Friday, December 30, 2016

Outrun New Year Demo


I'm going to end 2016 with a brand new release by a good friend of mine - Bionic Nerd - aka Peter Jørgensen. Outrun New Year Music Demo has just been released so I've recorded a little from each track as a teaser for you all. Clickety click to grab this cool musicdisk 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


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 which looks (umm) familiar and it was a very popular public domain game which had a sequel released in 1994. Sadly, neither made use of the enhanced hardware inside the Atari STe...

Well, rolling on in Jamie Hamshere who begun working on an upgraded version 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 April 2020 -

* WooHoo!! A brand new beta is available to download!
* Jamie has also posted a couple of videos on his YouTube channel.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

SantaFly


It's got to that time again where I search for something Christmassy and SantaFly by the awesome Reservoir Gods was the best choice this year. Regular readers will remember I have previously featured its sister game but don't get the two titles confused, even if they are basically the same idea! Yes, SantaFly is every bit as frustratingly addictive but with a peculiar and silly Christmassy theme. It's great fun and I advise you clickety click and download it.

Thank you to everyone who frequently stopped by throughout the year to read the articles about our favourite (and best) 16-bit computer. I hope every Atari ST nutter has a fantastic time 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

Sinclair ZX Spectrum


Artemis is a Z80/ZX Spectrum emulator by Ralf Hemsing. It features numerous options for the technically minded but sticking with the defaults seem to work well. Performance is more than acceptable but there appears to be no support for colour and only one game is included. Well, good job that it's a good one - Jetpac!

Strangely, that isn't in a snapshot format but ".PRO" which is something I have never heard of before. Can anyone please help me locate other games in this peculiar format? Thanks!

Artemis comes with no docs, lacks colour and doesn't work properly with any computer faster than the 8MHz Atari ST/e. But it's always great to discover "new" software and, whilst it might not beat the Speccy emulator, it did run Jetpac better than I imagined. I wonder what other goodies are lurking 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...


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.

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.


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


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

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.

Grab the download from Demozoo and links to Silly Venture!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Anduril


Anduril is a high-resolution PD game by Markus Dheus from all the way back in 1986 and features a winged hero stuck inside a 2D world of object collecting. Like the ZX Spectrum game, Kokotoni Wilf, this is also a flick-screen platformer with many cunning rooms for us to explore on our item-collecting journey. Unfortunately, unlike Kokotoni Wilf, our hero cannot walk nor even touch the landscape scenery as it results in an instant loss of a life... Thankfully, he can fly like a flappy bird using simple controls: use the SHIFT key to fly with H + J turning you left or 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 that. 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 incredibly 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 colourful ZX Spectrum version of Kokotoni Wilf vs Anduril displayed using crisp Atari ST monochrome.

The graphics are crisp and detailed but I noticed odd 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 so, if you're willing to put in the time, Anduril is one seriously addictive game which I recommend - stick with it.

You can download Anduril from the AtariMania website and this program will help if you've no high-res monitor.

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.

LINKS

 - 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


Here we have a cute platformer released in 1992 by Hi-Tec Software, based on an old Hanna-Barbera cartoon (which I'd never heard off until today). Okay, so I've learned that Potsworth is a dog who happens to have a group of kiddy friends called The Midnight Patrol. Well, someone has stolen a sleep potion and conveniently placed the pieces within five silly worlds. So, now it's up to these kids to return it to the Grand Dozer, whatever that is!!

This means we get to be each of these kiddy characters from the tv show. First up is a rather stroppy looking girl who's adventure oddly places her underground in a place that reminds me of Rick Dangerous.

Ahh... when developers go that extra mile. No lame port here!!

There is a wide range of baddies that aimlessly walk back and forth doing their best to make life troublesome but it appears our heroine only has to open her mouth to kill (most of) them. You'll get used to this... It's a typical platformer in most respects but with the twist of changing character for each new level. Which is shockingly cool.

There are lots of puzzles to solve but don't worry too much because rocket scientists need not apply. These simple puzzles might require dropping a heavy block (or teddy bear!) onto a switch... but they always add a spark of interest to your adventure. Each new level has us changing character and I especially enjoyed the third - we're a dog in candy land as this is bursting with cool mechanics and is positively interesting to explore.


Another level and we're another character from the cartoon!

The one thing which remains a constant throughout is the superb controls that are precise, responsive and without lag. The visuals are truly superb with fantastic locations, awesome sprites, and loads of colour with scrolling that is both fast and fluent. Audio is sadly the mirror opposite and appears to be nothing more than an afterthought with only a few spot effects and no background chiptune. The theme tune is even worse and should be skipped as quickly as is possible, just like in Alien World which is another humongous audio disaster!!

