Sunday, September 27, 2015

Codename HUNTER


Hunter was released by Activision in 1991 and many consider it one of the first open-world/sandbox productions. I think this is relevant to today's gamer who might think there was nothing before GTA or Battlefield.

All this takes place within a massive three-dimensional world where you are essentially a James Bond with objectives to complete for various missions. These are far-reaching and the key to success is strategic exploration, communication, and common sense. For example, don't drive off without remembering to find a jerrycan and why not look for a medkit too, you never know... It's always a good idea to stock up on extra ammo and use a map.

I often boot up Hunter to drive around its humungous world to explore and blow stuff up! Life can be boring, so why not create a little mayhem and have yourself some fun? Actually, this freedom is the best aspect of Hunter because the player is completely free to roam and go almost anywhere they choose to do anything.


I knew this was gonna be good and it wasn't long before I was Howling Mad Murdock!!


There's nothing quite like this game - jump into a jeep or sail in the winds. It's all up to you!

Incredible is the word. So why not ride a wonky-looking bike or go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air and watch the birds fly? The hippie in you might wanna go for a swim with the fish? Or maybe chase cute rabbits? But why would you do any of this when you can instead drive an army jeep, steer a speedboat or pilot a helicopter? Heck, you can even hop into a tank and blow stuff up, like somebody's house!! Yes, let's be a psychopath. Why not? lol

In some respects, this is years ahead of its time and comparisons have been made to games like GTA and Battlefield 1942. Even when played properly (yeah I should do that more!) this is an immersive and engrossing experience with taxing missions that require a tactical and explorational approach. They're hard but always enjoyable.

Thankfully, the emphasis is always on your freedom and that extends into how you choose to complete the mission - there is no linear path to follow. That, I find utterly exciting. Hunter is extraordinary and I guarantee its one of the best 16-bit games you can ever choose to experience. I promise it doesn't get better than this. A perfect 10/10

- Interest Coordinates -

Security pass = 90, 153
Master key = 164, 169
Old man = 181, 197
Second man = 99, 61
Third man (In rock) = 195, 119
Professor = 49, 115
Prisoner = 135, 239
Injured man = 10, 36
Antibiotics and saw = 151, 121
Monk (in tree stump) = 85, 174
Scroll = 91, 173
Disk = 100, 225
Computer = 244, 199
General's bunker = 135, 239
Officer's red uniform = 190, 65

Download FLOPPY and HDD.

Friday, September 25, 2015

VROOM


I play Vroom whenever I am frustrated with my progress (or lack of) in certain games, like The Immortal and Frontier. Vroom has such a rip-roaring attitude as you tear around the tracks and it's certainly captured that extreme thrill feeling. Is there anything better on any 16Bit computer? (The answer is no fwiw). What an amazing game!!

LINKS

 - AtariMania has Vroom listed within their ST database and an interesting (French) interview.
 - 8BitChip have converted it to run directly from your hard drive!
 - But if you need a floppy disk image then just see Old Games Finder...

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Cannon Fodder


I've just stumbled upon a nifty program for Cannon Fodder. It's an intro that offers various cheats like infinite ammo and level select and was created by "Dr D" from The Casualty Dept. I've copied it over to my Atari ST and it works like a charm! Now, I'm not really bothered about the infinite ammo/men but being able to start on any level is superb so opens up this game. Highly recommended for those playing the floppy disk version - enjoy!! :-)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

App appreciation day


There are some programs that don't get the credit nor respect that they deserve. The ones that we use regularly, that never let us down and get the job done perfectly. Yet, once their task is complete, they are TOSsed to one side without so much of a thank you. Do you know a downtrodden app? Then shame on you!

Sadly, so do I. It's called FastCopy (Pro) by Martin Backchat and is an iconic program for the Atari ST. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone that didn't/doesn't use this funky little thing? I think every ST owner has a copy of this on their computer and, rightly so, because it has several distinct features and here are a few that I like:

   1) A brilliant backup tool.
   2) Essential formatting options.
   3) Actually, very smart formatting. Woo!!
   4) Nifty virus prevention.
   5) Can run either as a PRG or an ACC.

