Sunday, June 30, 2019

Blob Race


It's not often a parent introduces their young daughter to gambling but I figured racing cute blobs was going to be worth the risk of the cops knocking on my door. Yep, you heard correctly, today we are going to be betting on green blobs which is something similar to the horse racing machines seen at seaside amusement arcades.

Developed by Kev Davis back in 1991, Blob was oddly never released for some insane reason.
Well, not until 1994 after seeing an unauthorised beta on a Menu Disk... Yikes!

With each game, we begin with £100 in the kitty. Racing your blob is just like in the arcades: just pick yourself a likely winner from a selection of six racers. Each has a name and its own individual characteristics for maximum speed, reactions (how well they can maintain that speed) and the number of tricks they're able to perform.

 
Ricky D. would be proud of that boulder... whilst another zips along on his new wheels.

Wait! Tricks? Oh yes, each blob can possess a bunch of cool tricks to use against their fellow competitors, such as throwing bombs, riding a bike, and sprouting helicopter wings. If all this wasn't silly enough, during a race you might see a blob explode, teleport, or get crushed by a weight - just like in the old cartoons. Brilliant stuff!!

The betting system is really simple and not like you might expect: coming in first gives you your winnings at the specified odds. However, coming in second allows half of that, whilst third place gets you your money back. Fourth of less gets you a big fat nothing! This actually works really well and helps keep everyone playing for longer.

 
One gets crushed by a ton weight and another has helicopter hair... I love the sense of humour!!

Well, that's about all there is to this belting little game: pick a blob and watching it squelch across the screen. It's great fun but what makes this game extra awesome is its simplicity and humour: I loved the falling ton weights, bombs, and lots of other worm-like incidents. Also, the news headlines are a killer: avoid cliches like the plague. lol

My only criticism would be the length of each race which is too short. I'd have liked them to last a little longer and with more frequent accidents and tricks. Perhaps Kevin will read this and make a sequel - so long as it's for the ST...

Overall, this is easily one of the most entertaining games I have ever featured on AtariCrypt so download it now and get your family huddled around your ST like it's 1991. Blob is ace and gets top marks from both of us!!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Nightbreed - The Interactive Movie


I remember watching Nightbreed back in the day and absolutely loved it. Okay, it was a little cheesy but I'm a fan of most horror genres and Clive Barker never disappoints. It had such a different twist to its style and atmosphere and I loved the idea of Midian and its freaks being the good guys. Something I didn't expect at the time.

Being the weirdo that I am, I would have loved to see Midian for myself one dark night - of course, armed with nothing more than a flashlight!! Alas, it was never meant to be... well... until now that is!! Thanks to Ocean, and their amazing dedication to movie tie-ins, I finally have their Nightbreed which tries to follow the original plot best it can as an interactive adventure, umm, with some arcade action thrown in for good measure.

 
Don't listen to the bad man... And check out that 90s hairdo (and Aaron's nipples! lol)

 
The gameplay area is pretty large and feels a lot bigger thanks to the laborious car journey!

We are Aaron Boone and begin our adventure in the doctor's office listening to his lies. Yup, he's trying to trick us into a confession for something we haven't done so our world is collapsing in on itself. After this introduction plays through, we're presented with an overhead map of the area which has many roads. Here you can travel to three possible destinations: the redneck police station, an ever-attractive asylum, and the mysterious Midian Town.

To drive, just use your mouse and click each intersection of any road but watch out for hidden roadblocks which present your first decision: do you smash through like a rebel or turn around to find an alternative route? Keep your eyes on the fuel gauge, I wouldn't like to get stuck on these roads at nighttime...

Deciding where to go is completely up to you but take a look at this map first before you start burning fuel and then think to yourself what would Aaron Boone do? Everything may look the same but each action you make generally has a different outcome: I made my way to the hospital in my first game, but that didn't go very well...

  
Arghh!! Caught and locked away in a padded cell. Just listen to his howling!! Wow :o

Of course, being the eager adventure, I restarted and headed straight to Midian. Here I was given three options so I chose to enter into Midian itself which is something I was really looking forward too. However, I think this was a bad choice because I was instantly torn to pieces by a Berserker without any possible chance to defend myself!

I never give up and tried again with my foolish venture into Midian but this time I was set upon by something rather vicious. However, this is where I finally got to see Nightbreed's action scenes in full swing as I ran away like a scared chicken. How I hear? Easy, just bang on that mouse button to separate the two sprites at the top of your screen which represents you and the chasing monster. Yes, it's crude but it worked and I escaped. What a shame the cops were outside, waiting, so it wasn't long before I found myself in the morgue. Well, for a short time...

  
Well, I made the poor decision of turning around and the doctor was there... He brought the cops!

  
Midian is like the workplace, full of freaks... but I gotta admire the artwork and a dodgy game of chase!!

