Screenshot of Athanor


(Safar Games, 2014)

You are a Franciscan monk who has been ordered to travel to an abbey in the south of Italy to investigate reports of strange things happening there which are worrying the monks – but your searches could take you on a journey that you could not have imagined... This text adventure is the first in what is intended to be a trilogy. The pictures accompanying each location are crudely drawn in black and white, but this is deliberate, as the game is meant to resemble the text adventures of the early 1980s. Another trait that it shares with some of these games is a very unforgiving parser that refuses to accept many obvious commands and synonyms. Most of the locations are laid out in an extremely illogical manner that seems to have been designed for the sole purpose of needlessly frustrating the player, and I found it very difficult to find any enjoyment at all out of trying to solve it.

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Screenshot of Athlete


(Microïds, 1985)

Up to six players can compete in a series of five athletics events – the 100m sprint, the long jump, the 110m hurdles, the javelin, and the 400m. This is basically a French version of Daley Thompson’s Decathlon. The graphics are rather drab and flicker a lot, although the athletes themselves are animated fairly well, and the sound effects are mediocre. As you might expect, each event requires some serious joystick waggling or keyboard bashing, and accurate timing of your jumps is also necessary for some events. If you manage to complete all five events, you’ll be exhausted! This is a reasonable game, but its main drawback is that unlike most other games of this nature, you only get one chance to qualify for each event; if you fail, your game ends immediately.

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Screenshot of Atic Atac

Atic Atac

(John Ward, 2020)

You have found yourself trapped in a haunted castle and you must find the three pieces of the Golden Key of ACG in order to open the main doors and escape. In order to explore all the rooms, you’ll need to find coloured keys that will open doors of the same colour. You can play as one of three characters, and there are secret doorways that can only be used by specific characters. Each room is filled with monsters that must be avoided, and some monsters will drain your energy very quickly. This unofficial conversion of Ultimate Play the Game’s acclaimed ZX Spectrum game of the same name is really enjoyable to play. It includes new sound effects and bright, colourful graphics, and movement of your character and the enemies is extremely smooth as you zoom around the castle in search of the pieces of the Golden Key.

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Screenshot of Atlántida 3000

Atlántida 3000

(Keop’s Soft, 1988)

Reviewed by Robert Small

There’s an interesting background to this game. It was all finished back in 1988 and Iber Soft were to take on the publishing duties, but they also requested a Spectrum version of the game as part of the deal. When that version failed to materialise due to technical problems, the CPC version was shelved! Thankfully the game was eventually released in 2004, so did we miss out on a masterpiece? Not really, but it has its good points. The gameplay consists of platforming, exploration and item collection. The only problem is that the platforming can require pixel-perfect timing, which results in a very hard game. Graphically it’s in Mode 1 with some nice backgrounds and enemies. There is very little in the way of sound, but that strangely adds to the atmosphere. It’s a sizeable game with lots to discover, but why did it have to be so hard?

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Screenshot of Atlantis


(Anirog, 1985)

Skip is a diver searching for treasure within the domain of King Neptune. On each level, Skip must rescue a harmless purple creature known as Cute, and either collect a pearl or rescue a sailor or a mermaid – but his air supply is limited, and he must also avoid other nasty creatures such as sharks, octopuses and crabs which roam Neptune’s domain, as any contact with them costs a life. The graphics are simple but colourful and nicely animated, and a variety of sea shanties play during the game, but there are only three levels, and the second level is frustratingly difficult.

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Screenshot of Atom Ant

Atom Ant

(Hi-Tec Software, 1990)

“Up and atom!” Seven levels of action await our diminutive hero, with eight bombs to be defused on each level. Each bomb must be carried to the top of the building, where the bomb can be defused by touching a strange glass ball (!). Of course, Atom Ant will have to avoid all the planes, helicopters, missiles and other flying insects that guard some of the bombs, and there’s a time limit as well. Even so, the game is a bit too easy, although it may take a while to work out how to dodge the plane that guards the defuser on the second level! The graphics are good in most places and the music at the start of the game is excellent.

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Screenshot of Atom Smasher

Atom Smasher

(Amsoft, 1984)

Imagine that you’re controlling a rocket which is the size of an electron, and that you’re orbiting around an atom. The aim of this game is to shoot a target that moves within the nucleus of the atom, while avoiding collisions with the electrons. When you manage to shoot the target, another electron is added to the atom. Things quickly get hectic, because the electrons soon start to move so fast that avoiding them is very difficult. The graphics and sound are both awful, anyway – and your rocket doesn’t seem to obey any of the laws of quantum mechanics!

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Screenshot of Atomic Driver

Atomic Driver

(Loriciels, 1988)

Here’s a crazy little game, in which you seemingly control a car which has to drive around the town shooting other cars and strange objects, while not bumping into them, because if you do, the game is over. I don’t know what the aim of the game is – maybe you’re just meant to get as high a score as you can – but the really cute and colourful graphics and sheer silliness of it make it ridiculously addictive for me! It’s a shame the music isn’t very good, and only having one life is a bit annoying, but these are minor drawbacks to what is actually a rather good game.

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Screenshot of Atomic-Fiction


(Chip, 1987)

Reviewed by Pug

Atomic-Fiction is a pleasant little game based on Oil’s Well, which in turn is quite similar to Pac-Man. Here you have a small maze filled with dots that must be collected by a grabber. The grabber comes from above ground and is extended downwards by a pipeline. Within the maze are nasties that move along the screen horizontally. If they hit your pipeline, you lose a life. Both the graphics and sound are reasonable and suit this simple but entertaining idea for a game. The controls, though, are not always responsive.

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Screenshot of Atomik


(FIL, 1988)

An extremely ugly-looking Breakout clone – so ugly that one can be forgiven for thinking that it’s written in BASIC. It isn’t, by the way; if it was a BASIC listing in a magazine, it would be reasonably good, but as a full-blown commercial game, it is appallingly bad. Actually, it’s not so bad that it deserves zero out of ten. The game is actually playable, although you can’t stop the bat from moving, so positioning it below the ball is very tricky and the game is pretty difficult because of this. You can also design your own levels, but you’ll simply be put off by the abysmal (and very flickery) graphics.

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