Sunday, July 31, 2016

Big Nose The Caveman

Big hooter!

We are Big Nose, a fella from prehistoric times when it was perfectly normal to live in cave squalor. However, once a year, he and his family strangely celebrate Thanksgiving, which means one thing, a yummy Pterodactyl roast dinner. Fortunately, one of these birds was just spotted flying by - now isn't that lucky? So this Jurassic journey takes you through dangerous dinosaur-infested lands looking for that tasty bird to kill, cook and eat with your fellow big-nosed family.

Code Masters released this humble platformer back in 1993 and was programmed by Neil Hill. The game has us clubbing anything that looks likely to cause harm, plus lots of platform jumping and fighting lame end-of-level bosses. The controls are excellent and very responsive plus I love the cartoon-like graphics with amazing sprites and decor. However, what I don't like are the bland backdrops which desperately need a splash of rasters! Sound effects are sparse unless you jump or hit something but thankfully, the title music is fantastic (what a shame it doesn't play during the game).

Big Nose is a budget platformer so, with that in mind, it feels a little cheap in places and I'm sure the Atari ST could have done much better. Thankfully, the gameplay is superb and very addictive - it's this that matters the most. I'm sure you might complete this within a couple of hours but that proves how playable it is. So why not kill a little time and play it?

Big Nose The Caveman is a bucketload of fun and I think you will all enjoy it a bunch. Fantastic game.

Go and grab Big Nose The Caveman for either floppy or hard drive.

Argh, a dinosaur!! What shall I do...?

Take that, you dino freak!!

Those snakes are pesky things but easy to kill.

The spiders are so cute and have a cunning edge to them too.

This is access to a secret place that allows you to skip through level one. Weird...

This is another secret place that grants you a brisk walk through the next level. Ugh, no thanks!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Chicago 90

An isometric DRIVER?

Let's start by saying that every kid played cops and robbers and now that we're grown-ups (aka BIG kids) we can do the same again using our favourite retro computer. This is thanks to Microïds and their 1989 hit, Chicago 90 which allows us to drive around the streets as either the good or bad guys. Easy choice, I say? Yep...

As a cop, it's our job to do the chasing but I didn't really click with this game type. However, I always prefer to be a bad guy which is much better and I love having a car full of swag whilst rushing to flee the city limits for my freedom! The controls feel a little flaky, at first, but you will soon be rip-roaring around Chicago in no time.

You could always be a good guy instead of running from the law? Yeah... that's what I thought!!

Read the flipping manual

Sadly, collision detection is often suspect and the car oddly bounces during a bump when going too fast. The cops are a little simple with naive AI that isn't exactly Einstein-level but good enough to give you a good chase. If caught, you're presented with a rather dodgy-looking image of the scene... I shall say no more about this lol.

Initially, the in-game user interface is rather complex, and especially confusing if you choose to be the police. Down the left are many icons - most of which I have no idea about! Along the bottom of the screen are two windows - the first is an overhead city map which displays the location of the fuzz. The other is a first-person view (from inside your car) and should help avoid crashing into law-abiding citizens. Well, in theory!

Success!! We've finally found the way out of this urban jungle. Now, HIT IT!!

The CryptO'pinion?

Chicago 90's downfall is its weak Police role which I personally found cumbersome and rather boring. So, that left me with the gangster role which is great fun! Driving through the city, avoiding cars and running from the cops, is surely an early glimpse into an early GTA experience? It's pretty much fantastic and I've loved every second.

Overall, with a little thought for gameplay objectives, this could easily have been a fantastic venture into a life of crime. As it happens, we're just stuck in the Chicago maze frantically looking for an escape. However, racing away from the cops is always going to be a thrill and I enjoyed this a lot - so I ended up buying it. Excellent game!

Visit Chicago - Driver & GTA style!

8bitchip has a hard drive installable version
Old Games Finder has all the floppy disks!
Atari Greenlog now has a cool gameplay video.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Dungeon Master

I needed a picture of the Dungeon Master maps so I created this image to hopefully help stop me from getting lost. (right-click the image to view - it's huge!!). Also, I have zipped up an Atari ST folder which contains lots of files for maps along with help and information concerning various spells, etc... Clickety click to download it :-)
Also, it's worth taking a peep at issue six of ST Action (I loved that magazine!!) because they featured a fantastic five-page Dungeon Master guide. This can be viewed over on AtariMania.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Chronicles Of Omega

A game for both Atari STs?

