Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Manic Miner

There are now 3 videos of ST Manic Miner which you can find on our YouTube Channel.

It gives me the greatest of pleasure to present Manic Miner for the Atari ST which has been InDev throughout much of the year by Peter Jørgensen. It's a brand new remake with redesigned graphics and funky music (sound effects still to be completed). Each and every one of the twenty screens is included but there will also be a few surprising extras which I'm very excited about. However, we’re keeping these under wraps for the time being.

Please do note, this a WIP and thus unfinished. As you will soon see, each level faithfully follows the same design mechanics of the original but don't for a second think this means we have a boring carbon copy ripoff. Willy's adventure has received a cool 16-Bit makeover with beautiful YMT audio and each screen has been designed with a painstaking attention to detail. Before you ask, yes the gameplay will remain authentic to the old 8-Bit days.

Keeping this project quiet from my friends was very tough but beta testing each release over the last few months has been a joy. It's so impressive to see how it has transformed from a (cruel) joke into a fully playable game. The final version is only weeks away so you know where to go when the download is released - watch this space :-)

Update - the latest *beta* is now available to download via the Demozoo website!!

  
Wacky Amoebatrons and The Endorian Forest not only have cool names but are favourites of mine.

  
Can you complete all twenty screens without cheating? Luckily, beta testers have extra lives!!


A few words from Peter...

I wrote Manic Miner because I have a friend that was very sad that this platformer didn’t exist for the ST. So I thought that I would make him happy and began drawing the title picture which soon lead me onto designing the intro screen - but I only wanted to make a prank for April 1st. Sadly, I did not finish in time. Then the idea started to continue on with the programming and see what happens. However, I’ve not made a game in decades because life always got in the way but I wanted to do this remake just to stop my friend from crying. So you could say that this is a Manic Miner AtariCrypt Edition!

My goal was to make the gameplay feel as close to the original as I possibly could but still take advanced of the Atari ST's hardware. Thus, this is a remake rather than a conversion because I have not used a single piece of the original code. I have spent many hours analysing each level, and I’ve used the original sprites and recoloured them but some needed minor changes to work. The map graphics were changed in a big way, to what I think was the idea was behind each level. I played the MSX version so I could see how the game acts and I also think this is close to the Speccy original.

Overall, I'm quite pleased with the results and I hope people enjoy playing Manic Miner again :-)

  
The Vat has a change of colour and the Kong Beast looks like he's blowing kisses! (sorry Peter) ;p

  
Kong Beast returns for a tougher battle... but... Argghhh, I hate those annoying freaky telephones!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Dungeon


Dungeon is a role-player released in 1993 by TC Basset for legends, Budgie UK. It uses the Talespin adventure game creator engine which is something I've personally never experienced before. Upon loading, we are greeted by a creepy dude (with an obvious blood pressure problem) who has an incredible sense of humour. He warns of the adventure ahead and offers us the choice of character but listen carefully and heed his warnings...

Ultimately we must battle the evil necromancer, Malik Abdul Aziz, and recover something called The Great Orb Of Thoth. Who thinks of these names? Anyhow, the dungeons are pretty simple but also infested with a wide-range of hideous creatures so tread carefully. Choose your character wisely but newcomers are best picking the Warrior or a Fighter as they come ready equipped to tackle most beasts. And who doesn't love a free weapon?

  
No sooner had I begun and the first nasty creature is a blood-dripping zombie. YEAH!!

  
A couple of steps deeper into the dungeon and these two ghoulish monsters fancy a piece of me.

Yep, you are not alone down inside the dark corridors, so stay frosty and be ready for anything freaky that's waiting to jump out: decaying zombies, barbarians, venomous snakes, gnarly bats, and many more hideous creatures are all lurking in the shadows. Fighting is crudely entertaining and far more frequent than you initially realise.

The metallic chinks of your weapons are great but battles can also be fought magically using potions and victory ensures a deathly scream - before hearing their bodies crump to the ground. Each defeated enemy (even a bat) will reveal a hidden treasure chest filled with random goodies so collect your loot and leggit!! Those that cluck like a cowardly chicken may wanna run away? Your choice but beware, there could be a price to pay...

  
The first dingy tunnel takes us into a medieval village and that Mr Muscles is actually me. Yes, me!

Exploration is never a bad idea, so take your time and turn over every stone. Why not chat to the locals as there are some interesting characters, even if conversations are a little shallow, but their personalities are superbly silly. Communication reveals more than you realise and perhaps you may earn a bob or two and make new friends?

