The Top 50 - The Great Atari ST Games Survey

Discuss and discover all the great games of yesteryear!

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pantal00ns
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Post by pantal00ns » Fri Oct 24, 2008 4:33 am

Mr Stickhead you have teased us long enough.......

Please show us the five finest ST releases as voted for by us....and a number of other people :wink:

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Scratch_Porkings
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Post by Scratch_Porkings » Fri Oct 24, 2008 6:58 am

I love this thread but I've never posted, I supose I should do me own top ten (or 15) but every time I write it out I remember another game and have to change it. I'm sure I've forgotten a classic In my top 15!
My list would be completely different from Stickmans, but who's wouldn't?

1. Paradroid 90
2. Dungeon Master
3. Elite
4. Jinxter
5. Starglider
6. Ultima 5
7. Damocles
8. Carrier Command
9. Sensible Soccer
10. Another World
11. Speedball
12. Hero Quest
13. Powermonger
14. Future Wars
15. Frontier

hmm even I'm not sure what order these games should go,
Blood Money, Captive, Chaos, Chaos Engine, Civilization, F-19 Stealth Fighter,
Formula 1 Grand Prix, Lemmings, Llamatron, Populous, Space Crusade, Xenon II, Interphase, Cruise for a corpse, Stunt Car Racer, Midwinter, Bubble Bobble, IK+, The Pawn, The Guild of Thieves, Blood Money,Bards Tale, Ultima 3, Ultima 4, Gauntlet 2, Amberstar, Space Quest 2, Space Quest 3, Mega lo Mania, christ I cant remember any more!
Scott me up beamie!

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StickHead
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Post by StickHead » Mon Oct 27, 2008 1:34 pm

Here it is: the moment you've been waiting for. THE TOP 5!

#5 - Stunt Car Racer

Released: 1989
Developer: Geoff Crammond
Publisher: Microstyle
Genre: Racing

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Opening the top five is Geoff Crammond's second game to make the list: Stunt Car Racer.

An innovative 3D racing game, Geoff's 1989 release featured some pretty gnarly tracks. Elevated of the ground and with no barriers to stop you falling off, negotiating the eight roller-coaster style tracks successfully is often the game's biggest challenge. Fall off and the crane will winch you back up, but very slowly allowing your opponent to build a healthy lead. You must keep your eye on the car's condition, too; cracks slowly etching their way along the chassis with holes appearing during sufficiently violent collisions will scupper your chances of winning if not kept in check.

Each track consists of a number of jumps or moving obstacles that you must traverse: this often involves working out the optimum speed for a jump or in the case of moving sections of track, timing them perfectly. Your car comes equipped with a nitro boost, making it even more tempting to hit certain sections of the track at blistering speeds (usually resulting in hitting the ground at blistering speeds).

Single-player mode pits your driving prowess against computer-controlled opponents in a league split into four divisions. You start in division four racing against idiots on the game's tamest tracks but by the time you reach division 1 (and beyond *hint*) things really start to toughen up.

You can also compete against a friend providing you have two STs and a null modem cable.

Featuring some smooth 3D and nice cockpit graphics where you can see the wheels testing their suspension to the limits and flames shooting out of the engine during boosts, atmospheric sound effects (hearing the crack after a hard landing when your car is almost knackered has your hair standing on end) and tense, thrilling gameplay, Stunt Car Racer goes to the top of the class (Hard Drivin' see me later).


#4 - Kick Off 2

Released: 1990
Developer: Dino Dini
Publisher: Anco
Genre: Football Sim

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It seems like the Kick Off Vs. Sensible Soccer debate is a no-brainer for ST fans these days. Dini's franchise has three entries in the top 50: Player Manager (no. 37), Kick Off (no. 11) and now Kick Off 2 in the top five, with Sensi no-where to be seen? Don't count your chooks yet, there's still three more to go!

