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Tuesday, January 12, 2021


Brick Buster?

Tecnoball Z was published in 1991 by TLK Game and is a Breakout conversion developed by Pierre Denis. Weirdly, I'd never heard of this game until a good friend happened to mention it a few weeks ago (thanks Paul). Sadly, I have no idea whether it was ever officially released over here in the UK. Does anyone know?

Okay, we all love a quick blast of Breakout/Arkanoid now and then; olde classics which have stood the test of time and have many fans. I would say Arkanoid is the most well-known unless you're an ST guy, then it's Bolo. But, I'm always open to any alternative, especially when it's an Atari ST game I have never played before!!

Here, I held onto the ball whilst blasting the bricks with a weird laser weapon. Sweet!!

It's 1976 all over again?

The first thing that struck me was the use of overscan for a larger display but the brick-busting gameplay remains much the same. Each screen has a different collection of blocks that must be cleared using your bat and ball and, with each hit, points are earned with a chance of spawning cash, power-ups and sometimes enemies.

The mouse controls are great; precise and accurate just as you would hope. However, it isn't long until you realise that the physics are 'different' when the ball doesn't react as expected. Manipulating strikes using the different parts of the bat doesn't work the same and might force the ball to bounce in a different direction! That means it's tough trying to finish a level when only a few blocks remain! But, there's a power-up in the shop to help with that...

Yep, a shop pops-up after each level and offers goodies like extra lives, a bigger bat, weaponry and more. Heck, it's even possible to install extra bats on the remaining three sides of your screen! I like surprises like this plus, that silly gameplay reminded me of the chaos I suffered in Wacko Software's Video Games I. Innovation like this keeps the player interested which is how I managed to clear several levels and defeated a couple of bosses!

Check out my power-up pads on all 4-sides of the play area. It's mental!


Graphically, I like Tecnoball as it's quite futuristic in style and different from the original our Dads used to play! Overscan has been used to great effect and provides a better experience, more arcade-like perhaps? The use of colour is good and everything feels smooth but I thought the blocks themselves lacked a bit of pizzazz?

I won't mention that familar guy in the status panel who freaks me out. Darn it, I just did...

Sampled sound effects are pretty good for the 'dinks' but there is no in-game chipmusic so it's almost as quiet as the original. Even worse, there's no theme tune for the title screen which I found very disappointing.

This is the first boss screen and oddly, it features no blocks!

The CryptO'pinion?

This is a fun take on the original but the physics are quite peculiar. Some might hate it but, whatever your opinion, this could still create a silly "bug"? At one stage, the ball hit an enemy near the top of the screen that ricochets it sideways. So it began bouncing from left-to-right, in a perfectly straight line, which continued for about 30 seconds!! Luckily, it hit a wandering enemy which changed its trajectory!! Not very good, I'm sure you'll agree?

Having said that, this is still a good game and I enjoyed ploughing through the levels. The addition of a shop works well and that provides a great variety of extra features that help to improve the game massively. Give it and try and see how it compares to your favourite version of Breakout? Let me know in the comments below.

Download the floppy from Stonish on Cobra #27 menu disc.

Gotta love the artwork and even this Game Over screen is in overscan.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Athanor II The Legend Of The Birdmen

Somebody once told me that the Atari ST died back in the 90s yet here we are (again) with another brand new game to play! Okay, it may have taken me a little longer than I planned to raise the cash but I've just received what is the latest Atari ST adventure game - Athanor II The Legend Of The Birdmen by Safar Games.

Athanor II is a point & click adventure sequel to the original 8-Bit game. Our adventure continues on through four different worlds with new interactive characters and an abundance of puzzles. All Atari computers are supported with 1MB+ Ram and the Atari STe will use its extra colours, Blitter Chip and the DMA for clean audio sounds. Excitingly, this is the second title of what will eventually be a trilogy - something else to look forward to!!

I believe the elusive TT and Falcon are also supported but, that's something I'm unable to test unless someone fancies donating their hardware to AtariCrypt? Yeah, I thought so... O_o

Design and programming were done using GFA Basic and Devpac by Eric Safar (yes, he of Ranx!!) who was also interviewed a couple of years ago by Atari Legend. The music is from none other than Mathieu Stempell [aka Dma-Sc!!] and the gorgeous graphics are by Angel Bautista and Vincent Jambut/Fran├žois Gutherz.