Taverns are a safe place to rest and recuperate. Just as with Lure Of The Temptress, they are the perfect place for a chat and why not order yourself a beer and enjoy a flutter whilst here? Perhaps I had too many beers, but I loved this experience which entertains constantly with a wicked sense of humour. Those, outside this great island of ours, might not fully appreciate it but we Brits always had a daft sense of humour. Well, I had a great laugh!

  
Being a normal guy, I head straight for the tavern which opens up a world of new options.

  
I gambled with these likely lads but didn't do very well... Wait a moment, is that a trapdoor I see?

Graphically, we have a homebrew Dungeon Master wannabe. It's actually pretty good and I believe the funky images are taken from Deltronics' Fantasy Graphic Disk so are quite well-drawn and often humorous. However, I was gobsmacked when the zombie appeared to eat my brains because I think this is superb pixel art.

Sadly, there's no atmospheric background tune but at least the sound effects are all made from samples. These certainly help to enhance the games already humorous nature: footsteps, knocking doors, groans and the clang of metal are all pretty good. But it's those horrifying screams which are amazing and really make me chuckle.

  
Abandon hope all ye who enter here as each step reveals something hideous lurking in the shadows.

I've never played anything that was developed using Talespin and, although I wasn't expecting commercial quality, it's obvious this creator had its limits: the main problem being the agonising wait between each and (almost) every action. It might only be a couple of seconds but feels longer! Oddly, installing to hard drive improves things little...

Sadly, my Mega STe didn't really speed up gameplay. In fact, it made things slightly worse because a few screens suffered palette corruption and some sound effects didn't play correctly. So, (sigh) I find myself in new territory here and thus advice using an emulator like Hatari - I sped up those waits by hitting CMD X.

  
I should have spent more time in the tavern!! At least the great humour remains until the very end.

I enjoy finding something "new" and this was most certainly an interesting adventure with silly characters and lots of battles against many unearthly creatures. Sadly, it's let down by the Talespin engine which is pretty slow and clunky. However, if you can put up with that, then you have yourself something different to enjoy one quiet night in.

Dungeon offers as much fun as it does disk loading so grab yourself the downloaded right now. Be brave!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Goldrunner



It's been a while since I posted into our Music section so I went looking for something extra special and then I remembered about this gem. It's a Dark Rock remake of the Rob Hubbard original and it blew me away!! Okay, I'll award 100 points if you can tell me the game? Just don't look at the title... or the image... Pah, never mind then.

All credits for this remake to Yoshitaka Hojo who you should check out right now on Soundcloud :)

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Atari ST and The Creative People


 

It was only back in August when I posted just how impressed I was with volume 2 and, within the blink of an eye, Marco has the third instalment up on Indiegogo. The first two volumes are beauties and I'm expecting more of the same from the final part of this outstanding trilogy. It's currently shy of 70% funded and only days remain...

L E T' S   M A K E   T H I S   H A P P E N !!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Yomo


Yomo is an oldskool shoot 'em up by Aaron Fothergill for Mandarin Software and a runner-up in The 1989 Games Writer Of The Year Award competition. I've always liked its 8-bit look and finally got around to booting it up. Firstly, don't get your hopes up too high because this ain't no glamourous Bitmap Brothers product: the graphics are pretty much lame with titchy sprites and ugly scrolling that had my Atari STe crying out in agony. However, I must admit that the sounds aren't too bad and those crunchy samples are quite nice - the lightning is oddly my favourite.

The world is viewed two-dimensionally with a landscape populated by many destructible buildings and whacky vehicles which use the most frustrating mechanics. Our character is a tiny stickman who's on a mission to recover a dodgy nuke dropped behind enemy lines. However, this won't be easy because the baddies are constantly attacking so why not fire off a few heat-seeking missiles before jumping inside something probably stolen from the 1960s? On foot isn't fun, but if you see other stickmen wobbling across your screen then hit fire and gun 'em down!!

Yomo is complete pants but its also surprisingly fun and the ability to jump into any aircraft is genius. However, there isn't enough given ammo and collecting extra supplies is laborious and quite tricky during the heat of battle. Overall, Yomo is frustrating and quite difficult but if you enjoy blowing stuff up then it's possibly worth downloading.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Rubicon


I've enjoyed Rubicon on and off for many years. It's quite simply my kinda game because it's a stupid mix of both platformer and shoot 'em up genres. However, I admit that I'm rubbish and often failed to reach the third level - sometimes I cannot get by the first!! So, today I've whacked on the trainer and played through to the end.

The Fingerbobs had a grim view of the future and by 2011 there should have been a nuclear accident which transformed the local wildlife into vicious mutations. Apparently, it's so bad that Finland and Russia were evacuated. It's our mission to kill everything and disarm the weapons before these creatures find a way to blow us all up!!

