Thursday, March 31, 2016


I've just received my latest gadget from Lotharek, the NetUSBee. This awesome piece of hardware slots into the ST's expansion port to provide both the option for fast ethernet networking and also two modern USB ports.

I've connected my USB mouse which works a treat. Sadly, no other USB devices cannot yet be connected until drivers are written. I hope this changes soon because the potential for this product is huge. However, my main reason for the purchase was to have internet access and I was also dying to try out uIP-tool. More on that another time.

NetUSBee is a fantastic product and built like a tank too. Using a modern mouse is nice but I'm really looking forward to getting the ST connected to my home network. I've already been able to access my FTP file server. Later, I shall attempt to configure STinG and get my Atari ST on the internet with programs like CAB - so wish me luck! :-)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


It is time for another example of awesome box art from my own collection with US Gold's fantastic voyage into the human body. It's actually a familiar 3D shooter set within a unique environment and The Assembly Line always developed great games but with Vaxine they even made some use of the enhanced hardware lurking inside Atari STe: glorious [STE] technicolour visuals along with DMA samples, which are a substantial improvement over the ST. I've always enjoyed playing this game because it feels like a weird dream. Very different and a great adventure.

Floppy disks can be found using Old Games Finder and 8BitChip has a version for your hard drive!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Highway Encounter

Here we have one of my all-time favourite 8-bit games from the brilliant mind of Costa Panayi, Vortex Software. It's an understatement to say I was flabbergasted when I recently read an old post on Atari-Forum concerning the unreleased ST game, developed in 1990 by the late Mark Haigh-Hutchinson. However, Vortex was unable to find a willing publisher so that was that and it was left to gather dust for many years...

I always loved Vortex and fondly remember playing Android, Cyclone and Revolution but Highway Encounter was definitely my favourite. Back then, isometric games were pretty much the in-thing and this was one of the most beautiful examples of the genre. It is set on a stretch of highway, populated by lots of crazy baddies, tricky puzzles and many other obstacles to get in your way. Aliens have invaded and your robot convoy has the task of merrily pushing a bomb down the highway in order to destroy their mothership, which is at the other end of the road.

Iconic menu. The information screen is very handy but, hang on a minute, there's an editor??

Your droid colleagues are daft and will sometimes get stuck on an object left lying in the road. Actually, this can be a good thing because you can leave them behind - in safety - so you are free to clear the highway ahead of the dreaded aliens. I find joystick control the best and if you love isometric games then you'll be right at home - left and right rotates, forward to accelerate and pulling back slows you down [or stops you dead.] Your weapon is a type of ultra-cool energy bolt which can also be improved upon thanks to power-ups lying along your road trip journey.

Listen up folks, we actually have the Atari ST version of Highway Encounter and what's more - its marvellous with gameplay faithful to the original. This will always be a Crash Smash and it's an exquisite conversion. 10/10.


 - 8BitChip have adapted this for installation to your hard drive!
 - The original floppy disk version first posted by tom-cat on Atari-Forum.
 - AtariMania has this in their ST database & an awesome map you should take a look at!
 - This is a fascinating read of the History of Vortex Software.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter

I need an egg-related game for Easter and this usually means Dizzy or perhaps even Chuckie Egg 2 (Nah, I will never play that again!). Instead, here is Heartland 2000, a Dizzy-inspired game released in 1996 by Stosser Software and then later improved by TOS-Crew to feature silky smooth scrolling and more. AtariMania has Heartland 2000 listed in their awesome ST database with a floppy disk download and 8BitChip has created a new version which can be installed onto your hard drive. I hope you all have a great Easter †

Friday, March 25, 2016

Operation: Zero-5

I recently met Andrew Gisby, the creator of a most distinctive game for the Atari STe (and Falcon). Zero 5 is one of the last commercial games ever released for Atari computers by Caspian Software in 1994, a time when most were leaving the 16-bit scene to pursue those silly consoles. A rare gem indeed and it wasn't long before I came up with the notion for an interview! (which you can read if you scroll down a little)

Set in the year 2044 with a silly storyline of an alien race which are about to invade Earth and (shockingly) you are the only hope for to save mankind. It will be a bumpy ride taking you into the darkest regions of space so jump inside your spaceship and head out into the heavens because humanity is depending on you. Set amongst the countless stars, with some missions taking place upon the surface of remote planets, Zero 5 is a first-person 3D shoot 'em up which feels an artful mix of Star Wars clones plus an element of Frontier for good measure. Your spaceship is a cool slab of old skool 3D called Perseus which you must pilot it through several missions that might involve attacking an alien strike force, defending allied ships, and lots more.

