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Top 5 Atari 8-bit games

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Hey guys, I'm putting together a list of the best Atari 8-bit games for Retro Gamer magazine.

It would be great if you could tell us your top 5 favourite games and why and we'll put some of the quotes in the mag. The machine largely passed me in the UK, so I though it would make more sense to come to a US-based forum.



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Top 5 Atari 8bit games:


Star Raiders

Rescue on Fractalas

Jumpman Jr

Miner 2049er

The Eidolon


Honerable mention:


Livewire (hand typed in on an Atari 400 from Analog magazine)


I can still remember the feeling of playing Star Raiders for the first time. I had never seen anything like it. I played it for what seemed like weeks. And I still love playing it today. Rescue on Fractalas was also amazing and groundbreaking. Jumpman Jr was just fun to play. Miner 2049er was so frustrating, but I kept playing it so it had a lasting appeal because beating each level felt like a huge accomplishment. The Eidolon was the first rpg like game I ever played. And for someone who loved Tempest, Livewire was worth the pain of all that typing on the 400 keyboard.



Edited by ravard
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Actually a many of us are European, I'm UK as are a number of us and we have a fantastic set of guys from Eastern Europe, oh, and we have some Americans ;)


Lots of Americans actually :)





Star Raiders








Space Harrier

Edited by Mclaneinc
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There's two influences that were important to me. I was sinking a small fortune in quarters into arcade machines at the time, often times with my son who was 6-7 at the time which pretty much doubled the cost. First time I saw an Atari 400 at a department store with Pac Man in demo mode I knew I had to have one. At the time big stereos were popular and there was a chain, Pacific Stereo, that had a 400 set up running Star Raiders on a projection screen!


So that pretty much describes phase one for me. Arcade hits and stuff you couldn't get anywhere else. Examples include games like Pac Man, Asteroids, Space Invaders, for the arcade, River Raid, Star Raiders, for only on the Atari. Kind of hard to get it down to five since there were a lot of games at the time like Frogger, Donkey Kong, Dig Dug, that held my interest. From a firstest with the mostest I could say Pac Man and Star Raiders.


Second phase was when people went beyond what you could do with an arcade machine. First disk based RPG I bought was Ultima III. The RPGs went well beyond a simple joystick jockey. They involved a lot of elements of customization and personalizing the game world. You got to chose everything from strategy to how your character was equipped to their name. For me, it really foretold the way the game playing public was going to spend their dollars. Popular games from Civilization to Warcraft to Diablo owe their inspiration to these games. That would make my next three Ultima III, Alternate Reality, and Mule.


That's not to say favorite all time or how much time I spent playing them. I sure I spent more time playing Sargon Chess then Mule but that isn't the point I am trying to make with my take on the list. Certainly all the Lucas Games like Ballblazer and Rescue on Fractalus were inspiring for what you could do when you changed your mode of operation into doing it great rather then shovel it out.

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These are the games I find myself returning to the most today. There are lots of classic games (like Mercenary, the Fractal Lucasfilm games, Alternate Reality, etc) that were stunning at the time but I find them lacking somewhat now. Either that or my tastes have changed! :)


These games still stand up, IMO.


Dropzone - arguably the best "Defender" type game on any system. The game the A8 was built to play!

Encounter - excellent 3D shooter based on Battlezone but much, much faster.

Donkey Kong - brilliant version of the classic arcade game that I would argue plays better than the source material.

Pastfinder - vertically scrolling shooting jumping / adventure game. Unusual and addictive.

Ballblazer - 3D futuristic sports game loosely based on Soccer. A great 2 player game.

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1) Millipede

2) Pac-Man Arcade port

3) Ocean Detox

4) Dropzone

5) Drelbs


Can't describe why. Those are really awesome games, but this list changes from day to day. Only game that is always on #1 here is Millipede. It is my all time favorite game ever.


Play it, and you know why!

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I have kept to original games. The Atari had its share of great and good arcade conversions but these are my favourite "Atari only/first" games.


M.U.L.E. Probably still the best way to have fun with (up to) four people looking at one screen. At the same time learning about supply and demand without even noticing it.


Star Raiders: probably the single must have game of the 400/800 era that sold more systems than all others as it was an Atari exclusive. Just 8K of code let you fight a galaxy full of enemies alternating between tactics and pure 3D combat. When I asked my kids if they could imagine how cool this was 30 years ago my 12 year old son said "it is still cool now!"



