The Top 50 - The Great Atari ST Games Survey

Discuss and discover all the great games of yesteryear!

Moderators: mknott, NickThorpe, Darran@Retro Gamer, MMohammed, lcarlson

Post Reply
User avatar
StickHead
Posts: 1149
Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2007 8:06 pm
Contact:

The Top 50 - The Great Atari ST Games Survey

Post by StickHead » Mon Sep 01, 2008 6:19 pm

Out of 91 sumbmissions from forumites of four forums (atari-forum, Atari Age, Retro Gamer and Eurogamer) all nominating 5 games (in order) and being awarded the following scores:

1st - 5 points
2nd - 4 points
3rd - 3 points
4th - 2 points
5th - 1 point

the top 50 Atari ST games of all time have now come to light!

I will post them five at a time, so check back often!

====================================================

#50 - Rainbow Islands

Released: 1989
Developer: Graftgold
Publisher: Ocean
Genre: Platformer

Image

Image

This sequel to the excellent Bubble Bobble ramps up the cute factor and continues the trend for arcade perfect conversion.

No longer trapped in dinosaur form, and with their girlfriends safely at home, Bub and Bob must take the fight to the enemy to rid their home - the once blissful seven rainbow islands - from the threat of the evil Shadow organisation. But how? Now that the boys are no longer bubble blowing dinos, how will they accomplish such a task? With the power of rainbows, that's how!

A push of the fire button and a dinky rainbow sprouts forth from your diminutive avatar. Hit an enemy with it and they're history. Trap them inside it and watch them get all steamed up - but don't worry! - jump on the rainbow and it will crush all in its path as it falls. Each enemy destroyed will leave behind something to pick up, either for points or power-ups. Power-ups include faster or multiple rainbows, trainers for extra speed, or stars that instantly shoot out in all directions, killing all enemies in the vicinity - very handy as you make your ascent to the zenith of each level.

Each of the 7 islands is split into 4 stages, the last of which is the home of a boss that must be defeated to reach the next island. Each island is themed and features colourful backgrounds an sprites, all moving about at a nice pace. Sound is nice too, a rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow tinkles away as you attempt to climb to the top of each stage.

Almost indistinguishable from its arcade parent, Bub and Bob's second adventure is one of the best platformers available on the ST and I'm surprised and appalled to see it poll so low. Shame on you!


#49 - Ultima V: Warriors Of Destiny

Released: 1989
Developer: Lord British
Publisher: Origin Systems
Genre: RPG

Image

Image

Lord British is off galavanting again (probably on a quest for the Holy Buttered Crumpet Of Kukundu or The Sacred Cream Tea Of Nesbetaria, or something) and in his absence, an evil bod named Blackthorn has siezed the throne! So after a quick visit to the gypsy to determine your morality, you and your newly created party must endeavour to return the hapless British to the throne. You can also import old characters used in earlier Ultima games, so Griff Hornbonce, your beloved Minotaur warrior can crush orc skulls once again.

Those familiar with the prolific Ultima series will find no surprises here. Functional graphics and sound hide a deep, involving experience. You move your party around the map with the cursor keys, fighting monsters and finding towns and villages to explore, discovering helpful items and levelling up your stats.

Combat is a strategic affair, with each of your party taking it in turns to move and attack, cast spells or grab items dropped by fallen enemies.

Boasting a playing area twice the size of Ultima IV and the last game before the Ultima series adopted a truly bizarre and head spinning perspective, Ultima V's Britannia is well worth a visit.


#48 - Super Hang-On

Image

Image

Released: 1988
Developer: Software Studios
Publisher: Electric Dreams
Genre: Racing

I'm a big fan of Sega's arcade racers; Outrun, Daytona, Virtua Racer, Sega Rally and Super Hang-On: they're big, brash and very, very loud, taking advantage of arcade hardware technology to deliver an audio/visual assault on the senses.

