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



Yie Ar Kung-Fu!

Today I wanted to feature an Atari ST game to help celebrate St George's Day so I figured something dragon-related would be great? Anyhow, I tried a few games but I wasn't in the mood for those and sadly, nothing else really caught my attention. Then I remembered Double Dragon 3 ... ahem ... come on, it has "dragon" in the title!

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 For all those wondering what England's St. George's Day is about 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

Okay, Double Dragon 3 takes us on a trip around the world and begins on the streets of America. From the first stage, we're thrown into the thick of it as these streets are filled with many thugs - all intent on giving you a good hiding!! There are lots of kicks and punches which can be acted out using cool animation and look pretty nice.

Controls are smooth & responsive I found with each type of kick or punch was easily performed. In fact, DD3 is actually very easy to pick up and play so feels like that arcade feeling I hoped for. We need no learning curve. I must say that, immediately, even a beat 'em up noob like myself gets a thrill from this arcade-styled kicker!



You don't mess with guys that look like these two!!


But I gotta laugh at the fun artwork throughout. It's great, but a little creepy!!


Kick him when he's down!

Immediately, it's obvious this game was designed with fake Hollywood-style action over any pseudo-realism which is fine by me! The baddies are awesome and can attack in groups making for a frantic, full-of-laughs, joystick-bashing time. At times, I got a Golden Axe vibe and, throughout, I enjoyed the barrage of silly fighting.

The gameplay is well-balanced, without being too easy or overbearing. I soon discovered a jumping/flying kick which is very effective. However, repeating the same move soon bored me, so out came my joystick-waggling skills to uncover other hidden moves and before long I found a spinning vertical kick! Now I wonder what else there is...

The enemies are a traditional lot with predictable AI but they all move slowly so the overall pace is reduced. Occasionally, shops are available to offer you cool power-ups like weapons, etc/etc. This adds a little more depth and longevity to your entertainment and proves that beating people up will always be incredibly good fun!



Come on, get up and take some more smackin'!! Yeah, I can take on anybody GRR!!


Ah, he's big. Well, they say that the bigger they are... (I hope that's true!!)


The CryptO'pinion?

Double Dragon 3 is a bucket load of fun with great graphics to boot. I loved the initial location set in the grungy streets of America and later levels vary nicely. The sound effects are neat but it's a shame there's no in-game chip music. However, I am genuinely shocked by just how much I enjoyed this beat 'em-up and I cannot recommend it enough.

Double Dragon 3 offers great, kick-ass action so scores top marks from me. I really enjoyed this game a bunch!!


Kick & punch your way using either
floppy disk or your hard drive

Friday, April 15, 2016

Buggy Boy



A 16-MHz Buggy!

Buggy Boy is great and the ST received a fantastic conversion with gorgeous aesthetics that suit its style perfectly. This is a no-frills arcade racer that doesn't take itself seriously - it's simple, extremely addictive and I love it. However, there are a zillion videos scattered throughout YouTube land so I thought I'd make something a little different... My video emulates the game running on my 16Mhz Mega STe which is ludicrously fast and rather insane.

I don't know why I made this video but I hope you enjoy what is nothing but a silly recording!! :o)

Friday, April 08, 2016

Stardust




Meh, another Asteroids?

Stardust was released late in the ST's life by Bloodhouse in 1994 and it's not only one of the last commercial games released but is actually an STe-only product. Developed by several famous names from our great demoscene (thank you Aggression) these guys burnt the midnight oil to deliver a wicked twist on the original Asteroids arcade genre.

It not only plays similarly to that old favourite but also features modern aesthetics for extra zest. Such as ludicrously awesome colours and sampled sound effects; all are quite stunning and complement the frantic action.

Wanna see the war plan? It's technical but translates to "kill everything and don't die!". Check this out...



A clear and accurate war plan, I'm sure you'll agree? lol



Bam! Bam! Bam! Blast the rocks!