So, ignoring the audio, what didn't I like about this amazing platformer? Well, more lives would have been a bonus. Especially when learning the game's cruel nature and finicky jumps. There's not an awful lot to moan about.


Each level is different and gets progressively harder too!

There might be a few frustrating quirks but I feel Potsworth & Co is one of the best platformers I've played on any computer and is also a testament to the power of the Atari ST. Get ready for an incredible venture through immensely interesting worlds and I'm sure all platformer fans will love this hidden GEM as much as I have. Superb game!

Play this cracker using floppy disk or hard drive.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

MonoPack


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!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters


Probably the best titled Atari ST game!! Not only that, but this is a fantastic game and one I featured about a year ago and found it to be one of the most frantically zany shooters I have played but just look at the a-m-a-z-i-n-g box art which is both colourful and comical. Yep, this is certainly one which I'm proud to have in my collection.

Grab yourself a download on either floppy or for hard disk and kill those aliens!! Enjoy :-)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Super Space Invaders


How could anyone ever contemplate improving Space Invaders? How about supersizing it with lots of cool new ideas!! Which is exactly what Domark 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 which you should watch. When the game begins, each stage is presented in groups, similar to Blasteroids offering a different path through with each wave starting slowly to gradually speed up with each kill. However, these new invaders attack as a wide variety of targets for our gun love - some will bloat after being shot, thus requiring extra effort for the kill. Don't expect the same attack formations, this time the aliens will use various styles with some breaking away - Galaxian style!


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


An easily-targeted mothership frequently passes by and, if destroyed, drops a power-up in true Arkanoid fashion. These power-ups make the entire experience something very special - I love the laser which slices through the alien hoard like a hot knife through butter. And, 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. But Super Space Invaders attempts to break that by introducing bonus rounds - flying saucers will invading the rural countryside abducting cattle, of all things. Finally, groovy end of level bosses are on guard and in urgent need of a good hiding!! I am especially impressed by the boss after level three which I thought was beautifully animated.


Some aliens balloon when hit and bonus rounds are pretty cool trying to protect moo cows!


Throughout, the graphics are generally excellent with nicely detailed invaders and I especially liked the huge insects and End Of Level bosses - brilliant examples of cool pixel art. Audio is great, from that incredible intro video to the game itself. However, I was a little disappointed not to hear the famous cannon sound effect... Musically, very interesting and I was immediately reminded me of Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters.

I think purists will probably turn up their nose in disgust at this abomination. However, it is a great game in its own right and the use of power-ups transports what might have been a predictable clone into a freakishly fun game. Far more addictive than I first imagined and I love the game so much I bought myself a copy!

Can you protect humanity from the 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 up...

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Collaboration One


 
 

The Atari ST/e demoscene has entertained us with some incredible productions over the decades. Predictably, these are often by the same talented people that made our jaws drop from the late 80s onwards. Well, today we have something different 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 different people from all walks. Along with the images, there is chipmusic and a lamer's scroll to read. Let's hope this is the start of something great!

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The AtariCrypt Magazine!!



I am extremely proud to announce the availability of AtariCrypt Magazine!! That's right folks, a brand new magazine STuffed to the brim with 16-bit gaming goodness. It was designed by none other than Darren Doyle so I'm sure you will appreciate his creative talent that promotes our reviews, interviews, and much more.

So, the joy of Christmas has come early for the Atari ST nutter but, best of all, this magazine is a free download. My way of saying a Mega ST thank you for supporting my website over the years. So I hope you all enjoy flicking through the world's latest Atari ST magazine? Here's to more retro gaming in 2017 and beyond - Merry Christmas!

Although the magazine is completely free there is an option to support us via Patreon :)

Clickety Click & download AtariCrypt Magazine.

Here is a little more for all you ST nutters: an A1-sized poster for your bedroom wall!!

And perhaps a little Power Without The Price to finish off this great day.


 

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Zool


Zool was released in 1993 by one of the most acclaimed gaming companies, Gremlin Graphics who have gone that extra mile to support both models of Atari ST computer. At first, this appears to be a Sonic clone and does indeed have many similarities but, Sonic it ain't. This disappointed many back in the day (like me) but I figured enough time had passed and I really should give this zippy insect another second chance...

Our little protagonist is a rather odd critter. 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. 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, of course, are littered with traps and countless baddies to contend with.