I must say, this is one of the best purchases I have made. Athanor 2 is a quality product with a strong and sturdy design. The artwork is fantastic and there are many trinkets inside the box along with the disks and manual. It's fun to open up a box to see such goodies, something kids today miss out on with their online downloads...

Athanor II - The Legend Of The Birdmen can be purchased using Eric's website.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Hero Quest

A board game? Meh, no thanks...

HeroQuest is one of those ST games I've seen mentioned many times yet, somehow I've never bothered with it. That's probably because it's a board game and I'm not exactly a fan of those (except Monopoly!). The ST adaptation is modelled on that turn-based board game and retains a similar look using an isometric perspective. So, having never experienced Hero Quest, I attacked it with a fresh pair of eyes not knowing what to expect.

Our adventure takes place in Morcar's castle who is an evil wizard with an army of monsters: Orcs, Zombies, Mummys, Goblins, etc. Four valiant warriors have signed up for 13 torturous quests in order to defeat him. That means plunging the castle's depths to battle monsters, avoid hidden traps, and grabbing loot or anything else which might heed the journey. Let's be honest, whatever the story, I'm in. Now, where did I put my sword?

An Elf enters the room much to the delight of the Wizard who punches the air with joy.

This is when being a midget helps, sneak up on your prey and club him to death!

Choose your warrior!

We begin by picking a preferred warrior(s) from four different races - Barbarian, Dwarf, Elf and Wizard. Before rushing off on the first quest, you should consider who you want to be and why because they each have their own different types of strengths, weaknesses and abilities. Even dice rolls, but more on that later.

The Barbarian is built for strength and is a trooper during the bloodiest of melee battles. Stumpy the dwarf is quite strong and also the crafty one of the bunch who uses handy skills to compensate his shortcomings. Elves and Wizards are physically weaker but the clever lads of the group. They use their brains to cast an array of magical spells without running the risk of having to get up close and personal.

Whether you're solo or not, there is an option to choose another character instead of heading out as the Lone Ranger. It's optional but, there are obvious benefits of having friends accompany you on the journey into the castle's terrors. It's here that you can also name your plucky hero and spend cash in the shop to buy weapons, armour, etc. Finally, there is the possibility to nurse a tired adventurer back to full health, but at what cost?

I suggest playing with two characters: the Barbarian is rock solid and the Elf is an all-rounder who offers the chance to experiment with magic. Umm, okay the Dwarf is a good option especially with traps or if something is blocking the way. The Wizard? Well, superb with spells but a bit too squishy for my liking!

Excellent!! His back is turned and he's unaware I'm here so let's kill him. Wait, I see a chair...?

Oh no, the door slams shut behind you on this quest and the room appears not too friendly!!

Go on a crusade!

Next, decide which of the 13 quests to attempt - they're all different and listed in order of difficulty. Actually, there are 14 quests as the first is basically a trainer that offers a fantastic chance to learn the fundamentals of exploration and combat: the objective is simply to escape and the quickest adventurer is rewarded with loot which can be used in the shop for the next mission. Use this quest to master the mechanics of HeroQuest.

Whatever quest you decide, the gameplay is incredibly similar to the original board game. Each player takes a turn by throwing dice to determine the number of action points - used to walk, perform searches and fight the ghouls. Actually, in the case of the Atari ST game, we spin coins but it's the same difference. However, there are limitations to this method; searching for treasure (or hidden doors) can only be performed once during a player's turn. Lastly, the monsters are controlled by Morcar for his turn - which is performed by your lovely Atari ST.

HaHa, you can see me but you can't reach me! Hmm, perhaps it's time for a little magic?

The map is an extremely useful tool and even identifies the monsters. Ugh! A Chaos Warrior?

Come on, a board game... Really?

Yes, and all quests take place on a different level of the one castle, but they all feature many rooms and corridors laid out in a grid formation. Exploration is performed using the direction arrows (or clicking on the desired tile) and the map is an incredibly helpful tool that displays the parts of the castle you have visited along with monsters and objects. It's also great when something doesn't feel quite right, perhaps there's a secret room? Don't forget to search for loot but remember that this castle is riddled with traps and scary monsters so watch your back...

