Sunday, July 31, 2016

Big Nose The Caveman

Big Nose is 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 and that means only one thing, a yummy Pterodactyl roast dinner. Fortunately, one was spotted flying by, so your Jurassic journey takes you through dangerous dinosaur-infested lands looking for that tasty bird. Kill, cook and eat it with your fellow big nosed family.

This is simple platformer released in 1993 by Code Masters and is extremely easy to pick up and play. Club anything that looks likely to cause you harm, make lots of jumps and then fight lame end of level bosses. Controls are excellent, very responsive and with precise movement. I love the cartoon-like graphics but what I don't like are the bland backgrounds which desperately need a splash of rasters! Sound effects are beyond sparse unless you jump or hit something and should really have been far better. Thankfully, the title music is fantastic so is an incredible shame that it doesn't play during the game...

Big Nose is a great budget platformer which certainly cannot compare to many other Atari ST platformers. It looks a little boring, is too silent and is far too easy to complete. Even the end of level guardians aren't much of a challenge. However, it's always fun to play and that's what matters the most. I'm sure you can complete this within a couple of hours but I find myself still having good things to say. Yes, I have really enjoyed playing Big Nose The Caveman!

Okay... it's plain jane.. it sounds drab.. it's far too easy.. but it's a bucket load of fun. Play it.

LINKS

- Here is a video recording I made. Yes, I deliberately ignored the cheats!
- 8BitChip have adapted Big Nose for hard drive installation and also supports faster computers!
- If you need a floppy disk image then Old Games Finder is the website for you.
- Spoiler Alert! Here is how to zip through the first two levels real quick: Level ONE and Level TWO
- Like clubbing cute dinosaurs then give Prehistorik a try?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Chicago 90

Everyone played cops and robbers as a kid and now that we're grown-ups (aka BIG kids) we can do the same all over again using our favourite retro computer. This is all thanks to Microïds and their 1989 hit, Chicago 90 where we can play as the good guys or bad guys.

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. 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, especially 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 an overhead city map which displays the location of the fuzz and the other a first-person view, from inside your car, which should help avoid crashing into the law abiding citizens! 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 and driving through the city, avoiding cars and running from the cops, is surely an early glimpse into an early GTA experience?

With a little more thought for gameplay objectives, this could easily have been a fantastic venture into a life of crime. As it happens, we're stuck in the Chicago maze frantically looking for our escape. It's far from perfect but running from the cops is always going to be a thrill and I really enjoyed this Chicago 90 so much I bought it!

LINKS

 - 8bitchip have the hard drive installable game with Old Games Finder. supplying the floppies.
 - Atari Greenlog has a cool gameplay video.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Dungeon Master


I needed a nice big pic of the Dungeon Master maps to view. So I created this to hopefully help stop myself getting lost!! (click the image to view it at its huge original size). Also, I have an Atari ST folder which contains all the files for maps and with help and information about spells, etc... Clickety click to download this :-)
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


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, defeating Demon Champions (aka end of level bosses). Ultimately, be the hero and save the day!

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 making use of the hardware scrolling and DMA Audio. This is a cute looking platformer with interesting levels which aren't big so can possibly be completed too quickly? Power-ups are available from the Good Witch who pops up halfway through the levels to make a profit out of you and your noble crusade. Her prices aren't cheap so it's lucky that slain monsters leave behind their pennies for you to collect. However, all power-ups are lost after losing a life, which sucks! End of level guardians are rather lame and quite easy to defeat but they still somehow have an annoying ability to materialise right where you're standing which is rubbish.

  
The jerky STfm on the left has extra colours for the sky but the silky smooth-scrolling STe version does not.

Visually, this is such a treat with lovely detailed characters and scenery which is both rich in colour with smooth-as-silk scrolling (Atari STe) and gorgeous skies (Atari ST). Audio is played using the DMA hardware but sadly still appears very poor, especially under emulation, and I prefer the chip sounds from the STFM version by far.

I love platformers but I must admit to being disappointed by this enigma. It looks great on both models of Atari ST but the magic wand's mechanics are rather lame and spoil what could have been a nice game. This is due to your magic wand which can only fire two shots at any given time, therefore possibly leaving you defenceless in some situations. Now, I pushed myself through the fluffy pain barrier and endured the silly controls and (shockingly) I found myself starting to enjoy this quirky game. Chronicles Of Omega isn't terrible but it also isn't that great so there ya go...

LINKS

 - 8BitChip have a hard drive installable game which is ace!
 - Old Games Finder has access to all the floppy disks you could ever desire.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Enchanted Land


We are Kurgan the magician, who dresses like a weird and odd-looking Santa! He must retrieve the lost magic from the lands of Damiran and will need to battle all kinds of cutesy creatures through five lovely levels in order to restore things back to how they were. I have always considered Enchanted Lands to be an Atari ST showcase developed by the legendary Carebears who showed the world just what our favourite 16-Bit computer is capable of producing.

