8bitrocket.com
7May/080

So you are looking for a game idea are you? Try Atariage.com.

There are millions of games out there (there is even a site with that name), but original game ideas are few and far between. You don't have to be completely original to make a good game, but being different from the crowd certainly can get you noticed. Instead of cloning the latest fad games on the portal home pages, why not try something a little different?

Sometimes I sit around dreaming up game ideas. Very rarely does this game dreaming happen as a planned activity. My life is just far too busy to have time to just sit and think up game ideas. Sometimes I will be in the middle of a meeting about some arcane I.T. management topic (Kai zen, 1000 foot views, 10000 foot views, 20000 foot views, resource management, business process management - you name it and I.T. will have a meeting, a power point, and a Sharepoint site about it) and my mind will drift off to game-land. When this happens I usually start scribbling down notes about characters, levels, and power ups. As well, I also start creating blocky grid based pixel graphics that I can use as a prototype. More often than not though, I need to find inspiration else where. At those times I usually break out my trusty list of sites to visit for inspiration. I have never shared this list with anyone. I'm not sure why, so here is the first one, straight out of my Fire Fox bookmarks, just in case you find it useful.

Today we will take a look at AtariAge.com.

Atari age is one of the best online resources for the retro Atari information. The best thing there for game developers is the complete listing of every game ever made for all Atari consoles. Not satisfied to just list the games, they have instructions, screen shots, reviews, and even the rom files (for most but not all) to play in emulators. You will find over 3000 games to explore. Some of these are classics that I owned and played as boy, but most are new even to me. Here is an example of some games game that you might not have heard of or played. If re-made correctly, they might even get you to the front page of your favorite portal (Addicting Games, Mind Jolt and Hallpass are my favorites).

So, what types of games can be found there? Here are some games that I have book marked over the years incase I need a game idea.

Food Fight

(Image Courtesy of Atari Age)
Food Fight for the Atari 7800. This single screen action game was one of the best games for the system and also one that is begging to be re-made as a Flash game. I have been planning to make it for some time, but just have not got around to it. If you have not played it, you should. The best way is to download the MESS Emulator by visiting the Atari Age 7800 emulation page. The game rom is provided on the Food Fight page above.


Zolar Mercenary

(Image Courtesy of Atari Age)
Zolar Mercenary was my favorite game for the Atari Lynx. It was one of the first top down blasters that I ever completed and it oozed originality for its time. It was little known and little played by the masses, but it contains a huge set of unique power-ups (for its time). One thing it had going for it was sheer playability. I encourage any developer who is thinking about making a tile-based scrolling blaster to check this game out for ideas.
Handy is an emulator that can be used to test this game out. The Rom file is available at the above link.

Montezuma's Revenge

(Image Courtesy of Atari Age)
Montezuma's Revenge (Atari 5200) is a game that I am actually planning to use an inspiration for my next game. I am not going to make an exact copy, but something in the same genre - a Single screen, tile-base, platform puzzler. This is one of the most difficult (and funny) games you will ever play. It was also released for the C64 and Atari 400/800 computers. You can use a variety of emulators to test this one out also. The rom file is available at the above link.

Chopper Command

(Image Courtesy of Atari Age)
Chopper Command  was one of the first 2600 games that felt like it should have been an arcade game (I know it was you'll say, it was called Defender by Williams). This type of game has been done quite a few times before, but this implementation is top notch. It is a good example of a non-original concept that is executed very well. Sadly, Chopper Command cannot easily be played via emulation (like all Activision games), but it can be found on numerous retro console and PC compilations as well as many plug and play devices.

Keystone Kapers

(Image Courtesy of Atari Age)
Keystone Kapers is another 2600 Activision game that is not available via emulation. It has been almost forgotten as one of the first goal based, multi-screen, platfromer chase games. For its time it was as fast as Sonic and and fun as Mario. There were many other platfromers that came after, but this was a technical achievement for its time as well as great fun to play. Even though you cannot find this via emulation to play on the 2600, you might be able to find a version in the Atari 800 archives at Atari Mania.

Dragon Stomper

(Image Courtesy of Atari Age)

Dragon Stomper for the 2600 + The rare Supercharger was the absolute first full featured role playing game for the any console. It is another game that is difficult to emulate because all Supercharger game roms are still in commercial release on the hard to find Cyber Punks: Stella Gets a new Brain Cd.
The three phases of this game - 1. Roam the land gaining gold, equipment and experience;2. Spend gold on cool stuff to prepare for battle; 3.Travel cave to do battle with final monster have been done 1000's of times since this release. If you play this game though, you will see how the small scale and simplicity could be made into a great 3 phase Flash game . I did a full retrospective on this game last year.

You don't need to try any of these games via emulation to get an idea of how their themes and ideas  might be re-used in new Flash games. Just go and explore the Atari Age pages for each and the rest of the Atari Age Site to get all of the detail you will need on these and 1000's more..

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