Expect the usual creatures prowling; Orcs, Skeletons, Zombies, Mummys, Fimirs, and many more. All are controlled by the evil wizard hiding inside your 68000 and their actions executed after the heroes have completed theirs. The computer isn't always offensive and this can present an alternative strategy option. Also, if walking away from a battle is an option then take it because it's not always necessary to fight each and every monster!

We're all playing a game and the first one to blink gets zapped by a fireball!!

I knew it was too good to be true. Sometimes this game is very cruel O_o

Gimme icons!

The user interface is excellent and helps you to explore and interact (comparatively) with your surroundings. The current player has his image displayed top/left along with their attributes for action points, health, mental ability and cash. The icons near the bottom of the screen might look a little confusing but they're easy to learn:

1) The shield with an arrow allows you to end your turn.

2) The shield with a sword begins a fight against a chosen monster.

3) Bunch of keys - use these to unlock doors if you want!

4) The door with a question mark performs a search for what might be lurking nearby, like traps and hidden doorways. Works well with the map when things appear a little 'off'.

5) The opened bag is used to perform a search for treasure (kept by that particular player).

6) Satchel - this is the inventory and features the extra equipment a character can use.

7) Map - I'm sure this one is pretty obvious but is something you should use!

8) Directional arrows - use these to explore the castle (or click the tiles instead).

This is a fantastic quest and is quite the nervy-rush getting Sir Ragnar back home safely.

Oh cr+p!! This is Ulag, the Orc Warlord and yes, he did kill me...

Clash Of The Titans

Nobody enters Morcar's castle without expecting a fight with something unholy and it's a bonus leaving any room unhurt, albeit in blood-splattered clothing! He has many gruesome creatures walking the corridors so it's not long until something comes looking for you - all are controlled by Morcar. Ie, your lovely Atari ST.

A skirmish in HeroQuest isn't exactly what I expected of an 'RPG'. Firstly, a battle can only happen against a foe who is on an adjacent tile and that fight is presented on a separate screen. However, there isn't anything to do as the computer rolls special dice for attacking/defending characters - skulls (for attack) and shields (for defence). So, if the monster has more skulls than you have shields, then that difference is deducted from your health. Likewise, if you are attacking and happen to have more skulls than the monster has shields then, you win.

This system might work for the board game but isn't what I initially expected. Especially as each player has a different amount of dice: Wizard = 1, Dwarf and Elf = 2 and Barbarian = 3. What is quite peculiar is when neither side rolls successfully, so they both stand idle doing nothing more than staring at each other! Actually, that is quite annoying as I feel it's a missed opportunity which could leave you somewhat vulnerable before the next turn.

An unsuspecting Zombie victim but I've not enough action points left...

No problem because his attack was fairly weak so I came back stronger and killed him!

Clash Of The Mages!

Elves and Wizards have a different style to their combat thanks to range-attacks as magical spells. All magic can be used against any enemy currently within the same location, so that means you don't need to be close in order to attack an opponent. The ability to teamwork should now start to prove its worth to all players?

Magic comes in a huge variety to attack or hinder the enemy in some way. You can even help or hinder one of your party if you so desire. Each type of spell is group into four categories: air, wind, fire, earth and provides a separate style of magical ability. There is no in-game help so it's best to experiment to see what you prefer.

Along with spells to replenish health, harden defences/strength, there are also many nifty alternatives:

1) Tempest blows a torrent of wind around your foe thus confusing them so they lose a turn. Perhaps this is something you might wish to use on a fellow team 'mate'? :-)

2) The Genie spell is actually quite incredible and can pack a humongous punch.

3) Ball Of Flame and Fire Of Wrath are two spells that provide powerful attack options. Both could potentially turn an Orc into a pile of dust very easily.

4) But what if you happen to wander into a room that's full of monsters? A good spell might be Courage which will help give you that much-needed adrenalin boost!

5) Pass Through Rock is incredible and an unmistakenly selfish, albeit cunning ability!

