The Hackers Dozen

by Hugh Denholm



Issue 14

Mar/Apr 85

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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 bedroom!

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!