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  • Necromancer (Atari XEGS)


    Source: Atarian – Issue Number 1 – May/June 1989

    Atari really new how to beat a dead horse. Here we have a strategy guide being published in 1989 by an official Atari publication for a game that was released in 1987 that had also previously been released in 1982. Necromancer was originally published for Atari 8-bit computers in 1982 and then the Commodore 64 in 1983. It was re-released for Atari’s XEGS in 1987. Given that an XEGS was just an Atari 8-bit computer in game console form factor, the game was exactly the same. Not that there is anything wrong with the game. It is a very good game in fact. It’s just that Atari had this tendency to re-release the same games over and over vs. publishing new stuff. Re-releasing old games is great but that isn’t what is going to sell systems in the long run and it is why so many more people had an NES vs. an Atari 7800 or an Atari XEGS. By the late 1980s, Atari just wasn’t developing enough new quality first party titles and could no longer attract significant third party support.

    Necromancer was originally released on disk by Synapse for the Atari 400/800 in 1982. It was ported to the Commodore 64 the following year. Four years later, it was released unchanged on the Atari XEGS in cartridge format. I suppose that by this time the other versions were probably relatively hard to find so if you wanted to buy it, the XEGS was probably your best bet. Of course, by this time the original Atari and Commodore disk versions had probably been pirated to a significant degree.

    The game itself is very well regarded. You control a Druid who is battling with a Necromancer. The game takes part in three stages. In the first, you build up an army of trees while defending them from ogres and spiders. In the second, you take your army of trees to destroy the spiders in their lair. In the final stage, you battle the Necromancer himself as he uses fire and his remaining spiders to try to destroy you. The game is fast paced and gets faster in each stage and there is a lot to juggle with controlling the trees and the Druid. The unique and tense atmosphere makes for an addictive game. But maybe they should have published a sequel that included the original game instead of just shoveling the original out again…

  • Epyx  – Seawolf II/Gun Fight, Star Fire/Fire One


    Source: Computer Fun – April 1984

    Epyx is probably best known for the games they released on the Commodore 64 and Atari 8-bit line of computers though they also released some games for the PC, Atari video game systems and others as well as developed the Atari Lynx. Generally speaking, their games were very good and some of the most fun, particularly the 8-bit computer games.

    This particular ad is for some early arcade conversions they did. In my opinion these aren’t the best examples of their work. It’s not that they aren’t decent conversions, it’s just that these were very simplistic games to begin with. The ad is for four separate games: Seawolf II, Star Fire, Gun Fight, and Fire One. They were released in packs of two with Sea Wolf II and Gun Fight being in one pack and Star Fire and Fire One being in the other. Sea Wolf II and Gun Fight were available only for Atari computers (Atari 400/800) while Star Fire and Fire One were available for both the Commodore 64 and Atari 8-bit computers.

    This ad is from the April 1984 issue of Computer Fun though I believe these games were released in late 1983. They were released early enough that they were available on cassette and disk. I don’t think cassette games were very common much later than this, at least in the U.S.

  • The Wizard of Id’s WizType

    [APP2 / ATARI 8-BIT / C64 / DOS]
    [USA] [MAGAZINE] [1984]

    • Electronic Games, November 1984 (#33)

      • Scanned by Jason Scott, via The Internet Archive


    At one time there were a variety of software products on the market for teaching you how to type. I’m not sure what that market is like today but in 1984 The Wizard of Id’s WizType by Sierra was one of the better such products out there. It was available for many of the computers available at the type including the Commodore 64, Atari 8-bit line, DOS and Apple II.

    Like most software of its type, WizType offered various options including practice, a game and testing. The most interesting in the options in WizType were probably the game, own lesson, and paragraphs.

    The game, along with the theme for all the other sections, was based on The Wizard of Id comic strip. In the game, typing accurately and quickly enough caused the Wizard to zap the spirit from the well. Too slow or inaccurate and the spirit eventually turns into a dragon and breathes fire on the wizard.

    The ‘Own Lesson’ option allowed you to enter words or letter combinations for you to practice. This was useful if you had difficulty with something in particular or were just tired of the provided content.

    Paragraphs provided paragraphs out of various literary works (Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities for example) for you to practice on. It also allowed you to enter and store your own paragraphs for practice. This feature is what really gave WizType longevity.