Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Magic Pockets


I thought it was time for more cool BoxArt from my own collection and today, I've finally bought Magic Pockets by the awesome awesome awesome Bitmap Bros. These guys sure knew how to program our Atari ST and never once settled for a lame port. The cover art is a quite simple, especially when compared to other games I've already featured. Anyhow, I'm proud to own what is nothing less than another belting piece of hiSTory from the Bitmaps!!

  
There are lots of crazy monsters to kill but... hang on... what's that TV doing there?

The Bitmap Kid (BK to his burger friends) has been given a brand new pair of magical trousers from an old man he met in the park one evening... No, not really!! Anyhow, he loves these trousers but then finds out that his toys have somehow disappeared into the fantasy world, PocketLand. Of course, our cool Kid is determined to get his toys back so enters PocketLand via a black hole he conjured!! Boy, if there was ever a whacky storyline...

PocketLand is split over four enormous levels and the BK is armed with different powers depending on the world he's currently exploring. There are so many awesome enemies, bonuses, and he even has extra abilities like using the whirlwind to jump higher. Sometimes the route through can feel like a wild goose chase, but often you're lead onto secret areas which contain lots of goodies. I admire their overall design because most levels never feel linear.

  
The first level nicely introduces various aspects of the game with their trippy mechanics.

Visually, this has a Godly design with lovely colours, but the sprites are something else. So many incredibly cute critters all of which are nicely animated. Sound effects are fine but sometimes I feel an additional background tune would have been a good option to have. The title music is by Betty Boo of course... I'm meh but I guess it's okay!

So far, I've played the first couple of levels from Caves and it's like Christmas Day here. I'm looking forward to getting stuck into this platformer and hoping I'll enjoy it just as much as I did back in the day. This might be a preview but, like anything from the Bitmap Brothers, Magic Pockets is top-notch and highly recommended. Wish me luck...

Help out the Kid and download this funk platformer for either floppy or use the superb hard disk version.


AtariMania has a huge scan of the instruction sheet  [ and it saved me from photographing mine! ]

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Bug Spray


Pssst, wanna play a game bursting with originality? Then check out Bug Spray, developed by Philip Bishop which should please gamers with green fingers - especially those old enough to remember the 1983 Speccy original.

Lots of sunflowers need protecting from various hungry pests who love to nibble. To stop our sunflower from slowly dying, we have three different cans of bug spray. Each one is designed to kill only one specific creature but spraying others (with the wrong bug spray) will stun them for a few seconds. Sadly, our gardener can only carry one at a time and this is what makes the gameplay such a rush battling against the critters as they swarm in for to feed.

Just like Jet Pac, this isn't an exact conversion but plays great and brought back many happy memories. The graphics are pretty much ZX Spectrum standards but the sprites are pretty cute, especially the spiders. Sound effects are adequate but there is also the option for chip music which is a far better choice. My only criticism is manoeuvring our gardener to pick-up a can of bug spray which I personally found finicky walking into this tiny area...

Yep, Bug Spray is a blatant rip-off but I've still enjoyed playing what is essentially the Atari ST version of Pssst!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Scanners


I was just going through old video records and found this which is an absolute classic!!
[ Download available on Demozoo - just make sure you turn up the volume ]

Friday, July 13, 2018

Bombaman


Ever since I first played Erik And The Floaters on my ZX Spectrum, I have enjoyed many Bomberman clones and here is yet another called Bombaman. Developed by Kevin Callahan for the Atari STe, this conversion is multiplayer for two to four people, with support for those enhanced joystick ports lurking on the side of your computer.

Blowing up stuff is superb fun with light and very easy controls. Tons of power-ups are available and contain some favourites, like a molotov cocktail and chucking bombs over the walls. Others can increase the number of bombs we are able to drop - but watch out for chain-reactions during their explosions as they will detonate the others. Roller skates speed up gameplay whilst flap jackets protect us but slower players better watch out for zombies...

