Sunday, February 28, 2016


Wanna race? Bring a gun!

Road Blasters - an arcade conversion by US Gold that attempts to recreate the speed and thrills of the original. Imagine a Bullrun Rally event through 50 overcrowded highways where you must win each in order to progress on to the next. Yep, nothing new but I'm sure you already know that this is still going to be tons of fun, right?

What makes this game different from many other racers is a combination of driving and shooting. This means your gleaming red sports car has a mounted machine gun. The easiest targets are the yellow cars which are a quick kill, but the motorbikes are a pest because of their tiny size. Occasionally, several jeeps will swarm around you like something from a Mad Max movie for a hair-raising moment - so react quickly and viciously. Take no prisoners, kill everyone. Oh, yeah!!

Right, it's time to break up the reading with a screenshot. And I want one with a green blob...

Bubble City sounds like a cool place - I must drive there!


Watch out for other various hazards like oil spills, roadside turrets, bullet-proof purple cars and those darn proximity mines. Fortunately, you do seem to have friends, a futuristic aircraft frequently flies by with power-ups: speed boost, extra weapons, shields, etc... However, it takes lots of practice to precisely collect these goodies!

At your disposal is a limitless supply of replacement cars but they are all fuel-greedy, so if you run dry then it's game over. Luckily, fuel pods are available which can be collected by simply driving through them for an instant top-up. Your car is also equipped with a reserve fuel tank which should only be relied upon as a last resort, but the good news is that it's replenished at the end of each race. Well, depending on your performance of course. So keep practising!

Oh, it's sounding very exciting, isn't it? Well, I think it's still time for another screenshot...

Fast cars and guns. What more could you ever desire?

Input & Output!

The controls are sharp with responsive steering that retains an arcade experience - as much as is possible with a joystick. No complaints here, because I found the car handled excellently and instantaneously took to it.

Visually, this is an older generation of racer on the Atari ST, more like a Crazy Cars 2 than the third or even a Lotus 2. I never expected arcade-quality visuals but it retains a good feeling of the original whilst not being the best you'll get from an Atari ST. It's colourful but also a bit bland in decor and with stodgy sprites. But I like it, sorry, not sorry!

The sound effects are pretty good and better than Lotus Turbo and I really enjoyed the music. Nuff said.

Now is the time to drive like Knight Ride to collect those goodies from above!

The CryptO'pinion?

I've loved this old arcade speedster, it might not be perfect but at least it's nothing like that dreadful Outrun. And we're armed so that's basically one hell of an added bonus and is probably the best of that ilk on the Atari ST. Having spent several nights playing this, it's certainly got that "just one more go" factor. A much-underrated game that deserves more attention because it's fast, thrilling and the car has a gun. What more could you want? So much fun and I love it.

There is a fantastic hdd version to download or
the floppies if you desire that authenticity!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


The good old days?

Back in the 90s, Christoph Zwerschke developed a Sinclair ZX81 emulator for the Atari ST. Believe it or not but I've never actually owned or even used this old Sinclair computer before! From what I know, this computer is mute and cannot make a sound! Plus the graphics are actually made up of monochrome blocks rather than colourful pixels. Yikes!

This might all sound rather lame but there is a certain charm to the itsy-bitsy computer with less processing power than your average kettle. So I powered on this quirky computer and even took a stab at programming... Well...

20 GOTO 10

The good news is that even the stock Atari ST should be able to run any of its games perfectly fine - from either a floppy or (better still) a hard drive device. However, if you feel that the ZX81 is running in overdrive, then hit the UNDO key and adjust the speed limiter. I needed to do this for Pac-Man which was otherwise insanely too fast!

Yep, I might never have owned a ZX81 but I was shocked to discover many games that are surprisingly very playable. Albeit without sound or pixels... For starters, 3D Monster Maze by Malcolm Evans is a great example and is highly regarded as one of the best reasons why people many adore this old paperweight. Truly, this game is way ahead of its time and perhaps even the first survival horror game using a first-person perspective? (check out Retro Resolution for a review!).

