Sunday, April 26, 2015

Fire And Brimstone



Older gamers are as tough as nails!

It's a well-known fact that games where harder back in the day. Perhaps our generation where made of tougher stuff and today's kids are wimps? Hmm, I'd say that sounds about right and I think we have a game to prove it!

Fire And Brimstone was released in 1990 by Firebird and is one of the most visually stunning platformers I have ever seen. Your adventure takes place within a fantasy world of Norse mythology as the mighty Thor who must battle with the forces of Hel. She has escaped and spread her lust for evil over the once peaceful Nordic lands with her minions creating much havoc so it's up us to clean up this hellish infestation and get home in time for tea.


This game blows you away from the start with an oddly puzzling start...


We are the mighty Thor!

We sure are and there are four worlds to explore with each being a puzzle in itself that requires careful thought before you attempt to foolishly plunder through. Even the first screen can confuse many with the solution making little sense... This style of trickery is a constant, and one you will soon get used to.

Each level can only be completed once all the fragments from a key have been found. This means each screen should be searched for hidden objects before you leave otherwise you might end up being punished only to revisit older screens. Which can be an agonising moment!

Thor doesn't only carry an axe but two individual weapons which you can flip between. Power-ups are available to collect and will help to improve your abilities against the hoards of baddies who come in all shapes and sizes - with each one possessing a cunning yet humorous personality. Everything is often difficult to kill, from magic-throwing witches to goblins, old bats and things hiding in trees. It's impossible not to love this game's awesome charisma and I especially love the ghosts and creepy witches who fly by on their broomsticks.


Watch out for all kinds of freaky monsters. Oh look, it's the mother-in-law on her broom!


Aesthetics

Fire And Brimstone offers an exceptional visual treat with astounding attention to detail and an artistic flair that perfectly complements the medieval atmosphere. Characters look amazing and are superbly animated with scenic settings that are always beautiful and a jaw-dropping example of extraordinary 16-bit pixel art.

Music and sound effects are great but they cannot come close to the majestic quality of the graphics.



The CryptO'pinion?

Fire And Brimstone is one of the most difficult platformers I have ever played with killer mechanics which means it's so unforgiving. Give it plenty of time and learn how each screen works and you will begin to make progress. But it's still difficult after lots of practice and I would rate this as one of the most irritating games I've played.

However, ignoring my own painful progress, this is also massively entertaining which can be so rewarding. I love how it looks and each screen is its own mini-adventure which ultimately provides natural longevity by its own design. For all its faults, I love it but I fear only the brave should enter into this fantasy world of torment.


Brave warriors can download this for
either floppy or install it onto a hard drive.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Teserae


Teserae was developed by The Albanian Sausage Corporation - funniest name ever - and is a Tetris clone if you hadn't guessed. But this is different and pushes the Atari ST with fantastic aesthetics that no version of Tetris has ever seen before: I'm talking the whackiest and jazziest graphics ever seen. There's a cool wobbly logo, zooming backgrounds, a scroller and gorgeous music - and everything runs at 50fps!!

However, it wouldn't be worth its salt if the gameplay was rubbish. Fear not because it not only looks incredible but plays just as good as you would hope. Once you've got over the shock of what is a visual carnival, there is actually a challenging version of of the classic game here. I'm not exactly a Tetris fan but I adored Teserae!!

Highly recommended but wear sunglasses before you hit AtariMania for the download.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Lights, Camera, Action! (take 2)

Following on from a previous posting, here are the remaining videos being played using a program called ST Video Player. Just like last time, these are running on a stock 8MHz Atari STe w/ a hard drive, of course.







Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Chariots Of Wrath

Whilst fighting for King and Country, an evil Baron has kidnapped the beautiful Princess Arthena. So jump into your chariot and rescue her. Actually, this really means playing lots of different arcade style games which surely this can't be a bad day at the local war zone, right?

Released in 1989 by Impressions, Chariots Of Wrath isn't just one particular game but instead is a half dozen bundle of retro gaming oldies. If there was ever a mixed goody bag of various games (thrown together) then this is it. Each range in style, from a Breakout clone to a pretty nice shoot 'em up and each must be played in order before you can advance to the next. Of course, each and every game will become progressively harder the further you venture. Initially, I didn't care for the "operation wolf" clone because it's far too easy and a little boring but, later on, I admit to liking this as it became a lot harder and thus more challenging.

The breakout game is pretty darn awesome and comes with a number of power-ups to increase the excitement. I found it rather enjoyable but I'm sure the Arkanoid fanboys won't be quaking in their boots! The platformer looks nice but the controls feel wooden and it has an incredibly frustrating and extremely unforgiving time limit. Asteroids also makes an appearance and plays very well with some nifty new touches that I really liked. Finally, I really enjoy the vertically scrolling shoot 'em up which is both loud and exciting. Sadly, it suffers from amateur mechanics and a little slowdown, but it is still great fun and I did enjoy it with its BOOM BOOM sound effects!

The graphics are pretty cool throughout each of the games with smooth scrolling and lots of colours, so overall my ears and eyes had little to complain about. However, in terms of playability, Chariots Of Wrath almost has an homebrew feel and, with a little spit and polish, we could have had a unique release? The potential is certainly there with this jack of all trades but I fear it sadly falls short and there are better games for the Atari ST.

