Friday, December 30, 2016

Outrun New Year Demo



Goodbye in STyle

I'm going to end 2016 with a brand new release by a good friend of mine - Bionic Nerd - aka Peter Jørgensen. It is the Outrun New Year Music Demo which has just been released so I've recorded a little sample from each track as a teaser for you all. Clickety click to grab this cool music disk right now and enjoy it. :-) Here is a little background by Peter:

"Hi all, I made this little new year music demo because I always loved the music from outrun and I always felt that we Atari ST guys were cheated on. Firstly, there was a track missing. Secondly, it kept shifting between the two other tune every time one would die. Lastly, I do not think that David Whittaker did his best. The music files are YMT format running at 300hz and the reason the program file is so big. In the new year I will make a new sound format, still as fast, but be taking less space but you will need a 2mb Atari to run this. Thanks to everyone for listening and I hope you like this? Thanks, Peter."

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Droid


Out-of-date!
Update article here: Droid Special Edition


Droid is a platform shooter for the Atari ST by M.P. Lord about a robot who needs to escape from within fortified catacombs. It's a simple idea that looks (umm) familiar and it was a very popular public-domain game that had a sequel released in 1994. Sadly, neither made use of the enhanced hardware inside the Atari STe...

Well, rolling on in Jamie Hamshere (aka junosix) who has begun working on an upgrade designed to use the hardware scrolling, Blitter and DMA Audio. The results are outstanding and there's an early beta available to download. As a WIP, this is starting to look amazing and I cannot wait to see future updates!! Watch this space...

Update October 2020
  * WooHoo!! A brand new beta is available to download!
  * Jamie has also posted a new video on his YouTube channel.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

SantaFly


It's got to that time of year when I post something Christmassy! Here we have SantaFly by the awesome Reservoir Gods and regular readers will remember its sister game. Yes, SantaFly is every bit as frustratingly addictive but with a peculiar Christmassy theme. It's great fun and I advise you clickety click and download it.

Thank you to everyone who visited AtariCrypt throughout the year and I wish you all a Merry Christmas †
Luke 2:11
The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Jetpac



Not the Speccy again?

I love it when you find something new - at least new to me. After decades of using an Atari ST, today I stumble upon something I've never heard of before - an emulator called Artemis. It's a Z80/ZX Spectrum emulator by Ralf Hemsing and features numerous options for the technically minded - and seems to perform very well indeed.

Feel free to tinker with the configuration but the overall performance -as is- is more than acceptable on the stock ST. That's actually a relief because Artemis doesn't work properly on faster computers plus there is no support for colour, meaning your game is in black and white. Even more peculiar is that we only have one game - Jetpac
The game comes in a format I've not heard of before --> .PRO
Can anyone help to find out more information or perhaps more games in .PRO format?
Playing Jetpac is never a bad thing and even though it's not as good as the real machine (or indeed the Speccy emulator) it is great to find something new. So, Artemis comes with no documentation, lacks colour support, and doesn't work properly with computers other than the stock 8MHz Atari ST/e. I loved finding this from deep inside the ST archives!

Download: Floppyshop disk "UTL-3025"

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Unheart


Unheart is something that I've been meaning to feature for far too long. It's actually pretty new and was only released in 2014 at Silly Venture by Masters of Electric City. It's based on the original PC game, Heartlight which happily mixes Sokoban with a dollop of Boulder Dash to produce a riveting and refreshing brain-teasing challenge.

In fact, Boulder Dash fans should look elsewhere because this is actually a Sokoban game and a brilliant take on that idea too. We are a dwarf who enjoys digging his way through caves looking for love hearts. Watch out for falling rocks that might block your path or worse, a head-crushing blow. You might even come upon a bomb as you crawl through the soft soil but be careful, because these will detonate when impacting something hard, like a wall or rock. Heck, there are even balloons that will float upwards potentially pushing whatever gets in their way...

Don't worry if you get stuck, hit ESC will humorously explode our dwarf so we can restart. Also, a level-skip function is used to bypass those brain-destroying levels with the option of coming back later (yeah right). The difficulty remains a constant throughout - high - with cunning map designs causing the most intense problems!

The graphics are simple yet superbly detailed using a gorgeous C64-like palette. The status bar is displayed using overscan, which is always going to be a great thing for obvious reasons. The chip music is on another level. It is breathtaking and perfectly suits the gameplay - I just wish there was more.

Unheart is so much fun and pushes you to think differently than you would imagine. Its difficulty remains a constant throughout - high - with cunning map designs causing the most intense problems to overcome. Thankfully, with unlimited retries - and the ability to skip troublesome levels - you aren't distracted and will keep on coming back for more. Unheart is challenging, distinctively brilliant and one of the beST puzzlers on the Atari ST.

- SCREENSHOTS & DOWNLOAD -


Some levels look so simple yet they are not. Perhaps well-placed explosions will help here?


I spent ages on this level and yet it is so easy to complete!! Sometimes physics helps a bunch.


