There are a huge number of Atari ST games worth playing, the 16-bit rival computer to the Commodore Amiga was the successor of the Atari 8-bit family computers. The first model saw a limited release in April, May and June 1985, with a full launch in July.
The Atari ST was the first personal computer to have a bitmapped colour GUI, it used a version of Digital Research’s GEM released in February 1985. It’s big rivals were the Macintosh, Amiga, Apple IIGS and Acorn Archimedes, “ST” stands for “Sixteen/Thirty-two” which was a reference to the Motorola 68000 16-bit external bus and 32-bit internals.
It was so similar to the Macintosh line of computers that it could actually run Mac software faster at the time with it’s higher clockspeed.
Their were two configurations of monitor with the Atary ST, a full colour monitor and a monochrome one.
In Germany the Atary ST became a fairly successful small business machine, it also featured built-in MIDI ports and had big success for running music sequencer software and as a controller of music instruments with amateur and professional musicians.
Here’s a list of 15 Atari ST games you must play….
15: UTOPIA the Creation of a Nation (1991) by Gremlin Interactive
Utopia: The Creation of a Nation is a real-time strategy game. Developed by Celestial Software and published by Gremlin Graphics and released in 1991.
Taking place in the future, on a new planet, you play a planetary governor who excavates his colony after aliens hit the planet with a biological weapon.
Instead of being reprimanded or fired, the governor is lauded for his care of colonists’ lives over material gain, and promoted to a series of pioneer worlds to colonize.
14: Stunt Car Racer (1989) by Micro Style
Stunt Car Racer is a 1989 racer, developed by Geoff Crammond and published by MicroProse under their MicroStyle labels.
A really challenging game with various jump stunts and an elevated track with no barriers, so it take a lot of skill to master the tracks, I spent many times being hoisted back on the track after a big crash!
Single player mode consists of a league table split into four divisions of three drivers each, there are twelve racers in total. Each division has 2 race tracks, with a total of eight.
The Atary ST game could be played in 2 player mode if two computers are connected via a null modem cable, each with a TV/Monitor.
13: Dungeon Master (1987) by FTL Games
Dungeon Master is a role-playing video game featuring a pseudo-3D first-person perspective. This classic was developed and published by FTL Games for the Atari ST in 1987, almost identical Amiga and PC ports following in 1988 and 1992.
Dungeon Master sold 40,000 copies in its year of release alone, and went on to become the Atari ST’s best-selling game of all time. The game became the prototype for the genre of the 3D dungeon crawlers with notable clones like Eye of the Beholder.
Dungeon Master adds real-time combat elements (akin to Active Time Battle).
Other factors in immersion were the use of sound effects to indicate when a creature was nearby, and (primitive) dynamic lighting. Abstract Dungeons and Dragons style experience points and levels were eschewed in favor of a system where the characters’ skills were improved directly via using them.
Dungeon Master was not the first game to introduce these features. Dungeons of Daggorath for the TRS-80 Color Computer first employed them in 1982. Dungeon Master was, however, responsible for popularizing these elements.
12: Blood Money (1989) by Psygnosis
Blood Money is a side-scrolling shoot ’em up developed by DMA Design and publsihed by Psygnosis. Set in four locations on a single planet, attacking enemies and defeating end of level bosses.
The development team used advanced hardware to develop Blood Money, using improved graphical and technological processes.
This side scrolling shooter was inspired by the presentation of Mr. Heli, and the animations of Blood Money would later inspire the development of Lemmings.
Blood Money was released to positive reviews, with heavy praise on the game’s graphics and gameplay. The game was also commercially successful, selling over 40,000 copies.
11: Captain Blood (1988) by Infogrames
Captain Blood (L’Arche du Captain Blood in France) is a 1988 adventure game by french company ERE Informatique. They were re-labeled to Exxos who didn’t last long. The game was published by Infogrames and later re-released by UK publisher Players Premier Software.
It was developed first as an Atari ST game by Didier Bouchon and Philippe Ulrich. They isolated themselves to get the game released in time for Christmas. It was later ported to many other computers of the day too.
The titular character of the game is a 1980s video game designer, Bob Morlock, who had picked “Captain Blood” as a nickname in tribute to the film starring Errol Flynn of the same name. Morlock develops a new video game about aliens and space travel. While testing for the first time his new project, he becomes warped inside the spaceship of the very game he had designed.
