Orc Attack, Atari 8-bit

The classic Orc Attack was originally developed by Dean Lock for the Atari 8-bit family of home computers and published by Thorn EMI in 1983.

You play a guy defending a castle rampart from attacking orcs that are trying to climb up using ladders. The orcs plant the base of the ladder on the ground then bring in sections to raise it up, taking just three connected sections to reach the top. You must run and grab rocks, placed at either side of the battlement, to throw down at the attackers. If the attackers reach the top of the rampart the stones temporarily turn into swords, which you must grab to hack down the invaders that are threatening your castle. When a round is complete you can throw burning oil onto them to torch the remainder.

Orc Attack starts off quite easy with gradual increasing difficulty, although controlling your guy does take a little getting used because he has inertia that you have to take into consideration when moving him. Plus: you can only throw objects down in-between the vertical stones of the upper battlement; if you try to throw a rock when facing a wall you’ll just end up eroding your own defences.

As the rounds increase, so does the difficulty, with enemies firing arrows at you, and attacking more quickly and in greater numbers. If an enemy reaches the top of the battlement the protective wall becomes eroded and you risk letting the attackers at you and losing a life (you get two sets of nine, making eighteen in total). You also lose a life if an arrow hits you (accompanied by a funny arrow-in-the-eye animation).

Occasionally the enemy will employ a sorcerer to send skulls upwards to attack you. Again: you must throw rocks down to smash the skulls (and the sorcerer himself), and if any skulls reach the top they’ll erode your protective wall.

Orc Attack is a simple game with timeless, humorous gameplay. Once you’ve gotten used to the control system it becomes a race against the ever-growing opposing forces, and a game of accurate throwing.

One thing to note is that most of the versions of the game found online look like they’ve been hacked and don’t play as intended; the attackers don’t raise their ladders up properly and the game is therefore too easy. If you want to play Orc Attack properly: find a version where the attackers raise their ladders up.

I’m not entirely sure if Orc Attack is a clone of something else, or is wholly original. I haven’t seen anything like it before and I don’t think it’s based on an early arcade game. My first encounter with it was the 1984 ZX Spectrum conversion, but this Atari version is the original. Orc Attack was also converted to the C64, but as far as I know it only made it to these three home systems officially.

More: Orc Attack on Wikipedia

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