Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Venus The Flytrap


Planet Earth is dying because of mankind breeding like bacteria and raping the planet of all its natural resources in order to serve our gluttony. Over-use of pesticides has finally killed off all the bugs and left mother nature rather unbalanced but the boys in the laboratories have created cybernetic bugs to compensate our stupidity. Of course, it wasn't long before they went postal and must now be eliminated before it's too late!

This is a run and kill 'em all platformer spread over fifty levels ranging from the green forests to Death Valley. You're a mean-looking bug equipped with a cannon to fight off his metallic foes, this can be upgraded using the power-ups left behind by those crazy insects. These consists of a wide range of improvements like better firepower, silly reversible controls, and even antigrav upside-down walking being possible - and that only serves to give me brain ache! Bonus rounds appear each way through a level and flip the game into an exciting shoot 'em up for extra points.

Graphics are pretty darn beautiful with smooth scrolling, nicely animated sprites and it's worth noting all those many extra colours which spruce up what would normally have been a boring background. Music is perfect, something I can listen to all day and the sound effects aren't too shabby either. Controls are bang on perfect and this is what makes Venus a great game, with a style that is clean and responsive without ever lagging. It can be a little repetitive at times but the gameplay is superbly balanced and so much fun with lots of interesting features.

Venus The Flytrap is an extremely enjoyable platformer which has always been on my favourites list.

LINKS

 - I also recorded a midi version of the game's excellent theme tune.
 - An awesome remastered version by ACC:Xess which completely blows you away!
 - Okay, here is a hard drive installable copy of Venus by the mighty D-Bug to download.
 - Those that require a floppy disk image should check out Old Games Finder.
 - Fancy some level codes? Of course, you do! Simply press the SPACEBAR on the menu screen and then ignore using that handy keyboard because they decided that the joystick would be far better to enter these codes:
     -> The Forbidden Forest...starting level
     -> The Frozen Wastes......MANTIDS
     -> The Dead City..........CICADAS
     -> Wood World.............PSYLLIDS
     -> The Kaverns............PIERIDS
     -> Death Valley...........SATYRID
     -> The Creeping Swamp.....LYCAENID
     -> Tech World.............PYRALID
     -> Translucent Plain......NOCTUID
     -> The Stygian Creek......?
 - I believe these cheat codes work fine, however, I have never tried them so YMMV... enjoy:
     -> extra time.............JUPITER
     -> extra ammo.............PLUTO
     -> weapons galore.........MARS
     -> fly like superman......MERCURY
     -> unknown................SATURN

Monday, September 26, 2016

Elvira - Mistress of the Dark

"Can somebody help me find my chest?". Yes, I was hooked from the very moment I saw its cover and then read that line! This game probably has the best box art - ever!! Well, after staring at it for longer than I should, I have nothing more to add and instead should simply play the game. It's a brilliant adventure too and highly recommended!

LINKS

 - AtariMania has this marvellous and captivating adventure listed within their ST database.
 - A hard drive version is available from D-Bug. (highly recommended)
 - Old Games Finder has the floppy images for those that love disk-swapping hell.
 - A little surfing revealed this walk-through (untested by me... but now I'm tempted!)


Sunday, September 25, 2016

CarVup


CarVup is a cute scrolling driving/platformer released back in 1990 by Core Designs. You get to play the part of a cheerful car who appears to love painting platforms, simply by driving over them. It's a pretty simple idea and will certainly feel familiar to the ... well... more mature gamer just like me!

Each screen has many platforms in need of a new coat of paint. This easy task soon becomes tricky because of the numerous baddies that populate the playing field. Don't think about shooting your way through because there are no weapons, without power-ups, so baddies must be avoided which will become troublesome seeing as your car has no breaks and is constantly driving kamikaze fashion! This mechanic forces you to constantly flip direction to find an alternative route when frantically trying to find that last tile.

This is a game which would sink like a lead balloon if it had anything less than perfect controls. So I'm grateful to say they are indeed responsive and well thought out without any lag. Many platforms are difficult to reach so require precise timing, which is made harder when the enemy might be blocking your path. CarVup always requires quick and immediate reactions to avoid losing a life because you never know what might appear.

Each level always looks superb with lots of colours and a lovely cartoony design. I think Core has done a pretty nice job with the scrolling and the sprites are too cute! Sound effects are nice and do their expected job very well but I love the chiptunes which are all foot-tappingly superb. (press key 'M' to toggle)

CarVup might not appeal to everyone but I recommend you give it a try because it's an enjoyable twist on the painter theme. I'm ancient, so I found its old skool simplicity highly addictive and I always needed "just one more go".

