Sunday, November 27, 2016

!cube


I've been browsing through some of the amazing works to come out of Silly Venture and found a superb chiptune by !cube (aka Toni Lönnberg). Hyper Ocean Ride came second in the competition and is also making use of the Atari STe's DMA hardware for those cool drums. I love this tune so had to share it - press the GREEN arrow below!
Okay, Mr cube has a great website and is also listed on Demozoo and SoundCloud. I have recorded a video of his "Meet !cube" musicdisk which you can download here and I must say that Bullet Sequence is another of my fave tracks (from Silly Venture 2014). Delicious!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Crash Time Plumber



New game alert, folks!

Crash Time Plumber is a conversion of the Gamopat original which was released at Silly Venture demo party. The Atari game was developed by none other than Sebastien Lucas of Cerebral Vortex and it will work on any Atari computer with a Blitter Chip: check the Options screen in GEM but all late models of STfm, Mega ST, Atari STe, and Falcon should be a-ok. Many STfm computers have an empty socket just waiting to be used:
Many STFMs have an empty Blitter Chip socket so head over to the EXXOS webSTore.

At first, I wasn't sure how this was gonna go as we've been burnt by so-called 8-bit conversions before. However, this booted up great with a neat intro and looks the business! Based on Donkey Kong with a dollop of Popeye, it's set in 1983 as the gaming industry crashed (which I was completely unaware of being a Spectrum kid then!)

Anyhow, an Italian plumber has teamed up with an angry-looking monkey and kidnapped ten gaming heroes: Pac-Man, Pitfall Harry, Q-Bert, Frogger, and others. They are all preparing for a hideous death at the hands of these criminals from the East so go and rescue them all to foil Mario's plan and stop this invasion.



The intro is sweet and tells a good story. Also, I've been to Alamogordo, NM. #tidbit


Hang on, this looks familiar?

Taking place on the donkey kong construction site, we run along girders collecting love hearts given away by a damsel in distress. She floats by in her hot air balloon and, when enough are collected, we begin a steroid-jumping rescue to the top of the screen and save a trapped hero. Once he's free, we can move onto the next level.

This isn't easy because, not only is Mario is rolling barrels downhill, but King Kong is hanging about throwing deadly killer bananas at us with annoying accuracy! Some levels have weather conditions affecting your movement and there's even a harsh 120 seconds time limit. This makes things quite difficult after a few levels!

The game ends once each and every gaming hero has been rescued. Easier said than done!



Watch out for angry monkeys throwing their killer bananas or you're DEAD!!


One smooth looker!

The graphics are fantastic! A gorgeous 80s retro theme with cute sprites and the Blitter produces a smooth 50fps display. Heck, the Atari STe even adds enhanced colour fading and Falcon owners get to witness a huge Zeppelin flying by - which I cannot help but wonder why that's missing on the STe?

Audio is also superb with lovely sound effects and a simple chiptune that is also totally suited to the ye olde style. A lot of effort has gone into both the visuals and sounds. Everything is just dandy and perfect :)



Beautiful girl blowing kisses? Come back, my love!


The CryptO'pinion?

Don't be fooled by the humble 8-bit appearance. From the start, you're tricked into thinking this is going to be easy but the combination of fantastic controls and tough mechanics will catch you out. I'm sick of being smacked in the face by a killer banana... but I keep on being dragged back for more of this torment!!

Crash Time Plumber is addictive. It's extremely hard but it somehow manages to keep dragging you back for more - kicking and screaming! If you play just one game today then I suggest you start loading this up. Right now.

Download for FLOPPY / HARD DISK

Monday, November 21, 2016

Online ST Picture Viewer


Often I need to quickly view an Atari ST piccy on my Mac, and there are plenty of options, but here is a fascinating web-tool by Cyprian. This allows you to instantly view those old images within a web browser. It supports classic formats like Degas, Neochrome, Spectrum 512, and even works with drag and drop. An outstanding tool.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Blasteroids



What? Boring old asteroids again?

Yep, once again, the galaxy is overrun with rocks that need smashing to smithereens. Asteroids, and other rocks, come in all shapes and sizes so along with the standard variety there are also others: Popcorn rocks which bloat before eventually freezing. Red rocks that leave behind crystals to conveniently recharge your shield.

However, we're not alone! Beware of aliens who frequently rear their ugly heads and should be killed quickly to reveal a range of nifty power-ups - such as a double shot or the impressive Ripstar. Let the fun begin!!


Who ya gonna be and how tough are ya? Come on, be brave and don't wimp out on me now!!


It's all rocks and aliens!

Blasteroids is split into segments and each is split into smaller sectors which must be completed before reaching a gruesome End Of Level Boss - the monstrous Mukor!! Your ship is equipped with upgradeable weapons, a powerful shield, the ability to transform itself and once all the rocks are pounded into dust a transporter appears to whisk you off to the next sector - to do it all over again. Come on, don't be disappointed - it is Asteroids after all.

Once all sectors are cleared you will finally get to lock horns with Mukor, a festering evil entity who fires miniature spaceships using his tentacles - so shoot each of those suckers first. Then you can watch him scarper like the fatty bloated coward he is. I actually enjoyed our battles which are fun without being impossibly tough!