Control is with the mouse or a JapPad, if you have one, and is precise, responsive and feels very natural. Momentum provides a necessary learning curve but you'll soon get the hang of it. What's probably the hardest to learn is the game's GUI and the instruments which provide a wealth of information. Graphically, Zero 5 is a gorgeous 16-bit bombshell. It displays more on-screen colours and also makes use of the Blitter co-processor to help produce the amazing 3D visuals. Faster computers are also supported so if you've upgraded or are lucky enough to own a, say, a Falcon then the framerates are even smoother. Audio is outstanding, for both music and the effects, all which use the DMA hardware ticking over at a sweet 25KHz. This is one sexy Atari STe game, folks!

I always enjoy playing this space shooter because it is fast and thrilling with interesting missions. The style and presentation are unique and its booming sound effects compliment a polished experience. Zero-5 is a slick 3D game with a wide-range of demanding missions to keep you busy for many hours. Overall, a fantastic shoot 'em up that incorporates many astonishing technical achievements which puts most other developers to shame.


 - Floppy disk downloads are pretty rare but Stonish has what you need:
       -> Supremacy #61 [disk one]
       -> Supremacy #62 [disk two]
 - Hard drive users should download this version by 8BitChip.
 - AtariMania has lots of interesting scans and a picture of the Jaguar conversion.


Zero 5 has a wonderful next-gen feel yet is often unknown to many people returning to the scene. Tell us about your game and what it means to you.

I had been trying to get published in one way shape or form for several years. Back in the day, I lived the life of the Indie / hobby / night owl developer. Holding down a job during the waking hours and coming home to hack away on my much loved (at the time) Atari’s. I remember buying my first Atari 512STFm in the late 80’s. I spent many hours teaching myself to program in 68000 Assembler. Bulletin boards, books, magazines & chance discussions at shows to pick up game dev knowledge. I’m no mathematician, but a series of articles in (I think) ST World on transformations and 3D math gave me so much. I could finally make the leap into 3D games. Everything had to be done in assembler to keep up the speed and finally reading something that explained techniques to turn formulas into simplified assembler was a revelation. To this day, I still keep a pocket “Signetics S68000 User’s Guide” - It was my Bible for machine code programming. An awful lot was learnt the hard way through trial and error (no instant online answers). I used to look at the latest effects in games (and film) and try to do something similar. So I think Zero-5 marked a highpoint for me. The peak of understanding of what I could personally do with (by then) the STe to make a game. I had built up a large library of routines & techniques to achieve some of the visual and audio effects.

So, in summary, Zero-5 was the realisation of a couple of dreams:
  • I really wanted to see a game I had written myself published.
  • My fascination of 3D sim & bring to life things you can only dream about.

Was Zero 5 inspired by anything else from your gaming history?

Everything I had developed was an inspiration for the game. A cheap answer, but my whole gaming exploits (to this day) are a sequence of inspirations. However, if I was to list a few things that inspired the game.

  • Elite (who wasn’t). But for me, I learnt programming on an Acorn Electron and playing Elite planted the seed for wanting to understand game writing and 3D.
  • Carrier Command (an amazing game with a level of automation and sophistication that I was just in awe of)
  • Captain Blood (The art, galactic expanse and imagination was just brilliant)

Sci-fi films and TV programs had a lot of influence. I’m a bit of a science fiction addict. But to list a few that helped inspire ideas in the game:

  • The Last Starfighter (I recall a sequence when the hero ship flies through a swarm of enemy ships ... That was the start of Zero-5).
  • Forbidden Planet (big influence for me, generally)
  • U.F.O. (Fundamentally, I used the same threat mechanic in the game)

What was your background prior to working for Caspian?