I personally format all my disks using this to make 'em all ready for the stuff that I've downloaded from off the internet. It never lets me down (touches wooden head). So, dear Fast Copy, I promise to start appreciating you more and I send my Mega-ST greetings to Mr Backschat for making such an awesome Atari ST program!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Rick Dangerous


Rick Dangerous is a brilliant platformer. Simple as that really! Anyhow, I almost fell over myself when I found this superb website which is dedicated to this incredible game. Go on, take a look at it and have a guess which is the best version of Ricky Dangerous!! :-) Before you go, here is my video recording to enjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Addicted To Fun - Rainbow Collection

This is a compilation released by Ocean Software called Addicted To Fun : Rainbow Collection which features three classic Taito games : NewZealand Story, Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands. Now, I have already featured two of these games here at AtariCrypt but sadly I've never really "clicked" with Bubble Bobble.

So I figured I should make friends with this game and loaded it up. The first thing I noticed is the tune, it never stops! I didn't see anything in the manual that says how to turn it off but it actually becomes enjoyable bewitching!

The levels are all on the one screen and first appear humble in design, but somehow I get the feeling this is exactly how it's meant to be for maximum effect. There are a few monster cuties and you will need to blow a bubble and turn them into fruit.

"Spookily" very similar to Rainbow Islands and deceptively easy on the early levels but, later on, it gets pretty tough! Don't dare bump in any baddies or you'll loose a life and sometimes they even fire back at you. There are lots of power-ups and I got another shock on level 5 when water poured into the screen and washed me away! In all honesty, I do still prefer Rainbow Islands over Bubble Bobble but this is an excellent game. I loved it and it is also a fantastic arcade conversion for our Atari ST and I'm glad we're now friends. If you've never played it then I suggest you also end your ignorance! As I have.

LINKS

 - 8BitChip has Bubble Bobble ready to be installed onto your hard drive!
 - But if you need a floppy disk image then look no further than Old Games Finder.
 - Fancy a couple of juicy tips. Of course, you do :
          -> Stand beside a wall, close enough to blow bubble that instantly pop, for extra points!
          -> When you lose your last life, hold down the fire button and you can continue playing.
 - StrategyWiki that has a helpful guide which explains the basics for us Bub/Bob noobs.
 - Here is a cool web page and it's easy to see that the Atari ST has the best version.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

exxos

Exxos is pretty much a hardware genius who is always thinking of new ways to make our favourite computer even better. He has rescued old websites like Atari Music, UVK and also hosts ST Format coverdisks along with the entire FloppyShop archive.

Yep, he never seems to stop and will certainly be the only guy I'll trust to upgrade my Atari ST. Chris is a genuine guy with technical knowledge of the internal workings of Atari computers so I thought it was time that we got to know a little more about this soldering-iron geek. Now, this is a pretty big interview so go and grab yourself a coffee, sit back, relax and read. I hope you all enjoy this as much as I have?

My thanks to Chris for taking the time to write (waffle on!) and produce one heck of an interview! Don't forget that coffee and enjoy reading about one of the biggest players on the scene.


Mr Exxos, please tell us about yourself.

Hello Steve :) Well my real name is, as most know, Chris Swinson aka exxos. I should point out that I am not the company EXXOS who some confuse me for :) My handle is all lower case as not to confuse ;) I used to work in electronics repair for about 10 years. This was the leisure industry, So all kinds of fruit & arcade machines to jukeboxes I have repaired over that time.

My main area was Audio systems, From CD players to higher power amplifiers to electromechanical jukeboxes. I also ran the company BBS system, which was a dial-up network for depot's to download software updates. That system sucked, so I re-wrote the software in VB6.


Which Atari computers are you using?