Asteroids, with flashy backgrounds and colourful pixels? You cynic!!


Joyslick action?

Controls are excellent and responsive: rotate the ship using left or right, push up to thrust, and keep slamming on that fire button to shoot anything rocky. Gravity and momentum play their parts to affect performance but don't worry because your shield will help to compensate for any poor piloting skills!! Not that I have any...ahem...

Pulling back on the joystick will transform your ship between three different models: the Speeder is agile, Fighter has the best weaponry, and Warrior is a burly beast. Friends can jump in on the action - at any time - with impressive co-operative two-player support. Just like in the arcades - what a superb feature!!!


The gravitational effect between sectors is superb and then it's more rock-blasting again!


Aesthetics

Graphics are cool - for what used to be a visually stark experience - I love the nicely animated rocks rolling through space. The enemy ships are gorgeous and other sprites are large, detailed and smooth. Oddly, the backgrounds are 4-colours but you would never notice due to their design and artistic flair, which I admire.

Sadly, the audio disappoints with lame bleep-bleep sound effects instead of samples, which would have been ideal and easily handled for a game like this. Music is also a touchy subject and soon becomes extremely repetitive. Thankfully, it can be switched off but that only highlights those inadequate sound effects... catch-22.


BAM!! BAM!! BAM!! BAM!! BAM!! Destroy everything in sight!!


The CryptO'pinion?

This is a good conversion albeit with a few niggles that spoil an otherwise great rock-smashing experience. Asteroid purists probably won't like it with all the changes and improvements but keep an open mind because this is tons of fun and I think they've improved the genre best they could without adding bloatware to ruin it.

Okay, if someone put a gun to my head and I had to choose between this and Stardust then I fear the latter would win. However, it wouldn't be by much because Blasteroids is excellent and utterly addictive. I loved it!!


Download for hard drive or floppy disk



Oh yeah, baby!!! I own this beauty :-)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Alcatraz


Regular visitors to the best Atari ST gaming website (aka AtariCrypt) will know that I bought Alcatraz earlier this year. Such an underrated game which, takes a little while to master, but offers superb stealth and action gameplay with a first-person scene that still makes me drool. My copy was sealed and Alcatraz is one of my prized possessions!

LINKS

 - I messed about with the two-player support in my video recording (even without any friends ...BooHoo)
 - Those unlucky enough not to own this beauty should download the D-Bug's awesome hack!
 - Old Games Finder has all the floppy disk versions you could shake a stick at!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Atari wallpapers


Having zero artistic flair means I need to cheat whenever I fancy changing the website logo. Thankfully, I've found a couple of free websites that offer fancy text-generating tools so I figured it would be nice to share today's experimentations. Take a look at Picture To People & FlamingText to design your own.

I've included a few various logos which can be downloaded from my Dropbox account. These actually double as great wallpapers and are best when centred, not stretched or tiled. I hope this bundle will give you some ideas to create something cool? I'm always looking for an ST-inspired website logo - can anyone help??

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Legends Of Valour

[ apologies for this jerky/tearing capture - a real Atari ST does not do this ]


Brace yourself for a 16-bit adventure like no other!

Legends Of Valour is one of the last Atari ST games I bought and it received relatively favourable reviews. I was smitten by its depth and longevity not to mention the first-person aspect and superb packaging!

The journey begins in the city of Mitteldorf in search of our missing cousin, Sven. He previously set out to find his fortune and is now missing - what an idiot. Anyhow, it's been far too long since anybody heard from him and thus, our adventure begins. Firstly, you should design your character's appearance, clothing, and armament.

This means you can choose to be human, dwarf or elf with each offering a different style and objectives. Select hair, eyes, nose and so on to create your demi-god or perhaps your character will end up looking like a freak?

It's not long until somebody nice and welcoming greets the new traveller.


Get lost ...in an amazing world!

Once you're dandy, enter into the city and heed the advice from the friendly local that pops-up for a chat. I would first advise you take the time to explore and familiarise yourself with your surroundings because this is such a massive place and you will need necessary amenities, like safe lodgings, income, beer to sup, and grub to nosh.

Mitteldorf is a fortress city, populated with interesting characters, secretive guilds, curious places, and even a labyrinth of dungeons hidden deep underground. Of course, these are waiting to be explored, but be careful because you might not like what you find down there. Your cousin wrote a letter which nicely explains his story, why not take a read? Perhaps it features hidden hints that should help you along your journey. Heck, you never know!

All exploration is through a first-person engine not too dissimilar to a shooter like Wolfenstein with fully texture-mapped graphics - a testament to what our 16-bit computer can knock out. This can be configured in three sizes, small, medium and large. Any ST will be fine but the largest setting requires a 16MHz computer.

Initially, the interface is scary due to the huge number of icons but soon becomes intuitive and easy to use. Wandering the city is feasible using the GUI's icons but it can become a little laborious due to the immense size of the play area so a right-click will activate mouse control to unlock its full potential. Which is tremendous.


However, not everyone is going to be nice and helpful...