Chronicles Of Omega was released by ARC/Atari in 1990 and is probably the first commercial game to feature support for the enhanced Atari STe by making use of the hardware scrolling and DMA Audio. But that doesn't mean the STfm has been forgotten because this displays gorgeous rasters for the sky which aren't possible on the STe when using hardware scrolling. So each machine has something rather cool up its sleeve!

The lands of Omega have always been peaceful until the day came when a demon captured all of the children from the village. Play as either Alwin or Irma and battle your way through five evil-infested lands, killing everything in your wake, and defeating Demon Champions (aka bosses). Ultimately, be the hero and save the day!

Here's a handy map of Omega which I must admit looks like a lovely place to visit...

This map plots Alwin and Irma's journey through the lands of Omega.

Shoot, Shop and Kill

This is a cute platformer with interesting levels that aren't overly large and filled with many ghouls. Walking from left to right, you'll encounter many different monsters along your journey and they're all stuffed with cash. Kill as many as you can and collect their loot which can be used to purchase power-ups in the Good Witch's shop.

Yep, there's always someone willing to cash in on any noble crusade and she pops up during each level to tempt you with her wares. Her prices aren't cheap so you should try and kill as many monsters as possible instead of running scared. Annoyingly, all purchased power-ups are lost after losing a life, which sucks! End-of-level guardians are rather lame and easily defeated even though they can frustratingly materialise right where you're standing!

First impressions? This is one of those moments when I can see the potential which wasn't taken advantage of in some respects. There are so many awesome ideas (and some ripped) but this is essentially a decent platformer. With a little fine-tuning, Arc could have had something special on their hands.

The Atari ST has more background colours and gorgeous chip music!


So let's look at the graphics and audio which are different depending on which ST you use...

Visually, Chronicles Of Omega is a treat with lovely characters and lush landscapes. Both are rich in colour and the Atari STe gets to use its hardware scrolling for a smooth 50fps. The older ST hasn't been forgotten and what it lacks in framerate is compensated by extra background colours. However, the Atari STe wins by far.

For the audio, both computers take advantage of their strengths: the Atari STe uses DMA samples for the music and sound effects. The older ST uses its YM2149 for stunning chipmusic which I must say is a million times better than what the STe pumps out. This is too easy, the older Atari ST wins the audio battle hands down.

My opinion? Well, I'd dump the ST in a flash with its fancy rasters for ultra-smooth hardware scrolling. However, it wins the audio battle because Steve Barrett excelled with the quality of his chiptunes over the blurry samples. We all know the Atari STe is capable of better, so here's the kicker: ARC should have given STe gamers the option to chose between chip or DMA. That would have been perfect.

The Atari STe lacks the background colours but runs at a silky-smooth 50fps.

The CryptO'pinion?

I must admit to being disappointed by this weird enigma. It plays the same on both models of Atari ST but is spoilt by the magic wand's mechanics. This is due to its inability to fire more than twice at any given moment: which means walk...shoot...walk...shoot. If you forget then you're possibly left defenceless in tight situations.

I pushed myself through the fluffy-control pain barrier and (shockingly) found myself starting to enjoy this quirky game. In fact, I managed to reach the final level and I was genuinely having fun albeit with the awkward firing. Kudos to ARC for making use of the Atari STe which certainly makes me wonder why later platformers didn't.

Whatever you're thinking, this isn't a terrible game. Not in the slightest and is definitely worth playing. Okay, there are better ones out there for the Atari ST but give it a shot and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Downloads are available for hard drive & floppy.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Enchanted Land

The cuddly Carebears have made a game!

We are Kurgan, a magician who dresses like a weird-looking Santa! He must retrieve the lost magic from the lands of Damiran and battles all kinds of cutesy creatures over five levels in order to restore things back to how they were. However, this is one of the hardest platformers I have ever played and it's how the game ultimately fails but, let's continue on.

