By Mento 1 Comments
Greetings all lovers of antiquated computing technology, to this thirtieth anniversary celebration of the Atari ST. A stout little punter, the ST was one of the favored systems for European gamers in the mid-80s to early-90s, where the NES didn't quite make the impact it did elsewhere. Like Japan, Europe had weathered the storm of the 1983 crash by staying within the protective bubble of home computers: systems that ably doubled for productivity centers and occasional video game distractions. The ones people remember most are the Commodore duo of the C64 and the Amiga. Others might fondly recall the various Spectrum ZX models or early IBM clones. For lil' Mento Jr., it was Atari's first 16-bit home system the Atari ST: released thirty years ago this month.
The ST's lifespan is a little hard to quantify historically, as it sits in a very lengthy gap where console technology rose in leaps and bounds. The Atari ST pre-dates the US and European launches of the Nintendo Entertainment System (which celebrates its 30th sometime in November, so watch out for lots of USGamer articles on that), but by the time the ST had discontinued production in 1993, we were seeing the onset of CD-based systems like the Sega CD, and the earliest hints of 32-bit consoles like the PlayStation and Sega Saturn (both of which would debut the following year). The ST didn't quite last as long as the NES did (though it too had all but checked out by 1993) but it hung in there as Europeans gradually flocked to the Genesis and early Windows PCs.
Anyway, there are plenty of history lessons on video game consoles out there to interest/bore you to your heart's content. I want to come at this as a fan of the games it saw during its eight years of life; as someone who grew up with a system many others on this site did not. I especially want to highlight differences between these versions and the better known ones for other platforms: there's a lot here that would eventually see their way to the NES, SNES and Genesis, and even more that originated on the C64, Spectrum or BBC Micro and underwent big graphical upgrades when hitting the Atari ST. Well, depending on how significant you consider a leap from 8-bit to 16-bit to be.
(Estival means "Summer" or "relating to Summer". I'll come right out and admit it: I had to look that one up.)
Fantasy World Dizzy
For our first retrospective, I figured I'd take a crack at an entry from of my favorite Atari ST series; one that still elicits a lot of confused reactions and sardonic references by the Giant Bomb crew. Dizzy's an egg wearing boxing gloves, this is known, but what's less known is the nature of games he tended to appear in, and why they were so popular for a time. Fantasy World Dizzy is, depending on who you ask, the peak of the series. It would get bigger, it would get prettier, but it rarely modified or built on the template this game set. In that regard, you might consider it the Dizzy equivalent of Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. (It was originally released in 1989 for the C64, but we're seeing the 1991 ST version here. Also, feel free to jam to its theme tune here. It's super bleepy, huh? That's this era for you.)
That's essentially Fantasy World Dizzy, and Dizzy in general for that matter. Big emphasis on exploration, jumping around platforms, finding secrets in the environment, solving puzzles and getting turned into an omelette a lot. They also had incredible graphics and music for the time, though not really a whole lot in the way of sound effects. With the really early games it was often the case where you got music or sound effects but not both.
Fantasy World Dizzy's my favorite, but Magicland Dizzy, Spellbound Dizzy and Prince of the Yolkfolk are all great too. Treasure Island Dizzy, which preceded this one, is perhaps a little too hardcore for its own good - you can get caught in a cage trap and are forced to restart the game from scratch, and there's a lot of underwater areas that require you have a snorkel in your inventory at all times. Ditto for Dizzy: The Ultimate Cartoon Adventure, the first Dizzy game, which was also as hard as... a hard-boiled egg. Which aren't really all that hard. I knew there was a reason I avoided egg goofs up until now.
|Day One: Fantasy World Dizzy||Day Two: Wizball|
|Day Three: Elite||Day Four: Double Dragon I & II|
|Day Five: Space Crusade||Day Six: Buggy Boy & Chase HQ|
|Day Seven: Knightmare|