Omega (not to be confused with Omega Race) by Origin was really a game ahead of its time given that it was released in 1989. The goal was to build a tank with a certain budget, program it, and then pit your tank against others. As you win battles, your budget increases and you can build better tanks for more difficult challenges. You could even create your own battlefields.
- Tag Archives Atari ST
Omega was ahead of its time in a couple of ways. Part of the game involved actually programming your tank. There were various AI script commands that could be used that were reminiscent of BASIC. There were instructions that allowed control of various functions of the tanks as well as others that allowed communication and coordination between tanks. The code used to program the tanks was cross-platform so Omega players from different platforms could still compete with each other. For a while there was even an official Omega BBS to facilitate this. Omega was available for several platforms including the Amiga, Apple II, Apple IIgs, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS and Macintosh. The ad above mentions all of these with the Apple IIgs and Macintosh versions “coming soon”. This game has never had a sequel or been remade but I think it would be an excellent candidate to remake today. I’m not aware of anything quite like it. If you want to give this one a try, any of the versions are pretty good and there really isn’t a significant difference in terms of game play. The 16-bit versions will have somewhat better graphics in most cases but it isn’t a big deal for this game. Pick your favorite platform and give it a try. The above ad is from the December 1989 issue of VideoGames & Computer Entertainment.
Tower Toppler and Sports-A-Roni by U.S. Gold for the Commodore 64 and other computers.
This ad from 1988 is for a couple of late 1980s computer games distributed by U.S. Gold in North America. Tower Topper is a platform game while Sports-a-Roni is a sort of parody of the Olympics or other sports games.
Tower Toppler is probably the most well known of the two. It was originally released under the name of Nebulus in the U.K. but the name was changed to Tower Toppler when it was brought to the U.S. Maybe Nebulus was thought to be too nebulous of a name… Tower Toppler is an excellent game and a unique sort of platformer. Your goal is to make your way from the bottom of the tower to the top while avoiding various enemies and obstacles in order to plant a bomb to destroy the tower. There are eight towers to destroy that you can think of as eight different levels. Uniquely, your character stays in the center of the screen and the tower seems to rotate as you move to the left or the right. Tower Toppler was released on a wide variety of systems, including the Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari ST, Game Boy (as Castelian), NES (also as Castelian), Atari 7800 and DOS based computers among others. For overall gameplay experience, I recommend the Commodore 64 version. The Commodore 64 version made an appearance on the C64 DTV in 2004 and was also released via the Wii Virtual Console in 2009. Sports-a-Roni is a bit more obscure. It was also released on several platforms, including the Commodore 64, Atari ST and DOS based computers. There are 8 “sports” events including pogo, pillow fight, run up the wall, river jump, boot throwing, the pile of plates, pole climbing and sack race. In its original European release, this game was called Alternative World Games. It’s not a spectacular game but if you enjoy games like the Epyx Games series then this might offer a nice change of pace. However, I don’t believe this one has had any re-releases so you’ll need an original disk and hardware or be content with emulation. I would again say that the Commodore 64 version is the best overall.
Paperboy (Commodore 64, Atari 800, Atari ST) and Gauntlet (Commodore 64, Atari 800, Atari ST)
This 1988 ad is for the initial computer ports of Gauntlet and Paperboy which were done by Mindscape.
Gauntlet started life as an arcade game developed by Atari and released in 1985. It was inspired by Dungeons and Dragons and an older Atari computer game called Dandy. Up to four players could take the role of a Wizard (Merlin), a Warrior (Thor), a Valkyrie (Thyra) or an Elf (Questor), each with different strengths and weaknesses. The game is played from a top down point of view and the goal is to make it to an exit at the end of a maze that will take you to the next level. Along the way you must battle ghosts, grunts, demons, wizards and thieves among other enemies. You also must find food to regain energy and may also collect treasure and other special items.
This particular ad mentions the Atari 800, Commodore 64 and Atari ST. I can only assume that these must have been the first ports released because Gauntlet was ultimately available on a wider variety of platforms including the Apple II, Macintosh, Apple IIGS, and others. It was later also released for the NES, Sega Genesis and Sega Master System. I played the arcade version some but it was the Commodore 64 version I played the most and I always thought it was a very good conversion.
Gauntlet: The Deeper Dungeons, a 512 level expansion that required the original game, was also released for the Atari ST and Commodore 64. Gauntlet was also released in emulated form as part of Midway Arcade Treasures released in 2003 for a number of platforms. I highly recommend the Commodore 64 version but the Midway Arcade treasures version is more convenient and will give you a closer to the arcade experience.
Paperboy was also originally an Atari arcade game and was released in 1985. This game is played from an overhead and slightly isometric point of view. You take the role of a paperboy delivering newspapers from your bike. The goal is to throw the papers accurately and avoid missing a delivery to subscribers or damaging their house (e.g. by accidentally throwing a paper through the window). You will face various obstacles along the way (dogs, etc.) and you must avoid crashing.
While this particular ad only mentions (in small print) the Commodore 64, Atari 800, and Atari ST versions, this game was ported to just about every late 1980s and early 1990s platform you can think of. Again, I mostly (I think exclusively in this case) played the Commodore 64 version. That particular version got mixed reviews but I always though it was fun if a bit repetitive after a while. The controls are a bit awkward but are ok once you get used to them. This game also appeared as part of Midway Arcade Treasures. Interestingly, the NES version of this game was the first NES game developed in the U.S.
Screen shots above are from the Commodore 64 version of the games.