7 Forgotten Atari 800 Gaming Classics

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    From PCMag:

    7 Forgotten Atari 800 Gaming Classics
    The 800 platform often gets overlooked in video game history due to a classification quirk that placed it in the PC category, but its library of games is incredible.

    To most people, the name “Atari” will forever be synonymous with its first game system, the Atari 2600, launched in 1977. But few recall that Atari launched a pioneering follow-up gaming platform just two years later—the Atari 800 and 400 home computers.

    The 800 platform often gets overlooked in video game history due to a quirk in classification that places it solely in the PC category, thus segregating it from the mainline of console history.

    During development, Atari envied the success of home PCs like the Apple II, and the new 8-bit console began to gain computer-like features such as a keyboard and peripherals like disk drives and printers. As a result, the 800/400 not only served as low-price PC, but as a game console with superior graphics and sound capabilities due to its use of custom co-processing sound and graphics chips.


    “All parts should go together without forcing. You must remember that the parts you are reassembling were disassembled by you. Therefore, if you can’t get them together again, there must be a reason. By all means, do not use a hammer.” —IBM Manual, 1925

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    Underrated is right: I never heard of them. Not surprising since there are a lot of 8-bit titles out there.

    The Atari 400 was the second computer I ever owned, the first being the COSMAC Elf, a single-board computer running the RCA 1802 Microprocessor.

    Prior to my getting the Atari 400, a friend of mine bought an Atari 800 with the 810 floppy drive back in 1980, not too long after it came out. I remember he had Star Raiders and Joust, which he, his roommate and I played a lot. From APX he got Eastern Front and Galahad and the Holy Grail. I didn’t care for Eastern Front but my friend and his roommate played it frequently. Galahad was popular among the three of us and we played that game constantly. During that time I ported the Altair version of Start Trek to the Atari 8 bit. I added beeps, screen color changes and other bells and whistles to the game to make it more interesting. It wasn’t played much but it a fun project and I learned a lot about Atari Basic.

    I got my Atari 400 a couple years later and I could not afford a disk drive so I got the 1010 tape drive. I also got Defender and Wizard of Wor carts. From APX I bought Extended Fig-FORTH and learned FORTH from it and a book I bought. Later I started typing in programs from ANTIC magazine and Analog magazine.

    As you can see, we spent a lot of time on our respective 8-bit Ataris but we focused on only a few titles instead of buying and reviewing a large number of titles. The main constraint was money since we were college students at the time. I didn’t have the financial resources to build a large software library until 1896. However, by then I had bought the Atari ST and focused most of my free time on that instead of my Atari 8-bit.

    Long story short: I don’t remember those titles but I am not surprised since, back in the day, I had limited resources and time regarding my Atari 8-bit.

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