Thursday 3 March 2005

Atari/Lucasfilm Games

It's not every day that I'm compelled to correspond with media industry pioneers. However, seminal video game releases BALLBLAZER and Rescue on Fractalus! have never been eclipsed IMHO. Both games were originally developed exclusively for Atari computer and console platforms as part of a partnership between Atari and Lucasfilm.

Although debuting in 1984, it wouldn't be until 1986 (when Epyx published BALLBLAZER and Rescue on Fractalus! on the incumbent Commodore 64) that I succumbed to their compelling gameplay and the Lucasfilm legacy. Ironically the Atari 800XL version was ready to ship in 1984, but Atari withheld its release in the hope that it would increase sales of VCS 5200 and 7800. I encourage Mac gamers to download arguably the best Atari 800XL emulator.

A couple of salient points worth mentioning. Rescue on Fractalus! was originally entitled Rebel Rescue. And the name of the alien enemy, Jaggies (J'hagga Ri Kachatki), was a technical injoke. The Lucasfilm developers experimented with new anti-aliasing (AKA smoothing) technology, but Jaggies is a term given to the hard edge of a pixel and Atari's 8-bit color palette precluded smoothing.

Last evening it was a very pleasant surprise to receive a reply from Lucasfilm Games founder Peter Langston in my inbox.

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