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My Atari Moments

by Ryan Edwards

 

Having had a love affair with Atari ever since my parents bought me my first 800XL (including the hypnotic Lode Runner) my Atari obsession has led me on some memorable excursions. Here are a couple...

Santa's Grotto - alias Silica Shop - Sidcup, Kent
Even back in Atari's second wind during the eighties, plentiful sources of Atari related goodies were still hard to find. I could ride against the common knowledge that the 800XL didn't have many games (you have how many cassettes?!) due to my annual trip down to Silica. This was years before they appeared in every Debenhams across the land and folded due to over-zealous expansion. Inside would be an Aladdin's Cave of pretty much every Atari game on every format that was available, once left my father's wallet would be considerably lighter and I would be clutching two enormous sacks of Atari cassettes.

Gauntlet Legends & Dark Legacy - New York Amusements, Southend
One of my favourite games has always been the Gauntlet series, characterized by the frantic four-player dungeon antics and the booming voice of the commentator, from the original arcade version (Blue Wizard shot the food!) to the fabulous conversion of Gauntlet II for the Atari ST (Red Warrior is it!). Many years passed after these two epics, so you can imagine my amazement to discover the four-player arcade cabinet of Gauntlet Legends, this time in astounding 3D. Legends had been released at a rather dark time for Atarian gaming fans as around 1998 the Jag scene was quiet and this was long before Nuon was released to a lucky few. So immediately I took the challenge on.

When I was younger my ambition to play an arcade game through to completion was largely unfulfilled due to a lack of money, but since I was working, this was no longer a problem. Many an evening after work I would appear in this arcade and quickly got to know all the staff as the machine ate my 50p pieces, however, seeing as the game recorded your progress and your player got progressively stronger it kept you on your quest.

Eventually I reached the climactic boss who once slayed, to a round of applause, enabled me to send off to Atari Games (now owned by Midway Games who dropped the Atari name by the time of Legends' sequel, Dark Legacy) for an exclusive Gauntlet Legends T-shirt by way of a unique code on the final screen. During my time on the machine I clocked up well over 24 hours play time, standing too!

[Photo: Ryan in his "I Crushed Garm" T-shirt]

Drunk from my victory, I simply had to conquer the sequel Gauntlet: Dark Legacy with the addition of new levels and characters. Once conquered I received another exclusive T-shirt ("I crushed Garm") and the arcade owners rewarded by infatuation with some huge A2 promotional Gauntlet posters!

Somewhere out there, to this day is a version of this game with the high score table dominated by the letters RYA...

 

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MyAtari magazine - JagFest highlight 4, July 2003

 
Copyright 2003 MyAtari magazine