Friday, July 31, 2015

Prehistorik


Forgive my dodgy recording and check this out - possibly the best STOS game ever released?


Prehistorik was released in 1991 by one of my favourite gaming companies, Titus. Yes, I know they released a few dodgy titles but there's just something about them which I liked and they released some corkers. Like this!

Here we have what is nothing less than the cutest dino-platformer ever released. We're taken back to a time long ago when dinosaurs roamed the lush countryside looking for food. Of course, we play the part of a plucky young caveman and we're armed with a nasty club - imagine something like BAMM-BAMM from The Flintstones - but older and with a beard too! Now, add the psychotic desire to club cute prehistoric dinosaurs and you have the perfect game.


Running leap onto a vicious dinosaur. Well, okay, hardly vicious and he is easy to knock out too!

The object is to explore this prehistoric world looking for food to feed your hungry family back home. This means we have the typical platformer that we must explore, running and leaping our way through a 16-bit Jurassic Park. Along the way are a variety of pitfalls and interesting places to examine. Caves are always interesting as they often offer some goodies to consume along the way but watch yourself because these places aren't normally empty! Outside, lots of dinos are roaming and some are huge thus require several hits from your trusty club.

The visuals are pretty and very clean and cartoony in style. Backgrounds are incredibly well-drawn with each sprite looks absolutely gorgeous. In fact, it's these characters which I love the most because they are so funny and each has its own unique personality. They wear some brilliant expressions, especially when knocked unconscious.


Watch out when near a cave entrance, you never know what might emerge from the darkness!!

Prehistorik doesn't really break the mould so I'm sure many might turn their nose up and prefer one of the other platformers available on the Atari ST. However, stop right there because this might be a no-frills affair, but please don't let that put you off. This game is really good fun and stuffed with hilarious moments and plays so well.

It's almost like a Jurassic version of Grand Theft Auto and clubbing cute animals will always be enjoyable. Yep, this game is pretty basic at heart but it's also cute, violent and very addictive. So I say play it - but make sure you're wearing your animal skins before deciding whether to download either the floppy or hard disk version!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cyber Antics!


The "Cyber" packages by Antic Software were some of the most creative Atari ST applications. I remember being mesmerised by the 3D modelling often demonstrated by the magazines. The work of magicians, no doubt! Much later in the ST's lifetime, these were given away on magazine cover disks and I have such "fond memories" of pushing my mental capabilities to the limits with Cyber Studio CAD-3D. It looked so easy in their articles!

So why am I talking about warez that bamboozled me? Well, Martin Doudoroff has written an awesome article called "The Antic Cyber Graphics Software". It's certainly an interesting read with fascinating detail of history and I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I have? There is no denying that the Antic catalogue is rich in the ST's history and you will be impressed to know Autodesk owes its roots to these old Fuji apps. Which is pretty cool.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Team


Team is a soccer game released late in the day by a dedicated company called Impact Software in 1995. Specifically developed for the Atari STe, it makes full use of the enhanced hardware often ignored by other commercial gaming companies: extra colours, 50fps hardware scrolling, Blitter and DMA audio. Wow!! O_o

If I'm honest, I feel unqualified to review Team as I'm not a soccer fan. However, from what I have played, I was impressed. I'm hardly a convert but I did enjoy running around the pitch and having a good kick about! But not knowing the game's technicalities stopped me from progressing further. Interestingly, there is a friendly mode that displays much of the game's styles and playability, like passing, tactics, tackles... Hmm, sounds fun?

 
The left image is captured at the standard ST resolution of 320x200 whereas the game is played in overscan!

I'm sure you've seen the images, above, which shows what Team has hidden up its sleeve? Yep, overscan is used and drastically increases the playable area - which I have tried to demonstrate by placing a menu screen alongside the gameplay. Oddly, the footballer's sprites are quite small but their movements are extremely fast and the screen is fluently moving at a smooth 50fps.

Sound effects are good - when you hear them. During the games, everything is a little too quiet as the crowds aren't making much of a noise. Thankfully, the music is excellent with stereo tracker playback routines developed by a familiar name from the Atari ST demoscene - GRIFF!

Overall, I had lots of fun with Team which shocked me because I hate soccer! Whether it's better than Kick Off or Sensible Soccer, I really couldn't say. But, I will say this, as a hater of this boring game, Team was seriously entertaining so take it for a kickabout and try it for yourself. If I can enjoy footy then I reckon anyone can! :)

LINKS

 - Download Team from 8bitchip which has been adapted for hard drive installation!
 - Old Games Finder has access to floppy disk images.
 - Team's author, Ralph Lovesy, was interviewed for Maggie #16.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Prophecy I - The Viking Child


Viking Child is the tale of a young boy called Brian who is thrown into an adventure that takes him through several medieval lands in search of his friends. He needs to rescue them from the clutches of the evil demigod, Loki. Now, it might look spookily familiar to a console gamer but don't be put off, this is a great Atari ST game in its own right.

There are a humungous 16 levels of platforming fun to plunder with 8 bosses to battle long before you even think of reaching Loki. Walk and leap over all obstacles and use your weapon to kill anything that looks likely to hurt you. After a monster is slain, coins are left behind to be used as currency in the local power-up store which offers better weapons and the usual assortment of goodies. I love the fire weapon but I first advise that you upgrade your main weapon - a dagger. Sadly, this I fear is far too short so upgrade it as soon as possible for something bigger!

  
What an incredible array of monsters to battle. Just look at the grumpy expression on this fella!