Another level that appears so simple - and is - but that didn't stop me from pulling out my hair!!


I can imagine Boulder Dash fans loving the first level, but not so much the others!


Grab the download from Demozoo and Silly Venture!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Anduril



Wilf is back

Anduril is a high-resolution PD game by Markus Dheus from 1986 and features us as a flying hero. Like the ZX Spectrum game, Kokotoni Wilf, is also a flick-screen platformer with many cunning rooms to explore. Unfortunately, unlike Kokotoni Wilf, our hero cannot walk nor even touch the landscape scenery as that results in an instant loss of life. Thankfully, he can fly like a flappy bird using simple controls: use the SHIFT key to fly with H + J turning you left/right.

I imagine Anduril is beginning to sound rather easy? You couldn't be more wrong and anyone that loves a challenge will certainly get it. The first couple of screens are easy but it isn't too long before the game's true sadistic nature is exposed. Most of the map is made up of tight spaces with which to guide our hero. If that wasn't tough enough, once gravity is factored in, Anduril becomes a distressing adventure for all but the patient player.

The graphics are crisp and detailed but I noticed collision detection, which often worked in my favour so I shouldn't complain. Sadly, sounds are almost void with only a low-volume spot effect for an item pickup. However, I can live with the quirks if gameplay measures up and (after mastering its vicious learning curve) it does but it will take some practice.

Download Anduril from AtariMania and this program will help those without a high-res monitor.

  
The ZX Spectrum version of Kokotoni Wilf vs Anduril is displayed in the crisp Atari ST monochrome.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Pung


Pung is an old Atari STe game which has been released after years of lurking in software purgatory. It's obviously based upon the 1972 classic and currently stands at v0.30 which means it suffers a few bugs that might lead to those infamous bombs across your screen. Just reset and keep on playing! I'm glad this got a release as we have enjoyed playing it over the weekend - it's different with a few neat ideas and I recommend you take a look. Let me know what you think...

* Demozoo website has a download with all the credits and more.
* I nabbed the MOD music file off Demozoo and made a recording. Love it!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Potsworth & Co



Another platformer? Yawn, let's check it out...

Potsworth & Co is a cutesy platformer developed by Ben Walshaw for Hi-Tec Software (1992) and is based on a Hanna-Barbera cartoon (which I'd never heard of). I've just learnt that Potsworth is a dog who happens to have a group of kiddy mates - The Midnight Patrol. The story is, someone has stolen a sleep potion and then broken it up throughout five worlds so, it's up to the kids to return it to a Grand Dozer. Whatever that is!!

We are different members of the Midnight Patrol depending on the level and each has different mechanics for powers and abilities. For example, in the first, we are a girl who looks stroppy and she begins underground in a place Rick Dangerous would love. It appears our heroine only has to open her mouth to kill most of her foes.

Sounds weird? You betcha! But I think you're gonna love it. Read on...



Each level is different and uses the other characters, who come with their own skillset.


Developers who care!

Potsworth & Co offers gaming styles similar to Doodlebug or Magic Boy but, don't let the comical visuals trick you, this game is not easy and is actually challenging. Each world features many hazards and, of course, a wide range of baddies who aimlessly walk back and forth doing their best to make life troublesome. There are also puzzles but these won't have you stumped, it's more like moving a block onto a switch panel (or a teddy bear!).

Actually, this isn't an easy-to-pick-up-and-play platformer, if I'm being honest. I think it has a testing learning curve thanks to a difficulty level famous throughout the 8 and 16-bit era. Personally, I think a lot more lives should have been given by default and there are some parts of the later levels that are quite irritating. But all this is solved by having more lives or (cough) a trainer which means you're then able to enjoy this game fully.

The controls are a joy and very responsive so exploring is a breeze without any sluggishness. When you finally move onto a new level, the game changes your character which is quite the twist. I especially liked the third world where we play as a dog in a candy land which is bursting with cool mechanics and is positively brilliant fun to explore.


No lame port here but there are... walking guns in a Ricky Dangerous world!


Model looks!

The visuals are stunning. Absolutely stunning and it certainly proves what a developer can do when they care about their product. This looks the business alright and feels quite console-y with fantastic environments, awesome sprites, and bundles of colour throughout each and every level. The scrolling is both fast and fluent which means we're being treated, rather than enduring a jerky lame Amiga port. Amazing, just amazing.

Sadly, the audio is the mirror opposite of those lovely pixels and appears to be nothing more than an afterthought. There are only a few spot sound effects and, even worse, no background chiptune which would have been perfect. Oh, and don't even ask about a title theme. That is absolutely terrible and should be skipped - quickly!!

Why is that? So much effort was spent on the visuals and gameplay yet little on the audio...



Another new level and another different character to master.


The CryptO'pinion?

Overall, this is superb and provides a fantastic venture through several interesting worlds. Each is a vibrant and fascinating experience in its own right and, not only that but a testament to the power of the Atari ST when in the hands of a talented programmer. Prepare thyself for a game that is as challenging as it is beautiful.

