Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Venus The Flytrap

Gremlin predicted this 30+ years ago!

Planet Earth is dying because of mankind's habit of breeding like bacteria and raping all its natural resources to serve our gluttony. Well, some rubbish like that anyhow... But, for this game, the over-use of pesticides has finally killed off all the bugs and left mother nature unbalanced but we have created cybernetic bugs to compensate for our stupidity. Of course, it wasn't long before they went postal so we must eliminate them all 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 mechanical bug equipped with a cannon to fight off the foes and 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 brain ache! Bonus rounds appear each way through a level and flip the game into an exciting shoot 'em up for extra points.

Controls are bang-on perfect with a style that is clean and responsive without ever lagging. The graphics are pretty darn beautiful with smooth scrolling and nicely animated sprites plus it's worth noting all those many extra colours which spruce up what would normally have been a boring background. The music is perfect, something I can listen to all day.

Venus The Flytrap is an extremely enjoyable platformer which has always been on my favourite list. Great game!

* I also recorded a midi version of the game's excellent theme tune.
* An awesome remastered tune 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

Greatest box art ever made?

"Can somebody help me find my chest?". Yes, I was hooked from the moment I saw this cover and then read that line! This game has the best box art ever I've ever seen. Well, after staring at it for longer than I should have, perhaps I should actually boot it up and play it? Ahem, okay, I have nothing more to add to this fine subject matter!

One of my favourite Atari ST games and probably the best box art in the world...


A hard disk version is available from D-Bug. (highly recommended)
Old Games Finder has 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


Paint by Wheels!

CarVup is a scrolling driving/platformer released in 1990 by Core Designs. We get to play the part of a cheerful car that appears to love painting platforms by simply driving over them. Yes, it's a pretty familiar idea but one which will certainly appeal to the... well... more mature gamer (just like me!) who remembers Painter. #AncientGamer

Each screen has many platforms in need of a new coat of paint and 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 collecting optional power-ups) so baddies must be avoided. This will be troublesome as your car has no breaks and loves driving constantly in a kamikaze fashion so these mechanics force you to constantly flip direction to find an alternative route whilst frantically searching for that last tile. It's fun, it's frantic, it's pointless - it's Painter!

So, I think it's time for the first screenshot which contains a bunch of handy information...

Follow the instructions and learn the different jumps otherwise its Game Over, buddy boy.

Input & Output

This is a game which would sink like a lead balloon if it had anything less than perfect controls. So I'm grateful they are indeed responsive and well thought out. Best of all, they're responsive and without any annoying 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 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. Personally, I think Core did a great job throughout with the cute appearance, smooth scrolling and cute sprites. The sound effects are pretty nice and do their expected job well but it's the chiptunes which are all foot-tappingly superb. (press key 'M' to toggle).

Right, it's time for another screenshot and this one is from the game itself you will be happy to know...

Always be on the lookout for dangerous items and strange obstacles or even dodgy enemies!

The CryptO'pinion?

CarVup may not appeal to everyone, especially those old enough to remember how boring Painter was! However, I recommend you give this a try because it's an enjoyable twist on the theme and enjoyable too. I'm an ancient gamer but still found myself enjoying its "just one more go" appeal. Hardly a Grade A release but, definitely worth playing.

And that's about it really, a fun spin on Painter that works very well. Yep, I really enjoyed playing CarVup!

Floppy disks are available via Old Games Finder with a hard disk version by 8BitChip.
The One magazine released a demo version containing extra levels NOT in the commercial release!

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

Bad guys need killing

Resolution 101 was developed by Astral who also made Horror Zombies From The Crypt and Archipelagos. They portray a future that is a crime-ridden hell hole displayed using gorgeous vectors for a grim scenario.

We are an ex-criminal turned good and it's our job to hunt down the bad guys in our anti-gravity squad car. So, just like any Van Damme or Stallone movie, you should expect action and lots of explosions! Use your car radar to help map this urban jungle. Whenever you kill anything, they drop their stash for you to collect - which angers the drug lords that will pop up on your monitor display. It's now that you realise your job is to eliminate everyone!!

Control is best with the mouse: use this to view all around your crazy new world. The left button accelerates and the right fires our weapon. This is an excellent system that works perfectly and is far better than the joystick. The graphics are superb using such a fast and smooth 3D engine. I must say it's great when the drug lord appears on your screen - so comical. The sound effects are great as is the music which I love - you can hit F7 to flip between these.

This is one of the best 3D shoot 'em ups for the Atari ST. It's fantastic with no overly complex (ie, unnecessary) objectives to get in the way of your enjoyment. I really liked zooming through the city, which is always fast for a most satisfying chase.

Quite simply, Resolution 101 is one of the most frantic and enjoyable retro shooters that I have ever played.

