Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

It's that time again when I try to find something Christmassy from within the Atari ST archives. However, this time I didn't want a game so went looking for a demo and I think I've found a belter: Xmas '88 which was released by Kenrick Productions. I hope you like my choice which I find so endearing with cute animations and a few appropriate chiptunes to get you in the festive mood. Merry Christmas everyone and I wish you all the very beST †

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Death Chase - The Remix


I first thought this might be a remake of Mervyn Estcourt's awesome ZX Spectrum racer but alas it wasn't. Actually, it's a vicious top-down shooter developed in 1996 by Daniel Fielding and seems to take much inspiration from a variety of great games with support both solo and an incredible co-operative two-player mode. We begin armed with only a pistol and must explore several rooms which are inhabited by killer cyborgs. This sounds like fun!

Each level has two types of killer cyborgs :

Security Guards - these are common and wear a blue uniform but have no intention to serve and protect. Their armour is quite weak but they can use a range of devastating weapons and will often attack in groups.

Eliminators - these are definitely the toughest and stand out like sore thumbs in yellow body armour. However, this is what helps to make them difficult to kill and they can even carry a range of advanced hardware, like a mini-gun or a rocket launcher. Also, they don't care who gets in their way and even unlucky Security Guards can be torn to shreds during their pursuit. Interestingly, these guys aren't restricted to the one room and love chasing you through the screens. So beware because running away like a chicken will be of little benefit.

Our armoury is huge with a possible 18 weapons ranging from pistols and shotguns to rocket launchers and lasers. Star Wars fans will probably enjoy using the lightsaber? Weapons, ammo and health are found in most rooms so inspect lockers or look on tabletops, but beware of potential traps like mines or even TNT crates. The deaths are hilarious when you zap, sliced or blow up the enemy and there will usually be a bucket load of blood splattering the room! Heck, even your own death can be a fun experience when a shotgun-equipped Eliminator blasts you across several screens. This leads me to the game's brilliant continue option so you can try again without restarting from the beginning. However, you lose the cool weapons but still have a pistol and your meaty fists, of course.

Similar to Rogue, movements are performed in steps but I would not recommend using the joystick which is far too sensitive. Initially disappointed, I tried the keyboard as suggested in the docs and this actually works far better than I ever imagined: the A and D keys are used to turn anti/clockwise. W walks us forward with the Spacebar used to select from an array of different weapons (read the docs). Finally, banging on the Right Shift key is the best of all and provides an enormous amount of gratifying blood-soaked violence (I love the double barrel shotgun)

  

The graphics remind me of how today's developers seem to think "retrogaming" looked back in the day. Okay, it ain't no Enchanted Land but I'm really impressed by the cool blocky pixel art which is a style perfectly apt to the theme. The audio is equal to the visuals with a bunch of incredible Mad Max chiptunes that are played alongside crystal clear DMA samples. These were recorded using Microdeal's Stereo Master from movies like Evil Dead and more.

I cannot stress just how much of a thrill it is playing such a psychotic shoot 'em up which looks, sounds and plays brilliantly. The two-player co-op mode and the ability to continue after dying are killer features that guarantee hours of fun. I love this barbaric shoot 'em up and Death Chase is definitely one of the best games I have ever played.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Creepy


Creepy is about to enter into a castle owned by The Lord Of Darkness to find four pieces of the Necromancy Scroll which will help to defeat this nasty man and restore peace to a land ravaged by all kinds of evil monsters (again). Released by Atlantis Software in 1991, it may sound like yet another predictable good vs evil affair but just wait until you play it! Some might say it's inspired but really it's nothing more than a shameless Atic Atac rip-off.

     

The Lord's castle is huge with every room constantly spawning a whacky bunch of evil monsters. Some are easy to kill but others are a lot harder, like the She-Warriors who ride on the back of dragons. She might be tough but if you can defeat her then Puff is left behind, so hop on and take this magic dragon for a spin. Watch out for other nasties like the odd-looking Frankenstein and a ginormous spider - that had Mr Creepy running away like a big girl!!

We are equipped to defend ourselves using arrows but these are slow so it's best to upgrade using the castle's shop. Yes, this castle has a shop with which to buy various upgrades, like health and fireballs using the money we collected during our quest. I really liked the fireball weapon and restoring health is always a wise purchase. Locked doors can be opened with the correct key and tiny yellow keys will unlock treasure chests that adorn many rooms. These a gambler's best dream because you never know what's inside - something useful or something sinister?


Creepy isn't a carbon-copy clone of Ultimate's classic and plays quicker with other subtle differences within a castle that is far more dingier than the colourful Speccy version. It did take me a while to feel comfortable with the extra speed but it wasn't long until I was zipping through the screens like a crazy medieval dude. Monsters don't aimlessly wander but love to play chase - at the expense of your energy level which is now displayed using a crunchy apple rather than the brilliant roast turkey health meter. Also, a life loss no longer leaves behind a Cross where we breathed our last breath and I still haven't made up my mind which game has the best effect of falling between floors.

