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

 - A hard disk version is available from D-Bug. (and 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

Car-Vup


CarVup is a cute scrolling driving/platformer released back in 1990 by Core Designs where we get to play the part of a cheerful car who appears to love painting platforms by simply by 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.

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

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.

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.

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

Each level always looks superb with lots of colours and a lovely cartoony design. Personally, I think Core did a great job with the controls, scrolling and cute sprites. 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). Okay, CarVup may not appeal to everyone but I recommend you give it a try because it's an enjoyable twist on the painter theme. Yes, I am an ancient gamer so I found its oldskool simplicity highly addictive and I always needed "just one more go" so I loved CarVup!

LINKS

 - Floppy disks are available via Old Games Finder with a superb hard disk version by 8BitChip.
 - The One magazine released a demo of Car-Vup 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 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 vector take on this 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. Left button accelerates and the right fires our weapon. This is an excellent system which works perfectly and 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. 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 fun with no overly complex (ie, unnecessary) objectives to get in the way. I really enjoyed zooming through the city, which is always fast to provide a satisfying chase. Quite simply, Resolution 101 is one of the best retro games I have ever played.

Don't miss this fantastic shooter for either floppy or 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!!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Frogger


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

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 displayed 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)


Right then, I've got a stash of 10 pence coins in my pocket. What? I don't need them!!


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

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 which neither Scott nor I could afford... Okay, you can download this amazing arcade game right now from AtariMania - within its archive is a version for both floppy and hard disk installation. Enjoy gaming like it's 1981!!

Update: You guys may also be interested that Scott is now a member of Effect and has since been interviewed by AtariCrypt. He has worked on many demo screens and also released an amazing Turrican Music Disk and also has RAIDEN currently in development for the Atari STe (I'm really looking forward to playing Raiden!!)

Friday, September 16, 2016

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

Note the overscan, extra pixels, smooth scrolling, sounds... This is pure WOW!!

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 game!



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

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 in the late 80s. It 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 and I miss The Great Escape, which sadly never made it onto the Atari ST. #gutted

Your plane has crashed on a remote plateau somewhere in the Himalayas. Thankfully you, and 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.

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.


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

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 has their own unique personalities - Clive is a rich man who moans and tires easily. Gloria and Dirk are a couple in love but I hear Dirk has some nifty language skills under his belt. Well, so long as he has Gloria to keep him happy...

Seven lucky tips to get you going

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!

Exploration is the key to success so take your time and make notes of the area and look for useful items. Don't forget about team morale! Your group will let you know when they are in need of rest, food, water or suffering an injury. However, don't be too eager to waste supplies pandering to their needs. It's good to be thrifty without being a slave driver - grumpy, tired people tend to make daft decisions! Coming face to face with a dinosaur is scary so use stealth tactics if possible, like taking the longer/safer route or taking cover in woodland and waiting.


Right then, this bridge looks safe. Let's go!

Visually, our world is viewed using an isometric perspective very popular on the old ZX Spectrum. It's faithful to the original game but also improves upon it with better details and smoother scrolling. Music is by Fred Gray (of Black Lamp fame) and is truly amazing!! However, if you so prefer, sound effects can be used instead.

I've been playing throughout the "summer" and it's satisfying making progress: my team and I have 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 over a cup of tea. Later, a hand came out from nowhere and choked me to death which forced a strategy rethink. However, advancing across the river wasn't a popular move with the unfriendly (ie, hungry) natives.

As you can imagine, I am enjoying Where Time Stood Still and can sense that victory is getting closer? This game has it all and I feel I should now be wearing a butchered animal skin! What a fan-freaking-tastic adventure!! :-)

Download for HDD or FLOPPY

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Retro Image Tool

  
  

I recently found a video by Sascha Springer, aka Anima. He's created a web tool that can convert a modern picture into the Spectrum 512 format - which can then be viewed on your Atari ST/e with astounding results!!

These four 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 this tutorial video before playing with Retro Image Tool (Chrome recommended).
You can view any .SPU image 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. 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 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 ATARI 520ST computer with YM2149 chip.