Saturday, August 18, 2018

Thunder Jaws


I'd seen pictures of this underwater shoot 'em up but didn't really know what to expect from what seemed a pretty naff James Bond wannabe. Released in 1991 by Domark, our villain is the busty Madame Q who desires nothing less than to rule the world. She's gone and kidnapped lots of gorgeous young girls who are to be experimented on and turned into monsters. Okay, so our task is to find her secret base, kill all the baddies, and free the hostages.

Firstly, grab something rubbery to wear because her base is deep underwater and you're not alone. I'm reminded of Scuba Dive on my old ZX Spectrum, but these dangerous waters are patrolled by armed guards and robotic sharks. Harpoon everything that moves and destroy the automated defences before blowing open an entrance to her lair.

  
A cool loading screen but where's the intro gone?? Still, at least 2-player co-op is still included.

  
Lots of baddies and some great weapons to pick up - listen to those punk girls scream lol

Once inside, the game changes to a scrolling platformer which is basically a ripoff of Rolling Thunder - I think every ST owner remembers that dreadful conversion!! Thankfully, this stage is far better and with many henchmen and other strange characters chasing you. Weaponry remains the same and can also be upgraded to a flamethrower, uzi, rockets, and more. Battle a boss and rescue yourself a few gorgeous babes - who will be extremely grateful.

Once completed, the game flips back to another underwater stage and we repeat for another mission. The difficulty level increases as we infiltrate another base but it's now that I really needed to activate a trainer because the later levels are crammed with an insane amount of baddies!! Also, end of level bosses are very tough but made worse by the fact that everyone else turns up for nothing more than screen littered with many brawling sprites!!

  
Yikes, our evil villain looks freaky but rescuing the sexy girls produces kisses and hugs for our hero!!

  
Later on, we're in dirty waters which leads to scary rock monsters and naked fire women!

Visuals are okay with some neat sprites but nothing beats watching the girls falling to their feet for lots of comical kissing. Sadly, there isn't a chiptune bopping away in the background but the sound effects are quite good. Actually, no, they are crude at best. The grunts are deranged but I liked the haunting female's scream of death.

I must admit, I don't know what to make of Thunder Jaws. It's predictable throughout but the addition of two-player co-op is excellent. However, those later levels are impossible without cheating and gameplay is often sluggish so whiffs of a lame port. Having said all that, it's certainly not the disaster Rolling Thunder was and I have enjoyed myself pretending to be James Bond rescuing sexy girls and saving the world from a busty tyrant... Yep.

  
The end boss battles are rubbish which is basically because there are too many enemies...

  
Finally, we get to meet the flame-haired temptress but then she morphs into something ugly!!

Thunder Jaws can be download for either floppy or hard disk but only if you look good in flippers! Please note, faster computers will benefit from better framerates but only when installing onto a hard drive - thanks to 8BitChip.

The end screen for all those unwilling to endure the agony of Thunder Jaws. Probably best I don't comment...

Monday, August 13, 2018

Ikari Warriors


Ikari Warriors came free with my first Atari ST and is something I've loved from the moment I loaded it up that Christmas morning back in 1987. Okay, it's not perfect but Elite delivered the goods with a brilliant arcade conversion which is still one of my favourite games today. Now, unlike my dreadful progress with Commando, I'm actually pretty good at Ikari Warriors and figured it a good idea to check out the Atari 7800 to see how it compares...

  
The 7800 has superb [if rather blocky] scrolling but I prefer the crisp ST display, except that naff intro!

After watching the intro swoosh by, I instantly began to wish that Atari would have released the STe back in 1985... Anyhow, once the game begins, the first thing that struck me more of that sexy smooth framerate but then crude sprites reared their blocky heads? Yikes, this took me back to a time when I first saw an Atari console!

But graphics aren't everything nor is the audio which happens to be as good and exactly what I expected in comparison. Those grenade throws are excellent but I missed the sound of the tank. Background music is okay but I don't think anything compares to the legendary ST tune by Jason C. Brooke which is bleeping excellent.

  
The 7800 might look less defined but watch out because those bad guys are very trigger happy!

Anyhow, enough of this talk about aesthetics because what we all want is great gameplay and the 7800 certainly produced the goods. Okay, my console might very well be virtual, but I'm still able to use BOTH joystick buttons which means the machine gun and grenades are separate and that beats the ST's one-button method hands down.

Also, firing can be locked in any specific direction thus rapid - independent - shooting is possible until you decide to release the button. This takes a little getting used to but it's certainly worth mastering because it works extremely well - especially when making use of the superb power-ups always being offered. Sadly, I must admit to struggling with this conversion because I found it shockingly difficult. Perhaps its just me and my lame joystick skills but, no matter how much I tried, my progress was always weaker in comparison to the ST game. YMMV...

  
Whatever platform you prefer to use, the mission always remains the same - Kill everyone!!

Ikari Warriors is a class act on almost all platforms and both the 7800 and ST succeed in delivering a great arcade conversion which is so much fun. All that's required are quick reactions and a love for guns and oldskool violence so enjoy what is nothing short of a cracking shoot 'em up for either your 7800 or Atari ST [floppy or hard disk].