See above ... Self taught hobby game dev trying to get published!

Most commercial companies had left the Atari ST by 1994 so what inspired you to carry on during those dark days?

At the time, I thought the Atari Falcon030 and Jaguar was going to save the day. I only knew how to make games on the Atari’s and thought that if Zero-5 was a success, I’d move on to these platforms properly. The Falcon030 enhancements in Zero-5 were done in the last few months. I didn’t really do it justice (but the extra CPU speed helped push the content level up a bit more).

Zero-5 really was a labour of love and I was under my first proper gamedev contract - Inspiration enough right !?!

Did Zero 5 live up to your expectations?

Technical Stretch: Yes (I used every chip/trick I knew in the STE!)
Creative Achievement: Yes
Critical Acclaim: Yes (at the time)
Commercial Success: No

I put so much effort and creativity into the game. The landfall sequences were a personal triumph. Turning a bitmap (height map) into a 3D landscape on an STe ... yes!) - One of those 3D simulation dreams realised.

The lack of commercial success was tough to take - We had lot of trouble with piracy (it was rife by then). I spoke to a lot of people that had played the game and loved it. As you say though, the sun was setting on Atari home computers - a shame for me at the time. Thinking back, I think the sheer effort involved did burn me out a bit.

Looking back, would you do anything different?

Launch the game 2-3 years earlier?

What happened after Zero 5 and how come you didn't continue on after Caspian's demise? (freelance, etc)

Newly married, we started a family soon after Zero-5. I couldn’t commit to working on the Jaguar version of the game (my daytime job in IT paid the bills). Creatively, the console wasn’t a copy of the original other than souped-up manic fighting sequences (arguably something I was trying to do when I first started developing the STe version). I was involved on a consultation basis but the Jag was new and it was a steep learning curve for the guys at Caspian. It was pretty exciting to be working with Atari though.

How long did it take you to code this game, what tools did you use, and was it on an actual Atari?

1 - 2 years to develop. I pulled in a lot of previously developed libraries and routines. Interesting memory about this. I used one of the first routines I’d ever dev’ed in assembler to simulate a 3d starfield. Development of the game went to the wire. I had this intermittent bug where the machine was (every so often) crashing! What felt like a few hours (day or so I think) before the game went to press, I found the cause ... That starfield routine (Randomly, I was managing to plot the odd star just outside memory reserved for the screen - d’oh!).

I used a 1Mb STe and laterly Falcon030 to develop the game. I got an HDD sometime through the project that saved doing the floppy / ram disk shuffle (speeded up game dev no end).

I recall using the blitter chip and new audio chip enhancements to great effect. Certainly without them, there was no way I could have thrown so many things around on screen and in your ears. Although it makes me chuckle at what we thought was a reasonable frame rate back then! Recalling the game audio engine I developed as part of Zero-5 - It give me multiple stereo Left / Right channels and a scripted approach to sound effect generation. The upshot was I could chain, stretch, compress and generally mess around with samples without eating too much precious CPU. 8bit samples of course, so sound pretty harsh nowadays.   

Main tools I used:
  • Devpac (I think that was it’s name) for Assembler dev
  • TCB Tracker (although I didn’t do the music in the end)   
  • Degas Elite (Graphics)
  • A sound sample editing programme (can’t recall name)

Were you active in the ST scene elsewhere or was it just Caspian / Zero 5?

No, not really, I had a brief flirtation with demoscene but game dev was always my interest.

After our chats on Twitter, I'm aware you now see an Atari ST scene which is still very much alive and kicking. What do you think about this and will rejoin in some capacity or have you left forever?

Never say never. Honestly though - I’m well into Unity 3D and what spare time I have goes into that.

Do you still own an Atari computer? What is it and how often are you using it / what for?

I still have an Atari STe and Falcon030 tucked away alongside a massive trunk of floppy disks (Oh and a back catalogue of ST World). I haven’t really used them since the 90’s. I had a gamedev break late 90s till the 00’s really.

Tell us about your future plans and what you're working on today?