This is one of the best 16-bit platformers I've played. I have loved every second with The Midnight Patrol so, if I can pass on a piece of advice, it would be this: Don't be a knob and download this fantastic game right now. There ya go.

Downloads for floppy disk & hard drive.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

MonoPack



The most exciting screenshot ever!

MonoPack was released by Shrimp of NewCore and allows the Atari ST (w/ colour display) to run in the high-resolution mode without the need for the correct monitor. Yes, there are already programs that do this but I think this is better because it saves itself onto the boot sector of a floppy disk. This means a fast way to activate. Plus it supports the Blitter coprocessor for faster rendering. Yup, this is an excellent utility!

Clickety-Click to download MonoPack and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Super Space Invaders




It's Space Invaders!!

How could anyone ever contemplate the idea of improving Space Invaders? How about supersizing it with lots of cool ideas!! This is exactly what Domark did with the imaginatively titled Super Space Invaders, an authentic take on the original idea with an array of next-gen invaders to quench our two-dimensional alien-zapping thirst.

> From the start, we're treated to a superb intro you should watch. I can't stress that enough!

When a game begins, a stage needs to be selected and these are presented in groups, similar to Blasteroids and offer a different path. As a new attack wave begins, it's quite slow to start off with and gradually speeds up with each kill. These new invaders will attack using a wide variety of tactics - some will bloat after being shot, thus requiring extra effort. Don't expect the same attack formations, this time they use various styles with some breaking away - Galaxian style!

Hey, let's take a peep at a screenshot of a guy struggling in his daily job. Some have it tough...



The intro is legendary. I absolutely loved it and it's definitely something you don't skip!!



Can't knock the classic formula

An easily targeted mothership frequently passes by and, if destroyed, drops a power-up in true Arkanoid fashion. These power-ups make the game. They sure enhance the entire experience and I love the laser which slices through the alien hoard like a hot knife through butter. I must admit, to taking a liking to that rapid-fire power-up!

If Space Invaders ever had a flaw then it's gotta be repetition. Super Space Invaders attempts to break that by introducing bonus rounds, different stages, and boss levels. One bonus is the flying saucers screen which shows them hovering in the rural countryside. They're trying to abduct cattle, of all things. The groovy end-of-level bosses are in urgent need of a good hiding!! I am especially impressed by the boss after level three which (I thought) was beautifully animated.

Here is a screenshot from one of my games. Looks a bit awkward but playing it is miles better...



Some aliens balloon when hit which is funny but also means more shooting!!



Aesthetics

Throughout, the graphics are generally excellent with nicely detailed invaders and I especially liked the huge insects. Framerates are great but the game will appear sluggish without collecting power-ups. So, come back and properly play using the power-ups!! Finally, the End-Of-Level bosses are a fantastic example of cool pixel art.

Musically, very interesting and I was immediately reminded of Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters. The effects are good but I was disappointed not to hear the famous cannon sounds from the arcade. A huge loss!

Okay, let's see a cutscene and this one has helpless cows wanting a quiet life...



Oh no, now those pesky aliens are after cattle. I need burgers so shoot them down now!



The CryptO'pinion?

I think purists will turn up their noses in disgust at this abomination and enjoy picking at what they consider faults. However, it's a terrific game in its own right and the power-ups are key to getting the most from this shooter. They really are as they transform what would otherwise be a predictable clone into a freakishly entertaining experience.

It's still Space Invaders but with many extras that bastardise the original game. It starts off slow but soon becomes a blast. Thus, I feel this is a very addictive and entertaining take on the original idea. Great fun and highly recommended!

Can you protect humanity from Space Invaders?
Help is stored ready on hard disk or floppy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

a real wallpaper!


Look at what came in the post today from Chris Swinson (aka Exxos). Designed by Darren Doyle for the release of AtariCrypt Magazine and today it's in print and on my bedroom wall like I'm 15 again! There are some ace ST folk in our community - thank you so much, Chris. I'm wondering how long the wife will allow this to remain...

Regardless, I LOVE IT!!! :-)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Collaboration One


   


A new demo group is on the scene!

The Atari ST/e demoscene has entertained us with some incredible productions over the decades. Predictably, these are often by the talented people that made our jaws drop from the late 80s onwards. Well, today we have something different and by a brand new group called STatariART who have released their first slideshow!

It's called Collaboration One and features tons of pixel art created by many people from all walks. Along with the images, there is chip music and a lamer's scroll to read. Let's hope this is the start of something great!

Not tempted? Check out our theme tune by Cornervizion. It's awesome...

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Zool




Whoosh, it's Zool!!

Zool was released in 1993 by one of the most acclaimed gaming companies, Gremlin Graphics. Late in the ST's life, yet they went that extra mile to support both models of Atari ST computer. Respect. At first, it appears to be a Sonic clone and does indeed have many similarities but, Sonic it ain't. That fact disappointed many, back in the day (like me). I guess we wanted our Sonic? Well, I figured enough time had passed? Should I give this zippy insect another second chance?