As a result, the home conversions - in the 8 and 16 bit eras, at least - pale in comparison. Without steering wheels, hydraulic cabinets, booming speakers, something is lost.

That said, there is no reason (with a bit of ingenuity and hard work) for the gameplay not to make it over intact, and Super Hang-On has a really good go. In the absence of a hydraulic bike to steer, the analogue control is delivered via the mouse with the left button to accelerate and right button to brake.

The frame-rate isn't exactly super smooth, but does not spoil the gameplay. However, longevity is an issue: there is little in the way of variety. I'm not sure how long you will be gripped by this, these days arcade racers are fleshed out with extra challenges, cars/bikes, tracks etc. but this really is just the arcade mode.

As it is, I will be playing this game, but it will only serve to punctuate my slog through the challenge mode of Outrun 2 on the XBox. Great fun in short bursts.


#47 - M1 Tank Platoon

Image

Image

Released: 1990
Developer: Microprose
Publisher: Microprose
Genre: Tank Simulator

In 1989, if you wanted to get your hands on an Abrams M1 tank, it would set you back around $2.5 million. In 1990, however all it would take was £24.99 and an ST. If only Saddam knew... I bet he's kicking himself.

Gameplay is split between a real-time battle map, where tactics are formulated and tanks are despatched, and interior tank views, where you can control the driver, commander and gunner. You control one man and the AI sorts out the others. Initially, your comrades have all the accuracy of an A-Team villian, but when missions are completed, commendations are awarded which can be used to upgrade your troops' skills.

All the M1's toys are at your disposal: infra-red, smoke screens, laser detectors, laser sights, distance indicators and all the shells you'll need to teach those pesky reds who's boss.

As is to be expected from a Microprose simulation, attention to detail is excellent, resulting in an atmospheric experience. Visuals leave a little to be desired, the tanks themselves look fine, but the landscapes are strangely dithered, and other objects can be indescernable. As all important objects can be identified on the map, this isn't too damaging to gameplay.

Other reputable tank sims such as Team Yankee and Pacific Islands didn't even get within a sniff of the top 50, so M1 Tank Platoon obviously offered something special to you tank sim fans.


#46 - Auto Duel

Image

Image

Released: 1985
Developer: Lord British
Publisher: Origin Systems
Genre: Strategy/RPG

Based on the classic Car Wars board game, Auto Duel is based in a dystopian U.S. future where cars determine your status and driving ability is the difference between life and death.

You start the game without a vehicle and must take part in the amateur night in order to secure the funds necessary to buy one. As soon as you have a set of wheels, you can start making some serious money. Further arena events and courier missions provide the player with the opportunity to make some cash.

The game has two play areas: the city, where the player can move around, purchasing weaponry, vehicles etc., visit the pub, or visit the arena to see if there are any events to take part in; and the driving sections, which are top-down, scrolling affairs where you will either be driving between cities, or taking part in arena battles.

How you upgrade your car will influence how you play: heavily armoured tank, or a light speedy number? Place your big guns at the front for a head on assault, or at the rear for those running like a chicken moments.

Another game - like Phantasie and Ultima V - That wears its age on its sleeve, the graphics look pretty much like an Apple II game (no offence, Apple fans!) and the difficulty is sky high. Plot missions are few and far between, so there is little story driving the action along.

For all its down points, Auto Duel does offer an open-ended player led experience that was way ahead of its time, pushing the RPG into realms not seen before. An early prototype for Grand Theft Auto? Maybe...
The Joy of STicks - YouTube - Blog - Twitter - Facebook
New Developments and old inspirations in Atari ST gaming.

User avatar
sscott
Posts: 13153
Joined: Wed Aug 29, 2007 3:26 pm
Location: Sheffield

Post by sscott » Tue Sep 02, 2008 2:48 pm

Well written articles - good effort mate!
Image

User avatar
pantal00ns
Posts: 3647
Joined: Wed Mar 08, 2006 10:20 am
Location: Waaayy down south

Post by pantal00ns » Tue Sep 02, 2008 2:56 pm

sscott wrote:Well written articles - good effort mate!
Yes keep it up.... you have to as there is 45 to go :wink:

Never heard of Autoduel before will look out for it!