That's more like it!! Unfortunately, I'm in a room with a Chaos Warrior...

Sometimes magical spells fall short of the mark so run the nearest Barbarian for help!

Help, I'm confused!

You shouldn't be. To succeed in HeroQuest you should take it slow and be that careful explorer who wants to survive and reap all the rewards. Remember to search each room thoroughly for anything that may help. Especially the hidden loot which is spent on upgrading weapons and other stuff for the later quests.

The quests are all very different but the ultimate goal is to follow the instructions and complete what's required before safely escaping. Personally, I prefer to be the Barbarian as I'm more a melee kinda guy but I do sometimes require the assistance of another teammate to increase my chances of survival (they're collateral damage!)

Hero Quest isn't a difficult game to master and is a lot of fun, especially with family.

Spend your plundered booty on something useful for the next quest.

Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into! Try, try again...


Most definitely! I love the isometric style as each room looks superb using a strong palette which is nothing like you would expect a wizard's lair to look like. But, it works. The characters look amazing with incredible detail and I think the Mummys are the best - but I also love the Skeletons with their scythe! Sadly, animations are fine but should have been better, especially for walking. Oh, and the battles are nothing more than a sword-slap in the face!

Bangin' Beats?

Well, the sound effects are basic; a fuzzy shuffle for walking plus a few chinks & clangs during a battle. It's a shame sampled sound effects aren't used throughout seeing as the ST is mostly idle. Music can be played during in-game and is absolutely awesome, I gotta say. However, there's not enough so it can become quite repetitive after a while, so I'm glad of the option to hit F10 to disable that in favour of just the sound effects.

I love this intro which tells the story of how Morcar became the evil wizard.

The CryptO'pinion?

Don't be mistaken and assume that this is an RPG, it isn't. Sure, there are elements that provide a lukewarm role-playing experience but this is a board game first and foremost. Each hero has their own strengths and weaknesses but there isn't much character building beyond the equipment and collecting stuff. They are also separate from one another - there isn't an actual requirement to work as a team so you cannot progressively group-attack a particular monster because each battle is a new and separate act. Remember, it's a board game.

However, it's a brilliant board game conversion and is definitely better with everyone huddled around the Atari ST just like they did back in the day. Even solo, this is a fine adventure especially if you play with a couple of characters. I suggest a few practice games to see which you prefer the most but grouping them is certainly a recipe for success. You know, considering I'm not a fan of board games, I'm really enjoying HeroQuest a bunch!!

The floppy disc can be downloaded from the Stonish website and works perfectly on both the ST & STe.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Merry Christmas

Well, it's certainly been a peculiar year, hasn't it? Sadly, it doesn't look likely to get better any time soon but I hope everyone remains in good health. I wanted to thank each and every one of you guys for visiting my humble website throughout another year and I appreciate your comments and messages. Actually, I can't believe how long I've been working on AtariCrypt, but the Atari ST is a beautiful computer and dear to my heart - so worth it :-)

I would like to thank each of our patrons, both past and present, for their immense support which is something I cannot express enough. I do hope you guys are still enjoying your Patreon gifts from earlier in the year? I'm using the mug right now!! Anyhow, that was an exciting project and something I would love to try again sometime.

STay safe everyone and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas †

Friday, December 04, 2020

Tristam Island

Another Brand New Game?

Yep, Tristam Island is a new text adventure for the Atari ST by Hugo Labrande. Oh, and also just about every other computer ever made!! It's only a few quid and that payment grants access to each and every download available, plus some hints & tips. Heck, there's even a free demo for those eager to evaluate it first.

The adventure begins having crash-landed, only to find ourself stranded on the beach of a tropical island somewhere in the South Atlantic. Okay, my mind is picturing golden sands, blue skies, juicy coconuts, sexy female natives, and freshly running mineral water that's been magically enhanced with more than a dash of whiskey...

But enough of my silly dreaming! We actually begin hungry, tired and rather soggy. Later on, we realise that the island was once inhabited, which is unexpected, and now I can see an abandoned house up on the hill. Let's go!

I found ST High delivered the usual brilliantly crisp display and was my personal preference.

An ASCII Expedition!

