Friday, February 08, 2019

Missile Command

[ my video recording shows both colour and monochrome games ]

Straight out of the golden age of Atari's retro gaming archives is Missile Command, a phenomenal shooter I played a lot but possibly more so on my old Speccy thanks to Ocean's Armageddon, a fantastic conversion.

This cold war era shoot 'em up was all about protecting the cities of Zardon from a constant ballistic missile attack: aliens from Krytol noticed how prosperous Zardon is so want to free-roll in and take everything for themselves. You are Zardon's only hope so grab hold of the mouse and use your arsenal to defend us all from annihilation!

 
Yeah, baby!! You heard that correctly, Missile Command supports colour AND monochrome.

This game has always been darn cool and the ST has received a faithful conversion that feels just as good as I hoped. There's support for one or two players which can also be configured to enable/disable other features like the enemy's multiple warheads and smart bombs. Initial attack waves start at a slow and sedate pace (can be skipped) but this war soon gets crazy when the Krytolians start using faster missiles and dreaded smart bombs. Trying to detonate these is so tricky, especially during the heat of battle when you don't wanna run out of ammo!

Unlike other home conversions, the ST game makes convenient use of its tank mouse which is just perfect for precise control. Both mouse buttons are used to fire a limited supply of ammo - the left button fires from the left base and, well, I'm sure you've guessed what the right button does? The controls are simple and genius.

 
The action soon gets hectic and it's a panic trying to hit everything. Yeah, I fail pretty quickly...

Visually, don't expect to be blown away. The graphics are typically crude for such an early arcade game - most of the screen is simply a blank canvas. However, that's the charm of early retro games when gameplay mattered most and I feel they've captured this (ahem) very well. You know, I do admire those blocky cities (which I'm supposed to save from an explosive death) but I also love the whacky colours and font. Yep, it's silly but so am I :)

Sound effects are fine but I am a little disappointed Atari didn't roll their sleeves up and go that extra mile as we've all heard (far) better from the old YM chip. Also, this isn't exactly pushing the Atari ST to its limits, so why not use samples? Hmm, it's a little bland in the audio dept and definitely needed a something with a little pizzazz.

 
You're almost done when the missiles explode far too close for comfort [my old man reactions!]

Missile Command is such a simple game and one of the best from that early era. Fans of the original should appreciate what is an authentic arcade conversion and one which certainly brought back lots of great memories for me. This is fast, frantic and bucket loads of fun so that's a thrilling win in my book. A timeless classic.

Okay, this was hardly a mind-blowing review as I'm sure everyone knows this great game so grab a floppy or the hard disk version and defend Zardon from its inevitable annihilation. I hope you last longer than I did in my video!!

Monday, February 04, 2019

TOS Legends


After checking out Hibernated 1 This Place is Death, I did a little surfing and ended up finding something called TOS Legends by Sébastien Claret. Now, I've never seen this before but thought it was pretty darn cool from the moment I first tried it. There is a download for both Mac/PC or you can play it inside your web browser... (Nah!)

Okay, here are some nifty links you should try: Ludum Dare and Sébastien's own website.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Hibernated 1 - This Place is Death


I've just taken delivery of what is possibly my last purchase for the Atari ST, Hibernated 1 by Stefan Vogt. You know, I feel like I've waited years for this to pop through my letterbox but it is here and I'm ecstatic to report a brilliant product. I'm unsure whether or not to remove the plastic seal... bah!! Of course, I've already unwrapped it!! :D

Hibernated was reviewed back in August (how time flies) and I included an animation to demonstrate the game's awesome sense of humour during the exploration - all links and a download/purchase are available here.

You know, I think I might be getting back into the swing of things here... Atari ST #ftw !!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas


We're almost at the end of yet another year so here is a cute Christmassy slideshow I found whilst digging through the AtariMania archives. It's from a disk magazine by Effect and is stuffed full of text and even features the most annoying rendition of "The 12 Days of Christmas" I've ever heard - but at least it supports the STe audio!!

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their help and ST commitment over the past year. Once again, I've met some great people and seen things which I thought would never happen after the ST "died" in the mid-90s. There are so many awesome games and demos recently released but my personal favourite is, of course, Manic Miner which is a fantastic remake of Matthew Smith's ZX Spectrum classic from 1983. Absolutely brilliant.

