Sunday, April 26, 2015

Fire And Brimstone

Tough as nails!

It's a well-known fact that games were much 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 right, and I think we have a game to prove it! (hey, before we begin... did you know that I've fully mapped this game? No??? Well, click on the "Game Maps" link to your right!)

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

Check out these screenshots with the first immediate puzzle (that makes no sense ironically). Gorgeous visuals...

This game blows you away from the start with an oddly puzzling demon who always wakes up!

Look out for witches with their rapid spells. Who are also tough to kill!

We are the mighty Thor!

We sure are. And there are five worlds (including Hel) to beat - Alfheim, Anaheim, Nidavellir, Muspell and Nilfheim. Each screen is a puzzle in itself that requires careful thought before you attempt to foolishly maraud through. Even the first screen can confuse and its solution makes little sense... Sigh, this style of trickery is something you will get used to.

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

Thor doesn't only carry an axe but two individual weapons which we can flip between, including bombs and fire. There are also power-ups that will help improve our abilities against the hoards of baddies who come in all shapes and sizes - each one possessing a cunning yet humorous personality. Everyone is often really 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 - I especially love the funky ghosts and creepy witches who fly by on their broomsticks. An incredible effort has gone into this!

Let's view another screenshot from this tough nut platformer with ghosts and a witch on her broomstick...

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

We're in the creepy woods which are full of ghosts. And HIM too! Runnnnn!!!


Fire And Brimstone offers an exceptional visual treat by Chris Sorrell. Astounding attention to detail using an artistic flair that perfectly complements the medieval and hellish atmosphere. The characters look fantastic and are superbly animated with scenic settings that are always beautiful. Jaw-dropping examples of extraordinary 16-bit pixel art.

Be warned, there is no scrolling. To an Amiga user, that probably translates to their usual pitiful Atari ST port whining. But wait, Fire And Brimstone was never meant to scroll and is perfect as a flick-screen platformer. Yes, perfect!

The title music is a thumping sample tune by none other than David Whittaker. It's brilliant and the quality is superb but I must admit to preferring his chiptunes over this if I'm honest. In-game sound effects are great for all the usual effects, but they obviously cannot come close to the majestic grade of the lush and detailed graphics.

Oh yeah, it sure looks and sounds the business alright, so let's see another couple of screenshots...

See that guy in red, I wonder what's his story?

Oh, each level has a secret room. Don't miss it otherwise, you'll be sent back!

The CryptO'pinion?

Fire And Brimstone is one of the most difficult platformers I've played with mechanics that are so unforgiving. But, give it plenty of time, learn how each screen functions, and you will make progress. However, even then, it's still too difficult after lots of practice so I'd rate this as one of the most irritating games there is. Hardly a glowing report?

Ignoring my painful progress (with a trainer) this game is massively entertaining and potentially rewarding for a determined player. I love how each screen is its own mini-adventure which ultimately provides natural longevity by its design. For all its faults, I love it!! However, I fear only the stupid brave should enter into this fantasy world of torment.

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

Saturday, April 25, 2015


Teserae was developed by The Albanian Sausage Corporation - the 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 well as you would hope. Once you've got over the shock of what is a visual carnival, there is actually a challenging version 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)

Update: I've long since lost these videos. Has anyone got copies to share?

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 kidnaps 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 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 make an appearance and play 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 a 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 individual games out for the Atari ST.

Play off a hard drive instead of the floppy thanks to 8BitChip!
For those who 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?

Not me, I've never owned one. Anyhow, let's talk gaming... 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 early 90s era thanks to the familiar look and gameplay styles. The gameplay takes place in a similar environment too where we are fighting against the hoards using a range of familiar weaponry. Let's call it inspired?

First things first, before you play - watch the intro play through. It's actually pretty cool and is accompanied by gorgeous music whilst it introduces the monsters we will encounter. These are a scary bunch and pretty freaky too!!

It's time to stop reading and take a look at a couple of screenshots of the robots and rock monster...

The robots can be really tough opponents at times.

Rock monster! I'll say no more...

Enter the dungeon!

From the start, the atmosphere is predictable with each level overrun by strange creatures - but not to worry because there are lots of weapons ranging from the pistol to the more powerful machine gun, rocket launcher and plasma rifle. There are a wide variety of monsters with some oddballs - the Rock Monster is like a crude Daroou from Dungeon Master. He's oddly cute and looks like he's made from gingerbread! Anyhow, just kill him and free your monitor from that pixel art.

Controls are superb: cursor keys are used for walking, CTRL fires weapons and SHIFT allows you to run away like a cowardly chicken. Also, side-stepping is possible - which is always needed. The Function Keys are used to flip between weapons/health. Sadly, the mouse isn't supported but the wooden movement from a keyboard is responsive and just like Wolf3D.

Okay, wanna see some more of the enemies you'll be up against? Of course, you do...

Things are getting creepy with bugs!

There are also bats. Surely, you're not scared? Come back...!!

Jerky Aesthetics?

Surely the humble 8MHz Atari ST isn't powerful enough to properly run a first-person shooter? You need at least a 25MHz PC, right? Well, ignoring the drab user interface, the visuals are very impressive using a fast 3D engine that won't fail to impress. This makes full use of 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. This game is awesome so colour me impressed!

Yep, it looks and sounds excellent which is always nice to have so let's check out the last two monsters...

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

Gotta love the pixel artwork - stunning!

The CryptO'pinion?

This game is a LOT of fun: the weapons are great and exploring demon-infested worlds is always fascinating. There are no complaints from me, as I cannot take anything away from what is an extraordinary example of 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 scene 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 so 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...

Visually, 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 pretty good conversion in terms of how it looks and sounds but the gameplay is blummin' brilliant. 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!

Update: I've long since lost these videos. Has anyone got them to share? Thx

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 magazines being displayed using zView )

An era long since gone

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 reading, and cover disks!!

Grab a magazine from the rack...

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!!

Even More ATARI ST Articles

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