Sunday, November 17, 2019

Road Wars


For the most part, my Super Pack run has been a glowing success featuring lots of brilliant Atari ST games. Okay, there's been a couple of bumps along the way, but that's only to be expected and even Atari wasn't able to please everybody all of the time. Although I seriously doubt I'll ever load up Chopper X or Marble Madness again.

Well, up next is Road Wars by Melbourne House which looks a bit like Eliminator. Apparently, a computer controls the safety mechanisms of the highways but it isn't working properly so the roads are no longer safe. Perhaps it was running Windows, who knows? So hop into your Battlesphere droid and rid the roads of menaces!

 
Weirdly, I like that their title screen and they get straight to the point with the instructions!

Road Wars is a 3D racer but, instead of a car, we're a mounted-gun sliding down a yellow highway. We're also inside something called a Battlesphere which looks like a giant bowling ball and acts as a shield. Two-players are supported and solo gamers will be happy to see the computer automatically assume the role of an absent friend.

The highway is walled on both sides with several types of enemies and other problems. Some wall panels are blue and fire electricity across the highway. Shooting either panel will disable that or you could just roll through hiding inside the safety of the Battlesphere. When both panels are gone, you're free to zip onto the next level.

Controls are simple to move left/right and pushing UP activates the Battlesphere's shield to hide inside. Pulling DOWN removes this so you're free to kill stuff using the fire button. The controls work okay but there is a noticeable lag when things get busy. I also found it way too easy to kill my friendly opponent. Clumsy me... Oops!

We're not alone! Beware and look out for the dangerous on these futuristic yellow roads...
Red balls. Yup, red balls. These can kill you with one touch unless you're shielded - but even then, it'll completely destroy your sheid leaving you vulnerable. These can also appear in clusters which obviously gives you much more to shoot at. Also, beware of those that turn into missiles!!
Chevrons are an unusal surprise and it worth rolling over one...
Spikes are a pain in the rearend so cloak up quickly and hide inside your protective sheld!
Satellites frequently flyby and some can fire a deadly laser beam.
Barriers are quite fun and something to enjoy ramming through. Well, if cloaked!

 
We begin on Electric Avenue hunting down the evil villain, Eddy Grant. No, not really!! :p

The graphics are drab. When I say drab, I really do mean drab. The only thing I actually like is the loading screen which features the two developers - because I felt had a demoscene vibe to it. Oh, I also like the rolling moon animation which isn't too shabby. Well... However, what disappoints the most is its ludicrously sluggish framerate.

Audio is freaking annoying with the one tune that plays constantly. Aggravating!!

 
Taking screenshots is usually a mad rush during the fun of frantic gameplay. Not during Road Wars! Yawn...

Road Wars had the potential to be so much more, but its limited design lets it down because there ain't an awful lot to this shooter. I did wonder if we had another Quadralien on our hands but, no matter how long I played, I was bored by the repetitive gameplay, laggy controls, terrible framerate, and the constant music only makes matters worse!

Overall, I this has to be one of the most disappointing games I've played and I'm struggling to think of something nice to say. Well, for what it's worth, Road Wars comes on the same floppy disk as Chopper X. I rest my case.

Masochists will be happy to know that AtariMania has this Super Pack floppy to download!!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Atari Legend


I'm taking a quick break from my Super Pack adventure to share something very special. Well, it's only special because of the one reason ;-) but I'll let you guys decide what that is!! Atari Legend has a FANTASTIC YouTube channel ran by Maarten Martens. Oh, they also have a crummy website too, apparently!

Anyhow, it shocked me to discover that many of my ST friends didn't know about this amazing channel. I love Maarten's silly sense of humour which is equally matched by his video production skills. Everything always comes together incredibly well for great entertainment so I hope you will enjoy this video as much I have?

Anyhow, I shall now be heading back into the depths of my Atari Super Pack adventure... Wish me luck!!

