Tuesday, May 31, 2016

FTL Games

FTL are: Bruce Webster, Nancy Holder and Wayne Holder

I'm often asked what are the best Atari ST games and sometimes what are my own personal Top 10. But those are pretty much impossible questions to answer because, no matter how much I might try, the list changes almost daily. It's insane because there are simply far too many excellent Atari ST games to choose from!

However, with a little push, I can think of two worthy titles... What about the magnificent Oids and, of course, the mighty classic - Dungeon Master? I've been in the middle of writing something for both games and it then dawned on me that FTL is probably my favourite developers, ever. They released few titles but what they did produce are absolute gems - nobody in their right mind could ever deny that. Quality over quantity.

The previously mentioned games are outright legends. They broke the mould and created fresh groundwork for so many future companies to build upon. But Faster Than Light also released a couple other crackers which I've not (yet) managed to feature here on AtariCrypt. Sundog is another that is rated very highly. I hope to get around to featuring it one day... FTL are true legends and they were at their very best on the Atari ST. #heroes

AtariMania has their catalogue and Wikipedia has more information.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Marko Latvanen

Marko Latvanen currently handles all of the Atari ST administration for the AtariMania website which must be a massive undertaking but one he is committed to finishing. AtariMania is a popular website that has catalogued and detailed almost every Atari ST game. I don't think a day passes without a visit from myself and zillions of other people, I'm sure.

Of course, AtariMania isn't just about Atari ST gaming because they also feature utilities, applications, demos and even scans for books, adverts and magazines. Not to mention support all other Atari machines, from those odd-looking consoles to the mighty Falcon computer & Jaguar CD.

Marko is a cool chap and works hard for our Atari scene so I figured it was about time he answered few questions for a feature here at AtariCrypt towers - thank you Marko! You know what to do... clickety-click and visit the AtariMania website right now!


THE INTERVIEW
MARKO LATVANEN


What is your role within the world of AtariMania?

Atarimania is a huge project which tries to preserve and catalogue the golden memories of gaming but also demos and utilities over 9 different systems (Arcade coin-op, 2600, 5200, 7800, Lynx, Jaguar, Atari 800-series, Atari ST–series and Falcon030 / TT. A lot has been done but also a huge amount of work is still ahead for a small team like us. Our headquarters is in France and we have 5-7 active members for the whole Atarimania website.

My role is mainly Atarimania ST database moderator. So I’m basically doing a lot of “household” work with our custom built software. It includes building database records, correcting information based on our own research, adding screenshots, hunting down unreleased games and their creators, helping them with utilities to save precious ST productions before they break down, doing a lot of cross reference checking, game archiving and research which is the most interesting part. I like being a software archaeologist for the digital dawn of 16bit computing.

In the last 12 months I’ve been also building a database for Atari’s last beast, the Jaguar. Oh and I’ll update the Atarimania Facebook page as well. What else, surely missed something (grin emoticon). I get of course a lot of help from Stefan_L and Champions_2002 who also do the database moderation, background research and are equally as important part of Atarimania ST-section.


What does the Atari ST platform mean to you?

It was the first computer I bought with my own money after working hard the whole summer 1990. My parents really didn’t dig computers so we never had one when I was a kid. That’s why I jumped straight to the 16bit waggon. Played a lot with Philips VideoPac G7000, C64 and Amiga with my mates though. After seeing an ST in Finland’s leading computer magazine Mikrobitti I knew what I wanted. I had to wait for a few years but when I finally was old enough for the summer job, oh boy! There they were side by side at the computer shop – an Amiga 500 and Atari 520STfm. I still remember it like yesterday. My choice was clear and I never regret it (wink emoticon)

So I grew up with my ST, it offered me thousands of hours of fun with games and some jaw dropping demos, I learned English (sort of anyway!) by using an ST and it helped me to secure my job in Desktop Publishing business (thanks to Calamus and TimeWorks Publisher). For a while, I even got paid using an ST as a workhorse in mid 90’s.

I do this because I want ST and its memories to live forever. It’s also my way to say huge thanks to all those game, demo and serious software developers, graphics artists, musicians and designers who offered me so much fun over the last decades. Their work should not be forgotten. It’s also a most rewarding feeling to get unreleased stuff dug out of people's attic to save them from destruction.