Don't miss this fantastic shooter - floppy & hard disk

This baddie looks like something from Dr Who so let's zip around him and zoom away!

That guy looks like my old Computer Studies tutor from college. Spooky!

Each level features great animations of the drug lords taking a hit... Nice developers, really!!

The map of our drug-dealer world!

Saturday, September 17, 2016


Turning back the clock to 1981

You know, it feels like I've been beta-testing Frogger forever but, it's finally complete!! Yes, we have the official release of Frogger, by Scott Clifford. Do not expect a cheap knock-off because this is about as accurate as it gets with authentic visuals, sounds and playability. I'm sure every fan of the arcade game will adore this brand-new conversion. Plus it's 2016 and the Atari ST is getting new games released - which is incredible!!

Frogger is such a simple game but let's take a wild stab at the gameplay basics...
Leapin' Frogger! Home may look like it's only a hop, skip, and a jump away, but looks can be deceiving. First, there's a dangerous highway to hop across, full of fast-moving cars & trucks. Then there's a swirling river to leap,  full of frog-eating creatures. How's Frogger going to get home safely? By letting you hop him on his way. Guide Frogger safely through this perilous journey, and you'll jump for joy!

The object of the game is to hop as many frogs to safety as you can - and to score the most points along the way. Each time you bring 5 frogs home, you'll hear a short tune.  Then the game will continue at a more difficult level with your remaining frogs. The traffic will be more difficult to cross. There will be fewer floating objects on the river. Frogger-eating snakes will also appear on the riverbank in progressively more difficult levels. The game ends when no frogs (lives) are left.

Your score is shown at the bottom of the screen throughout the game. Points accumulate as follows:

Jumping Frogger forward = 10 points
Jumping Frogger home = 50 points
Jumping 5 frogs home = 1000 points
Taking a lady frog home = 200 points
Eating a fly = 100 points
Extra points for time left = 10 points (per remaining second)

I always love information screens - plus how authentic is this? Amazing conversion.

2016 and the Atari ST is alive & kicking!

Frogger should work fine with every model of ST computer but it's only been tested on the Atari ST, Atari STe and Mega STe. So please let us know if you have any issues using one of those super-speedy computers that neither Scott nor I could afford. Okay, you can download this amazing arcade game right now from AtariMania. Enjoy gaming like it's 1981!!

It's Frogger. Which is an original classic. Guess what? The Atari ST now has an excellent and authentic version!!

Update: You may be interested to know that Scott is now a member of Effect and has also been interviewed by AtariCrypt!! He has worked on many demo screens that you need to check out, like the amazing Turrican Music Disk. However, he currently has RAIDEN in development specifically for the Atari STe.

Friday, September 16, 2016

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

Feel the power of the Atari STe!!

Here are new videos from the current version of "AGT" by Douglas Little. A.G.T. stands for Atari Game Tools and is intended for the much under-utilised Atari STe and each video shows the potential of this engine. It's a jaw-dropper and Doug has a thread on Atari-Forum detailing more information. He also has a bitbucket website for downloads/tutorials.

Doug has an impressive history and AGT has so much gaming potential:

* Full support for the Atari STe hardware.
* 8-way (or 4-way) scrolling.
* Horizontal-only scrolling.
* Overscan- Increased resolutions.
* Vertical-only scrolling.
* Scroll rate from 0 to +/-16 pixels per frame on each axis.
* Map size up to 32768 x 32768 pixels.
* Highly configurable for different kinds of games!

I look forward to seeing how our community utilises AGT.
"Happy STE coding"

Monday, September 12, 2016


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!


 - 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

8-Bits of joy!

Where Time Stood Still is one of those games that bridged my transition from the ZX Spectrum to Atari ST and was developed by legends Denton Designs and published in 1988 by the mighty Ocean Software. In fact, Denton Designs came out from the ashes of Imagine Software - I spent my youth playing/mapping their excellent games! I really miss playing The Great Escape, which sadly never made it onto the Atari ST. #TotallyGutted

Our plane has crashed on a remote plateau somewhere in the Himalayas. Thankfully you, and three passengers, survive the wreck 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.

I bet now you're wondering about the graphics? Just don't, you idiot! Read on...

Day and Night doesn't slow down our family of budding adventurers!

Let the adventure begin!

Firstly, familiarise yourself with the user interface that shows health/ammo and will assist during times you consider eating, drinking or resting. The display is simple but will initially be confusing using the character's inventory/etc. Control can be using either the mouse or joystick but oddly, I found the joystick was best.

Your name is Jarret, the classic hero who probably has a chiselled jaw and designer stubble! The other characters are mostly controlled by the computer and follow wherever you go, so long as they're happy! Each person has their own unique personality - Clive is a rich man who moans and tires easily. Gloria and Dirk are a couple in love and I hear Dirk has some nifty language skills too. Well, so long as he has Gloria to keep him happy...

