had it been released in 1983 it would have blown people’s socks off. The concept is based upon sliding puzzle pieces where you move rooms around to grab keys to unlock the door at the end of the level. While I imagine that someone, somewhere might have done a similar concept before, I have never seen it so it is fresh to me. Overall it is a unique and very fun puzzle game.
Into The Eagles Nest – This one really surprised me as I had never heard of it before and I had no clue what it was aside from a hunch that it was a WW2 kind of game. It’s a predecessor to Wolfenstein 3D – along the lines of Wolf3D as a top down shooting game. You have to rescue prisoners from within the facility and recover things like art and gems, so it’s not just a killing simulator. It’s too bad the Atari 7800 didn’t get a port, which could handle the number of sprites better. It did get ported to several platforms at the time so I may have to check one of those out at some point. That said, the XL/XE version still looks pretty good and plays fine excepting that you can’t see any shot leave your gun.
Star Raiders II – I loved the original Star Raiders, which I played many times on both the Atari 2600 and the XL/XE platforms. The XE gets the edge of course with more options and slightly better graphics output although the 2600 did a respectable job. So I’ve been wanting to give the sequel a shot for a long time now. This game first started out as The Last Starfighter, which I also have on the IDE ][ cart. That was pretty much complete and probably gets a slight edge to it thanks to the theme. Overall though, the game is really tough and while I don’t have a problem with challenging games, the default difficulty makes you sweat for it. I can complete SR on the hardest difficulty but so far I have not made it anywhere close to the end with TLS/SR2. I think the main issue are the big ships, which float around the screen hitting you constantly while you have a single shot cannon that has a hard time making a hit. You then have to hit them multiple times and then there is usually two more after that. SR2 adds starbases to the solar system whereas TLS you just go to the sun for a recharge (stay too long and you melt; neat little idea).
(Not sure why its missing in the video but your sights do have two brackets, not just one)
Draconus – This is often compared to Metroid although I guess that’s because there isn’t much else to compare it to. It is not a straight Metroid clone like Turrican. Yes you have a second form that can be used to get to other areas but I think they didn’t utilize it very well, that or I just haven’t explored enough of the game. You can’t use that form where ever you want to, just at these certain slabs on a screen with water. I expected the water area to be a little larger than what I saw. You also have very limited ammo and a near worthless melee attack. The graphics are great, the detail in the areas is cool and I have no idea what I am doing wrong at the final boss as it never lowers its head to a level where I can actually hit it. It’s an OK game but with a few design tweaks I think it could have been much better. This was also on the Commodore 64 and spawned some sequels.
Mountain King – I tried this in emulation before but never really spent much time with it. I looked up the manual for it and now I know what I’m doing isn’t exactly Pac-Man inside of a mountain. Collect enough diamonds to unlock the Flame Spirit which you then need to locate; once you fine it kneel in front of the Skull Spirit then climb into the chamber to grab the Crown, then get to the top of the mountain without getting touched by a bat. I doubt I would have figured all of that out via trial-and-error but one has the assumption that every game on an Atari you can figure out on the go. With that knowledge in hand the game is fun although those bats are there to irritate you.
Serpentine – I remember playing this on occasion at my friend’s house who had an Atari 800XL back in the 80s. I had all but forgotten about the game now. It’s a strange cross between Pac-Man, Snake and Centipede by Borderbrund. Strange, but fun. You control a segmented snake and you need to eat the other segmented snakes in the maze by getting behind them. This probably would have done fine as an arcade title back in 1981/82.
Caverns of Khafka – It is weird what nostalgia can do to the human memory. I played this game a lot as a kid even though I had no idea what I was doing. I get it now but there is something from my memory that pushes me to overlook the flaws of this game. The object of the game is to collect the treasures spread throughout the caves and avoid the many dangers that abound. The main flaw here is the collision detection, which sometimes works fine and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s not that it will suddenly shut off, it’s just that some surfaces don’t seem to have the detection on so you can get stuck in a wall. The game will kill you when that seems to happen, at the very least, so you don’t have to keep resetting. With some practice you can learn what to avoid but overall I can see now how unfinished the game feels. I blame the developer Cosmi for that, who seemed to create very half-baked efforts for the Atari versions of their games (see also Forbidden Forest). This exists on the C64 in a form where it’s only similar in that you are in a cave but they made it much more detailed and without the collision problems.
That said I have “completed” a level where I collected a certain number of items and it sends you back to the beginning while playing the game’s theme song and everything is gradient colored. That is one effect I love on the Atari’s and I guess its all enough that I will still give this one a spin.
That’s all I have time for now but I’ll be sure to follow up with some more game thoughts on the system…eventually 😉