Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ghosts 'n Goblins



Hard as nails!

This morning I powered on my Atari ST to play the classic platformer Ghosts 'N Goblins. However, I suffered the most amazingly poor performance! So many deaths but I managed to beat the red goblin! A major success for me - as he normally beats me to a pulp. Sadly, it wasn't long after this that I died. ARRRGGHHHHH, I wish I was good at games lol

Such an annoying game - that I love!!! How about you? Let me know in the comments below...

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Time Bandit



HiSToric gaming!

Microdeal released Time Bandit in... wait for it... 1985 so it ranks as one of the first Atari ST games. Programmed by Bill Dunlevy, long before any developers knew how to push our 16-bit computer. However, but my first impressions weren't good as I felt this was a cheap Gauntlet ripoff but, I continued to play. Until my sanity returned.

Yup, ignore my foolish first impressions because I fear there might be a funky game lurking behind those old 8bit visuals. Fwiw, Time Bandit was released for the TRS-80 a couple of years before Gauntlet.

We begin in The Timegates, a place that permits access to numerous strange worlds and each is completely different. These range from ancient Egypt to a bomb-making factory and other weird surprises - like the Pac-Man land. They have their own style and objectives with gameplay reminiscent of Gauntlet, to a degree.

For each world, the exit is blocked, so we need to find the key(s) or complete tasks to escape. Interestingly, each world can be played again for an increased level of difficulty and a variety of fascinating design changes all of which keep the gameplay interesting and progressively challenging. Battles are fought using a rocket launcher and, best of all, you've been blessed with unlimited ammo too!! Very nice and that suits me just dandy.

Yes, this was a lesson in aesthetics and my ignorance. Never go off first impressions based on the look of a game. Time Bandit is a cracker with so many interesting levels to plunder and each offers its own unique charm. It might look like Gauntlet but it's very different and offers its own styles to become a true Atari ST classic.

Budding time lords should download this great game for either floppy or the superb hard disk version!!











- Sixteen whacky worlds -

 
Underworld Arena has many spectators and Darkside Dare is incredibly odd with unexpected twists.

 
Castle Greymoon is one of my favourite levels as is the dingy Excalibur spaceship!

 
Shadowland? Nah this is a Pacman ripoff lol. Welkin Island looks rubbish but is very cool.

 
Omega Complex, one vowel off being blocked. The Sentinel reminded me a little of Tutankhamun.

 
Gridville appears to have rude tomatoes but Hotel California allows us to play as John Wayne!!

 
Watch out for strange aliens in Major Hazard but the Old Bomb Factory takes that to another level!!

 
Cheops' Curse offers more than you think but there's a spooky graveyard in Ghost Town.


Guardian is tough even on the first attempt. Watch out for the creepy crawlies in King's Crown.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Laserball 2015



Wear your thinking head, Worzel

Laser Ball was initially released in 1991 by Thomas Ilg and then updated in 2014 with bug fixes and larger screens. After months of tinkering and making even more improvements, we have the completed product: Laserball 2015. The game can be downloaded for free with the option of buying a boxed version - which is what I had to get!

This is a puzzle game which first appears simple in nature but turns out to be furiously challenging. If you've ever played Deflektor and the like, then you will immediately have a grasp on the basic concept. The game has many screens of increasing difficulty with all featuring a laser gun shooting out a beam of light in a straight line.

In order to complete a level, that beam must be redirected onto a red ball using mirrors and other objects. That means using the various mirrors by tilting them to redirect the light towards distinct directions. These can be physically moved in all four directions - and move continuously until blocked by an object or wall. So, it's paramount to stop and think.

Righto, let's take a gander at a screenshot of the first level that gently breaks you in (he says)...



This is the first level where I learned a lot about when and how to move those mirrors.


My brain hurts!

It's your calculative thinking that chooses where to place the mirrors in order to align the beam of light just right - so it can blast that red blob! However, doing so proves a LOT harder than you first imagine thanks to each screen's design. As you progress, you'll see lots of different types of objects that can either aid or restrict your options. For example:

Closed doorways need to be activated using the beam before they can be used. Easy that, init!
Some objects cannot be moved - except by the beam of light. I now hate timers even more.
Some eliminate walls and others present hidden functions. Dare you experiment?

Watch out for the timer. Sigh... Yes, there's a timer which I didn't like at all - I felt rushed which spoilt the fun for me (so I would like to personally thank Thomas for implementing a feature to disable it). Finally, try not to zap a bomb otherwise it's game over - but you can always come back to a particular level without replaying the previous screens. There is an insane number of levels to wade through - which should keep you busy for weeks! No, months.

Feeling brave? Think this game is easy? Okay, let's take a look at the next screenshot to shut you up...



A timer or not, this level is a ticking timebomb. Look closely and you'll see what I mean!!


Aesthetics?

Visually, this is a nice looker thanks to its clear-cut display style that suits the cute theme. However, let's face it, puzzlers are rarely jaw-dropping and how can they be? With that in mind, I think Laser Ball actually has excellent graphics. Each screen is without unnecessary clutter whilst also featuring an appealing type of youthful style that I really admire.

Sadly, there aren't many sound effects (ahem) beyond the few key clicks and funny jingles... But that doesn't matter in the slightest because Laserball features charming chip music by xFalcon that suits the game perfectly. It's beautiful.

So, it looks nice and sounds great! I think it's time to celebrate that fact with the final screenshot...



And now things change once again with new mechanics I couldn't grasp at first. Killer game!!


The CryptO'pinion?

I've learnt many things about myself playing Laserball both, as a gamer and as a person. Like my patience - or rather lack of it!! The fact that I can spend so much time on any level - constantly replaying it over and over. But then be utterly flabbergasted at what is often a simple solution that I failed to work out. Argh, it's so infuriating!!

But this is a fascinating puzzler too and I've been quoted saying, "Probably one of the best thinking games ever released for the Atari ST". You know what? I think that humble sentence pretty much nails it and definitely sums up this game. And that's saying something when you consider just how many awesome puzzlers are already out for the Atari ST!!

- Download Laserball for floppy & hard drive -


  
Update: check this out!!! Thank you, Thomas, for making this new level :-)