The 1980s saw the emergence of two dominant players in the home computer market – the Amiga and Atari ST. These two machines were in direct competition with each other, and each had its own set of strengths and weaknesses. However, one area where they shared a lot in common was their game library.
As an Amiga owner growing up, researching and playing the games on this best Atari ST games list has been a really enjoyable experience, finding that the Atari ST really did have more going for it than perhaps it was given credit for, especially in its earlier years when the Amiga was prohibitively expensive, the Atari ST was in a league of its own.
Super Sprint is an Atari game that raced its way from the arcade and into homes on the Atari ST in 1986 courtesy of Electric Dreams.
An excellent conversion from the arcade original, Super Sprint is really straightforward, you race 3 opponents around the various circuits, exploiting shortcuts, avoiding hazards, and picking up spanners to upgrade your car.
Super Sprint is classic in its design and in its gameplay, with multiplayer mode offering one of the best multiplayer experiences on the Atari ST.
A game notorious for its difficulty, Rick Dangerous is without a doubt one of the best Atari ST games, but comes at a price in terms of your own sanity!
Full of cheap shots and every old trick in the book to stop you from progressing, Rick Dangerous has a lot in common with modern games such as Super Meat Boy, where repeat attempts and memorisation are key to progress.
Rick Dangerous has aged beautifully on a system that is underrated and not often the first that comes to mind when looking back at the 16-bit era of home computing.
Prince of Persia
Prince of Persia is a well-known classic game that saw many other ports across other systems, but for me, the Atari ST version goes down as one of the best, with Atari ST delivering more details visuals than its arch nemesis, the Commodore Amiga, which incidentally is included in our best Amiga games list too!
Another hugely challenging game, Prince of Persia has to be completed within a set time limit, so you have time to explore the palace dungeon, but not time to dwell too long and keep focussed on your mission to escape, defeat Jaffar, and rescue the princess.
A moody and ambient game, Prince of Persia utilises rotoscoped animation to deliver its slick-looking character movements as well as giving an immersive gameplay experience.
Rod Land came to the Atari ST in 1991 and brought a whole lot of cutesy arcade fun with it!
This game has arcade classic stamped all over it and the Atari ST conversion is one of the best. In Rod Land, the objective is to take out all the enemies with your magic rod and ladder, allowing you to quickly navigate around and get out of sticky situations.
Just like other classics such as Bubble Bobble, there are bonuses to be collected by picking up the collectibles for each level which then reveal bonus letters when you kill the enemies, so spell the word ‘extra’, which leads to an extra life bonus.
Rod Land is classic arcade platforming at its best and one of the best Atari ST games because of this wonderful conversion.
Few titles captured the imagination quite like Gods. Developed by the legendary Bitmap Brothers and released in 1991, this action-packed platformer combined stunning graphics with tight gameplay and a stirring musical score to create an unforgettable gaming experience.
Armed with an arsenal of deadly weapons, you navigate a series of treacherous levels, solving puzzles, avoiding traps, and battling hordes of ferocious foes along the way.
The Atari ST version certainly looks the part, and plays just as well as its Amiga counterpart, with its famous John Foxx / Nation 12 soundtrack remaining intact on the Atari ST, despite its inferior sound capabilities compared to the Amiga.
Gods is a great example of Atari ST gaming moving into the 1990s.
Lotus Turbo Challenge II
The Amiga is no doubt going to be referenced in this article a lot, due to the number of games that were found on both the Atari ST and the Amiga, but this game, fortunately, managed to find its way onto both in 1991.
Lotus Turbo Challenge II can certainly be considered one of the best Atari ST games, with its excellent point-to-point racing gameplay, it really is the game Outrun that should have been on the ST. Without being negative on the Atari ST version, it is a shame it hasn’t got the frame rate of the Amiga version, but everything else is perfect!
You’ll be weaving all over the track trying to avoid your competitors across a wide range of levels, each with different conditions.
A perfect example of what a 16-bit arcade racer should be like, it’s also got a fantastic split-screen mode too if you’re in the mood for destroying friends in a head-to-head battle!
The Chaos Engine
A steampunk-inspired game from the Bitmap Brothers, The Chaos Engine is peak 1993 Atari ST gaming with its top-down run and gun action.
You choose to take two mercenaries from a group of six characters on a mission to take down Baron Fortesque and his Chaos Engine. Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses and will come at a cost to hire them for the mission.
Navigate your way through levels picking up power-ups, keys, and treasures to help you along the maze-like environments. You need to activate a set number of nodes, done so by shooting at them, in order to open the exit on each level.
Upon completing two levels, you can redeem your treasures in exchange for power-ups and upgrades to your character.
A gritty and moody Bitmap Brothers classic.
Get ready to set sail on the seven seas with Pirates! on the Atari ST!
Originally launched on and quickly established itself as a classic on the Commodore 64, Pirates! by Sid Meier arrived on the Atari ST in 1989.
Pirates! is a hugely groundbreaking game combining existing arcade-like elements with deep strategic gameplay.
The game offers a revolutionary sense of freedom as you can explore at your own pace, building your reputation as a fearsome pirate captain!
Whether you are attacking enemy ships, hunting down pirates, or simply wish to be a peaceful trader, Pirates! is a deep game that is best played with a number of hours kept free to fully enjoy the experience.
Another game perhaps renowned for its Amiga counterpart, one of many masterpieces by Sensible Software, Cannon Fodder exploded on the Atari ST in 1993.
