For reasons unknown, my mind recently warped back to the 16-bit era and a game called Skate Tribe. It was developed in STOS, a version of BASIC geared towards making games for the Atari ST. STOS was one of those packages that was both too complicated for the unrealistic and lazy end of the target market to fathom and also simple enough that any games produced with it were automatically considered inferior.

Other than Skate Tribe, I can’t recall any other notable STOS titles, and I never used it myself, although I’m sure I would have fallen into the unrealistic/lazy category – Klik and Play was more my level. (I’d better also point out that there was a version for the Amiga called AMOS and it was much better in every way, I’m sure).

I probably wouldn’t have heard of Skate Tribe either had it not been given away on a magazine cover disk, and one-time ST Format readers are more likely to recall it than most. Essentially an object dodging game, you guide your pony-tailed dude through 9 increasingly hazardous levels, starting with a fairly straightforward opening in which you slalom through various roadside objects. Later challenges can be slightly more nuanced, involving the fire button to effect a jump and avoid holes in the road, oncoming vehicles etc.

The context always seemed a little ambiguous, as aliens turn up at various points, and there’s a level in which you have to avoid a giant snake thing while balancing on the back of some kind of flying craft. Which is weird. (Although looking back now at the cover disk pages of ST Format #7, some more detail is given – apparently your character is called Apache Joe (…) and there is a reference to supplies to your home town of Wood Green (London N15?) being cut off).

I never managed to finish it, although it’s not a long game, and I’m not sure if it’s even all that good: the collision detection is particularly ropey, and once the game decides you’ve finished a level you often find your skater riding roughshod over oncoming obstacles with no ill effects.

Still, I must have spent enough time with it for it to leave an impression on me after all these years. Some of the credit must go to the soundtrack – there are some cracking tunes in there, particularly if you’re a fan of slightly melancholic and wistful loops (it kind of reminds me of the Outrun soundtrack and also the music from the CPC version of Robocop that got used in an advert for Ariston washing machines).

Here are a few short clips of my favourites:

Title music

Level 1

Level 4

(Thanks to for the ST Format scan).