Friday, October 20, 2017

Mystic Realm


An evil vagrant has kidnapped the Princess (or Prince if you prefer to switch characters) and now she requires our valiant rescue. Whatever character, we are once again crawling through monster-infested dungeons fighting zombies, ghosts, bats, and more. It may look like it was made in 1985 but Mystic Realm was released much later in the ST's life by developer John Lince for STart Magazine in 1990. Impressively he programmed it in GFA Basic!

Mystic Realm is an arcade adventure which feels like an old skool mash of Gauntlet with various RPG elements. Obviously, I chose to play as the prince even though I think he looks like a gingerbread man!! There are 14 huge levels to plunder with the main objective finding the keys to the exit through the levels, ultimately rescuing our beloved. Each level is made from a number of separate rooms and navigating through is aided by directional arrows displayed at the top of the screen. These show us the sides of the screen that will lead through the dungeon. All 14 levels are mapped and included on the disk (enlarged screenshots here). Each map is superbly designed and very challenging as you progress, but never to a point where you feel bewildered or bored. You will have to contend with a range of baddies and puzzles which nicely integrate into the gameplay. For example, a wooden gate may block your path but it isn't a strong obstacle against a couple of knives but later sections will require more thought than simply throwing a sharp object. There are other locked doors but use your collected keys wisely because not all need opening...

Various weapons can be collected throughout our journey and each translate into a specific number of knives for our adventurer. No other weapons are actually used but collecting a high ticket item like an axe will reward your inventory generously. The firing method will instantly feel familiar to Berzerk fans - hold down the joystick button and tap the direction you wish to throw a knife. It's apt and works superbly well. However, beware not to waste your ammo because you never know how long it will be before you can top-up your arsenal.

Health points are displayed top/left of the screen and detail our vitality from 0 (you're dead) to 999 being the maximum. It's hungry work being a heroic gingerbread man so chomp on whatever you find to keep yourself alive. If you are already near the max then it might be worth leaving food behind until later? Sadly, health isn't regenerated at the beginning of a brand new level and you will transform into a skeleton if you foolishly starve to death!!

Don't be fooled by the humble graphics, I find Mystic Realm quite fascinating and it reminds me of the games I played as a kid. The little sprites are nicely drawn with comical retro details, I love the wobble of a zombie walk and the ghosts look fantastic. Even the meagre sound effects transport me back to the 80s as I hear the knife skim through the air on its way to hit a fiend. Yes, I'm not ashamed to admit that I adore its authentic 8-Bit atmosphere.

Mystic Realm proves jazzy graphics and sonic boom effects are not required to make a game great and that is exactly what we have here. I've really enjoyed the arduous task of rescuing yet another damsel in distress!

LINKS

 - I've recorded a video and AtariMania has the official download with the level maps (enlarged below).

    

    

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ghouls 'n Ghosts


Over the last few months, I've been doing the same thing as most ST gamers - following Atari-Forum about a new arcade conversion of Capcom's classic platformer, Ghouls N Ghosts. It started as a fascinating idea by Sascha Springer to port the game onto an Atari STe. We all drooled over the concept and wondered if it was possible...

Lately, he has posted many videos that show the gorgeous sprites, lush arcade landscapes and smooth scrolling but Sascha has this week released the first download for us all. This is one of those jaw-dropping moments and proves just what the Atari STe is capable of producing. An incredible release and one which won't fail to impress!

The first download is available right now via Atari-Forum [beta requirements are a 4MB Atari STe w/ hdd]

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Image Runner


Image Runner was developed by Peter Putnik for Atari ST/e computers with a hard drive and 2/4MB Ram. It allows the use of virtual floppy images (.ST / .MSA) to be run without the bother of actually creating a real disk. Think of it as having a virtual Gotek drive but without destroying your ST's case (I bet that gets me some comments!)

This is so easy to use: copy the disk images onto your hard drive and then configure GEM to use the Image Runner as an installed application for either file type. Double click to load a disk image into Ram, just as if you had a floppy in the drive. I must say Image Runner works rather well for hard drive users and it certainly allowed me to start enjoying Menu CDs again. However, it is software so my success rate has been varied - many worked and many sadly failed in some manner. In the demonstration video, I get nothing but a black screen for the last game so YMMV.

The download contains separate programs depending on your version of TOS - I used "IMGRF162.PRG" for my 4MB Atari STe with Ultrasatan. Give Image Runner a playtest whilst saving up the pennies for the hardware options...