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Berzerk


I figured an expansion to AtariCrypt was in order because there are many great games to play and we already have sections for the Atari STe and Falcon030 why not also the consoles? The Jaguar has many superb titles but I must admit I'm an 8-bit noob which means I'm excited to see what's out there in console land... Okay, first up is an arcade conversion which I adored playing last year on the Atari ST: Berzerk by the mighty Dave Munsie.


- A T A R I  2 6 0 0 -

The 2600 game actually looks and sounds a lot better for 1982 than I first imagined. The control mechanics are spot-on perfect with spritely movements which almost made me forget about the Chicken's one-shot weapon. However, I didn't see Otto during the recording so perhaps I did something wrong? The fat man showed up in later games and can even be shot. This is a limited conversion but extremely playable, even without the speech.

  


- A T A R I  5 2 0 0 -

Things feel familiar from the go, possibly because it's an authentic conversion and also reminded me of the ST game - both visually and with that funky digitised speech we all love. I enjoyed it but the speed feels a little slow and it's extremely difficult, to say the least. The robots are way beyond accurate and more like ruthless assassins who show no mercy. Yep, I fear my old-man reactions found this the hardest of all... Chicken, fight like a robot...

  


- A T A R I  S T -

Of course, please don't forget the beautiful ST/Falcon game by Dave Munsie which was featured last year. Those robots might be a little too eager to smash into the walls but I fear this is the best version. What say you?

  

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

RVF Honda


It's time for more Atari ST box art from my collection with MicroStyle's RVF Honda. I can't lie and say this is the prettiest cover I've featured but the bike is a beauty so let's open it up and take my new Honda for a ride...

First things first, RVF Honda isn't an arcade racer but more a simulator with semi/realistic mechanics like manual gears and opponents only Barry Sheene could beat. The graphics are barebones but move fast and there's even the option for 60Hz, which is something all games should have. I must say, having to push the bike is a neat touch but one that soon wears thin when struggling to master those corners thus slamming into yet another tree... Yep, the learning curve is hell on two-wheels which I think is successfully demonstrated in my video recording!

  
Make sure you're in the right gear for the corners otherwise you hit the tarmac before pushing...

I'm not normally a racing simulator fan but RVF Honda is certainly addictive and offers a tough challenge. Arcade fans should walk away right now but those looking to flick through the gears and burn rubber to ultimately master each track will enjoy this. Another cool piece of hiSTory safely preserved within the AtariCrypt archives... ;-)

Those easy riders willing to master this old classic can grab RVF Honda on either floppy or hard disk.

  
Ohhh just look at those gorgeous graphics... umm. Oi you, keep off the grass!!


Wednesday, August 01, 2018

The Atari ST And The Creative People


 

Marco Breddin has done it again!! After unleashing the jaw-dropping Breakin' The Borders we finally have volume two, Beyond The Borders. I have only just received my copy which is a wonderful work of art detailing yet more hiSTory about the creative folk who made us gasp in awe. For once, I am (almost) lost for words by what is nothing less than a beautiful and professionally produced product and is certainly worth every penny.

Take a gander at both volumes on the Microzeit store and see if they don't get your demoscene juices bubbling with excitement. I know mine are so I'm very excited to carefully begin flicking through each page from volume two!!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

5 Random Games For The Atari ST


I thought it might be a good idea to select a handful of random Atari ST games and then see what happens. Most I have never played before but they're all completely chosen at random for a fairly broad selection. Of course, everything is available on floppy disk but I obviously used the hard disk versions (thanks to 8BitChip).

Overall, this was a lot of fun and with a few shocks. Yep, I certainly had a blast playing four totally new games (and Golden Axe!!). The video recording shows my very first attempt at each game and I hope you enjoy watching it?


  

Okay, first up is The Amazing Spiderman by Empire Software. Now, I think that I remember playing this a few years ago but wasn't too impressed by the fiddly controls and lethargic pace? However, I must say that this "platformer" has genuinely shocked me because it's an incredible adventure which puts a different spin on the genre simply because we're Spidey. This means we have the expected superhero abilities along with being quite the sneaky saboteur - it's superb walking on the ceiling to creep by our enemies or punch switches with our webs.

There is also a fantastic 8-Bit vibe going on. Especially visually, which might not go down too well for those looking for a classy 16-Bit quality, but I think it's absolutely perfect. Overall, this is now literally one of my favourite Atari ST games and I cannot possibly explain just how much I've loved being Spiderman!! An absolute GEM.


  

Next up is Edd The Duck which was aimed more for kids and isn't really something I would normally choose anyhow. It's basically a poor man's Rainbow Islands but it does a pretty good job trying to live up to that class act. Actually, this is a cracking game and a lot better than I had expected but I found the jump mechanic a little off and the difficulty a harder than it should be. Good, but it's probably a better idea just to load up Rainbow Islands?