I hope you are in this for the long haul?

Been into the Atari ST every day since 1990 so I’ll be there as long as most of my fingers and senses are working! And of course, as long as Franck keeps the site up and running. Retro computers just keep getting better every year!


How do you envision AtariMania 10 years from now?

In 10 years it should be a top research-quality database for the future generations of computer historians, journalists and the people who want to see and feel what Atari was about its golden years. Hopefully, it will also feature a lot more videos, music files and a capable online ST / Falcon emulator to try out the games and demos.


What Atari computers do you own?

Erm.. Well, they sort of started to pile up since 1996 when people practically gave them for free or for very little money… I think it’s better to just click here: http://www.gameberry.net/user/kokoelma.php?1503211172 ;-)
(like wow!!! -Steve)


What are you favourite Atari ST games?

I’ve always been a big fan of racing games from the day one so Vroom, Microprose GP, Stunt Car Racer, Crazy Cars III, Toyota Celica GT Rally, Lotus and Super Cars series were the ones I’ve played most back in the day. For the other genres, i guess I'm still playing Kick Off, Phantasie III, Obsession, Pro Tennis Tour, Fire & Ice, Elite and most part of the awesome Power Pack bundle in the retirement home if they allow computers!


Are you planning any changes to AtariMania?

As I’m only an ST moderator it is really up to Franck to decide where the future of Atarimania is heading. I think there’s so much work ahead in most of the databases itself. We should concentrate on that until the work is done.


Is the Atari ST database close to completion?

I would say something like 45-50 percent. We have most of the commercial releases in as well as the biggest demoscene productions from ST’s commercial years. We are still missing many hundreds of PD / shareware games, a huge amount of Falcon stuff and utilities.

From the artist credits part, it really is not yet in such shape it should be used for research purposes without double checking first. The problem originates mostly from the imported list Atarimania used as a basis of the database. It, unfortunately, had a lot of errors in it. Another part is caused by me as doing too many 10-11 hour Atarimania days at the start of the project wasn’t maybe wisest move after all! It’s an extremely slow task to check everything, but we’ll publish the correction progress on the Atarimania news page a bit by bit.


AtariMania's ST games are not playable on real hardware?

It’s because we try to preserve games as originally as possible. Most cracked versions had title screens or even digital music tracks removed or altered so the originality was gone. As we want to give the full credits and support to the original authors who did the hard work in the 80’s and 90’s, we don’t use cracked versions on ST section.

However, I must point out that game crackers did a very important job historically speaking if you look it nowadays. The majority of the classic games would have been lost without people spreading them back in the days, and there probably wouldn’t be commercial interest in retro gaming nowadays without crackers who kept the software alive. So they really deserve the credit for their work but we just like to do things unedited when possible.


You have so many aliases on Demozoo! Why?

Hmm. There seem to be some errors. The ones I used were mostly related to Jean-Michel Jarre’s recordings. Not sure where the Beatdrum or Squish came from… Probably from some lazy editing of my crappy MOD-files.

I guess I just couldn’t make my mind. First, we had a little user group called The Atariga Crew. We did some 40+ compact disks mostly for our own use and had little gaming parties. We also toyed a bit with STOS Basic but I soon found out I had no character of a coder. My highlight was to get a UFO sprite bouncing around the screen (grin emoticon). My cousin was a bit better but he never got much running either. So we used an util called Intro Concept to run our menu disks. I concentrated mostly on swapping and graphics.

After my cousin got bored on ST I started Alien Nation to do some graphics work. In later stages, we finally got a real coder from the UK. Under that name, we released 10 MOD disks and some 40 more compact disks, again mostly for internal use. I used some of the graphics in them I did with Canvas and Deluxe Paint ST. I also did a new set of VW Buggy themed graphics for PD racing game called Hot Wheels but the disk is unfortunately lost. After a while, our coder went to iMac and we had some plans to make a game for but it got nowhere.

In the meantime, a crew called “Depression” asked me to do some logos for them. One of them is actually painted using Amigaarghh (don’t shoot me, my STe was collecting dust at a computer shop for memory expansion) and others with 68030 powered Apple Macintosh IIfx in PhotoShop 3. Shame on me! (demozoo weblink)


What makes Marko tick?

