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Most underrated game for Atari 8-bit computers

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On 9/19/2021 at 4:18 AM, erichenneke said:

what's the objective on the very first screen ? 

 

you have to guide your spaceship down to the landing pad at the bottom of the screen, pushing up fires a rocket (steerable) for dispatching the ufo at the top, then shoot through the barriers by straightening your ship up and pulling back on the stick, then allow gravity to take you down, not too fast though! timing is crucial to avoid lasers bullets etc, when you land a little man runs out and its on to the next level, also as you are playing you will be called back to the first screen from time to time... g00d luck!

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It would seem that if you join the A8 HSC, over time you will get to play several of those hidden gems. Counting since 2017, we've played the following, and probably even more if we go back in time:

 

Abracadabra! - August 2019
Action Quest - November 2019
Alley Cat - August 2018
Captain Sticky's Gold - October 2019
Dan Strikes Back - October 2019
Extirpator, The - January 2019
Flak - June 2017
Getaway! - March 2017
Hazard Run - June 2021
Hover Bovver - June 2021
Kult - September 2018
Pogo Joe - August 2017
Spare Change - April 2017
Spelunker - May 2017
Threshold - September 2018
Whistler's Brother - July 2021

 

Of course sometimes we play the better known games too, but we're having a lot of variation over the seasons. A few games like Preppie and Preppie II have been into a couple polls but lost out. We considered Crush, Crumble & Chomp but it seems rather complex with 15-20 pages of manual to digest. Of course Caverns of Mars 1 has been played before. Trailblazer is on my go-to list but hasn't made it yet.

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@carlsson, I have played quite a few games that I never played before due to the HSC a800/a3600. I look forward to the HSC Homebrew weeks, or the a800 game polls with descriptions. I like how most HSC players usually vote for the game they haven’t played, rather than the familiar.

 

Hidden Gem/Underrated are difficult categories to define. Clearly if a game regularly shows up in the majority of Top Games on a system, then it isn’t hidden. If it shows up in the lower half of games on the system it isn’t good enough to be considered a gem. This is why I wish there was a queryable database for a800 enthusiast. What you want is games where a large percentage of people wouldn’t put in their top games, but for a small percentage, they consider those games in their top games. (Would need to massage the variables for min/max votes, minimum rating, etc.)

 

 

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On 9/15/2021 at 10:50 AM, x=usr(1536) said:

Raid Over Moscow:

 

 

Deeply frustrating at times, but with a tendency to suck the player back in.  The variation in levels helps to keep it from becoming samey during gameplay.

Was this under rated?  I had it and from my recollection, this and the other Access games in the Beach Head series were pretty much blockbusters...

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4 minutes ago, CapitanClassic said:

@carlsson, I have played quite a few games that I never played before due to the HSC a800/a3600. I look forward to the HSC Homebrew weeks, or the a800 game polls with descriptions. I like how most HSC players usually vote for the game they haven’t played, rather than the familiar.

 

Hidden Gem/Underrated are difficult categories to define. Clearly if a game regularly shows up in the majority of Top Games on a system, then it isn’t hidden. If it shows up in the lower half of games on the system it isn’t good enough to be considered a gem. This is why I wish there was a queryable database for a800 enthusiast. What you want is games where a large percentage of people wouldn’t put in their top games, but for a small percentage, they consider those games in their top games. (Would need to massage the variables for min/max votes, minimum rating, etc.)

 

 

That sounds interesting and a project I'd like to work on.  First thing we'd needed is an actual completely exhaustive database.

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While not an Atari exclusive, I still go back to Wavy Navy. One of the deepest fixed screen shooters with lots of variety, plus some great nautical tunes after every level.

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6 hours ago, MrFish said:

 

I'm not sure it's particularly underrated; although some people may rate it as such for difficulty's sake.

 

It's actually using widescreen, so you gain a little bit from that too; but the big scrolling worlds are something... and something that was done to the point of nausea on the NES.

 

I never found Spelunker too hard. Playing it to the end sometimes was a daily goal :)

What impressed me back then was the correct movement in details  and the game mechanics worked at that point. 

Most games somehow moved much more coarse in gamplay, but then a single pixel made the game ending quickly. 

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2 hours ago, emkay said:

I never found Spelunker too hard. Playing it to the end sometimes was a daily goal :)

What impressed me back then was the correct movement in details  and the game mechanics worked at that point. 

Most games somehow moved much more coarse in gamplay, but then a single pixel made the game ending quickly. 

I don't find it too difficult either. Although there are few jumps that can be a bit frustrating if you don't take your time to do them correctly.

The play mechanics on the Atari version are good; I find it generally natural to play. There are an amazing array of details in the game. I like the several vehicles you get to ride.