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Return To Genesis


Firebird released Return To Genesis the same year I got my Atari ST and it was developed by the incredible "ST Dream Team". Yup, Steve Bak, Pete Lyons and David Whittaker: three masters in their own field. These guys pushed the ST without ever resorting to excuses or using a lame Amiga port. #respect

RTG is basically a funky take on Defender where Mechanauts have forced scientists into slavery. We've gotta rescue each of these guys which means jumping into a spaceship to skim the surface of 50 psychedelic worlds.

 
Can you see the Mechanauts? Not easy, is it? Wait, there's a scientist here waiting to be picked up!

If you've ever played Defender then you should be right at home with RTG. There is only a minute learning curve so the lazy option is to keep your finger on the fire button and kill everything in a mad panic as the alien's attack. However, it's worth slowing down to pick up the scientists rather than killing them: once onboard, hit the HELP key to see what cool power-ups they might provide. These guys are useful and could improve weaponry, shields, invisibility, and so much more. However, Festus might be less than fun as the master of self-destruction!!

A scanner shows the location of each scientist but this sadly falls short at detailing the level layout. I don't know why, but this doesn't work well for me. Sigh... how many more times must I be rebounded back and forth like a yoyo. Yes, this is one incredibly FAST shoot 'em up that has you on the edge of your seat. Blink and you're dead!!


This is an incredible idea that uses who you rescue in a positive way for the next level. It's superb!

Pete Lyon designed everything you see but I'd be lying if I said this was his best work (I personally think Zynaps won that accolade). Don't get me wrong, RTG looks lovely but it's also pretty gorky and I sometimes found it difficult to distinguish the aliens against those funky backgrounds. The scrolling is smooth to prove, once again, that the Atari ST needed no custom chips when in the hands of talented people that care about their product.

Audio is such a treat. Dave Whittaker sure knew how to get the best heard from our computer - his work proves "chip" will last forever. Okay, it does sound <cough> familiar but it suits the gameplay perfectly. Heck, our ST talks to us which is a zillion times better than Goldrunner. Dave certainly gets the YM processor rocking!!

 
Oh look, a weapons upgrade. See, I told you it was better to rescue these guys rather than blasting 'em!

RTG is one of those games that apparently has it all. It looks, moves and sounds absolutely brilliant yet I still cannot bring myself to playing it that much over the last three decades. I love a good Defender but this is simply too difficult thanks to its blistering speeds which means hitting lots of objects and suffering humiliating deaths. However, the scientist's power-ups is a wonderful idea that compensates the repetitive (and difficult) gameplay.

Return To Genesis is an iconic shoot 'em up for most ST gamers but it's way too furious for me and thus another Anarchy. Sorry, but give me Xenon or Menace any day of the week. Overall, I like it but I don't love it.

Return To Genesis is available on floppy or your hard drive device.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Quadralien


I must admit that Quadralien wasn't something I was looking forward to. I remember being completely bemused by this puzzler back in 1988 so I was dreading booting it up again - and having to write something interesting!! So, cautiously, I inserted the floppy disk into my beloved Atari ST and braced for an embarrassing moment of gaming torture. I only hoped my nightmares didn't return to haunt me - at my age, I need all the sleep I can get!!

Quadralien is an action-enhanced puzzler released by Logotron and, once again, we find ourselves on-board a spaceship that's about to go into a nasty radioactive meltdown. This time it's thanks to a pesky race of Quadraliens who must be stopped before everything goes boom. Next time, I think I'll just stay at home...

 
Click the red square to see detailed information for each of the six droids. Choose wisely!

Each level is viewed from above, Gauntlet-style, and we control two droids that need to clean up the Quadralien's mess. Actually, there are a total of six droids but only two are usable at once. Each has its own individual characteristics to take into account: magnetic structure, the ability to carry waste, battery, weaponry...

Initially, I found this unnecessary because I felt blind in terms of planning ahead for an unknown level. It didn't seem to work very well... However, I later found a fantastic series of videos by sushicalmagi who nicely explains each droid along with the basics of the gameplay. It's worth watching, especially if you have no instructions manual!

 
So much radioactive stuff to zap or pick up... use those "I" terminals to see the services it offers.