Having two under 10-year-old daughters, a Collie dog and doing mainly working hours from 3pm to 11pm does, unfortunately, rule out most of the social hobbies.

Besides Atari things, I'm also a big Mazda Motorsports fan and follow everything Mazda-related racing action closely. They’ve an amazing racing heritage in the USA thanks to the rotary engine which was something no other car manufacturer managed to get working properly. I even travelled to the UK last year just to see and hear their vintage rotary powered racing cars. I also keep my 1995 323F’s and 1992 MX-3 in running order, expanding my 520+ title racing games collection.I try to go to as power metal gigs I can & of course have a beer or two with my friends from time to time and play retro games.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Walls Of Illusion



Sit back and relax for its Jackanory!

Today, I picked up a random (#101) issue of Atari ST User magazine (see below) from my collection and sat down for a good read with a nice cuppa joe. All of a sudden, I was in shock, and almost spat out my coffee in disbelief. There it was. Something I had forgotten about: my old Motelsoft favourite - Walls Of Illusion.

How could I have forgotten about this?? Perhaps I'm crazy!! Yes, but, for those that don't know, Walls Of Illusion is a "Dungeon Master" and follow-up to Arcan which was released in 1993/4 (shareware). This is an impressive and extremely well-made RPG so I think I should lock myself away for a few days to relive the adventure?

Has anyone played this great RPG? I'd love to know if there are any fans out there and what you think of the game, especially in comparison to the original. I remember playing this game like crazy even though I would never have come close to finishing it! Anyhow, I feel like I've just been reunited with an old friend and I'm so happy :)

AtariMania has the full registered version to download. Go on, get it. Play it. Live it!!


Okay, it's time to be flabbergasted because
Motelsoft still has a website w/ Atari ST downloads!


Sunday, May 22, 2016

CRAPMAN


Crapman was originally featured within the Synergy megademo and later released as a standalone product in 1993. Most Atarians rate this as one of the best Pac-Man and it's obvious why with spot-on perfect gameplay: those pesky ghosts are clever and a cunning level design help make this extremely challenging.

The graphics are marvellous and the Scavenger music is just perfect - gorgeous and timeless! Crapman may indeed have a silly name but it's a fantastic twist on the original idea and immensely addictive. Right, I cannot stress this enough, stop what you're doing and play this game right now. Quite possibly the best Pacman clone ever?

LINKS

 - Download Crapman game from the Demozoo website.
 - The Synergy Megademo is one of the best Atari ST demos so download it.
 - I also recorded a few more videos from the superb Synergy:
  1. Unfinished Demo
  2. Megademo Music Disk
  3. DBA #6 Intro
  4. Megademo - Symbiosys
  5. Megademo - Credits Screen

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Lure Of The Temptress



An Adventure To Lose Yourself In

The story begins with you waking up one day, only to find yourself locked away in a creepy dungeon. You are a peasant called Diermot who was previously part of an attempt to free the village of Turnvale from Selena and her army of Orc lookalikes, called Skorls. Sadly, that campaign ended in tragedy and everyone was killed! Whilst the bloodshed reigned, you bumped your noggin and was knocked unconscious only to be easily captured. Upon waking, you find yourself banged up in jail with a rather bad-tempered Skorl as your guard!!

Lure Of The Temptress is something in which to become lost. Immerse yourself in this wonderfully crafted adventure taking place within a gorgeous Olde English setting. It's a point-and-click adventure controlled using the mouse: the left button guides your character around the screen but can also display status and object information. The right button issues different commands to interact with characters and much more. This system is well designed, intuitive and easy to master. Quite possibly one of the best I've seen in a game of this ilk.



The intro is fascinating to watch. Like a 16-bit mini-movie!

I love the opening scenes which nicely introduces you to the world you're in. Gorgeous visuals!



It's Like Having A Second Life!

Gameplay is experienced in real-time with the populous merrily going about their daily business. Having woken up in jail, your first task is to escape so it's fortunate Skorl's aren't the brightest bulbs in the box and easily fooled. Throughout, your progress will be down to careful exploration, examination, and communication so pick up every object because you never know when you might need it. Talk to everyone and see what information they can reveal and sometimes somebody might ask you to do them a favour before divulging.

