Tuesday, April 26, 2016

double DD

Backing up your files can be a pain in the .. neck .. but you would be gutted if you lost any precious data! So here is a simple method to duplicate your Ultrasatan's SD card which is not only effective but takes very little effort. The requirements are a Mac with an SD slot and a basic knowledge of the Terminal program.


 - IDENTIFICATION -

Firstly, eject your SD card from the Ultrasatan and slide its "lock" switch to write-protect it. Insert it into your Mac (if a warning appears then click on the "ignore" button). Load up Terminal.app (within Utilities folder) and type in this command:
diskutil list
This will display information to help identify the SD card - look for the capacity of your card. Mine is 8GB as you can see in the clipping, below. Thus my card is "/dev/disk1"
/dev/disk1 (internal, physical):
 #:     TYPE     NAME     SIZE     IDENTIFIER
 0:     *                 8.0 GB   disk1

If you would like to verify this information, type in this command :
diskutil info /dev/disk1
Within the output, you will see a line confirming that this is indeed our SD Card :
Device / Media Name:      SD Card Reader


 - BACK IT UP -

Type this command to backup the SD card (enter your password when prompted)
sudo dd if=/dev/disk1 of=~/Desktop/st-backup.img
Leave it to complete and after a few minutes you should have a file on your desktop called "st-backup". Now eject the card from the Apple Mac and reinsert it into your Ultrasatan - not forgetting to slide off the lock switch! I recommend zipping your newly created backup file and then storing it somewhere safe, like iCloud or Dropbox.


 - RESTORES -

Perhaps you have a spare SD card idly doing nothing? So long as it's the same capacity as the first, we can easily restore our backup file onto this using the command :
sudo dd if=~/Desktop/st-backup.img of=/dev/disk1

 - AND FINALLY -

Of course, there are numerous different methods to secure your data and here is just one. It's the backup method I personally prefer because the dd command is simple and powerful. I hope this is of some use to Mac & Linux users, sorry but I wouldn't know about Windows. Any questions then just gimme a shout and I'll be happy to help.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Atari STM


I've always had a secret longing for the sleek Atari STM computer before it became bloated with an internal PSU and floppy disk drive (STFM). I've just bought one off eBay for a meagre £14 and it's in superb condition too. Needless to say, I now require an external floppy drive and PSU so I cannot wait to get this beast working :-)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Double Dragon 3 - Rosetta Stone


Today I wanted to feature an Atari ST game which would help celebrate St George's Day and I obviously figured something dragon related would be in order. I did try a few obvious titles but I wasn't in the mood for most and nothing else caught my attention. Then, I remembered about Double Dragon 3 - oh come on, it has "dragon" in the title! ;^)

Double Dragon 3 takes you on a trip around the world with the initial clash beginning on the streets of America. Here, you are instantly thrown into the thick of the action because these streets seem to be filled with thugs all intent on giving you a good hiding. There are lots of kicks and punches which can be acted out using cool animation through responsive controls. It's immediately obviously this game is designed for Hollywood-style action over any pseudo-realism which that's fine by me! The baddies are awesome and will often attack in groups making for a frantic, full-of-laughs, joystick-bashing fun. And this always feels like the intent throughout, arcade-style fun.

Gameplay is well balanced, without ever being overbearing and occasionally shops are available to offer you some cool power-ups, including weapons, and more. I soon discovered a jumping / flying kick which is very effective. However, repeating the same move soon bored, so out came my joystick waggling skills to uncover other hidden moves and before long I found a spinning vertical kick! Yes, now I'm wonder what else there is to find...

Double Dragon 3 is a bucket load of fun and very entertaining with great graphics to boot. I'm genuinely shocked how much I'm enjoying this and I highly recommend you take to these streets for some kick-ass action of your own!

LINKS

 - View my youtube video and Atari Greenlog has just released a complete longplay video!
 - Floppy disks can be found using Old Games Finder.
 - Those D-Bug guys have kindly patched Double Dragon 3 to run off a hard drive!!
 - StrategyWiki has a cool walkthrough.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Buggy Boy


Like a great selection of games from the mid/late 80s, Buggy Boy was free with our wise purchase and is something that I have such fond memories. It's a great racer that places us in a speed buggy to race through five courses littered with stupid hazards all in the name of grabbing flags and ultimately winning. Uncomplicated and awesome fun.

Buggy Boy is predominantly geared towards fun and silly arcade thrills rather than anything close to technical realism. This is great by me because Buggy Boy hits the nail on the head and is a fantastic arcade conversion, probably the best there is. The graphics are so colourful and instantly inspire joy with their cutesy cartoon styles. Sound effects are a strange mix of beeps and all are instantly memorable to suit the game perfectly.

Buggy Boy is a no-frills, arcade racer which doesn't take itself seriously at all - it's simple and extremely enjoyable.

LINKS

 - Floppy disk images are available via Old Games Finder.
 - D-Bug has patched Buggy Boy to run off a hard drive and also has a great menu!
 - An adapted version 8BitChip supports faster computers and hard drive installation.

There are a million Buggy Boy videos on YouTube so I thought I'd make one a little different - just for a laugh!! Both 8BitChip and D-Bug have patched Buggy Boy to support faster computers so the recording (above) tries to emulate how it zany it plays using my own 16MHz Mega STe. (the video is a pseudo Mega STe which I setup using Hatari emulator to help demonstrate the difference).