User avatar
boggyb68
Posts: 2194
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 9:56 am
Location: On the planet of the Wardrobe Monsters...

Post by boggyb68 » Tue Sep 02, 2008 5:09 pm

Looking superb so far, StickHead. Even to an Amiga-ite like me am gonna enjoy this one... :)

cheers

B.
Pinkle Squirmy Blip Blip Blip

Image

User avatar
OldSkoolCoolFool
Posts: 528
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2008 4:43 pm

Post by OldSkoolCoolFool » Tue Sep 02, 2008 5:13 pm

Praise from an Amiga-ite? Must be doing something right... I'm looking forward to the other 45!
Jagfest_UK wrote:Looks like your use of the letter T made your trousers fall down :wink:

User avatar
boggyb68
Posts: 2194
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 9:56 am
Location: On the planet of the Wardrobe Monsters...

Post by boggyb68 » Tue Sep 02, 2008 5:23 pm

OldSkoolCoolFool wrote:Praise from an Amiga-ite? Must be doing something right... I'm looking forward to the other 45!
He definitely is,..... by letting me actually vote in it... :)

B.
Pinkle Squirmy Blip Blip Blip

Image

User avatar
StickHead
Posts: 1149
Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2007 8:06 pm
Contact:

Post by StickHead » Thu Sep 04, 2008 5:23 pm

Thanks for the positive comments everyone! Here's the next five: #45-41. Not as many surprises in this bunch.

#45 - Pirates!

Released: 1989
Developer: Microprose
Publisher: Microprose
Genre: Strategy/RPG

Image

Image

Before Sid Meier became civilized, he was a pirate. No, not the hacking, software-stealing, cracktro-scroller-writing kind, but the "Har-har me hearties," peg-leg, beard, parrot and eye-patch variety.

A wholesale conversion of the C64 original, it was a truly groundbreaking game featuring a sand-box style open-ended gameplay that snared many for hour upon hour at a time. Would you stay loyal to your country, or turn to piracy? Would you make your fortune by trading legitimately, or by hunting for buried treasure?

Set in the Caribbean during the Sixteenth century, tensions between the four colonizing countries: the Netherlands, England, France and Spain can be exploited for profit and power. Alliances will be formed and broken, and as a result, you must shift with the times, ever looking for the next opportunity to step up the next rung on the ladder.

A nice touch is the lack of definite end to a game of Pirates. Instead, your character's fighting ability will slowly fall, and it will become harder to recruit new crewmen, forcing you to consider retirement. Upon retiring, Your performance in the game - indicated by your accumulated wealth and power - will dictate your future career: Anything from Beggar to King's Advisor.

Mr Meier really was (is?) the master of this style of game and this, along with Civilization and Railroad Tycoon is part of a canon of superb sand-box strategy games.


#44 - Phantasie

Released: 1985
Developer: Logical Design Works Inc.
Publisher: Strategic Simulations Inc.
Genre: RPG

Image

Image

"When sorcery ruled, and trolls and minotaurs still walked this Earth, a party of six intrepid adventurers set out to find the Nine Rings and use them to destroy the Dark Lord."

Nine Rings, eh? Sounds familiar...

Your quest begins in the town of Pelinor. A quick visit to the local guild to recruit a merry band of fighters, thieves, wizards and the like, pop into the bank to use the cashpoint, spend your cash in the armoury and away you go.

After leaving Pelinor you are presented with an overhead map where you can use the cursor keys to explore the surrounding area. This is where the similarities to the Ultima series really start to show up. This isn't just a carbon copy though, many new features can be found in this early ST RPG: Multiple attack styles, overhead dungeon views, and Town screens where you can click on the doors of the buildings to access the services on offer. Banks hold your money for you (duh...), guilds give you access to new party members, mystics can give you prophesy and armouries will sell you sharp things to poke kobolds with.