The world is populated by some of the most entertaining characters, a delightful characteristic that will certainly win your heart. There are many fascinating people that help make your adventure enthralling and utterly addictive. Just start a chat with someone in a tavern, for example, a dialogue guaranteed to entertain! This charm and charisma are displayed early on as you rescue a fellow inmate called Ratpouch who immediately becomes a loyal friend. He's such good company, and will often try to help, but watch out because he doesn't half get himself into trouble by saying the silliest of things to other characters. Such a mischievous guy and a great best friend!



It's worth exploring and chatting with everybody you see. Or you could try being a dude in a dress?

Relax. Have a beer and chill with your mate Ratpouch. What more could you wish for?



Looks And Audio

This adventure is one of the most visually stunning 16-bit games I have ever played. The artwork is an absolute joy and perfectly sets the mood for a medieval scene. The characters move and walk with smooth animation and I just love those intricate details, like the bird which sits on the fence for a few moments before flying off. A simple mechanic and so impressive but it's things like that which make you appreciate the game so much.

The sound effects are the only weakness but please don't misunderstand me because they are beautiful and made up of high quality sampled sounds. However, there are also some areas that don't have any background audio at all and I personally found this disappointing, in comparison to the rest of this beautiful game.



Oh no, a fallen adventure sees this game over screen. They think it's all over? It is now!! :D



The CryptO'pinion?

Lure Of The Temptress is most certainly an impressive adventure and one you will love getting to grips with. It's funny, it's entertaining, it has a great storyline, and it will take over your life. My advice? Talk to everyone, listen to the information provided and get ready to make lots of notes. Remember, chat with everyone you come across. Yes, even those that may resemble a street bum or a wacko in a pub knitting... You never know with this huge adventure, so many twists and turns are cunningly interwoven into its storyline. Heck, you may even fall in love! :x

Personally, I would rank it as one of the best adventures and a pinch away from total perfection.


Downloads and Links

 - I found this cool image on the internet which maps the village.
 - 8BitChip has adapted a version for Ultrasatan/hard drive users.
 - No hard drive? Then instead check out Old Games Finder for the floppy version.
 - ST Format featured a superb walk-through [issue #67 / page 83].

Friday, May 20, 2016

MiNT OS

ST's can't multitask. Right?

Here's a thought: why not ditch TOS for a spanky installation of MiNT? This has been done and is called ST MiNT by Marcello. It's based on Cripple MiNT (w/ extras) and is intended for a 4MB ST running in High Res. All you need is a spare SD card for your Ultrasatan (or similar) and you're flying free in a multitasking world!!

I've installed this myself and it's shockingly easy to get up and running. It's an incredibly impressive product!!

Installation is very easy and Marcello has even provided helpful instructions to recreate the image. However, I thought I'd also add my own installation experience just for us Mac folk - but it's dead easy to do on any computer.
1) Download ST Mint disk image.
2) Insert the SD card (if an alert appears, choose ignore)
3) Open up Terminal.app and enter in three commands:
     3a) diskutil list (this displays the necessary information to identify your SD card - diskX on my iMac was disk1)
     3b) diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskX (now that you know the device ID you can unmount it - but leave physically inserted!)
     3c) sudo dd if=st_mint-0.7.img of=/dev/diskX (dd is the command that transfers the data onto the SD card and will take several minutes. Enter your password and wait!!)
4) Now eject and insert the SD card into your ultrasatan
5) Switch on the Atari ST and enjoy a baby MiNT OS

This next bit is optional and only for those struggling to identify the SD card device ID. Okay, here is a copy of my Terminal activity and, as you can see, I entered the "diskutil list" command twice. Once before I inserted the SD card and afterwards just to compare the differences in the output (before running the above)
iMac:~ ataricrypt$ diskutil list
/dev/disk0 (internal, physical):
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:      GUID_partition_scheme                        *1.0 TB     disk0
   1:                        EFI EFI                     209.7 MB   disk0s1
   2:                  Apple_HFS Macintosh HD            999.3 GB   disk0s2
   3:                 Apple_Boot Recovery HD             650.0 MB   disk0s3
/dev/disk3 (disk image):
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:     Apple_partition_scheme                        +18.1 MB    disk3
   1:        Apple_partition_map                         32.3 KB    disk3s1
   2:                  Apple_HFS Flash Player            18.1 MB    disk3s2
iMac:~ ataricrypt$
iMac:~ ataricrypt$ diskutil list
/dev/disk0 (internal, physical):
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:      GUID_partition_scheme                        *1.0 TB     disk0
   1:                        EFI EFI                     209.7 MB   disk0s1
   2:                  Apple_HFS Macintosh HD            999.3 GB   disk0s2
   3:                 Apple_Boot Recovery HD             650.0 MB   disk0s3
/dev/disk1 (internal, physical):
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:                                                   *1.0 GB     disk1