The first is "Sweet World" which could be a child's favourite dream: an entire planet made of candy. But these sweets 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. However, this is about as far as I've managed to get so I'm extremely grateful for a handy cheat mode which allows me to play on the later levels (and I must admit to being laughably impressed by the Meccano-styles in Tool World)


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


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

Collecting the items is the name of the game and, in Sweet World, that means 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, there are restart points from which to continue your adventure but it will never be easy as each level has such a cruel layout littered full of traps - and a huge number of baddies. Beware, lots of practice is required!!

Controls are absolutely superb - intuitive and very responsive - with an option to use inertia, which I personally 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. 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 which can be replenished during play but it can survive only three hits before you're as dead as a dodo.

Visually, Zool rocks and I'm sure they've used every colour they could for a weirdly gaudy display with beautiful sprites - I love the purple dolly mixture. Atari STe users will be thrilled to witness more colours and their screen scrolling along at an alarming 50fps. However, there is a slowdown in places which is a shame. 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, hands up who wants a lollipop now? What... Just me? Darn it!!


This ninja is nimble and makes use of the Atari STe hardware. Why couldn't more have done this?

Zool is great but 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 oddly 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!!

LINKS AND CHEATS

 - 8BitChip always has the best download for those with a hard drive/Ultrasatan.
 - For those stuck with floppy disks, then Old Games Finder will ease your pain!
 - AtariMania not only feature Zool in their ST database website but also have the manual and code wheel!
 - To cheat simply type in PANDA on the main 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 and I fancied a quick game of Wolfenstein 3D. Sadly, it didn't go as well as I'd hoped but, I must admit, it made for a funny video recording which made me laugh! ;^)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

!cube


I've 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


This is a conversion of the Gamopat original released only days ago at Silly Venture and our Atari game was developed by Sebastien Lucas of Cerebral Vortex. It works on any Atari computer with a Blitter Chip, which means the Mega ST, Atari STe, and the Falcon (so if your STFM has an empty socket then you know what to do).

Many STFMs have an empty Blitter Chip socket so head over to the EXXOS webSTore.

I wasn't sure what to expect as I was greeted with an authentic 8Bit-styled platformer. It's based on Donkey Kong with a dollop of Popeye and is set in 1983, before the video gaming industry crash. A certain Italian plumber has teamed up with an angry-looking monkey and have kidnapped ten favourite gaming heroes: Pac-Man, Pitfall Harry, Q-Bert, Frogger, and others who are all preparing for a hideous death at the hands of these terrible criminals from the East! So rescue them all to foil Mario's plan and stop this invasion to save the gaming industry.


The intro is short but sweet when telling the story. Also, I've been to Alamogordo twice. #tidbit

Taking place on the donkey kong construction site, we collect love hearts given freely 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 to save a gaming hero. This won't be easy because not only is Mario is rolling barrels downhill but King Kong is hanging about throwing his killer bananas with annoying accuracy! Also, some levels have weather conditions affecting your movement but don't forget about the harsh 120 seconds time limit.

The graphics are fantastic for a gorgeous 80s retro theme. The sprites are cute and the Blitter produces smooth 50fps scrolling. 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 this is missing on the STe? Audio is superb with lovely sound effects and a simple chiptune that is also totally suited to the ye olde style. Everything is perfect.


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

Don't be fooled by the humble appearance, from the start you're tricked into thinking this is going to be easy! However, the combination of fantastic controls and extremely tough mechanics will catch you out - I'm sick of being smacked in the face by a killer banana but somehow I'm always being dragged back for more torment!!

Crash Time Plumber is addictive. It's extremely hard but it somehow manages to keep dragging you back for more - kicking and screaming! If you play just one game today then I suggest you start loading this up. Right now.

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


Once again, the galaxy is overrun by rocks which somebody must smash into smithereens. Yup, this is asteroids and the rocks come in all shapes and sizes. Along with the standard variety, there are also others: Popcorn rocks which bloat before eventually freezing. Red rocks will leave behind crystals to conveniently recharge your shield.

However, we're not alone! Beware of aliens who frequently rear their ugly heads and should be killed quickly to reveal a range of nifty power-ups - such as a double shot or the impressive Ripstar. Let the fun begin!!

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

Blasteroids is split into segments and each is split into smaller sectors which must be completed before reaching a gruesome End Of Level Boss - the monstrous Mukor!! Your ship is equipped with upgradeable weapons, a powerful shield, the ability to transform itself and once all the rocks are pounded into dust a transporter appears to whisk you off to the next sector - to do it all over again. Come on, don't be disappointed - it is Asteroids after all.

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 those suckers first. 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!