I gotta say, Mazogs is something else!! (have you played Bugziacs?)

The CryptO'pinion?

This is a fantastic emulator and one that feels complete and robust. It provides an opportunity to play games from an era when fancy graphics and 3D sounds weren't necessary. A time when only gameplay mattered (tell that to today's millennials). Give it a whirl and boot up this fantastic emulator to flip your Atari ST into a Sinclair ZX81.

Party like it's 1981 and have tons of fun. Win, Win!! :^) Scroll down for more ZX81 games that I really liked...

I was also equally impressed by the simplicity of Galaxians.

Castle Of Carmain is just downright awesome fun!!

The mighty 3D Labyrinth is thrilling.

Saturday, February 20, 2016


Steve McQueen?

I have just received a factory-sealed treat, a copy of Alcatraz by Infogrames. I thought about leaving it as is but, within milliseconds, I had ripped it open!! Mint condition and I love the contents of this hidden gem.

Hostages fans will appreciate it but surely that goes without saying? This time, the head honcho of a nasty drug cartel has taken shelter in Alcatraz prison and he happens to be surrounded by many loyal henchmen. Yep, you've probably already guessed that it's your job to sneak in, kill the bad guys, destroy everything and escape in the nick of time.

Well, in light of that stunning revelation, I think we should take a look at a screenshot...

The first stage displays the coop action and reveals that strength comes from stealth.

Take it easy, take it slow

This isn't a gung-ho game, Alcatraz demands stealth and careful covert tactics. The starting level first appears in the style of an arcade beat 'em up but is actually the complete opposite. Tread lightly because firing your loud weapon isn't always the answer! Use the darkness to your advantage by nipping into the background scenery, avoiding any unwelcome attention. It's fantastic being able to hide and watch the enemy oblivious to you lurking in the shadows!!

This won't always be the answer of course, so you may need to resort to a little gunplay now and then. However, it's worth considering your weapon choice: why not silently throw a knife instead of using your BAM BAM noisy gun? And it's this way of thinking that makes Alcatraz very exciting to play. It's like you're there being sneaky and covert. Love it.

This next screenshot is for those who often go out at night and hide in the darkness...

Take cover in the shadows and wait for the best moment to step out and take 'em by surprise!

But is it fun?

Initially, I admit I wasn't sure about this game if I'm dreadfully honest. The controls can feel a bit fluffy, but stick with it and you will master that within a few plays. What is immediately superb is the support for two players in coop who can enjoy each mission simultaneously. This really makes a difference compared to going solo for such demanding missions.

Venturing deeper inside Alcatraz, the game changes to a first-person shooter, similar to a Dungeon Master clone - but we have a machine gun!! There is a handy map function which I really liked because it helped to detail the locations of enemies, rooms, etc. I really loved this part of the game but, I died. Talk about tough love.

Talk about a brilliant surprise! Let's take a gander at a screenshot...

Okay, now we're talking. This Doom part of the game was blummin' excellent!!

The CryptO'pinion?

Alcatraz is nothing like I initially expected but I'm really enjoying it. The tactical aspect of each and every move you make is exhilarating and feels quite realistic. I like what they attempted to construct and it works in so many ways. I only wish it was a little quicker and more responsive during the opening stages... Whiffs of a rushed port?

There's so much to enjoy, especially with a friend playing coop alongside - that alone makes this game extra special. If you're running solo, then I advise less Rambo and a more cautious secret agent. Otherwise, you won't last very long at all. What a great game of perseverance, stealth and tactics which will eat away the spare hours. For all its flaws, I love it.

Downloads are available as floppy disk images with a better option for hard drive owners (D-Bug).

Wait, don't go as I made a video and I wanna show you all what's inside the box...

Here's the back of the box cover which advertises the original game, Hostages.

The floppy disks were protected and unused for three decades. Yes, they work!

