Before Rare were known as Rare, they were called Ultimate: Play The Game, and they were one of the UK’s more prolific developers during the earliest eras of home computing. Along with their more famous releases such as Jetpac and Knight Lore was Atic Atac. While it was before my time (released in the year I was born, to be precise!), it was a favourite among gamers of the era. Yesterday, a Windows remake of the game was released. Naturally, it’s freeware.
A comparatively simple game by modern standards, Atic Atac is a maze-puzzle game with some shooter elements. Playing as one of three generic fantasy sorts, you’ve got to explore a ~200 room complex in search of the Golden Key Of A.C.G, which will open the exit and secure you a place on the high score board. By modern standards, it’s pretty baffling at first – any attempt to just jump in and figure stuff out is likely going to be met with death, confusion, and more death. Eurogamer have a retro review here that might help explain it, but it’s best seen in action, so check the authentic Speccy gameplay video below, colour-clash and all.
In short, it’s a game of inventory and resource management. The various items scattered around the rooms are required to access new areas, but you can only carry three items at any given time, meaning some careful planning on where to stash your gear and mentally mapping out exactly the safest route to backtrack. Enemies constantly spawn and bounce randomly around the rooms, and will chew away at your health (represented by a tasty roast chicken) for every moment they’re in contact with you. It’s tricky and old-school in a way that most gamers won’t even comprehend these days, but it’s well worth a look, especially if you want to get an idea of what videogames were like almost 30 years ago.
Old news? Perhaps, but these two projects are one of the better kept secrets of the modding world. The Ultima series are classics for a reason – a long-running franchise of very forward-thinking roleplaying games that ran all the way through the 80s up until the end of the 90s, sadly ending on a sour note due to extensive publisher meddling. The one key weakness of the games is their age. While the combat engines are solid and the settings and stories excellent, the technology lets them down, which is why these two full-length remakes are worthy of your attention.
This year has been great for indie games, but it wasn’t without it’s disappointments. Nintendo’s handling of indie developers and their Wiiware store in general being two very low points. The remake of Nigoro‘s PC freeware classic puzzle/adventure/metroidvania La-Mulana was completed and promptly made it’s way onto the Japanese Wiiware store, but half a year later and the US and EU releases are still caught up in red tape. All hope is not lost, though. In this apologetic blog update, Nigoro tell us that the Wii version is due soon, but also something much more interesting: It’s coming back home.
Ludicrous Gibs! If you were a PC gamer through the early 90s, that phrase should put a big dumb grin on your face. It was the text message that popped up to accompany an enemy exploding violently into a cartoonish cloud of meat (often containing 3+ eyeballs per human, oddly) in Apogee Software’s Wolfenstein-esque Rise Of The Triad, and also the first common usage of the term to describe such splatteriffic delights. A couple of months ago, a pair of dedicated fans (El Zee and 5HFifty) released Return of The Triad, a standalone update/remake of the game, based on the ZDoom engine.
We featured this a while back in our Retro FPS Freeware lineup, but sometimes an update is worth featuring, especally one as momentous as this. A great many years ago, a small company called Bungie (heard of them?) made the Marathon trilogy. Three heavily story-driven FPS’s that were years ahead of their time. Some time later, Bungie were kind enough to release both the game content and the engine source-code to their fans. Today, the Aleph One project has finally come to its peak. In conjunction with Freeverse, the folks who updated Marathon 2 into ‘HD’ for Xbox Live Arcade, the trilogy has finally been updated fully to modern spec.
Update: Also includes a link to a mod-for-the-mod that adds a whole new set of weapons.
The Doom shareware episode – Knee Deep In The Dead – is a cornerstone of modern gaming. It was one of the first major game releases to be distributed online, and it set the standard for networked multiplayer, bringing deathmatch to the masses. The layout of those familiar few levels is burnt indelibly into the minds of many. Recently released Doom 1 (yes, you need the original, full game along with the modernized GZDoom engine) mod The Phobos Directive sets out to give you a fresh spin on those familiar environments.
The Amiga was a system that largely passed me by as a kid, but thanks to the marvels of emulation, I’ve come to learn that the system played host to more than a few great games. One particular fan-favourite was Renegade Software’s Ruff N’ Tumble, a particularly earnest and straightforward run n’ gun platform shooter. It was so loved, that a bunch of dedicated fans over at video-archive site Recorded Amiga Games have remade it in Flash under the title Ruff N’ Tumble Mashup, and it’s rather brill.
Update: Looking for the game, now that Sega have backed out on their agreement to let the project live? Take a look here.
It’s been a long time coming. After a massive 8 years in development, one of the oldest, longest fan-projects in gaming history launched last night, quietly and with little fanfare. Bombergames’ Streets of Rage Remake. Technically, this is labelled as version 5, but considering that the previous build released was a fairly rough beta iteration in 2007, this may as well be considered V1.0 – the big one. The final release. Right now, just the Windows build is live, but Linux, Wii (homebrew) and even GP2X versions are coming soon.