The characters themselves are ace and really do add, well, character to this whole adventure. If you begin and are wondering what to do or where to go - don't. Experiment and take a gander at your surroundings. Check out items and see what you are capable of doing. Here are a few examples of what is initially possible. Common sense not included, bring that yourself!

1. Grab the rope at the start otherwise, you might get into bother crossing a bridge.
2. Surprisingly, it's often possible to run away from dinosaurs!
3. Refill your flask in the river.
4. Just because someone (chubby) is moaning, he can be pushed to continue on...
5. There are two types of natives and the first are the friendly guys!
6. Keep moving in the swamp - don't stop!
7. Wandering hands love a piece of fresh meat!

Right then, this bridge looks completely safe so let's go!

Sounds a bit boring?

Hardly. This game is brilliantly designed and played over an enormous map, so exploration is the key to success. Not only should you make a basic map of the area as you venture out but, take your time, there is much that isn't as it first appears. Look out for anything useful that you think could assist in some way later on. Think ahead.

But be a careful explorer - what's your rush? Who knows what nasties are around the next corner or if the ground is even safe to walk on. Rocks fall, things break and even the natives aren't always guaranteed to be nice. Coming face to face with your first dinosaur is a scary moment so perhaps it's a good idea to be stealthy? A longer route might be a safer route? Hang on, I see woodland nearby that would be great for cover and shelter...

Be a people person, don't forget about your team and their morale. These guys will let you know when they are in need of rest, food, water or suffering an injury. They are quite needy and a bit clumsy too but that doesn't mean you should pander to their every request. Push them a little harder, without being a slave driver because tired people are often grumpy people. And grumpy people are harder to control and often go off by themselves!

Bugger, I've lost all my friends so I'm going to sit here and sulk!


Visually speaking you might be confused by what your eyes are seeing? No, this isn't a trick using a ZX Spectrum emulator! There are many 16-bit differences, along with improvements like better scrolling and a higher detail level. However, it is basically faithful to the original as much as it could be, without being a boring copy. Or worse, full of bloatware.

The music is by Fred Gray (he of Black Lamp) and is truly amazing so perfectly suits the gameplay style and atmosphere. However, if you so prefer, sound effects can be used instead. Unless you're mad, stick with the chipmusic!

Watch out you don't slip and die!

The CryptO'pinion?

I've been playing throughout the "summer" and made significant progress: my team has made it through the swamps, found a box of dynamite, ran like a girl when hearing a scary T-Rex, and chatted with the locals. Then a hand came out from nowhere and choked me to death which forced a rethink of strategy. However, advancing across the river wasn't a good idea when hungry natives are waiting. Imagine being eaten alive? What a terrible way to go...

As you can tell, I am really enjoying myself and I can sense victory is close? (I hope so). You know, this is what an (almost) open-world game should be like - a huge potential to have your own unique adventure. Where Time Stood Still has it all and I feel I should be wearing a butchered animal skin when playing it? What a fantastic adventure game this is!!

Download for HDD or FLOPPY

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Retro Image Tool


Argh, why are there so many different image formats?

Well, I recently found a video by Sascha Springer, aka Anima, who has created a tool to convert any modern picture into the Spectrum 512 format. This can then be viewed on your Atari ST/e with astounding results!!

These three pictures I created for my own Atari STe are in Spectrum format using the extended palette. Fantastic results, I'm sure you'll agree? So give this extraordinary tool a playtest to see what you can create/convert.

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

Wednesday, September 07, 2016


I recently read a posting by Tatu Salmela, who created Pommitus back in 1996. I contact him, we got talking and I found out he learned to program by reading ST Format and he is still patching and improving Pommitus to this 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. 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. :-)

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Spontaneous Compression

A brand new album

Say hello to the third album by YM-Digital, Spontaneous Compression which was released yesterday and features nine tracks of awesome audio for us all to enjoy. Of course, each track was created using Atari ST computers!!

01. AdraSTea Orbit (16,61 kHz)
02. Cell Synthesis (16,40 kHz)
03. The Lost Confidence (50 kHz)
04. Aomi - The ST Version (16,40 kHz)
05. Yellow Leaves Are Falling (16,40 kHz)
06. Neutralizer II (16,40 kHz) / original composer: Rudolf Stember
07. Digiloo Digiley (50 kHz) / original composer: Kemal Ezcan
08. Draconus - The ST Cover (22,75 kHz) BONUS TRACK / original composer: Adam Gilmore
09. Aomi - The STE Version (50 kHz) BONUS TRACK
Total Time: 32:33 min.

All songs (except "Aomi - the STE version") have been recorded from an ATARI 520ST computer with YM2149 chip.