Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ghosts 'n Goblins

Hard as nails!

This morning I powered on my Atari ST and decided to play the classic platformer Ghosts 'N Goblins. However, I suffered the most amazing run of quick games because I kept on dying, over and over and then over again!

Finally, during a later game, I managed to get passed the red goblin which is a major success because he normally beats me to a pulp. Sadly, it wasn't long after this that I died. ARRRGGHHHHH!! such an annoying game (that I love)!!

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 updated in 2014 with bug fixes and larger screens. After months of tinkering and other 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 that is not only simple in nature but also furiously difficult. 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 and all feature a laser gun shooting out a beam of light in a straight line.

In order to complete a level, the 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 in distinct directions. These can be physically moved in all four directions - continuously until blocked by an object or wall. It's paramount to stop and think.

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 these 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. As you progress, you'll see lots of different types of objects that can either aid or restrict the options open to you. For example:

Closed doorways need to be activated using the beam before they can be used.
Some objects cannot be moved - except by the beam of light.
Some eliminate walls and others present hidden functions.

Watch out for the timer. Yes, there's a timer but I didn't like that at all as I felt rushed which spoilt the fun. So, I would like to personally thank Thomas for implementing a feature to disable it. Finally, try not 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!

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


Visually, this is a nice looker using a clear-cut display style that suits the 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 great graphics. They do not clutter the display whilst also featuring an appealing type of 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 lots of sounds and glorious chip music by xFalcon which are stunning. They have that certain charm that proves chiptunes will last forever and they suit the game perfectly.

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 lack of it. The fact that I can spend so much time on a level - constantly replaying it over and over - and then be utterly flabbergasted at what is often a simple solution. A solution that I simply couldn't see at first. Argh, so infuriating!!

I've been quoted saying, "Probably one of the best thinking games ever released for the Atari ST" and you know what? I think that humble sentence pretty much nails it and definitely sums up this beautiful puzzler nicely. 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 -

Check this out!!! Thank you, Thomas, for making this level :-) It's incredibly tough!!