Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ghosts 'n Goblins

This morning I powered on my Atari ST and decided to play the classic platformer Ghosts 'N Goblins. However, I suffered the most amazingly short 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 for me because he normally beats me to a pulp. Sadly, it wasn't long after this before I died. Then all my following games I continued my run of death. ARRRGGHHHHH!! such an annoying game but also a game I love to bits. Yes, I am a weirdo!!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Time Bandit

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 the new 16bit computer, but my first impressions weren't good. (sigh). Yes, I felt that 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 style visuals. Fwiw, Time Bandit was released for the TRS-80 a couple of years before Gauntlet appeared...

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.

The exit is blocked so find the key(s) or complete the required task to escape. Interestingly, each completed 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 and watch out for the creepy crawlies in King's Crown.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Laserball 2015

Laser Ball was originally 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.

This is a puzzler which is not only simple in nature but also furiously difficult. Each screen has a laser gun that fires a beam of light out in a straight line. In order to complete the level, the beam must be redirected onto a red ball using mirrors and other objects. The mirrors can be tilted to direct the light in different directions. These can be physically moved around the screen in all four-directions - this is continuous until blocked by an object or wall.

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

It's your calculative decision making 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 aide or restrict your options. Closed doorways need to be activated using the beam of light before they are opened for use. Some objects cannot be moved - except by the beam of light. Some eliminate walls and others present hidden functions.

Hitting a bomb means game over but you can come back to a particular level without having to replay the previous puzzles. What's also great is the immense number of levels to wade through - I doubt I ever will... But... it's now that I disable the timer! My old brain needs to stop everything it's doing to concentrate and I hate being rushed! I don't see the point for games like this - so thank you, Thomas, for implementing the option!

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 but, let's face it, puzzlers rarely look great. How can they? Well, I think this one managed it with each screen, not only appealing to the eyes but also with a clear and concise design. Sadly, there aren't many sound effects (ahem) beyond the key clicks but the music and jingles are absolutely gorgeous.

This is a puzzler that can certainly test the brain cells and in such a way that it's not long before you're swearing like a docker. I've learnt many things about myself playing Laserball both, as a gamer and 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 utterly flabbergasted at its simple solution. A solution that I simply couldn't see at first. Infuriating!!

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

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 sums up this beautiful game very nicely. Which is saying something when you consider just how many awesome puzzlers are out for the Atari ST!!

- Download Laserball for floppy & hard drive -

Check this out!!! Thank you, Thomas, for this level - it's incredible (incredibly tough!!)