The blistering pace, precision and kinetic energy of Kick Off has been mentioned during it's other appearances in the top 50, and Kick Off 2 is no exception. Continuing with Extra Time's 'after touch' control mechanism where swerve could be added after striking the ball, the sequel has a number of improvements: four players can play simultaneously, two on each team; you can take part in the World Cup; new pitch surfaces like plastic and soggy drastically alter the movement of the ball; change your teams kit; long throw-ins; proper free-kicks with defensive walls; and the ability to load your Player Manager team.

Mr Dini obviously believed in evolution not revolution, and in this case it was clearly the right choice. Kick Off 2 takes all the things that made Kick Off great, keeps the improvements made by the sequels and adds just the right amount of new features to make one of the best footy games ever. I lost hours and hours on this and its expansions Final Whistle and Return To Europe (ah, over-head kicks... ) which both continued to add great content to the fluid, non-stop hardcore action that is Kick Off.


#3 - Carrier Command

Released: 1988
Developer: Realtime Games
Publisher: Rainbird
Genre: Strategy/Simulation

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Back in the late eighties I had fast-paced arcade action games and I had mind-bending strategy games and never the twain met until Realtime meshed the two genres so seamlessly that it would unite fans of both genres.

Boasting colourful, smooth filled-vector graphics, Carrier Command was one of those games that, for many, defined the leap from 8 to 16-bit computers. And once you had scratched the surface, Carrier Command offered up the gameplay to match.

With all the action and decision making happening in real-time, the excellent icon driven control and multi-view layout of the screen eases you into a learning curve populated with wireframe damage screens, cargo hold inventory screens, intelligence reports and pretty soon you are whizzing around your carrier's controls and each command needed to vanquish your enemies soon becomes second nature.

Your objective is to seize control of a group of volcanic islands from the clutches of the rebels and their ACC Omega carrier by using your ACC Epsilon carrier equipped with 8 Manta fighter planes, 8 Walrus amphibious tanks, reconnaissance drones, and laser turret.

You make your way across the islands, fighting off enemy forces and deploying ACCBs (Auto Control Centre Builder Pods - Each pod can be for Defence, Mining or production).

You can control your Mantas and AAVs via joystick or mouse, switching between each with a click of the mouse, or you can leave them to their own devices. Some well defended islands will require a continued and well orchestrated attack to weaken defences before storming the control centre and deploying the virus bomb to infect their computers and gain control.

Utterly compelling - no two games are ever the same, and both strategic and action aspects are so well realised they could each warrant their own game. This is a must play for all ST fans.




#2 - Oids

Released: 1987
Developer: FTL Games
Publisher: FTL Games
Genre: Shoot 'em up

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Rescue the Oids from the fiendish Biocretes who are turning them into vending machines and household appliances! Fuel your Ship, charge your shields, and blast off to adventure!

At least that's what it says on the box, but it's just another Thrust clone, innit? I mean, rotate left, rotate right, thrust, shoot stuff, watch out for the rocks. Blah blah so much blah. But wait a minute, Thrust was bloody marvellous! And so was Gravitar before that. And so was Asteroids before that. Oids does for Thrust exactly what Gravitar does for Asteroids: Adds depth. Buckets of it. It's evolution not revolution here, and boy, what an evolution!

Each level starts with your Mother ship dropping down into the field of play. Your V-wing fighter is deployed, fully fuelled, armed and ready to go. Using the Joystick to rotate and thrust and the button to shoot, it's up to you to bring home the androids safe and sound.

This is not going to be as simple as picking up the kids from school in your Chelsea tractor, though. The Biocretes are quite happy with the cushy, affluent life they've carved out for themselves at the expense of the Oids' freedom and dignity and they're not about to let it slip through their wallets. So, instead of rolling out the red carpet and reserving you a prime parking space at the Convoid Inc. Robot Conversion Plant, they've equipped their planets with all manner of defences. Gun turrets and missile silos fire volley after destructive volley of missiles at you, and if you manage to survive that, enemy craft will pursue you to the ends of the universe.

But fear not! You are not left defenceless against this onslaught, far from it. A deft tap downwards on your flight stick encases you in a protective shield that will sustain even the toughest of blows. Be careful though, it runs out of energy quickly, and can only be recharged with the spacebar, which depletes your fuel. Rely on this too much and your demise will be a quick one. On offense, you will find the novabomb very handy when in a tight spot. Just double-tap the fire button, holding the button down on the second tap. When the bomb reaches your target, let go of fire and BLA-DOW! Instant carnage.