General exploration is very easy using compass directions, of course, and all locations offer a detailed description without being overbearing. Clues are subtle, as are solutions, so I often found myself backtracking when I realised what I had foolishly bypassed. Those muddy steps were a killer and try fishing without a flower!! O_o

This is a text adventure like the old Infocom adventures and is using the Z-code Interpreter Program which is launched as a TTP program. Don't be scared, it can easily be installed as an application for z3 files. Actually, I'm grateful GEM wasn't used as that might have been sluggish wheras this feels fast and fresh in all three resolutions. ST Low felt a little too cramped but ST High is pure perfection, of course.

The parser is excellent without any of the irritations I had with Ooze not too long ago. It's straightforward using commands like "n" to walk north, x to examine, l to look, I for inventory and so on. This is true for items & objects: pull rope, open compartment, get fishing rod, smell flowers, etc/etc. The inventory functions are rather restrained with having only one pair of hands so carrying multiple items, or using large objects, will require thought.

Medium resolution works very well but you might wanna change the colours first?

The CryptO'pinion?

Exploring remote islands is a pleasant surprise but there are a few irritating niggles that hampered my progress. I found some of the puzzles quite bewildering and was baffled by oddities that made no logical sense: like struggling to make a hammock and the fishing task is weird. Plus the inventory is (initially) a pain in the bum.

However, the story is interesting and I was soon questioning everything like an insufferable Sherlock Holmes wannabe. Tristam Island will appeal to oldskool adventurers and is nothing less than a charming and challenging adventure. So, if you haven't downloaded this new adventure, then I hope I've helped persuade you to give it a go? Personally, I hope and expect to lose many hours on this island over the coming Christmas holidays.

Whatever computer you use, this is a belting adventure and worth every penny - just make sure it's an Atari ST though or don't talk to me again! Downloads are available from the Tristam Island web page. Enjoy!!

Yep, changing the default colours almost makes ST Low worth using so I went a bit silly...

Friday, November 27, 2020

Iceblox Plus

Yet Another New Game?

Okay, I might be a couple of years late but here is Iceblox Plus, a brand new Pengo remake by Karl Hornell. It's based on the recent C64 conversion - which is actually based on the old mobile phone original. Phew, that's quite some history and it's actually strange to think it was something I could have played on my old Nokia!

Anyhow, the game introduces us to Pete the penguin and explains the gameplay basics of crushing blocks and the method used to eliminate our enemies. As in Pengo, there are 16 icy screens with blocks to shove or smash; some you wanna break whereas others can be used to slide into the baddies for an instant kill (flames and burning wheels). A few blocks contain hidden coins and it's these that we should break open to complete each level.

Wee-SMASH!! Well, this image fails to display my joy at sliding a block for a kill. Points awarded too!

Gaming like it's 1982

Iceblox breaks you in gently with just the one flame lurking about the first level but things soon heat up with two flames chasing after you. By the fourth level, three flames are chasing which is pretty frantic. However, I personally found the difficulty drastically increasing from level 6 which is all thanks to the dreaded burning wheels who do a magnificent job of tracking down poor old Pete for a terrible death by fire. He prefers it cold...

It's interesting how the levels become progressively harder; thanks to their design and those firey baddies who appear in a variety of combinations (up to) four at once. Both have great chasing techniques that feel somewhat like H-Mec II and killing them results in bonus points. Plus a much-need short breather, before they respawn!

Run Pete, RUN!!! (He's got no chance because I was controlling him <insert evil laugh>)

Oh heck, I only managed to reach level 12 which isn't too bad at all - for me! But here are some tips:

1) Don't just run around like an idiot! Use the blocks to extinguish those dreaded enemies for a burst freedom albeit only for a second or so. Hey, don't knock it, every second counts.

2) Each nasty provides a high degree of cunning chase, rather than blindly heading to your location. However, the wheels can be infuriating so take them out as quickly as possible.

3) Use the maze design by hiding behind static blocks for cover (see below).

4) Don't panic. I know, it's easier said than done, but panicking only gets Pete killed quicker!

Pete is a penguin and NOT a chicken. Ahem, you can't hide forever...

