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Five Great ST Games From 1986

When the 520 Atari ST was launched in the summertime of 1985, it wowed laptop journalists with its high-resolution Mac-alike monochrome show, and its 16-color (from a palette of 512)  320 x 200 graphics mode aimed squarely on the video games market whereas

“The 520 ST has color.  The screen resolution dips to 320×200 when you switch to 16-color mode, but it’s astounding when you realize you are staring at a ‘color Macintosh’ for 1/2 the price of Apple’s black and white only screen” 

-Dan Gutman “Should You Buy A Jackintosh”, Red Deer Advocate, Oct. 30, 1985

Dubbed “The Jackintosh” (a intelligent however crude portmanteau of ‘Jack Tramiel’ and ‘Macintosh’), only a few, if any video games had been out there when it was first launched.  Atari as a substitute targeted on residence and enterprise functions.  However, by 1986, sport builders caught on and harnessed machines’ uncooked 16-bit energy to create dozens of video games.  By 1987 the quantity grew into the 100’s.

Here are 5 of our favourite video games that had been launched in 1986.

Joust (Atari)
Joust on the ST is kind of presumably essentially the most correct port of the Arcade sport launched earlier than emulation. It captures every little thing concerning the arcade machine nearly completely and reveals how properly the ST may very well be used for single-screen motion video games in the appropriate arms.  Joust didn’t get many evaluations when it was launched early within the ST lifespan within the USA, however when the UK received a maintain of it, it was praised for its two-player mode and detailed graphics with The Games Machine UK (September 1988) saying:

Although Joust is a very dated game, the finely detailed character graphics in this conversion are impressive. Playing alone could become a little repetitive, but the two-player mode is very good indeed and the arcade playability remains intact.”

The sport was developed by Ruby Circle whose solely different ST credit score is a model of Klondike solitaire launched by Antic Magazine.

Jeff’s Take: Steve and I received this on the primary “pirate” disk we ever had for the ST in January 1987. We’d later purchase one other actual copy at Federated Group with our 1040 STF in the summertime of 1988. It was THAT good of a conversion.

Steve’s Take:  Oh, my lord, I beloved this sport!  It’s nearly a near-perfect conversion.  Yes, we did get it “free” at first, however I additionally beloved proudly owning the three.5-inch floppy with Atari’s official brand and the sport packed on.  It made me really feel like Atari was nonetheless a related sport firm.  The sport sounds are crisp, however the title-screen music is fairly terrible.

Plutos (Microvalue)

Plutos confirmed ST house owners what they might anticipate with top-down vertical scrolling video games on their machines. Its distinctive mix of easy scrolling graphics and a mess of enjoyable and peculiar issues to blast (i.e. eyeballs)  made it the go-to joystick breaker at many ST laptop desks within the USA earlier than discovering European imported video games.  Unlike Joust, Plutos obtained evaluations in a lot of the Atari-specific magazines within the USA and UK, in addition to just a few multiformat evaluations when it was launched mass market within the UK.

What CVG (June 1987)  referred to as “Thoughtful game design” in early 1987 grew to become  “the game offers nothing staggeringly new” when ST Action (May 1988) received their arms on the price range launch a 12 months later.   American magazines had been kinder.  The STart (Issue 8 ) overview learn  “The scrolling is very smooth and the graphics sharp”  whereas Compute’s Atari ST remarked “One of Plutos’ nicest points is its two-player option

Jeff’s Take:  The US evaluations had us operating to the thread-bare cabinets of the native B Dalton Software to get this ST motion contest. It’s a enjoyable blaster with some simply OK ST chip sounds for taking pictures and explosions. It’s very “American” in each method, together with no power-ups and its excessive problem.

Steve’s Take: What an important little shooter!  The 16-color graphics had been such a pleasure to take a look at after we first received our 520 ST.  The textual content was crisp, and the little alien ships had been satisfying to shoot at.  It jogged my memory lots of The Dreadnaught Factor as you flew over large spaceships blasting them aside.  The solely draw back was the sound, which was relegated to little pops and snaps; a let-down after having such wealthy sounds on Atari 800 video games.

Rogue (Epyx)
Rogue is a colourful and enjoyable model of the traditional “Nethack” type procedural dungeon video games from the early mainframes. The ST model’s 16-color detailed sprites made this one an early hit at our home. With 26 totally different monsters and over 100 objects, spells, and weapons to gather and use, this sport is long-lasting enjoyable.   Joyce Worley, in ST-Log (subject 12) ended her glowing overview this manner,

“Rogue is a slam-bang adventure in the trash-the-trolls-and-take-the-treasure tradition, enhanced by excellent graphics and optimum playability.”