  

Audiogenic's Exterminator was developed by The Assembly Line and is something I've wanted to play for a while - because it reminded me of Trashman!! However, this is pest control and an entire street is overrun with all types of pests: wasps, spiders and many other weird things. We won't be laying traps or leaving poison because we're quite literally a hands-on kinda guy. Yep, using a BIG hand, we crush, pound or shoot these critters which emerge from the darkest corners of each room to attack. It's kinda like a nightmarish mix of Klax and gets even sillier with support for two players. This is something pointless every Dad needs to experience with his kids - they'll love it.

A good bug-crunching game that excels in two-player mode and I'm shocked how much I enjoyed Exterminator. Finally, I must add that The Assembly Line did us proud by supporting the Atari STe with cool DMA sounds!!


  

Golden Axe is a beat 'em up that needs no introduction from me. However, it's also one of those games I feel could have been technically better but that's where my criticism ends because this is such a fantastic hack and slasher. I love everything about it so here ends my mini-review because you should stop reading and start playing!!


  

Virgin's Super Off Road is another game I wouldn't normally have considered because it looks like a shameless Super Sprint ripoff. However, I am kicking myself because I took to this bumpy racer straight away and enjoyed tearing around its mucky tracks. It was odd being asked for my date of birth but the game itself has superb controls and the physics worked very well. What this lacks in originality it makes up for in great gameplay.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Cud Lee's Quest


I remember playing this quirky platformer many years ago and I really enjoyed its alternative personality using some rather "odd" mechanics. Cud Lee (geddit?) was originally aimed at a younger audience with interesting child/tutor features but I also think there's something quite charming about this platformer that could appeal to all. Interestingly, this was actually developed by Robert Dytmire who also brought us the astounding Megapede, something I regret initially overlooking because it's a Christmas cracker stuffed full of oldskool joy!!

The aim of this game is to fight our way through the hoards of baddies to rescue captured Pixies at the end of each level. It sounds easy but you better watch out for a range of enemies who are happily roaming through the screens. Its this mechanic which I adore because they are literally wandering the screens going about their business - whether you can see them or not. These suckers love to jump and many are really tough and can even fire weapons.

  
Gotta love the baddies and their freaky jumps but watch out for the little blue guy's arrows!!

  
Weapons are great and can be powered-up to kill these hopping crazies with great efficiency!!

The joystick controls are the first thing that hits you because things feel like you're on a low-gravity world with super-weird movements. Collecting power-ups is a good idea to increase speed, jumping abilities, weaponry and extra lives. Keys will unlock doors and certain walls can be climbed like Zool because of "strange knobby things". Yep...

Cud Lee's Quest is a crudely entertaining shareware release but one I'm still unsure it will appeal to everyone because it's hardly the conventional platformer. What I love is the freedom we're given and the speed at which to explore our strange world. Also, the ability to float (err jump) with such great efficiency through the screens is superb!! Genuinely, one of the silliest yet most compelling games I have enjoyed - why not have yourself a daft hour?

We are limited only by our own joystick skills so grab the disk image if you're feeling tempted?

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Hong Kong Phooey


Once again, I've been plodding through my YouTube channel and found another silly video, Hi-Tec's Hong Kong Phooey. This is a scrolling beat 'em up that begins with a cool intro which is based on the cartoon I watched as a kid - this certainly brought a smile to my face!! After Spot releases the unappreciated janitor from the filing cabinet, we begin our adventure searching for Baron Von Bankjob who has just escaped from jail.

  
I love the title sequence but knowing kung fu certainly didn't help this janitor jump with any grace!

In this beat 'em up are many thugs wandering back and forth and all want to stop us from capturing the villainous Baron. Thankfully, we are a kung fu expert and the joystick controls are simple: we can punch or kick our foe in different ways and pushing up (whilst walking) performs a killer Van Damme flying manoeuvre. However, to reach higher platforms requires a bigger jump which means also hitting the fire button and is a little cumbersome.

The graphics are pretty nice and cartoony with an oldskool style that might not appeal to many looking for that gorgeous 16-Bit sex appeal. I must say, the scrolling is smooth but it's at the expense of screen size which has been reduced by a largely pointless status panel. Gotta love the crude character sprites and their pathetic animations but the worst of all is when we float through the air during a jump. Totally ludicrous, but who cares?

  
The few moves are easy to learn but lots of fun. Yee-ah that, sucka! (say it in a Mr T voice)

I remembered making this old video recording and also the lukewarm feeling I had afterwards because I got lost (and fed up) so perhaps I should have had a gander at the map first? Back then, I wasn't sure the game captured the heart of this old TV show and I'm pretty much feeling the same today. However, as a beat 'em up platformer in its own right, there is something neat about this old pup which I really enjoyed. I'm just not sure what it is, yet!!

Hong Kong Phooey sure brings nothing new to the table but those lame Chuck Norris kicks are crudely entertaining and exploring the massive technicolour world is fun but without being overbearing. If you have a cat called Spot and a cabinet with which to change, then I suggest you download either the floppy or hard disk version right away.