The odd thing is, I don't actually use any working Atari at least currently anyway. I just don't have the time :( My trusty STFM had a video fault a year ago, so its been in bits. That was really 1MB RAM and my 1.44 floppy upgrade. It was a really old machine. Though once I get some time I plan on updating it and bringing it back to life. That machine was at my girlfriends were we mostly played games.


What is your own Atari hiSTory?

I got a 2600 way back, it was my first "computer". I loved that thing. I still have it with 4 or 5 games I think. I remember playing pole position to the point that it wasn't so much what score I could get, but how many times I could loop back around to 0000000. After while I wanted something better. I was probably around 14 at the time. I saved like crazy to buy an STFM. I found it was on offer at a local computer shop, so managed to buy it. Thanks to my father for putting the last few quids!

Later I brought my Falcon 030 and that was pretty much it, I think. A long time after buying my STFM, I got distracted into wanting to do hardware for it. My first design was a 1.44 floppy kit. Basically, it resulted in me killing that machine. Though as ST's were flooding onto eBay I could buy machines for less than 10quid and fiddle that way. That's pretty much what I still do all these years later :)


Are you a gamer?

I used to be years ago. Not so much lately as all my time is taken up with work or hardware development. I loved games like, Super Cars 2, Termodroid, Squareoff, Starquake, Xenon, Vroom, Chuck Rock, Castle Master. That game took me 25 years to finish, my girlfriend helped a bit ;) Back in the day, games were expensive and cash was limited, so mostly I was doing swaps with menus like automation. Though I had very few games back then and a lot were on cover disks.


Your website is huge!

STOS is the main section on my site, I try to keep everything STOS related all in one place. The games, I could do more pages, but with larger indexes and others hosting them, then I don't think it's worth taking up the drive space with re-hosting the same stuff. My site is around 35GB!

I wrote the Floppyshop site as a searchable index where people could search and download PD. Almost everyone will have a copy of the collection, but just having a copy isn't using the stuff. I felt a lot of PD was simply "lost" so The Floppyshop page was born. Recently, I hosted the UVK2000 site and took over atarimusic.net which was a mess and I barely got it running on my server. Its a wonder it ever worked at all, I spent much time debugging that site, getting it in some form of working order.


Why the STOS fascination?

The main reason I wanted a computer was to write my own games. I remember looking through Argos, seeing a few pages of Atari ST's in various "packs". I went for the discovery pack as it had STOS "the game creator" so its the one I went for. Oddly there were only 1 Am*ga for sale, which looked a bit "dull" software-wise so I never went into Am*gas. So you could say if Argos never had the discovery pack with STOS included, then I may not have stayed with Atari's.

I did do some programs. Though they got rejected by the PD houses, basically because there was too many typos or spelling errors in stuff. They were programs like "Data Card" which was an address book program. The only stuff which saw light was MEGA Diskzine where I did 4 issues, with help from a few others. When STOSSER vanished, I wanted to do my own zine and keep the programming aspect in STOS, but also add Tesla coil type stuff, sci-fi or anything odd strange or cool. So, MEGA was born. I barely got issue 4 out and contributions were next to zero. I was doing most of the work myself and about that time I had started full-time work, So I simply didn't have time to do the coding or write articles. I have an epic amount of STOS projects I started but never finished.


Do you have a favourite upgrade?

I think my favourite must be the 1.44 floppy kit. It marks the first kit I designed and got working and it's even still produced today. While most of my work is in the boosters, I of course like the V2 for example. But once something is designed and finished, I somehow start to hate the thing. It's old, I could do better, I want to add more features. So Its design pretty much goes out the window and I am always thinking 2 or 3 steps ahead into the future.

As many know, I am still working on the CPU boosters. I recently went into production with the V1 STE booster which runs at 32MHz. I've basically hit the limit speed wise of the 68000. So I have drifted over to the 020 and 030 CPU now. Ultimately I want something along the lines of a 50MHz 030 CPU, with 32bit access to ROM & Fast-RAM.


England's own Jookie/Lotharek?

