Wednesday, August 31, 2016

BeGEMeD


BeGEMeD is a twist of Bejewelled puzzler developed for the Atari STe by Alexander de Vries. It features colourful graphics accompanied by incredible in-game music by Dma-Sc, one of my personal favourite musicians. I contacted Alexander, to thank him for this great game and it wasn't long before I was beta testing a new version!! I'm thrilled to report the latest version has numerous bug fixes and many more features with a final release due soon.

I'm honoured to have played a (tiny) part in the production of what is a fabulous and addictive puzzler. Everything has come together so perfectly, it looks lovely, sounds great, and plays every bit as good as you would hope. BeGEMeD is one of the best Bejeweled games I have ever played. I cannot recommend this highly enough. 10/10.

AtariMania has the latest version so don't be daft and download this superb game right now!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Saboteur III - The Egyptian Mission


Saboteur 3 was released in 2012 by Shadow Team for the Atari STe and Falcon. I'll start by saying that I was a huge fan of Saboteur 2 on my Spectrum 128 (not so much the first game oddly enough) so I'm excited to see this for my ST and I'm wondering how it will compare. Well, it's obviously an unofficial fan-game based upon the original 8-bit games by legends, Durell Software. Incredibly, it was programmed using GFA Basic. Pretty cool.

This third mission takes us into Egypt looking for fragments of a key to unlock a treasure-filled sarcophagus. However, and this might not come as much of a shock, but somebody has rigged most rooms with killer spikes and lots of scary creatures like mummies, bats, and scorpions. So don't expect this to be easy!!


Ok, let's begin the mission... Yeah, that means killing Mommies!

Controls are very responsive and I'm impressed with the fluency of our actions which help make this game feel authentically enjoyable. Movements are more or less what you would expect with a few changes - down/fire now makes our ninja hit under the belt without the using the old kicking mechanic. Each room is great and a pleasure for this oldskool gamer - I liked the design and kicking monsters to death is always fun. Looking at the map, Saboteur 3 is smaller than the previous game on my old ZX Spectrum but the adventure is still superb.

There are some changes to the gameplay mechanics which irk me a little if I'm being honest. Like falling off a ledge for an instant death rather than simply draining you of your replenishable strength - I miss that bar... I also failed to see the point of the spikes that pop-up to impale you each and every time, even during mid-jump!! However, the most annoying oddity are the ladders because some simply go nowhere and that's just stupid.


As you progress, things get odd and very difficult! Perhaps too difficult?

I love the graphics which are brilliantly retro and follow the original theme well using a familiar palette. Each nasty is nicely animated which makes kicking these creatures to death a joy! The in-game music is by Dma-Sc and is a beautiful example of extraordinary chiptune talent, but I still would have liked an option for sound effects.

Saboteur 3 is good but far from perfect. Sadly, I feel hardcore fans will enjoy picking at it because many of the expected Saboteur-characteristics are altered or missing. However, this is still a great game in its own right and I think even Clive Townsend would enjoy playing this alternative conversion? Well, I know I did. A lot!!

Come and get the download if you think you're hard enough!


Sooner or later, I usually end all my games looking this good! ;o)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Creatures


Somewhere in the far reaches of the universe is a planet called Blot. Much like Eden, this is a wonderful place where everything is perfect and everyone is happy. The inhabitants are lovely little creatures called the Blotians. However, for some peculiar reason, these guys got bored with their paradise and wanted something better so came up with the daft notion of a brand new identity - on a different planet. They're now called Fuzzy Wuzzies!!

What these sad creatures didn't realise was that evil demons already lived on this new planet and they are a very bad-tempered bunch too! Needless to say, they should have been happy where they were because everyone has been captured and awaits a cruel and bloody fate. You are Clyde Radcliffe, your breath stinks terrible but it is your job to rescue all of your simple-minded friends from these vicious fiends! So good luck - you'll need it.



