Atari Player / Missile
35 episodes - last episode 29 Apr 2022

A retrospective of the Atari 8-bit home computer systems, the magazines that covered them, and a somewhat chronological review of games as they arrived on the platform.

Coverage of a few magazines I missed last time. Live plays of two games, tips to speed up disk drive I/O, and articles on how automation has changed TV and film production.

Production Notes


Coverage of Atari Connection, APX, Byte, C&VG, Micro, Softside, Page 6 & Atari I/O for Dec 1982. Another Chris Crawford article on game design, a review of Steve Wozniak’s US Festival, and will Forth become the official language of the podcast?

Production Notes


Coverage of Antic, Compute!, Creative Computing, Dec 1982. Chris Crawford on Legionnaire, first rumors of the IBM PCjr, and two articles predicting the future: Compute! does OK while Creative Computing gets a bunch of whammies. Also: Bullwinkle’s restaurant, sexism and mansplaining about whether educational software should ask kids their gender, and Bahrain doctors, video games & epilepsy.

Production Notes


In a special multi-part series comparing the 8-bit computers to the 5200 console, this first episode focuses on 1982. Scanning the regular magazines for mentions of the 5200, I also scour other magazines for both 8-bit and 5200 coverage. Only in this special series will you hear article summaries from these periodicals: Electronic Games, JoyStik, Video Games, Video Games Player and Atari Age Magazine.

Magazine Chronology

Production Notes


A friend gets his first game published in Computers & Video Games! 6 other magazines this episode, and I try to dissect my first kernel game, Worm War I. Or is it 1? It’s a super important distinction.

Production Notes

Strap yourselves in for coverage of 11 magazine issues including a tiny bit on the large magazine Byte -- there’s an article on Star Raiders strategies that I can’t pass up. Game review is of Deluxe Invaders, which is a high quality Space Invaders clone. Oh, and there’s a discussion of a game called Hazard Run and its ties to a bad TV show and a worse flag.


Creative Computing

... For 36 more links, see the show notes

Adding a new magazine to the coverage: Softline, a games-focused magazine published by the people responsible for Softalk. Also a review of Rear Guard, a game that’s appeared in full-page color ads for many months in magazines.

Just a regular ol’ episode talking about magazines, learning typing during the pandemic, and if we’ve finally seen the end of creepy William Shatner ads for the VIC-20.

Phase 2 begins with the usual magazine coverage and a review of Quarxon, a two-player shoot-each-other game with prominent use of Display List Interrupts. In the tech section, I use Omnivore to discover how these DLIs work.

Introducing Phase 2 of the Player/Missile extended podcastimatic universe. The magazine coverage will stay the same, but instead of a typical game review, I will focus on reverse engineering to discover interesting game programming techniques used by the authors of these classic games. I intend it to be a tutorial on the use of Omnivore, the desktop application I've designed that includes many reverse engineering tools, including a built-in emulator and debugger.


The hiatus is over. With my new slimmed-down post-production, I now plan to get back to regular episodes. For this one, it's the usual magazine coverage and some talk about the retro-computing projects I've been doing in the last year.



The culmination of the first "season" of the Player/Missile podcast is a review of my favorite game and the announcement of the project undertaken by Kevin Savetz and myself to reverse engineer the game. We're sponsoring a level design contest, and there's still time to enter! Oh, and I'm taking a hiatus until I can collect the physical magazines. You can help out with your contributions!

Listener Written Programs

Game review of Getaway! and interview with the author Mark Reid. The program won the Atari Star Award and the $25,000 prize in 1983. I also introduce Omnivore, the 8-bit binary editor that I've been working on during the hiatus. Kevin Savetz has a guest review of the APX Spring Catalog, and we add a new section to the podcast, the countdown to the Tramiel takeover.

Listener Written Programs

MAME Cabinet

... For 48 more links, see the show notes

The universe of games really begins to expand in 1982. From here on out we'll have a huge selection of choices to talk about, and Shamus by Cathryn Mataga leads us off. Also, an interview with Michael Portuesi who is both a published author in Compute!'s books and a listener to the podcast.


... For 16 more links, see the show notes

The first half of the military flight simulator roundup with Chris Olson. I've included a bonus tech section at the end discussing a clever display list technique used by the MicroProse sims. Guest reviews: Michael Glaser of the XEGS Cart-by-Cart podcast covers SoftSide and Kevin Savetz summarizes the APX Winter 1981 Catalog.

Jack Nutting of the Retro Computing Roundtable, Victor Marland of Ten Pence Arcade, Wade Ripkowski of Inverse Atascii and Kevin Savetz of ANTIC join me for a 5 round draft of Atari 8-bit games.

Victor's Picks

Wade's Picks

... For 20 more links, see the show notes

Flight simulator roundup where Chris Olson and I review 5 noteworthy civilian aircraft sims on the 8-bits (military sims will be the subject of part 2). Also added Byte to the magazine to the coverage due to the serializiaton of De Re Atari.

Listener Written Programs

Interview episode with game developer James Hague who was published in ANALOG and Antic magazines, is the author of Halcyon Days & maintainer of the Giant List of Classic Video Game Programmers. Atari Party 2015 is just around the corner!

Interview episode with Michael Current, maintainer of the Atari 8-bit FAQ and the Atari History Timeline; also covering the magazines from June 1981. Tech section on building Star Raiders, MAME cabinet update, and the Atari Party: Davis CA, May 2, 2015!

Magazine coverage for April 1981 but jump ahead in time to cover our first homebrew game, Gem Drop by Bill Kendrick. Bill also invented one of the first software-driven graphics modes, called Super IRG, and we have an interview with him to talk about it.

In addition to the usual magazine coverage for March 1981, we look at the Apple ][ game Sabotage, converted to run on the Atari. I talk with Paul Hagstrom to get background knowledge on the Apple hardware, and get the inside story on the Sabotage conversion by the guy who did it, AtariAge user Shamus.

This episode reviews the game Jawbreaker by John Harris and covers the February 1981 magazines Compute #9, Creative Computing Vol 7 #2, and introduces coverage of SoftSide Magazine. Anacronisticly included is coverage of my trip to the Portland Retro Gaming Expo 2014.


Welcome to January, 1981! Finally going month-by-month, Episode 4 includes the first ANALOG issue, Compute #8 and Creative Computing Vol 7 #1 and a review the game Caverns of Mars published first by APX then by Atari itself. And in my first interview, I talk with with Mike DesChenes, the co-founder of ANALOG Computing!

Game Review: Caverns of Mars

Production Notes

Finishing off 1980, Episode 3 includes coverage of the remaining 6 months of Creative Computing and Compute magazines, and a review of the game Space Invaders published by Atari.

Production Notes

Welcome to 1980! Episode 2 includes coverage of the Creative Computing and Compute! magazines through the first half of 1980 and a review of the game Super Breakout by Atari.

Production Notes

Welcome to 1979! Episode 1 includes a brief summary of the technical specifications of the Atari 400 & 800 that were first released at the end of the year, discussion of Creative Computing issues starting from April and the very first Compute! magazine, and a review of a game original to the Atari 8- bits and destined to become an all-time classic game: Star Raiders.


Production Notes

In the inaugural episode of Player/Missile, I introduce myself, talk about my background with the Atari 8-bit systems, what the podcast will be about and what it won't be about, and describe the format of the subsequent episodes.