Also, I'd like to thank: Tom/Karim for all their sharing across various social media. Peter for adapting these merry ST games (and my requests for more!!). AtariMania for always being my go-to place. Atari Legend for being ace and getting me addicted to Ultima V. And, course, every one of you guys visiting my website throughout the year :-)

All the beST and Merry Christmas †

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Time Soldier


The conversion of Time Soldiers was released in 1989 by Electrocoin and is based on the vertically shoot 'em up which isn't too dissimilar to something like Ikari Warriors. The story goes that big bad Gylend has captured a few of our friends, who are now held captive in different time periods, so it's up to us to find and rescue each one.

Now, I've not played the arcade game but I can see there's a slight name change which basically means we're running solo. That would be (almost) understandable but we're only given the one life which makes the whole adventure rather difficult. Before setting out, we're given the name and location of our captured warrior but those wonky teleporters will often send us somewhere different which means you gotta plough through and find another portal. So keep your fingers crossed it gets the job done correctly this time... (don't hold your breath!)

  
Age of Rome is the first level which introduces us to the chaos but it soon gets a lot harder!

Each one of the time periods has a change of graphics but is basically the same format. These places are stuffed full of enemies that need killing and slain baddies leave behind goodies which should be collected - otherwise, your sucky weapon is near useless. Health can also be replenished which is always needed as every contact drains you dry. There's usually a lame boss monster looking for a fight but most are rather easy. Weirdly, my power-ups ran out during the big boss fights which made it nigh on impossible to win - unless you're cheating like me!

Having never played the original means I'm in the dark a little but I've watched videos and this doesn't feel like the same game. It's more a cross between something like Wanted or Commando yet doesn't impress nearly as much because it's pretty slow and the scrolling will pause unless you remain close to the top of the screen - which only leaves you vulnerable to any off-screen baddies! Sadly, it's too darn difficult having only one life and there are no arcade-style continues which means I rarely got past the second level and I wonder who beta tested this!

  
These two periods are pretty cool but I got annoyed with the off-screen enemies...

I quite like the graphics in Time Soldier, sprites are nicely detailed and they usually attack in waves so expect the screen cluttered with enemy fire - which I love. Heck, it's even making use of overscan and the scrolling is pretty smooth. The background music is balanced well against the sound effects and suits the gameplay very well.

I've enjoyed Time Soldier but I have mixed feelings: what I didn't like is the scrolling method which doesn't work well but only having one life is the real killer and the reason why I cheated for my longplay recording!! If you're expecting an authentic arcade conversion then brace yourself for disappointment. However, in its own right, this is a rather good shoot 'em up with progressively interesting levels that offer lots of action. #TooToughWithoutCheating!

If there are any time cops out there then grab either the floppy or hard disk games and good luck.

  
Future World is pretty weird stuff and the Final Battle is oddly quite short. Great ending though...!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Reach For The Skies


It's time for some cool BoxArt and today we have a wonderful flight sim by Rowan/Virgin called Reach For The Skies. I've definitely landed lucky because the box is in superb condition and even the contents are in good nick: manual, keycard and disks. It's almost like I used a time machine and revisited 1993 ( sigh... just imagine... )

Reach For The Skies was released back in 1993 and attempts a recreation of the Battle Of Britain era between the Royal Air Force and the German Luftwaffe. It's obviously a crucial part of the entire war and the battle is split into four mammoth sections. If you're up to the task, you can be either a pilot or the controller for an entire squadron.

  
Awesome pixel art albeit with some freaky faces. The middle pic features Colonel Von Strohm?

Obviously, the first thing I did was skip the manual and read nothing more than the keycard. This humble sheet of paper displays an array of keys which are used to successfully pilot the planes. Don't be too scared because there is a practice mode which is great for newcomers, like me. Why not completely bypass the take-off procedure and pretend to be a stuntman like Colt Seavers whizzing across those lovely 16-bit skies? Well, I did...

Those that prefer to take things seriously are adviced to learn the cockpit and keep the keycard sheet at hand. As you get accustomed to flying the skies, you will note some great external views: I really enjoyed these and you can watch me messing about on my YT channel. There are other awesome features like video recording and even the ability to flip between each member of your squadron. Yup, this is a big game that will take time to master.

  
The missions are historically impressive and it's also incredibly tempting to play for the other side...