Graphics & Sounds

Okay, this is no Gods or Magic Boy but I doubt any version of Pengo would drop your jaw to the floor? Well, Iceblox is actually bold and colourful with beautifully animated sprites - I love how Pete wibbles as he walks plus he turns into a skeleton when dying!! However, initially, I wasn't taken by the huge block sizes and isometric perspective because I found myself sliding a block for a complete miss! So that took me a while to get over...

Yep, the audio is just as cute as the visuals thanks to jingly sounds and chipmusic by M.D. Smit.

Oh no, things are hotting up (sorry) with both a flame and a burning wheel chasing you!

The CryptO'pinion?

I don't think I've played Pengo since the 80s and that was probably on my ZX Spectrum. Iceblox Plus is a great twist on the original and, rather than a straight conversion, it comes with a few bells and whistles which I like. My only real gripe is the limited play area using a grid layout of 12x10 which I thought was a little claustrophobic.

Although it makes me panic like a big girl's blouse from level six, I'm completely smitten by the exhilarating oldskool gameplay. I really enjoy how Iceblox Plus transported me back in time and those of us old enough to remember the original (or the 8-bit conversions) will appreciate the mix of authentic and new styles.

AtariMania has the download and I hear there's a boxed version too (which I would love to buy!!)

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Techno Cop

I Am The Law!

Have you ever booted up something that instantly felt cheap and tacky yet you spent hours playing and never once considered hitting the reset button? Think Club Drive for the Atari Jaguar... Well, here is a game by Gremlin Graphics that tries to blend together two genres: car racing and a quiet walk through rough neighbourhoods.

If you hadn't already guessed, we're one of the heroes in blue but, no ordinary policeman. No, we're a Techno Cop who is under orders to take-down various members of the DOA - Death On Arrival. This is a huge gang of thugs who enjoy driving fast cars, live in abandoned buildings and look like extras from a Death Wish movie!

Actually, being a Techno Cop must be cool because they get to drive a VMAX Turbo Interceptor sports car and use a Magnum to kill anyone they don't like the look of. That's about as technical as it gets and I love that simplicity so, ignoring first impressions, I soon started to enjoy what is nothing less than a crudely violent game!

All In A Day's Work

For each stage (scene of a crime), we begin behind the wheel of a fancy sports car on the way to a troubled hotspot. The roads are cluttered with DOA agents but our VMAX is fitted with a cannon to blast those suckers into smithereens. The dashboard shows speed, revs and even a damage meter that worsens with each roadside skirmish. Also displayed is the distance to a crime hotspot - so put the pedal to the metal!

Upon arriving, we get out for a stretch of the legs as the game flips into a scrolling shoot 'em up quite similar to Thunder Jaws or Rolling Thunder. These rundown apartment blocks are full of trash, graffiti, thugs, hookers and even rats that nibble your toes. The thugs are relentless; carrying chains, whips, baseball bats, knives and more. It's now that you should use the magnum and blast 'em into a gloopy mess of blood and gore. More, later...

Mission objectives detail how you to uphold the law; be it a hostage situation, a mugging in progress, a boss to eliminate, etc. It would be impossible to follow out these orders without using your wrist gadget that shows lives, score, jumping energy and can even swap the magnum for a net - used to capture rather than kill. Importantly, it also features a radar to help locate each boss. Beware, this isn't a direct route so you may need to use the elevators to avoid a dead-end. Completing a mission grants points and promotion through the twelve ranks:

1 Grunt... 2 Rookie... 3 Flat Foot... 4 Patrol Man... 5 Cop... 6 Officer...
7 Sergeant... 8 Enforcer... 9 Commander... 10 Top Cop... 11 Chief... 12 Technocop

Gimme That Joystick!

The VMAX handles like a wooden wedge and is very unrealistic. Okay, this is an arcade racer and nothing serious but, even so, it's lagging way behind something like Crazy Cars 3, Test Drive, Lotus 2 or Buggy Boy. And by a mile. Sadly, it's all too easy to crank up the damage by smashing into the roadside objects when preoccupied with shooting enemy cars. Plus, I didn't care for the initially sluggish rate of fire. Road Blasters, this stage is not!!