Six chambers make up a level and their objective differs: in the first room we are tasked to clean the radioactive materials to lower the temperature but the later levels involve puzzles to tax the old brain cells. Quadralien uses a passcode system to lock the harder levels which I thought was a neat idea for the long run.

Okay, my first game was quite the mind-blowing affair because there's so much clutter on-screen which bewilders!! My advice is to take it slow and experiment with your droid: familiarise yourself with the room, find water, play with magnetised objects, zap/collect toxic waste - and use the console. Actually, these terminals are excellent and stuffed full of detailed stats, full toxic decontamination, and can also recharge your battery to full power.

 
The console is your best friend who can help out in a number of different ways - like a good scrub!

After a couple of games in, things began to fall into place and I was enjoying myself. Getting around is easy using the joystick and it's a lot of fun zapping the nasty stuff with your laser. Also, the spacebar is used to collect toxic waste and hitting F4 activates a nifty Geiger counter on all lucky droids. F5 flips between your two chosen droids and F3 allows you to pan your location without moving, which is more useful than you might first assume...

Also, there are some rather odd magnetic mechanics which can be useful, annoying or humorous and that depends on your choice of the droid so learn your environment before blindly running around. However, there are other objects to be wary of like magnetic tracks, forcefields and those impetuous Quadraliens!

 
It's good to know your environment and Quadralien is bursting with much to learn. Study hard!

Graphically, this puzzler is pretty amazing and I liked its crisp, clean design using bold colours. It's quite futuristic in some ways and reminded me how I thought a 16-bit game would look - back when I was a ZX Spectrum guy. Okay, I'd have like scrolling but the flick-screen method works nicely and I'm thankful push-scrolling wasn't used!

The sound effects are great but it's that funky Dave Whittaker music which wins it hands down. Listen...

 Any David Whittaker Atari ST tune can be played directly in your browser thanks to SNDH Record.


Okay, we're now at that point where I write why I loved or hated a game. However, I'm doing something a little different today because of Quadralien's enormous learning curve which I initially failed to master...

If I'm honest, I never fully got to grips with Quadralien. Not nearly as much as I'd have liked but something was putting me off. The idea is interesting but also overwhelming and I found the concept of using different droids rather irritating. This is one of those puzzlers that I fear others, with a cool temperament and lots of spare time, will enjoy the most. Whereas I'm that guy watching on, totally gobsmacked, and wondering what everyone else sees in it...

So why did I leave in my obviously premature conclusion? Well, sometimes we're quick to judge and I feel I fell right into that trap because I didn't master Quadralien's massive learning curve. Anyhow, I recently took a week off with the family to eat, drink and walked the fells of northern England. I returned fresh, raring to go, and booted up my ST to give this puzzler another shot. You know what? I actually enjoyed it for the first time in over 30 years!

Quadralien may offer the usual end-of-world scenario but it also feels very different and with some interesting mechanics. Sure, there's a huge learning curve, but I suggest trying your best to master that otherwise you'll do what I almost did and miss out on nothing less than a class Atari ST puzzler. This is brilliant. Dismiss it at your peril.

AtariMania has the floppy download and 8BitChip obviously has the hard disk version. Enjoy!!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Marble Madness


Of all the games in this wonderful Super Pack collection, it is (ironically) Atari's own Marble Madness which I was looking forward to the least. I've never played the arcade original but I did have a number of clones back in my Sinclair ZX Spectrum days - and I hated every one of them!! So, we're off to a good start lol.

This ST conversion was programmed by Will Harvey, which shocked me somewhat. After all, this is the guy who gave us the excellent Zany Golf and The Immortal so my expectations were always going to be high.

To be honest, I find the whole Marble Madness concept pointless and very frustrating. I've simply no patience to spend any amount of time on something that was obviously designed to torture people like me. However, I must keep an open mind and attack this game just as I would any other... Maybe I've been wrong all these years?

 
The first level looks good but is a cheap imitation with missing decals.
Level two introduces us to the enemies - a black ball that loves to play chase... Weird!