I’d like to bring something made with Unity to the masses. My current project is a game called “Konjitto”. With my family more or less grown up, I’m now steadily been drawn back to game dev more and more. A dream would be to give up the day job and spend my days writing games! I get a kick out of doing the coding, graphics, sound and music (although this is my weakest area).  

Anyone can keep an eye on my game dev twitter feed or youtube channel to see what is on the boil.

Thanks for getting in touch, it has been fun reminiscing. Seeing people still appreciate those efforts back in the day is wonderful. Certainly made me and the family smile! Keep up the good work on the site.

Answering the questions has been pleasure!


Thursday, March 24, 2016

a day in the life

I have far too many boxes for serious programs that are just gathering dust on my ST-shelf so I figured I should make an effort to learn 'em or bin 'em. First, is Master CAD, by MichTron and after brushing away a thick layer of dust I opened the box and lifted out its weighty manual. "Time for a good read", I thought. However, I almost fell into a coma because it's so dull and very confusing - so I figured it was best to drop it and load it up for a play!

Installation was the first stumbling block, it insists on the C drive which is doable but cluttering up my boot partition isn't something I was happy about. The next problem was a lack of examples to work from (steal) so not exactly a great start... With little guidance, I continued on best I could but it's clear MichTron wrote this for the established designer and me being thrown in at the deep end wasn't going to work. However, I did attempt to map out a crude plan of DOOM's E1M1 which soon ended in a mess of clutter and it was long before I gave up!

Master CAD appears to be a promising application and I imagine it's darn powerful but the interface is baffling to a noob (like me). I can't say I was too impressed so perhaps I should stick to playing games?

Anyhow, click here to see just how Master CAD affected me!!

I hope you enjoyed this silly post but I'd still love to know if any of you guys have had success? ( download it )

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Set within a wonderful world of myths and legends, you are the Stormlord a muscle-bound viking dude with the odd responsibility of rescuing trapped fairies from the clutches of a wicked queen. Occasionally you might even find yourself blowing romantic kisses at the scantily clad fairies and, in return, they grace you with their fallen tears. Aww, this sounds far too girly, right? Well, prepare thyself because you couldn't be more wrong!

Stormlord certainly has sex appeal with all the dolly birds... Erm, I meant fairies!

Beginning in a spooky forest, this eerie platformer is host to lots of creepy monsters, like man-eating plants, wibbly worms, bees, egg hatching demons, and more. Thankfully, you're equipped with a magical weapon that can also double as a super huge sword, if you hold down the fire button. Interestingly, springboards are scarcely scattered about the levels and act like a crude wormhole flinging you far into those distant places - lots of fun! There is a puzzle element which involves collecting objects solve basic puzzles, like a key for a door, honey for angry bees, or an umbrella for rain. The most difficult aspect is the order to complete these and that might take lots of trial and error.

Stormlord oozes that marvellous Hewson quality. The graphics are beautifully drawn with lovely animations and smooth screen scrolling. The screen size has been reduced but not so it impacts the gameplay. Music is tremendous throughout, read the credits to see why... I only wish I could activate music AND sound effects during play!

The second level has some aggressive monsters but the object remains the same.

I really love this because it's so addictive and challenging but every so playable. However, I feel the time limit isn't necessary and the ability to carry only the one item is understandable but annoying. Stormlord presents the gamer with a quirky yet gruelling mission task and it has a massive replay factor. Sexy, stylish and highly recommended!


- Stormlord can be installed and ran from off your hard drive, all thanks to the D-Bug guys!
- Floppy disk images are available by using Old Games Finder.
- Here is my complete walk-through for level one which you can also watch in the video:
     -> From the start, head left and pick up the key.
     -> Walk right and onto the jump pad.
     -> Use that to whiz by leftwards so you can free your first fairy.
     -> Once freed, use the pad to jump back.
     -> Next collect the honeypot and walk right.
     -> Don't use that jump pad!
     -> Continue on passed the pad and walk right.
     -> Swap honey for key and the bees move away from the fairy.
     -> Rescue her.
     -> Walk left a little and grab the umbrella.
     -> Now use the jump pad which is now to your right.
     -> Once you've whizzed across the sky, walk right.
     -> Free the fairy.
     -> Walk all the way back and use the jump pad.
     -> Grab the key to your left.
     -> Turn around and walk right and free the fairy.
     -> All done. So now it's time to blow a few kisses!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Ultimate Virus Killer