I learnt that it's good practice to simply rush to the next crime hotspot, ignoring the DOA cars the best you can. This is not only quicker but saves lots of potential damage so your game should last longer too. Plus, quick racers are awarded upgrades such as a turbo boost and (much needed) faster firing.

The crime stages are best where we can walk, crouch, leap and run through (yet another) condemned building with ease. The leaping is ace and allows you to explore quicker and is best when surrounded by henchmen. The radar is a huge help and I doubt it would be possible to complete any mission without using it. And learning the map.

Gun love is why we're here and Techno Cop is superb. In fact, there are times I forget I'm a policeman and behave more like an escaped psychopath because it's easy to ignore the plan and go about killing everyone. Yep, everyone! Even the odd innocent kid stupidly running by or playing outside. The death of all victims is bloody and violent as they scream and explode into a pile of gloop. Gloop with eyes stuck on top. Brilliantly brutal and I love it.

Aesthetics 80s-Style!

The driving scenes are quite bland with little scenery and average framerates. Though I did like the mountains and the palette choices/changes. Weirdly, the DOA cars are cumbersome beasts and the road changes far too quickly to be driven well. The fuzzy sampled sound effects are great... Okay, it's not Turbo Cup but I enjoyed them.

The scrolling-crime parts are excellent!! Each building is packed with incredible attention to detail: litter, traps, graffiti, broken plaster, damaged floors, dead bodies, loot and traps. It's basically the perfect environment for the Michael Winner movies!! Enemy sprites are nicely animated and detailed, even down to their spikey punk hair. Okay, the scrolling could have been better but at least the developers didn't wimp out with push/flick.

Audio is made using crunchy samples which are nice and add to the violent atmosphere although I don't understand why our Techno Cop makes a silly "meow" when he jumps! Anyhow, the best sound effect from the entire game is the screaming explosions when killing a criminal - your gun can turn a human into a horrendous pile of slop! It's brilliant and makes Techno Cop one of the most hilarious killers you could imagine. Fan-freaking-tastic!!

The CryptO'pinion?

You can't go wrong with fast cars and big guns. This game has what it takes but there are a few more niggles that bugged me: the driving stage feels like a clunky afterthought but the power-ups are a neat touch. The missions are pretty much the same, thus quite repetitive and later tasks certainly require extra time.

However, Techno Cop still scores very highly because of its arcade-styles, and killing scumbags is quite simply brilliant. Okay, it could have been better in parts but blasting baddies into a pile mush is bliss. I loved it.

Download floppy or hard drive version

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Sine Scrollers?

I've always had a thing for sinus scrollers! I mean, just look at it. Gorgeous!! This screen is called The Two-Screens-Together Demo by Black Byte/Bytechangers and weighs in at only 3.5Kb - less than JetPac!! But why so tiny? Well, it was programmed for the first-ever STNICCC in their "VIC Times Revisited" competition. I guess, the rules were obvious with a Ram limit based on the Commodore machine. Impressive results, to say the least.

Sadly, there's no music but I guess there wasn't enough space left over, which is completely understandable. However, I'd still love to see this screen updated with music and freed from the shackles of that old competition because it's too good to remain as is. I'm sure something beautiful could be done with this piece of code?

I'm always on the lookout for screens with similar scrollers but only found a limited number over the years. Sadly, I fail to remember which disks I saw back then, so it's been a painful process hunting them down. Of course, similar effects are used in many demos for waves, circle scrollers, distorting images, etc... but I'm specifically referring to a sine wave used for a horizontal text scroller - like the one displayed above in all its wavey sexiness.

There must be a ton of cracktros and demo screens that I've forgotten about!! So, if you know of any using this sine scrolling technique, then please let me know in the comments below. Until then, here is a selection of text scrollers using the sinus effects which are all utterly amazing and definitely worth downloading...

Possibly the best known ST sine scroller I'd say? Okay, there's no sound but the visual effect is great and incredibly well coded. I wish more would have been done but there's no denying how cool this is.

Circle Dots by MJJ Prod

This is such a smooth screen and with gorgeous music by Dma-Sc. The scroller is sine-tastic and works well with the stark palette style which really appeals to me. Oh, and there are some dots too which ain't too bad!