The aim of Marble Madness is to navigate a ball through six wacky isometric mazes that feature lots of tricks like moving platforms, vents and even "monsters" that zap you for valuable time loss. Yes, there's a timer so, the quicker you complete each screen, the more time you accumulate for the next. This idea is pretty cool and forces you to master each level the best you can. Or you could play coop head-to-head which I thought worked well.

The controls are awkward, so it's now you will probably miss that trackerball? Sure, I've no trackball myself but I found the ST's mouse to be nothing less than useless as I wildly zipped about in every direction except the one I wanted. The joystick proved to be the better choice for the diagonal movements and holding down fire delivers a burst of speed. This is good to climb slopes or avoid baddies - just try not to fall over the edge!

Sadly, the controls aren't without their quirks and sometimes it felt like my blue ball had a mind of its own: many times I'd move one way only to see it go another! Plus there are bugs, lots of bugs: for example, level two features an invisible wall which your ball can ignore and drop down into oblivion. Level three crashed on me twice!

 
Okay, I've dodged two wibbly things... but... Oh no, there's another black ball ready to chase me!!
Those green blobs are slow and easy to beat. Hang on, what's that vent used for...?

Graphically, I expected better from the ST. Just look at its title screen if you don't believe me - what were they thinking? The game itself resembles the arcade levels but feels rushed with missing decals, bland colours and weak shadows. It's pretty rubbish when compared to other isometric games I've enjoyed on my Atari ST.

Audio is quite poor, the sound effects barely resemble the original and the music is irritating at best.

 
Level four has some of the most infuriating moments which had me screaming at my poor ST!!!!

Okay, I know that I've never loved Marble Madness - but - I have kept an open mind. Honestly, I've tried my best but time has not healed my wounds and it failed to deliver the slightest hint of enjoyment. Also, the ST appears to have received an incredibly lame conversion that feels rushed and is riddled with silly bugs.

Marble Madness is definitely the weakest game in the Super Pack (so far) and yes, it's even worse than Chopper X so I don't think I'll be booting it up again anytime soon. Sorry guys, but I absolutely hated this with a passion!!

Those wishing to endure torture can download either the floppies or a hard disk version. Good luck...

Friday, October 11, 2019

Eddie Edward's Super Ski


So far, my Super Pack adventure has been very strong with some huge titles: Arkanoid II Revenge of Doh, Beyond the Ice Palace, Black Lamp and Buggy Boy. All are searchable right here and all are sweet Atari ST classics. However, there's always an exception and it was Chopper X. But we'll say no more about that...

Okay, the sixth game in the Atari Super Pack is Eddie Edward's Super Ski which is basically an "Eddie The Eagle-endorsed" version of Microids' Super Ski. Now, everyone (here) admired our lovable sporting icon who was our plucky hero that certainly won over the entire nation's heart. Heck, he even got his name on an Atari ST game which is a gold medal moment and far more impressive than the Calgary Winter Olympics. Oh yeah!

 
Okay, there's no music but the interface is clear and well-designed. I like the ability to instantly play!

Oddly, I had a bit of trouble running this game on my own STe so I switched over to Hatari and configured that to emulate a basic STf (TOS 1.02). Also, (thanks to AtariMania) I had a good laugh reading the box cover which says: Fly like "the Eagle" on the Ski Jump!!

Super Ski is a 3D skiing simulator where we compete in slaloms, downhill racing and a ski jump. Each event is experienced from a third-person perspective to show Eddie in the thick of the action - which basically means we try our best to help keep him on course using our lightning-fast reactions. Which is harder than it sounds...

The races are fast. And I do mean fast! Chose from three tracks that increase in their number of twists and turns for a chaotic experience. Controls are superb - move from side to side to steer through as you zoom down the snowy hills (press the fire button to move quicker). To increase your speed, push up, for an insane boost!

Competition mode supports multiple players using the Booking Office (which is a bit weird) to choose how many and their names. Now you can find out who can jump the best and ski the fastest without incurring too many penalties. You might even become a human snowball... Tell me that ain't the funniest thing you never expected to see!

 
If you can handle it, ride low for faster speeds. I did and finished without turning into a snowball!!