Graphics are excellent with super smooth scrolling proving yet again that the STFM is more than capable when in the hands of a talented programmer. I love its gorgeous cartoon-like scenery and the sprites are well detailed, even if the animation is humble. Sound effects work great but you can exchange those for excellent chiptunes if desired.

Viking Child is a creative and technical masterpiece. What it lacks in originality is more than made up for in playability. Entertaining, interesting and challenging gameplay throughout with aesthetics to drool over! This is a cracking game and you soon realise why it's one of my favourite platformers on the Atari ST. I highly recommend this one, folks!!

  
Watch out you don't fall to your doom... or get clubbed by a massive Hulk demon lol

Download Brian's adventure from 8BitChip to install onto your hard drive but those who require the floppy disk images can grab 'em from Old Games Finder. Here are a few level codes to skip your way forward: Forest level: DENIS<E> / Landbridge: THE BLIZ / Labyrinth: SHARKMAN / The Desert: NYMHARSW. Enjoy yourselves!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Overscan Invaders


Overscan Invaders was released in 1994 by Janet Dean under the esteemed Budgie UK licenceware label. Obviously, this is a Space Invaders clone but one with a rather unexpected twist not normally exploited. Yes, I think you've guessed it? This game is running in overscan for lots more pixels and even breaks the 16-colour limit too. The sound effects are just incredible and make this game so much more memorable.

This is a great twist on the original Space Invaders which plays as good as I'd have hoped and is really addictive. Overscan Invaders is definitely one of the better clones and I’m sure all Invader fans will love it.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Ghost Battle


Thalion games ooze a superior visual and audio style which few others could match. However, I don't think I've ever played Ghost Battle which is very odd as I'm a fan of platformers and Thalion! We are the stereotypical muscle-bound hero who needs to rescue his kidnapped girlfriend who was recently whisked away by a giant hand.

Yeah, that's right, a giant hand!! At least you get to travel some of the most beautiful places trying to find her and along the way, you should kill everything in your wake! However, I fear the control and basic gameplay mechanics are a little awkward and affect your movement which feels stiff, so will take some getting used to.

The initial weapon isn't exactly great because of its poor fire rate, which isn't nearly enough to match the demands of a quick kill. So, no matter how many times you try to rapidly hit that fire button, most monsters will manage to survive just long enough to zap your precious energy. It's frustrating and spoils what might have been...

This is a lot like the Ghouls And Ghosts with similar level designs and a few puzzles. The action is predictable but very hard and will surely torment the most discerning gamers. Did Thalion employ beta testers?


Okay, what's up with those freaky eyes!! That's drugs for ya, kids!


What a cute intro... Well, until a giant hand appears and whisks away your dolly bird!


- Graphics & Sounds -

The graphics are astounding with stunning artwork and silky-smooth scrolling which is best on the Atari STe (and even older STf's that have a Blitter). It reminds me of a mix of Ghouls And Ghosts, Risky Woods, Stormlord and maybe even a tickle of Shadow Of The Beast? It's hard to imagine a prettier platformer!

Like the visuals, the audio is absolutely outstanding and matches the pixels for their quality in equal measure. I think you'll guess who's behind the music and it's nothing less than fabulous! Chiptune will live forever.


The opening level is stunning and scrolls beautifully smooth. Now, master those controls!!


There are lots of enemies and they look gorgeous. Watch out for that chainsaw guy!


- The CryptO'pinion -

Ghost Battle could so easily have been a crackerjack platformer as it's got so much going for it and is aesthetically one of the best 16-bit games on the planet. However, it suffers by its own stupid design flaws thanks to some of the most awkward control mechanics I've ever seen. Argh, so frustrating because its potential is immense but you'll see very little unless you spend years mastering the cruel learning curve. Okay, you could just cheat and use a trainer?

Ghost Battle looks and sounds incredible but it's going to need lots of time otherwise don't bother. However, once you've mastered that and progressed beyond the confusing open levels, there's a good game here - nothing beats seeing a zombie on a pogo stick! Overall, quite good but the unbalanced gameplay and controls let it down. There are better games to play on the Atari ST although I doubt they'll look nor sound as good!

The floppy disk can be found using Old Games Finder and 8BitChip has the HDD version.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Sea Of Colour


Credits and my ultimate respects get sent to the following :
Evil - coding | Excellence in Art - music | Gizmo - data | Templeton - graphics

Stop! Download Sea Of Colour demo for the Atari STe right now!

Friday, July 03, 2015

Dragon Lord


Have you ever spent time trying to learn a game only walk away completely baffled and wondering why you bothered? Well, here is Dragon Lord, an extremely unusual multi-screen platformer released in 1990 by 16-32 Diffusion. We are playing the part of a huge dragon who appears to be living in a whole wide world of weird! The objective is to become the new dragon lord which means plundering through over a hundred screens looking for artefacts, killing some fascinating creatures and ultimately battling an evil guardian.

Gameplay is simplistic thus easy to pick-up and it's fun breathing fire onto a scorched enemy. I found the map design a little laborious and would often end up getting lost so I would instead spend my time burning down the bad guys!! However, the control a clumsy because we are a massive dragon sprite moving around tight environments.

The visuals are quite (ahem) unique. Pretty amateur artwork that looks like it was coloured in by somebody suffering from colour-blindness. Ignoring this graphical nightmare because Dragon Lord’s sprites are massive and also of a great and humorous variety! Sadly the sound effects are pretty much a joke and the less said the better!

Overall, I was quite disappointed because I can see the potential but it doesn’t gel together very well. Dragon Lord's poor mechanics and eye-bleeding graphics spoil what could have been an interesting game. Having said all that, I did find myself having “just one more go” yet I cannot for the life of me think why. Perhaps I'm going mad?