Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Midi Maze

Ask most people (my age) about their favourite happy memories of first person gaming in the early days and they will probably say Wolfenstein 3D, Doom or Duke Nukem. But it all started way before those classics, my recent ZX81 article proves that shockingly very well.

For us ST nutters a game called Midi Maze hit the shelves in 1987 thanks to a company called Xanth FX. This was our taste of the first-person shooter genre that had us battling smiley faces. That's right, you won't find any tough zombie soldiers, robots or even a scary alien nor will you see any blood and gore. Instead, huge smiley faces are your enemy which makes for a peculiar and most certainly an unexpected experience, if I'm honest.

Midi Maze features support for up to 15 computer controlled bots or, better still, why not connect 2-16 Atari ST's for some real multiplayer action? Yes, you heard correctly, up to 16 computers can be linked via their midi ports to feature a mind-blowing multiplayer escapade! Whether any of us still know a local ST user is another matter, but I intend to buy a couple of midi cables off eBay. As with older fps game, the controls are rather straightforward, two-dimensional, easy to learn and you can play with either the joystick or mouse control (i loved joystick!).

Don't be put off by the humble visuals. Yes, the maze walls might very well be paper thin, without any texture or ambient lighting but do remember just how old it is. Frame-rates are great with exceptionally smooth movement throughout and I was impressed to see the baddies have a shadow, thus giving that extra 3D perspective.

There is nothing I enjoy more than a first person shooter and Midi Maze certainly packs its own unique retro-themed punch. Single player is welcome and works very well but Midi Maze comes into its own when linked with other Atari computers and multiplayer is a fascinating glimpse into the genre's beginnings. One of the best games I have featured here on AtariCrypt, Midi Maze is a true hero and certainly an Atari ST retro gaming legend!


 - Check out this Midi Maze fanzine (German but Google Translate can help!)
 - Here is a PDF document of the original game manual
 - Atarimania has all three games listed in their Atari ST database.
 - Floppy disk images are available from Old Games Finder.