There is a training mode used to practice each of the four events before taking part in the competition. Using this is something I cannot recommend highly enough, because you will certainly need lots of practice:

The slalom games are fast so require quick reactions to safely navigate each of the progressively difficult tracks. The harder you go, the more winding the path and all whilst trying to hit through the gates. Wow, these races are insane - dare you hit UP to go even faster??

Ski Jump is simple and simply awesome. Sure, it's over within the blink of an eye compared to racing, but it's exciting to see Eddie fly like the eagle he was (ahem). I really enjoyed trying to get the speed and angel just right - now all you've gotta do is try and stop. If you can!

Downhill Racing is very similar to the slaloms and, I suppose, sports fans will hate me for saying that? However, I found it harder because I felt snowblinded due to the lack of colour and visual objects! It's fast, it's furious, it's racing so crouch down if you can handle the exhilerating pace.



This has got to be one of the best moments in gaming? I never expected to be Eddie The Snowball!!

Graphically, I'm impressed by Super Ski which nicely presents an Olympic scene. Everything flows at a frightening pace and possibly too fast for my old eyes that desired less speed and more frames. We even have foolish spectators standing in dangerous places just waiting to be splattered. Actually, it's good that they're there because I'd probably go snowblind in this white world. But I shouldn't complain because this is brilliant for 1988.

Audio is less impressive with the YM2149 trying to make swooshy/sliding noises and penalty alerts. It's fine but could have been far better? Sadly, there are no chiptunes to bop along too, either in the menus or during play.

 
Looks like the fans are enjoying it? I wonder if I can entertain them as much as the real Eddie... Yup!

You know me, sports games aren't really my bag, baby. I enjoy certain motorsports and even a few beat 'em ups, but I admit to being pretty much meh about athletics. Super Ski is fun but I am concerned about its lack of variety and felt we needed "more" to set apart the events - like a bobsleigh or even curling!! Of course, they're not exactly Eddie's chosen events, but this would have added a lot more to the game which feels quite restricted.

However, I will say that this skiing game really impressed me. The controls are perfectly responsive for each frantic event and the feeling of zooming downhill is a thrill - it's almost like a snowy version of Vroom! Also, the training mode is a Godsend to help brush up on your skills before foolishly jumping into a competition. Overall, Super Ski is great especially when playing against the family - and we had a laugh - so this is highly recommended.

This Eddie version of Super Ski was a tough find... Thankfully, AtariMania had the correct download.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Chopper X


Chopper X is a vertically-scrolling shoot 'em up released in 1989 by Paradox that places us in the seat of an Assault Helicopter which is armed with Viper Air To Ground missiles to battle against hoards of bad guys. The blurb says this pushes the ST with its stunning graphics - What absolute twaddle. Don't believe it for a second!

Anyhow, I should first admit that I'm not exactly the biggest fan of the whole vertical shooter genre. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the games that I have enjoyed over the decades: Flying Shark, SWIV, Wings Of Death, Xenon, Xenon II and Lethal Xcess. Most are searchable here and yes, I'm a freak with six fingers...

 
From the start, I knew this was going to be a corker. Yup, right up there with the best of 'em. Ahem!

Upon starting, the first thing that hits you is how crude it looks. Then you pick up the joystick and realise that the controls are equally as bad because they feel clunky without any swift action manoeuvring your chopper about the screen. Hmm, that just sounds wrong... Anyhow, it simply doesn't feel right to me.

Shooting down enemies should always be fun but I'm not so sure Chopper X has the most accurate collision detection system. Perhaps it's the scrolling which throws me? But there are times when killing them (and them killing me) seemed somewhat unnaturally fake. Our main weapon doesn't feel good enough, it's like I wanted more from it... Thankfully, there are powerful Cluster Bombs that help out during those sticky situations.

 
The ship does nothing other than help mask the enemy fire!! At last (right pic) we reach the end of a level.

Each stage is quite short and static in design which is fine because many shooters follow a similar design. However, that means I could soon learn when something was about to appear and these guys are pretty dumb too: they will blindly shoot in a direction which is approximate to your location on the screen. So, if you're quite high up, then their bullets are fired diagonally upwards rather than directly towards your current location. Weird...