In this style of game, precision is key. Oids has it in spades... Very precise spades. Its physics engine (yes, old games have physics too) is perfectly balanced, as is the difficulty curve. Whenever I die, I know it was my fault and my fault alone, compelling me to try and try again until the V-wing is perfectly under my control.


#1 - Dungeon Master

Released: 1987
Developer: FTL Games
Publisher: FTL Games
Genre: RPG

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FTL did not release a great number of games, but those they did release were all well received by the press and public alike - as demonstrated by their dominance at the top of this poll. Original and trailblazing in both technical and gameplay aspects, Dungeon Master game would bring RPG to the masses, and inspire countless clones as well as legitimate sequels.

Sacred Mt. Anais is the home of the Grey Lord and the resting place of the legendary power gem that is responsible for all sentient life. The Grey Lord and Theron - his apprentice - worked tirelessly to find the gem so that they could use it to create a peaceful world where all the races could live in harmony.

On discovering the power gem, the Grey Lord began his incantation, but, making a vital error resulting in cataclysmic explosion, teared both the fabric of the universe and the Grey Lord himself. Now the Grey Lord's good side (Lord Librasulus) is stuck in limbo and his evil side (Lord Chaos) is free to wreak havoc on mankind.

In order to defeat Chaos, you must once again enter the dungeons under Mt. Anais, find the firestaff and return it to Librasulus. To do this your newly ethereal self must enter the Hall of Champions (Chaos' trophy room of defeated heroes) resurrect those four whom you deem most worthy, and direct their movements and actions so that they might fare better in their second attempt to defeat the sinister Chaos.

This is where the game begins. In the hall are twenty-four mirrors, each one containing a character you can add to your party. You can choose from many different races: Men, Hobbits, Dwarves, Bika (dog-like humanoids), Elves, Lizard-men and more. Each character has a set of stats governing abilities like their strength, vitality and available mana and classes. The available classes and their abilities are: Fighters, inflicting damage using melee weapons; Ninjas, using ranged weapons such as bow and arrow, darts and slingshots; Wizards, using elemental magic to inflict damage on foes, or effect the environment to benefit the party; and Priests, who use their spells to heal, cure poisons, and protect the party with magical shields.

Your characters' levels and skills improve as you use them (DM was first to introduce this style of levelling) and progress from Neophytes through Novices to Apprentices, Journeymen and beyond. Fighters improve by hitting and being hit in melee combat, Ninjas level up by throwing or shooting ranged weapons, and Wizards and Priests progress by casting their corresponding spells. Levelling up is vital if your heroes are going to survive in the tougher lower levels of the dungeon.

Combat is straightforward: click on the weapon at the right hand side of the screen and choose an option. Some options will execute a quick attack, while others will execute slower, more powerful attacks and later in the game, magical weapons will give you the option to cast a spell. As your character's fighter skill increases, more melee attacks will become available.

This game is simply excellent. It's like a history lesson in the development of the RPG, yet it has aged incredibly well. It is very immersive, the short story in the manual setting the scene superbly, feeding your imagination and spurring you on in this timeless adventure and before you know it you are hooked. You are gutted when a champion falls, and are quite prepared to trudge through three levels of dungeon - carrying their skeletal remains - all the way back to that Altar of Rebirth you swore you saw an hour ago.

Quite simply, you won't want to leave this one alone until you have stared Chaos in the eyes and lived to tell the tale.

---

A big thank you to all who voted, this has provided me with an excellent excuse to replay all those old classics. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Cheers,
Stickhead

PS: here begins the debate/brawl concerning those omitted games...
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Post by Gnome » Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:17 pm

Ahh, that was a fantastic finale to an already brilliant countdown. Thanks StickHead!
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Post by Matt_B » Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:20 pm

Ah, that's more like it. Five great games there that all really show the ST at its best.