Since getting my UltraSatan, I've been stuffing my SD cards with lots of Atari ST files (if I'm honest GAMES lol). I check for viruses using the final release of Ultimate Virus Killer which is available to download thanks to Exxos. UVK was developed by legend, Richard Karsmakers, and is the premier virus program for all computers. I still have my original copy, albeit an old release, and it's helped to stop the dreaded Ghost Virus and probably much more.

Download UVK and keep your Atari computer clean from these nasties!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Wolfenstein 3D

You are B.J. Blazkowicz, an all-American hero battling his way through the dreaded Castle Wolfenstein killing every baddie guy along the way. Yes, the classic ID game has been converted to the Atari ST (and Atari STe) by Reimund Dratwa (The Sirius Cybernetics Corporation). Rub your eyes in disbelief all you want because it really is happening - you are watching Wolfenstein 3D running on my humble 8Mhz Atari STe in the above animation.

The menu system is clean and concise with incredible details and colour.

Our version of this iconic game features 32 on-screen colours, authentic texture mapping and, best of all, it works on a standard 8MHz Atari ST. The graphical detail can be increased further by hitting asterisk on the numerical keypad, especially useful for faster Atari computers. Sound effects are superb and played through the DMA hardware on the Atari STe. Chip music is by Mathieu Stempell and thus truly outstanding as expected.

Please do remember that Wolf 3D is in "beta" and thus not every scenario is playable.

I still cannot quite believe we have such a polished version of Wolf 3D. Reimund tells me that he was up many nights coding until 5am and I'm 100% positive he has scraped together every last droplet of power from this old Motorola CPU for an unforgettable experience. Wolfenstein 3D for the Atari ST - take a moment to think about that.

Okay, 8BitChip has fixed a few of the bugs for the most complete download there is but you will need a hard disk or Ultrasatan as it's too big to fit onto a floppy disk. Update: I've since recorded a silly video for a laugh ;-)

I had to laugh at these drawings which are truly superb, especially the first one!!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Happy box art day!

It occurred to me that the Atari ST has some great examples of outstanding box art so I thought that I should start taking pictures (from my own collection) and start a brand new section here on AtariCrypt. The first is Corporation, by Core Design. Wow, this is a belting game and the artwork is creepy as it gets! A hard drive installable download is available from 8BitChip (highly recommended) with the floppy disks via Old Games Finder.

Interesting tidbit: the artwork design was based on my own mother in law. I bet you never knew that?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

fatal aTTraction

Yerzmyey has released a new album this week called aTTraction which was produced entirely using Atari computers. This includes an Atari TT with Hex Tracker, a Falcon with Digital Home Studio and then he decided to make a couple of bonus tracks in Cubase using an Atari ST. The final shocker is the extra track that was done in Chaos Music Composer and NeoTracker on the Atari 600XL.  Don't miss this from da scene - download it now!!

Take a gander at his website because he's created even more. As I type, I'm listening to "Wake Up" from the "Chiptunes" album which is another absolutely fantaSTic album!

aTTraction tracklist

 01. aTTraction (ATARI TT)
 02. Globular Cluster (ATARI ST and Roland MT32)
 03. Amai (ATARI FALCON 030)
 04. Time Machine II (ATARI TT)
 05. Inside a game (ATARI FALCON 030)
 06. uTTerly unseTTling transmiTTal (ATARI TT)
 07. Purple Galaxy (ATARI FALCON 030)
 08. Bizarre creature (ATARI ST and Roland MT32)
 09. Brutal attack (ATARI FALCON 030)
 10. The missing piece (ATARI 600XL) / Bonus Track

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Race Drivin'

Lots of games have cool intros but Domark's Race Drivin' must surely rank high as one of the best? It may only last a minute or so but it's a zany mix of Wacky Races with a dollop of Carmageddon thrown in for good measure. A brilliant intro to what is one of the toughest racers. Can you drive in a straight line? Well, I know I can't!! O_o


 - 8BitChip has the hard disk installable game.
 - Stonish has Race Drivin' (the game) on floppy disk menu Adrenalin #10.
 - Stonish also has the intro on the floppy disk menu Sigma #1.