LINKS

 - The best version is usually by 8BitChip and this game is no different!
 - For those which require a floppy disk version look no further than Old Games Finder.
 - Check out the superb video recording by CaptainD from Indie Game News.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Destruction Imminent



Who needs a PC?

Back in the 90s, somebody once told me that I'd need a PC to play any FPS... Destruction Imminent was released in 1996 by Cunning & Devious Games for the Atari ST/e and is a first-person shooter, similar to a typical Wolfenstein clone. In fact, it's incredibly reminiscent of that era with similar gameplay styles taking place in a similar environment fighting against the hoards using a range of the familiar weaponry.

First things first, watch the intro play through. It's actually pretty cool and is accompanied by sweet music and introduces the monsters that you'll encounter. These are a scary bunch and pretty freaky too!!

 
Here's a couple of baddies that you will encounter like a weird rock monster!


Enter the dungeon!

From the start, the atmosphere is creepy and each level overrun by strange creatures - but not to worry because there are lots of weapons ranging from the humble pistol to the more powerful machine gun, rocket launcher and plasma rifle. The monsters are pretty sparse on the opening level and they're a bunch of oddballs if I'm honest: the Rock Monster is incredibly weird - like a crude Daroou from Dungeon Master, but one made from gingerbread! He's freaky for all the wrong reasons - just kill him and free your monitor from that pixel art.

Controls are easy: cursor keys are used for walking, CTRL fires weapons and SHIFT allows you to run away like a cowardly chicken. Also, side-stepping is featured, with the Function Keys used to flip between weapons/health. The mouse isn't supported but the wooden movement from a keyboard are responsive!

 
Things are getting creepy with bugs and bats. Surely, you're not scared? Come back...!!


Jerky Aesthetics?

Surely the humble 8MHz Atari ST isn't powerful enough for a first-person shooter? You need at least a 25MHz PC, right? Well, ignoring the drab user-interface, the visuals are impressive and using a fast 3D engine that won't fail to impress with texture mapping, light-sourced sprites and a decent framerate. Power without the price!

As for the audio, thankfully, this is equally impressive using sound effects and cool tunes. Everything is even better when run using the Atari STe thanks to its stereo DMA coprocessor. Colour me impressed!

 
Mutants? Nah, they're not scary! In fact, they look like me on a Monday morning!


The CryptO'pinion?

This game is a LOT of fun: the weapons are great and exploring demon-infested worlds is always fascinating. However, the enemies are a bit lame and the Rock Monster proves that - an angry gingerbread man! However, you can't take anything away from what is an extraordinary example of just what the Atari ST/e is capable of knocking out when in the hands of talented people who care about their product. No lame port here.

Play it on the Atari STe if you can and enjoy what is nothing short of a brilliant first-person shooter.


Destruction Imminent
download from my Dropbox ]

Monday, April 13, 2015

Tiger Road


Tiger Road was released in 1989 by US Gold but I always felt it didn't do justice to the awesome original. From the very beginning, you're thrown into an instant hack & slash action scenes battling a constant hoard of stupid bad guys so pick up your axe and thrash your way to victory! However, I felt I was too harsh and played it again...

Well, that's easier said than done because the enemies won't give you a moment's rest and the larger baddies are a pain in the rear end - so difficult to kill these guys! Which is made worse by little visual feedback to help show if you're doing anything correctly or not. Argh, sometimes it feels like I'm hitting away at thin air...

Visuall, it looks pretty nice but didn't really come across very well so sometimes felt like a different game to the original. The Atari ST has far better arcade conversions but there is still something rather cool about this conversion. It's not perfect and more could have been done but the action is fast and smooth which feels just right.

Overall, a good conversion in terms of looks and sounds but blummin' brilliant for gameplay. And that's all that matters. So pick up your joystick and have some fun hacking away at the bad guys. Highly recommended.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Lights, Camera, Action!

ST Video Player is one of those programs that will drop your mouth wide-open with amazement. You just won't believe that your humble 512kb 8Mhz Atari STE (with a hard drive) can produce such amazing high-colour movies.

This piece of magic was written by Cyg of BlaBla (the creators of some of the best Atari ST/e demos that I've ever seen). Movies come in the format of .CAV files so just drag & drop one onto the program and prepare to be amazed. I hope to see more videos released for the Atari STe - very soon! Download from Demozoo and Pouet.



Sunday, April 05, 2015

Atari ST magazines

( my Atari Falcon w/ MiNT desktop and three PDF magazine being displayed using zView )


 The Atari ST had some of the best magazines the world has ever seen and I still find it helpful in referring back to old issues for their features, reviews, and other information. Thankfully, there are many websites that have scans of this golden era covering ST Action, ST Format, Atari World, ST User, etc... So enjoy the read and cover disks!!


Go on, grab yourself a cool mag!

AtariMania is always a great resource and they also have a fantastic magazine section.
Here is a wonderful website dedicated to Atari ST Review, including their ace coverdisks.
Kiwis World seems has bucket loads of Atari ST magazines.
Exxos has a page for ST Format and Atari World with coverdisks.
The Zogging Hell website has a great collection of various magazine coverdisks.
Of course, there's always the newest Atari ST magazine on the block - AtariCrypt!!