Shamus: color-coded locks and keys, health packs, droids and an unbeatable enemy in a 128-screen maze with electrocuting walls. With lightning-fast gameplay this "second person shooter" sent your pulse racing a decade before FPS showed up.


Miner 2049er: maybe not the first but probably the best platformer for the Atari, this teenager-programmed gem combined cheerful graphics, "touch all parts", puzzles and a count-down timer for endless "one more try" fun.


Archon: in this mystical-magical chess-type game you have to fight all your battles rather than just taking the opponent's piece off the board. Spells and squares changing their color require strategic planning.


Some of these games have C64 versions but for most the Atari version has superior graphics.


Honorary mentions:


Jumpman: runner-up for Atari platformers, up to 30 levels of changing puzzles


Spelunkers: exploring a mine two screens wide and several dozen smooth-scrolling screens deep, depleting oxygen, dangerous explosives and a pesky ghost will keep you trying "just one more" to see the end.


Seven Cities of Gold: freely roaming the yet unexplored Americas or a random continent in search of riches. Feels a bit tedious now but was revolutionary in its time.


Picnic Paranoia


Fort Apocalypse

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LOL! My list changes every time this is asked.


Star Raiders

Parker Brothers Frogger




The last one in the list is always tough, because it eliminates all other choices.


The time I will say Boulder Dash.



Edited by a8isa1
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For simplicity, I've stuck with the VERY EXCITING early 80's concept of "bringing the arcade home." I've picked these all for the same, simple reasons:


a) They were almost better than the original arcade version i.e. slightly easier but still amazingly fun.

b) They ran the best, fastest and smoothest and took the best advantage of late 70's, early 80's Atari technology:


1) Defender: this game is amazing on an Atari. Fast, smooth, colorful, with great early arcade crunchy sound effects.

2) Donkey Kong: faster and slightly easier than the original game -- arguably better. Great fun and extremely addictive.

3) Galaxian: bright, colorful and packed with motion and smooth animation with nutty sound effects. Simple and replay-able over and over and over.

4) Pacman: Yes, it came out on the 2600 first, but the Atari Home Computer version was the best kept secret for a long time. Beautiful, bright and accurate with great joystick response, it starts getting very fast and very furious after about 20,000 points.

5) Pole Position: It didn't matter that you didn't have a steering wheel or foot pedal. Atari made the acceleration automatic, with you in control of the shifting, brakes and steering. Set it for 8 laps and screech around the curves, trying to not go up in a ball of flame and beat your own record times and number of cars passed.

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Casual: Arcade: Head to Head: Adventure: RPG: Homebrew:

- Ghost Busters - Donkey Kong - BallBlazer - Zork - Ultima IV - Yoomp!
- Pitfall II - Spy Hunter - Archon - Hitchhiker's Guide - Alternate Reality: The Dungeon - Assembloids
- Goonies - Joust - M.U.L.E. - Asylum - Alternate Reality: The City - Ridiculous Reality

- Conan - Pengo - Hardball - Deadline - Temple of Apshai - Cubico

- Karateka - Pacman - International Karate - Zork III - Auto Duel - Rolltris


I'm truly sorry. I couldn't help It.

Edited by pixelmischief
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Star Raiders - Still amazing to play after 35 years

M.U.L.E. - Is there any game out there that plays like this? Playing 3 player with my dad and my brother was great fun as a kid

Pole Position - Super smooth frame rate has always made this game.

Moon Patrol - Just crazy fun

Archon - Still a very unique game

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1.- Draconus
2.- Zybex
3.- Elektraglide
4.- The Extirpator
5.- The Infiltrator

I have a crush on POKEY music. I owned Draconus, Zybex, Elektra Glide and The Extirpator on tapes; and since they were big files, I usually spent half an hour waiting for them to load. But listening to such great tunes -especially, "Thalamusik"- was worth the pain.
About "The Infiltrator", it was the first game I played after buying a 1050 Disk Drive. I feel that -in perspective- it can be easily name as the great grand father of conventional games like Metal Gear Solid: a convincing plot, multiple items to recover, interactions, mapping and even a helicopter flight simulator. No need to ask for more.

Finally, I'd bet that Draconus is a must for latin american Atari XL/XE series players, together with Preliminary Monty -which we prefer to call "Montezuma".
Edited by Yautja
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Just come to my mind and without special order:




-Star Raiders I & II


-International Karate / World Karate Championship


-Pole Position


-Great American Cross Country


Other Mentions:


-Frogger - Parker Brothers






-Blue Print






-Qix (5200 version)


-Boulder Dash


-Keystone Kappers

Edited by Drummerboy
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