LINKS

 - 8BitChip have created a hard drive installable version which is just dandy.
 - The One magazine released a demo of CarVup which contains extra levels NOT in the commercial release!
 - Did you know, if you press the 'Z' key during gameplay then it will stop your car!
 - Enter these codes into the high-score table :
          -> infinite lives - R.J.TOONE
          -> infinite bumpers - BUMPER
          -> 9 lives - PUSSYCAT
          -> faster turn speed - WOOAARRGGHH
          -> level skip - WHOOPSIE
          -> extra points - ARNIECAR
          -> more points - BARMY CAR

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Resolution 101


Resolution 101 is by Astral, one of my favourite developers who made Horror Zombies from the Crypt and Archipelagos. They portray the future to be a crime-ridden hell hole and Resolution 101 certainly paints that image very well to present us with a vector equivalent of this grim scenario. You are an ex-criminal driving an armed cop car and are trying to make up for a dodgy past by hunting down drug runners. So, just like a Van Damme or Stallone movie from the 1980s you should expect lots of action, thrills, and plenty of explosions!

Paint whatever picture you like, this is nothing more than an action shoot 'em up. The objective is nothing complex - just kill all the baddies who materialise in random locations throughout the city. Your car has a radar map which helps to track these through the urban jungle and when you kill them they drop their stash for you to collect. This angers the druglord who pops up on your display with his humorous expression! Thankfully, your job is performed from within the comfort of your anti-gravity squad car which is conveniently directed using the mouse or joystick (mouse is best). Move it to view your surroundings, left button accelerates and the right fires the weapon - a great combination.

   

The graphics are excellent with the druglord popping up for a great comical value that never fails to make me smile. To think this was released when first-person shooters where in their infancy is very impressive and you should not expect a crude or sluggish experience because it's one of the fastest 3D engines I've seen. It's far beyond impressive to think our 8MHz Atari ST is producing such a kick-ass performance with an extremely high framerate. Audio is also excellent and I love the sound effects which add a pizzazz to the destruction. Music is great and a cracking tune that you won't be able to get out of your head all day long - hitting F7 turns it off if you prefer to remain sane.

This is one of the best action-based shoot 'em ups on the Atari ST. It's brilliant and so much fun with no overly complicated and unnecessary storyline to get in the way. I really do enjoy zooming through the city, which is fast and always offers a satisfying chase. Quite simply, Resolution 101 is one of the best retro games I've ever played!

LINKS

 - A great map that comes free in the box if you spent the pennies and I did :-)
 - Download the hard drive version from 8BitChip and Old Games Finder has the floppy disks.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Frogger


It feels like we've been waiting forever but Scott Clifford has finally released the finished version of FROGGER. This is a near-perfect representation of the classic arcade game and is now available for download. Plus it can also officially be labelled as the newest Atari ST game in existence so well done Scott - this is fantastic!!

LINKS

 - Frogger is downloadable right now from the mighty AtariMania website. Get it!!
 - Scott's portfolio is listed on Demozoo as is Mathieu Stempell (aka Dma-Sc) who did the sweet audio!

Friday, September 16, 2016

[A]tari [G]ame [T]ools


Here is a selection of videos from the current release of Douglas Little's "AGT" engine. These are incredibly impressive and he's also hoping that many people will use this to create lots of different Atari ST/e games. Doug's thread on Atari-Forum details more information and he has a bitbucket website for downloads/tutorials.

  

Monday, September 12, 2016

Demos


Okay folks, I need to select a handful of cool demos for the Atari ST -and- STe computers. I've already chosen about a dozen or so of my personal favourites but I'd love to know which yours are. They don't necessarily need to be predictably famous megademos, anything that oozes a style you love whilst it displays its majestic 68K power!

LINKS

 - It goes without saying, check out ST Survivor's awesome Demo Encyclopedia website!
 - Demozoo is a great place to search for your reminder of any Atari ST/e demos.
 - Check out the AtariCrypt YouTube channel with playlists for both STFM and the STE.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Where Time Stood Still

Where Time Stood Still is one of those games that bridged my transition from the ZX Spectrum to Atari ST. It was developed by the legends, Denton Designs and published by Ocean Software in 1988.

For those too young to remember, Denton Designs came out from the ashes of the famous Imagine Software and I spent much of my youth playing (and mapping) many of their excellent games. I still miss playing The Great Escape, which I personally rate as pure retro gaming gold.

Your plane has crashed on a remote plateau somewhere in the Himalayas. Thankfully you and your three passengers survive the wreckage but find yourselves in a land inhabited by prehistoric creatures, dodgy bridges, quicksand slutch, killer rock hands and even strange tribal dudes who anger easily at their new white friends. Your name is Jarret, the classic hero type who probably has a chiselled jaw and an expensive designer stubble! The other characters are mostly controlled by the computer and follow you wherever you go, so long as you keep feeding them! They have their own unique personalities - Clive is a rich fat man who can moan a lot and tires easily. Gloria and Dirk are a couple in love and I hear Dirk has some rather nifty language skills under his belt. Well, so long as he has Gloria to keep him happy...