The visuals are incredibly colourful but may require sunglasses to protect your eyes from all that glare!! Everything runs smoothly at 50fps thanks to the Blitter and is displayed in overscan too I might add. Chip music plays throughout, which I really enjoyed, but it never overpowers the gorgeous DMA sound effects. Spot-on perfect.

What a brilliant multiplayer and one which lived up to my expectations even though I admit to missing a singleplayer option. We have both thoroughly enjoyed Bombaman and my daughter says it's her favourite version [watch our video recording]. So, if you fancy throwing a few bombs at friends, then I suggest you play this right now!!

Monday, July 09, 2018

Ben Pritchard


When AtariCrypt was just a little baby I came upon a scrolling platformer called The Curse Of Bolda which is such a fun game and one I really enjoyed playing. However, I was new to Hatari and figured I was doing something wrong because it seemed pretty sluggish so I whacked it up to the dizzy heights of 16Mhz and everything was perfect.

Shortly afterwards, I heard from the developer who seemed chuffed that people were still playing his old games and (eventually) I got around to playing his other called Kev's World. This is a flick-screen platformer which I really enjoyed, probably because STOS coped better without scrolling the screen? Fun, with an oldskool charm.

Anyhow, I've since been talking to Ben who has found the original [registered] disks of The Curse Of Bolda which are now freely available from AtariMania. However, I couldn't leave it there... Yup, I had to ask a few questions for our interview section. My sincere gratitude to Ben for hunting down the disks and answering these questions... :-)


Ben Pritchard - The Interview


Hello Ben, please introduce yourself.

Well, first of all, my STory can't be told without that of my best mate Paul; he introduced me to the Atari ST and was my "sparring partner" in making games. We started out making text adventures at first - me on an Amstrad CPC at the time, and him using ST Basic - around 1988/89. Then he got his hands on the Shoot 'em up Construction Kit, which sold me on making the jump to the Atari. And then - just by sheer chance - I ended up getting the Discovery pack, through which we discovered STOS and start the voyage of discovery/development/geeky one-upmanship that ultimately led to Kev's World, the Curse of Bolda and indeed what I'm up to right now...


Which Atari ST were you using?

I started out with the 520STFM that came in the Discovery pack, then upgraded to the 1040STE Music Maker pack a couple of years later. I never had any hard drives or memory upgrades. Having attempted to solder adaptors into place, in a failed attempt to boost my 520 up to a 1meg, kind of put me off. And being in my teens, at the time, I didn't have the money for much else.


Tell us a little about your two games.

Both Kev's and Curse are very special to me - Curse because it was the first game I had actually released (despite it actually being the sequel to Kev's!), and because it had the 8-way scrolling and all the stuff I had originally wanted in Kev's but couldn't get working at the time. But I had a very special moment with Kev's - a few weeks after releasing it, I got a letter from a chap in Scotland (this is about 1995, before broadband and home internet/email became a thing) saying how much he enjoyed the game and asking for a hint on getting past the boss. That really struck a chord - someone was so into something I had made that they had taken the time to write to me and let me know...


  
Although technically inferior, I personally thought Kev's World was a great platformer. So watch it, Bolda!


What's so special about Kevin?

Kev was kind of an evolving design... Originally he was a spaceman - believe it or not - for another game which I was working on called "Galanium". Then his space helmet was replaced by the face and red baseball cap for another game called "AstroKid" (again, abandoned). Finally, he got made over into the black t-shirt, blue jeans and big white trainers you see it in the games. As for the name - well, I was an unashamed metaller back in those days, and the trendy guys - who wore baseball caps and big white trainers were known as "Kev"s - so there it was: he was called Kev because he is a Kev!


Did either game live up to your expectations?

Both games blew me away - again, Curse by virtue of being first, and Kev's due to that letter I mentioned before. Plus the fact they made a few hundred quid between them - given that I had just started at university when I released Curse, extra cash was an amazing bonus. But the big thing was that both games got reviewed in both ST Format and Atari ST user - I never saw that one coming!