We all love a challenge but this is ridiculous - the mechanics are so unforgiving which makes everything a chore without any enjoyment. Just wait until you meet those jumping critters or the spiders, which are often annoyingly placed just off-screen, thus will suddenly appear when you get close and zap away your precious energy. Did they playtest it?

Level one looks incredible but is also incredibly tough. However, I guess it does a neat job of introducing you to the game’s wicked mechanics. TBH, I struggled to complete it and I only got to see the technical delights of the second stage by using a cheat. Sadly, this level is hampered by more unfair mechanics and therefore needs to be played over and over, if only we had more lives. Argh, I found myself unable to play for long which infuriated me for a variety of different reasons!!

I always considered Enchanted Lands to be a showcase product. Developed by the legendary Carebears who showed the world just what our 16-Bit computer is capable of producing when in the hands of people who don't make excuses. The game is almost a demo designed specifically to show off the Atari ST but, they forgot the gameplay!

Wanna see a screenshot? No? I understand. How about an animated GIF to enjoy the lush visuals...

Well, the immense talent that went into the game's development is astounding!


Visually, this platformer is a Christmas cracker and I wish every game I boot up looked this gorgeous!! I mean, it really is like a playable demo with hundreds of beautiful colours on screen at once. The landscapes are stunning and are complemented with equally gorgeous sprites (who will cause all the headaches that a gamer dreads).

TCB certainly can program to a level most software companies can only dream of. And did I mention everything scrolls along at an eye-popping 50fps scrolling? Beautifully programmed with jaw-dropping visuals. Yep!

The Audio is every bit as impressive as the graphics. Musically, it is breathtaking with tunes (and sound effects) that are perfectly suited. My ears can find no faults with everything Mad Max produced. Magnificent tunes.

Let's hop from cloud to cloud looking for more deadly places to die!!

The CryptO'pinion?

Enchanted Land looks and sounds so perfect but it's immensely tough and desperately demands using a trainer. Even then, you will spend aeons trying to master the game's cunning temperament. I personally think the difficulty level could sink the Titanic and it's that difficulty overkill that spoils what could have been an outstanding platformer.

These guys certainly knew their stuff. Technically, a masterpiece but it's supposed to be a game and not a demo. And a game without much enjoyment, or an enjoyable challenge, isn't something I desire. I guess this is our Shadow Of The Beast in the sense it's nothing more than an ST showcase. Look and listen but don't expect much to actually play... sigh.

There are better platformers to play for the Atari ST and I'm gutted to write that. Truly, I'm absolutely gutted.

8BitChip has a hard disk installable version.
The floppies can be found via Old Games Finder.

Okay, it's time to cheat your way through this cruel platformer:
On the title screen, type in, "TCB RULES FOREVER" and the screen flashes.
Now you can press keys 1 - 5 to pick a different level.
Also, pressing F2 - F10 for lots of different effects. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 23, 2016


Great news!

Victor Bruhn has recently posted on Atari-Forum and kindly donated the full/registered version of his 1994 Atari STe shareware game, Winglord. This is based on the awesome Joust arcade game, of course, and features support for one or two players - either human or computer - and a few other neat features you aren't expecting.

Everyone knows Joust and Winglord is very similar in gameplay. The jousters will now enter the arena via sliding ceiling doors so it's a good idea to remain high and use Mister Ed to best your opponent. We are now equipped with missiles and the Atari STe is utilised for fast Blitted graphics and DMA sound effects.

Make sure you read the documentation because it includes handy tips along with instructions for adjusting flap power to finetune control and handling to your own preference.

Winglord might not look as pretty as Joust but the gameplay is furiously frantic and comes with a few nice "STe" bells and whistles to set it aside from the original, whilst remaining as faithful as it possibly can be. It's hard to believe this was once shareware and not commercial because Winglord is downright fantastic. Top marks!!

I also have a backup copy on my own Dropbox. Yup, I take no chances with quality ST games :)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Fernandez Must Die

This is a game I featured on AtariCrypt a while back and absolutely loved it. In fact, I loved it that much I went out and bought myself a near-mint copy of the game! Fernandez Must Die is one of the best commando clones out there because it's simply great fun and doesn't take itself too seriously. A fantastic kill 'em all game I am proud to own!!


