Atari User

Return Of The ROMs
By Atarisoft
Atari 400/800/600XL/800XL/130XE

Published in Atari User #39

Return Of The ROMs

Neil Fawcett takes a look at Atari's re-release of some classic arcade games

In the January 1988 issue of Atari User, I looked back at some golden oldies from years gone by. At the time of the article, the new Atari XE Games System was already on sale and there was a distinct possibility that some of these old favourites would re-emerge on to the software market.

However, Atari had different views on this subject and has re-released on ROM cartridge five classic games formerly available on disc and cassette. They are Blue Max, Rescue On Fractalus, Ballblazer, Archon and Fight Night.

Rescue On Fractalus

In at attempt to support the 8 bit market, Atari has priced the ROMs at £14.99 - I remember when a Star Raiders cartridge cost £30! - which is affordable by the average man in the street.

The packaging for each is beautifully presented with full colour artwork and also included is an easy-to-read Game Manual detailing the scenario in full.

A point to bear in mind is that it is very difficult to damage a ROM cartridge. Providing you don't plug it in while the computer is still switched on, you will have a very happy medium for program storage that will last for a very long time.


Archon: The Light And The Dark

Rescue On Fractalus

You are about to enter the ultimate battle in the Universe - the struggle between the poers of light and darknesss. The fate of the world rests in your hands.

This is a futuristic version of chess fought over two battlegrounds - strategy and combat screens. The first is divided into squares like a chessboard, with you and your opponent taking turns to move your pieces - legions of mythical and legendary creatures.

The combat screen is an enlargement of a strategy square occpied by one of your pieces and one of the enemies. This is a one-on-one battle zone where opponents fight for their lives.

Rescue On Fractalus

The aim of each side is to control five power points or to annihilate the opposition. Pieces can move in one of three ways - on the ground, in the air or by teleporting. A useful tip is to remember that your creature will fight better on a square of its own colour - however, some squares change colour throughout the game.

You have control of eighteen pieces in your regiment, each having its own characteristics and fighting skills. This leaves room for a lot of thought and timing to be employed during the game. To stand a chance of winning a conflict you will have to learn the individual abilities of each piece.

Each side is controlled by a powerful magician - Wizard on one and Sorceress on the other - representing good and evil respectively. Each can cast spells to affect the game - teleport, heal, shift time and many more.

Rescue On Fractalus

Archon is ideal for players of strategy games who want just a little bit more for their money. Just try it and see.

Rescue On Fractalus

The Earth forces are at war with the evil Jaggies who have seized control of Fractalus, the most inhospitable planet this side of the Kalamar system. Up in space the brave Ethercorp pilots have been holding their own, but down on the planet's surface things are looking a little desperate.

The Jaggies have built defensive gun emplacements all over the craggy mountain tops and canyons and kamikaze saucers constantly buzz the whole area. If this isn't bad enough the atmosphere is pure cyanitric acid - and will burn through your spacesuit in minutes.

Rescue On Fractalus

However, there's always some good news. You have been given the newly modified Valkyrie Class Fighter equipped with a Dirac Mirror Shield, Etheric Navigation System - a computer-enhanced viewscreen which allows you to see through the acid atmosphere - and the AMB torpedo which will destroy a target if it hits anywhere near it.

This is the best sci-fi shoot-'em-up crossed with a hint of flight simulator I have played - you can tell it's of Lucasfilm Games design by its all-round brilliance.

It's got everything. Wonderful graphics, superb sound effects and even an alien nasty that hammers on your cockpit until it breaks and you burn to death. If you like a nice title screen on a game, take a look at this one - it's stunning.

Rescue On Fractalus

The game starts with you in your fighter looking forward at the launch tube of the Mothership, which is positioned above the planet. As you launch, the tunnel zooms towards you at high speed until you are ejected under computer control to descend through the yellow acid atmosphere and into battle.

Now the fun begins. Manual control is returned to you and you must fly your V-wing fighter just like a real plane - forward on the joystick to descend and back to climb. Right and left bank you in the relevant direction. Pressing fire will launch one of your AMB torpedoes, of which you seem to have an ample supply.

In addition to the joystick controls you must learn some keyboard options. For those of you who have an XE Console without the keyboard you can use the function keys. If you are using a computer like the 130XE you have a choice of these or the actual keyboard. All the controls and much more are explained in the excellent manual that you receive with the game.

Rescue On Fractalus

Fractalus is totally addictive and caters from the real games players among you. If you do get it, have fun, but above all: Get those spacers off the planet - fast.

Fight Night

This game helped to fill a gap that had for a long time been ignored - boxing simulations. Written by Accolade last year, it offers you the chance to create a boxer and then enter into competition with other fighters.

You have five different modes of play - construction, main event, sparring, training and tournament.

You control your boxer using the joystick and have the choice of eight different moves - guard up or down, fake or throw a punch and more.

In the construction mode you can create up to 24 boxers by selecting from a range of heads, bodies, feet and shorts - rather like Frankenstein did - with the exception of the shorts, that is. The game offers well animated graphics and adequate sound effects.

It also has its amusing moments, especially when your opponent throws one of his special punches - which can be anything from spinning around to sock you one or bopping you one on the top of your head.

Fight Night is an amusing and entertaining sports simulation that will give you hours of fun.


Is is the year 3097 and you are about to become a contestant in the newest and fastest cult sports game in the Universe. This is your chance to become the ultimate champion.

Strapped into your Rotofoil, a hovercraft like vehicle capable of speeds of up to 50 metres a second, you must gain control of the Pasmorb and shoot it through your opponent's goal.

The game uses a split-screen similar to the one used in Speed Ace by Zeppelin which shows a simultaneous first-person perspective for each player. Once the game gets going the sheer speed is awesome.

There are three play modes: Regulation game, practice mode and spectator mode. A game lasts for three minutes and offers the ultimate in two player, head-to-head competition.

A very original game that offers a challenge to both your nerve and speed of reactions. Yet another programming delight from Lucasfilm Games.

Neil Fawcett

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