Visually, Nightbreed doesn't fail to impress and features many screens with gorgeous artwork. I love the eerie tones that make use of some great palette choices to honour the movie's creepy atmosphere nicely. However, the animations are pretty lame and I dare you not to laugh when being chased... but it's here that I thought Aaron looked like David Boreanaz [remember the vamp Angel] as he wobbles back 'n' forth. Or is it just me?

Audio is also excellent. Okay, I'd have liked more and with greater variety but, what we have, is sampled and pretty darn awesome. Easily my favourite sound effect is when we're captured and held captive in the asylum: this is probably one of the scariest samples I've ever heard in any game. It's incredible. Listen to it!!

 
Well, I never expected that to happen... this is turning into an old Hammer House of Horror movie!!

I've enjoyed Nightbreed which has aesthetics I'm sure Clive Barker would have loved it. The game is big and offers a fantastic challenge but I was also left a little disappointed. Considering this is an interactive adventure, I'd have imagined a lot more actual interaction. Also, it felt like I was blindly forced into following a predetermined plot - so one wrong move and you're dead. Which isn't brilliant for what is supposed to be an adventure.

Don't get me wrong, this is no Dragon's Lair and I'm sure fans will get something from this interactive movie tie-in. I loved the ability to venture into Midian for myself but I simply feel more could have been done to exploit the amazing storyline with its wide variety of monsters Midian has to offer. Not a bad game, just not a great one either.

Download Nightbreed for floppy or hard drive and head into Midian to make some new freaky friends!

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Boogey Man


Scouring through the ST archives, I found something silly called Boogey Man, by Anthony Hamilton. The screenshots reminded me of an old 8-Bit game but, if I'm honest, it really isn't anything close to what I expected.

This is a tough one to describe... but... we are Burt, a guy who loves to collect snot. Yup, snot! There is plenty of it popping up all over your screen in both small and large doses. But so are walls that block your path and nasties who can kill you instantly. A boogeyometer is displayed bottom/right of the screen to show how much snot still remains to be collected. Once it's gone, an exit door appears on the right and we can leg it to the next level.

 
Burt seems to love snot for some peculiar reason but look out for the nasties who wanna stop you.

There are nine levels in all which might sound too easy? It's not. The controls are super-sensitive which makes the entire experience very chaotic as you agonisingly attempt to carefully navigate, avoiding the nasties. These come in two flavours, a Blob and a Spike. Touching either kills you instantly, of course. Also watch the timer, which is just another way to lose a life - and you will see that happen to me near the end of my recording. Arghh!!

The visuals are basic, rather 8-Bit, plus it runs in Medium resolution which explains the nice detail - and lack of colour. I liked the sprites, especially Blob, but there's nothing here pushing the old ST of course. However, the audio will certainly entertain - the kids - I'll say no more other than I think he made excellent use of MasterSound!!!

 
Gameplay relies on the fudgy controls to make it feel quite chaotic. Can you beat level nine?

Bear in mind that this is a PD game, it's still rather simple but humorous and oddly entertaining for a few goes. The controls initially feel far too snappy, but you will get used to them and anything different would just make the game far too easy. Overall, this is a ridiculous game and one I'm sure your kids will love for all the obvious reasons!!

Now, there's a Boogey Man II listed on AtariMania... dare I even try the sequel? LOL

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Faster Than Light: The Atari ST


Jamie Lendino of ExtremeTech has released a new book dedicated to the worlds best 16-bit computer. I've only just got the digital edition tonight but I've enjoyed flicking through some pages and to say I'm impressed would be a huge understatement. This is seriously good Stuff. Heck, even my little website gets a mention which is mind-blowing.

Faster Than Light is crammed full and covers many different topics: from the history and range of different computers along with the various uses we got from this incredible beast. The book is available on (your local) Amazon store right now for less than a tank of fuel!! I'm buying the paperback edition and I hope you ST nutters do the same.

 
 

“Power Without the Price.” Every Atari fan remembers that slogan from the 1980s as the rallying cry for 16-bit computing in the form of the Atari ST. This groundbreaking computer brought previously unimagined power to the home user for the first time—and transformed an industry or two along the way.

Author Jamie Lendino offers a fresh, vital look at the history of the Atari ST, guiding you from its inauspicious genesis at the centre of a company known for its gaming consoles to its category-defining triumphs in music, desktop publishing, and video gaming. And he doesn’t stop there: He then leaps to the present to pull back the veil on the thriving software and mod communities that aren’t just keeping it alive today but taking it to places its creators never could have imagined.