What happened to game no.3??

"Odyssey Island" was the working title of the third Kev game, and it was going to be bigger then Curse, with more complicated puzzle elements, impromptu boss battles, other characters to interact with, and a weapon system based on earth/air/fire/water elements, that also fed into the puzzle system. But by this time, it was 1995, and not only was I deep into my university course, but I had also been very ill, and everything seemed to be heading towards the PC and 3D, so it just stalled in the end.


  
The Curse Of Bolda plays perfect using a 16Mhz computer to give STOS that extra grunt!


Why STOS?

Because it came with the Discovery pack, and was better than SEUCK - or indeed anything Paul or I had used until then. Of course, we started using extensions - Curse owes its very existence to The Missing Link, and towards the end, we also learned how to use little assembly language snippets to improve performance, but STOS was the backbone of what we did.


What was it like working with Floppyshop?

Floppyshop and their "floppyware" scheme was a great experience - Steve (Delaney) was great to work with and full of enthusiasm, despite some teething issues with corrupted disks! He gave both games a great write-up in the catalogues - if memory serves, he said that Curse was "better than a lot of the £25 off-the-shelf titles" of the time! Looking back, licenceware worked well for both titles.


Why so little love for the Atari STe?

The STE version of Curse does actually use the DAC to play samples (hence why the STFM version is music only). As for the scrolling, we did not really understand enough about the guts of the STe to be able to do much (like I said, we were working largely in STOS and its extensions. Looking back, maybe we depended on that too heavily). Secondly, from what we could tell of the market by looking at other games being released, magazine coverage etc., it felt like the vast majority of ST owners had STFMs, so we coded to accommodate the widest possible player base. Heck, Kev's World was cut down for half-meg STs - although we did do a 1meg version with extra sound effects!


  
The Curse Of Bolda is cruel. Flipping one switch caused a fire and some platforms evaporate!


Would you consider upgrading either game with STe support?

I must admit - much to my shame - that since Odyssey Island stalled in '95, I haven't really thought about developing for the ST/STE. "Real life" got in the way too much - first university, then getting a job and a flat, and various other life events. In fact, I pretty much dropped out of game writing altogether from then right through to 2005 due to lack of time, money, hardware etc...


What are your favourite Atari ST games?

Back in the day, I was a huge platformer fan (as my own games may indicate!) - I loved Turrican 1 & 2, Rainbow Islands will always have a special place in my heart, titles like Ozone and Prehistorik that showed just what was possible with STOS... but my all-time number one has to be "The Killing Gameshow" by Psygnosis - now if ever there was a title that deserved an STE version it was that, for the music alone!


What are you and Ledasoft doing today?

These days, I am usually playing "being a Dad"! To be honest, I'm really not into playing games as I don't have the time to dedicate to the mainstream mega-titles, and the "indie" scene is just so full of shovelware it takes too long to even look for something to play! To be honest, these days I prefer to spend my time making games than playing them... which brings us neatly onto:

LedaSoft has undergone two major re-inventions since the ST days - the first was back in 2010 when we resurrected the "Leda" name as "Leda Entertainment" in an attempt to break into the mobile game market. We released about a dozen games over five or so years, but it really didn't work out.

More recently, we have changed direction again - this time we have kept the Leda Entertainment name, but changed what we are all about. Over our time in mobile, we met a lot of people trying to get into the games industry but always stuck behind the "lack of experience/no published titles" wall. So we changed direction - Leda is still firstly about us enjoying making games, but instead of hoping to make money, we have teamed up with a number of these talented artists and audio designers in the hope that the game we make and release together will help at least one of them on their way to their dream job!

The game we are working on is called "Bullion - The Curse of the Cutthroat Cattle" - it's a local multiplayer brawler based around a crew of pirate bulls. There are currently eight in the team, including Paul and myself, so Leda has grown a bit since the ST days! If you want to check out Bullion, go to www.bulliongame.com

So the plan for the future is to keep making games and, hopefully, help some people kick-start their career - ultimately to have fun! That said, I must admit that it's tempting to crack out the Atari STe once Bullion is done, just to see what I can still do - and I also have a half-finished PC remake of Curse somewhere I might finish up...

