• Category Archives Atari 8-bit
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  • The Halley Project

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    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.






  • S.A.M. (Atari 400/800, Apple II/II+)

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    Source: inCider – March 1983

    Speech synthesis seemed to be all the rage in the early to mid 1980s. S.A.M. is one of a variety of speech synthesis products available during that time. S.A.M. is short for Software Automatic Mouth (I can see why they abbreviated it) and was available for the Atari 400/800 and Apple II/II+. This was a product primarily designed to incorporate speech into your own programs.

    Advertised as “cheap”, I suppose that’s a matter of opinion. The Atari version was priced fairly typically for the time at $49.95. However, the Apple II version required additional hardware and cost $124.95. Not really cheap in my opinion, especially for the time. The Atari sound chip was sophisticated enough not to require additional hardware for speech synthesis of acceptable quality at the time. Despite the limitations (iffy speech quality and having to blank the screen for maximum quality among others), these products were fairly popular and S.A.M. was one of the better known products of its type.

    The whole talking computer thing never really appealed to me that much (though we have it now more or less with products like Alexa). I guess after the movie Wargames, everyone wanted a talking computer…or something.

    This ad is from the March 1983 issue of inCider.


  • MicroLeague Baseball

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    Source: Compute!’s PC Magazine – Issue 2 – Volume 1, Number 2 – November 1987

    MicroLeague Baseball was an early classic baseball game for computers. This particular ad mentions the Commodore 64, DOS, Apple II and Atari 8-bit line though it was also later released for the Amiga and Atari ST. Like most other MicroLeague sports games, this one was strategic in nature instead of a more typical arcade style game.

    In MicroLeague Baseball, you take the roll of a manager. MicroLeague used real teams in addition to real stats from real players licensed from the Major League Players Association. You could choose to manage any team from any year and match them up any way you wanted. As the manager, you got to choose the line-up, when to steal, when to send in relief pitchers, pinch hitters, etc. You could play vs. another human player or against a manager controlled by the computer. There were various expansions for this game including a Box Score/Stats Compiler Disk that allowed you to save the results of every game played and compile statistics for every player as well as a General Manager/Owners disk that you to make trades and create your own players and teams. Various data disks were released as well. While maybe not for everyone, MicroLeague Baseball was a statisticians dream.

    As far as I know, this game has never been re-released which is a shame as the MicroLeague line is rather unique in the baseball video game world. There were several sequels culminating with MicroLeague Baseball IV in 1993. I tend to like turn-based strategy games and if there were more sports games like this today I would probably play them more.

    The above ad is from the November 1987 issue of Compute!’s PC Magazine and the screen shots are from the Commodore 64 version of the game.