Codes! Fuzzy to read and will pop your eyeballs if you stare at it too long!

No, I'm not going to post this. Can you imagine their faces? lol

Short but sweet manual but it has a decent map of the island.

This was interesting to find. If anyone wants better scans of the pages then just holla.

Monday, February 15, 2016


I recently stumbled upon a nifty resource for lots of Atari ST goodies just waiting to be downloaded. It's the leftover remains of what used to be a popular BBS in Germany called Traveller-Box, by Alexander Bochmann. His old hard drives have been recovered and their BBS contents uploaded for the Atari community to enjoy again!!

Look, stop reading this and go and check it out for yourself... Enjoy!!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Zany Golf

It's time for Crazy Golf!!

Zany Golf was developed by Will Harvey of The Immortal and is one of those games I spent much of my college years playing - instead of studying! What a simple yet addictive game which is obviously based on crazy golf. It's excellent solo and better with friends but best of all, you don't need to visit the local park anymore.

Play through several whacky courses to get that ball into the hole and yes, that's my technical explanation! Controls are actioned using the mouse and feel somewhat similar to any snooker or pool game: click/hold on the golf ball for a directional line to appear. Use this to guide the speed/direction of your shot. Interestingly, a level of interaction can be required which might include controlling fans, playing pinball, making a burger jump, and more.

It's quirky, it's silly and it's a little lame... but... Zany Golf is freakingly fantastic so comes highly recommended!!

Download the floppy disk or this cool version for a hard drive.

What? A pinball table!! Zany Golf turns into Insane Golf.

So, you didn't believe me? Now I am hungry!!

Aww, a cute little house for an easy hole-in-one shot. No problem!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

MOD Players

Tricky Trackers!

I remember when I first heard tracker music, it was around 1989 and it was a pretty cool experience albeit not on the ST. To be honest, it was something that I never expected to hear from such a small file - after all, I am comparing it to a sound sample of course would eat up the entire space on any floppy disk (and then the Ram).

So, when I upgraded to an Atari STe in 1990, finding a MOD player was one of the first things I attempted. I think that I wanted to ditch chipmusic for this tantalising new style of computer music. It's weird but, back then, I felt disappointed in my Atari ST and its chip music but I don't feel that way now. In fact, I find many of those MODs I find poor and often quite irritating, excluding classics like R-Type, Menace, and a few others.

Today, I'm a chip guy, but that doesn't mean I'm completely against MODs. I just prefer chip. I see videos on YouTube and read people's comments of how they wished a particular ST game sounded more like the Amiga. I get that but, imagine IF our computer did sound the same. Would that be a good thing? I don't think so. The ST is its own entity with the ability to sound its own way using gorgeous chip music. If the ST had the same music capabilities as the Amiga (in games) then why not just buy the Amiga and have done with it?

No other computer out there has to justify itself like the Atari ST and that ... annoys me! Think about it. In fact, this is why I started AtariCrypt because I was tired of the way we were ignored. I want the ST to be an ST and not pretend to be something else. The YM is part of what makes the ST an ST, and that's a good thing and shouldn't be thought of in a negative way. With that off my chest, here is a selection of excellent MOD players for the Atari STe...

Atari STe MOD / Tracker Players

BackTrack - I wasn't too sure about this at first but I cannot deny its playback quality and the selectable frequencies is a brilliant idea that will be useful on every model of Atari. The audio playback sounds great, especially at 50KHz - but you might need a Mega STe for that!! (v4.04 - released 1993 - by Wizzcat)

CD Player STE - This is like a CD player from the 90s. Just copy the MOD files into the same folder as the program and boot it up. Obviously not a GEM program but something that works really well and is very effective and with a fantastic interface. Cracking program - leave it running while you work! (released 1990 - by Light)

DBE Player - Another GEM program to punch out your favourite MODS. The quality is excellent and has a decent playlist feature but it's pretty demanding of the basic model STe (v2.0 - released 1999 - by Sector One)

