HardBall! Overview (1987 Baseball Game)

Bob Whitehead’s Hardball! comes to the Atari ST. Whether playing this computer version of America’s favorite pastime by yourself or with a friend, you must decide who will be the Home team and who will be the Visitor. Also, you can choose to play with or without a designated hitter.

Harball features eight different kinds of pitches: offspeed, change-up, curve ball, screwball, sinker, slider, fastball! and fastball. A fastball! is simply a faster version of a fastball. After selecting a type of pitch, you can decide whether to pitch inside, outside, high or low. After the ball is hit, you will take control of a fielder, each of whom can catch or pick up the ball and throw it to any of the bases. As the game goes on, the pitcher will get tired; a fatigued pitcher is less likely to throw a strike.

On offense you can swing the bat, run bases, bunt, steal bases and hit fly balls, line drives, grounders and homers. When a player first steps up to the plate, some of his statistics will be displayed on screen.

As the manager of your team, you can substitute players, exchange positions, adjust fielder alignments, switch hit and call intentional walks.

The perspective in Hardball! is from four different camera angles: manager’s decision screen, pitcher/batter screen, left field view and right field view.

Platform Publisher Developer Year
Apple II Accolade, Inc. 1987
Apple IIGS Accolade, Inc. 1987
Atari 400/800/XL/XE Accolade, Inc. 1985
Commodore 64/128 Accolade, Inc. Accolade, Inc. 1985
Commodore Amiga Accolade, Inc. 1986
IBM PC Compatible Accolade, Inc. 1985
Macintosh Accolade, Inc. Distinctive Software, Inc 1986
Sega Genesis Ballistic Accolade, Inc. 1991

Ikari Warriors Review (1987 NES)

SNK’s Ikari Warriors was a great game in 1986. This is one of the first games for the Nintendo NES that two players can simultaneously compete against the computerized enemies. This was a new and exciting innovation in two dimensional action games, and that is the crux of the enjoyment offered by Ikari Warriors.

Ikari Warriors is based on a popular American fantasy of the 1980’s. Vince and Paul are American soldiers of fortune who crash into the jungles of a fictional Latin American Nation. These two brave men walk forward through screens and screens of mindless enemy soldiers (or moving targets) and defensive barricades. Eventually and with a bit of sweat, these two heroes save the enslaved nation of Ikari and return its people to freedom.

The graphics look very nice in this game. The enemies and the heroes are well defined and shoot in eight directions. However, occasionally the NES can’t keep up with all of the bullets and moving characters. This mini-glitch results in a flicker and a slowdown that is a bit frustrating. The only other problem with Ikari Warriors is that Paul and Vince depend on each other to advance forward. For instance, if Vince is stuck behind an L-shaped wall and Paul scrolls the screen upwards, it is possible for Vince to be irreparably isolated. Because of the well-known cheat for unlimited continues, many games of Ikari Warriors end with a trapped hero.

If you like a blast from the past and you have a friend handy, then Ikari Warriors is a classic well worth your effort. From a historical perspective, it is a real joy to view that state of the art 1986, and then to compare it with your favorite top down shooter of today.


Looks nice, but can’t always keep up with the action.




Great two player simultaneous action.

Replay Value

A long game with infinite continues.



Airborne Ranger Review

Airborne Ranger is a great game. It supplies a good mix of action and strategy. Although some missions are simply search and destroy, others will require you to plot out a strategy in order to avoid enemies. Some missions also have strict time limits which require players to act very quickly. Each mission type is a lot of fun to play.

One of the best missions is the liberation of a P.O.W. camp. In order to rescue the prisoners you will have to be very quiet. If the enemy realizes that you are nearby they are likely to move the prisoners and the mission will be a failure. However, this does not mean that you cannot take out the enemy troops. You can quietly sneak up on soldiers and stab them with a knife. What makes the mission even better is that you can rescue yourself. If you were captured in a previous mission as a different ranger, your previous character will be set free if this mission is successfully completed.

Using a save disk allows for many rangers to be created and moved through the ranks. Having a high ranked soldier who can choose his own mission will enable you to rescue other rangers at any time. When you first begin, you have a campaign that randomly arranges the missions. Only when the campaign is complete can you select your own missions.

Controlling a ranger is very simple. A keyboard overlay is included with the game that makes switching between weapons very easy. On the battlefield a crosshair appears in front of your gun to help with aiming. Making use of the backgrounds, the ranger can do more than simply walk, run, and shoot. Crawling through ditches is a great way to avoid enemies. If the battlefield contains water, the ranger can go underwater to hide from the enemy. Don’t stay under too long, though, or you will begin to drown.

Graphically, Airborne Ranger looks quite good. Every mission scrolls vertically at your own pace. Backgrounds are detailed and represent each mission well. Every sound is also good. Gunfire and explosions complement the overall gameplay.