Overall, this is a demanding flight sim with some neat features that help a novice, like me, get the most from the very start. I love the authentic cockpits, and the external views are stunning, but learning to hunt down and destroy the enemy will take much practice. But that's definitely a good thing, right? Reach For The Skies is one of the best flight sims I own and something I will enjoy time and time again. Tally-ho and chocks away, old bean!!

Whatever plane you decide to pilot, make sure you run this from a hard drive if you can (floppies on Stonish).

  
The 3D is good and the various camera angles are really impressive for some cool screenshots!



Please note: the video recording is based on my own experience using a Mega STe (16MHz) and I've tried to show the game's basic features for both the German and the British sides. Perhaps I should have used the standard computer, but there are lots of other videos out there so I fancied putting those extra clicks to use for a smoother experience. However, it's worth noting the old ST does perform exceedingly well (no change there then!).

Friday, December 14, 2018

Ballerburg

[This is the wonderful Atari ST game because I have no way to record off my phone!]

Let me start by saying that I never play "mobile" games. However, I was in my car bored stupid (it didn't take very long) and I remembered that Eckhard Kruse's Ballerburg has been remade by a company called DonkeyCat. Well, to say I'm blown away is an understatement because this classic mono game looks and feels very authentic and is pretty much like having an ST in your pocket. Gameplay is just as you would expect with wind, angle and speed to decipher so chose your kingdom and get blasting cannons over the mountains. Jolly good fun!

Okay, I still prefer the ST original but get on the App Store and grab yourself some of this mobile artillery action.

  

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny


Atari Legend is having a fantastic run-up to Christmas by releasing something special every day throughout December. It wasn't until the 7th when they released a hdd-patched version of Ultima 5 did I become interested. For some reason, I've not played any Ultima but this one looks especially interesting so I had to try it!

The land of Britannia has lost its king, Lord British (lol) and is now ruled by a tyrant called Blackthorn. Okay, it all sounds rather corny and the visuals might not rock the Bitmap Bros off top spot - but when did great graphics ever matter to the gameplay? I mean, just look at Rogue which I found to be a breathtaking experience. Nuff said.

  
Looks like I'm in a pretty cosy place but let's get out and explore the lush countryside.

  
Oh no, a two-headed Ettin has found me when walking over the hills. I should have run away!

First Impressions

Creating yourself a character is an usual affair and something I didn't expect but this process got little Stevie configured and straight into the thick of it. Boy, are there a large number of keys to learn for each and every action and interaction within your surroundings. This place is huge and the battles are very hard so exploring Britannia is going to be lots of fun (or agony?). But I can take it!!

I've genuinely enjoyed my first couple of games: a lovely country walk through grasslands and forests until I came upon a small bridge - with a Troll. Luckily I made it across without him noticing me but I then ran into some red demons who decided that they wanted a piece of us. Yep, my first battle didn't go down well if I'm honest... Hang on, I think I've been resurrected for another bash!

  
Vicious snakes decide to spit venom at our plucky adventurers. A bad mistake!

  
Now I feel Ultima V is finally starting to open up to this old noob. What a game!

I plan on spending the Christmas holidays playing Ultima V - with whiskey, turkey butties and mince pies beside my keyboard of course! I'm really looking forward to learning more about Ultima V and have (so far) had a brilliant few games. I'm excited but now time to takes things seriously and see how this adventure plays out.

My thanks to everyone over at Atari Legend for these daily treats!! Keep up the great work and STay Atari.

Hey look, I've just found a map! Time for a drink before leaving...

Sunday, December 09, 2018

MANDELST


MandelST is a new fractal generator developed in GFA Basic by Manos Kantzos (thanks to GeoAnas for the heads-up). I love messing about with funky fractals and this program is a cinch to use - which is a good thing for me!

Mandelbrot/Julia productions can be generated within moments but faster computers will certainly benefit from their extra grunt. Of course, emulators are a good idea unless you prefer to leave your ST on overnight! Images can be export as Degas PI1 or TIFF, which I think is extremely cool. Also, basic animations are possible which will take us deep into our freaky infinite mathematical world - what an absolutely stunning idea with great potential.

I've been having a play over the weekend and created some peculiar images and a nice animation I'm quite proud of. MandelST is a great program and it's superb to see something new coming out for the Atari ST so I'm hoping Manos continues to develop and improve upon it. Have yourself some geeky fun zooming in on infinite. I have!!


My Funky Creations