 - If you have the hardware, then I advise you chose Peter's adapted version.
 - Otherwise, grab a floppy disk image from Old Games Finder.

Saturday, July 16, 2016


Never judge a book...

I love hearing about new games that are in development for our beautiful Atari ST and today I found out about a brand new Sokoban puzzler. It's written by Peter Lane and is a GEM-based program so it will work on every model of Atari computer and features 50 levels, a scale-adjustable display and the options for tons of extra levels. Absolutely brilliant. I've really enjoyed taxing my old brain cells with this cracking puzzler. Highly recommended for puzzler fans!!

Thursday, July 14, 2016


It is with great sadness I inform you of the death of Stephen Jones, aka Bod. More recently he was the gentleman behind the Atari STe game R-Type Deluxe, an eagerly anticipated upgrade to an already ace game and was highly regarded as the biggest STe project for years. He demonstrated to the entire retro gaming world just what this machine was capable of - when in the hands of someone with talent and commitment. Something we as Atari STe owners appreciate more than most.

I remember talking to him last year and he kindly supplied screenshots of his progress I was excited to feature them on my little-known website. Kindness I shall never forget. Also, his commitment to the Atari ST scene is fully featured on Demozoo where you can view his Fuji portfolio. It's extremely impressive, to say the least. A great loss.

Prayers and my condolences to his family and friends at this time †

Monday, July 11, 2016

Atari ST demos

People often ask me if I know of any demos that can be run from their hard drive. Most are obviously designed for floppy disks but there are many which can and many more which have been recently patched. So I have added an "HDD" tag on Demozoo for all the demos I have installed onto my hard drive and there are lots! :)

Of course, this is a work in progress so let me know if I've missed any... Clickety Click to enter Demozoo.

Friday, July 08, 2016


Enjoying a quickie

I had a free hour today so decided to entertain myself with Rainbow Arts' Z-Out. Essentially this is a bog-standard horizontally-scrolling shooter with nice graphics and (familiar) sound effects. The controls work well but it feels like a poor clone of Menace or R-Type but there is a nifty two-player feature which we really enjoyed.

However, I found it extremely difficult at times, plus it didn't really bring anything new to the table compared to shooters already out. Don't get me wrong, this is a good game, and I am really enjoying it, but the Atari ST has a wealth of better shoot 'em ups. Am I right? Well, I think so but let me know what you think in the comments below.
8BitChip has adapted this for hard drive installation w/ a level skip feature.
Floppy disks can be downloaded using Old Games Finder.
Here are some nifty cheats :
          > pressing J + K together gives infinite energy.
          > pressing J and a number between 1 - 6 (on the main keyboard) to skip levels.
          > pressing K and a number between 1 - 3 (on the keypad) to jump stages.

Monday, July 04, 2016


You'll need a 25MHz PC for this one...

I remember the days when the ST was getting on a bit and, ahem, the Falcon didn't quite cut it. Not only that, but all my mates had left behind their Atari STs and Amigas for overly expensive PCs. They were bulky and incredibly ugly but I also remember how gutted I felt when I saw Wolfenstein (I almost died of shock the first time I saw Doom!!).

Anyhow, we still had our moments, and the Atari ST had a decent selection of first-person shooters by the mid-90s. In 1995 along came a company called Unique Development Sweden, who decided that our old 16-bit computer wasn't quite dead yet. They graced us with Substation which was about to change everything we thought possible. Read on...

The story goes that Mitushi Industries has developed a type of new energy that can be extracted from under the seas. All seemed well until communication was lost with their underwater substation base. Oh no... So, they contracted the help of a Multi-Environment Marine from the American government. In case you are wondering - yes, this is you!

Righto, that's the basic storyline that wasn't really needed so let's take a gander at the first screenshot...

The mission update screens are superb with tons of information.

When a 1989 computer blows you away!

Upon starting your first game, it's a good idea to ditch the knife - hit key "2" which switches to a rather effective pistol. Now, collect all the goodies you see lying on the floor and open the door; outside, is access to more goodies but there's also a couple of ghouls lurking! Will you risk a fight or run away scared down that seemingly empty corridor?