There are a total of five levels with each containing six missions. All are host to a variety of rocks along with the expected dangerous baddies. After each level is completed, you must travel through a wormhole-like tunnel onto the next part of the galaxy like something from Buck Rogers or Starwars!! These tunnels are filled to the brim with oncoming rocks for you to dodge or destroy - no easy task but it's a thrilling moment that I never expected to play!

Bonus levels pop up regularly and feel similar to a particular Thrust clone. Note, these are optional but you must be daft to ignore the fun. So don't be daft!! Of course, a game like this wouldn't feel right without End-Of-Level Bosses. Each mission has them and these guys are tough! Much perseverance will be required during these enjoyable romps.

It's time to stop reading and enjoy some pixels! Let's take a peep at another screenshot...



Check out these outstanding and colourful visuals!! Amazing stuff.



Enhanced gaming!!

Stardust is something else. It's on another level with gritty, fast-paced gameplay. The basic mechanics are what you would expect - Asteroids - so it also feels more or less as you would expect. This is awesome because you can jump straight in and begin playing without that learning curve. Heck, it's all about dodging and shooting. Are you tough enough?

The controls are also familiar: left and right will manoeuvre your spacecraft around. Pushing upwards will thrust you forward into hell. Don't worry, we have a shield that aids you during those sticky moments. Finally, our ship's main weapon is more than capable - perfect for gratifying rock-blasting!! Nothing wrong here, folks. This is all super-spacey-gun-fun!

This next screenshot does itself no justice. Seriously cool stage with mind-blowing fx...



Buck Roger's side event is absolutely exceptional. Impossible not to be impressed.



Enhanced Aesthetics

Graphically, Stardust is utterly glorious. Everything is bold and colourful with stunningly smooth animations. The rocks are also something else with jaw-dropping 3D renditions that look beautiful. Not only that but the display is running in overscan!! Yep, it looks so HOT and everything is in overscan which means lots of extra pixels to blast.

Equally impressive; is the audio with beautiful examples of thumping stereo tunes, accompanied by BAM!! BAM!! BAM!! DMA sound effects. This is one shooter that's gonna blow your socks off. If I can offer one piece of advice: crank up the volume!! Yes, I guarantee you will love everything Stardust delivers so turn it up high. No, even higher! :-)

This is one of the best-looking/sounding Atari STe games ever released. Let's have another screenshot...



Look out! Move quick and keep on firing - are your reactions good enough?



The CryptO'pinion?

This is a spectacular showcase of what the Atari STe is capable of when in the hands of people with talent and commitment. These guys didn't simply rehash an old idea or produce a weak Amiga port. No, they unleashed a product that feels fresh and exciting. The effort that everyone put into the gameplay, visuals, and audio is far beyond praiseworthy.

Stardust is a joyride of rock-blasting thrills and a perfect shoot 'em-up. One of the best games I have played.

Download for floppy or hard drive.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

uIP-tool




Easy-peasy transfers

As you may have read in my previous article, I've bought the NetUSBee. This is a gorgeous slab of hardware available from Lotharek. It's brilliant and has an ethernet socket to potentially connect to the outside world very easily.

It's possible to connect your ST to a Mac/PC thanks to Mariusz Buras who has developed a program called uIP Tool. This will transform your Atari ST into a file server without any configuration. Just load it up and it will automatically assign itself an IP - which you use in Google Chrome on your Mac/PC. Now you can access the Atari ST and begin transferring files.

NetUSBee with uIP-tool makes transferring files to/from your Atari ST a cinch...

In fact, you don't need to use a web browser at all. Load up uIP-Tool and then copy a file over to your Atari ST using the command line. It's geeky but it works very well so is lots of fun! Here is the example command to copy 'myfile.zip' over to the D-Drive on my Atari ST...

curl -0T myfile.zip 192.168.2.2/d/myfile.zip

uIP-Tool makes the entire process of getting files onto your Atari ST very easy. It's simple to use, with a great interface and gets the job done. Yep, NetUSBee is a fantastic piece of kit and uIP-Tool marries up very well. Excellent software!