I don't really know why I do this stuff lol. I guess I love to design stuff and seeing it working on a computer just gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. I think it's an addiction. Like when I produce the first 16MHz booster, I though yayyyy I've done it, now onto 32MHz... It never ends. Just seeing those benchmark results pushing up higher and higher just wants me to push them up evermore.

I'd like to get the super speed hard drive working properly that I have been working with PPera for a while. Also the STE booster going into production along with the new PSU's. The V2 booster sales funded the ST PSU project, The ST PSU funded the Falcon PSU etc. So you can see how it all works. If it wasn't for those guys buying my items, then likely I would have given up and closed shop a long time ago. So big thanks to those customers as they really help fund more productions which at the end of the day, helps more people and gives me motivation to continue.


Your girlfriend deserves a medal!!
How many Atari ST's are dismembered?

Well, I don't live with my girlfriend, it's why I am not around on weekends. I've taken over her space with all the Atari stock, she doesn't mind one bit. She has the stock which is for sale, and she packs the orders and posts them for me. No surprise I just don't have enough time to pack orders and make trips to the post office. So everyone in Atari land should be thankful she posts the stuff for me.

I'm not sure how many ST's I have. Probably about 10 STE's, maybe 30 STFM's and then about 30 various motherboards. In general, it seems to cost about £35 for each machine as a general figure. So around £2,500 probably in machines alone. If you priced up all the upgrades as well, that would be tough. Things like the V2 booster, they are about £65 each, If I have 20 of them its £1,300 worth of stock. Similar to the 4MB MMU RAM upgrade kit, they are about £65 as well. I think I totalled that stock to over £2,000 a while ago. So if you factor in I have on sale around 40 different items, some are not expensive parts though, then you could probably take a guess of what the stock is worth In total. I would guess somewhere around £15,000 of current stock.


Where did Atari go wrong?

Oh gosh. I think this has been a huge debate for a long time. Lack of expansion seems to be popular. Though the ST did have the cartridge port which could do a fair few things. Atari knew expansion was needed as they produced the MEGA with an expansion port. While the ST wasn't born with PCI slots to easily update it (PCI wasn't invented for some years later aka sarcasm) I think Atari limited the ST's design too much. Everything is just so tangled up that if Atari had some forethought and built the ST with the idea that one-day people might want a faster CPU, then maybe there would have been a lot more hardware add-ons produced by 3rd parties such as Fast-technologies etc.
I think Atari fell into a type of "trap" which is something I try to avoid myself actually. Why do an ST 030 booster when we can have a whole new machine? Why stop at that, let's spend more time on updating the video hardware. Why stop at that? Let's add a DSP to help those audio guys out, let people play tracker tunes on it without taking up CPU time. Let's updated this, and that and take several years doing so until we get an awesome machine that we want. The fundamental problem is, waiting too long to produce hardware, and producing hardware on an "as perfect as possible" basis.
Overall, the Atari couldn't easily be upgraded which was the first nail in the coffin. Then, when Atari did start with the 030 CPU, the second nail was that they never produced it as an add-on kit. I think the geeks of the day would have loved to hack in a 030 into their ST's. Nobody has a crystal ball as to what will sell and what doesn't. Atari made the best choice they could probably make back then. They gave us the ST line of computers and they are still around even today. If you asked an STE user do they want a “super STE” with an 030 CPU and no other upgrades or a Falcon with lots of enhancements, but this would take 10 years longer, then you can probably bet people would want the “super STE” as they could always upgrade to a Falcon at a later time anyway.


What do you think of the current scene?

I think The Atari world hit a bit of a slump until fairly recently. There has always been a community, though it's not like the peek of the computer boom in the 80s kinda thing. There are more hardware guys about today like jookie developing hard drives for us. I think that has helped as people can download games images and play thousands of games.