Soon after, Blood is forced to go into hyperspace mode and, due to an incident, gets accidentally cloned 30 times. For 800 years, Blood tracks down every clone, as each one took a portion of his vital fluid. When the game begins, Blood has successfully disintegrated 25 clones but he needs to kill the last five clones who turned out to be the most difficult to track down or he will lose his last connection with the human species.
The title tune is a stripped down version of “Ethnicolor” by Jean-Michel Jarre.
10: Super Sprint (1986) by Atari Games
Super Sprint is a top-down racer released by Atari Games in 1986. The game is a sequel to Gran Trak 10 and the Sprint series. Which were black and white games from the 1970’s.
It supports up to 3 players simultaneously, there are 8 circuits in total. Super Sprint ends after race 85 where the bonus Super Speedway circuit is played. As you progress further into the game, more obstacles appear in your way like oil slicks and tiny moving tornadoes.
Your car can be customised by collecting spanners that lie on the track. You then exchange them for improved traction, better acceleration and speed upgrades.
9: Gauntlet II (1986) by Atari Games
Gauntlet II is an expanded version of the original Atari game. There are still four characters, Warrior, Elf, Valkyrie and Wizard. This time around, 2 players can play as the same character. Colours vary for the characters, as the added speed samples announce the characters as “Red Wizard or “Yellow Elf”.
The game features new level designs and a new enemy called “It”. If you come into contact with this enemy, you will draw all enemies to you.
Other notable additions include the ability to ricochet shots off walls by means of a special pick-up, acid puddles that caused large, predetermined amounts of damage and a large dragon which occupied multiple squares and required multiple hits to destroy.
Another challenge in the game is the possibility to find a “secret room”. This can be found by completing specific achievements within the level (e.g., “don’t be fooled”, means that you must find the real exit first). The secret room contains items such as food and magic potions (extra shot power, extra shot speed, extra magic power, extra speed, extra armor and extra fight power).
8: Time Bandit (1986) by MichTron
Time Bandit is an action adventure game designed originally for the TRS-80 by Bill Dunlevy and Harry Lafnear. Published by MichTron in 1985 as one of the earlier Atari ST games.
An overhead-view game, the player must gather keys to open locks which allow access to the exit.
Between levels, the player chooses the next level from one of 16 different “Timegates,”. Each leading to a different world, and each of which must be completed sixteen times. With each time being progressively more difficult than the last.
The worlds vary in character and difficulty, with some worlds incorporate elements of text adventure games. Most contain gameplay references to other popular games of the time, such as Pac-Man and Centipede.
In addition to the primary objective of exiting each level, optional side quests become available in the later stages of some worlds, usually awarding the player with one of several “artifacts” upon completion.
The game also features a “Duel Mode” for two players. In this mode, a split screen is used for simultaneous play in the same worlds, allowing direct cooperation or combat between players.
7: Starglider (1986) by Argonaut Software
Starglider is a 3D first-person combat flight simulator by Rainbird, released in 1986.
Developed by Jez San under his company name Argonaut Software. Starglider is a fast-paced game rendered with a colourful wireframe vector graphics inspired by the developers love for the 1983 arcade hit Star Wars.
The sequel to Starglider used filled-polygon graphics. The series inspired Argonaut to partnet with Nintendo in creating the Super FX chip. In order to power the Starfox series of games and other SNES hits using the Super FX chip.
6: Turrican II: The Final Fight (1991) by Rainbow Arts / Factor 5
Turrican II: The Final Fight was a smash hit sequel by Rainbow Arts on many computers including the Atari ST.
In the year 3025, for decades peace, freedom, and the rule of law in galaxy Cobra 2 have been enforced by the United Planets Freedom Forces. The United Planets Ship, the Avalon 1, is drifting through the outer reaches of the known universe. Colonel Ardon C. Striker and his crew are preparing for the final passage through the barrier of the galaxy.
Turrican II is similar to games like Metroid and Psycho-Nics Oscar. With hugely detailed levels and the morph-ball function took inspiration from Metroid.
This classic run and gun is divided into five worlds each with it’s own themed music by Chris Huelsbeck. Some of the most iconic game music of all time I might add.
Turrican II has an incredible soundtrack, so good it was performed live by an orchestra at the second Symphonic Game Music Concert in 2004. In 2016 Chris Huelsbeck created a limited Collector’s Edition Box Set featuring new live orchestra recordings of music from Turrican II.
5: Midwinter (1989) by Maelstrom Games / Microplay Software
Midwinter is a post-apocaluptic first-person action role-playing game with a strategy and survival element, designed by Mike Singleton and released by Microplay Software in 1989.