Airborne Ranger could benefit from some more missions. While 12 is a fair number, they can be completed in a short amount of time. However, you will want to replay them in order to move up the ranks. With creative missions, well-designed controls, and interesting gameplay Airborne Ranger is a highly enjoyable game.


Some more colors would result in a perfect score.


Fit the game perfectly.


Great mission objectives.

Replay Value

You can continuously gain more points and medals for your ranger even after completing every mission.


Details each mission and provides tips.

California Games – Synopsis (1987 Game)

California Games is another addition in the “games” series from software publisher Epyx. Like their summer and winter offerings California Games lets players participate in sporting events. This time out, they are more non-traditional, such as half-pipe skateboarding, surfing and foot bag.

The game allows for up to eight players to compete in rotation through either single events, a selection of your favorites, or all six events. A single event can also be selected to practice and gain proficiency The users can name their players and points are awarded for each event depending on how each player finishes. Once all events have been completed the total scores for all players are tabulated and a winner is declared.

The six events you can participate in are half-pipe skateboarding, footbag (also known as hackey-sack), surfing, boardwalk roller-skating, BMX bicycling and disk toss (Frisbee). All events have their own style and method to victory.

In the half pipe the player controls a figure on a skateboard and attempts to do skateboarding tricks on the half pipe rim and in the air, without wiping out. The player has a minute and 15 seconds to gain as many points as possible.

In footbag the player controls an on screen figure who can be maneuvered horizontally across the screen and made to turn 360 degrees. By kicking the footbag into the air and basically juggling with your feet you can gain points. More points are awarded for tricks and complex maneuvers. There is a time limit again of one minute and 15 seconds.

Surfing consists of riding your surfboard smoothly along the lip of the onscreen wave. One can perform tricks by launching off the top of the wave and landing the jump properly. The main goal is to go as far and as fast as you can in the allotted time in a risky position.

On the boardwalk the player controls a roller skater skating into opposing traffic. The boardwalk is littered with obstacles and is uneven and unfinished in many places. The goal of the event is to make it to the end of the boardwalk in the shortest amount of time while dodging objects in your way and doing as many tricks as possible. When controlling the player one can jump, duck and spin 360 degrees. The player is only allowed three falls before they are disqualified.

BMX biking is another event where the player races to the end of the course in the shortest time possible. Controlling an onscreen BMX biker one can do different tricks such as backwards and forwards flips off of large jumps and ramps. There are numerous obstacles that will throw you from your bike. The player is allowed one serious (i.e. falling on our head) or three easy (i.e. falling over) wipeouts before they are disqualified.

The flying disk event is the final challenge. The goal is to accurate through a plastic flying disk the length of a field to a catcher. The factors that affect the disks behavior are the amount of force one uses to toss the disk. Once it has been thrown control transfers to the catcher who must be positioned ready to catch the disk. Points are awarded on the distance the catcher must run. The closer you throw to the catcher, the more points that are awarded.

Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! [PlayChoice] 1987

Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! is the story of Little Mac, a 107 pound underdog from the Bronx who wants nothing more than to be the World Video Boxing Association’s champion. The 17-year-old must fight his way through the ranks of three circuits before facing the man himself, Mike Tyson.

Along the way, he’ll face ten different opponents in 13 matches. The opposition is a varied group of comical fighters from all over the world, ranging from Glass Joe, a 110 pound weakling from France, to Super Macho Man, the 242 pound W.V.B.A. champion. Little Mac is greatly outmatched, so he’ll have to figure out the best strategies to counter the brute strength and tricky techniques of his opponents.

Each boxer has a energy meter that is decreased with every punch received. When a boxer’s energy meter is emptied, they hit the canvas. Matches can be won by either a traditional or technical knockout. A TKO is achieved when a fighter is knocked down three times in one round. Each round lasts three minutes.

Little Mac can block, duck, and dodge left and right. He can punch to the face and execute body blows. Powerful uppercuts can also be performed if Little Mac has a star. Stars are earned by catching your opponent off-guard.

Hearts keep track of how many punches Little Mac can throw, and his number of hearts decreases when he is hit or has one of his punches blocked. When he runs out of hearts, he becomes weak and cannot throw a punch. Only by dodging can he survive. If he is knocked down, pressing ‘A’ rapidly will make him get up.

When Little Mac becomes the champion of each circuit, he works out on the streets of New York with his trainer Doc Louis and receives a password that allows the game to be resumed at a later date.

Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel Review

The coppers. We all say we hate them. Whether it’s getting a speeding ticket or being pelted with tear gas, we bemoan their “necessary evil”-like existence. Yet we have literally dozens and dozens of movies about the police, hundreds of cop shows on television, and thousands of novels about those boys in blue. So with Police Quest: In Pursuit Of The Death Angel, we also now have a computer game about those guys. But we hate them, right?