The world is viewed from an isometric perspective and scrolls along very nicely. Music is by Fred Gray (of Black Lamp fame) and it is truly amazing, however, if you so prefer, sound effects can be used instead. Controls are with either the mouse or a joystick (I prefer the latter) with a user interface that is both simple and intuitive. On-screen information for health and ammo will assist during the times when you consider eating, drinking or resting.

   

Exploration is the key to success so take your time and make notes of the areas you visit and examine everywhere for useful items. Don't forget about team morale and I'm sure your group will let you know when they are in need of rest, food, water or suffering from an injury. However, don't be too eager to waste supplies pandering to their every need because sometimes it's good to make them wait. But don't be too much of a slave driver because grumpy, tired people tend to make daft decisions like splitting to go it alone! Coming face to face with a dinosaur is scary and I always use cowardly stealth tactics when I can, which usually means walking a longer and wider route or simply taking cover in the trees. This game has it all and I feel I should be wearing a butchered animal skin now! :-)

I've been playing Where Time Stood Still throughout "summer" and it's a satisfying feeling when you begin to make progress. We've made it through the swamps, found a box of dynamite, ran like a girl when seeing a scary T-Rex and even chatted with the locals over a cup of tea. However, later on, a nasty hand came out from nowhere and choked me to death! This forced me to rethink my strategy before advancing across the river, only to later wrestle with unfriendly (ie, hungry) natives. I'm really enjoying Where Time Stood Still and I can sense that victory is close!

LINKS

 - Download a hard drive installable version from 8BitChip which features a save game function you'll love.
 - Those needing a floppy disk image can grab that from Old Games Finder.
 - Fancy a map of the landscape? This will help players so much!
 - Here is an older map from Sinclair User magazine. It's small but still handy with a planned route!
 - Crash Online has a great Denton Designs web page.
 - Fancy a few tips to get you started?
          -> pick up the rope at the start otherwise you might get into a spot of bother crossing a bridge
          -> surprisingly, it's often possible to run away from dinosaurs and then shelter in the trees!
          -> refill your flask in the river
          -> just because someone (chubby) is moaning, he can be pushed to continue for a while longer...
          -> there are two native camps, the first are the friendly guys!
          -> keep moving in the swamp - don't stop!
          -> hands love a piece of fresh meat...
 - I love Bob Wakelin's advert with big boobs and those legs!! It's a shame the loading screen wasn't as nice :^)

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Retro Image Tool

  
  

I recently came upon an interesting video by Sascha Springer, aka Anima. He has created a web tool that quickly converts modern pictures into the Spectrum 512 format which can then be viewed on your Atari ST/e with astounding results!! There are many features to tweak such as machine, colours, dithering and these four pictures are in Spectrum 512 format for the Atari STe (palette 4096). Give this extraordinary tool a playtest to see what you create.

LINKS

 - Watch this tutorial video before playing with Retro Image Tool (Chrome recommended).
 - You can view your .SPU images using his slideshow program on your Atari ST/e computer.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Pommitus


I recently read a posting by Tatu Salmela, who created Pommitus back in 1996. I contact him, we got talking and I was then sent the latest release followed by the English version. I also found out he learned to program by reading ST Format magazine and he is still patching and improving Pommitus to this very day. Since then, it has been converted from Finnish into English and you can now find a download on AtariMania.

Pommitus is a multiplayer strategy game which involves using calculated tactics to bomb your opponent. At first, I wasn't too keen on the user interface because I often clicked outside the control box, thus mistakingly taking my shot. Thankfully, it soon becomes second nature and is great fun bombing your neighbour to kingdom come! Sounds are minimal but good enough and the mono graphics are sharp and detailed - that's right, you will need a monochrome monitor for the best experience. Being GEM-based, it should work on all Atari computers and even supports those lucky enough to have a maths coprocessor installed!
Oddly, an emulator like Hatari might run Pommitus slower than a real Atari computer but that is easily fixed by flipping the CPU setting to 16 or 32MHz. However, nothing ever beats the real hardware!
I am incredibly impressed with Pommitus and so grateful Tatu shared his works with AtariCrypt. Oh, and also this little tidbit of news - he is developing a new Atari ST game similar to Pommitus which will work in ST Low. It is in the early stages but I am very excited to see yet another Atari ST game in development! Watch this space, folks. :-)

LINKS

 - AtariMania has the English and the original Finnish version from the 90s listed & downloadable.
 - If you loved Pommitus then also try Ballerburg. Two superb strategy games you will love.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Spontaneous Compression


Say hello to the third album by YM-Digital, Spontaneous Compression. Released only yesterday and it features nine tracks of awesome audio for us to enjoy. Of course, each was created using their own Atari ST computers!!

LINKS

 - YM-Digital is made up of these two talented folks Yerzmyey and Factor6.
 - Yerzmyey's album was featured here a while back, "fatal aTTraction" - what a cool TiTle :-)