Our little protagonist is a rather odd critter. He's a badly-disguised ninja ant (well, I think it is!) who is from the "Nth Dimension". He can run, climb, leap and even perform a silly airborne pirouette. Sounds very Sonic'ish!! Anyhow, his mission is to travel six worlds and prove himself worthy of earning the black belt accolade he so richly desires. Each world is split into three segments of progressive difficulty and is littered with traps and countless baddies to contend with.

Sonically cool this game! Ugh, sorry... Anyhow, let's see the first screenshot of this ninja roadster...



The first level is excellent and has a little iddy biddy Sonic vibe to it...



Run and leap like crazy!

There are several levels, the first is "Sweet World" which could be a child's favourite dream: an entire planet made of candy. But these are killer sweets: like wobbly jelly and a cute rapidly-firing dolly mixture! The second is musically themed and features angry instruments like bongo drums and even some nice ones that play helpful musical notes.

Sadly, that is as far as I've managed to get. Very disappointing but, that's me and my skilful gaming reactions. Well, I'm extremely grateful for a handy cheat mode that I found. This allows me to play on the later levels - and the Meccano style in Tool World is excellent. Just carry on reading for more information about that handy cheat!

Zool is a simple game at heart, it's all about collecting the items and, in Sweet World, that is candy. Look at the bottom/left of your screen which displays how many are required with an arrow pointing you in the right direction to find more. Thankfully, losing a life isn't a game buster as there are checkpoints from which to continue your adventure.

That is no easy task because all levels have a cruel layout that is littered with traps - hidden traps! Plus there is a huge number of baddies, of course. However, this isn't only a game that requires lightning-fast reactions but you must replay, replay, replay. Learning the levels is the only way to boost your progression otherwise you're hit by something unexpected. Zool's replay value is massive by default because of this. Whether that's right or wrong, I'm not so sure.

It's screenshot time and this one was (sorry) taken with my phone when using real hardware...



Watch where you're walking! So many dangerous places in this world of weird.



Input & Output

The joystick controls are absolutely superb - intuitive and very responsive - which they had to be. Plus there is an option to use inertia, which I leave disabled. Keep banging on that fire button for rapid firepower and if you tap it again (during a jump) then a pirouette manoeuvre is actioned to kill even more of the colourful nasties in this crazy world.

Power-ups are also frequently available to ease your hectic adventure like Two Zool - your very own doppelganger. Like all ninjas, Zool has an energy shield that can be replenished during play but it can survive only three hits before you're as dead as a dodo. I would have like more to balance it against the number of nasties.

Visually, Zool rocks and I'm sure they've used every colour they could for a weirdly gaudy display! The sprites are stunning and I love the purple dolly mixture. I'm shocked that a game like this is playable on the ST and movements are good considering it has no hardware scrolling, etc. It's miles better than other similar games like Doodlebug.

Of course, it's best when running on the Atari STe. Gremlin have made good use of the hardware with 50fps scrolling. It's a thrill to play and crushes the experience you had when using the standard ST. Not only that but there are more colours too. Weirdly, there is a slowdown in some places which is a shame and doesn't make sense.

The audio is superb with sound effects and optional chiptunes. It would have been nice to hear DMA effects, especially noticeable in World Two - with its oddly silent musical instruments. A missed opportunity, I thought.

Right, who fancies a lollipop? No? Oh, don't look at this next screenshot then...



Right, hands up who wants a lollipop now? What... Just me? Darn it!!



The CryptO'pinion?

Zool is a great platformer and tons of speedy fun. But it's far from perfect mostly thanks to frustrating mechanics that can ultimately spoil what would have been a cracking game. For example, don't expect to whizz great distances like that spiky hedgehog because Zool's levels are designed to contradict his spritely Ninja abilities. There are far too many deadly objects, many off-screen, and the enemies are constantly respawning which is annoying. Arghh, less is more!!

However, ignoring the negatives, I admit to enjoying Zool. It's fast, crazy and it is stuffed with an insane personality. This is a great platformer - especially when played using the Atari STe. Now, gimme some Chupa Chups!!


8BitChip has the download for those with a hard drive/Ultrasatan.
For those stuck with floppy disks, then Atarilegend will ease your pain!
AtariMania features Zool in their ST database plus the manual & code wheel.


To cheat type in PANDA on the menu and you will see a flicker. During a game press:
          -> Spacebar 1 - will make you invincible.
          -> Spacebar 2 - to skip forward onto the next stage.
          -> Spacebar 3 - to skip forward onto the next world.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Wolfenstein 3D


I had an hour to spare before the boss was due home from work, so I fancied a game of Wolfenstein 3D. Sadly, it didn't go as well as I'd hoped!! But, I must admit, it makes a funny video recording. Well, it made me laugh! ;^)

Here ends my silliness......