Help for those using WiFi

If your router is in a different room to your Atari ST then you might think uIP-tool isn't compatible with your setup unless you have a mega-long ethernet cable? Not so. My router is located downstairs so I bought myself a very short ethernet cable to physically connect the Mac to my Atari STe.

To provide uIP-Tool with a working IP address - just enable the Mac's Internet Sharing. Sorry, I don't own Windows or Linux, but I expect a similar function exists? Just follow this:

 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 that IP into Google Chrome so you can now access your Atari ST. Job done!

Monday, April 04, 2016

Mouse Trap



Not the board game!

Billed as "old in style but brilliant in design" is Micro-Value's 1987 platformer, Mouse Trap (based on the original Acorn Electron game). I love platformers but not the Mario/Sonic kind but the ZX Spectrum kind I grew up with: Chuckie Egg II, Manic Miner, JSW, Monty Mole, Saboteur II, etc. As you can imagine, I was eager to give Mouse Trap a go!

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 the materialistic female when you think about the plan he's come up with to win her back? Scrounge dozens of lethal rooms looking for precious items that are gonna impress her. Yep, that'll work. Hmm, women...

Anyhow, this is a cruel and unforgiving platformer: make one mistake and it's often impossible to go back and try again - which usually means a life lost as you replay. Each screen needs every item collected before you can progress to the next. Finishing each is a matter of working out the best route rather than what appears the quickest.

There is a time limit, so hit the 'F' key to pause - now study the layout to figure out the best route.



No, he's not floating but simply in mid-fall. And that aspect took me a while to fully master...


Wow! Those colours... This game is incredibly different from the norm and I love that.


Some levels are pretty simple. Not only to look at but complete very quickly. Like this one!


Input & Outputs

The controls are excellent. However, I admit that I initially found them a little fiddly and quite perplexing. For example, if you're facing left and then tap "right" (to turn around) Marvin will not only do this BUT he also walks a couple of steps in that direction. I'm used to Manic Miner, so this frustrating mechanic took me some time to master. And I did.

Visually, Mouse Trap looks like an 8-bit platformer but with the ST's extra pixels and colours. It's kinda weird and features the oddest sprites: check out the old man with the big nose who appears on level two!! A weird-looking game with sprites that are either excellent or just plain crud: like the floating skulls which use an awful design. Yet somehow it works.

Music is eerily enjoyable but will get annoying, so press M to turn it off when your ears begin to bleed.



This baffled me at first but it's actually a lot easier than you realise. Love the sinking ledges!


Some of the levels are far simpler than you first think. Just take your time...


There is the odd dodgy screen but then it redeems itself with this blue beauty!


The CryptO'pinion?

Mouse Trap is a charming platformer with an incredible variety of different screens - all as difficult as they are quirky and you will always be drawn back for that one-more-go! The only negative aspect is the lacking a save-game feature. That absolutely baffles me because there are so many levels to plunder (ie, you are forced to replay).

Having said that, I have enjoyed Mouse Trap because it's a blimmin' excellent platformer. (Nearly) top marks from me!!

Download for hard disk or floppy.



Can you beat my current Hi-Score without cheating? No, I didn't think so!! :p

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Floppy Shop



Disks through the post?

For those of us old enough to remember Floppyshop, you will be pleased to hear that Chris Swinson has brought back to life their entire catalogue. That's right, it's all here and, unlike the old days, everything is completely free of charge!! All that is required is nothing more than a click of the mouse to relive those PD days.

Each disk is split into the original 16 categories and I'm currently hitting the games... How predictable of me!

Art & Graphics / Astrology / Clip Art / Communication / Demos
Disk Mag / Educational / Fonts / Games / Programming / Midi
Music / Product Demos / Sound / Utils / Word Processing

Anyhow, everything you once saw advertised in the latest issue of ST Format is now available to download. Kudos to Chris for supplying this service. I've already downloaded tons of disks and I hope you guys do too :-)