Whether you’re a longtime devotee who wants to relive the magic of the machine that unleashed the wonders of Dungeon Master, Time Bandit, and Starglider, an intrepid DIYer on the hunt for new ideas and resources to take your homebrew system to the next level, or a newcomer hungry to learn the ins and outs of one of the most important computers ever created, this book will get you there just as the ST did its long-ago digital pioneers: Faster Than Light.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Bugziacs


A brand new remake of Don Priestley's Maziacs is being released by Bello Games with coding by George Nakos (aka GGN) and graphics by Niels Kleine (aka Tinker) and Kevin Dempsey (aka SH3). At the moment, this is an unfinished port but I loved the ZX Spectrum original so much that I couldn't wait to get my grubby mitts on this...

I expected differences but, right from the start, this feels authentic and with an excellent remake of the old DK'Tronics loading screen. Surprisingly, there is a good reason Bugziacs feels so much like the original - "This version actually runs the original Spectrum code translated to 68000 using a custom tool and then some routines replaced with ST specific code". Wow. Extremely interesting and I hope many more Spectrum conversions are in the pipeline!!

  
Ohh, this entire menu system is just like the original. Even the font... and silly sprites!!

Okay, once the game begins, things feel familiar but the look (and movement) are a lot better than my favourite Z80 computer could ever manage. The goal remains the same: explore a maze looking for hidden treasure and escape. It sounds easy - but it's not - especially as you cannot carry both a weapon and the treasure at the same time.

Like the original, each maze is randomly generated which means a different game every time. But the one thing that remains constant is those angry Maziacs who roam the corridors looking for a scrap with our plucky hero. Thankfully, some kind soul has left lots of swords scattered throughout. However, these can oddly only survive one battle, so this is where the map feature comes in handy. Along with your memory for those you previously walked past...

  
Flip visual styles between the Atari ST and ZX Spectrum but whatever you decide - use a map!

You're not superman, so keep on eye on your precious energy levels which are displayed using a long vertical bar. This ticks down as you explore but fear not because whoever left the swords has also left energy drinks. Time to use the map and your memory once again... Now, what I've always found ultra-cool are the prisoners who are very helpful with directions for both the treasure and (later) your exit. Yes, it's weird that they know so much yet fail to ask for any assistance to be set free! But it's best to stop overthinking that and to simply follow their directions.

I'm really enjoyed playing Bugziacs which is well-balanced and incredibly playable. Sure, it's got some quirks/bugs, and those randomly generated maps can sometimes be unfair: more than once, I began with a Maziac stood right beside me. But let's not forget this is unfinished so I'm extremely eager to see the final product.

  
Prisoners are dead helpful but... wait... three monsters and only one sword? oh no!!

Overall, I'm sure Bugziacs will appeal more to fans of the original? It's always exciting to see a new Atari ST game in development so, old and new players alike should try their luck at treasure hunting. In fact, it's worth it just to witness the humorous scraps between our hero and a Maziac. Even unfinished, this is a blummin' awesome game!!

Both AtariMania and Demozoo has the download you need to start killing the Maziacs. Oops, sorry Bugziacs...

Thursday, June 13, 2019

ST Collection #8


Here's another menu disk which I really liked, ST Collection 8 by Typhoon. As you can imagine, it features loads of intros by the likes of Cynix, Fuzion plus also a few other oddities: I really liked the strangely funny Sonic Demo and Dune's Faith features spectacular artwork, stunning effects, and audio to die for!! MJJ's Trisogames is always great but I must admit it was Pascal Ganaye's Strip Tetris which caught my attention (naughty boy!)

As you'd expect, this is just Tetris but we're also treated to a 4-bit glamour girl who removes her clothing the better you perform. Hmm, that didn't come out right, but I'm sure you know what I mean? Gameplay is pretty good and my old man reactions did pretty well in the video recording. This is a nice conversion of the old favourite.

Yep, there's lots of cool stuff on this disk and Demozoo has the download for those wanting boobs (and more!)

 
 

Thursday, June 06, 2019

D-Day

June 6th 1944. A moment in time which I'm sure we are all unable to fully comprehend and will never forget.
This video and review is just my way of saying thank you to all who have served both then and now.


Okay ST nutters, I bought myself a mint copy of D-Day by US Gold a couple of years ago. This game comes with four disks, so is a pain to someone (like me) who's been spoiled by the luxury of his Ultrasatan. However, I couldn't find a hard disk version anywhere so I did what any sane person would do - I asked Peter Putnik.

Later, during the World Cup and a couple of beers later, I finally had myself the hard disk adaptation of this wonky old war game. Launching it from my satan is a dream compared to the floppies and I'm really grateful for Peter's commitment to the ST scene. Anyhow, what did I think of this US Gold's take on this historic moment in time?

  
Overlord offers a crude yet incredible insight into the situation on the day. Quite frightening!

D-Day is represented from a map of Normandy during the period and shows just where the enemy is located and the missions which can be planned and executed. This is like a campaign mode for the entire Overlord Operation and has each event featured by time as they unfolded. However, it's quite confusing to newcomers and even the manual recommends you start by playing the individual missions first. Which is just what I did.