The MusicPlayer - Ignoring its quirky GEM interface (which is odd) I thought this program produced good sound quality and even supports 50KHz / 8 channels! (v1.0 - released 1994 - by Christian Dahl)

Sirius Player - This is another that refuses to use GEM and replaces that with its own beautiful UI and what a gorgeous player it is!! The sound quality is Grade A with support for 50KHz thus proving a normal 8MHz STe can handle outside of GEM. Also, 8-channel MODS can be played using features like presets /etc/etc. Don't forget to press the HELP key for all of the options. This is my favourite program of the lot because its playback quality is literally mind-boggling!! (v2.0 - released 2001 - by TSCC 2001)

Paula - A great program that makes you wish you'd have bought a Mega STe for that extra grunt! This is yet another example of the sound quality an Atari STe can produce - and in GEM too. My thanks to Pavel Puchala for alerting me to the freeware release! (v2.6 - released 1999 - by Pascal Fellerich)

JAM - A true jack of all trades that works either in GEM or using its own frontend GUI. It features a neat plugin architecture so lots of different file types are supported - not just MODs but various chiptunes. This is absolutely fascinating and JAM always produces excellent sounds! (v1.0 - released 2000 - by Cream)

The CryptO'pinion?

This page proves nothing. Well, except that the Atari STe can easily handle those Amiga MODs with quality playback, no matter what program you decide to use. They're all great. It just depends on your own needs: if you need a GEM player then any of the above is a good choice to install onto your hard drive/ultrasatan.

Yes, they are all great in their own way but I really loved how CD Player can be stacked up and left to play while you're doing something else. Also, JAM is great and can handle a wide variety of different formats too. Ultimately, I think Sirius is best (for me) with its astounding 50Khz playback, so I tend to prefer this above all others.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Xenon II - STE - Megablast!

Real music in-game!!

Xenon 2 is pretty much Marmite - some love it and some appear to hate it. Well, I love it. It's one of my favourite shooters with fantastic power-ups and freaky baddies. Plus, it's a technical masterpiece with outstanding aesthetics that proves the power of the Atari ST - when in the hands of developers with talent and commitment in equal measure. We need no custom chips nor those horrendously lame Amiga ports from the 90s!!

Okay, rant over. Here is a brand new Xenon II upgrade for 1MB+ Atari STe computers with an UltraSatan or decent hard drive. This new version streams 25KHz music, during gameplay, thanks to the DMA Audio hardware. There is no CPU hit whatsoever so everything is as good as it ever was BUT with your choice of music :-)

Just convert any song into: 8-Bit @ 25033Hz using a free program like Audacity. I've a massive selection of rock/metal songs stored and ZZ Top is currently during my games!!

Xenon II just got even better and I hope Peter converts many more games to make use of the DMA co-processor. The possibilities are endless... Hmm, perhaps I should send him a wishlist? LOL he'll block me!!

Monday, February 08, 2016

Atari Mega STe

Mega Hertz

I recently asked Peter Putnik, from over on 8BitChip, if there was a program that allowed the Mega STe to flip between 8 and 16MHz - but without having XControl preloaded. He basically said yes, no reason why not. And a couple days later he had created it!! What a great Atari community we have - my sincere gratitude to Peter. Thank you, mate!!

The download link is available via the AtariAge forums.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Well 'Ard

Wanna be a thug?

Well, today is your lucky day because we are a rather fiercely-looking dude who loves to jump on all kinds of nasties. This violent act kills and splatters the baddies and they fall off the screen dead. Sound familiar?

Released in 1994 by Cybernation Software, it was developed by Simon Scott and is a platformer created using GFA Basic. Well Ard is a cracking game and to think it was developed in GFA Basic is quite incredible. Earlier levels are quite easy but it certainly becomes challenging later on - some of those jumps are insanely tricky!

The scrolling is smooth, with fast action and lots of large sprites - I love the snowman. Controls are accurate and responsive with lots of tight jumps on interesting levels. Strangely, there are no optional methods to kill the enemy, so no weapons. Instead, reap violence only by leaping and using our red booties. Yep, it's weird but who cares?