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Into The Eagle's Nest


Into The Eagles Nest is an overhead Gauntlet-like shoot 'em up set within the enemy's castle which is heavily occupied by thousands of Nazi soldiers. Our orders are simple: infiltrate the castle, rescue three allied soldiers and then detonate the hidden explosives. Leaving without blowing the place to kingdom come would just be too rude!! Sneaking into the enemy's lair was the easy part, now we've gotta bust out of our safe room with guns blazing and rescue our fellow Allied soldiers before General Erich von Klinkerhoffen orders their execution.

As soon as the game begins, your battle is on and against a constant onslaught of enemy soldiers who eagerly patrol the castle's dingy corridors. Look for anything which may assist in completing your mission: health packs help repair hits you've endured and an ammo stash will replenish your Nazi killing abilities. Elevator keys should need no explanation but don't be too quick to use them - exploration is as important as the killing albeit not as much fun. Just don't forget to disable the pointless messages telling you what item has been collected... [so annoying!!]

  
Look for keys, health and ammo because you never know how many soldiers are waiting for you!

Collect all keys and use them wisely to unlock parts of the map otherwise out of limits. Some doors must have been bought from Ikea and need only a little gun-love to open them up. Some soldiers have had too much beer and fallen flat out cold drunk so an easy target - but unnecessary if low on ammo. Remember to watch the status panel because you can withstand 50 hits, which sounds a lot but even Rambo would die without stealth and a tactical approach.

I've always enjoyed overhead shooters but I actually didn't care for this at first because the push-scrolling technique isn't ideal for this type of game, so my first impressions weren't good. However, it does grow on you and I've gotta say that I love the general 8-Bit feel with its superbly drawn sprites and our point of view which truly is "overhead". Title screen music is flunky but pretty good at the same time. I'm more of a chip guy but I really liked it. In-Game sound effects are all samples and really nice too but I miss a background chippy tune if I'm honest.

  
Sneak by and pinch their food [oddly on the floor]. Hang on, they're all asleep BAM BAM BAM!!

This is an easy one to rate because it's a freaking brilliant shooter and a true classic which the Atari ST got a fantastic conversion. I think most of us have played this incredible game so I'm positive everyone has happy memories but should play it again. An engrossing adventure that offers a huge challenge for the most persevering player.

If you fancy joining the Allied forces then grab this game on either a floppy or for your hard drive. Enjoy!!

Friday, July 06, 2018

Kev's World


Kev's World was developed for FloppyShop by Ben Pritchard and is the prequel to The Curse Of Bolda. In this flick-screen platformer, we're off to explore many rooms grabbing stars and shooting monsters in order to rescue our beloved Katherine from the clutches of Bolda. Along the way are many pitfalls and even the odd puzzle to solve using keys and teleporters before eventually battling the deranged-looking Bolda in a rather crude end-of-level boss fight.

  
There are many different baddies but watch out for the little green alien thing - I hate those!

The joystick controls are perfect and I love how agile Kevin's movements are but keep this Krazy Kid busy otherwise hs soon moans that he's bored using a speech bubble. Also, this can be used to indicate when Kev's hurt or any items/power-ups he's collected. Floor panels are randomly placed and stepping on one will reward you with extra points or a smart bomb that kills everything on-screen. However, this is totally random so may instead cause a rockslide, alert the baddies to your location or reverse the controls. Are you ready to take a chance?

Bonuses are scattered throughout and offer a variety of cool features: QuintStar contains the value of five individual stars. Aurora Of Invincibility provides temporary invulnerability from everything but spikes. Hero Head ... well, don't get too excited because it's a 1UP!! Power Heart boosts Kevin's health. Sands Of Time adds to the ever-decreasing time limit. Oh, and Kevin's also partial to playing arcade games if you happen to find one...