Sinfull Sinuses by Chronicle

What a great demo this is with a bunch of cool visual fx and great music. The sinus parts are very good throughout but this is all about the sinus text so I loved their big blue sine scroller, which is just lovely.

Another fine sine example and taken from one of the best megademos there is - Just Buggin'

Disk #0052 by BITS

A slap-bang, in your face, no-frills sinus scroller and it's pretty darn excellent too!!

Flexiscroll by The Resistance

An awesome screen from the Decade Demo but it spends (most) of its time doing everything other than what I wanted to see! However, as a demo, it's pretty cool with some lovely fx and wonderful chipmusic.

Genesys by Aenigmatica

Yes, it's quite mild but the sine scrolling is there and I like it. This is a pretty great demo too.

Menu #3 by Electronic

I don't remember this group from back in the day but here's an intro with a nice sine-scroller. Sadly, there appear to be many of their disks that are missing and still haven't been found and preserved. Can you help?

An intro for a cool MOD disk which includes (possibly) the best player available for the Atari STe? Well, I was blown away by it! Anyhow, this intro has a dodgy image, cool music and a neat sinewave to enjoy.

Arsch Screen by FOXX

This was released as part of Phaleon's GigaDemo and boy what a screen from an outstanding megademo. Nothing short of mindblowing. Yes, both the sine scroller and the megademo. What a point in time this was!!

Alvin Puzzles Cracktro by Elite & STAX

This cracktro was used many times because it's fast, classy and superb. I only wish the sine scroller has a splash (ahem) more colour! One of my favourite intros for the ST. Erm, cracktro I meant to say.

Mr Heli Cracktro by The Replicants

The Replicants released what seemed like a zillion hacks and I've found a fantastic sine-scroller disk!!

The Anomaly Megademo is an absolute cracker and this screen is simply divine. Outstanding. [link]

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Go Ahead Make My Bed

I figured I needed to make a silly video for Halloween and what better than Chainsaw Massacre by The Lost Boys? It's a short and nostalgically entertaining but also a fantastic example of the banter between ST groups. I love this a lot and ended the show with a beautifully-scary image taken from Halloween, by The Black Twins.

Those of you who are too much of a wimp to watch a Swedish Carebear getting mutilated might be better off playing a game or two instead? The Atari ST has quite a large number of ghoulishly 'scary' games to choose from and many I have yet to feature. But here is some nerve-racking ideas which are highly recommended...

Horror Zombies From The Crypt is the obvious choice - because it's fiendishly superb. Ooze was recently reviewed and, while it's a little quirky, there are lots of things going bump in the night to entertain. Following on in a similar vein is The Curse of Rabenstein, a brand new slice of horror which is jaw-droppingly awesome. Frankenstein takes us all on a humerous B-Movie adventure. But now, I feel I need to inject some violence into the world of horror and I personally feel nothing beats Death Chase for immense blood and gore! Finally, there is Nightbreed if you dare to try your luck within the disturbed mind of Clive Barker?

I'm now in the mood for something new (for me) to play: Brides Of Dracula, Munsters or Night Hunter. Anyone played 'em? Let me know what you think in the comments below. Oh, and don't forget about ZombieCrypt which is spine-chillingly lame for tonight. Happy Halloween folks and remember, it'll soon be Christmas!! ;^)

Evil Ash, from Evil Dead II and then featured in ZombieCrypt on the Atari ST. How cool is that!

Sunday, October 18, 2020

GEM Desktop Music

Over the decades, I've seen many neat programs that would play a piece of chipmusic, in GEM, as a background task. I always thought this was so cool and wondered why there wasn't more. Well, it turns out that there are a lot on several Budgie UK disks. I don't think I ever saw this type of program on any other floppy?

Anyhow, I've spent some time going through my floppies to gather a quick, no-frills compilation. Some of these tracks were made by Goth but I'm not sure who else to credit for the rest - possibly Budgie UK? There's also an intro included which is a scroller text by me using a utility coded by Dogue de Mauve of Overlanders.

I hope this floppy disk is of some interest to you ST Nutters? Like it? Let me know in the comments below!
(download updated to v1.1 -thanks to Tronic of Effect for his superb new addition!!) :-)