• Category Archives Atari 8-bit
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  • Super Breakout


    Source: Atarian – Issue Number 2 – July/August 1989

    There is no doubt that Super Breakout is a classic among video games. It was originally created in 1976 as an arcade game by Atari, the hardware of which was originally designed by Steve Wozniak. Wozniak’s hardware design for this game would influence the design of the Apple II. Breakout was designed to essentially be a one-player version of pong with the object being to destroy the moving walls of bricks at the top of the screen by bouncing a ball off of a paddle. Breakout was ported to the Atari 2600 in 1978 with the enhanced Super Breakout with more game variations and a slightly updated look being released later that same year.

    What’s funny about this particular “review” is that it is another example of Atari continuing to push their old games and hardware vs. moving forward. This review appeared in the July/August 1989 issue of Atarian, Atari’s official magazine. Super Breakout was available for the Atari 2600 (and therefore the Atari 7800) and Atari XE computer and video game systems at the time. The review ends suggesting you should have this game if you don’t already. While I don’t specifically remember this game being available then, I’m quite sure that you could still pick up Super Breakout either at toy stores like Toys R Us or directly through Atari. I would say this genre peaked with Arkanoid which was released about three years before this article was written. I’m all for coverage of vintage games and systems but this was really just Atari trying to sell old stock.

    Super Breakout would go on to be re-released many times for various systems and as part of various compilations too numerous to mention. If you want to play this game, no doubt you can find away fairly easily. If you want an original Atari 2600 or Atari XE version, these are easy to come by too as both are very common. In fact, Super Breakout was the pack-in for the Atari 2600 for a while.

  • Infidel (Infocom)


    Did you know that Infocom’s ‘text adventure’ games can be found on tablets and mobile devices for free? Infocom was founded 39 years ago, today and is responsible for bringing us text adventures, which were unique in terms of game play. Players are given scenarios in text form to which they must respond in written commands such as ‘go north’ or ‘use shower’ to progress. Since the games were in all text format, Infocom was able to easily release them on popular home computers like the Apple II, Atari 800, Commodore 64… Infocom’s text-based games were sold in book stores and so were their hint books (#InvisiClues), which were best-sellers in the computer books genre. Some Infocom games came with maps, invisible ink messages, or props like scratch and sniff cards that would help players solve mysteries and progress the story, which makes them interesting We not only to play, but also to collect.

    For those not familiar with Infocom, they were famous for creating a line of text-based adventure games (otherwise known and interactive fiction) in the 1980s, the first and most famous of which is Zork. Though graphics were added to later games by Infocom, for a number of years their games were purely text based. I description of the environment and what was happening was displayed on the screen and you could type phrases to performa actions. The goal was usually to accumulate points by collecting items or otherwise progressing through the game.

    The plot of Infidel involves the finding of a 5,000 year old pottery shard with hieroglyphics describing a previously unknown pyramid and great riches. Your role is to find and explore this pyramid. The plot and many of the obstacles are reminiscent of an Indiana Jones movie. There are 40 ways to die so good luck :).

    Infidel was Infocom’s 10th game and was released in 1983 near the height of Infocom’s popularity. Like some of their other games (Zork, Planetfall, etc.) this was originally meant to be part of a series of games (called Tales of Adventure in this case) but no others were ever made in this series. If you want to play this game, the bad news is that an original could cost you quite a bit, especially complete in the box as Infocom games typically came with lots of extra goodies. The good news is that this game like other Infocom text adventures were written in a virtual machine (Z-Machine) and was available on a huge number of platforms. It’s also available on a number of modern platforms as well.

  • The Halley Project


    Source: Amiga World – January 1986

    The Halley Project, subtitled “A Mission In Our Solar System”, was a game released by Mindscape for the Commodore 64, Atari 8-bit and Apple II in 1985. A version with updated graphics was also released for the Amiga in 1986. For those old enough to remember, 1986 was the year Halley’s comet made it’s once every 86 year visit to the inner solar system. It was definitely a big deal at the time so it isn’t surprising that a game would be made to capitalize on that publicity.

    The Halley Project is actually a pretty good game. It’s a sort of space flight simulator and you are recruited as a star pilot to participate in the “greatest scientific adventure in history”. This consists primarily of traveling to and exploring different objects in the solar system. The game is fairly high on realism for the time with realistic distances used. The game does give you a hyperdrive so you don’t have to spend months or years on each mission though. After completing all of the missions, you would be given a code that you would then have to mail to Mindscape in order to receive instructions on how to access the final secret mission. This basically just involved them sending you the password.

    The Halley Project is a relatively obscure game by today’s standards. It has not been re-released and there are no sequels (maybe when Halley’s comet comes around again). If you want to give this one a try, you’ll have to find an original disk or use emulation. The Amiga version has somewhat better graphics than the others but they all play basically the same so you can just choose your favorite platform.

    The screen shots above are from the Amiga version and the ad is from the January 1986 issue of Amiga World.