Monday, March 07, 2016

The History of ULM

I saw a real stupid tweet the other day concerning the Atari ST demoscene from someone that was obviously an Amoeba user and, rather than rise to the bait, it inspired me to write this post!  Besides, we all know the ST has a belting scene which is very much alive & kicking! (view recent masterpieces like We Were @ + Strange roboTS)

I've chanced upon a web page, obviously written by Georges Kesseler, of ULM. It details his interesting ST-history which I thought was pure gold and wondered if it was part of an older website? An intriguing read of a great ST coder.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Page 6

Page 6 is a great slice of Atari history and they now have a website for the magazine and even their PD Library software is available to download. I remember buying stuff from Page 6 when I first became an Atari ST addict but their magazine had been going long before then and continued until 1998, true enthusiasts. Happy days!
"Page 6 is remembered fondly by many Atari owners as a unique and invaluable resource, supporting true enthusiasts in the heyday of Atari home computing- I'd say that sums up Page 6 rather well :-)

Saturday, March 05, 2016


Superfly is a cunning "avoid 'em" scroller controlled with just the one button. As the screen automatically begins to scroll, just press the joystick's button to increase your height. This stops you from crashing into the oncoming objects along with preventing gravity from crashing you into the ground. This might sound familiar to that Flappy Bird but Superfly is a lot faster, slicker and was released way back in 2002!!

Without giving away the storyline, you are in control of a submarine and must rescue your kidnapped girlfriend. Please make sure you read the funny write-up included within the download!!

Running at 50fps, Superfly is extremely smooth and the audio is tremendous with gorgeous tunes. I believe the STe's enhanced hardware is detected and successful players can unlocked features like a gallery and jukebox. This is an insane game which will have you swearing like a docker! Superfly is wicked, yet with an addictive charisma that compels you to play more. Forget frustrating flappy birds and play Superfly instead.


 - Downloads are available for both floppy and hard drive users.
 - Want more? Try the follow-up Santafly!!

Thursday, March 03, 2016

surfing the web

In need a fully featured web browser for your Atari computer?  NetSurf is an excellent and practical application which I have enjoyed using for well over a year. You'll need a decent spec and one that runs MiNT OS (clickable pic is from my own virtual Falcon).  To download NetSurf (click here) and for the bleeding-edge builds (click here)

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Leaderboard Birdie

Leaderboard Golf was released in 1986 by Access Software and is undoubtedly one of the least technically impressive games to grace the Atari ST. The main menu is rather crude and when the game begins you shall note the usual golfing jargon dotted around the screen to indicate the weather, power and distance. Leaderboard uses a third-person perspective to display our golfer and his many pitfalls that lie ahead - trees, water and bunkers. Your first requirement is to select a club which you think will be best for the job before lining up the shot and using the correct power and snap (to keep it straight). It's all rather basic but it works ever so well and I recommend you chose the novice level as it by-passes the weather conditions which is helpful when learning the control mechanics.

Sadly, Leaderboard has no save game feature built-in but there are scorecards inside the box and mine (see this pic) has pages filled in by the previous owner. I love find stuff like this which I think is excellent as a tiny piece of ST history is preserved. Just a little interesting tidbit for y'all ;-)

I'm sure golfing connoisseurs may find Leaderboard unrealistic and far too minimalistic, especially compared to certain others later released. The graphics are laughable but this was 1986 and the Atari ST was only a baby... but equally side-splitting are the sounds! Gotta say I like the swish our golfer makes but my favourite is that mushy sound effect as the ball takes a dip!! Overall, I find this game quite charming, very entertaining, and easy to pick up and play, thus one of the most addictive games I've ever featured here on AtariCrypt (and I don't even like golf!)

Take a swing and play this humble yet highly addictive game yourself on either floppy or hard disk.