Jeff’s Take:  The 16-bit laptop’s capability to simply do what we wished our 8-bit machines may – appear to be the subsequent technology of role-playing video games, made this a relentless on the TV hooked as much as the ST within the early years.  Early ST video games like that made good use of the GEM interface that will be dropped in later by most sport builders. Note that this swap no not utilizing the GEM APIs made the blitter chip added to the STE ineffective until video games particularly focused it.

Steve’s Take:  One of two video games on this listing that used the TOS/GEM OS to create a fantasy sport.  I favored that the complete sport was mouse managed, which set it other than the 8-bit video games I used to be used to taking part in.  It was a flowery introduction to all of the “Rogue” fuss I’d heard about in magazines and person group conferences.  However, that is the third sport in a row on this listing with sound points. The subject right here is that there’s nearly none.  Early ST builders harnessed the graphics a lot simpler than the output from the generic Yamaha YM2149F sound chip.

Time Bandit (Microdeal)

Time Bandit was the sport we hoped all future ST video games can be – a technically good, action-packed journey/arcade sport.  It will be referred to as a Gauntlet clone, however that would depart it sounding much less partaking than it’s, with puzzles to unravel very distinctive worlds to crawl by means of and superior blasting in Gauntlet-style mazes.  The sport options 16 totally different stage varieties crammed with an enormous array of superbly designed baddies.

As early as Compute’s Atari ST Volume 1, Andy Eddy stated “If Major Motion (an ST clone of Spyhunter by the same developer -ed)  makes you lose track of time, Time Bandit might make you lose your sanity. The attention to detail in this game is phenomenal – over 350K of program code attests to that – and the artwork resembles fine drawings…”

Jeff’s Take: Blew away every little thing we’d performed 8-bit earlier than it. The velocity, graphics, scrolling, explosions, cheeky Pac-Man stage, and every little thing else on this masterpiece made proudly owning an ST important for us in 1986.

Steve’s Take: What a scorcher!  Programmed by Bill Dunleavy and Henry Lanfear who ported it from their one TRS- 80 sport. The sounds are higher than Plutos, however there is no such thing as a music.

Phantasie (SSI)

Phantasie (or as we name it now, Phantasie I) is among the first hard-core, party-based CRPG video games from SSI for the Atari ST.  It can be one of many best.  Designed by Winston Douglas Wood and a part of a trilogy (on the ST), this primary installment was developed by Logical Design Works.  Some particular person parts of the sport (i.e. city, maps, loot, overhead map, dungeons) had been accomplished higher in different video games, however the sum of all of the elements plus the incredible strategic ranked battle system set this sport other than many followers.

Bob Chappell in ST User (Vol 1, Issue 6) put it very properly, “…there’s a richness of detail in Phantasie, and the beauty of the game is that it’s simple to get into and play. It’s the most accessible D&D game around. Very enjoyable and escapist fun and one that should keep you coming back time and again”.

Jeff’s Take: Quite presumably my favourite all-time laptop role-playing sport. It was the primary time I misplaced precise time after getting this in the summertime of 1987.  Leading a 6 participant occasion and grinding out sufficient expertise and weapons to not die from a single battle, time appeared to cease and fly by on the similar time whereas taking part in this wealthy, enjoyable, CRPG with nice-looking sprites, sounds, and extremely easy however efficient fight system. I’ll always remember the primary time my occasion was adequate to try to battle the “Black Knights” that patrolled Pelennor. This was one of the best time in ST gaming – when it blew away the video games launched on the NES, and the IBM PC on the similar time. NOTHING in comparison with Phantasie on the ST when it was launched – at the very least to us.

Steve’s Take: One of my favourite video games ever.  The TOS/GEM interface is properly executed, and the sound is great.  The sequence was fashionable in Japan and the 4th installment was solely launched on MSX, X68000, and PC-88 in that nation.  The random encounters ranked strategic battles, and level-grinding is paying homage to JRPGs like Dragon Quest, Phantasy Star, and Final Fantasy.  I’ve no strong proof, however it looks as if this sport may need been an affect.

Note – Some of the evaluations talked about are usually not out there simply on-line or in any respect. We have culled most of the overview feedback from our archives of Atari magazines.

Below are good sources to seek for extra details about these video games

Atari ST Joust: scans, dump, obtain, screenshots, advertisements, movies, catalog, directions, ROMs (



Time Bandit

Phantasie I

Steve Fulton
Twitter: @fultonbot
Jeff Fulton
Twitter: @8bitrocket
Steve Fulton (1 Posts)

Atari fanatic. Hardware and emulation retro-gamer. Sometimes writer.
A prolific creator of unfinished homebrew video games.



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