Probe one: The Transmitter

Welcome to another quick bits article, this time not being quick because of my lack of time but because nearly no information seems available on the game. I’ve earlier written about Synergistic Software and the early days here.

Probe One was introduced as the first in a series of science fiction titles from Synergistic Software, a company otherwise known for pioneering the fantasy adventure roleplaying genre. In 1978 founder Robert Clardy created Dungeon Campaign, one of the earliest examples of a graphic role-playing game for the personal computer. Over the next few years, Clardy would continue to expand upon his fantasy universe with a number of follow-up titles, that would come to herald the company as one of the pioneers in the early industry. Around 1980 Synergistic Software started focusing on publishing other titles as well, among those was Probe One: The Transmitter, a rather obscure mix between an action and an adventure game.

Probe One: The Transmitter was a real-time sci-fi action-adventure game created by Lloyd D. Ollmann Jr. over an original game concept by Clardy. It was created in BASIC and released for the Atari 8-bit in 1982.

After 50 years of peaceful and prosperous expansion, the Terran Confederation encountered another star-traveling race, The Drelgan Hegemony, an aggressively domineering race. For the next 11 years, the two sides would fight each other in an exhausting stalemate war. A revolutionary scientific breakthrough at a Terran research center on the remote planet of Eldriss V. could be the turning point. Unfortunately, The Drelgans managed to attack the research center leaving most dead with the few survivors slowly being killed off by radiation exposure.
Your job, to explore the now unmanned research center, trying to locate and retrieve a prototype transmission device, that’s needed for the survival of the human race. Before the last of the crew members perished they managed to reprogram the labor droids for defense, traversing the halls of the research center trying to fight off any intruders.

Probe One: The Transmitter was released in 1982 and only for the Atari 8-bit line of home computers.
The cover artwork was done by artist and illustrator Dean Waite, who created a handful of covers for Synergistic Software in the early ’80s

Single stroke commands and text input was used for every interaction with the environment and either the joystick or paddles for shooting the droids.
I played for about an hour and I never really knew what I was doing or what was going on, even having the few pages of manuals by my side didn’t help much

The only review around the time of its release was mediocre and while marketed as the first in a series of sci-fi action-adventure titles no other titles materialized. In 1984 it was mentioned in the Addison Wesley Book of Atari Software with the remark, …the only remaining question is whether persistence will win over boredom. The concept of mixing action and adventure apparently resulted in a superficial adventure without depth and with boring and non-thrilling action elements.

Sources: Addison Wesley Book Of Atari Software 1984, Wikipedia, Computer Gaming World Jan-Feb 1983

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