I don't think Stunt Car Racer was quite as brilliant back in the day as F1GP, but then again whilst racing car simulation has been honed down to a fine art there's been nothing quite like it since so it stands out rather more looking back.

Truth be told, I'm a Sensi man, but KO2 deserves a high spot. I'm only surprised that we didn't see both game in the top five, to be honest.

Carrier Command is, for me, the game that defined the ST years; a brilliant mixture of arcade strategy that - with some practice - could all be deftly controlled with the mouse. That enemy carrier was vicious though; charging around nearly as fast as your Mantas and climbing on top of islands like only your Walruses could.

Oids is far and away the best exclusive the ST had. Quite why FTL never ported it to the Amiga, or anything else for that matter, is beyond me as it's every bit as good as their other games.

Dungeon Master, well, what can I say. It redefined a genre and you can still see hints of the design in a lot of current RPGs.

Thanks for a great top 50.

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Post by SirClive » Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:29 pm

Top stuff. Apart from Oids which I haven't played, I have no argument at all about the top 5.
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Post by sscott » Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:34 pm

Dungeon Master rightly sits on the throne, for those who have never tried it, maybe you will give it a go, it still plays really well.
Thanks for the thread Stickhead.

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Post by Antiriad2097 » Mon Oct 27, 2008 4:28 pm

I'm embarrassed to say that despite owning two STs since the early 90s and Oids being one of its most famous games, invariably quoted in ST vs Amiga arguments, I've yet to sit down and play it properly. I missed it on release and never saw it for sale anywhere and never quite trusted mail order thanks to my parents instilling an aversion to sending money off to strange parts of the world (read as England). I've thrown it on a couple of times in an emulator but got a bit lost with it, not quite sure of what to do. I now plan to make a point of rectifying this. Its been a while since my PSP saw any Atari action, so its going to be pressed into service for this one.

Great thread btw Stickhead, a real labour of love and it shows. Well done for giving me one of my fave threads of recent months. If there was an award for 'Best Member' (no pun intended) I'd nominate you off the back of this one.
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Post by bolda » Mon Oct 27, 2008 5:38 pm

Great to see this thread finally come to an end (meant in the nicest way possible!) :wink:

The biggest surprise in the top 5 is the absence of Sensi Soccer, meaning it didn't even make the top 50! I'm a 100% Kick Off 2 nut and didn't vote for Sensi in my top 5, but I'm amazed it didn't receive enough votes from others to feature anywhere in the top 50... remarkable!

Not all that surprised to see Dungeon Master at the top. It's a game that I've never played (just not a fan of 1st-person RPGs) but I still recognise it is hugely popular and has been for the last 20 years.

Finally, another note of appreciation to Stickhead for putting in the effort to organise the poll, collate the results and write all the reviews... top work fella! Are you at a bit of a loose end now!? :D
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Post by OldSkoolCoolFool » Mon Oct 27, 2008 6:17 pm

Thank you Mr Stickhead for what i now consider to be the definative ST top 50. A lot of hard work has obviously been put in here and its very much appreciated. Top stuff!
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Post by boggyb68 » Mon Oct 27, 2008 6:23 pm

Great stuff, Stickhead, a good top 5 to boot (literally! :)

Still cannot see why Anco could not put nets on the goals in KO and KO2.... the Amiga had nets and I cannot see that they were of such graphical complexity that the ST couldn't handle them!

Strange....

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bolda
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Post by bolda » Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:53 am

boggyb68 wrote:Great stuff, Stickhead, a good top 5 to boot (literally! :)

Still cannot see why Anco could not put nets on the goals in KO and KO2.... the Amiga had nets and I cannot see that they were of such graphical complexity that the ST couldn't handle them!

Strange....

B.
The goals did have nets, they were very fine and green in colour... you just have to look really closely! :D
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StickHead
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Post by StickHead » Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:34 pm

The list is now available unabridged and unadulterated on my new site: http://thejoyofsticks.wordpress.com/

You have all made some great comments here, but any extra comments posted on the actual site are very welcome!
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Post by SirClive » Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:36 pm

I can't find it :?
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Post by Gnome » Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:40 pm

Hey, you absolutely changed the site! Lovely!
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