Clyde is the cutest little thing and the game employs this theme throughout for all of its critters, be they good or bad. He is equipped with a rapid firing weapon, which is handy because many of the baddies can take numerous hits before they die. Power-ups are available, I love the 'wriggler' effect the most and there are much more to choose from. However, your superpower is the funniest weapon of all, press and hold the fire button to breathe bad breath over anything that gets too close. End of level puzzles are particularly cruel (but funny) with a harsh time limit to beat before a fellow Fuzzy Wuzzy meets their bloody death at the hands of a sadistic demon!

I love the lush aesthetics using beautiful colours and stunning artwork - the attention to detail is amazing. However, everything might look good but is spoiled by rubbish push-scrolling! Sure, this method works fine for other games but not here because it desperately needed scrolling. Audio is excellent and all sound effects use the DMA hardware [Atari STe] so what a shame they didn't go that extra mile to use the h/w scrolling or Blitter.


Creatures is very enjoyable with well-balanced gameplay and a fantastic sense of humour. However, this is a scrolling platformer at heart and a scrolling platformer needs to SCROLL so, in the end, it falls short of being a great game. A pretty good game overall but I know there are better platformers available for the Atari ST.

Help Clyde using a floppy or hard drive.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Annex


Annex is a homebrew first-person shooter published by LAPD in 1995 and attempts to blend together the action of Doom using the mechanics of Dungeon Master. Nasty aliens have taken control of the science space station, Annex. Guess what? It's our job is to kill every last one of them whilst fixing the life support reactors.

At first, I didn't think this would work using the old 90° turns but it plays very well. Movement is performed using a combination of the keyboard and mouse: the keyboard to walk and activate switches with the mouse to aim and shoot. The graphics are great but lack variety in colour and texture, thus things do tend to get a little samey after a while. Sadly, there is no map function to help us out - the docs suggest making your own.

Thankfully, the baddies speak when they see you and that conveniently doubles as a nifty "heads-up" alert. So give 'em hell and annihilate them into a gory blood splatter! Yes, this game fun and I like the way it combines action with adventure. Far from perfect but first-person shooter fans should definitely take a look. I enjoyed it a lot.

LINKS

 - AtariMania has a download available from their Atari ST database.
 - Zogging Hell has a nice selection of the LAPD library.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Floyd The Droid


Floyd The Droid was developed in 1986 by Paul Lay for Analog Software and is a hectic shoot 'em up that looks quite similar to a Robotron. But it's actually quite different in style because it's all about whacking a screen full of enemies made from the silliest sprites: robots, spaceships, fuji and even a Commodore 64 computer.

This game is fun and gets so frantic later on. Floyd also contains speech which is excellent for a game released so early in the Atari ST's life!! But, whoever wrote the title tune is obviously insane because it's zany and so weirdly wrong. Yet I find myself enjoying it and sometimes leave it playing in the background. Perhaps I'm mad?

 - I believe there was a hi-res version in the making but was it ever released?
 - AtariMania lists Floyd The Droid in their database and also Missing One Droid.
 - Atari 8-bit fans may also wanna click here: Floyd the Droid Goes Blastin'.

Sure, it's a little rough around the edges because it's an early title but this is also a piece of Atari ST history and loved by all. Personally, I enjoy frantically blasting the relentless hoard of invading oddities - it never gets old. Yup, this is ancient retro gaming at its very best so hit that fire-button and try to last as long as you can!! So addictive.


I managed to find the original of Missing One Droid and I just had to buy it!!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Frontier: Elite II


After a worrying delay, Frontier Elite II was released in early 1994 by Gametek and was unlike most other games due to its sheer size taking place in amongst the stars. Yep, that's right a whole universe of countless stars to explore which basically meant many long gaming nights are ahead (over the decades and through to the present day!)