Random encounters in the game's many dungeons trigger the game's turn-based combat sequence, where you must choose an action for each of your characters to perform. Thankfully, your party remembers their actions and you only need to reassign if you want them to do something different or your wizard runs low on magic points.

A nice RPG with some unique qualities, deep and involving without being too complex.


#43 - Cannon Fodder

Released: 1993
Developer: Sensible Software
Publisher: Virgin Games
Genre: Real-time strategy

Image

Image

War! Good God y'all, what is it good for?.. Well, for having fun, apparently.

Jon Hare's seminal war-em-up sees you take control of a squad of soldiers armed with machine guns, grenades and rockets. Control is via the mouse, one button to issue a movement command, and the other to fire. Briefings are simple; mission goals rarely stretch beyond "Kill all enemies" or "Destroy stuff" though occasionally there are hostages to rescue. Missions provide challenges through more devious means, often requiring the player to split his squad into separate teams.

Complete a stage and the surviving troups will receive a promotion, improving their range of fire - invaluable in later, more challenging fire fights. So although there are plenty more troops available to replace casualties (literally queuing up alongside the graves of your dead men), it really hurts to see General Jops bite the bullet, leaving you with a grunt that couldn't hit a barn door at twenty paces.

Courting controversy at the time of release amongst those mentally challenged by the concept of irony, and villified by the British Legion for using the corn poppy on the title screen (Virgin removed it from the box shortly before release), this game is worth playing just to see how touchy the press were concerning video games in the early 1990s.

Unfortunately, the ST version suffers from horrific jarring screen-flip whenever moving horizontally spoiling what would have been a great conversion. There is a nice sampled tune to listen to at the beginning, but in-game sound is minimal - tinny gunfire and strange boings when an enemy soldier is hit.

Having said all that, the simple gameplay mechanics of move and shoot, intuitively delivered by the mouse allow for incredibly fast paced action as you move and shoot in all directions independently. In later levels, you will find yourself in scrapes that have your heart pounding and your mouse ball on fire as you battle to save your veterans.


#42 - Stardust

Released: 1995
Developer: Bloodhouse
Publisher: Daze Marketing Inc.
Genre: 1995

Image

Image

Stardust looks bloody amazing. For any of you who lament at how Atari dropped the ball with the ST 'Enhanced', this shows just how incredible the machine could be in the right hands. The game is a visual treat from the off.

Screaming "Demo-crew!" from the rafters, Stardust begins with a Star Wars style intro screen that puts many official Star Wars games from the same era to shame. The use of palette shifting and the STE's extended palette is exemplary in title screens and backdrops, and the raytraced (not real-time obviously) sprites give this game a real sheen.

Behind the gloss is a nice little Asteroids clone, that reminds me more of Blasteroids in its overall feel. Shoot asteroids and they split into smaller ones - we've all done it a million times, but Bloodhouse have added power-ups, a variety of new enemies and a nifty bonus level that sees your ship flying into the screen, with gameplay more akin to Tempest.

An old-school blaster ironically released towards the end of the Atari STs lifespan offers up classic and fun gameplay wrapped in copious amounts of glitter and tinsel.

#41 - Bloodwych

Released: 1989
Developer: n/a
Publisher: Image Works
Genre: RPG

Image

Image

The fact that you can play Bloodwych in split-screen two-player mode lifts this dungeon crawling RPG above the glut of Dungeon Master clones that appeared after FTL's classic.

After beginning the game, each player must choose their avatar: Warrior, Mage, Adventurer or Thief, and their colour: red, yellow, green or blue (which determines the character's proficiency at certain spells). Once you have picked your hero, you are then free to mingle amongst the other characters, have a chat, and ask them to join your party.

You can even talk to enemies as you are exchanging blows and - with the data disk expansion - try to persuade them to join your party. Also, traders can buttered up with flattery and persuaded to lower the price of their wares.

