by Lee Pappas
Hurtling into the year of Big Brother, wave after wave of new Atari software is trying to rid you of what's left of your holiday spending money. My taking over this column is like a typical Nor'easter, except I'm buried in a blizzard of software along with the snow.
INFOCOM continues to uphold their name on the top-10 countdown with Infidel, The Witness, Enchanter and Planetfall. The latter is worth the price for its packaging alone; it looks like a mission briefing kit from Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers. All four adventures are superbly put together and continue Infocom's fine non-graphics adventure tradition.
SIERRA ON-LINE is now shipping an Atari version of Ultima 1, the super-popular Apple adventure game. BC's Quest for Tires is an arcade-style game, hopefully intended for the kiddies. On-Line's hottest hit in the ANALOG offices, Oil's Well (now on ROM as well as disk) turns you into "Pac Man on a stick" with added complications. (See Pat Kelley's review in this issue.) Homeword is OnLine's soon-to-be-released entry into the Atari word processor market. With its special graphics and joystick capabilities, this $49.95 program is touted as being especially easy to learn and operate.
A new company to the Atari market, STARFIRE GAMES, is releasing Time Machine I and Global Thermonuclear War. In Time Machine, you pilot the fourth mission of a USAF/NASA experimental vehicle in search of the first three test pilots, who vanished into the forth dimension (you could say they had the right stuff at the wrong time!). War not only involves you and your Atari in World War III, but forces you to unscramble launching codes and to retarget the ICBMS, along with making retaliation decisions. Both games are on 48K disks.
ACTIVISION is now shipping River Raid and Kaboom!, and IMAGIC's Moonsweeper is also available, along with Fathom, a graphics adventure. SIRIUS SOFTWARE has recently released Gruds In Space, a much better-than-average graphics adventure. And Bill Hogue's BIG FIVE SOFTWARE is ready to release Scraper Caper, a greatly expanded sequel to the adventures of Miner 2049er's Bounty Bob.
SEGA is following up their Star Trek Simulator with a home version of the arcade hit Congo Bongo. This cartridge-based game lacks most of the screen-levels of its coin-op counterpart (only two scrolling screens). On level 1, you must avoid the green coconuts hurtled by a whacked-out gorilla at the top of a series of "cliffs." As you hop over waterfalls and avoid monkeys gone bananas, you make your way to screen number 2. This is Frogger version one hundred forty-seven, except now it's 3-D.
BRODERBUND is gearing up to ship Lode Runner on disk, and Spare Change on disk and ROM. With more than 150 screens, Lode Runner has you wandering through passages avoiding meanies and picking up treasures. An extension of the game allows you to design your own screens and play them. Spare Change is a game with a different twist (almost a bizarre one). As an arcade owner, you must do whatever it is an arcade owner does and do it well. In Spare Change, this happens to be preventing the escape of your most popular arcade game characters. They "come to life," figure it's time to split, and try to escape. It's up to you to stop'em. These two programs come after the release of Drol, one of those rare games that comes along and appears on ANALOG's lunchtime monitors in force. Be sure to read our review on page 115.
New from EPYX is a cartridge update of Temple of Apshai called Gateway to Apshai, reviewed on page 34. Other new Epyx releases include Pitstop, Gunfight and Seawolf. The latter two are licensed from Bally/Midway from their coin-op versions. A preview disk with demonstrations of these four games and Jumpman Jr. is available for only $2.50 from Epyx. Silicon Warrior is a ROM cartridge for one to four players, resembling a Tic-Tac-Toe game with shooting, shields, black holes and robots. Two early video games from the arcade now translated to the Atari computer are Starfire, a primitive version of a Star Raiders-type game (remember the "Exidy" bonus ship?), and Fire One, one of the first sub/torpedo games. These come two games on a cassette or disk, as do Gunfight and Seawolf.
ADVENTURE INTERNATIONAL has a new game in release, AREX. This machine language program by John (Rally Speedway) Anderson pits you against enemies which must be neutralized as you progress through a maze of dungeons or an open arena. This game is available on disk or cassette.
Alley-Oops is a 16K program with 8 levels of play. A takeoff on the good ol' bowling computer games, but here you'll have to be on the lookout for beer bottles, discarded gum on the floor, and other "dangerous" obstacles. It's from ARTWORX.
From DATAMOST comes Mr. Robot And His Robot Factory, Cohen's Tower, The Tail of Beta Lyrae, Cosmic Tunnels and Monster Smash. These five arcade games should be out by the time you read this. INHOME SOFTWARE is shipping Captain Beeble, a 16K cartridge that is definitely challenging and fun (though I would have named it "Captain System Reset"). Multiple levels with explosion-inducing surprises will keep you on the edge of screaming as you avoid all of those close calls.
Droids is one of several new software releases from TG SOFTWARE. Nightshift, Abracadabra and Ozzy's Orchard wrap up their lineup of four arcade/action games. TG also markets a joystick for left or right handed players. SCREENPLAY's Asylum is a 3-D scrolling graphic adventure made popular on the IBM PC, and now available for Atari computers. It retails for $29.95 and runs in 48K. This company also has a Q*bert clone, Pogo Joe (only now you're hopping on cylinders, not cubes). Another arcade conversion, Blueprint from CBS ELECTRONICS, is also based on a Bally/Midway game.