The idea of these mini-games is pretty cool and they are broken up into four categories: Tank, Bomb (flying the most sluggish planes ever!), Paratrooper, and infantry soldiers. This is actually brilliant because it allows you to skip directly to your favourite parts and, no matter which you prefer, there are several missions to choose from. So, read on...



- TANK -


The big boys are here and we're looking for a fight...

Sheesh, I go for a wander and the enemy sneaks up on my buddies!

Tank is a WWII take on the Battlezone format and also looks rather like another ST title, possibly because they share the same programmer, Pascal Jarry? There are lots of different missions and the first instructs us to destroy ever bunker on the beach, which is a lot harder than it sounds! There are a load of other missions to pick from but it is quite buggy and I suffered a few crashes. At one point I even managed to get myself stuck in a tree...

It's sluggish and lacks any kind of engine noise (which is just weird) but I have to admit that I had myself a little fun driving my little tank. Make sure you hit the function keys for the different modes of operation and also a cool outside perspective. Overall, it's worth playing a couple of missions but also feels like a rushed add-on if I'm honest.

My rating for Tank would be fairly average if it wasn't so buggy (and difficult!) so I will give it a 4/10.


- BOMB -


Wow, I really don't know how to describe this part of the game...

Bomb is an eye-opener alright. How on earth this got by the US Gold quality and control debt I do not know. I think they didn't have one? lol. Again, there are lots of different missions and I chose to fly at night to bomb a bridge. Well, that was theory anyhow but I literally had no chance of hitting that thing. Not in a million years.

There are some basic instruments and controls to help you with your noble adventure but you're left feeling blind which makes completing any mission nigh on impossible. Also, to say its 3D is sluggish is a major understatement - I reckon an old Oric 1 could do better. Definitely, the weakest game and I can't say I'll be playing it again.

I'm struggling not to be too cruel here but I cannot help myself and I must rate Bomb a 1/10.


- PARATROOPER -


Weeee one man gets tangled and falls to his death but the others land safely!

Paratrooper is quite silly in execution but really good fun. It has us parachuting either solo or with other troops through a series of missions. Wind can obviously play a factor (no jokes please) but guiding your men down is always great fun. Sure, it's ludicrously bad but very enjoyable and my daughter loved it which is always a bonus.

Overall, unlike the Bomb game, this is something you need to play. Well, at least a couple of times...

Simply for its old skool entertainment, that I personally got from this, I'm giving it a 6/10.


- INFANTRY -

 
We're on the beach in one mission and then raising everything to the ground on another!

Infantry is the final game type and easily my favourite. I've always liked overhead strategy games and this is styled in a similar fashion to some action games I've played, such as Cannon Fodder and Rebellion. However, don't be fooled, it might look similar but is more a slower-paced tactical wannabe where stealth is the key to your survival.

There are a bunch of missions which involve us guiding stickmen through the fields avoiding enemy bunkers, tanks, and so on. It plays as crudely as it looks with enemy AI that's more like a robotic turret. Each enemy unit has its place on the map and, once you're spotted, they constantly bombard that area forever. They never stop!! So it's your job to sneakily find an alternative route and pick 'em off with your machine gun, grenades or mortar.

The controls are quite shocking and unresponsive. Trying to get your soldiers to stand exactly where you need him is half the battle. Also, it's annoying when they take the long route around an obstacle, which often means that they are then in the line of fire - and die! Graphics are quite umm Cannon Fodder'ish but very crude. Now, I might be a really bad pixel artist but I honestly think I could have done better? Sound effects are made from crunchy samples and certainly, add to the atmosphere but that constant noise might give you a headache after a while!

However, I should stop my snowflake whining because, in spite of all its faults, this is incredibly great fun. It reminded me of Stonkers but Infantry is really all about finding a safe route through the map to pick off the enemy one-by-one. Very simple and not much more to it, but I genuinely enjoyed myself. Yes, I know, I'm mad.

It's lame and ridiculously unrealistic but I've strangely had many hours of fun so I'm giving it 8/10.


- OVERALL -


Looks pretty good, right? Well, this was recorded using the Mega STe... so I'll say no more...

If there was ever a mixed bag of goodies then this is it. Don't get me wrong, I'm proud to have this in my collection but D-Day feels like it was programmed by amateurs, which is odd when reading the credits [AtariMania]. Technically, this fails to make any decent use of the Atari ST hardware - and is riddled with sluggish and buggy code.

So... It's crude, it's buggy and it's a little silly but I gotta admit that this is still a neat war game. Plus the Operation Overlord parts have so much depth which will offer any eager gamer with a unique historical insight into the events. It's tacky but I thoroughly recommend playing D-Day especially on what is such an important day in history.

Floppy downloads are available using Old Games Finder and 8BitChip has the awesome hdd downloads.