I think websites like AtariCrypt are good to have. Review games on there, there is like a billion games to which who knows what they are or if they are any good. So games being reviewed with videos and images I think really will help people out in the long run. For me, I have seen some interesting games which at some point I would like to have a go at. (Wow!! I never expected to read that. Thanks - Steve)

I think as people buy their First Atari ST if the first couple games they play are just random, and the chances are they will be, let's just say bad games. Just not enjoyable to play. It's likely going to put that person off and they may not bother with the Atari ST again. Though if there are sites reviewing games, good ones which are fun to play, then chances are those new Atari people will keep coming back for more and more games. But it's not just games, there are music people out there using MIDI stuff. I'm not sure if people would bother to do word-procession or print letters out these days, so I think Games and Midi are what people would most likely to use their machines for.


Does the Atari ST have a future?

I started a thread on just that on a forum not long ago. My concern is: as the ST's are failing, due to bad PSU's etc, in 10 years time there is not going to be any working Atari ST's. If they are maintained, then the machines life is greatly extended. I think it's important to keep these machines running, which is why I build things like new PSU's as its one of the most common things to fail.

The Atari community needs new blood, new young blood that is to keep going. Gamers shouldn't need fancy high resolution 3D graphics to have fun. The Atari ST has a huge games list and I think there is far more variety than on today's PCs. Most games just seem to be running around shooting things but on the ST we have Pushover, Chuck Rock, Xenon and so many more which are still fun to play even after 30 years. I think the younger generation needs to see that they don't need a powerhouse to have fun gaming. Somehow think the Atari games will live on for a long time yet :)


- THE LINKS -

- I'm sure you all want to check out his website right now!
- Itching to see what he sells and is currently developing? I bet you are, then clickety-click right here.
- Take a look at his FloppyShop website which is simply an AMAZING resource!!
- Don't forget to keep your Atari ST clean and free of those horrid virus' with the latest UVK!
- Here is a TV appearance which nicely follows up on the amazing interview with Chris Swinson!
- my MEGA ST thanks to Chris for this interview and we have many more to read right here. :-)

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Son Shu-Shi


Son Shu Shi was released back in 1991 by Expose and is a gorgeous platformer not unlike many others you've already played. It reminds me of Enchanted Lands but with far better gameplay (superbly balanced).

However, the downloads available on the internet are NOT complete and contain bad data which eventually rears its ugly head later in the game. We are hoping someone has the original disks so we can make a copy and keep it safe forever!! Son Shu Shi is a wonderful platformer and we need the original disks - can you help? :-)

Visit the 8BitChip website to read more and download what we currently have.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Satan Stole My Atari

Here we have a brand-new demo that has just been released & ranked 1st for the "oldskool" combo at Riverwash 2015 party. It requires a juicy 4mb Atari STe to run and is fantastic!! Download from Demozoo right now.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

PARCP-USB


PARCP running on my Mac using Terminal.app (Mac on the left - Atari ST on the right)

Getting an Atari ST after all these years is such a joy and I feel like a teenager again!! However, this also means that I have the problem of how to get downloaded software from my Mac onto an Atari floppy disk. This might be the most awesome 16-Bit computer but it has no ethernet, USB, WiFi... So how can we get files onto an ST?

Well, one option is ParCp-USB by Petr Stehlik. This is little device plugs into the ST's parallel port and features a Mini USB socket so we can connect any Atari computer to either a Mac or PC with ease. The next thing to do is decide which of your computers you want as either a server or a client receiving any files you need transferring.

I've recorded a video to demonstrate this: my Atari ST is running the server software whilst my Mac connects to it. The caveat is the need for a hard drive because floppy disks are too slow. However, I have no hard drive myself, but I can confirm that a RamDisk works just fine!

ParCP-USB is a fantastic product that makes the job of transferring files a doddle. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Captain Dynamo


Captain Dynamo was released by Code Masters and is a game I fell in love with from the moment I first heard that funky tune. This is a wicked platformer that transforms you into a superhero, flying up through the most crafty map designs. It feels new and very different and is enormous fun so I'm glad I found this because my day will now be spent playing this great platformer. So let's wear our spandex and be Captain Dynamooooooo!!

If you wanna be a superhero too then grab either the floppy or a hard disk installable version right away.