Movement is actioned with the keyboard: arrow keys are used to walk/turn around with Insert and Clr Home keys for convenient sidestepping - this works so brilliantly using a real computer!! Control key fires any weapon, the Spacebar opens doors, and punching the TAB key drops a bomb. Don't forget to make use of the map located at the bottom of your screen: this automatically tracks your movements and the keypad can be used to examine the explored areas.

The baddies are an intelligent bunch who won't stupidly head straight for you. Nope, expect some to use evasive tactics as they shoot a few rounds and then run away and take cover! So use that pistol to protect yourself, remembering to sidestep oncoming fire! Other weapons can be found and the chain gun is absolutely amazing - Arnold Schwarzenegger would be proud to carry it. In fact, each of the weapons is superb - I only wish it didn't take so long to find them all.

Tell me you aren't excited to stop reading and play this baby for yourself? Wait, come back I've not finished...

I know what you're thinking and no, there isn't anything wrong with the colour!

16 Colours are enough!

Graphically, I'm both impressed and unimpressed - in equal measure. Firstly, let me say that Substation has a freakish amount of atmosphere! This game is scary with something nasty around most corners. Anxiety levels will be high thanks to its superb design using amazing visual effects - like the use of light-sourced sprites. The frame rate needed to be smooth for a game like this to be playable and the basic 8MHz Atari STe zooms along at 25fps - which is outstanding!!

Sadly, the walls lack texture mapping because UDS opted for Gouraud shading to maintain the smooth framerate. This is understandable but also disappointing because games like Destruction Imminent and Wolfenstein 3D prove the ST is actually capable. I feel UDS missed an opportunity to allow for optional textures on faster computers.

The audio is spot-on perfect. And I do mean perfect. Substation utilises the enhanced hardware so we're able to hear distance and directional effects. This helps to identify where the baddies are lurking surprisingly well. Equally impressive are the tunes played at 25Khz - excellent quality. You're gonna love it so crank up the volume!

LOL I love this screenshot that I managed to take just as he was getting blasted!!

The CryptO'pinion?

Technically speaking this is one of the most impressive games for ye olde Atari STe. Think about it, an 8MHz computer capable of running a first-person engine that maintains a brisk 25fps. Not only that but it features distance and directional stereo sounds! There are 30 on-screen colours, light source sprites, and intelligent enemy AI. Heck, you can even play against others over a network and those with faster Atari computers will support smoother framerates.

Substation is superb - a fantastic shooter with great weapons, challenging AI, and interesting maps. It's not an easy game but each mission is as tough as they are enjoyable. However, if you're expecting Substation to be "our" Doom then you will be disappointed because it's more like Wolfenstein. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a criticism. Just understand that fact.

Oh yeah, this is one seriously awesome first-person shooter so pick up your guns and have yourself some fun!!


Download on floppy or best of all for your hard drive.

ST Format featured a basic preview level on cover disk #72.
They also held a competition and the winning game is on cover disk #75.
Fancy a trainer? ST Format cover disk #76 has all the answers!
[ all ST Format coverdisks can be downloaded off Exxos ]

Substation tips and maps can be found in ST Format issues #74 / #75 / #76 / #77.

We all love cheat codes and to get all weapons just type "PUNK"
"NIRVANA" gets you extra health and "PFLOYD" unlocks doors.
"SKRAPAN" credits extra bombs and "FALUKORV" allows extra time.

Sunday, July 03, 2016



I was recently reading through Atari ST Review #32 and I came upon an interesting tidbit for a public domain tool called PowerDOS. I had never heard of this but it sounded interesting and potentially very useful.

The slowest part of any computer is the hard drive and, whilst this might not matter quite as much for Ultrasatan, there is still a benefit to be had: PowerDOS is for GEMDOS what NVDI/QuickST/Warp9 are for the VDI components of TOS. That means all those inefficient bits 'n bobs that go together to make up the disk operating system are replaced by "newer" routines that improve system performance (TOS) and also add a few new features within a multitasking environment.