 

The only things I don't really like are,

1. The sound of that infernal bird. I can't wait for it to stop after it's started.

2. The speed of the ghost, essentially, increasing once screen scrolling has started. Ultimately, this is not really a big deal, but I think it should have been handled better.

 

I'm sure I would have played this one through if I had it back in the day; but, having discovered it only since returning to the Ataris, I haven't found it compelling enough to complete yet.

As far as rating, it's at least a 9 of 10.

 

Edited by MrFish

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As in the other thread mentioned:

 

Starraiders

 

The game seems to be released too early, and was yet so far ahead of that time. 

 

When I was starting the game the first time (1985) , I wasn't really impressed by the fish eye movement of the stars, but what I wasn't aware of the time of release AND that other 8 bits even in 1985 couldn't do that properly. 

The game has some design flaws, and it's a shame that this type on the Atari wasn't supported more. 

Wilmunder's Starraiders 2 didn't make it to the world back then. 

And, a lot tricks could be used to enhance the visuals.

 

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2 hours ago, emkay said:

Starraiders

Congratulations on completely missing the point of this thread while utterly failing to grasp the meaning of the word "underrated"

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2 hours ago, emkay said:

As in the other thread mentioned:

 

Starraiders

 

The game seems to be released too early, and was yet so far ahead of that time. 

 

When I was starting the game the first time (1985) , I wasn't really impressed by the fish eye movement of the stars, but what I wasn't aware of the time of release AND that other 8 bits even in 1985 couldn't do that properly. 

The game has some design flaws, and it's a shame that this type on the Atari wasn't supported more. 

Wilmunder's Starraiders 2 didn't make it to the world back then. 

And, a lot tricks could be used to enhance the visuals.

 

Star Raiders is widely considered to be the very first "Killer App" piece of software and to this day, I still read of high profile UK industry figures saying this was the game that simply blew them away and got them into coding. 

 

 

I know ST Star Raiders and A8 Star Raiders II have their fans, but the original is held in the highest regards and rightly so. 

 

 

Edited by Lostdragon

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23 minutes ago, Lostdragon said:

Star Raiders is widely considered to be the very first "Killer App" piece of software and to this day, I still read of high profile UK industry figures saying this was the game that simply blew them away and got them into coding. 

 

 

I know ST Star Raiders and A8 Star Raiders II have their fans, but the original is held in the highest regards and rightly so. 

 

 

And don't forget the 'Real" Star Raiders II sequel (rather than the commecially rebranded release of the tie in to The Last Starfighter flop movie). I only found out about this the other day.

Read more here - makes for compelling reading if you download the two PDFs as well:

 

 

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Hmm, interestingly I also happen to come across this on Ebay relating to the aforementioned The Last Starfighter:

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/140951863831?hash=item20d162c217:g:rpIAAOSwRBFd~U7B

 

Here is the listing info, very interesting:

 

"Game Cartridge Last Starfighter 8-bit cartridge for the Atari 800/XL/XE.
This game was never released by Atari.
New label. I found Last Starfighter along with many others unreleased games in desks at Atari after one of their famous layoffs. We are producing this un-released game for others to enjoy. We are selling this as a UN-released cartridge but believe it is complete. The original had no label or case so we have made a label and added a new original Atari made case and backing. The EPROM proto board is original Atari made. This game is identical to the original UN-released game I found at Atari. IT IS NOT THE ACTUAL GAME CARTRIDGE I FOUND AT ATARI but a reproduction of it using original Atari parts!!! No manual or box.

 

This game was originally planned to be released as "The Last Starfighter" but Atari had to make changes after they decided against a license agreement for LS.

Here is a good Review of the History

Comments by Pierre-André. See full comparison at link listed below.

THE LAST STARFIGHTER / STAR RAIDERS II VOCABULARY

I - Spaceships

Mainly, there are three types of ships: The Deckfighters which act as the easiest targets (they really are our tie fighters), The Xurian ships too rare in the movie play the destroyer role in the game and protect the final ship, the Command Ship. The names change between the two "versions" so here is a table of conversion if you wish to find the "spirit" of the movie in your game.

 

 

 

THE LAST STARFIGHTER STAR RAIDERS II
Ko-Dan Ships Zylon Ships
1- Deckfighters 1- Zylon Fly Fighters
2- Xurians Ships 2- Destroyers
3- Command Ship 3- Commands Ship
(only one by level, exactly like in the movie) (one by squadrun, 5000 points each)
4- "Little" Command Ships 4- No Equivalent
(those attacking the frontier) (the frontier plot is totally lacking from SR II)
Your Ship: .
- The Gunstar - The Liberty Star

 

II - Planets

Virtually identical, ATARI had to make a few changes due to to the names copyrighted by the original movie, The Last Starfighter.