In they first big wave of Sierra On-Line’s 3-D adventure games, they started to cover all of the most common genres: they had fantasy covered (King’s Quest), they had science-fiction covered (Space Quest), so the next logical step was to go for the modern-day “simulation.” Of course this would mean the creation of the long line of the games of Police Quest. More to the point, it’s good to see that while it is weak in some key areas, Sierra managed to keep up with the quality and popularity of their other flagship titles with this first installment of an entirely new series.

Here in the first game, the narrative takes place in the fictional city of Lytton. The player follows the career of a street cop by the name of Sonny Bonds who will go from arresting drunk drivers to stopping bar-room brawls to taking down an infamous drug lord by the name of — you guessed it — “The Death Angel.” For the most part, this increasing succession of tasks works well for an opening game, as it helps newcomers basically start from the ground up, but also keeps most other parties interested by adding the level of complexity and danger with each following “incident.”

One of the game’s first major strengths is how it creates a fictional city that you care about. Yes, the outside streets looks essentially like a street map with moving squares for cars. Though it’s how they move around and surround real locations you visit throughout the game that still creates an atmosphere of a “buzzing” city. By the end of the game, you’ll know where the city’s park is, where City Hall is, where you can get fed up, turn on your siren, and burn through the slowest red lights. It’s not really the graphics that cause much to be impressed by (although how they made the drunk walk is still quite amusing), it’s how they made it work to create a world you can explore and interact with no matter how much suspension of disbelief it may sometimes require.

As for the details, the rigid following of police procedure creates a textbook collection of “requirements” to get past: it makes sure you shower, it makes sure you talk to suspects the exact, correct way, it makes sure you call for backup at the right time, and so on. This is a decent idea for a “realistic” 3-D adventure game, but it can get in the way of entertainment sometimes. For example, getting a big tip near the later portions of the game, you can actually end your game by running out to try and nab a bad guy A.S.A.P. only to learn that you forgot to “inspect” your car before you left so it conveniently had a flat. Near the earlier parts of the game, this procedural feel to the game makes sense and is actually quite interesting in its own way. But by the time the game nears its ending, nit-picking on these comes across more as pedantic than actually worthy of real adventure game puzzles.

The tone is another matter. PQ is also probably one of the few Sierra adventure games that tried to avoid humour more than others. King’s Quest may have a whimsical nature, Space Quest may have a sarcastic nature, and the Leisure Suit Larry games may be lewd, but Police Quest seemed to want to create an entertaining game without so many setup-and-punchline jokes. There’s still comic relief. The entire “squad prankster” sub-plot helps, the aforementioned drunk works (yes, in this day and age, drunks are still funny), the chronic bather is an amusing element. Though it’s much, much less than the usual Sierra game of this early era. Overall, there’s a nice give-and-take between rigid realism and cartoonish jokes. However, the shift between “realism” and “humour” only goes so far in a game like this. While comparing the technology level of the game against later, more photo-realistic installments isn’t entirely fair, there are other things that take you “out” of the game and harm the experience. The most obvious has got to be the game’s writing. The plot is fine, the can’t-get-past-one-point-until-one-action-is-completed elements are understandable in an adventure game, but it’s the dialogue that causes the most problems. This is more or less a “family-oriented” take on the police force, that’s true (no swearing, no nudity, basically nothing you’d see on Cops). Although this doesn’t excuse the game for having dialogue that is often quite simplistic or sometimes unintentionally funny. Put it this way: the game’s worst dialogue can be summarized by your character’s hooker-soon-to-be-girlfriend. Her name (and I’m not making this up) is “Sweet Cheeks,” and she seems stuck by saying the astounding, “Oh, Sonny!” no matter what you say to her. It doesn’t help that you essentially have to dress up as a blaxplotation “pimp” for undercover work near the end of the game too. Just like some of the dialogue, this is amusing, but it sure does shave off another layer of realism the game could’ve maintained as it did in later installments.

It is the first game of a series, so there was bound to be some awkwardness here and there. The rest of the game is solid, entertaining, and quite immersive. The designers took a new approach to conventional adventure game puzzles by adding in the police procedural element into it, and while this works in a hit-or-miss kind of way, it’s still an interesting mix that keeps you wanting to finish the game instead of sleep for many nights in a row. So if the game can falter with some over-extended “by the book” lessons and quite a lot of bad dialogue, it still succeeds in so many other areas of an adventure game to warrant praise. It’s well worth studying up on the documentation before heading out onto the square-buzzing city. There is — indeed — much enjoyment to be gained out of PQ. After all, at the end of the day, the lesson is learned: if we hate cops, at least we sometimes still love to act like one.


Effective environments and relatively realistic locations.


Sound is rarely used, but it mostly works for the game. There are moments of annoying bursts of music, but those are few.


Rigid following of police procedure might go too far sometimes, though the overall scope of the game is very entertaining.

Replay Value

With such a “live,” fictional city, at least another play is warranted to see if other solution paths can be found, but the dialogue will keep one away after that.


Extensive police procedure is found in the manual (also a form of copy-protection), which actually adds to the realistic nature of the game’s tone rather than detracts from it.