Another of my all-time top favourite video games this one! ‘Atic Atac’ was a flip screen cartoon adventure game originally released in 1983 for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, by the awesome Stamper brothers via their Ultimate Play the Game label.
The player had to traverse almost 150 rooms in a haunted castle (including its underground caverns) looking for separate parts of Golden key of ACG (‘Ultimate’ was the trade name for Ashby Computers & Graphics). There were all manner of ghosts, witches and goblins chasing you as well as Count Dracula and Frankenstein!
You could choose from three different characters – a Wizard, Knight or a Serf. Each character has access to a secret passage which was unique to them. This introduced a re-play element which was rare in the early 80’s. In addition, the Serf has momentum and will continue to run briefly, as does the Knight to a lesser extent, whereas the Wizard comes to a dead stop as soon as a direction key is released.
Similar to other games by the Stamper brothers, enemies appear in each room after the player has entered and randomly attack the player, collision with them drains a portion of health (indicated by a rotting chicken carcass). There are also stationary poisonous fungi which will drain health constantly if the player is in contact with them. Boss enemies such as the Count and Frankenstein cannot normally be killed and must be avoided; however certain special items will distract, repel or kill these enemies. The boss enemies generally guard pieces of the ACG key, or attack the player.
You have a number of lives and your health can be replenished by collecting food scattered around the castle, however as your health constantly drops and food is limited and replenishes slowly, the player must eventually escape or die of starvation.
Doors randomly open and close in each room, so it is possible to be briefly trapped in a room whilst the ‘chicken’ life meter ticks down. Upon death the player is replaced by a gravestone which stays in place for the remainder of the game.
This is a universally accepted classic Sinclair ZX Spectrum game and whilst re-released on other computer systems the ZX Spectrum version was always the best.
Unfortunately, Ultimate games are still copyrighted, so you need an original copy to play, but they are easy to find on the bay.
You can also now play ‘Atic Atac‘ via the fantastic Rare Replay compilation for the Microsoft XBOX ONE – which fortunately keeps the idiosyncrasies of the ZX Spectrum, including colour clash and slow down.
As you can probably guess, I love ‘Atic Atac‘.. ..as does my youngest, seen above patiently waiting for it to load!
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