Commander Jameson has sadly left this realm and you came along just in the nick time to reap the benefits of his will reading. Being his favourite grandson, he left you 100 credits with strict instructions to stay clear of Vegas. He also left you his pride and joy, an Eagle Long Range Fighter - so be careful and don't scratch it. You now have the means and opportunity to explore the heavens so jump into your new spaceship and begin the journey of your lifetime!


There are two basic starting positions and faster computers can even crank up the graphical details.


After watching the awesome intro, various menu options are available to begin your first adventure and I advise selecting Option 1 which places you safely in the Ross 154 System. Or more precisely, at the Sirocco starport on the planet Merlin. You have 100 credits and a rather funky piece of 3D called your spaceship so starting at Sirocco is a great place to learn the ropes of the GUI and basic trading skills along with brushing up on your piloting skills.

Frontier is an open world (space!) sandbox game which doesn't restrict in any traditional sense as you are free to travel almost anywhere and do almost anything you like. However, even gaming folklore doesn't come free and this style of living costs money. So use the spaceship to provide yourself with a good living by means of job contracts and trading because everyone needs something. This is where you come in to make your hard-earned cash.


First things first, let's check out the cool spaceships and find dodgy jobs on the bulletin boards.


Frontier's universe has two major factions, and this is the Trekkie part, for me. Firstly, we have the Federation who are based in the Sol system and then we have The Empire which is based within the Achenar system. Both offer a haven to live and trade but aren't exactly the best of friends. Also, outside the safety of their territory, you run the risk of running into pirates who want your precious cargo - and your life!! Whoever said life was gonna be easy?

These dogfights are difficult to master and possibly the hardest part of the entire game. Gone are the arcade-style controls in favour of realistic Newtonian physics which will affect the control of your spacecraft. So, momentum will first need to be compensated in order for you to slow down, stop or change a direction. Perhaps it's now that I should advise saving your game at regular intervals? Learn physics because the pirates are tough cookies.


Check out your local solar system and then see what goods are best to trade in...


Ultimately, Frontier is all about trade and trying to earn yourself the means for a lucrative lifestyle through the adventures of space and exploring the heavens. Use your galactic map to explore a 3D perspective of creation to plan a route, dig for information to find out what they need, and then buy in bulk to earn lots of cash.

Enjoy your journey but prepare thyself because nothing beats making your first hyperspace jump - very exciting!! This automatically ends once you are within the vicinity of your destination, but the distance to travel is still huge, so don't forget to use the Stardreamer buttons to pass the time quicker! Auto-docking is finally supported and, once you've boarded, get details of goods sold to reap the biggest profits. Also, before you begin looking for another trade route, remember to refuel your ship otherwise you won't be able to make another hyperspace jump!


I love is exploring the universe. Hang on, what's that dot? Zoomed in... and saw this beauty!!


After earning lots of money, you might want to consider checking out the Bulletin Board where you can upgrade your ship or search for extra jobs like transporting passengers, help to find a missing person, mining, military work or information. Heck, there is even a black market for those without a conscience where you can trade slaves, weapons, narcotics, or even be an assassin. However, this dark lifestyle will definitely take you into dangerous waters so will almost certainly attract the attention of the law. Are you ready for that kinda heat, bad boy?

Frontier is one heck of a game and one with immense potential and I'm hoping this feature will regenerate your interest to play? Frontier is all about progression and making the right choices to build up your own empire. Don't expect to jump into the pilot's seat and see the entire universe in one sitting because will take time, money and commitment. Frontier: Elite II is jaw-dropping and quite literally one of the best games, ever.
Grab yourself a slice of creation and play this immense game right now which comes either on floppy or for your hard drive. The manual is available on AtariMania and you can catch a glimpse of the 16bit universe right now (which is still quite unbelievable for a 16-bit game. Quite incredible!!)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Hector vs The Mutant Vampire Tomatoes From Hell


If there was ever a rival to probably the best titled Atari ST game, this is it. Hector vs The Mutant Vampire Tomatoes From Hell was released in 1993 by Pete Whitby and is a platformer with a fascinating retro gaming familiarity. It involves you, with your trusty spade, burying evil vampire tomatoes in the holes you've just dug out. Once those daft tomatoes fall in, don't panic, all you gotta do is bury the suckers and this is the fun part of any bonka bashing!

