Tuesday 15 January 2013

Oids - Atari ST - 1987

In the latter half of the eighties FTL (Faster Than Light) Games could seemingly do no wrong, particularly in the eyes of us Atari ST owners.  Their first ST release came out in 1985 and was an update of their Apple II game, Sundog: Frozen Legacy.  It was the best selling game during the ST's first year and has become something of a cult classic.  This was followed in 1987 by the seminal Dungeon Master (the best selling Atari ST product of all time) and the excellent Oids.

Oids is a gravity/inertia shooter that plays in a similar way to Gravitar and Thrust.  Unlike Thrust the controls are much easier to get to grips with as almost everything is controlled by a joystick. Pushing forward activates the thrust, left/right rotates the ship and pulling back toggles the shield  on or off.  Pressing the fire button shoots photons and jabbing the fire button twice launches a novabomb. The space bar is used to recharge the shield.

Compared to other FTL releases the plot for this game is pretty feeble.  The Evil Biocretes have created a race of android slaves they call Oids.  You have joined the do-gooder organisation "SaveOIDS" in order to risk life and limb rescuing these downtrodden robots from a life of drudgery. The Biocretes have colonised planetoids in several galaxies.  You can choose the galaxy in which to start which in turn reflects the difficulty level of the game.

Due to the style of this type of game, Oids plays in a very sedate manner. You start by being released from your mothership above the planet.  You need to descend to the planet surface and destroy the jails where Oids are held captive.  When you land nearby the Oids will hop aboard your craft and you can take them back to your mothership.  It all sounds very simple and initially it is as most of the Biocrete buildings are harmless and can be destroyed for cheap points.

As you progress the Biocretes become more aggressive.  You will soon come across Repulsors and Gravity Stations which, although they cannot harm you directly, affect the gravity to push or pull you towards devices that can.  Dimo and Pyra guns shoot photons at you.  Launchers and Missile Launchers respectively fire spheres and heat seeking missiles, both of which will hunt you down until they are destroyed.  When triggered by your presence or by a nearby shot, The Tower bursts forth from the ground and breaks open firing spheres and photons.  The Biocrete Mother Ship is heavily shielded and hunts you down shooting photons and spheres.  The Biocrete Home Base is usually shielded and fires photons and missiles.  It also launches all kinds of Biocrete ships with great names like Hell Jets, Inducers, Burst-Orbs and Reapers.

With all that against you you will be using your shields a lot.  The shield gradually gets weaker the longer it is used but can be recharged.  As recharging and thrusting eat away at your fuel supply you can land next to fuel depot to get a top up.  

Taking the opportunity to refuel while picking up some Oids.

Otherwise inaccessible or hard to get to locations can be reached via a teleporter.  The teleporters are colour coded and helpfully teleport your bullets and novabombs as well as your ship in case of nasties waiting at the other end.

As well as the inbuilt planets and galaxies, Oids comes with an editor so you can create your own.

So how does Oids fare in 2013?  Firstly there is no in-game music, buts that's not unusual for this era.  The sound effects can only be described as adequate as they do the job and are nothing special.  The graphics are quite simple but I guess they couldn't be too complicated due to the included level editor.  The Oids themselves are quite well animated despite being only six pixels high.  In my book it's playability that counts and Oids has it in stacks and is still one of the best Atari ST games out there.

 The first planet - Normite

 One of the more difficult ones


  1. I love hearing more about the Atari ST because it's a home computer that I posses little knowledge of.

    With that said, Oids reminds me of a megadrive/genesis game called Subterrania

  2. I have a few more games of this type coming up on my shortlist including Subterrania in 1993. I do enjoy this style of gameplay even though I'm not very good at the games themselves.

    You'll probably be hearing less about the Atari ST now as the superior Amiga 500 was released this year.

  3. how can i buy this game?!!

  4. If you have a working Atari ST Ebay could be a good place to start.

    It has been known for certain unscrupulous characters to download an Atari ST emulator and Oids rom from the internet. Of course, I would never advocate such dubious activities.