Monday, May 28, 2018

DBA Magazine #06


Synergy's famous DBA Magazine intro helped created one of those moments in time when everything changed. I've probably watched this several hundred of times through the years and it never gets dull with its beautiful visuals and groundbreaking SIDtastic audio. Watch the video but it's beST experienced using the real hardware!!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Switchblade



Switchblade was released in 1989 by Gremlin Graphics and programmed by Simon Phipps. Yes, he of Atari ST classic Rick Dangerous. Okay, we are Hiro, a dude in a bandana who must explore the UnderCity to locate sixteen broken fragments of the Fireblade to reap revenge on today's evil entity, Havoc. This beast has been on a savage rampage, after being dormant for 10,000 years, so it's time for us to save the day - once again!

We begin on the surface before taking the leap (fall) down into the orientally inspired UnderCity. This labyrinth is made up of lots of individual rooms and exploring each is brilliant but tread with caution because you never know what baddies might materialise from out of thin air. Your path through is "free-roaming" which I love so much.

  
The first nasty is quite dumb but it isn't long before we're up close with something bigger!

  
Somebody always leaves boxes conveniently lying about. Hang on, what is THAT down there?!

Look out for dodgy blocks that might crack with a single kick: these can unveil health and weapon power-ups or may even lead you on into hidden rooms of goodies. Boss characters appear regularly, the first is easy to kill whereas later ones can be quite frustrating and beaten only with patience and lots of well-timed jumping. The only negative is the immense size of the map which isn't visually diverse - so I often needed to backtrack after getting lost.

Controls are superb with all the usual movements like running, jumping and climbing ladders but there are also three kinds of attack. Tapping firing allows you to punch like a weak Arnold Schwarzenegger but you shall also notice a white combat meter along the bottom right of the screen. This helps perform two kicks: holding the fire button for a mere second (so the meter isn't at full strength) will perform a high kick Jean Claude Van Damme would be proud of. Finally, holding it down indefinitely performs a powerful Chuck Norris sweeping kick. Superb mechanics!

  
Some metallic rocker is chasing me! They can't see me but they can still shadow my movements...

  
Some of the nasties are a pain like gargoyles and the metallic jellyfish thingies!

Visually, I doubt Hiro will blow your socks off but it's clean and well-designed. Underneath the unassuming exterior is a rather cute system with nice level details, cool-looking characters and, as you explore, the game will self-map itself in a similar fashion to Ranarama, or even Rogue I guess. Switchblade has killer audio with brilliant chiptune bleeps from Ben Daglish or the choice of sampled sound effects and I love both equally!

Overall, Switchblade is awesome. It has a great adventure element plus the lack of a linear structure is excellent, thus keeping you enthralled throughout. This is one of the few games I've completed and I'll definitely come back to it again (and again). As with Rick Dangerous, this is most certainly one of the best platformers for the Atari ST.

  
The level guardians are either daft or just plain awkward to hit - I wish they would keep still!!

Fancy picking up the gauntlet to help Hiro find the scattered fragments? It will involve deep exploration, fighting lots of silly monsters and several freaky boss dudes? Of course, you'd be mad not to!! So grab yourself the floppy or hard disk installable games right away. Tip: you might find these maps useful to fully enjoy this beautiful retro game.

Friday, May 25, 2018

BoinkSave Screensaver


Here's an interesting piece of software which I found on Atari ST User's August 1992 cover disk. It's a screensaver by Damien M. Jones which works really well and can even be configured to use different graphics along with altering the screen's timeout. I love finding programs like this and we all adore Boink so I thought this was darn excellent. If you don't have the cover disk lying about, like geeky old me, then it can be grabbed off the Zogging Hell website.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Interphase


It's time for some more box art and today we have the beautiful starglider itself, Interphase by Image Works. Now, IIRC this was given away for free on a cover disk so just about every ST guy had a copy. However, I've never actually "owned" it, so I was extremely excited to finally get it boxed with complete contents and in great condition too!!

Tonight's gaming is going to be gouraud-tastic using the fastest framerate seen on any 16-Bit computer. Yep... And if you fancy yourself a multi-level polygon blast then download the floppy or install it to your hard disk. Enjoy!!