/dev/disk3 (disk image):
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:     Apple_partition_scheme                        +18.1 MB    disk3
   1:        Apple_partition_map                         32.3 KB    disk3s1
   2:                  Apple_HFS Flash Player            18.1 MB    disk3s2
iMac:~ ataricrypt$ diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk1
Unmount of all volumes on disk1 was successful
iMac:~ ataricrypt$
iMac:~ ataricrypt$ sudo dd if=~/Desktop/st_mint-0.7.img of=/dev/disk1
Password:
1228800+0 records in
1228800+0 records out
629145600 bytes transferred in 986.684138 secs (637636 bytes/sec)
iMac:~ ataricrypt$

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Resolution 101


Resolution 101 by Astral/Millennium boasts one of the finest examples of 68K power with its super speedy 3D engine. This is a true retro gaming legend and, because it's THAT good, it's now featured twice here at AtariCrypt. Yep, this is most certainly one of my favourite Atari ST games and now I am proud to own it :-)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Gauntlet III - The Final Quest



Oh, dear...

Sorry, I meant to say, here we have Gauntlet 3 developed by Software Creations for US Gold. Yet another sequel to the incredible arcade original, only this time somebody decided that the winning formula of speed and action wasn't enough. So it was decided a modernized version with an isometric viewpoint was instead needed.

Yep, gone is the top-down view in favour of a funky 3D perspective which isn't actually too bad if I'm honest. It looks different, and I liked how we begin the opening levels in a spooky forest, this looks the part alright. All the familiar Gauntlet ingredients are lurking in the woods: ghosts, generators, treasure and even food. The idea remains much the same as we hack and slash through to a medieval church... And this is just the first level!


The ruins of an old church deep in the woods. That tree looks scary so let's get inside quick!


Let's kill monsters!

Before we begin, decide who you wanna be and there are now a lot more to choose from - Warrior, Wizard, Rockman, Lizard Man, Elf and more. One or two players can team up (definitely better with two) but the basic gameplay mechanics remain pretty much the same. We're still throwing axe's, arrows, magic and more directly into the faces of ghosts, goblins and other hideous creatures that emerge from their generators.

The levels are big and split over a number of small areas which you can visit at any time. Blast the generators as quickly as possible and then follow the same rules as you always have - collecting treasure and nosh on food to stay alive. Shooting potions clears the screen of baddies or they can be collected to use later. Escaping to the next realm can only be done once humble tasks are completed - keys to collect and that sort of thing.

Essentially, they wanted this to be Gauntlet but with an isometric point of view. Sadly, it isn't really if I'm honest. What made the original games such instant and timeless classics were their immediate ability to blast monsters (either solo or with others) and the action was fast and furious. This isn't the case with Gauntlet 3. Not even close.


Inside the church are many ghosts and awkward objects to try and walk around...


Fighting in slo-mo?

Gameplay is now a lot slower, so gone is that instant enjoyment of mass killing that we love, for a more sedate exploration with some killing thrown in. That's how it feels to me. That frenzied action simply isn't here and that's made worse thanks to its level design and terrible control mechanics. Even walking is a bit of a problem...

The opening levels are littered with objects that need to be walked around. That might not sound much of a big deal, but it is because I was sick & tired of getting stuck in the scenery. This also applies to your weapons which are often blocked so can't hit their target. Heck, even the ghosts suffered from this problem!

Even worse are the controls which are so sluggish and make walking tiresome. Plus the rate with which we attack the monsters is far too slow and that means we can't destroy any generator unless you choose to walk through lots of ghosts to get a closer shot - and thus lose energy. A faster rate of firing would have fixed that instantly...


Looks like we've just walked straight into an ambush. Shoot the generators, if you can!