Chill, relax, chat to the yocals

Legends Of Valour isn't something you simply play - you live it. Life here is completely open-world, a "sandbox" adventure, where you are free to roam and do almost anything you want. This has always been a fascinating concept for me and, although this is an early example of the genre, it works extremely well.

Exploring Mitteldorf is exciting and bursting with fun characters, monsters, temples, stores, taverns, employment and more. I love the Olde English medieval setting which is portrayed and experienced in real-time, so day and night pass by with their own consequence. All the usual requirements we have in life also exist here: eating, sleeping, health and our personal safety when in dodgy locations - especially late at night. I find refuge in a few ales at The Hanged Man tavern is often the best option, but perhaps that's me? Just don't get too tipsy and end up in lockup!



Mitteldorf has lots of interesting places to trade, eat dodgy food and read messages...


Explore and turn over every stone

This game is humungous and not something to play one boring afternoon. Learning the city of Mitteldorf alone can be overwhelming, so make notes and a basic key to complement the official map. So much can be learned by communicating with your fellow citizens so get chatting to them over a beer or perhaps those strange folk that appear to aimlessly wander the streets. Remember, you're living inside this 'RPG' so experience it!

However, be prepared to defend yourself when set on by anyone from the King's faithful knights in shining armour. Even a little old lady can throw a barrage of humorous insults before giving you a good slap which is rather unexpected, I can say. There's only one thing left to do - slap her back!! (tell me you're not tempted?)

You are limited only by your own imagination and desire to explore. Live this game.


Arghh!! I've been caught being dodgy (yet again) and thrown down before the King's mercy.


The CryptO'pinion?

Legends Of Valour is something special and offers a vibrant and exciting place to live. So many cool characters, taverns to frequent, secret guilds to master, monster-infested dungeons to plunder, and then jobs or missions are always on offer. This game has it all and, as you begin to make progress and delve in deeper, you soon realise just how much more potential there is. Heck, I had almost forgotten to search for Sven!

Oh yes, I love wandering Mitteldorf but, nothing is perfect and I feel Legends Of Valour lacks in a couple of areas: the battles could have been executed better and it's disappointing to discover most buildings are empty. Also, audio is limited to spot effects which is a shame considering the number of disks in the box, I think some ambient samples or more varied chippy fx could have tremendously improved the atmosphere, especially at night.

Legends Of Valour is incredible and an enthralling adventure. Allow yourself to get lost in this immensely rewarding world because it is fantastic and most certainly one of my favourite Atari ST games, ever.


This is best ran from a hard drive so use 8BitChip.
Those stuck with the floppy should try
Old Games Finder.

A city map and clue book ... and I had fun in October!!

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

After The War



Muscles and big boots

After The War was released back in 1989 by Dinamic Software and is (partly) a fantastic beat 'em up similar in style to Double Dragon 3. You are Jonathan Rogers, aka Jungle Rogers, and must assassinate Professor McJerin who is today's nutcase. Worryingly set in the near future during a post-apocalyptic Manhattan where you must kill all the bad dudes and escape to somewhere far nicer than this hellhole! Sounds easy, right? Let's see...

The game is split into two parts: the first is a scrolling beat 'em up and the second a shoot 'em up platformer. Upon playing part one, the first thing that struck me was the graphics which look amazing with huge sprites, great colour, and good scrolling. I adore the backgrounds and found the artwork and design to be apt for the grungy scenario. Sound effects are very cool and made up of low-quality grunts and thumps with silly cries when somebody is killed. It is worth mentioning the awesome title theme which I think is superb!


Its time to kick ass and chew bubble gum... No, wait... Wrong game!


Kick and punch everyone!

Controls are very easy to master and offer: a punch, a flying-kick, jumping, and a get-me-outta-here rollback. Strangely, the keyboard is needed to activate another type of kick and a nut-crushing low punch, especially useful for the rapid dogs! Sadly, I found flipping between the two sets of controls an awkward killjoy.

Part two is only playable once the first is completed. Our musclebound hero is now equipped with a giant weapon as he heads off into the underground. Gamestyle is a platform shooter where we need to blast everything, even the pesky rats! Controls aren't great and trying to guide the directional aiming is overly complicated. This stage is okay but I found myself stressing over the controls rather than having fun which isn't good.


I hit him that hard, he flew up into the air. Yeah, I'm so big and strong!! GRR!!!


The CryptO'pinion?

After The War is two games which may sound good but it's not. The beat 'em part is superb with decent graphics, sounds and lots of violence - I enjoyed playing this. Which is more than can be said about the next part which has too much going on to be fun. That should have been simply more beat 'em up and it would have worked.

Download this only for the beat 'em up and you've got yourself a winner that is tons of fun.

LINKS

 - Update September 2017: 8BitChip have a brand new hard drive installable download!
 - Old Games Finder has all the floppy disk versions you could ever desire!
 - Who fancies a couple of cheats?
          -> Fancy the code to part two : 101069 (tested and works)
          -> Infinite energy in part one, press keys : ALT, 1, B (untested)
          -> Infinite energy in part two, press keys : ALT, 1, M (untested)