Installation is as simple as copying the program into your AUTO folder and rebooting. I'm using TOS 2.06 and had the obvious problem with NVDI but everything else appears to work fine. The speed improvements are most welcome for example, try loading up CAB or JAM (with all their plugins enabled). Sweet!!

I do love tinkering with my Atari ST and utilities like PowerDOS are amazing. The incompatibility with NVDI is worrying but I do wonder if a middle-ground can be forged by using QuickST or maybe Warp9? Whaddya think? Give it a try and see how you get on, let me know in the comments below. Download is available from Atari-Forum (with credit to Mark_G & bj)

Friday, July 01, 2016


Oids, the final frontier...

There are certain games that need no introduction because they're instant classics that changed the course of history in some way. Think of Knight Lore (Speccy), Dungeon Master (ST), Doom (PC) and you get the idea. Oids is another that needs no introduction but, this one is possibly restricted to the Atari ST world, and all those who looked on in green envy, of course! Well, let's continue on anyhow just in case you are braindead and have never heard of this game before...

Little iddy biddy Oids are our robotic friends but they are currently being mistreated in a terrible way by their evil creators, the Biocretes. Innocent oids are now being held prisoner on various remote planets located in the deepest parts of space without any noticeable atmosphere - yet strangely trees still managed to grow! ;-)

Oids was created by Dan Hewitt and was unleashed on the world in 1987 by FTL. For years, it remained an Atari ST exclusive title until 2002 when the Apple Mac received a conversion. (the older PPC Macs and not the newer Intel or ARM Macs, sadly). Anyhow, this is a bid deal for the ST because it's exclusive and something that holds many dear memories for me.

Hurry up and rescue little stickmen from that prison!

In space, no one can hear you scream!

In a similar fashion to Thrust, you need to navigate a spaceship through caverns searching for our metal friends. Use weapons to destroy the buildings holding them captive and find a place to land so they can get on board. Now, sit back and watch as the superbly-animated stickmen make their way toward your ship. Simple and elegant. Once all are found, your mothership appears high in the sky to whisk everyone to safety.

Controls are so simple to turn, thrust, fire and so on. It might sound a little strange to rotate and turn your ship in the right direction before thrusting. But it works perfectly well and in tune with the physics and gravity of each planet. It feels real, without being fiddly or difficult thus ruining your enjoyment. It's perfect.

Those Biocretes aren't going to sit back and watch you take the captives. They're darn evil and have armed each planet with hazards and artillery defences: rocket launchers, gun turrets, repulsers, gravity bases, etc. Everything can be destroyed, but don't expect a mothership or ground base to be easy. Sometimes it's best to fly away like a cowardly chicken!

Hang on, so trees can grow just fine on rocks without an atmosphere?

Sound & Vision?

Visually, this game might first appear simple and without much to it. Well, you would be correct is in some ways. However, stop right there buddy boy, because this game is bang-on awesome. The outline of each planet's landscape is represented by a rough terrain which looks ragged and suits the barren feel. Buildings, turrets and all other objects are detailed so nicely. However, it's the excellent animation of those stickmen that makes my grin very wide!!

Audio is lacking in the chiptune dept - there isn't any! But we do get to hear the boing...boing... of the ball in a cool 3D intro. In-game effects are for the ship's thrusters and guns - I love the superb firing sounds and other explosion effects are nice too. There isn't anything more required and music would kill the dead-of-space atmosphere.

Roaming around planets is fun but later levels are very, very hard to master. Learn to pilot!

The CryptO'pinion?

Every ST nutter loves this game because, well, how can I put it? Oids absolutely magnificent!! The idea isn't original but the execution is spot-on thanks to superb mechanics, realistic physics and interesting levels. Also, not only was this an Atari ST exclusive but it's one which is enjoyable and extremely challenging thanks to great gameplay. Wonderful game.

Although there are several other similar alternatives (all of which are excellent - like Thrust) this easily remains the best of the bunch. Oids is one of the most outstanding games released - you might say it's supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!! ;)

UPDATE: 8BitChip has updated Oids with faster framerates!! *

8BitChip has a download that can be installed to HDD.
Klaz Hideaway has a great download for both floppy and HDD.

Read the Oids manual (Apple Mac but relevant)