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

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. Gravity and momentum play their parts to affect performance but don't worry because your shield will help to compensate for any 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 the best weaponry, and Warrior is a burly beast. Friends can jump in on the action - at any time - with impressive co-operative two-player support. Just like in the arcades - what a superb feature!!!

 
The gravitational effect between sectors is superb and then it's more rock-blasting again!

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

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

 
BAM!! BAM!! BAM!! BAM!! BAM!! Destroy everything in sight!!

This is a good conversion with a few silly niggles that spoil an otherwise great rock-smashing experience. Asteroid purists probably won't like this but keep an open mind because it is tons of fun albeit with that music. However, I fear Stardust is still my favourite but Blasteroids and Asteroidia tied for a respectable second place.

Blasteroids can be installed to hard drive or ran from floppy - and I own this too!!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Alcatraz


Regular visitors to the best Atari ST gaming website (aka AtariCrypt) will know that I bought Alcatraz earlier this year. Such an underrated game which, takes a little while to master, but offers superb stealth and action gameplay with a first-person scene that still makes me drool. My copy was sealed and Alcatraz is one of my prized possessions!

LINKS

 - I messed about with the two-player support in my video recording (even without any friends ...BooHoo)
 - Those unlucky enough not to own this beauty should download the D-Bug's awesome hack!
 - Old Games Finder has all the floppy disk versions you could shake a stick at!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Atari wallpapers


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 and I figured it would be nice to share today's experimentations. Take a look at Picture To People & FlamingText and design your own graphics.

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? Let me know, go create #STatariART ....reply here if you dare! :-)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Legends Of Valour

[appologies for my jerky/tearing capture - As you can imagine, the Atari ST game does not do this!]

Legends Of Valour is one of the last Atari ST games I purchased and it received relatively favourable reviews. However, I was smitten by its depth and longevity not to mention the first-person aspect and superb packaging!

Our adventure begins in the city of Mitteldorf in search of our missing cousin, Sven who previously set out to find his fortune. However, it's been far too long since anybody heard from him and thus our adventure begins. Firstly, you should design your character's appearance, clothing, and armament. You can be either human, dwarf or elf with each profile offering a different game style and objectives. Select hair, eyes, nose and so on to create your demi-god or (like me) perhaps your character will end up looking like something from a freak show?

 
Does the first screen say "DOS"? Anyhow, it's not long until you begin your ST adventure.

Once you're dandy, enter into the city and heed the advice from the friendly local that pops-up for a chat. I would first advise you 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. Mitteldorf is a fortress city, populated with some very interesting characters, secretive guilds, curious places, and even a labyrinth of dungeons hidden deep underground. Of course, these are just itching 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 it features hidden hints that should help you along your journey. 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 display sizes, small, medium and large. Any ST will be fine but the largest setting requires a 16MHz CPU minimum. Initially, the interface is a little 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, and is also tremendously good fun.


It isn't long before abusive name-calling begins... but a festering sore!! Really?


I'm not standing for that and throw a few punches. Life here is never dull!!

Legends Of Valour isn't something you simply play - you live it. Life here is completely open-world, a "sandbox" adventure, where you are free to roam and do almost anything you want. This has always been a fascinating concept for me and, although this is an early example of the genre, 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 usual requirements we have in life also exist here: eating, sleeping, health and our personal safety when in dodgy locations - especially late at night. I find refuge in a few ales at The Hanged Man tavern is often the best option, but perhaps that's me? Just don't get too tipsy and end up in lockup!

 

Mitteldorf has lots of interesting places to trade, eat dodgy food and read messages...

This game is humungous and not something to play one boring afternoon. 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 learned by communicating with your fellow citizens so get chatting to them over a beer or perhaps those strange folk that appear to aimlessly wander the streets. 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. There's only one thing left to do - slap her back!! (tell me you're not tempted?) :)

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 thought out a bit better and it's disappointing to discover most buildings are empty of furniture. Also, audio is limited to spot effects which is a shame considering the number of disks in the box, I think some ambient samples or more varied chippy fx could have tremendously improved the atmosphere, especially at night.

 
Arghh!! I've been caught being dodgy (yet again) and thrown down before the King's mercy.

Legends Of Valour is something very special and offers a vibrant and exciting place to live. 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 in deeper, you soon realise just how much more potential it features. Heck, I had forgotten all about searching for cousin Sven!

Not perfect but so close and incredibly entertaining and an enthralling adventure. So, allow yourself to get lost in this immensely rewarding adventure because it is most certainly one of my favourite Atari ST games, ever.

This is best ran from a hard drive so use 8BitChip.
Those stuck with the floppy should try
Old Games Finder.
Here is a city
map and clue book so I had fun in October!!