  
Shoot Bolda in the face to save your girlfriend before she's (slowly) whisked off once again!!

What I love about Kev's World is its traditional oldskool gameplay which is just downright good fun. Joystick controls are superb and the addition of bonuses along with smart bombs and other surprises really makes this game stand out. Okay, it's a little sluggish and I'm sure the DMA lurking within the STe would have helped but overall, I have really enjoyed playing this two-level demo and it's definitely something I would have bought back in the mid-90s.

The two-level demo of Kev's World can be downloaded on either floppy or for your hard disk.


Completed and I made the 12th place to even beat Metallica. Howzat!!

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

StarRay


Logotron's StarRay is a beautiful Defender wannabe developed by a trio of incredible talent. Programmed by Steve Bak, a man who always knew how to get the very best from the Atari ST without resorting to any lame excuses. The graphics are obviously by Pete Lyon which are superb from the moment we see the futuristic Monument Valley to skimming across those lovely landscapes. David Whittaker created all the funk you hear which is jaw-dropping (anyone with extra Ram has sampled music on the title screen - but I prefer chippy tunes myself).

StarRay is so much fun and boosts the original Defender format with great gameplay styles, beautiful sounds and gorgeous multilayer parallax visuals. This is how all retro gaming should be, so if you fancy taking to the skies then download either the floppy disk or use your hard drive. Enjoy what is nothing short of an Atari ST classic!!
As you can see in my recording, emulation works fine but just doesn't compare to the ultra-smooth experience you get with a real computer. So play StarRay using real hardware - or die!!

Monday, July 02, 2018

Overdrive


Feeling the need for speed, I booted up Overdrive by Ross McNaughton which he developed in 1996 using STOS. It's an overhead racer similar to Super Cars or Power Up and features 25 different GEM-green tracks!

After listening to the horrendous title music [nails on a blackboard] you're asked for your initials before viewing a diagram of the first track. The physics are pretty dodgy but controls are easy to learn so it won't be long before you're tearing up the asphalt after a track or two. However, that's about as deep as it gets because your opponents are like laid back Sunday drivers plus there are no differing road surfaces, weather conditions, car repairs, etc...

Okay, I'm probably being too harsh because Overdrive isn't a polished commercial offering and there is some good racing fun to be had. Sadly, it's far too easy and soon gets very repetitive so it wasn't long before things became rather monotonous and why I abruptly ended my video recording. Enjoyable for a few minutes but nothing more...?

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Crash Time Plumber


Crash Time Plumber is quite simply an astounding platformer but I struggled to reach level 6 with my lame joystick skills so I couldn't resist cheating to see what other famous characters needed my help. However, the later levels are so difficult - die, die, die!! Arghhh!! I seriously doubt anyone can play this without infinite lives? Whatever, it's still one of my personal favourites and I love what is an infuriatingly awesome game!! I hope you enjoy my video.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Insecticide


This game sure feels familiar but this time we're a ladybird who kills insects with her Spit Laser weapon! Yep, Insecticide is a Robotron inspired shoot 'em up by Peter Hague were each screen is littered with two types of critters for us to destroy: those that move must be killed quickly but the quiet ones are sleeping and offer extra points or bonuses. Controlling our ladybird is easy in all four directions plus also a diagonal flying manoeuvre.

Shooting the moth which dallies along at the top of your screen will gain extra speed, but only for the current level. Weirdly, you shall hear "Nairobi" when you kill it but this makes sense once you've read the docs. Yeah, I know... who reads the docs? Every eighth level a "parents" turns up for a battle which makes a nice boss fight that isn't too difficult and doesn't ruin the momentum so you're soon back fighting the insect hoard once again.

I seriously doubt that Llamatron fans will be convinced by Insecticide but it is a fantastic game in its own right and definitely worth playing. What it lacks in originality is more than made up with great gameplay, jazzy colour cycling with sampled sound effects. I really enjoy this silly alternative to the Robotron theme. My final word: Nairobi!!!!!