However, this is one of the hardest platformers I have ever played and it's how the game ultimately fails. We all love a challenge but this is ridiculous - the mechanics are so unforgiving. 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. Level one is incredibly hard but perfectly introduces you to the game’s wicked ways. I struggled to complete it before seeing the technical delights of the second stage, which are tremendous. Sadly, this is also hampered by unfair mechanics and therefore needs to be played over and over, if only we had more lives...


Visually, this game is a Christmas cracker!! Hundreds of beautiful colours, gorgeous sprites and eye-popping 50fps scrolling which is such a joy to experience. Musically, it is breathtaking and the sound effects also do their job perfectly. There is only one word for the audio and visuals - beautiful because my ears and eyes can find no faults!

Enchanted Land desperately needs a trainer and, even then, you will spend aeons trying to master its cunning nature. I personally think its difficulty level could sink the Titanic and this overkill sadly spoils what could have been an outstanding platformer. Technically, it's a masterpiece but there are better games to play on the Atari ST.

LINKS

 - 8BitChip to have a hard disk installable game with the floppies 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 to show its worked okay.
          -> 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

Winglord


Victor Bruhn recently wrote on Atari-Forum to say that a full version of his 1994 Atari STe shareware game was now freely up for grabs. So I did just that and I have been enjoying Winglord for the last couple of days.

This is basically Joust with cool extras like a nifty little missile mayhem which is a great idea. As you can imagine, the player needs to poke his way to victory through a number of levels either in co-op or on your lonesome. Gameplay is pretty much as you would expect as you frantically flap your way around a screen which contains ledges and lots of enemies to slice into oblivion. The jousting dudes enter the arena using sliding doors at the top of the screen so stay high and use Mister Ed the best you can to kill each opponent!

Victor programmed Winglord using his Atari STe and as such it uses the Blitter and also the DMA audio hardware for more interesting sound effects. Thankfully, it will still work on the older pre-STe models but only with minimalistic sounds and the chance of possible visual oddities, so YMMV. Please read the documentation because handy tips are included along with other instructions like how to adjust your flap power of which, I prefer the lower setting.

Winglord might not look quite as pretty as Joust but I'm sure fans will still love it. The gameplay is far more frantic and comes with a few nice "STe" bells and whistles to set it aside from the original, whilst still remaining faithful. It's hard to believe this was once shareware and not commercial because Winglord is downright awesome!

LINKS

 - Download directly from Victor's thread over on the Atari-Forum website.
 - I have made a backup copy which I'm keeping on my own Dropbox - I take no chances!
 - IF you're somehow curious to play the pre-registered demo version then clickety click here.
 - I'm hardly the best jouster but 28,600 is my high-score. So beat that! ;^)

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!!

LINKS

 - 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

Sokoban


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 option to load up extra levels. Absolutely brilliant and I've really enjoyed taxing my old brain cells with this cracking puzzler. Highly recommended.

LINKS

- A download is available from Peter's website and it's also hard drive installable.
- Are you now a Sokoban junkie? Well, here are 40,000 to play with!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bod

It is with great sadness that I have to inform you all of the death of Stephen Jones, aka Bod of demo groups STAX and Effect. More recently he was the gentleman behind the Atari STE game R-Type Deluxe, an eagerly anticipated game which was highly regarded to be the biggest thing for years. This demonstrated to the entire retro gaming world just what the Atari STe was capable of when programmed by somebody with talent and the dedication of Stephen.

I remember talking to him last year and he kindly supplied several screenshots of his progress for R-Type Deluxe. I was excited to feature them on the little known AtariCrypt, it was so nice of him and I'll never forget that.

His commitment to the Atari ST scene is featured on Demozoo where you can view his entire Fuji portfolio. It's extremely impressive, to say the least. A great loss. Prayers and best wishes to his family at this time †

Update July 24th -
I know this file is already on Atari-Forum but here is my backup of Stephen's precious R-Type Deluxe source code. Keeping it safe until another programmer takes on the task of completing it. <download>

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

Z-Out


I had a free hour today so decided to entertain myself with Rainbow Arts' Z-Out. Essentially this is a bog-standard horizontally shoot 'em up 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 and it fails to bring anything new to the table when compared to others. Overall, it's quite a good game and I did enjoy playing Z-Out but the Atari ST has a wealth of better shoot 'em ups to chose from.

LINKS

 - 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

Substation

The year is 1996 and Mitushi Industries have developed a new type of energy that is extracted from under the seas. All seemed well for a few years until communication was lost with their underwater substation base. So they contracted in the help of a Multi-Environment Marine from the American government. In case you are wondering, this is you - so suit up!

Upon starting, ditch the knife and hit key "2" which switches to a rather effective pistol. Now collect all the goodies here and exit. Opposite here is another room with more goodies, however, there are a couple of ghouls hiding within. So will you risk it or will you run away scared, down that seemingly empty corridor? I feel that the older gamer, who's lived through the earlier years of first-person shooting, will immediately feel at home with Substation. It certainly has a familiar theme, user interface and a style very reminiscent of those golden years to feel more like an old skool shooter, like Wolfenstein. Its gameplay is centred on frantic gun-fun with a sneaky slab of role playing thrown in for good measure - and I love it!

