Atic Atac – video game, 1983

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Atic Atac is an orthographically-challenged ZX Spectrum video game, released by Ultimate in 1983.

The action takes place across several floors of a castle, from the cavern-like basement to the misspelled attic. The player takes control of one of three characters, either a wizard, a knight or a serf, all with a different appearance and weapon and with unique access to different doors in the castle; some of the doors/objects are guarded by a monstrous creature and can only be bypassed with a specific item collected along your route. The aim of the game is to collect the parts of a key which spell out ACG (Ashby Computer Graphics, the company which owned Ultimate) and escape the castle.


Despite my slightly grand description of the game, what actually happened was aimless running from room to room, all of which looked pretty much the same, becoming increasingly frustrated that your mates had long since gone to the park and you were slowly wasting your childhood.

Regardless, this, despite being one of the earliest releases on Sir Clive’s groundbreaking 48k behemoth of a games system, was immensely playable, partly because it seemed so achievable (I never did) and partly because of the monsters.


The monsters in the game were a vampire, a mummy, a devil of some sort and a hunchback; I believe a cross would distract the vampire but not much beyond this; the hunchback could be defeated by a whip I think – or maybe it was a sausage, the graphics made it tricky to tell. The graphics were indeed awful but rather endearingly so, the magentas and cyans bleeding into each other so really, pretty much anything could have been happening on screen.


Alongside these daunting two dimensional foes were other sundry ghosts and ghouls, all ready to sap your energy, beautifully represented by a roast turkey, which would gradually reveal its carcass. Energy could be gained by running into chicken drumsticks and other goodies throughout the castle.


Having waited a minimum of ten minutes for your cassette to have loaded the game, you were duty-bound to stick with the task for a considerable time. The parts of the key were randomly scattered throughout the castle so actually, the amount of time spent on the game achieved very little; the 150 rooms quickly became a blur and soon the life of a serf became increasingly alluring.

As it transpires, apparently any old idiot can complete the whole thing in six minutes (see below). The original release proclaimed ‘congratulationt’ at the end, the reward for your lost hours not even spelled correctly.


Reviewed by Daz Lawrence,

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