 

 

 

THE LAST STARFIGHTER STAR RAIDERS II
Celos IV System .
1- Rylos 1- Teris
2- Galen 2- Imbri
3- Seridus 3- Seridus
4- Arcanum 4- Arcanum
Procyon System .
1- Ko-Dan 1- Zylon
2- Gaon 2- Gaon
3- Morkoth 3- Morkoth

 

 

Finally, to all the "raiders" who have never tried The Last Starfighter, I just would like to communicate them their order of mission if someday, they wish to become starfighters: "Greetings Starfighter..... You have been recruited by the starleague to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada." Don't forget that in bonus you'll have a 1984 fantastic intro so don't hesitate: To try it, it's to adopt it! Some will always say that Raiders II is faster but Starfighter is really "the movie in your Atari" so have a wonderful experience. Let me say it a second time: Too bad, they never released it officially!

Newsflash! We now have brand new original mint Atari Released version of Star Raiders II on disk for sale in a separate Ebay(also on our web site) auction.

 Last Starfighter 8-bit cartridge for the Atari 800/XL/XE. New label

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1 hour ago, Beeblebrox said:

And don't forget the 'Real" Star Raiders II sequel (rather than the commecially rebranded release of the tie in to The Last Starfighter flop movie). I only found out about this the other day.

Read more here - makes for compelling reading if you download the two PDFs as well:

 

 

Closest thing I came across on the C64 was this:

 

 

 

Emkay mentioned the fish eye effect in Star Raiders, only ever seen it used again in Glyn Williams Warhead ST/Amiga and playing as the Alien in Rebellion Software's original PC AVP. 

 

 

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Lol...StarRaiders, one of the most revered computer games ever, and he thinks it's underrated..

 

 

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Well, as long as not every person even remotely interested in vintage games has played it at least once, perhaps it is underrated?

 

I've played Star Raiders for a total of 12 minutes and while I really tried to understand it and want to enjoy it, that was time I'll never recover. I'll let the rest of you play it every now and then, I have other Atari games (not to mention all other formats) to play instead.

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Of course if you think about it in a super wide sense then maybe yes, but in general those that have looked at it see it as a pivotal game for the Atari and generally as a game. In that respect, it's certainly not underrated. I have seen games that I personally find boring but the same game's have been noted as "groundbreaking", I have to respect that rating on the game even if it's 'not my thing'. If the consensus of people think it's good, then I totally respect it.

 

And yes, as a fellow multi format follower, I see games that are superb and deserve to be played, well that is, in amongst the god awful stuff (truly awful, not just distaste on my part)

Edited by Mclaneinc

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23 hours ago, Max_Chatsworth said:

Was this under rated?  I had it and from my recollection, this and the other Access games in the Beach Head series were pretty much blockbusters...

It may be a 'depends on where you were living at the time' sort of thing.  I can remember it making the rounds of the local user group, but myself and one other person seemed to be the only ones who cared.

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4 hours ago, CyranoJ said:

Congratulations on completely missing the point of this thread while utterly failing to grasp the meaning of the word "underrated"

Funny point. 

Who outside the Atari world knows this game?

Also, if people had been so convinced about this game, where are the thousands of sequels?

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Just now, emkay said:

Funny point. 

Who outside the Atari world knows this game?

Also, if people had been so convinced about this game, where are the thousands of sequels?

Yes, OK, you win.

 

Better to say that now than have you fill this thread with 50 pages of argument.

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Well, we could look at the top 50 games by rating on Atarimania and count how many have been cloned to death.

http://www.atarimania.com/top-atari-game-atari-400-800-xl-xe-_G_8_V.html

 

I'd say that at least M.U.L.E., Seven Cities of Gold, The Eidolon, even Bruce Lee, Rainbow Walker (though it already borrows a lot from Q*Bert), Alley Cat and Ballblazer all are top games that rarely has seen a sequel or clone. There may be even more games to add to that list, depending on how liberal you are about genres and specific gameplay. Often a game is so well done/balanced that copying it adds little than a breach of copyright. Thus I'd hesitate to put an equals sign between well known and routinely imitated.

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Yes, this thread has definitely veered from "underrated" into "forgotten" or "ones I didn't hear much about" territory. Spelunker, Raid Over Moscow, Alley Cat, Wavy Navy, etc were all rather well known  and mostly well received back in the day.

 

And including a real design milestone like Star Raiders here is just comical :)

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Even though many of these games are not in the top100 most of them are still rated pretty well.  That can still mean they're underated but I was looking for something I loved as a kid but was rated <7.0

 

Caverns of Khafka only gets a 6.9 on atarimania

 

 

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