However, if you prefer to watch an authentic video then check this out by Wasabim.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Stardust


Stardust was released in 1994 by Bloodhouse and developed by several famous names from our demoscene and they've given us a wicked twist on the classic Asteroids format. One which plays like the old arcade game but with modern and ludicrously awesome aesthetics that superbly compliment the frantic gameplay.

There are five levels, which are set within six missions, all are host to a variety of rocks and dangerous baddies. After each level is completed, you are required to travel through a wormhole-like tunnel to the next part of the galaxy. These are filled to the brim with oncoming rocks for you to dodge or destroy and this is definitely no easy task. End of level bosses guard each mission and will take time and much perseverance! Bonus levels pop up regularly and feel similar to a certain Thrust clone, they are optional but you will be daft to ignore the fun.

Game mechanics are pretty much as you would expect and remain more or less the same as in the arcades. This is awesome and means you can jump straight in and start playing without too much of a learning curve.

Controls are familiar too, of course with left and right turning your craft whilst pushing upwards will thrust you forward. A shield will aid you during those sticky moments and you have your main weapon for lots of gratifying rock-blasting!

The graphics are glorious. Bold and colourful with stunning animations and jaw-dropping 3D renditions - all of which is running in overscan!! Equally impressive is the audio with beautiful examples of thumping music which is accompanied by BAM BAM BAM sound effects. This is one game that's gonna blow your socks off so if I can give one piece of advice it's this: crank up the volume!! I guarantee you will love everything Stardust delivers.

This is a spectacular showcase of just what the Atari STe is capable of. They didn't simply rehash an old idea but unleashed one which feels fresh and exciting. It's a joyride of rock-blasting thrills and a perfect ten from me.

LINKS

 - Of course, I have made a video recording of extreme gaming talent. Oh yeah!!
 - 8BitChip has a hard drive installable game with the floppy disks available via Old Games Finder.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

uIP-tool


As you may have read in my previous article, I purchased the NetUSBee which is a superb slab of hardware in desperate need of something to make use of its ethernet port. Thankfully, Mariusz Buras has developed a program to do just that, uIP-Tool. This program will turn your Atari ST into a web server without any messy manual configuration. Simply load uIP-Tool and it automatically assigns an IP address which you should enter into Google Chrome on your Mac or PC to begin transferring files. NetUSBee with uIP-tool is the perfect combo!

If your router is in a different room (via WiFi) then you might be thinking uIP-tool isn't compatible for your setup? Not so. My router is located downstairs so I bought myself a very short ethernet cable to physically connect the Apple Mac to my Atari STe.

To provide uIP-Tool with a working IP address I enabled the Mac's Internet Sharing and that was that. Sorry, I don't own Windows but I expect a similar function exists...

 1) load up System Preference (via the Apple menu)
 2) click on Internet Sharing (view me)
 3) choose WiFi in the dropdown menu & tick the ethernet box (view me)
 4) lastly, tick the box left of "Internet Sharing" to activate this service.
 5) now quit System Preferences.
 6) load up uIP-Tool on the Atari ST and note the IP it displays for you.
 7) enter this IP into your web browser to remotely access your Atari ST. Job done!

Monday, April 04, 2016

Mouse Trap

Billed as "old in style but brilliant in design" is Micro-Value's 1987 platformer, Mouse Trap which is based on the original Acorn Electron game, which is kinda cool!!

We are Marvin The Mouse who desperately wants to win back the heart of his ex-girlfriend that left him for another. She must be quite a materialistic female because he has had to come up with a cunning plan to get her back - scrounge dozens of rooms looking for precious items... Yep, that'll work.

This is a cruel and unforgiving game. Make a mistake and it's usually too late to go back to that piece of the level which will probably result in a life lost! Each screen is a separate room and you cannot progress to the next until all items are collected. Completing a screen is a matter of working out the best route rather than what simply looks like the quickest. There's also a time limit, so hit the 'F' key to pause and examine the map to determine which route you should take. Only then, may you scurry away to your cool little mouse hole to exit (which I love).

Mouse Trap has some of the most curiously weird baddies I have ever seen in a platformer. Check out the old man with the big nose who appears on level two - I hear you should hide behind a wall and avoid him at all costs... Others are just plain crud, like the floating skulls with their awful design, yet somehow it works and it works perfectly. I must admit, I initially found the joystick controls a little fiddly and perplexing. For example, if you're facing left and then move to turn right, then Marvin will not only turn around but he also annoyingly walks a couple of steps in that direction. However, the game's only true failing is the lacking a save game feature, which baffles me!

Mouse Trap is as charming as it is addictive and challenging. Each level is progressively challenging and certainly pushes the old grey matter. I cannot help but recommend this blummin' excellent platformer!!

LINKS

 - Check out my video recording and I did pretty good too O_o
 - Mouse Trap can be installed onto your hard drive thanks to D-Bug and 8BitChip.
 - Or grab the floppy disk image using Old Games Finder.
 - Look at this, my current Hi-Score :-)

Saturday, April 02, 2016

FloppyShop


For those of us old enough to remember Floppyshop, you will be pleased to hear that Chris Swinson has brought to life their entire catalogue. Unlike the old days, it's completely free of charge and requires nothing but a click of the mouse to relive the PD days. I have already downloaded tons of disks and I hope you guys do also :-)