NINTARI IS BACK
Game and Watch For Atari
by the French Connection
It still amazes me that even today, there are still people toiling away in
obscure corners of the scene, hardly getting any attention, or seeming to
seek anything like that. You might consider the example of the Narsil Disk
Magazine, who are well on their way to doing more issues than anyone, doing
their own Czech or Slovak thing. But they never seem to register on anyone's
'scene radar' at all?
Another example of this, is the website run by a group calling itself the
'French Connection'. These seem to have a long history, and show off lots of
coding, games and assorted stuff, which has been collected over a long run
of years. I've got the feeling that most of it hasn't been seen outside of
the French scene. Then I look a bit closer, and I find out that they are
still producing new material.
So there are some new games, and no-one knows about them? With the furore
that comes when better known teams, such as the Reservoir Gods choose to
release, I thought I should investigate more closely. The French
Connection, in the person of Florente Coste, are taking a leaf from the Res
Gods 'Nintari' book, only this isn't anything to do with NES, or Gameboy,
but an altogether earlier generation of hardware. Florente chooses to pay
tribute to the Game and Watch generation, with his 'LCD Revival Games'.
There are a couple so far, with more on the way. The first of these is a
pixel-perfect imitation of the classic 'Ball'.
I'm not sure whether to class these as emulations or imitations? As the
screenshot below illustrates, this is a perfect copy of the original, even
down to a screen replication of the stylish plastic fascia and control
buttons. What next, a VCS 2600 emulation with wood-grain textures in the
screen borders perhaps?
What a Load of Balls!
Technically, it has been designed to work around a standard ST. In spite of
the clumsy setting-up process, converting an .ST format disk-image to
something that can be run on a real Atari, it proves surprisingly amenable.
It isn't in an autobooting hyper-weird format, so it can read off a hard
drive, and even better from my point of view, runs perfectly fine off a
Falcon desktop. The only bit of fiddling required is to get it down to an
ST-Low resolution screen mode, and that is it. Controls are very simple,
with a choice of keyboard, joystick, or mouse buttons. The two games use
left and right buttons as the only form of ingame control.
The menu is blue, borderless, simple and classy. Starting the game puts the
neatly imitated LCD screen in the centre, surrounded by the faux-plastic
decor of the carefully imitated Game and Watch. The game itself bears every
resemblance to the recent Res Gods 24 hour game 'Double Juggle', and bears
What 'Ball' lacks in high-wire walkers, MSG composed SID-tunes, and
cuttingly funny readme files, it makes up for in total authenticity.
Gameplay wraps itself tightly around the simple formula of 'move left,
right, keep the balls in the air' Until you drop one, and it's game over.
Rather good for those occasions where you want to play something, but you
really only have got five minutes to spare.
There is a second release so far, which keeps the simplicity of the two-
button gameplay from 'Balls', but adds in the more complex appeal of
depicting a well-known cartoon character. The gameplay subtly alters to a
'catching' theme, and with a new element, of dodging the swinging fist of
Bluto, Popeye's deadly enemy. Unlike 'Balls', where a 'one mistake and
you're out' policy is in force, 'Popeye' gives you a couple more lives to
Both games have simple sound effects, and the refinement of a high score
table, which surely didn't exist in the original.
If you want to find out for yourself, and see what these guys are doing
next, why not surf to:- http://atari.games.free.fr
Rather well produced, slick and tidy.
A good imitation of the original.
Widely hardware compliant, written with Atari emulator in mind.
Has got a certain 'cute' appeal.
Development is recent and ongoing, good for them!
Ultimately limited by the simplistic Game and Watch concept.
Misses out on the pocket portability of the original.
Suffers from obscurity (hopefully rectified now!)
CiH for Alive! Mag - June '02