Download our newly updated version of Insecticide which was released only yesterday :-)
Ironically, it has had various bugs squashed so should run fine on all Atari computers [thanks PP!!]

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Shadowlands


Shadowlands is an RPG released in 1992 by Domark that was developed by Barry Costas who created another personal favourite game of mine Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters. I've wanted this game for years, and I finally have it proudly displayed on my shelf, but will it live up to my expectations after all these years?

The story is based on an ancient legend of a warrior prince who was slaughtered on the battlefield. Somehow, our dead dude has magically been awoken to find himself alive and kicking with the nifty ability to mind-control. So he went out and selected four loyal subjects to venture back into the Shadowlands and wreak his vengeance!

  
Earlier messages may begin rather obvious but reading these can be rewarding later on...

  
Don't be so quick to begin your adventure and take time to look around the starting level.

As with any RPG, everything is played out in real-time with lots of puzzles to solve and beasts to kill. We begin with the option to use the default characters or manually generate their attributes, which I suggest you do. The first level begins outside in a woodland graveyard with some useful pickings before taking the plunge down into the depths.

Our adventure really begins once you're inside the creepy dungeons but the first thing that hits you is the lighting which is absolutely incredible using a technique called Photoscape. This adds a gradual gradient to the level of light around any character carrying a lit torch for a disturbing 16-Bit experience. Audio isn't too shabby featuring lots of sampled sound effects throughout, however, I do wish that fantastic title music was present during play.

  
Sometimes this game is far too subtle but at least it tries to help you!

  
You can't read in the dark! Has anyone got some spare cash they can lend me?

The user-interface is outstanding and one of the best I have ever used. Each character can either lead or be controlled independently using their avatars along the bottom of your screen. Sometimes it's best to go it alone when scouting ahead in search of items but idle warriors should still be vigilant for critters that like to nibble! The inventory screen can be accessed at any time with a single right-click and is a cinch to use and with extra functions like swapping items or grouping the adventurers into structured squads rather than a clumsy mob.

Playing Shadowlands is an incredible experience and I couldn't wait to leave the graveyard and venture onwards to see what nasties lurked in the depths. Each level has a superb design which is interesting but without losing your bearings. It's a good idea to read everything you come upon because not every puzzle is obvious and could be a trap that conjures something nasty! Look out for switches, wall slots, or even odd rickety floor panel. Other puzzles are a fun play on words such as "weight and see" (a good way to get rid of any useless items).

  
Remember, don't be too frivolous with torches. Hang on, something hideous is coming!!

  
Warrior is now a bag of bones! Perhaps he should have read the notice first?

Your loyal subjects will need replenishment so don't forget to eat, drink and rest whenever possible but be wise and use your stock sparingly. Flasks can always be topped up from fountains but there's nothing stopping you from having a sip or two while there. Torches are most helpful as it's so dingy plundering through the grim levels but, once again, use these sparingly and extinguish any idle ones in your inventory to make them last!

Weapons vary, but can also be just about anything you're able to carry and there are some impressive items just waiting to clobber your foe. Look around right at the very start for something very helpful. However, it's always good practice not to feel like you need to fight everyone all of the time - sometimes it's best to simply walk away...

  
Okay, I've got the key!! So let's head through that teleporter, unlock the gate and run like hell!!!

  
The Magician finds three suspicious holes but jumps into the wrong one and turns into a bag of bones!

Shadowlands has a few niggles and I failed to get the save game function to work no matter what I tried. Also, guiding our loyal subjects can sometimes be awkward as they struggle to walk around the graveyard or through an open doorway. Yes, they're a sandwich short of a picnic and often need a gentle push to help them out.

I've featured a variety of RPGs over the years and I thought nothing could live up to the likes of Dungeon Master and Legends Of Valour yet here we are addicted to another. Okay, there are a couple of quirks but Shadowlands offers a fascinating and compelling experience and is ultimately one of the most rewarding games I have ever played.