It's probably a lot easier to keep your chopper quite low on the screen to avoid the enemy's pathetic attack patterns from above. However, and annoyingly, death not only results in a loss of life but also forces you back to replay the entire level from the beginning rather than the place were you croaked it. Quite infuriating.

 
As you can see, the enemy cannot directly fire at your location but only in the general direction.

Graphically, this is pretty poor by ST standards with bland sprites, dreary backdrops and horrendously jerky scrolling. It's perhaps one of the worst I've seen and I include those developed with Shoot'Em-Up Construction Kit! lol

Audio... Well, this is the game's one saving grace with an incredibly funky tune that I really enjoy. However, it doesn't last very long before looping back to the start and, because this plays constantly, it isn't long before it grates on your nerves!! Sound effects are pretty lame, especially when you die or kill something. Interestingly, midi is supported which is something I'd love to experience one day - I'm after a cheap Roland MT32. Anybody??

 
The 2nd level adds a splash of brown but still looks dreadful. However, I'd lost the will to live by the 3rd...

Well, it looks like my fantastic run of Super Pack games has come to an end with Chopper X? Yes, I've never been a big fan of vertically-scrolling shoot 'em ups but this is pretty bad, to say the least. It's way too easy, dull as dishwater, and, well, it's just no fun. There are better shoot 'em ups on the ST so stay clear of this choppy chopper!!

Perhaps you're insane and wish to play this? The floppies can be sourced using Old Games Finder and you can lose precious hard drive space by installing this version by 8BitChip. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Buggy Boy


After the joy of Arkanoid 2, we continue our trip through Super Pack land with Beyond the Ice Palace and Black Lamp. However, both are already featured right here on AtariCrypt [click their links] so let's move onwards to another ST favourite of mine, Buggy Boy!! Now, those with a keen memory for all the junk I post on this website will remember that I've already covered this racer. Well, yes and no... Yes, it's featured but no, it was just a silly post because I was enjoying the dizzy speeds of my 16Mhz Mega STe!! Still, it's worth viewing!! Well, maybe...

Buggy Boy is an arcade classic and something that doesn't take itself seriously whatsoever. Forget the crucial stuff like road surface, tyres, suspension, handling, pitstops or even the paint job. Nope, just choose which of the five tracks you fancy and then jump into your buggy and race through checkpoints - all against the clock.

 
Who doesn't love two-wheel stunts or abandoned logs that help us leap high into the air!

Everything you see is completely unrealistic thanks to roads cluttered with obstacles and whacky physics. The first track is an offroad loop whereas the others are segmented by their checkpoints as you progress. This racer was always meant to be fun so provides silly leaps and two-wheel driving, Knight Rider style :-)

Points can be earned by collecting flags in the order shown at the top of your screen. Once completed, they begin to flash - so now is a good idea to collect more before that stops... Also, slalom-style gates are scattered throughout for tons of points and some even offer time bonuses. Heck, you might even see a soccer ball... Go on, kick it!!

 
Hit that soccer ball like Pele and climb sloping walls to avoid obstacles like these annoying rocks.

Some tracks have banked curves and can be used like you're racing at Bristol Motor Speedway which was an unexpected surprise that certainly adds to the overall excitement. However, not all is good so look out for rocks, bushes or barriers which slow you down or take you for a tumble. Driving head-on into a wall will cause you to explode and water has never been good for any vehicle - each bad event forces you to lose precious time!

The joystick controls are brilliant albeit limited by the ST. Of course, an analogue wheel was always going to be missed, but the weirdest aspect is pushing upwards to accelerate rather than using the button. That's because tapping this switches between your two gears... it's odd but you'll get used to it after a race or two.

 
There was plenty of room but I still chose to leap over that rock. Watch out, tunnel ahead!

Graphically, Buggy Boy hasn't aged too badly and certainly brought back all my old arcade memories. The sprites are nice, the colours are gorgeously vivid, and the overall appearance is so cartoon-like. Okay, the framerate isn't exactly Vroom but it looks cute and performs smooth enough not to hurt my eyes, ala Cisco Heat and OutRun!!

