Atari ST Power Pack

So we arrive at December 1989. Before I get to that issue of ST Format however, allow me an indulgance. December 1989, specifically Christmas Day, was when I got my Atari 520STFM.

You honestly wouldn’t believe the memories that come flooding back seeing those. I was 9, coming up to 10, and I’d only had the Amstrad CPC 464, which was a machine of very limited capability. I’d done some coding on it, of course, as we all did back then, and I’d patiently waited the 10 minutes it took for games to load from tape, but it wasn’t on anything like the level of the Atari ST. So I got my Atari ST, which cost about £299 it seems, which is about £750 in 2020 money. The Power Pack came with 12 disks containing 20 games, many of which were stone cold classics.

Included with the pack was a free mini-issue of ST Format – http://stformat.com/stf00/index.html – which gave a pretty solid rundown of what I needed to know about the Atari ST. It told you how to work the desktop, told you a bit about Atari, sneakily contained cheats for most of the power pack games (perhaps to stop people from spending too long on them without buying new games?) and listed some classic games everyone should have (including some in the pack). It must have done wonders for sales of the magazine, as I can’t be the only one who went on to buy issue after issue (my first was issue 8, just in time for my birthday).

So, onto the games. Each disk contained 1-3 games, and most of them were absolute classics. To go with that, you got instructions on a disk-sized sheet of card, which would usually be enough to get the basic gist of how the game worked. The memorable exception was Super Huey which I could just about get airborne but no further. I suspect though that the game was just utterly shit, rather than it being an issue with the manual’s content.

The Disks

Someone has kindly done a video on the Power Pack so you can see the machine and its games in action.

Power Pack Disk L – Starray and Star Goose

Disk LStar Ray Star Ray opens with a lovely loading screen and some reasonable chip music. It doesn’t mess about – pressing fire takes you straight into the game. The game itself is a Defender clone, albeit one that is ludicrously smooth with insane parallax scrolling. Sound isn’t bad and it’s reasonably solid as a…More

Power Pack Disk K: Black Lamp and Outrun

Disk KBlack Lamp So Black Lamp, for me looking back after playing so many games, exists in a similar place to Verminator, in that it’s very pretty, the art is lovely, but it doesn’t really go anywhere, it doesn’t flow. The intro screen is pretty, with decent chip music. Press fire and it drops you…More

Power Pack Disk J: Double Dragon

Disk JDouble Dragon I spent so much time on this as a kid, and it’s one of the earliest games I remember beating, facing the gun-toting giant at the end. It opens with that wonderful sampled music over a loading screen which isn’t much technically but created so much atmosphere. And then the game starts,…More

Power Pack Disk I: Bomb Uzal, Bomb Jack & Xenon

Disk IBomb Uzal Bombuzal opens with a simple loading screen with an exquisitely drawn uzal and a pretty decent bomb, though the crack monster in the background is less appealing. We get treated to some twee chip music, and the game can begin. A sampled voice tells player one to get ready, and we’re ready…More

Power Pack Disk H: Predator

Disk HPredator Confession time – I’ve never seen the film. Perhaps I might have enjoyed the game more if I had? Who knows. The intro is cool, with a nicely digitised shot of Arnie and then an animated UFO flying around the Earth and some scrolly text, with a suitably funky 80s chiptune which doesn’t…More

Power Pack Disk G: Eliminator, Nebulus and Pac-Mania

Disk GEliminator Eliminator isn’t a bad game necessarily, but when I reached for disk G I was only after one thing, and that was Nebulus. Sometimes Pac Mania as that was brilliant too, but mostly Nebulus. The loading screen is rather ugly, though it looks somewhat better if you apply a CRT filter. The game…More

Power Pack Disk F: Starglider, Overlander and Super Huey

Disk FDisk F was the first multi-game disk, with a super-simple selector, none of the scrolling messages and music found on the cracking scene disks. Starglider 1Starglider is a 3D space combat game. Controls are simple – holding down the right button and moving forward accelerates, right button and back decelerates, moving left, right up…More

Power Pack Disk E: Space Harrier

Disk ESpace Harrier  [/url] Space Harrier has a curious start – the music gently playing over an animation of the player character waving while astride a giant robot as a one-eyed wooly mammoth looks around. The music is so out of place for the game. Control is via mouse instead of joystick, and I think…More

Power Pack Disk C: Gauntlet 2

Disk CGauntlet 2I have very few positive memories of childhood with my Dad – he was more interested in getting drunk or wrecked on drugs than being a parent, but Gauntlet 2 was a rare highlight. Every now and then we’d plug in a joystick each and tackle the dungeons, that rare moment of him…More

Power Pack Disk A: Afterburner

Disk AAfterburner This was Afterburner. Waiting for the disk to load while those magnificent planes filled my screen, like every male in the Western World I dreamed of flying those amazing fighter jets after watching too much Top Gun. Then, the music kicked in. Chip music it may have been but it had rock attitude,…More

Review: Nebulus

Nebulus Time to correct a travesty of justice, ST/Amiga Format not reviewing Nebulus. On Christmas Day 1989, 9-year-old me got a hell of a surprise. There was a bloody big box in some wrapping paper. Being a greedy shit like most kids, I ripped the packaging off and found this beast. I was absolutely delighted…More

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