  
Ya can't beat that Fine Young Cannibals sample before the weird tunnel sequence begins.

  
The graphics are fast and smooth with some unique polygons - like the unicycling frog!! O_o

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Tempest 2000 Music Demo


Tempest 2000 was/is an incredible gaming experience and sure made the Atari Jaguar roar like a beast. Then I remembered this recording I made of Effect's awesome Atari STe Music Disk which is pretty darn cool and brought back many happy memories. So grab yourself a copy right now from Demozoo and crank up the volume!!

  
  

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Battle Command


Late last year I planned to feature Atari's BattleZone but I couldn't get to grips with it and, no matter how much I tried, I found it sluggish with lethargic controls that just didn't feel right. In fact, I hated it and came away quite upset by this disappointment but I still had the urge to jump into a tank and kill something. How was I going to scratch this itch?

Of course, it can only be ocean's very own Battle Command, something I have since treated myself to. Okay, the story goes that two factions are at war and we are in control of a heavily armoured Mauler who has to complete a variety of different missions. Come on, let's stop right there because this is basically a BattleZone ripoff!

  

For those who love a challenge, there is a huge selection of missions ranging from the starter through to more advanced tasks like protecting a bridge, accompanying a transport, and even recovering a U-Bomb! Before you begin, the mission briefing will detail all the necessary information and then weaponry options - whilst accompanied by fantastic 3D animation. Don't let the thought of tough missions fool you, this an arcade game through and through but, if you require more of a challenge, then Battle Command certainly has many choices to keep you busy.

Controls are absolutely superb and it was easy controlling my tank using the mouse which handles the acceleration, turning and firing. It's worth taking the time to arm your tank properly and I must say I had a preference for the heat-seeking missiles. Inside the game's box is a nifty reference card that details the extras like the damage screen, a detailed map, and the chance to view our tank from outside which offers a cool perspective, if kinda pointless.

This shooter has some nice 3D and reminds me of a cross between the obvious and Mercenary, for some peculiar reason. I was hooked from the moment I saw each missions 3D imagery swirling about and loved how our tank is dropped from an aeroplane!! In-game framerate isn't exactly Resolution 101 but everything moves far smoother than Atari's lame effort and the enemy look great up-close. It's an understatement to say I really admire the graphics!

  

Battle Command is a great shoot 'em up but it's not perfect and what I didn't like was the immense size of the play area which is a slog for my little tank (and now I sound like Hubert Gruber!). This often means opponents can be a zillion miles away which feels too far for a 320x200 display to cope with... However, distant shots would have been impossible but for a suspect collision detection system that balances things out rather well.

BattleZone... Oops, sorry... Battle Command is a stonker and I've really enjoyed blasting everything in sight and even the trees feel the wrath of my insane personality! Overall, a brilliant game and one of the best arcade shooters I have in my collection. Jump inside your tank and kill everything in sight from either a floppy or hard disk.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Muzzy


Muzzy was featured in ST Format (#58) and is a budget puzzler by Enigma Software Developments. It caught my eye because I liked the old skool style visuals, plus it's something I've never actually played before!! I believe that it should be compatible with both the ST and STe (sadly, it crashes on my STFM but works dandy on the STe).

An intro kicks things off to explain the game nicely whilst accompanied by stereo music on the Atari STe. Playing my first game was confusing and I wasn't sure what to do but you soon learn the game's crazy personality. The object is always the same: collect every gem before being whisked off to do it all over again on the next zany screen. Of course, the difficulty constantly increases as does the variety of silly mechanics and vicious enemies who can kill you instantly. So fight back by blowing up these pesky critters using bombs. Which is always going to be great fun!

  

The trusty joystick is used to control little Muzzy which is simple and easy but first feels overly sensitive. Stick with it because pushing against something, whilst pressing fire, will be the most complex action you will learn.

Visually, I doubt Muzzy will blow you away with its tiny sprites, meagre 8-Bit style and by ST standards they suck. But since when have graphics ever made a game better? (Yes, I'm talking to you, Dragon's Lair). Audio is quite basic and its disappointing that DMA sound effects weren't used, especially after listening to the stereo tracker tunes!

