Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Faster Than Light: The Atari ST


Jamie Lendino of ExtremeTech has released a new book dedicated to the worlds best 16-bit computer. I've only just got the digital edition tonight but I've enjoyed flicking through some pages and to say I'm impressed would be a huge understatement. This is seriously good Stuff. Heck, even my little website gets a mention which is mind-blowing.

Faster Than Light is crammed full and covers many different topics: from the history and range of different computers along with the various uses we got from this incredible beast. The book is available on (your local) Amazon store right now for less than a tank of fuel!! I'm buying the paperback edition and I hope you ST nutters do the same.

 
 

“Power Without the Price.” Every Atari fan remembers that slogan from the 1980s as the rallying cry for 16-bit computing in the form of the Atari ST. This groundbreaking computer brought previously unimagined power to the home user for the first time—and transformed an industry or two along the way.

Author Jamie Lendino offers a fresh, vital look at the history of the Atari ST, guiding you from its inauspicious genesis at the centre of a company known for its gaming consoles to its category-defining triumphs in music, desktop publishing, and video gaming. And he doesn’t stop there: He then leaps to the present to pull back the veil on the thriving software and mod communities that aren’t just keeping it alive today but taking it to places its creators never could have imagined.

Whether you’re a longtime devotee who wants to relive the magic of the machine that unleashed the wonders of Dungeon Master, Time Bandit, and Starglider, an intrepid DIYer on the hunt for new ideas and resources to take your homebrew system to the next level, or a newcomer hungry to learn the ins and outs of one of the most important computers ever created, this book will get you there just as the ST did its long-ago digital pioneers: Faster Than Light.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Bugziacs


A brand new remake of Don Priestley's Maziacs is being released by Bello Games with coding by George Nakos (aka GGN) and graphics by Niels Kleine (aka Tinker) and Kevin Dempsey (aka SH3). At the moment, this is an unfinished port but I loved the ZX Spectrum original so much that I couldn't wait to get my grubby mitts on this...

I expected differences but, right from the start, this feels authentic and with an excellent remake of the old DK'Tronics loading screen. Surprisingly, there is a good reason Bugziacs feels so much like the original - "This version actually runs the original Spectrum code translated to 68000 using a custom tool and then some routines replaced with ST specific code". Wow. Extremely interesting and I hope many more Spectrum conversions are in the pipeline!!

 
Ohh, this entire menu system is just like the original. Even the font... and silly sprites!!

Okay, once the game begins, things feel familiar but the look (and movement) are a lot better than my favourite Z80 computer could ever manage. The goal remains the same: explore a maze looking for hidden treasure and escape. It sounds easy - but it's not - especially as you cannot carry both a weapon and the treasure at the same time.

Like the original, each maze is randomly generated which means a different game every time. But the one thing that remains constant is those angry Maziacs who roan the corridors looking for a scrap with our plucky hero. Thankfully, some kind soul has left lots of swords scattered throughout. However, these can oddly only survive one battle, so this is where the map feature comes in handy. Along with your memory for those you previously walked past...

You're not superman, so keep on eye on your precious energy levels which are displayed using a long vertical bar. This ticks down as you explore but fear not because whoever left the swords has also left energy drinks. Time to use the map and your memory once again... Now, what I've always found ultra cool are the prisoners who are very helpful with directions for both the treasure and (later) your exit. Yes, it's weird that they know so much yet fail to ask for any assistance to be set free! But it's best to stop overthinking that and to simply follow their directions.

 
The prisoners are so helpful and it would be a massive shame not to ask them for their help...

I've really enjoyed playing Bugziacs which I find well-balanced and incredibly playable. Sure, it's got some quirks/bugs, and those randomly generated maps can sometimes be so unfair: as more than once, I began with a Maziac stood beside me! But let's not forget this is unfinished so I'm extremely eager to see the final product.

Overall, I'm sure Bugziacs will appeal more to fans of the original? However, it's always exciting to see a new Atari ST game in development so, old and new gamers alike should try their luck at treasure hunting. In fact, it's worth it just to witness the humorous scraps between our hero and a Maziac. Even unfinished, this is blummin' awesome!!

Both AtariMania and Demozoo has the download you need to start killing the Maziacs. Oops, sorry Bugziacs...

Thursday, June 13, 2019

ST Collection #8


Here's another menu disk which I really liked, ST Collection 8 by Typhoon. As you can imagine, it features loads of intros by the likes of Cynix, Fuzion plus also a few other oddities: I really liked the strangely funny Sonic Demo and Dune's Faith features spectacular artwork, stunning effects, and audio to die for!! MJJ's Trisogames is always great but I must admit it was Pascal Ganaye's Strip Tetris which caught my attention (naughty boy!)

As you'd expect, this is just Tetris but we're also treated to a 4-bit glamour girl who removes her clothing the better you perform. Hmm, that didn't come out right, but I'm sure you know what I mean? Gameplay is pretty good and my old man reactions did pretty well in the video recording. This is a nice conversion of the old favourite.

Yep, there's lots of cool stuff on this disk and Demozoo has the download for those wanting boobs (and more!)