What is a Hacker's Dozen? Numerically of course it's
sixteen (in honour of Atari's new 16 bit machine perhaps). What it
actually consists of is a list of your most memorable software. The
software could be memorable for two reasons, either you liked it or
you loathed it! Below is my personal selection. I leave it up to you
to discover which I love and which I hate!
1. DEADLINE. Ideally, my list would consist
entirely of Infocom games, but that would be (even more!) boring. I've
chosen Deadline because it was the first Infocom game I played,
because I love the "chatty" style of the adventure and
because they'd even programmed in a response to my attempts to do
naughty things to the lady of the house when I cornered her in a
2. BLUE MAX. The graphics are not as crisp as
Zaxxon but the game is 100 times more playable. Goggles and flying
helmets should be worn to generate authentic atmosphere.
3. STAR RAIDERS. A miracle in many ways. A
miracle that something so advanced should have been written so long
ago in only 8k. A miracle that Atari never bothered to release an even
better version in 16k. Upon reflection, a miracle that Atari ever
produced it in the first place!
4. SOLO FLIGHT. More of a navigational test
than a flight simulator but still very challenging. Coming down
through cloud in mountainous terrain with half your instruments not
working is a guaranteed sweaty palms experience.
5. SENTINEL 1. With a spacecraft that closely
represents a finned contraceptive and aliens that disguise themselves
as low-res pixels, who can resist this game? I can!
6. UNIVERSE. Big game, big price. Guaranteed
to ruin your wallet, your disk drive and your spare time. Possibly the
most comprehensive game of its type ever written.
7. S.A.M. Sounds like a brain damaged
American railway station announcer with severe adenoidal trouble, but
great fun. Program it to seduce your wife or insult your
mother-in-law, but don't get the programs mixed up!
8. SAVAGE POND. For: Cheap, clever concept,
good graphics, addictive. Against: we all want to fight aliens, but
who wants to live in a pond?
9. SPACE INVADERS. Imagine an alien race so
advanced that they can develop a space ship capable of travelling
across the vast tracts of space and time to finally arrive precisely
on target just above the earth. Pretty clever guys, eh? So why, oh
why. do these same aliens attempt to conquer us by prancing around in
mid-air like an inebriated formation dancing team? What a game
concept, it will never sell!
10. ENCOUNTER. Boring game, amazing graphics.
Good for impressing visitors, especially if you tell them you
programmed it yourself!
11. RALLY SPEEDWAY. The best two player game
I know and a lovely simulation of car racing. I once played it for
seven hours straight and my opponent and I never stopped laughing (I
don't know what he was laughing about, he lost!)
12. ALIEN SWARM. A great shoot-em-up which
actually gets easier after 100,000 points. Play it when you want to
convince yourself that you are good.
13. AIRSTRIKE. They tell me it's a classic
but I find it close to impossible. Perhaps I should buy a joystick?
14. MINER 2049er. The best jumping game.
Lovely graphics and some really tricky screens. There is a special
number you can input to enable selection of any screen, but I've lost
it. Guess I'll never see screens 6 to 10 again.
15. EASTERN FRONT. The Chris Crawford tour-de
force. I never wanted to go to Moscow anyway! Try the cartridge
version for even more options. There's meant to be a technique to the
game but the only technique I've found is to turn the bloody thing off
and have a beer!
16. CHOPLIFTER. A silly simple game, but
those little people waving at you are most appealing. They are so
trusting, they even stand there and wave as you land on their heads,
then they stop waving and make squelching noises instead.
What about YOUR Hackers Dozen? One of Atari's best (or worst!)
ROM cartridges will be awarded to each of the FIVE most interesting,
witty or clever entries or simply to those that tickle the Editor's
fancy. Write them down (not too long) and include a list of the Atari
ROMs you already have and you may get another to add to your list.
Entries will not be acknowledged unless they are winners. Get writing!