Friday, October 13, 2017

Enduro Racer


Many already know that Peter Jørgensen is developing an Atari STe upgrade to one of our favourite racers and I'm very excited about it!! Current betas feature faster gameplay, compared to the original conversion, with extra on-screen colours and the horizon's landscape/clouds being driven using the Blitter Chip. Title music will be replaced with 5-channel (DMA) YMT based upon the arcade scores. The in-game music is also to be replaced with 3-channel YMT because the DMA audio hardware will be used for the sound effects, again taken from the arcade.

The betas which I have been playing with are a fascinating insight into how the final product will be. Even at this early stage, it's much better than the original ST conversion (which I love). Yes, I am very excited about this project!!

I've recorded a video but please do remember that this is work-in-progress thus isn't 100%

Thursday, October 12, 2017

STrange roboTS


Strange Robots was released in 2013 for Silly Venture by BlaBLa and Mandarin. It's one of those demos I've had on my Ultrasatan since the very beginning and is a personal favourite of mine. I love the presentation styles that also display an incredible range of colours with a funky 505 tune enjoyed throughout. What's not to love?

Demozoo has the download which will require an Atari STe with a jaw-dropping 4MB Ram. If you like this, then I suggest you take a look at Circus back²STage, JAPAN beauties and troubles and STreet Art - all excellent demos!!

    

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Horror Zombies From The Crypt


I've always been fascinated with Astral's haunted house platformer which I feel has a charming and great comical character. No haunting would be the same without lots of frightful creatures and this game has everything from witches, zombies, werewolves, vampires, ghosts and even the odd weird statue that sticks out its tongue at you!

Each level has a particular task described during a mini-intro but the objective is to hunt down and collect all the skulls and lay their souls to rest. However, this is one tricky play through a maze of creepy screens which often contain puzzles. This is no arcade-style platformer, more of a Fire And Brimstone so keep your composure wear your patience head, Worzel.

The first level introduces us nicely to the game's personality with some not-so-obvious puzzle solving along with a variety of classic baddies, like zombies, headless ghosts and a Morticia Addams lookalike. Puzzles are quite easy and shouldn't tax the grey matter too much: move a table to reach an item, find keys to unlock doors, and wear cute booties to creep past something scary. Things hot up on the next level with tougher monsters and trickier level designs. I must admit to taking a liking to the wolfmen but I hate the old hunchback witch who can drop rocks with great accuracy! Always look for hidden rooms or secret objects that may need a different type of key. Every level has a password so there is never a need to restart from the beginning each time which is an excellent idea and one I wish more games would have supported (I'm talking to you Navy Seals!)

The visual style is perfectly apt for the 1950's cinematic theme with smooth scrolling, incredible artwork and freaky characters who are also superbly animated. Just wait until you die and see yourself shudder before violently suffering a Scanners-like headache, no matter the actual cause of death! I must say that I am impressed with the palette used, each level is its own mini-movie and looks absolutely tremendous. The horror is typically cheesy so if you think this is going to be scary then you might be in for a different kind of shock.

Audio is nothing short of incredible with a chippy rendition of Montagues and Capulets which couldn't have been a more perfect choice. I'm sure I'll be humming this all day long! All sound effects are high-quality samples with the wolf howls being my favourite. However, I'm disappointed there is nothing for my head-exploding deaths?

This is one of those games that eats away the hours but also requires practice and plenty of patience because the gameplay mechanics are cruel. In fact, it's often infuriating on later levels, just try Family Chapel if you don't believe me... Horror Zombies From The [Atari]Crypt is the perfect title for such a cheesy platformer. I wish it was a little easier but killing wolfmen, zombies and running scared from piercing vampire glares is right up my street. Gory fun!

LINKS

 - A hard drive installable version is by D-Bug with floppy disks available via Old Games Finder.
 - Level passwords: Wolfman, Hammer, Lugosi, Nosferatu and Garlic.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

River Raid


Today I fancied a quick blast of one of my favourite ZX Spectrum games - RIVER RAID!!

Okay, I know it's kinda lame compared to the Atari 2600 original but I have many happy memories playing this with my schoolmates. So I figured I should put some of that Mega STe power to good use and (because there was sadly never an official ST conversion) boot up the Speccy emulator for some colour-clash action. YEAH!!

Obviously, I cannot record directly off my Mega STe so I duplicated this setup in Hatari and made a video. A stock 16Mhz Mega STe with TOS 2.06 runs the game very well - almost at the same speed as a real Spectrum. Perhaps my recording might fool people into thinking it's a real Spectrum? Well, until they see the GEM desktop ;)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Biomechanoid Locomotion

I spent some time last night listening to many incredible tunes from the SNDH Archive. Biomechanoid Locomotion, by Shinobi (aka Marcus Andre Rousseau) was probably my fave of the night so click the green arrow to hear it :-)

Turn up the volume and use these Atari ST programs to play everything from this amazing archive. 🎧