This is definitely one of the most enjoyable platformers I've played in a long time. Addictive gameplay that has you coming back for more so put on your red boots and play it. Downloads can be found for floppy or hard disk.

Here are some more screenshots to whet your appetite...

Look at those teeth. This guy is a beast so don't mess with him!!

Jump up and down until they're all dead - not violent at all. Honest.

Well 'Ard features some odd critters but don't waste time looking - squash them.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Atari ST chiptunes

The wife has gone out shopping and gracefully left me to do the housework! There is no way I can do these boring chores in silence so let's power on the ST and play a few toons from the SNDH Archive / SNDH Record

Here is just a selection of my favourite chiptunes at this moment... What are yours??

Nowhere by 505 ( listen / or click the GREEN arrow below! )
Best Part of Creation by Big Alec ( listen )
Sausage 3D by Xyce ( listen )
Little sexy square by Crazy Q ( listen )
Sweety by Lotek Style ( listen )

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Ugly medium resolution?

Tippy typey

Like anything in this life, nothing is perfect. Shockingly this also applies to our Atari ST which has one characteristic I have never really cared for: its obscure, ugly, stretched medium resolution. Well, since my colour monitor decided to blow up, I have been happily zipping along in monochrome which would explain the recent run of high-resolution articles. All were written using the classic, 1st Word Plus. (Go on, you can call me a geek if you want!)

Okay, it's hardly a modern word processor bursting with features but it does the job perfectly well. Sure, I can't wait to get my new colour monitor bought as I'm missing games in glorious 16-bit technicolour. However, I have definitely fallen in love with this crisp black and white display which has met each and every requirement lately.

Who needs an expensive modern computer? Obviously not me!! But, I am mad... :^)

Tuesday, February 02, 2016


Get ready for one of the oldest ST games...

Asteroids is a true arcade classic that has been converted for every home computer. Not to be left out, Megamax released Megaroids in 1985 which was developed using their own C programming tool. Now that's fearless!

The gameplay is, obviously, Asteroids and very faithful to the original version. Get shooting the rocks for points but don't forget to blast the alien ships when you see them - for lots more points! Joystick controls are dead easy with Z and X rotating your craft and SHIFT to fire. Thrust uses ? key and SpaceBar activates a hyperspace when you're in trouble.

Graphically, it's different to the original, gone are the vectors in favour of bitmaps. The ST's high resolution looks stunning and Megaroids' framerate is superb. The rocks sweep across the screen like butter off a hot knife. Thankfully, colour systems aren't forgotten as it's compatible with medium res. But this is interlace to produce 640x400 but with colour.

Sounds are nothing more than you would expect for asteroids. They're nice and work very well. Especially when you remember this is a 1985 game for a 1985 computer. I'm really impressed all things considered.

Megaroids has an authenticity which I admire. The gameplay feels perfect and I'm shocked that something this good was released the same year as the ST itself. I'm impressed by the silky-smooth framerate and flicker-free interlace support for colour systems. Well done Megamax, this is such a wonderful conversion with bucket loads of rock blasting!!

the floppy disks to download.

Monday, February 01, 2016

N.o.B.I. - Racing

Knob Racing??

N.o.B.I Racing was released by Joytrick (1994) and is a 'snake' clone where we guide 'Alfred' through a series of mazes. Always hungry, and always on the move, Alfred needs our assistance as he munches everything in his path. However, every time he eats, he grows a little longer and this can become quite embarrassing, especially if he bites into himself. So our task is to help Alfred through the mazes without bumping into his own tale.

Two types of bonus levels appear at frequent intervals, feature two-player gaming, DMA audio, and it even supports multiple resolutions. Simple stuff for dexterous players but soon becomes incredibly fast on later levels - and against the clock too!! NoBI Racing is very old school and that means it's extremely addictive and a bucket load of fun!!