The game uses a timed system to simulate the simultaneous operations of recruits. The player having two hours to play as each of the characters in the story. When the time runs out on a character, you begin the story of the next one.
You will explore a land covered in snow, Midwinter is set in a series of mountainous regions and flat plains. When moving around you must consider character choice, skills, terrain to utlise the skill sets of each character.
4: Lethal Xcess (1991) by Eclipse Software
Lethal Xcess, also known as Lethal Xcess: Wings of Death II, is a shoot ’em up developed by two members of demo crew X-Troll, it was published in 1991 by Eclipse Software.
Despite Lethal Xcess being critically accalaimed in the magaziens of the day. The game was a commercial failure, but by no means does that mean this is a bad game.
This ST classic was originally planned to be an independent release. But ended up as a sequel to Wings of Death. Lethal Xcess’s original story is about Sagyr having been again turned into a gryphon and fighting a restored Xandrilia in a fantasy world.
Lethal Xcess has been the first commercial project of Heinz Rudolf and Claus Frein, although they had some offers before; due to the disappointing sales, both quit the gaming industry and became IT consultants.
Regatdless of it’s lack of commercial success, Lethal Xcess is technically an impressive gams on the Atari ST. It features digital sound, sync-scrolling, overscan and a two-player mode.
All original copies of Lethal Xcess featured dual format. Allowing the same disk to boot on both Atari ST and it’s rival the Commodore Amiga.
3: Oids (1987) by FTL Games
Oids is a multi-directional shooter released by FTL Games in 1987, the game was developed for the Atari ST and a conversion followed for Apple Macintosh.
The game is a bit of a cult classic in the UK, receiving rave reviews at the time, calling it a skillfully crafted and detailed game. Much later in 2014, the Atari ST version was reverse engineered and converted to the Amiga.
Following in the footsteps of games like Asteroids and Gravitar, with inertia-based movement, controls and shield.
The aim of the game is to rescue abused android slaves, it is truly a proper arcade style shooter. Impressively, Oids features a level editor, allowing the player to create additional content to keep the game fresh, pretty progressive for 1987.
2: No Second Prize (1992) by Thalion Software
No Second Prize is a 1992 motorbike racing simulation from Thalion Software. In a race between 6 of the world’s toughest riders, there is indeed no second prize in this game.
The game features polygon based graphics which are incredibly impressive on the Atari ST. It’s a mouse based game allowing for more accurate turns that you just wouldn’t achieve with a joystick.
It’s also one of the very first racers to feature a replay mode. Letting you pick any moment in the race you want to see. You can also change the speed of the replay and freeze frame it too. No Second Prize is truly a fantastic achievement on the 16-bit computers, making this a must play game.
1: Xenon 2: Megablast (1989) by The Bitmap Brothers
Xenon 2: Megablast is a game by The Bitmap Brothers and released in 1989. A vertically scrolling shooter and the third major title released by the legendary game developer.
Its subtitle is derived from the Bomb the Bass track “Megablast (Hip Hop on Precinct 13)”, which serves as the game’s theme music.
The original release of Xenon 2: Megablast was met with critical acclaim and commercial success, with reviewers praising the detailed visuals, addictive gameplay, variety of weapons and innovative soundtrack.
You take control of the Megablaster, a battlecraft armed with a raygun and is shielded from enemy attacks and collisions for a limited time.
There are five levels, ranging from the Cambrian era to futuristic metallic spaceways. The Levels are inhabited by agressive lifeforms, mutated by radiation emanating from the bombs planted at the end of each level.
Attacks from these lifeforms will lead to your shield depleting in energy. Once all the energy is drained, your craft will be destroyed with the next hit or collision.
You can find Capsules in Xenon 2’s levels, and release a variety of collectible tokens. These tokens can increase the ships weaponry, speed and shield. You can also allow the ship to dive into the background for a limited time to progress through the level.
When you destroy enemies, they leave behind currency know as Real Cash, you can use this “Real Cash” to buy and sell tokens at “Crispin’s Swop Shop”.
Atari ST Games: Honourable Mentions
Well, that concludes my Top 15 Atari ST Games you have to play. But of course there are many other greats including the honourable mentions below.
What’s your favourite Atari ST game? Let us know in the comments below.
Honourable mentions: Bubble Bobble, Double Dragon, Warhead, Gobliiins, Virus, ATF 2, Paco and the Tunnels of Doom, Rod Land, Electronic Pool, Bonanza Brothers, Tonic Tile, Defender of the Crown, Arkanoid, Chuckie Egg, Wizball, Vroom, Carrier Command and finally Flood.
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