The graphics and sounds are homebrew, and so very cool, I really do love both. Like a colourful Spectrum platformer with great sound effects. What I must rave about are the controls, which are spot-on perfect and I cannot stress this highly enough. Our little spade digger has perfect controls, without ever feeling wooden or awkward.

What an absolute joy to play with these monsters in hell. Today, I personally plan to spend lots of time digging holes and squishing tomatoes. I say Hector presents a fantaSTic challenge and is tons of fun. What a brilliant game!

LINKS

 - Watch the YouTube video by Wasabim which shows just how the game progresses through several levels and it also has an amazing intro - both the game itself (beautiful chiptune) and also the video intro. Which is incredible!
 - Stonish is literally the best website for Menu CDs and Hector appears on Adrenalin #12
 - Old Games Finder also has a list of downloads and it's worth noting that it can be installed onto hard drive!
 - Pete Whitby is featured on Demozoo and has made another game that might be familiar to the older gamer.
 - Update: Hector is now listed within the AtariMania database and includes the documentation!
 - Did you get any of my subtle retro gaming references? ;-)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Knight Lore


AtariCrypt is all about the Atari ST/e home computers but today I shall make an exception to feature something very special for its big brother: the wonderful 32-Bit Falcon. I was recently contacted by Janez Valant (Swe, of YesCREW) and he said there was a little-known release of Knight Lore available for the Falcon.

Yes, that's right!! Ultimate Play The Game's KNIGHT LORE!! It appears complete with gameplay that feels spot-on perfect. In fact, it's better because the slowdown isn't as bad here. However, the colours are a little suspect: the original's monochrome display may have been because of limited hardware but it looked cool. Not so here. It's good but it's often ... too much. Watch the image above and tell me Sabreman doesn't look camp!

Well, what a shock to find Ultimate's Knight Lore available for the Falcon but it's a huge shame that it doesn't work on the Atari ST/e. Still, it's brilliant to play - even if somebody like me needs an emulator. Fantastic game.

Download Knight Lore and relive 1984 ZX Spectrum - style!! :D

Friday, August 19, 2016

What's wrong with this picture?


Look at my Atari ST desktop... can you spot two things that are wrong?

Okay, I've been experimenting with a few GEM programs that allow larger resolutions and more. Some support interlace to double the vertical resolution but that can look a little odd and hurt the eyes! (use 60Hz!!). Others can create a virtual screen by using the hardware scrolling of the Atari STe. But do you really wanna scroll?

Interestingly, there are also programs that enable overscan and it was this that sparked my curiosity. I managed to activate this and using the border worked perfectly. There doesn't appear any slowdown or problems when using most GEM programs. In fact, it's cool so why didn't Atari push the boat a little further back in 1985?

I've made a bundled download of these programs - please let me know if there are others I've missed.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Magic Boy


Sit back and prepare to be amazed...

Magic Boy was released late in 1993 by Empire and is one of the cutest platformers I've ever seen. Personally, it reminds me of Rainbow Islands in both its quality and ravishingly charming styles. We are Hewlett, a young boy with a magic wand who accidentally turned all the animals into freakishly cute monsters. Seems plausible to me...

How do these things keep happening? Not to worry, it's our task to restore everything back to normal, so that means venturing forth through many beautiful worlds to tag & bag the nasties. Sounds boring, you say?

Well, I think you should brace yourself for a shock. Firstly, check out these screenshots...


The backgrounds are always superbly detailed. As are all sprites too - gorgeous!


Magic Boy must be one of the most colourful games on the Atari ST.