Sunday, November 27, 2016

!cube



I have been browsing through some of the amazing works to come out of Silly Venture and found a superb chiptune by !cube (aka Toni Lönnberg). Hyper Ocean Ride came second in the competition and is also making use of the Atari STe's DMA hardware for those cool drums. I love this tune so had to share it - press the GREEN arrow below!
Okay, Mr cube has a great website and is also listed on Demozoo and SoundCloud. I have recorded a video of his "Meet !cube" musicdisk which you can download here and I must say that Bullet Sequence is another of my fave tracks (from Silly Venture 2014). Delicious!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Crash Time Plumber




New game alert!

Crash Time Plumber is a conversion of the Gamopat original which was released at Silly Venture demo party. The Atari game was developed by none other than Sebastien Lucas of Cerebral Vortex and it will work on any Atari computer with a Blitter Chip: check the Options screen in GEM but all late models of STfm, Mega ST, Atari STe, and Falcon should be a-ok. Many STfm computers have an empty socket just waiting to be used:
Many newer STFMs have an empty Blitter Chip socket so head over to the EXXOS webSTore.
At first, I wasn't sure how this was gonna go as we've been burnt by so-called 8-bit conversions before. However, this booted up great with a neat intro and looks the business! Based on Donkey Kong with a dollop of Popeye, it's set in 1983 as the gaming industry crashed (which I was completely unaware of being a Spectrum kid then!)

Anyhow, an Italian plumber has teamed up with an angry-looking monkey and kidnapped ten gaming heroes: Pac-Man, Pitfall Harry, Q-Bert, Frogger, and others. They are all preparing for a hideous death at the hands of these criminals from the East so go and rescue them all to foil Mario's plan and stop this invasion.

Sounds cool, right? It is and so is the intro too which begins in Alamogordo (I've been here!)...



The intro is sweet and tells a good story. Also, I've been to Alamogordo, NM. #tidbit



Hang on, this looks familiar?

Taking place on the Donkey Kong construction site, we run along girders collecting love hearts given away by a damsel in distress. She floats by in her hot air balloon and, when enough are collected, we begin a steroid-jumping rescue to the top of the screen and save a trapped hero. Once he's free, we can move on to the next level.

This isn't easy because, not only is Mario rolling barrels downhill, but King Kong is hanging about throwing deadly killer bananas at us with annoying accuracy! Some levels have weather conditions affecting your movement and there's even a harsh 120-second time limit. This makes things quite difficult after a few levels!

The game ends once each and every gaming hero has been rescued. Easier said than done...



Watch out for angry monkeys throwing their killer bananas or you're DEAD!!



One smooth looker!

The graphics are fantastic! A gorgeous 80s retro theme with cute sprites and the Blitter delivers a smooth 50fps display. Heck, the Atari STe even adds enhanced colour fading and Falcon owners get to witness a huge Zeppelin flying by - which I cannot help but wonder why that's missing on the STe? Ignoring that moan, this game is ace!!

The audio is also superb with lovely sound effects and a simple chiptune that is also totally suited to the ye olde style. A lot of effort has gone into both the visuals and sounds and I dare that jingle not to stay in your head all day!

Everything is just dandy and perfect in with a retro and comical design...



Beautiful girl blowing kisses? Come back, my love!



The CryptO'pinion?

Don't be fooled by the humble 8-bit appearance. From the start, you're tricked into thinking this is going to be easy but the combination of fantastic controls and tough mechanics will catch you out. I'm sick of being smacked in the face by a killer banana... but I keep on being dragged back for more of this torment... Am I insane, no this game is!!

Crash Time Plumber is extremely hard but it manages to drag you back for more - kicking and screaming.

Download for FLOPPY / HARD DISK

Monday, November 21, 2016

Online ST Picture Viewer


Often I need to quickly view an Atari ST piccy on my Mac, and there are plenty of options, but here is a fascinating web-tool by Cyprian. This allows you to instantly view those old images within a web browser. It supports classic formats like Degas, Neochrome, Spectrum 512, and even works with drag and drop. An outstanding tool.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Blasteroids




Boring old asteroids again?

Yep, once again, the galaxy is overrun with rocks that need smashing to smithereens. Well, it is Asteroids! Rocks everywhere of all shapes and sizes plus some rather strange ones too: Popcorn rocks which bloat before eventually freezing. Red rocks that leave behind crystals to conveniently recharge your shield. So are you ready for more rock blasting?

I hope so because this game is frantic and we're not alone! Along with rocks, aliens frequently rear their ugly heads! These should be killed quickly to reveal a range of nifty power-ups - such as a double shot or the impressive Ripstar.

Okay, let's end the pointless chitter-chatter with some screenshots...



Who ya gonna be? Quite the selection for different gamers.



But how tough are ya? Come on, be brave and don't wimp out on me now!!



It's all rocks and aliens!

