- Category Archives Atari ST
Those born in the Internet age may never know the struggles and joys of the pre-internet online world. While the Internet wasn’t widely accessible to the public until the mid 1990s, there were plenty of online alternatives. There were of course the big, centralized services like CompuServe, Prodigy, etc. but local BBSes were always more fun to me (and usually free). To access this world, you basically needed three things. First, a computer of some sort. It didn’t have to be a top of the line “PC”, any 8-bit computer like the Commodore 64 would do as well. Second, you needed a modem. The faster the better but what was available and affordable changed often in those days. Finally, you needed terminal software which was a program to control the modem, accept input and display output from the remote system. It could be thought of as a pre-cursor to the web browser.
There were many communications programs to chose from. By the late 1980s, you could get pretty good ones for free but that wasn’t always the case. This particular selection, Intellicom for the Atari ST, would set you back about $70. There were certain things you needed to look for in a terminal program. You would want it to support your modem of course, and then ANSI graphics support was necessary for the best display from BBSes, and you would want support for the most popular download protocols. By the late 1980s or early 1990s this was ZModem but before that XModem was king. These were what let you download files from the BBS. This ad is from 1986 so I don’t think ZModem was around yet or at least not commonly used however Intellicom supports XModem so that would have been fine at the time. I never had an Atari ST so I’m not sure what the alternatives were in 1986.
Up until the early 1990s, BBSes were very common. Even in a relatively small town you could probably find a dozen or so. They may be dedicated to certain topics or computer types or more general. A BBS was comparable to a website today. A website may offer files to download, a discussion forum, live chat, and even games. A BBS provided exactly the same things. It’s just that typically a BBS could usually only accept one caller at a time (or occasionally 2 and more rarely 3 or 4). But that was okay, if the line was busy on one, just dial another. Later on, BBSes stopped being primarily a dial-up affair and expanded to support telnet via the Internet. They are still out there and you should definitely give one a try. You’ll still need terminal software but now it comes in the form of a telnet client. Anybody up for some L.O.R.D.?
Breach was released in 1987 by Omnitrend Software for the Amiga, Atari ST, DOS and Macintosh. It is a science fiction turn-based tactical squad combat game. Ten missions are included but a scenario builder is also included with which you can add more missions. There are also some RPG like elements in that your squad leader progresses to each new mission but leads a different group each time. The missions you are able to do are based on your past performance and if your squad leader dies, he is deleted and you have to start over.
Turn-based strategy games in one form or another have been my favorite for a long time whether that takes the form of an RPG (I loved the Gold Box AD&D games for instance) or something like this. This particular game has some issues like the inability to move diagonally and the whole permadeath thing. However, there really weren’t a whole lot of games like this so if you like this genre it is worth playing.
Later iterations of the game would come along in the form of Breach 2 and Breach 3. Breach 2 was basically an improved version of Breach. Breach 3 was only available on DOS. These games have mixed reviews so your mileage may very, particularly with the 3rd one. If you want to give the first one a try, the Amiga version is probably the best followed closely by the Atari ST version. You’ll have to find an original or try it via emulation as I don’t think there are any re-releases of this game or any of the others in the series.
Screen shots above are from the Amiga version and the ad is from the January 1989 issue of Computer Play.