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Constructors Championship

November 29, 2008

The Great Atari ST Game Survey kicked up a top 50 of the greatest Atari ST games ever made. But who made them? Here are the best software developers according to contemporary ST gamers: (WARNING! The following post contains graphic images of game programmers in their natural environment and attire, if you are easily offended, or of a weak disposition, do not read). *SPOILERS AHEAD* If you haven’t read through the top 50 yet and do not want to see its results, this post is not for you!

#5: Realtime Games

Lock up your daughters, The realtime guys are out on the town!

Lock up your daughters, The realtime guys are out on the town!

Games in the top 50:

  • Carrier Command (#3)

Here on the strength of their one runaway success, the aptly named Leeds-based Realtime Games cut their teeth on the Spectrum with classics like Tank Duel 3D (an accurate clone of Atari’s coin-op Battle Zone which they released while still studying at Leeds University) and Starstrike 3D (Basically an unofficial and superbly playable port of the Star Wars arcade game). Their grasp of 3D vector graphics would serve them well with future successes Carrier Command and Elite Plus (DOS).

#4: The Bitmap Brothers

bitmap_brothers

Games in the top 50:

  • Gods (#36)
  • Speedball (#39)
  • Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe (#29)
  • Xenon (#15)
  • Xenon 2: Megablast (#34)

The Bitmap Brothers – who could never have been described as shrinking violets – changed the face of the video game industry. Significantly responsible for the shift of press attention away from publishers towards the people actually creating the games, they were the worlds first rockstar programmers. Image was everything to the Bitmaps, both in the press and in the games (not to say those looks weren’t often followed up by quality gameplay).

Shoot ’em up Xenon was a triumphant debut, bringing the arcade experience to the home, and follow-up Speedball did nothing to harm their burgeoning reputation. It was the sequel to this cyber-punk futuristic blood-sport that would capture the hearts (and money) of many, many gamers; Speedball 2 was both commercially and critically huge and lives on today in the form of an XBox Live download. The Bitmap Brothers name lives on, still making games and still (remarkably considering the value of their IP) independent.

#3: Anco

anco

Games in the top 50:

  • Kick Off (#11)
  • Kick Off 2 (#4)
  • Player Manager (#37)

Anco (in the form of Anirog) were one of the earliest software houses to appear with the emergence of microcomputers in the early 80s. They started with modest arcade game clones for the Vic-20, but their first big success (after a brief flirt with strip poker games) was Dino Dini’s highly kinetic Kick Off. Spawning spin-offs and sequels galore, Anco would dine out on the Kick Off franchise for some time to come. Their production run of over 20 years sadly came to an end in 2003 when owner Anil Gupta passed away.

#2: Microprose

microprose

Founded in 1982 by video games legend Sid Meier and Bill Stealey, Microprose is synonymous with quality simulations. They would go on to bring a strategic, non-violent slant to the God-game genre with some truly innovative, ground breaking titles such as Railroad Tycoon and Civilization. Geoff Crammond’s input would also push the racing game envelope, achieving levels of realism and 3D not thought possible on the 16-bit computers.

Games in the top 50:

  • Civilization (#19)
  • Geoff Crammond’s Formula One Grand Prix (#21)
  • Pirates! (#45)
  • Stunt Car Racer (#5)

#1: FTL Games

ftl

Games in the top 50:

  • Dungeon Master (#1)
  • Oids (#2)

Dominating the top 50 are a company that epitomise the notion of “quality, not quantity.” All of FTL’s back catalogue (Sundog, Oids and the Dungeon Master games) are top-notch titles and deserve a place in every ST owner’s collection.

FTL was founded in 1982 as the entertainment software arm of Software Projects (famed for its quality spell-check software). Have a look here for a more on the history of FTL Games. The one game that doesn’t appear in the top 50 – Sundog – probably only fails to do so because it was not played by as many people as their more established hits.

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2 comments

  1. Even that I’m a big Kick Off 2 fan (took part in 3 World Cups allready), I have to say, that Anco itself only released one flop after the other beside Dino Dinis masterpieces.
    So its fair to honor Dino Dini, but Anco itself does not stand in onle line with FTL and the Bitmap Brothers


  2. “Even that I’m a big Kick Off 2 fan (took part in 3 World Cups allready), I have to say, that Anco itself only released one flop after the other beside Dino Dinis masterpieces.
    So its fair to honor Dino Dini, but Anco itself does not stand in onle line with FTL and the Bitmap Brothers”

    I hear that. I was suckered into buying Face Off *shudder*, and later Tip Off (best basketball game on the ST, but that’s not saying much) on the back of thinking “Hey, It’s Kick Off but with a puck/basketball.” How wrong I was. Still, the numbers don’t lie and although Anco are undoubtedly one trick ponies, they nonetheless deserve to be up there.



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