  
Level one introduces us to the unfair mechanics so it's not long before infinite lives is enabled!!

  
I love level two with its enormous enemies and trapdoors which are host something silly.

The first thing that hits you is the tracker music which is stereo on the Atari STe and very nice. Why couldn't other developers go that extra mile? Anyhow, the aesthetics keep on getting better with superb in-game graphics: smooth scrolling across gorgeous landscapes with a wide variety of mutated monsters. The attention to details is outstanding but animations are hit and miss because some are great whilst others are oddly void of any extra frames.

Sadly, slowdown occurs when particular (and ginormous) enemies are on-screen so I'm a little disappointed they didn't also utilise the Blitter along with the DMA. Curiously, this framerate drop occurs mostly for unanimated sprites like the Ceratopia which is rather surprising after battling a screen-sized skeleton and a giant squid!

  
Level three continues the theme but in the snow! That tank driver should have ducked down...

  
We're Pitfall Harry in level four with sinking stepping stones, spikes and lots of monkeys!

There are seven levels and each is pretty much the same but with different graphics. However, I absolutely loved the last two levels which reminded me of Thunder Jaws and, of course, Aliens. Our hero has access to lots of weapons and the single-shot gun initially does the trick well but it's not long before you need to upgrade to something with a little more muscle because those bigger enemies are nigh on impossible to kill with your peashooter.

The laser sucks but there are many other great weapons to choose from like the "Scatter" and "Napalm" (my fave). However, we start with zero ammo for everything other than our basic gun so must instead collect ammo boxes which are periodically dropped in. This isn't too bad but is made awkward because you must first press the required Function Key to choose your desired weapon before making the pickup. I would have prefered random types of ammo dropped which would save us from fumbling for the right key before it frustratingly disappears!!

  
Level five is incredible with many obscure enemies so upgrade your weapons!

  
Level six takes us in deep waters and I dare anyone not to love every second of this.

Rubicon is great fun but doesn't break the mould and is also stupidly hard at times, especially on level two and three. Also, gameplay is pretty much the same regardless of the beautifully designed environments. Having said all that, I really love this quirky platformer with its freakish enemies and huge monsters - level six and seven are my favourites. Yup, Rubicon is far from perfect but it's still bucket loads of fun and is definitely worth your time.

If you fancy going shirtless and flexing those rippling muscles before bravely taking on the mutated hoard then you have a good choice: grab either the floppies or one of these versions for your hard drive: 8BitChip or D-Bug.

  
The final level has us battling Aliens, Facehuggers, giant eggs, and even the queen herself!!

  
The ending screens aren't exactly worth all the effort. Hmm, where have I heard that kipper line before? ;)

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Frogs


Thomas Ilg, of Laserball and Anarcho Ride fame, has released an early beta of his next project: Frogs. This is an Atari STe conversion of the C64 original and features more of the same zany gameplay with up to four little froggies frantically hopping around ponds munching defenceless bugs. Older ST's are compatible to a degree but it's best on the Atari STe computer thanks to the Blitter graphics and DMA sound effects (chip music isn't yet complete).

Clickety click to read of other Atari ST games currently #InDev :-)

Each pond has various rocks and temporary lilypads which stay on the water's surface for only a short time. Hop around the screen looking for bugs and then press fire to stick out your tongue and feed your belly. Be quick and beat the other players but watch out because their AI is absolutely superb - it's great fun watching them brawl amongst themselves!! Oh, tongues have more than one use but don't let yourself be pushed around too much!!

Numerous ponds are available with three different gameplay modes and support for 2-4 players. Controls are rather unique using the keyboard, joystick, Jagpad or ST4PLAYER via the parallel port. Players can either be human or computer-controlled and there's even the option for a Midi link-up. Tell me you're not impressed!!

A boxed version is possibly in the pipeline with the option to include the ST4PLAYER adaptor - so watch this space. Overall, Frogs is a great conversion but is certainly best with friends. We've had a laugh playing it here and our 9yr old chatterbox thinks this is a wonderful game. Thus, this write-up needs nothing more said from me...

  
There are many ponds with which to feed and (in the third pic) you can even use C64 graphics.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Wings Of Death


Thalion's Wings Of Death is a vertically-scrolling shoot 'em up which even supports the extra bits 'n' bobs lurking within the Atari STe for a truly stunning production. Gorgeous graphics and beautiful audio are matched in equal measure by the killer gameplay. Yet, despite my joystick skills, I've recorded another video... I love this game!!

  
Later levels are gorgeous yet the insane difficulty remains. Death visits once again in the third picture...