The Atari ST is a very nostalgic machine for me. My trusty 520STFM – which I still have – formed a stop gap between my Commodore 64 and my Amiga 600 during the Christmas of 1994. It was also the machine I spent many a post school afternoon playing with my friend Michael in the late 80s and early 90s.
Therefore, this top 7 list is very subjective and personal. It’s based entirely on the games I loved playing the most during those times, either 2 player or solo. So I don’t want to hear any “What about this game…” or “But you missed…”, because this list is really the games which first come to mind when I think about the ST. I know that there are better games, probably lots of better games. But frankly, I do not care. These are the games which helped form my personality, which honed my joystick waggling skills and which ultimately nourished my imagination, and for that reason, I adore them.
The award for the hardest game ever conceived could possibly fall to this little gem. To begin with, it seems like a fairy faithful recreation of the movie. You jump off the chopper, all your guys join you, and then, like that, they’re fucking GONE. They abandon you (or die), and you’re left to slog your way through countless men and face off the predator, BY YOURSELF. In the film, this wouldn’t be a problem for Arnie but in this game, he’s weaker than shit.
But you know what, I love it, if only for the countless hours I spent entirely on this first level.
6: Ghouls and Ghosts
Straight into another unbelievably difficult game. I dunno if I was some kind of masochistic child, but damnnn. This is one hard platformer.
I think it’s the gothic, ghost infested landscape which endears me to this game so much actually. I loved the supernatural as a wee nipper, and this game clearly sparked my imagination, as we took turns trying to beat this horrifically hard bastard.
5: Big Run
By this point, you’re probably thinking, damn, this is a strange top 7, and yeah, it is. But Big Run was another game that I stuck to.
It’s a fairly standard racer, but I think compared to a lot of other racing games the graphics just blew me away, and given that the handling isn’t all that shabby, it worked for me, as you career over distant, desert covered landscapes into the never ending horizon.
Now this was a game that I sunk many, many, solo hours into. On the ST, the Amiga and in DOS. But the ST version was my first experience of this classic.
The premise is essentially to take over a star system of planets by atmospheric processing, or when that’s already been taken care of by someone else, brute force.
It’s a lovely heart warming concept with some deep strategy, and once you’ve got the hang of how to beat it, it’s like flowing down a tranquil river, with a bag full of stolen gold. Lovely job.
3: Double Dragon
At the other end of the spectrum, here’s a game which I pretty much exclusively played two player. I love that the high score table still holds some of our high scores, saved to disk for all of eternity, or at least until someone drops an electro-magnetic bomb.
Double dragon is of course, based on the classic arcade game, and for me, is actually better. It doesn’t have that horrific lag the original cabinet suffered from for starters, and it still retains the classic end fight where you ultimately have to kill your only brother, who you’ve fought tirelessly with, over some flouzie who doesn’t give a shit about which brother wins. There’s also the fact that she IS demanding you kill your only brother to win her affections. Seriously, was she worth coming this far for? Really?
2: Canon Fodder
I still had my ST when Canon Fodder arrived on the scene, and just listening to that digitised opening rendition sealed the deal for me.
The game is military gunning mayhem, as you lead your small team around jungles, lakes and sandy landscapes to kill the enemy foes and reach your goal.
War, really has never been so much fun.
1: Gauntlet 2
And so, the much anticipated number one slot. Gauntlet. What an absolute corker.
Based on Atari’s arcade cabinet, the game sees you controlling either a Wizard, Valkyrie, Warrior or an Elf through sprawling dungeons infested with boney things, monster things and those stubborn-to-die DEATHS (possibly as they’re already dead).
This game really, really shines on two player mode, and we must have sunk hundreds of hours, if not more, trying to get to the final level of this mammoth game.
I don’t think we ever did. But hey, it was fun, and it whole-heartedly deserves the number one spot in my opinion.
And remember that. It’s my opinion, not yours. So be gone with you.