Super Six: Atari
Atari is one of those famous names that even non-video game fans are likely to recognise, and we are proud to be already bringing some of its iconic games to Antstream Arcade. Formed in 1972 by Ted Dabney and Nolan Bushnell, Atari’s first game, Pong, changed the industry and world forever. While the two founders were soon departed, Atari continued to release arcade classic after classic throughout the decade, culminating in the phenomenally successful Atari 2600 home console in 1977. At Antstream Arcade we love Atari, so to celebrate here’s our Super Six games from this illustrious video gaming giant.
What better place to start our Atari round up than with this space survival shooter from 1979? Asteroids places the valiant player inside a fragile triangular space craft, surrounded by a plague of craggy rocks and the occasional flying saucer. Fortunately you’re armed with a powerful cannon, but there lies the fundamental risk at the heart of Asteroids: shooting a rock splits it into smaller but faster-moving segments, and a carefree trigger-finger will soon result in a screen rammed with dangerous projectiles, with one touch spelling destruction for this lone hero. With its beautiful clean vector graphics and compelling physics-based gameplay, Asteroids is a true classic, now available with challenges on Antstream Arcade!
Originally rolling into arcades in 1980, Battlezone is not just an instantly recognisable video game because of its graphics – it also boasts a distinct cabinet featuring the amazing periscope-style viewfinder. Taking command of a sturdy but slow tank, Battlezone is presented in impeccably cool 3D vector graphics, with enemy tanks, supertanks, guided missiles and flying saucers lining up against the player. It’s also a joy to both play and look at: geometric blocks lay around the landscape and can be used as tactical cover, while the distant horizon features mountains and even an erupting volcano. A true luminary of video games history, why not stretch those tracks today with Battlezone on Antstream Arcade?
Crystal Castles is the story of Bentley Bear, the hero of a mythical world comprising of sixteen different levels, or plateaus. Strewn about each screen are valuable gemstones which Bentley must collect before the various enemies corner him. These nasty creatures range from evil towering trees to swarms of bees and a witch named Berthilda. Crystal Castles is a novel isometric twist on Pac-Man, with its 3D view enabling its designers to include hidden tunnels, ramps and alleyways. With dungeons, forests and – of course – castles to explore, there’s plenty of adventure and thrills in this compelling star of the golden era of arcade games, and unlike most of its peers, Crystal Castles has an actual ending. Can you help Bentley reach the fabled final screen, appropriately titled ‘The End’?
We move out of the arcades for the next Atari Super Six, and one of the most renowned games for the Atari 2600 system: Yars’ Revenge. Programmed by Howard Scott Warshaw, Yars’ Revenge is as bizarre as it is fun. The player controls the eponymous insect creature in its quest to destroy a malevolent beast known as Qotile. The Qotile is protected by a thick barrier which Yars must destroy using its powerful Zorlon cannon, but beware: the enemy has attacks of its own, launching missiles and swirling wheels at Yars, both deadly to the touch. With its colourful neutral zone and fast gameplay, Yars’ Revenge is a captivating score attack game, and one of the all-time definitive carts for the Atari 2600.
Did you think that survival horror gaming began with Resident Evil in the mid-nineties? Well think again, intrepid explorer, because this Atari 2600 game, released in 1982, broke the mould with its ground-breaking scare tactics and exploration-based gameplay. Armed with nothing more than a large box of matches, the player enters the titular mansion in search of the three pieces of a priceless urn, a family heirloom last owned by the late Zachary Graves. There’s just one problem: the ghost of ‘ol Zachary is reluctant to let his prized possession go, hunting down the quivering player throughout the shadowy rooms of the huge country home. With three floors and a basement to reconnoitre, thrills and goose bumps are guaranteed in Haunted House – we dare you to play it at night with the lights out!
Using a control system similar to Asteroids, Gravitar will also appear familiar graphically to fans of the rock-blasting classic. But there’s a whole lot more to this Atari game, released three years later and offering a much wider range of gameplay. The solar systems in Gravitar all contain seven planets consisting of an enemy base, red alien planet, home base and four neutral worlds. Each of these latter four planets has been conquered by the villain Gravitar – to liberate them, the player must destroy the alien bunkers that litter the landscape. Fuel can be collected as well, and freeing the quartet of civilizations enables the player to warp to the next solar system and another bunch of enslaved populations. With its constantly nagging gravity, multiple enemies and many planets to discover, Gravitar is renowned as one of the best – and toughest – arcade games ever, making it a worthy entry in our Atari Super Six.