Muzzy is a strange game alright with its many weird screens that make little sense, especially to newcomers. It's so different to what I expected and trial and error is certainly the best method to attack this unique puzzler. In my video recording, the last screen had me stumped but it was actually annoyingly obvious... and that's Muzzy for you!

Monday, May 14, 2018

ST Globe


In a time long ago, when there were no fancy search engines, we had to read something called a "book" and if we wanted to chat with someone then that would mean leaving the bedroom and popping out to meet up - for a real conversation. A crazy time, right? Well, I've found something that takes me back to that early multimedia age.

It's called ST Globe and was developed by Jean Pierre Cazes which you will find on the Page 6 website. I thought it was rather amusing but interesting and definitely puts Encyclopædia Britannica to shame [ahem]. However, my daughter was having none of it and prefers to use Siri and Google. What's up with kids these days, right?

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Capy


Capy is a twist on the Sokoban theme and was released in 1998 for the Atari Falcon by YesCREW. We are a shiny ball who desires refuge within an exit tile that is usually located on the other side of the screen. Initial levels are easy and break you in nicely but it soon gets very tough, so careful thought is required to execute the correct route. Interestingly, there is also the option to create your own "worlds" using an Editor but read the docs before jumping in at the deep end. This is an interesting addition and I hope somebody picks up the gauntlet and has a bash...

  

Each screen has different tiles that we can use in a variety of different ways. Push tiles can be moved almost anywhere and allow access to other areas by fixing holes. Be careful not to push them into a useless part of the map and don't get yourself trapped! Look out for cracked tiles that disintegrate after just one use thus altering your potential path through. Sliders are fun and can transport you across the void very easily and Movable tiles have an arrow pointing in a one-way direction with which to travel. Don't forget to collect the goodies for extra points.

Wow, this game is a tough nut to crack with each screen requiring careful and logical thought. In fact, my first stumbling block was on Level 6 which my old brain really did struggle to compute! This was mainly due to the time restriction which isn't necessary and spoils what should be a difficult puzzler taken slow and careful. So I asked Swe [Janez] of YesCREW if it could be removed and it wasn't long before Capy got its first upgrade in 20 years!



Capy is an odd puzzler but I'm sure its cunning levels will have you all stumped for decades! Sadly, there just aren't enough, but there is an editor so perhaps I should pick up that gauntlet myself? Anyhow, with the timer gone, I enjoyed Capy even more. Okay, I might be rubbish but I'm getting better so I might get to see this screen one day?

Capy has humble requirements: a stock Falcon with a VGA display running in 640x480 / 16 colours.
My download contains the original along with the newly updated "Crypt" version - my greetings to Janez!! :)

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Galactic Conqueror


Some days I wanna keep things simple and just enjoy blowing stuff up. Galactic Conqueror is a favourite of mine because it fits the bill perfectly and allows me to indulge in stress-busting, mindless violence. This kill 'em all is kinda like a mash of Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom, Afterburner and Thunder Blade. Okay, it's not perfect but it's awesome fun and that's what matters the most. Highly recommended after a great day in work... enjoy the video.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Automation


Forget Elvira and Maria Whittaker because this is the sexiest screen your Atari ST will ever display!! :@)

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Rumbo


Rumbo is a flick-screen platformer developed in STOS by Pete Halloran and isn't too dissimilar to Rick Dangerous with more than its fair share of <cough> similarities. The story is simple, our girl has been kidnapped by something hideous so it's time to dress like Rambo before tooling-up to begin our valiant rescue mission.

After watching a short, but superbly presented, intro showing our girl being kidnapped the game begins inside the underground in caves - a place that only Rick Dangerous himself would normally enjoy exploring. Within are many rooms with a variety of tricks traps to catch you out. Many predictable ones, like spikes to leap over but also some cruel ones - like a strange creature who appears from out of thin air without any warning. I hate him!

  

The first end of level boss is something like a giant bat but don't fret too much because it just flies up and down. It's lame and probably should have been left out, if I'm honest. But Rumbo has come prepared for all these monsters and bosses and is loaded up with more than enough ammunition and is something I loved about this game.