The CryptO'pinion?

Gauntlet 3 was programmed by Bill Barna of Software Creations and I wonder if his job was to rush through a quick and nasty Amiga port? It certainly feels like it, which is disappointing when you consider this is the same company that proudly gave us Bubble Bobble, Ghouls & Ghosts and Bionic Commando! What went wrong?

To be honest, the entire "Gauntlet" aspect was destroyed from the moment the isometric idea was born. That doesn't work and is made worse thanks to the clunky gameplay and sluggish controls. Okay, with a friend, it's better but it's still not Gauntlet. Forget this third game was ever released and boot up either of the other games instead.

Downloads available for floppy and hard drive.


A GLIMMER OF HOPE?

Update: I have contacted Peter Putnik (8BitChip) to ask about a hard drive version that supports faster Atari computers. Once again he worked his magic and I've been enjoying Gauntlet 3 on my 16MHz Atari STe and yes, I said enjoyed!! Sure, it isn't perfect but if you have a faster computer then this version will help to eliminate some of the problems, especially with the unresponsive controls.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Cuddly Demos


Thanks to Robert Cowell, I nabbed myself this hilarious image which is taken from one of the most famous Atari ST demos. I still remember the first time I saw that kid sticking out his tongue in disgust!! Amazing demo.

Grab yourself a copy of the Cuddly Demos at Demozoo.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Zynaps


Zynaps was released by the mighty Hewson back in 1988 and is a brilliant shoot 'em up. The smooth scrolling graphics are lovely and they're accompanied by equally great sound effects. Heck, even the title music is memorable (and I'll be humming it all day now). Trouble is this, Zynaps is one tough cookie and will push even the most gifted player to his limit. I feel the game just needed more lives as I am sick of seeing that 'Game Over' screen!

So, let's do just that and enable infinite lives... <evil laugh>
Right now, I am playing on level 3 and it's superb - I have never EVER got this far before. An amazing game!

LINKS

 - Klaz' Hideaway has created a version which can be installed to floppy and hard drive.
 - I recorded two videos, watch if you dare! (video 1 & video 2)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Accelerator


Accelerator was previewed in ST Action #31 all the way back in 1992 and appears to have never been released. Digital Reality was going to be the publisher so I'm guessing they went Kaboom before it was finished? This looks and plays a LOT like a certain Atari racer, but, with scrolling. Has anyone got any information to share?

AtariMania has the download of an early preview version. This is ace so we need the full version!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mega-lo-Mania


It's time for some cool box art again and this time it's Mega-lo-Mania by ImageWorks. I bought a copy off eBay for (wait for it) 99 pence. Yes, that's right and its condition is so close to mint it's unreal - I'm so lucky. Just look at the intricate details from this insane war zone, there is so much going on! It's whacky, it's crazy, and an outstanding example of gorgeous artwork. As usual, AtariMania has this featured within their library.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

POWER UP +



Gentlemen start your engines

Power Up + is an overhead scrolling racer by Marek Cichon of Empty Head. This isn't a game I've heard of before but we all love Super Sprint and the Super Cars games so I was expecting more of the same, to be honest.

Sadly, my first impressions weren't good because it felt like a cheap Super Cars ripoff. Well, I never go off first impressions because I'm usually wrong! So I took the time to configure the many options and playtest it properly through rigorous racing sessions. It wasn't long before I was ripping around the tracks, wearing a smile!



Lots of options so take time to configure Power Up to suit your particular computer.


What a power drive!

There are a lot of tracks with various conditions to endure like the type of road, weather and I really enjoyed the wet tracks for sliding around the bends. Okay, it's hardly Ridge Racer but it's still great fun. Weapons are supported and each car has the ability to fire the world's slowest "rocket" which somehow always manages to hit me! Also, watch out for oil spills left behind by the other drivers that will have you slipping and sliding like a crazy fool.

Controls work very well: acceleration is automatic through reverse and two forward gears. Top gear that allows you to hammer past the other vehicles so you better practise your cornering! Strangely, weapons are activated using the keyboard which may be awkward for joystick players? Successful racers will be rewarded with glory and a massive golden cup - before strangely being sucked down into the ground. I don't get it but it's ludicrously funny!!



There's even a track editor for the creative so why not make your own race course?