Blasteroids is split into segments with those split into smaller sectors. These must be completed before reaching a gruesome End Of Level Boss - the monstrous Mukor!! Your ship is equipped with upgradeable weapons, a powerful shield, and the ability to transform itself. Once all the rocks are pounded into dust, a transporter appears to whisk you off to the next sector. Come on, don't be disappointed - how else could they glam up Asteroids without bloating and ruining it?

Once all sectors are cleared you will finally get to lock horns with Mukor, a festering evil entity who fires miniature spaceships using his tentacles - so shoot each of these suckers first. That's my big tip and then you can watch him scarper like the fatty bloated coward he is. I actually enjoyed our battles which are fun without being impossibly tough!

This game is superb fun and features cool graphics with a style I admire. Wanna see some screenshots...



Attacks from all angles and tremendous BAM BAM BAM fun!!



Asteroids, but with flashy backgrounds and colourful pixels? You are a cynic!!



Joyslick action?

Controls are excellent and responsive: rotate the ship using left or right, push up to thrust, and keep slamming on that fire button to shoot anything rocky. Predictable stuff but gravity and momentum play their parts to affect performance. Don't worry, your shield will help compensate for your poor piloting skills!! Not that I have any...ahem...

Pulling back on the joystick will transform your ship between three different models: the Speeder is agile, Fighter has great weaponry, and Warrior is a burly beast. Friends can jump in on the action - at any time - with impressive cooperative two-player support. Just like in the arcades - a superb feature you shouldn't overlook (I cannot stress that enough!!)

Fantastic stuff, right? Well, it's time to stop reading and view some rather cool screenshots...



The gravitational effect between sectors is superb...



...and then it's more rock-blasting again!



Aesthetics

Graphics are gorgeous - for what used to be a visually stark experience. I love the nicely animated rocks rolling through space. The enemy ships are superb and all other sprites are large, detailed and well-animated. Oddly, the backgrounds are 4-colours but you would never notice that due to their apt design and gorgeous artistic flair, which I admire.

Sadly, the audio disappoints with lame bleep-bleep sound effects instead of samples, which the ST would have easily handled for a game like this. Music is also a touchy subject as it soon becomes extremely repetitive. Thankfully, that can be switched off, but that only highlights those inadequate sound effects... catch-22. So, yes, I am disappointed.

Looks fantastic yet sounds poor. Can't have it all, eh? Let's view some more screenshots...



Shoot!! Kill!! Destroy everything!! <insert evil laugh>



BAM!! BAM!! BAM!! BAM!! BAM!! So-much-fun!!



The CryptO'pinion?

This is a great conversion albeit with a few niggles that spoil an otherwise great rock-smashing experience. Asteroid purists probably won't like it with all the extra changes and improvements but, keep an open mind, because this game is tons of fun. Ignoring the sound effects, they have improved the genre as best they could, without adding bloatware to ruin it.

If someone put a gun to my head and made me choose between this and Stardust, I fear the latter would win. However, it wouldn't win by much, because Blasteroids is exceptional and utterly addictive. Make the time - play this!!

Download for hard drive or floppy disk



Oh yeah, baby!!! I own this beauty :-)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Atari logos



Having zero artistic flair means I need to cheat whenever I fancy changing the website logo. Thankfully, I've found a couple of free websites that offer fancy text-generating tools so I figured it would be nice to share today's experimentations. Take a look at Picture To People & FlamingText to design your own.

I've included a few various logos which can be downloaded from my Dropbox account. These actually double as great wallpapers and are best when centred, not stretched or tiled. I hope this bundle will give you some ideas to create something cool? I'm always looking for an ST-inspired website logo - can anyone help??

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Legends Of Valour




Swashbuckle in first person!

Legends Of Valour is one of the last Atari ST games that I bought. It received relatively favourable reviews as I remember with its first-person engine getting lots of praise for a 16-bit computer. Personally, I loved it and was smitten by its storyline, depth and longevity not to mention playing in what felt like a cross between Wolfenstein and Dungeon Master!

Our journey begins in the city of Mitteldorf as we are in search of our missing cousin, Sven. He previously set out to find his fortune and is now missing - what an idiot. Anyhow, it's been far too long since anybody heard from him and thus, our adventure begins. Yes, that storyline is a little lame but it leads you into a world fresh and full of strife.

Firstly, you should design your character's appearance that includes clothing and armament. This means you can choose to be human, dwarf or elf and each type offers a different gameplay style and alternative outcomes. Select hair, eyes, nose and so on to create your demi-god or perhaps your character will end up looking like a freak?

Before we begin, ignore my poor capture above as this game is smooth. Right then, let's see a screenshot...


It isn't long until somebody nice and welcoming pops up to greet us, as a new traveller.



Get lost ...in an amazing world!

Once you're dandy, enter the city and heed the advice from the friendly local who pops up for a chat. I would first advise you to take the time to explore and familiarise yourself with your surroundings because this is such a massive place and you will need necessary amenities, like safe lodgings, income, beer to sup, and grub to nosh. It's pen & paper time!