When level two begins it's pretty much more of the same, but with different graphics! However, there appears to be a bug that prevented me from completing the final(?) room: hitting the switch did nothing that I could see. Thus I found myself stuck with no way to venture further. What a shame because Rumbo offered about 30 minutes of enjoyable gaming before this point so I now wonder if I've missed something stupidly obvious in the previous rooms?

  

Graphics are quite average joe but still do their job even if entering a new room redraws at ST Basic speeds. Sound effects are made up of a few fuzzy samples but they're good and I especially liked those howels of death. Also, Rumbo's tippy-tappy walk reminded this old gamer of Chuckie Egg 2 (ZX Spectrum version) so I loved that but it only broke what would have been a near-silent experience due to lacking in-game background music.

Overall, I have really enjoyed playing Rumbo even if it's bugged and unoriginal but how many other platformers offer you the chance to be an avenging squirrel? So grab your bandana and boot up this floppy disk right now!

Thursday, May 03, 2018

PC Ditto


Today, I thought I would have a quick play with PC-Ditto, an old emulator by Avant-Garde Systems. Now, please do note that I've never owned a PC in my life but I do remember tinkering with the one (and only) Amstrad PC our college had in 1987. So, I figured this would be a nostalgic trip down memory lane? Well, who knows...

Okay, the stock Atari ST is more than capable of running this emulator and many DOS programs will run fine. However, you should probably forget it for games? I used my own Mega STe which barely had the horsepower to handle most that I tried. Video recording: Hatari running a 16Mhz to simulate my experience with real hardware.

  
Little luck with Castle Wolfenstein (bad copy?) but Serpentine ran quite well.
Surprisingly, I did have some success as you can see in the video which shows me booting DOS 3.3 and then loading a selection of rubbish games. The first is Serpentine, which was definitely the best of the bad bunch and I enjoyed eating the other slo-mo snakes. I then rebooted to try something called David's Kong. Ugh, this is absolutely laughable so please don't waste your time!

Next up was Bird-Brain which didn't seem to work very well because the keys specified on the main menu didn't work for me. Instead, I suffered rapid beeping sound which was rather annoying!! So yet another reboot was called for so I could try Castle Wolfenstein. Ohh, I had such high hopes for this game but alas it didn't appear to run properly and then oddly got itself caught in a loop?

I then loaded Space Commanders which slowed my Mega STe down to the speed of a Casio calculator for some insane reason. In the video recording, I could cheat by hitting CMD X to speed up Hatari but that didn't really help too much. No loss anyhow because this is a ludicrously bad shoot 'em up!!

I was now beginning to lose the will to live and only had one game left: Buck Rogers Planet Of Zoom which is one of my favourite ZX Spectrum games. Sadly, it wasn't (umm) too playable due to slow speeds but I managed a couple of minutes before PC-Ditto disappointly froze for some reason!
  
Oh boy, how did the PC win the computer warz? The worst Kong and Invader games, ever!!

This was fun and I enjoyed (temporarily) turning my ST into an Intel paperweight. Games require more CPU grunt but I doubt anyone would abandon the wonderful ST archive for these horrendous DOS equivalents? Of course, not being a hardware product meant performance was pretty sluggish, even on my Mega STe, but it did a grand job and I loved how easy it was to get up and running so quickly. However, there's only one thing left to do: del *.* ðŸ˜‡

LINKS

 - PC-Ditto can be found on AtariMania or using Old Games Finder.
 - DOS 3.3 is downloadable from Atari-Forum thanks to Jake/Depression.
 - I found many DOS games on various websites and I really liked My Abandonware.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Commando


I remember trying to conquer this belting arcade shoot 'em up on my ZX Spectrum long before I became an ST nutter. However, no matter how much I loved it, I always sucked because it's so difficult. Now, I've not played Commando for absolute ages but remember being just as bad in 16 bits, which my old video recording nicely demonstrates. ^ ^

Thankfully, I've improved with age because I've finally beaten the first stage with its tricky soldiers! Unsurprisingly, our conversion has more glam in comparison to what I remember of that gory Speccy game and I think we received an authentic conversion with responsive controls and gorgeous smooth scrolling. Commando is something that I find myself enjoying and hating in equal measure, so it's a good job this old skool shooter is so addictive!!

Wear camo and grab yourself BB Gun before daring to download Commando for either floppy or hard disk.