Play this wonderful RPG off your hard drive with its cool ability to save your progress as snapshots [thx PP]

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Anarchy


Running this lamers website means that I play tons of Atari ST games which is hard work but somebody's gotta do it... Quite often I will revisit games that I remembered being good at and, today, I thought it would be a great idea to play Anarchy by Psygnosis [Wayne Smithson/WJS]. This is basically a Defender ripoff but one which is tremendously fast and exciting at a jaw-dropping 50/60fps and too think WJS didn't even use the Blitter Chip!!

However, as I get older, I've begun to realise that some games are simply too fast for this old man's reactions to cope with and Anarchy was a nightmare!! Yep, I was all over the place wondering just what was going on. In the end, I gave up and enjoyed blasting everything and hoping for the best. Which meant that I didn't last too long...

So, what is your "Anarchy"??

Friday, June 22, 2018

Tetris


Another long lost game is now preserved within the archives of AtariMania. Yes, it's yet another Tetris clone but it's always great news when any Atari ST software is rescued from oblivion. It was originally developed back in 1991 by Tassos Seizis, with graphics by his brother John Seizis, but it was never actually released to the public - until now!! Okay, I'm not a big Tetris fan but I did enjoy playing this so give it a whirl and see what you think. Enjoy :-)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Escape 2042


Escape 2042 for the Atari STe has just been released by Cedric Bourse and can be downloaded for only a few pounds. This purchase gets you both the floppy and hard disk games and all your computer need is 1MB of Ram (2MB for the hdd version). Also, a boxed release is planned later in the year for all those interested. Yes, please!

The story goes like this: In the year 2042, a socialist government is in power, but nobody had foreseen progressive dictatorship that settled in. The elites of the government hid behind a sham democracy, disconnected from the life the people were leading and acted solely in their own interests.

The regime considered the dissidents as conspiracy theorists, treated them like terrorists and locked them away in highly-secured prisons, to prevent them from telling the people the truth about the manipulating medias accomplice of the government power.

You are Shun, a computer engineer and member of the Truth Defenders coalition.

After a clandestine operation to inform the people, you are locked away in the highly-secured prison Bulor 24. But your knowledge of security systems will enable you to escape.

Your turn now to escape as fast as you can from this place!

Today, I have rushed home from work to foolishly recorded my first attempt of a daring escape. Okay, ignore the fact I'm in easy mode and enjoy my video which features extreme gaming talent like you've never seen before...

First impressions: this is an incredibly polished product and as frustrating as it is incredibly addictive. Loving it!!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Rolling Ronny


Rolling Ronny is a scrolling platformer set in the quiet town of Fieldington, a place which recently suffered the theft of their crown jewels. Fortunately, this gang of bumbling thieves were disturbed so hid each jewel inside glittering boxes and scattered them throughout the town before fleeing. Why? I don't know but Scotland Yard then decided it was a good idea to enlist Ronny as their secret agent to recover the stolen jewels in return for a generous reward.

Ronny uses skates to get around this oddball town but he can climb ladders and leap across onto most platforms. He will need every ounce of agility to avoid/kill the nasties that lurk here and boy are there a number of silly creatures so defend yourself by hitting the fire button to fling your supply of killer salamis!! Ronny also has four spare pockets that he can use to store cool gadgets which are essentially power-ups. These offer a variety of functions like a Super Jump or the Magnet which attracts any out of reach items. Oh, and I really love the Power Sneeze!

  
Ronny needs to watch out for various nasties and also holes in the road. Even the birds don't like him!

Coins can be collected to use in the town's shop but be wise and leave enough for your bus fare which takes you onto the next level... (why doesn't he just skate there?). Along the way, you might be stopped and asked to run an errand for extra credit, surely an easy way to earn yourself extra credit? Beware, there is a time limit but you're still able to explore without being rushed and you can always top it up in the local shop if you're willing to spend?