Looks great, doesn't it? Well, there are four massive worlds to explore (Sand Land, Wet World, Plastic Place, Future Zone) and each offer eight levels. Things begin relatively easy before lots of cunning tricks and traps are introduced. This is staggered nicely and certainly keeps things interesting - and the player on their toes.

This mild learning curve is nothing as this is such an easy game to pick up and play, so you're instantly leaping your way through in no time. Make sure you collect all the power-ups which will aid your progress. Just watch out for anything that looks oddly cute - it's not really. It's very nasty so shoot it and then bag it. Great stuff!!

This is literally one of the most stunning 16-Bit games I have ever played which is thanks to John Dale and Leigh Christian. They have created a game with bright, radiant visuals and so many comical characters. Nothing has been sacrificed and you will see your Atari ST looking this good AND that includes ultra-smooth vertical scrolling.

Sound effects are brilliant and best experienced using an Atari STe. Yes, I said STe but that doesn't mean the ST is lacking. Not one bit. Accompanying music is perfect with a fun-themed high-quality-tune that remains in your head all day. Yes, Magic Boy is most definitely one of the sexiest Atari ST games I have ever played.


Things are now starting to get serious with cunning level designs for a tough challenge!


Future Zone has some incredible levels to hop through as does the quirky Plastic Place.

It's not often I say this, but this one seriously perfect platformer. Yup, it's perfect and has been a genuine pleasure to play because it's so much fun and I really cannot think of something negative to say. I love the idea, control mechanics, visuals, sounds ... Arghhh!! I just love this game. Do you understand? :)

This proves just what the Atari ST/e is capable of when in the hands of talented people. So stop what you're doing and load it up right now. An easy 10/10 and possibly the best 16-bit platformer ever released?

- DOWNLOADS & CHEAT CODES -
Grab yourself either the floppy disk or a nifty new version to install onto a hard drive/Ultrasatan thanks to Peter over on 8BitChip. For those who wanna flick through directly to the later levels then you will enjoy these codes. Firstly, on the menu screen, press and hold down the desired keys before pressing fire to begin:

     -> Sand Land......(part 1)  =  S + 1

     -> Sand Land......(part 2)  =  S + 2
     -> Future Zone....(part 1)  =  F + 1
     -> Future Zone....(part 2)  =  F + 2
     -> Plastic Place..(part 1)  =  P + 1
     -> Plastic Place..(part 2)  =  P + 2
     -> Wet World......(part 1)  =  W + 1
     -> Wet World......(part 2)  =  W + 2

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

AtariCrypt box art?



Over the last few months, I've been taking pictures of my own ST games to feature within our box art section right here on AtariCrypt. Yesterday, I got quite a shock when a good friend of mine, Jose.Ant, created this fake box using my old avatar (a photo I took in Tombstone, Arizona. Just see the flickr link near the bottom of this page).

You know, the ST world sure has some awesome people and I absolutely love this image!!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

MIG-29 Fulcrum


Mig-29 Fulcrum was developed by Myomantic for Domark in 1991 and has excellent (fast!) vector graphics with lots of exciting missions. However, if I'm honest, I think I just enjoyed the experience of flying rather than completing the mission tasks. The Soviet box art is superbly designed and the contents are also quite outstanding - incredible value for money. I really wanted to hang the poster on the bedroom wall above my monitor, sadly the wife said NO!! :/

LINKS

 - 8BitChip have adapted this for hard drive installation, which is just cool!
 - Floppy disk images are listed on Old Games Finder.
 - ST Format reviewed it back in issue #20 and gave it a cracking 92%
 - There was a sequel called "Super Fulcrum" but I never played this. Perhaps a cash-in?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Days Of Thunder


Boogity, Boogity, Boogity!! Yes, I'm a big NASCAR fan and I've finally got around to playing Mindscape's Days Of Thunder which (I think) is the only stock car racer for the Atari ST. I did wonder how the sport might appear in 16-bits and it started off well with a fantastic title tune by David Whittaker. However, it was soon all downhill...