AVALON HILL's TAC (Tactical Armor Command) is a 48K disk where you command squads of infantry and tank groups. Dino Eggs by MICROFUN is a fast action game where you are transported back to prehistoric time. Your goal is to scale to the top of cliffs containing dinosaur eggs, and bring them back to the 21st century. Death In The Caribbean, also by Microfun, is an adventure featuring high-resolution graphics.
If it's sadistic games you crave, then try THORN EMI's Orc Attack. In this cartridge you protect your castle from the Orc hoards scaling the walls on ladders. As you dodge their crossbow bolts and daggers, you discover that nice heavy rocks dropped on their heads will punch their ticket. Later you'll find that boiling oil will cook their goose, and should these medieval hoods get too close, it's headchopping time using the handy-dandy sword provided for you. Other surprises make Orc Attack a different kind of video game.
Queen of Hearts.
Another adventure converted from the Apple, Prisoner II by EDU-WARE, is based on the 1960s British TV show starring Patrick McGoohan. This challenging product is reviewed on page 62. Flight Simulator II follows up SUBLOGIC's Night Mission Pinball with an excellent representation of piloting a Piper Cherokee Archer II.
Queen Of Hearts is a 48K disk-based pinball simulation from SSI's RAPIDFIRE division. This is one of the few pinball games that has a "tilt" feature and the ability to keep track of up to four players. DATASOFT is following up Pooyan with Dallas Quest, based on the TV series Dallas, and 3G COMPANY has a program designed to assist in predicting the outcome of horse racing.
Adding to the growing list of practical application software titles for the Atari is The Home Accountant. CONTINENTAL SOFTWARE's home finance package can handle upwards of 200 categories, 5 separate checking accounts, and has multiple print functions.
The Atari Program Exchange is now offering Chris Crawford's Excalibur, an adventure/role playing scenario in which you are King Arthur, the ruler of Camelot. Though loaded with music, graphics and animation, the real star of this program is the aspect of humanity - morals and chivalry play an important part in the game play. Retail cost is $29.95 and requires 48K, disk drive, and a joystick. Also released recently from APX is Atspeller, a spelling checker for the AtariWriter Word Processing cartridge. This program requires a 32K disk system and lists at $39.95. A list in the programs "dictionary" contains 30,000 words, to check against your saved text files.
For those of you who purchased a 600XL, 8OOXL, or 1200XL and have had trouble running software, this disk (available from Atari) should end your problems. When booted up, The Translator Disk "flips away" the operating system in your XL Computer and replaces it with that of the 400/800 series computers. This rids the computer of any incompatibility problems, but remember you have to boot this disk up every time a new program is to be used.
Educational software is moving into the marketplace at the same rate games have. UNICORN SOFTWARE has four titles covering the full span of ages (1 through adult): Funbunch, Ships Ahoy, Ten Little Robots and Race Car 'Rithmetic. KOALA TECHNOLOGIES has several learning programs designed for their KoalaPad touch tablet that are oriented towards the younger set. Coloring Book, Spider Eater and Spellicopter will utilize games to teach their subjects in an entertaining manner which appeals to children. DESIGNWARE, the developer of Spellicopter, also markets Math Maze and Creature Creator for the Atari. Both educational games feature graphics to add excitement to the learning.
A new company to the educational market, CAROUSEL SOFTWARE, has introduced three new products.Telly The Turtle, an expanded turtle graphics package; Simulated Computer II, a nice program that uses graphics to demonstrate how computers deal with the information given them; and Brain Strainers, comprising three separate games. From MAXIMUS comes Storyline and Safetyline, a pair of disk-based educational packages that combine animation, music and a separate cassette soundtrack. Storyline puts the young computer user in the fairytate stories of Rumpelstiltskin and The Ugly Duckling, while Safetyline teaches safety through the character of Max the Cat. Both programs run in 48K.
Adding to their ever-growing list of programs, DORSETT EDUCATIONAL SYSTEMS now has over 60 courses covering a wide range of topics including reading and comprehension, electronics, accounting, business and a broad variety of math skills. JAY GEE is now shipping Attack Of The Spelling Bees, an arcade-style learning game where you guide your bee over letters, and "shoot" them to certain parts of the screen to complete words. This follows their previously released Devils Dare, a computerized version of the old Japanese "board" game, Go-Moku.
Just in time to compete with the troubled Coleco Adam comes Atari's "Programming System" All-In-One Pak. This package includes a 16K 600XL Computer, 1010 Program Recorder, five cassettes comprising the Invitation to Programming series (with appropriate workbooks), and two books: Inside Atari BASIC and 101 Programming Tips & Tricks (with its own cassette).
The "Writing System" All-In-One Pak is made up of the 600XL, 1027 Letter Quality Printer (with stationery), the AtariWriter word processing cartridge, and the book One Way to Better Writing.
Finally, there is the "Entertainment System" All-In-One Pak, including Donkey Kong, the newly released Ms. Pacman cartridge, two joysticks and (not surprisingly) the 600XL. Also included is a booklet, Inside Secrets (tricks to improve your game scores) and a cartridge storage case. Prices are $379.95 for the Programmer, $599.95 for the Writer and $299.95 for the Entertainer.
Shipping (finally!) is Atari's Communicator II Package. This consists of the 835 Direct Connect Modem, Telelink II cartridge, and several free hours on The Source, Dow Jones and Compuserve networks. Telelink II features fine scrolling, a display buffer, autodialing from the keyboard, and can store and transmit (at the touch of a key) your log-on sequence, including password. Look for Charles Bachand's review of this system in an upcoming issue of ANALOG. List price is $279.95.