The graphics are fine, although your viewpoint is limited to a small window even when playing alone, and the animation of NPCs is laughable, bobbing about like cardboard cut-outs on lollipop sticks. A large chunk of the challenge comes from the labyrinthine nature of the levels; identicle wall textures used throughout mean disorientation is your constant (and irritating) travelling companion. Mapping is essential (if you're a complete geek) or find a ready made map online (if you're not).

It may not be easy to find a friend who will indulge you in a day-long romp through Treihadwyl castle (I asked my wife but she told me to get bent) but if you have an equally RPG-obsessed friend, then you are both in for a treat.
The Joy of STicks - YouTube - Blog - Twitter - Facebook
New Developments and old inspirations in Atari ST gaming.

User avatar
OldSkoolCoolFool
Posts: 528
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2008 4:43 pm

Post by OldSkoolCoolFool » Thu Sep 04, 2008 7:08 pm

More great work Mr StickHead! :D
Jagfest_UK wrote:Looks like your use of the letter T made your trousers fall down :wink:

User avatar
Cornervizion
Posts: 85
Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2006 5:24 am
Location: Cardiff, Wales
Contact:

Post by Cornervizion » Fri Sep 05, 2008 11:54 am

Just Played ST Stardust Yesterday via STEEM.... All that I can say is.. "WOW!!!" :D This version can confidantly stand up to the Amiga original, so okay.. There's less Colours and smaller screen but it's so refreshing to play an ST game with modules playing in the background as opposed to chiptunes.

It's soo sad that ST game developers didn't exploit the STe sooner as it would've kept the scene going. The only other STe game I can think of is Sleepwalker but of course is often the case of too little....too late.

User avatar
hydr0x
Posts: 2164
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 1:31 pm
Location: Germany

Post by hydr0x » Fri Sep 05, 2008 12:02 pm

have you considered compiling all the review into one nice looking pdf when they're done?

User avatar
StickHead
Posts: 1149
Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2007 8:06 pm
Contact:

Post by StickHead » Fri Sep 05, 2008 2:58 pm

hydr0x wrote:have you considered compiling all the review into one nice looking pdf when they're done?
I hadn't considered doing so, why do you think it would be worthwhile? (Apart from it looking all pretty :) )
The Joy of STicks - YouTube - Blog - Twitter - Facebook
New Developments and old inspirations in Atari ST gaming.

User avatar
hydr0x
Posts: 2164
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 1:31 pm
Location: Germany

Post by hydr0x » Fri Sep 05, 2008 4:56 pm

well

- it's without useless posts in between.. like mine

- it's pretty and formatted

- it's downloadable and printable

- it could inspire other similar lists

- it's not lost once (god forbid) the forum goes down or dies

User avatar
sscott
Posts: 13153
Joined: Wed Aug 29, 2007 3:26 pm
Location: Sheffield

Post by sscott » Fri Sep 05, 2008 6:40 pm

I agree with the, slightly moving green character (posted above), put it as a download on your site and people can read it at their lesiure.
Image

User avatar
StickHead
Posts: 1149
Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2007 8:06 pm
Contact:

Post by StickHead » Fri Sep 05, 2008 7:03 pm

I was going to put it on my site anyway, but in HTML. Do you still think .pdf would be better?

PS: Just a few screenshots away from posting the next five!
The Joy of STicks - YouTube - Blog - Twitter - Facebook
New Developments and old inspirations in Atari ST gaming.

User avatar
hydr0x
Posts: 2164
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 1:31 pm
Location: Germany

Post by hydr0x » Fri Sep 05, 2008 7:30 pm

StickHead wrote:I was going to put it on my site anyway, but in HTML. Do you still think .pdf would be better?

PS: Just a few screenshots away from posting the next five!
well if you're compiling it into one feature anyway and don't have a good printing function (don't worry, even high profile sites don't) an additional pdf would be a good thing imho and not a lot of extra work, right?

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest