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, 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!


Aesthetics?

So let's look at the graphics and audio which is 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 out there for the Atari ST but give it a shot and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Downloads available for hard drive and floppy.

2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. It is :) But the way he/she fires their weapon is a little annoying and spoils it a bit. Great to see such fantastic support for both models of ST computer. Kudos to Arc!

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