Atic Atac

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Atic Atac
Atic Atac
Cover art of Atic Atac
Developer(s) Tim and Chris Stamper
Publisher(s) Ultimate Play The Game
Platform(s) ZX Spectrum
BBC Micro, Xbox One
Release date(s) ZX Spectrum
  • WW 1983
BBC Micro
Genre(s) Arcade adventure
Mode(s) Single player

Atic Atac is a flip-screen ZX Spectrum video game developed and released by Ultimate Play The Game in 1983.[1] It takes place within a castle[2] in which the player must seek out the "Golden Key of ACG".[3] It was written originally by Tim Stamper and Chris Stamper,[4] and later ported to the BBC Micro.[5]


A screenshot from Atic Atac, showing some stairs being used to access a different floor, and the rotting chicken energy meter at the right.

The player can choose from three different characters:[3] Wizard, Knight or Serf. The choice is not only cosmetic - each character has access to a secret passage unique to them, meaning that navigating the castle is different for each character. In addition, the Serf has momentum and will continue to run briefly, as does the Knight to a lesser extent, whereas the Wizard comes to a dead stop as soon as a direction key is released.

There are a number of carryable items scattered around the castle, and the player can carry a maximum of three at a time. Some of these are always in the same place at the start of the game, and others have several possible places where they can appear. Items include keys, which open the correspondingly coloured locked doors, the three pieces of the ACG key, and other items that affect certain enemies or are mere red herrings.

Similar to other Ultimate games, common enemies appear in each room after the player has entered and randomly attack the player, collision with these destroys them but drains a portion of health. There are also stationary poisonous fungi which will drain health constantly if the player is in contact with them. There are also enemies who cannot normally be killed and must be avoided, however certain special items will distract, repel or kill these enemies. Contact with bosses drains health as long as the player is in contact with them. These generally guard pieces of the ACG key, or attack the player.

The player has a number of lives and health can be replenished by collecting food scattered around the castle, however as health constantly drops and food is limited and replenishes slowly, the player must eventually escape or die of attrition.

Doors randomly open and close in each room, and it is possible to be briefly trapped in a room whilst the life meter ticks down. Upon death the player is replaced by a gravestone which stays in place for the remainder of the game.

Critical reception[edit]

Review scores
Publication Score
CVG 9 out of 10[2]
Crash 92%[6]
Atic Atac loading screen

Atic Atac was almost universally praised on its release. Micro Adventurer said "this game can be recommended without reservation",[7] while CRASH said "it is one thing - FANTASTIC!" and rated it at 92%.[6] Computer and Video Games said it was "the best yet from Ultimate",[2] and later in 1984 described it as "the favourite arcade adventure amongst computer gamesters".[3] Personal Computer Games wrote that it was "another blockbuster game",[8] while Sinclair User said that "the depth of plot and the GAS graphics make it a superb game."[9]

In 1991, Atic Atac was ranked as the 79th best ZX Spectrum game of all time by Your Sinclair,[10] and was voted the 8th best game of all time by the readers of Retro Gamer Magazine for an article that was scheduled to be in a special Your Sinclair Tribute issue.[11] In 2007, Eurogamer described it as "a prime example of what passion can do when properly digitised" and rated it 8/10.[12] The game was a major inspiration for the Children's ITV show Knightmare. The wellways accessing different levels were a direct lift from the game, and the 'life force' featuring a disintegrating human face was based on the game's rotting chicken graphic.[13] The game was Ultimate's third consecutive number one in the UK Spectrum sales chart,[14] following the first two Jetman games. In 2015, it is set to appear in the Upcoming Rare Replay as one of the 30 games.


  1. ^ "Coming Soon...". Personal Computer Games (2): 7. December 1983. 
  2. ^ a b c "You'll be haunted by Atic Atac". Computer and Video Games (28): 31–32. February 1984. 
  3. ^ a b c "Attack Atic Atac". Computer and Video Games (34): 53–59. August 1984. 
  4. ^ "Atic Atac at the World of Spectrum". 
  5. ^ "Ultimate Play The Game". The BBC Games Archive. Archived from the original on 20 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  6. ^ a b "Atic Atac". CRASH (2): 34. March 1984. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  7. ^ "Hybrid wins the accolades". Micro Adventurer (3): 28. January 1984. 
  8. ^ "Video horrorshow". Personal Computer Games (3): 4. February 1984. 
  9. ^ "Dangerous castle is highly recommended". Sinclair User (23): 52. February 1984. Archived from the original on 12 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  10. ^ "Top 100 Speccy Games", Your Sinclair (Future plc) (70), October 1991: 31–33, archived from the original on 1999-01-01 
  11. ^ "The 50 Best Speccy Games Ever!". November 2004. 
  12. ^ Spencer, Spanner (2007-10-10). "Atic Atac". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2007-10-30. 
  13. ^ "A History of Knightmare". Knightmare Infosite. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  14. ^ "Chart Toppers", C+VG (Future Publishing) (28), February 1984: 163 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Lunar Jetman
UK number-one Spectrum game
February–March 1984
Succeeded by
Jet Set Willy