Never have I seen a game look so bad. Not only are the visuals shocking on the eyes but the framerate is diarrhoea. The sound fx are worse - and I truly do mean that. But I could forgive how a game looks and sound for great gameplay. Sadly, this has none. Nope, not even a hint of enjoyment oozes out of this release.

Funnily, I did wonder how my 16MHz Mega STe might perform and perhaps save the game? So I contacted Peter Putnik and asked for a hard drive adaptation and he was so kind to develop this. But even the extra MHz cannot save this awful game. But thanks for trying mate!

The worst Atari ST game ever released? Well, put it this way, I could not stand to play more than a couple laps before rebooting in anger and disappointment. And that's my final thoughts about this disgusting stock car racer.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Elf


You are little Cornelius, a cool looking dude who's girlfriend, Elisa, has been kidnapped by the evil Necriliousr. Armed with his magic ring (stop it!!) you must travel eight incredibly gorgeous landscapes, avoiding strange and wacky creatures and solving simple puzzles in order to rescue the love of your life. Yes, that's Elisa and not your Atari ST!

Elf was released in 1991 by the mighty Ocean Software and is a beautiful platformer with simple adventure elements and takes place over several massive levels.

Gameplay is stuffed full of relentless action with an onslaught of baddies constantly popping up to cause you grief and slow you down as you search for pieces of the puzzles. It's these puzzles which remind me of the David Jones games on my old ZX Spectrum as they involve trading items with the silly characters, which is an interesting aspect used here.

There are other items, even animals, to collate as "pets" which is essentially your currency used to purchase an assortment of power-ups including firepower, extra lives, the ability to fly (click on the image) and much more. Each is superb and certainly help to increase longevity.

Elf is jammed packed with humorous touches. Some animals have cute expressions and there are also many integrated novelties, like rock eyes that watch your every move. I like how one of the baddies followed me, by using a ladder, a simple but impressive mechanic. Also, in true Atic Atac style, a tombstone is erected when you lose a life and it is rumoured to be haunted! If Elf has a weakness, it's the number of allotted lives which is far too few and should have been greater considering the task at hand. I also found it a little annoying when some critters would walk onto the screen just as I was about to walk off, thus zapping valuable energy but this is minor.


Just look at those cute critters and lovely colours but dawdle and they'll kill you - but at least your death is superb!!

The graphics are tremendous with such outstanding attention to detail for both the scenery and characters. The baddies are some of the most detailed sprites I have ever seen, killing them almost makes me feel bad (almost). Sound effects are excellent but it's the music I love, by Matthew Cannon who also worked on Navy Seals. Awesome chiptunes throughout, which are quite bewitching and (for once) I prefer playing a game with the music on!

Elf is a game you need to experience. It's not one to pick up and play for a few minutes. Shoot and kill everything that moves, trade with characters and, hopefully, you shall discover how to bribe your way onto the next level... I feel this is one of the best platform/adventure games I have ever played and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

LINKS

 - 8BitChip has a version for hard disks and the floppies can be found via Old Games Finder.
 - Here is a walkthrough but don't spoil this awesome game. Use only when absolutely necessary!!
 - Type in CHOROPOO during gameplay for 99 Pets.
 - Fancy some of my handy hints to get you started on the first level?
          -> Tweet Tweet, that cute little bird is hungry.
          -> Red Indian's love feathers.
          -> Toilet paper... ahem.. surely too easy?
          -> That big guy just loves roast chicken. Yum!

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

1632 ATARI podcaST


It's always nice to see someone doing something creative for the ST scene and here is Atari 8-bit legend, Wade with a new podcaST. Obviously, this is about the Atari ST and by a guy that didn't originally care for it. Interesting? Maybe, so let's check this out and his re-discovery of the best 16-bit retro computer! <clickety click>