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


This is a conversion of the Gamopat original released only days ago at Silly Venture and our Atari game was developed by Sebastien Lucas of Cerebral Vortex. It works on any Atari computer with a Blitter Chip, which means the Mega ST, Atari STe, and the Falcon (so if your STFM has an empty socket then you know what to do).

Many STFMs have an empty Blitter Chip socket so head over to the EXXOS webSTore.

I wasn't sure what to expect as I was greeted with an authentic 8Bit-styled platformer. It's based on Donkey Kong with a dollop of Popeye and is set in 1983, before the video gaming industry crash. A certain Italian plumber has teamed up with an angry-looking monkey and have kidnapped ten favourite gaming heroes: Pac-Man, Pitfall Harry, Q-Bert, Frogger, and others who are all preparing for a hideous death at the hands of these terrible criminals from the East! So rescue them all to foil Mario's plan and stop this invasion to save the gaming industry.


The intro is short but sweet when telling the story. Also, I've been to Alamogordo twice. #tidbit

Taking place on the donkey kong construction site, we collect love hearts given freely 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 to save a gaming hero. This won't be easy because not only is Mario is rolling barrels downhill but King Kong is hanging about throwing his killer bananas with annoying accuracy! Also, some levels have weather conditions affecting your movement but don't forget about the harsh 120 seconds time limit.

The graphics are fantastic for a gorgeous 80s retro theme. The sprites are cute and the Blitter produces smooth 50fps scrolling. 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 this is missing on the STe? Audio is superb with lovely sound effects and a simple chiptune that is also totally suited to the ye olde style. Everything is perfect.


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

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


Once again, the galaxy is overrun by rocks which somebody must smash into smithereens. Yup, this is asteroids and the rocks come in all shapes and sizes. Along with the standard variety, there are also others: Popcorn rocks which bloat before eventually freezing. Red rocks will 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!!

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!!

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!

Graphics are pretty cool - for what used to be a visually stark experience and 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 really 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!!

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 but keep an open mind because this is tons of fun. However, I fear Stardust is still my favourite but Blasteroids and Asteroidia tied for a respectable second place.

Blasteroids can be installed to hard drive or ran from floppy - and I own this too!!

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 and I figured it would be nice to share today's experimentations. Take a look at Picture To People & FlamingText and design your own graphics.

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? Let me know, go create #STatariART ....reply here if you dare! :-)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Legends Of Valour

[appologies for my jerky/tearing capture - A real Atari ST does not do this at all]

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

Our adventure begins in the city of Mitteldorf in search of our missing cousin, Sven who previously set out to find his fortune. However, 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. You can be either human, dwarf or elf with each profile offering a different game style and objectives. Select hair, eyes, nose and so on to create your demi-god or (like me) perhaps your character will end up looking like something from a freak show?


Does the first screen say "DOS"? Anyhow, it's not long until you begin your ST adventure.

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 some very interesting characters, secretive guilds, curious places, and even a labyrinth of dungeons hidden deep underground. Of course, these are just itching 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 display sizes, small, medium and large. Any ST will be fine but the largest setting requires a 16MHz CPU minimum. Initially, the interface is a little 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, and is also tremendously good fun.


It isn't long before abusive name-calling begins... but a festering sore!! Really?


I'm not standing for that and throw a few punches. Life here is never dull!!

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...

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. 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. There's only one thing left to do - slap her back!! (tell me you're not tempted?) :)

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 thought out a bit better and it's disappointing to discover most buildings are empty of furniture. 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.


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

Legends Of Valour is something very 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 it features. Heck, I had forgotten all about searching for cousin Sven!

Not perfect but so close and incredibly entertaining and an enthralling adventure. So, allow yourself to get lost in this immensely rewarding adventure because it is 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 ... I had fun in October!!

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

After The War


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 use of 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 and I do wonder if the enhanced hardware within the STe was used? However, this only highlights the lacking in-game background tune...


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

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 are a little weird manually guiding the directional aiming, which is overly complicated. This stage is okay but I found myself stressing over the controls rather than having fun. They're just too fiddly for me!


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

After The War is two games in one which may sound great? But it's not. The beat 'em part is a little sluggish but still great with nice graphics and sounds. I enjoyed playing it, which is more than can be said for the next parts. Why did they bother? Download this for the beat 'em up stage and you've got a winner, for an hour or two.

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!
 - What a fantastic loading screen - this is killer 16-Bit pixel art!!
 - 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)