December 12, 2016

Lost Gems: "Blaster" for Atari 8-Bit Home Computers


Over the past couple of months I have been studying up on the ins and outs of cartridge creation for various systems. It's been pretty crazy... In my never ending quest to learn about all things video games, here begins the first of possibly many Lost Gems posts. It's about the unreleased Atari 8-Bit game Blaster.

I'm really interested in unreleased/prototype games. I think a lot of this started when I watched the movie Cloak & Dagger for the first time and never saw the game released. It still has me searching for those lost gems years later!

I printed some A8 PCB's recently and chose a few games that I've been curious about. For this cart I ran with the gray XE case. I realized quickly I need to brush up on opening those cases. They use plastic clips instead of a screw like the early brown A8 carts and I broke off a few of the tabs. Nothing some super glue couldn't fix, right?

"Few people even remember, much less have actually seen a Blaster arcade machine.  This unique 3-D shooting game was actually the unofficial sequel to Robotron: 2084 (set in the year 2085).  Unfortunately the powerful 3-D graphics used in the game made it very expensive to produce, so only a few hundred were made (estimates say around 500).  Another problem was that while Blaster was gorgeous to look at and fun to watch, it was a very difficult game to play.  Few players were skilled enough to reach the end, and as most arcade operators know, overly difficult games don't make much money (such was Gravitars fate).  The odd 3-D style graphics also tended to confuse people and scare away potential players (this was 1983 after all).  This is a shame because games like Blaster and I, Robot were really ahead of their time." - AtariProtos.com

I highly suggest reading the article over at AtariProtos.com, as they do a better job than I can do on its history and gameplay.

Blaster for the A8 rules! It really is a shame this game wasn't released back in the day. I believe it really could have been a hit for the Atari 8-Bit line. The 3D animation is done very well and it's a lot of fun to play. Simple to learn, but continues to give my hands a workout going for bigger scores.

Here's some gameplay footage of the A8 version:


I love the crazy Deathriders in the Outer Space stage(1:45 in the video above). They really crack me up riding those rockets! And I also love the animation and sound effect when the Z-15 Fitershipz come into the playfield(1:27 above). Awesome stuff!

All of the stages really work well together and it's a blast trying to catch the floating astronauts while destroying everything in your wake. The sounds are very arcade like at times too and it feels like a polished title IMO.

If you have an interest in Atari 8-Bit games and haven't played Blaster, you really owe it to yourself to check it out. It's fun to watch the video, but even more fun to play.

My thanks to the following for their helpful information:

AtariProtos
PixelsPast
Atarimania

P.S.

If you're curious what the Arcade version looks like, check out this video:

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