If you’re not already familiar with this 90s classic, you take control with your mouse, of a small squad of soldiers, directing them around different environments, taking out enemies, and fulfilling your objectives.
It’s a big game with over 70 levels, but it’s got so much charm and depth with the trademark Sensible Software mini sprites and simple, but super addictive gameplay, the hours will just disappear playing this one.
An absolute must-play and easily is on most people’s best Atari ST game lists.
The New Zealand Story
The New Zealand Story is one of many classic Taito arcade games released for the Atari ST in 1989 by Ocean.
In The New Zealand Story, you play as a cute little kiwi bird named Tiki, who must navigate through a series of colorful and challenging levels to rescue his fellow kiwis from the clutches of an evil leopard seal named Wally (although it’s debated that he is actually a Walrus!).
In terms of gameplay, The New Zealand Story is a classic platformer, with Tiki running, jumping, and shooting his way through levels filled with enemies and obstacles. The game also features a variety of power-ups and weapons to help you on your journey.
You can’t go wrong with this beautiful arcade platformer, a wonderful conversion and a must-play!
The now timeless city-building and management game that was released back in 1989 for the Atari ST is, of course, Sim City.
This groundbreaking game is widely regarded as one of the most influential titles in gaming history, with the franchise still being one of the best-loved city management games, it has spawned stacks of sim city-inspired clones over the years.
But for the purists, the original still may be the best! With its rudimentary visuals, Sim City does what it needs to in terms of visual representation of your growing cityscape, but the excitement is deeper within, where you have to manage budgets, growing demands of businesses, residents, emergency services, and even bounce back from disasters including earthquakes, tornadoes, fires and even attacks from Godzilla!
Sim City is not just one of the best Atari ST games, but one of the best games of all time!
Psygnosis helped defined early 90s home computer games with its 1991 game, Lemmings.
The Atari ST version followed the Amiga original and had just as much success. Lemmings is undeniable in its excellence. From the small well animated sprites, absolutely brimming with character, to the wide range of catchy themes across the huge number of levels, each increasing with difficulty.
The aim of Lemmings is super simple. Make sure you help the required amount of lemmings to the exit, making sure they don’t blindly walk their way to their demise!
This is achieved with a handful of simple skills, such as climbers, blockers, builders, diggers and miners. It’s all about forward planning and executing your skills with precision timing.
Lemmings is timeless gaming on the Atari ST.
Xenon II – Megablast
Another Bitmap Brothers classic for the Atari ST from 1989, probably best known not just for the game itself, but its highly publicised use of Bomb the Bass track Megablast (Hip Hop on Precinct 13).
Xenon II: Megablast is the sequel to the original Xenon and is a vertically scrolling shooter taking you on a mission to destroy numerous bombs that have been planted throughout history by those naughty Xenites, first seen in the original Xenon game.
Released at a time when shoot ’em ups were around their peak in popularity, Xenon 2 received hugely positive reviews, thanks mainly to be honest because of its visual and sonic impact.
But to be honest, that’s part of the charm of Xenon 2, a snapshot in time when cool was part of the game, something which carried through to the PlayStation era – The Bitmap Brothers were ahead of their time perhaps.
One of Atari’s own franchises, Gauntlet II is the sequel to the popular original top-down fantasy dungeon crawler. Released in 1989, Gauntlet II is essentially more of the same, but with various improvements strewn around, making this the definitive version to play on the Atari ST.
Whilst the fundamentals of the game are the same as the original, this version of Gauntlet offers a familiar, but hugely enjoyable game.
Take control of the Warrior, Wizard, Valkyrie, or Elf around the enemy-laden maze-like levels in an attempt to locate the exit, whilst picking up health, potions, and keys to unlock doors along the way.
Gauntlet II allows up to four players simultaneously with the assistance of a four-player adapter that connects to the Atari ST’s printer port. These days, emulation of course is a far easier option, check out our recommendations on the best Atari ST emulator and experience Gauntlet II for yourself.
The Secret Of Monkey Island
One of the great point-and-click games of the 16-bit era, The Secret of Monkey Island is the first game by Ron Gilbert and released by Lucasfilm Games in 1990 for the Atari ST.
You take control of the hapless Guybrush Threepwood who arrives in town with dreams of becoming a pirate. So you set off on an adventure to fulfill your dream, basically blundering your way towards your goal.
The Secret of Monkey Island is filled to the brim with its trademark wit, cultural references, and memorable characters.
Games of this caliber are a lost art these days, and whilst there have been many great games in the genre, this is one of the best examples of how to do it!
Do yourself a favour and play one of the best Atari ST games ever made today, you won’t ever forget the experience!
So this is just a taster of what the Atari ST had to offer, but this list is certainly a great place to start if you are looking to get into the Atari ST for the first time.
I never owned an Atari ST, I was an Amiga owner so it’s been really interesting to revisit a lot of classic games I grew up with, but on the competing system of the time. I’ll be the first to admit, the Atari ST, whilst often viewed as the inferior system technically speaking, did often outperform the Amiga, especially in the early days during the mid to late 80s.
If getting an original Atari ST is not your thing, then perhaps consider using an Atari ST emulator, or perhaps grab a Raspberry Pi. Combined with RetroPie, the Raspberry Pi is your one-stop shop for all things retro gaming and emulation.
A lifelong avid gamer and computing enthusiast, Matt has decades of Retro Gaming experience. Now over 40 years old, Matt now even considers himself retro, but fortunately, nobody has developed a Matt emulator (not yet at least!).