The status panel displays various information: love hearts indicate health, a clock is counting down, the number of remaining jewels, gadgets ready to be used and more. The controls are responsive and allow Ronny to easily leap from ledge to ledge but, as usual, reaching for the function keys to activate a gadget is a bit of a pain.

  
This jump across the water looks tricky but then a little droplet begins chasing! Or is it a ghost?

Throughout, the visuals are constantly fantastic with a superb cartoon quality, comical sprites and smooth scrolling. It's obvious that colour is a big deal because of the richly decorated backgrounds, even the title screen is a stunning Spectrum 512 image. Audio is nice with a sweet title screen tune (that I can't get out my head) and neat in-game sound effects are accompanied by an obsessive tune that always manages to get my foot tapping.

As platformers go, Rolling Ronny doesn't exactly break the mould and our skating clown is a rather odd character if I'm being honest (well, just look at that hideous barnet and his big red nose). There are also a few niggles which I didn't care for, with the most irritating being when I failed to collect enough cash for my bus fare. I hate that!! However, there is something quirky and extremely entertaining which I've always loved about this sweet platformer.

Grab yourself either the floppy or hard disk version from Klaz and have yourself some roller skating fun!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Flight Of The Intruder


Check out my latest purchase: Flight Of The Intruder. The huge box has a minimalistic yet sleek artwork style so it's going straight into our Box Art section. I have always admired this game but somehow I oddly never got the play it back in the day... Well, finally, I can do just that and I'm really looking forward to taking this for a spin. However, first I must read through the weighty manual, so why not take a few moments to admire its beauty while you wait?

Flight Of The Intruder can be downloaded for floppy or the highly-recommended hard disk version.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

H.A.T.E Hostile All Terrain Encounter


Vortex Software released some amazing games for the ZX Spectrum and they were one of my favourite companies back in the day. H.A.T.E was their final effort and is a scrolling shoot 'em up quite similar in style to Zaxxon.

Our all-terrain encounter takes us through numerous isometric levels using a variety of crafts, from planes to tanks and even a hovercraft. As the landscape scrolls by, we need to destroy the nuclear generators where it hurts which reveals their plasma cells. Collecting these not only determines how many lives we are given on the next level but they also act as a shield to protect us from harm during the current game, which I personally think is genius!

The enemy appears in various guises, from ground-based machinery that spew out deadly mines to missiles, tanks and aircraft. Use evasive manoeuvres, especially when piloting a plane, as the enemy will often attack in waves. At the end of the level, a mothership whisks us off whereas the original continued on as far as I remember?

  

Controls are a little confusing but I soon got the hang of it after a couple of attempts. Every craft can move left or right with the fire button used for your main weapon. But there are differences to learn depending on the craft being used. For example, land-based tanks can move forwards and backwards whereas planes cannot. Instead, they increase or decrease their altitude. Also, pushing up whilst firing will activate a secondary weapon such as lasers or bombs.

  

Graphics remind me of Highway Encounter but aren't nearly as polished. In fact, they're often boring with murky colours and lethargic scrolling. However, I gotta say that I love the shadows, especially when carrying the plasma cells. The title music is an absolute gem and most certainly one of the best chiptunes ever, thanks to Ben Daglish! Timid music plays during gameplay which provides a nice background to complements the zip zap effects.

  

This is a good conversion of Costa's brilliant 8-Bit classic but it's not perfect and a couple of issues frustrated me. I began the second level and my beefy tank exploded when I accidentally touched a nearby building - always hated that!! Also, it can feel like forever and a day when waiting to restart after losing a life. Ugh, utter agony!

Overal, this Hostile All Terrain Encounter might look as sexy as a bruised banana but it plays great and is extremely addictive. I've spent several hours playing H.A.T.E and I have L.O.V.E.D every second of it. A fantastic shooter.

Fancy a little extra hate in your life? You'll find much hatred on either floppy disk or your hard drive.