Four for the Atari

by Allen Doum
NAME:Attack at EP-CYG-4
TYPE:Space Arcade
SYSTEM:Atari 400/800 24K
# PLAYERS1 or 2
18779 Kenlake Place NE
Seattle, WA 98155
   (206) 644-3425

ATTACK AT EP-CYG-4 is a two-player arcade game where the two players act as a team. One player is the pilot and the other the gunner of a flying saucer trying to destroy the cities of an alien world. The pilot uses his joystick to control flight. The ship moves up and down in direct response, but horizontal movement is based on momentum. The pilot’s action button activates the defensive shields. The gunner’s joystick moves an aiming cursor relative to the ship’s position, and his action button fires the weapon. The weapon will not fire when the shields are up, however. There is a one player mode that combines all functions on one joystick, but that doesn’t work as well as the two-player mode. This pilot/gunner concept seems perfect for a parent/child team, with the adult as pilot responsible for the ship’s safety, while the child earns the points by destroying the cities. The play of the game has two small problems. Enemy interceptors appear at the edge of the screen with no warning, the same edge the player’s ship must exit to get to the next screen. This leads to some occasional ‘surprise’ collisions that steal a life. The other problem is that both friendly and enemy weapons ignore and may fire through terrain. Some screens portray mountainous areas, and it is disappointing that mountains do not block shots.

The graphics of the ship and enemy interceptors are unexceptional. The target cities are nicely detailed, although the smallest buildings are too small and players might miss seeing them. The ‘sweep’ effect when the ship goes to the next screen is nice, but a scrolling screen would have solved the problem of edge collisions.

EP-CYG-4 is a good game overall, and I have a feeling that the pilot/gunner concept will be around for a while. The game also comes with a four-color poster.

NAME:Hockey and Soccer
TYPE:Sports Games
SYSTEM:Atari 400/800 16K
# PLAYERS2 or 4
PUBLISHER:Gamma Software
P.O. Box 25625
Los Angeles, CA 90025

HOCKEY and SOCCER are similar to the Atari VCS games on the same subject. The two games by Gamma Software are so similar that we will consider them together. HOCKEY/SOCCER are arcade style sports games for 2 to 4 persons. Each team has three players on the (rink/field) and a (goalie/goalkeeper). The entire (rink/field) is displayed, without perspective, on the screen along with the score and the time remaining. The games may last 3, 5, or 8 minutes.

While the (puck/ball) is in possession of one of the players, the joysticks control only that player or one defender; the other players are moved by the program and will (skate/run) to either block or receive a pass. While the (puck/ball) is free, the joysticks control all three players. The (goalie/goalkeeper) must stay in the (nets/goal area), moving up or down under control of the same joystick when one person controls a team. When two people are in control, the second player controls only the (goalie/goalkeper). There are additional routines for (face-offs/kickoffs) and kickins (in the Soccer game). The graphics are of the kind that leave George Plimpton flat. For those who like the arcade style sports games, these games fall short of what the computer is capable of. However, as two-player sports games, they can be exciting.

SYSTEM:Atari 400/800 16K
FORMAT:Disk or Tape
AUTHOR:William Mataga
PUBLISHER:Synapse Software
5327 Jauzz St. Suite I
Richmond, CA 94804

SHAMUS is an arcade game reminiscent of BERZERK, with some interesting twists and vastly superior graphics.

The on-screen player, the Shamus himself, wanders through a maze of rooms and corridors throwing knives (called ION-SHIVS) at enemy guards. There are four types of guards, and each behaves differently. Killing guards is not the object of the game, however. This game’s version of “evil Otto” is the Shadow, who can be stunned but not killed when he appears to chase the Shamus out of a room. The object of the game is to kill the Shadow, and that can only be done in one place at the end of the maze.

Complicating the maze are several dead-end rooms that the Shamus may only get through after first finding a Key that matches the keyhole in the room. Other objects that may be found are vials that are good for extra lives, and Question marks which may also be good for extra lives, but may summon the Shadow to the room more quickly.

As the Shamus goes further into the maze the guards become more numerous, well over 20 in some rooms. (I’ve never had the time to count them. There might be as high as 40.) The maze has four levels, the action speeding up when the level changes. You can also increase the speed of the game before you begin for a greater challenge.

What sets SHAMUS apart from other games on this theme is the animation. The guards are all moving smoothly around the screen, and most of them have internal animation as well.

While the action is fast, it still takes over half an hour to get through the over 100 rooms. The game’s largest flaw is that there is not pause control and no place to rest for more than a few seconds. A second flaw is that the routine that controls the game’s speed has a bug that can set the game speed incorrectly if you change the speed after having played a game.

Despite these flaws, SHAMUS is easily the most addictive of the games reviewed here, ranking among the best arcade games for the ATARI.

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