Mitteldorf is a fortress city, populated with interesting characters, secretive guilds, curious places, and even a labyrinth of dungeons hidden deep underground. Of course, these are waiting to be explored, but be careful because you might not like what you find down there. Your cousin wrote a letter which nicely explains his story, why not take a read? Perhaps that might feature hidden clues that could help you out along this quest. Heck, you never know?

All exploration is through a first-person engine not too dissimilar to a shooter like Wolfenstein with fully texture-mapped graphics - a testament to what our 16-bit computer can knock out. This can be configured in three sizes, small, medium and large. Any ST will perform well but the largest setting requires a 16MHz computer or an upgrade.

Initially, the interface is scary due to the huge number of icons but soon becomes intuitive and easy to use. Wandering the city is feasible using the GUI's icons but it can become a little laborious due to the immense size of the play area so a right-click will activate mouse control to unlock its full potential. Which is a tremendous way to explore.

Only some people you meet are nice and helpful. Many are nasty, like this guy in the next screenshot...



Wow, there is no need to take that attitude with me. A festering sore? lol excellent!



Chill, relax, chat with the yocals

Legends Of Valour isn't something you simply play for a few short moments - you live it. Life here is completely open-world, a "sandbox" adventure if you like? Yes, you are free to roam and do almost anything you want, day or night. This genre has always been a fascinating concept for me and, although it's an early example, it works extremely well.

Exploring Mitteldorf is exciting and bursting with fun characters, monsters, temples, stores, taverns, employment and more. I love the Olde English medieval setting which is portrayed and experienced in real-time, so day and night pass by with their own consequence. All the requirements we have in life exist here: eating, sleeping, health and personal safety when in dodgy locations - especially late at night. I find refuge (and a few ales) at The Hanged Man tavern is a good idea, but perhaps that's me? Just don't get too tipsy and end up in lockup. Ohhh, yes this is a game offering massive potential!

Mitteldorf is bursting with places to eat, shop, trade and read messages...


  

Mitteldorf has many interesting places to explore so don't rush and miss a thing.



Explore and turn over every stone

This game is humungous and not something to play on one boring afternoon for an hour. Learning the city of Mitteldorf alone can be overwhelming, so make notes and a basic key to complement the official map. So much can be understood by communicating with your fellow citizens - so get chatting with them over a beer. Don't forget those strange folk who appear to aimlessly wander the streets. Remember, you're living inside this 'RPG' so experience its weird world.

However, be prepared to defend yourself when set on by anyone from the King's faithful knights in shining armour. Even a little old lady can throw a barrage of humorous insults before giving you a good slap which is rather unexpected, I can say. There's only one thing left to do - slap her back!! (tell me you're not tempted?). That's right, why not hit an old lady? Yes, you are limited only by your own imagination and fiendish desires. Explore and live the game.

That is great advice for such a wondrous place. Also, it's a good time to pause for a couple of screenshots...



Arghh!! I've been caught again. I guess I look too dodgy?


 This means I've been thrown down before the King's mercy. Sigh...



The CryptO'pinion?

Legends Of Valour is something special and offers a vibrant and exciting place to live a life of intrigue. So many cool characters, taverns to frequent, secret guilds to master, monster-infested dungeons to plunder, and then jobs or missions are always on offer. This game has it all and, as you begin to make progress, and delve deeper, you soon realise just how much more potential there is just waiting to be discovered. Heck, I had almost forgotten to search for Sven!

Oh yes, I love wandering Mitteldorf but, nothing is perfect and I feel Legends Of Valour lacks in a couple of areas: the battles could have been executed better and it's disappointing to discover most buildings are (visually) empty. Also, audio is limited to spot effects which is a shame considering the number of disks in the box - a few ambient samples or more varied chippy fx could have tremendously improved the atmosphere, especially during the night scenes.

Legends Of Valour is incredible and massively enthralling. Allow yourself to get lost in this advantageous world because there is so much to see and do. This is certainly one of my favourite Atari ST RPG/Adventure games, ever. Play it.


Grab the hard drive version by 8BitChip.
Poor old floppy folk should use Old Games Finder.
A city map and clue book ... and I had "fun" in October!!

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

After The War



Muscles and big boots

After The War was released back in 1989 by Dinamic Software and is (partly) a fantastic beat 'em up similar in style to Double Dragon 3. You are Jonathan Rogers, aka Jungle Rogers, and must assassinate Professor McJerin who is today's nutcase. Worryingly set in the near future during a post-apocalyptic Manhattan where you must kill all the bad dudes and escape to somewhere far nicer than this hellhole! Sounds easy, right? Let's see...

The game is split into two parts: the first is a scrolling beat 'em up. The second is a shoot 'em up platformer. Upon playing part one, the first thing that struck me was the graphics which look amazing with huge sprites, great colour, and good scrolling. I adore the backgrounds and found the artwork and design to be apt for the grungy scenario. Sound effects are very cool and made up of low-quality grunts and thumps with silly cries when somebody is killed. It is worth mentioning the awesome title theme which I think is superb!