Aesthetics?

Overall, the graphics are pretty much homebrew but the spites are well-detailed and I cannot deny the amount of work that's gone into the scenery and more. Those STs with Blitter Chips are supported for better framerates but it's now that you should take a look at the configuration to get the best performance possible.

Sadly, the stock ST computers can struggle, especially if you start playing around with the settings. You'll only find yourself glaring in envy at anyone owning a faster computer. Yep, Power Up needs that Blitter and loves faster computers with extra clock cycles. Which is good and bad depending on your setup!

Sound effects can be either chip or DMA and I personally prefer the latter when screeching around the race tracks. The music is in stereo on the Atari STe and supports playback frequencies up to 50Khz - astonishing!!



I love the humungous variety of different tracks and they all look pretty darn cool.


The CryptO'pinion?

Overall, Power Up has more than its fair share of quirks and needs the player to tweak the settings for the best performance. Even then, you're left wondering what it would be like on a Mega STe or Falcon as it can be sluggish with the settings set excessively high. In my opinion, ST owners shouldn't bother as the Atari STe is the base model due to having a Blitter and DMA audio. However, even then, I'd suggest lowering the freqs...

For all its faults, this is a great racer and I have genuinely enjoyed playing on both my Atari STe and Mega STe (16mhz). There's a lot here to enjoy with many tracks that are a scream. Spend time and master the controls in a few practice games and it won't be long before you're tearing around like Dale Earnhardt on crack!!

Grab the download from my dropbox fully compiled and check out Marek's website too.



Gotta love the pile-ups and then one drops oil just as you think you can escape their clutches!



- Marek Cichon interview -


I decided to contact the developer, Marek Cichon. His website had been online years so I expected to hear nothing but, within minutes, I had a reply! We chatted and I asked a few questions along the way...

Why did you create Power Up and what inspired you?
 - I liked frantic racing games - Rally Speedway on Atari 800 plus track editor.

What did you get from the TOS platform during this time?
 - 6 years of fun and development overnight!

Did Power Up live up to all your expectations?
 - Unfortunately not. It is the homebrew game with a look developed mainly by two friends from the small city Chomutov. We would be successful to release the game till 1992.

Anything planned for the future?
 - We have released another game with the similar graphics for PC called Pixoria (see pixoria.eu)

What Atari computers do you own?
 - American NTSC version of Atari ST from 1985 year (my father bought in in Houston, Tx). I have developed most of my programs, including Power Up, on this computer but using on PAL TV. This meant black and white, unstable display (TV 50Hz, Atari 60Hz). Also a European Atari STE with 2 MegaBytes extended memory!

Easy question, what are Marek's favourite Atari ST games?
 - Vroom, Super Cars 2, Lotus Esprit Turbo challenge, Karateka, Test Drive, F15 Strike Eagle 2. Oh I see that racing wins!

Are you planning any Power Up updates in the future?
 - No. There were two releases Power Up and Power Up Plus with better graphics, shooting and oil slicks to finalise the game.

What retro games are you playing in todays crazy world?
 - I prefer the older Atari 800 games like The Great American Cross-Country Road Race, Rescue on Fractalus, Electra glide.

Are you listed on Demozoo?
 - No, it is Karel Rous (Empty Head), my distributor. I have never met him :-)

What makes Marek tick?
 - When people contact me from Australia, Mexico or UK. Those who play Power Up with my compliments. Thank you Steven.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Relix


Atari ST chiptunes are superb and proving to be timeless, unlike tracker/MOD files much of the time. Anyhow, we have numerous music disks in our library and here is Relix by DHS/Paradox. This features some of the most awesome examples of what 505 (aka Nils Feske) has created. It's quite something to hear such a massive selection of quality chipmusic pumping out of your ST's speakers so crank up the volume!

Anyhow, this disk has a cool feature that should be standard on all musicdisks - an AUTO Play function. Yep, you can leave the music disk alone and it will automatically work its way through each tune for you. I love Relix and it's one of my favourite musicdisks ever made which is saying something for a machine like the Atari ST.

Relix by Dead Hackers Society and Paradox [demozoo download]

Credits:
505 - Music
Dan - Graphics
Evil - Code, Graphics
Paranoid - Code
Zweckform - Graphics