Useful items just lying around for me?
The baddies are an intelligent bunch who won't simply home in on your location. Expect some to use evasive tactics as they shoot a few rounds and then run and take cover! Use that pistol to protect yourself, remembering to sidestep oncoming fire and don't forget to keep searching for better weapons which have carelessly been left waiting for you.

I love the various weapons, I only wish it didn't take so long to find them. The chain gun is absolutely superb and one Arnold Schwarzenegger would be proud of. However, I was left deflated by an underwhelming shotgun.

Movement is actioned with the keyboard using the arrow keys to walk and also Insert and Clr Home keys for sidestepping. Control key fires your weapon, the Space Bar opens doors and TAB drops a time bomb. Don't forget to make use of the level map which is conveniently located at the bottom of the screen. It automatically maps wherever you walk and the keypad can be used to examine already explored areas.

Even batman doesn't stand a chance!
Graphically, I'm both impressed and unimpressed in equal measure. I love the eerie atmosphere and the use of light-sourced sprites with great visual effects and all within a minimum framerate of 25fps on an 8MHz Atari STe.

However, the walls have no texture mapping because UDS opted for faster Gouraud shading to maintain the framerate. This is a little disappointing because games like Destruction Imminent and Wolfenstein 3D both prove an ST is more than capable. I feel they also missed an opportunity to have textures as an option, especially for those with faster computers.

Audio is spot on perfect because Substation uses the enhanced hardware so we're able to hear distance and directional sound effects which help to identify just where those baddies are lurking. Equally impressive are the tunes with a 25Khz playback for superb quality so crank up the volume!

Technically speaking this is one of the most impressive games ever released on ye olde humble Atari STe. A 3D engine capable of maintaining a brisk 25fps, distance & directional stereo sounds, light source sprites, networking, intelligent AI, over 30 on-screen colours and the faster your computer the higher your framerate. However, if you're expecting this to be our version of Doom then you might be disappointed. Don't misunderstand me, Substation is damn excellent in its own right and it should be treated as such. Pick up that gun and go have yourself some fun!

LINKS

 - I would recommend downloading the D-Bug version which is hard drive installable.
 - Do you need even more Substation action?
          -> A new and playable preview level was featured on ST Format cover disk #72.
          -> ST Format held a competition and the winning game is on cover disk #75.
          -> UDS released a Substation Trainer which is on ST Format cover disk #76.
          -> Download all three cover disks from Exxos who has the lot!
 - Flick through ST Format issues #74 #75 #76 #77 for tips and excellent maps of every level.
 - Substation YouTube video recording right here folks (credit: Wasabim)
 - Fancy a few cheats? Of course, you do so type these codes during your game :
          -> PUNK - weapons
          -> NIRVANA - health
          -> PFLOYD - door keys
          -> FALUKORV - extra time
          -> SKRAPAN - more bombs

Sunday, July 03, 2016

PowerDOS

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 previously 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 using this. PowerDOS is for GEMDOS what NVDI / QuickST / Warp9 are for the VDI components of TOS. This means all those inefficient bits 'n bobs which go together to make up the disk operating system are replaced by "newer" routines. This will improve overall system performance (TOS) and also adds a few new features within a multitasking environment. It even comes bundled with lots of system utilities also.

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

I do love to tinker with my Atari ST and utilities like PowerDOS I find darn amazing. Give it a try and see how you get on - let me know! Download links available from Atari-Forum (with credit to Mark_G and bj)

Friday, July 01, 2016

OIDS!


Little iddy biddy Oids are our robotic friends which are being mistreated in a terrible way by their evil creators, the Biocretes. They 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 is written by Dan Hewitt and was unleashed unto our populous in 1987 by FTL. For years it remained an Atari ST exclusive title until 2002 when the Apple Mac received its conversion. (the older PPC Macs and not the newer Intel Macs, sadly)

In a similar fashion to Thrust you must navigate a spaceship through caverns looking for our metal friends. Use weapons to destroy the buildings holding them captive and then find a place to land so they can get onboard - sit back and watch as these superbly animated stick men make their way to your ship, it's actually very simple and elegant. Once all are found, your mothership appears high in the sky to whisk everyone to safety.

However, those pesky Biocretes are pretty darn evil and have armed each planet with numerous hazards and artillery defences. Expect rocket launchers, gun turrets, repulsers, gravity bases and more. Everything can be destroyed, but don't expect a mothership or ground base to be easy, it might be better to simply fly away like a cowardly chicken!

Every ST nutter knows of Oids because it's ace. It has some awesome level designs, great controls, and spot-on perfect physics which work perfectly. Although there are several other similar games (which are all excellent) this still remains my favourite of the bunch. One of the most enjoyable games ever - Oids is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

LINKS

 - UPDATE: 8BitChip have updated Oids with faster frame rates over the original game.
 - 8BitChip has a download which you can install to hard drive.
 - Klaz Hideaway also has a great download for both floppy and hard drives.
 - Read the Oids manual, forget that it's for the Apple Mac and take a peep!
 - Oids for older Apple Macs.