It's time to kick ass and chew bubble gum... No, wait... Wrong game!


Kick and punch everyone!

Controls are very easy to master and offer: a punch, a flying kick, jumping, and a get-me-outta-here rollback. Strangely, the keyboard is needed to activate another type of kick and a nut-crushing low punch, especially useful for rabid dogs! Sadly, I found flipping between the two sets of controls an awkward killjoy.

Part two is only playable once the first is completed. Our musclebound hero is now equipped with a giant weapon as he heads off into the underground. Gamestyle is a platform shooter where we need to blast everything, even the pesky rats! Controls aren't great and trying to guide the directional aiming is overly complicated. This stage is okay but I found myself stressing over the controls rather than having fun which isn't good.



I hit him that hard, he flew up into the air. Yeah, I'm so big and strong!! GRR!!!


The CryptO'pinion?

After The War is two games in one which may sound great but, it's not. The beat 'em part is superb with decent graphics, sounds and lots of violence - I enjoyed playing this a bunch!! But that's more than can be said about the second part which doesn't work at all. There is too much going on and it's not enjoyable if I'm honest...

Download this game, if only for the beat 'em up stages and you have yourself a winner. Tons of fun in this game!!

* Update September 2017: 8BitChip has a brand new hard drive installable download!
Old Games Finder has all the floppy disk versions you could ever desire!
* Who fancies a couple of cheats?
          -> Fancy the code to part two: 101069 (tested and works)
          -> Infinite energy in part one, press keys: ALT, 1, B (untested)
          -> Infinite energy in part two, press keys: ALT, 1, M (untested)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Enduro Racer



The Atari ST received a great conversion of Enduro Racer which was programmed by Ian Morrison who also made the amazing Road Blasters. There are five races to compete in against a whole load of other bikers on tracks that are littered with many hazards. The controls are superb and I found cornering really tight and exciting. Watch out for the timer which is happy to tick down until it's game over. So learn and practice the tracks! This is the only way you'll ever beat it and maybe you'll show off those skills by doing a handlebar handstand? It's crazy but it's cool.

Visually, things are a little sparse but that helps to produce a better framerate and boy is this fast!! The music is nothing short of fantastic and typically Dave Whittaker - in other words, brilliant. Overall, Enduro Racer might be showing its age a little when compared to other ST racers but I still think it's worth booting up. Cars are best but this proves that even bikes can look cool when leaping over the jumps and thrashing around tight turns.

This is what excellent racing looks like and I guarantee that you will love every second of it.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Bellum Internecinum


Bellum Internecinum was released in 1989 by M Goss-Custard and is a Galaga-wannabe. Shoot first and ask questions later because these ET's are incredibly trigger happy and take no prisoners. Aliens attack in predictable formations - just itching to be killed - but beware because these move rapidly as the levels progress. They also swoop down to clutter the screen for some frantic action. There is the freedom to move in all directions - which is superb. However, your ship can only take so much damage before parts begin to fall off so watch out.

Bellum Internecinum is a rock-solid shoot 'em up and I've loved every second of it. A fantastic game!!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Chubby Gristle



Oi Fatso!!

This is a story of a fat, obnoxious parking attendant who loves to eat food - a pillar of the community! Chubby Gristle is always hungry and will roam each room looking for grub to nosh on for Grandslam Entertainment's 1988 platformer. This is a platformer and initially feels like many games I played on my ZX Spectrum. Never a bad thing.

Each screen is designed in a similar fashion to Monty Mole however, Chubby Gristle is incredibly tough and perhaps too difficult for the average gamer? As with all platformers, each screen has ledges, moving platforms, ropes, and the expected angry sprites zipping back n' forth which are often awkward to avoid (without losing a precious life).

Visually, it's perfectly 8-bit with 16-bit enhancements. And I mean that in a good way because it happily blasted me back into the 1980s. The sprites move smoothly and are animated using a style I adore - Peter Harrap would be proud. However, I am disappointed with the audio which plays the same tune over (and over). It's great, but we really needed a varied selection and I oddly, found no way to replace that with the sound effects?

Chubby Gristle could have been a hit but the basic mechanics fail due to a difficulty that is off the scale. There's so much going on and it's all too easy for the fat man to bump into something or fall flat on his face. I feel many extra lives are needed to balance things out. There are some great screens but you won't get to see them without cheating...

This is a game that loves to see you suffer. Whoever playtested this should be shot!!

* Klaz' Hideaway who has the floppy and a hard drive installable game (with lives cheat).
* I've recorded a video of my dispare, dare you view it?
* Cheating is never good but Chubby needs extra lives like no other game on the planet. To enable infinite lives, type "buuurrp" on the title screen. You will hear a burp that confirms success. (untested by me) 

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