Audio is darn cool and captures the arcade experience with its beautiful chiptunes - all produced by the talented Jason C. Brooke. Sound effects are almost as good with jazzy jingles and funny "boings" as we leap.

 
Bumping into some obstacles slows you down whereas others cause the buggy to realistically tumble. Ahem.

It's difficult to find something negative to say about this racer. But, if I was to be picky, then the framerate could be a tad smoother and I miss the audio touches like skids or driving through tunnels. But I really am being picky!!

Overall, this is an outstanding conversion of the arcade original. It looks, sounds and plays absolutely great plus the ability to instantly select your prefered course is a huge bonus. It's authentic and brilliantly entertaining so will always keep on dragging you back for more. Buggy Boy is an Atari ST gem and I love it. Simple as that really.

The floppies can be sourced using Old Games Finder but, if you have the necessary hardware, I would advice you to download the cool hack by D-Bug. This not only comes with a fantastic intro but also supports faster Atari computers, like my own Mega STe. This, is a superb download!!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Arkanoid - Revenge of Doh


It's time to kickstart my Super Pack adventure with Imagine's Arkanoid: Revenge Of Doh. Now, I'm sure everyone has played this at some point in their life because it's such a popular classic and easy to pick up and play.

Our ST conversion was developed by a familiar name from the 1980s, Peter Johnson. This wizball not only did all the coding but everything you see and hear too which is quite staggering when you think about it. From the moment this loads up, I'm in love with its authentic intro! Okay, it's short but it works and features that zappy music!

 
The first level breaks you in nicely and it wasn't long before I found an M power-up!!

Using the mouse... Yes, the mouse!! Control the Vaus Craft to deflect the energy bolt back and forth destroying every (destructible) block - Breakout style. You can guide the bolt depending on how contact is made: inner areas produce a taller vertical direction whereas outer parts deliver a wide-angled shot. I must say, the mouse controls are excellent, but don't think that means easy because your hand-eye coordination will definitely be tested!!

Each level follows a trippy design to compensate for the ridged format and later screens are incredibly tricky. Watch out for the aliens who enjoy hovering around to get in the bolts way and ricochet the bolt off at an unexpected angle - which is really infuriating!! So use the Vaus to nudge them into an early grave when they get too close...

Thankfully, the power-ups are back and we have a wealth of snappy bonuses to make full use of:
B - Who doesn't love skipping levels if given the chance?
C - The Vaus Craft gains velcro!
D - Split the bolt into eight - can you handle it though?
E - Bigger is always better, right?
I - We have a ghost Vaus to make our hits a little easier.
L - Hit that mouse button because we have weapons!!
M - Destroys blocks like they're not even there. Amazing.
N - Splits the bolt, which regenerates to keep on damaging.
P - Sounds boring but extra lives are incredibly valuable.
R - The cold of space has shrunken you!
S - Collect this if things are getting too hectic.
T - You gain a twin to help you in your quest!

Graphically, you won't see any mind-blowing artwork but it's so reminiscent of the arcade original using vivid colours. The aliens might be incredibly annoying at times but at least these sprites look great. Arkanoid is as bold and colourful as you would expect and shows just how far we came from the original 1970s Breakout!!

Sound effects aren't going to drive you wild with excitement but who expected anything beyond dink...dink...dink...? Thankfully, the tunes are superb even if we're only talking mere seconds, but I love their authentic quality.

 
Personally, I think this is one of the hardest levels in the entire game. Just try and get that last block...

Usually, I would now mention all the things about a game that narks me. There are none...

Okay, I think it's easy to say that Arkanoid took the Breakout genre to a whole new level. This sequel is so addictive and infuriating yet always keeps you coming back for more. It's everything I would hope for in an arcade conversion and is certainly one of the best. Overall, I rate Arkanoid II Revenge Of Doh as categorically outstanding!!
Downloads are available for either floppy or using a spanky hard drive device. And, for those of us that are far too impatient, why not skip a level by hitting the S key during gameplay? All ya gotta do is hit the CAPS Lock key when the title screen is displayed and enter MAGENTA. Sweet!