Those old enough to have gasped in shock and awe at Ultimate's 1983 classic will probably turn up their nose at this blatant imitation. However, I am incredibly impressed by the fast and furious oldskool gameplay which is a lotta fun. Of course, Atic Atac wins this battle hands down but I still think Creepy has much to offer and is also a great game in its own right. I enjoyed this a bunch and highly recommend you play this nostalgic 48K impersonator today.

LINKS

 - 8BitChip has a hard drive installable game which also contains a scan of the manual and infinite lives!
 - Floppy disks can be nabbed off Stonish and Zuul #140 is a fantastic disk to choose.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Deathbringer


Deathbringer is an horizontally-scrolling hack and slasher that reminds me of a bunch of different Atari ST games like Barbarian II, Golden Axe and, dare I say it, Shadow Of The Beast. You are Karn, a warrior who must kill an evil wizard using a sword possessed by a blood-hungry spirit called Abaddon. Our world is viewed side-on and can be travelled in either direction through a variety of landscapes but the gameplay remains pretty much the same which means wielding your huge sword whenever you see anything nasty. Killing is the name of the game and this keeps Abaddon happily stuffed with souls - represented in the status bar by the sword's blood. The more baddies you kill, the happier our resident demon, so try not to starve him otherwise he might just get his feeding fix elsewhere!

There are many monsters that want to stop you from completing your noble quest: baby dragons, trolls, skeletons, bats, giants, and even birds who drop stinky eggs. A boss screen follows every level but these are rather easy and usually involve chopping off a snake's head or avoiding giant fists! Karn can run and jump with three basic attack moves: fire + left/right performs a jab which is handy against skeletons but useless for most other enemies. Pushing up performs an overhead swing which is great for flying enemies and pulling down will produce an underhanded swing that works well for the little goblins and other peculiar nasties like rocks. Yep, rocks.

    

Deathbringer has fantastic graphics - truly fantastic - and regular visitors will remember I featured the game within our Pixel Art section because of its intro/boss stages and their outstanding artwork. The in-game multilayer parallax scrolling is legendary and proves the power of the Atari ST in the hands of a decent programmer.

The audio is on par with the stunning visuals and features a great title tune along with lots of funny in-game sampled sound effects and I love the horrific screaming in the intro!! However, I can't help but be a disappointed Empire didn't make use of the Atari STe. Even so, we have sampled effects and smooth parallax scrolling so eat that Psygnosis!

    

Deathbringer appears to have it all but I've not yet mentioned how this Conan wannabe actually plays. Surely running and hacking away at slimeball enemies is guaranteed fun? Well, it should be but this is where disappointment rears its ugly head thanks to the awkward lethargic control mechanics. Yep, the last thing you want during a frantic battle is unresponsive controls but this is exactly what you're given. For example, pressing fire/up performs an overhead swing but this action will play out a split second after moving the joystick. There are lots of stoopid niggles, like when Karn and a baddie are standing close together and are therefore unable to hit each other!

    

Deathbringer's strong points are its beautiful graphics, great sound effects and an incredible array of interesting monsters. Well, I don't think I have ever seen a goblin on a sleigh before! Sadly, I'm left wondering if anyone at Empire actually bothered to play the game before releasing it. It can get quite repetitive after a while but then again I could say that about many arcade games? Ultimately, it's the laggy controls that ruin what might have been...

LINKS

 - There is a hard drive installable game available to download courtesy of 8BitChip.
 - Special FX (#53a and #53b) features the floppy disk version which you can nab off Stonish.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Berzerk


I strangely felt the need to compensate for my gaming horror (which saw me embarrassingly struggling with Platform Capers) so Dave Munsie has rushed to my rescue with his adaption of the 8-Bit classic, Berzerk. However, I admit I had my fingers crossed when first loading, hoping it didn't suck compared to the great 2600/5200 games...

We are the wobbly stickman intruder running around randomly generated screens killing silly robots. These guys are a mixed bunch, some dumb enough to fry themselves on the electrified walls whilst others are amazingly accurate shooters. Try to kill them all and collect your bonus reward otherwise, you're called a chicken!! Otto is as fearless as ever and only too eager to rear his smiley mug and chase you across the screen. Some may scoff at the graphics but I appreciate that they aren't spruced up to ST standards as this would have ruined it completely. I love the speech synthesis which is spot-on perfect and makes me grin like the Cheshire Cat. "Chicken, fight like a robot" -brilliant!!

Berzerk is fantastic and this is one of the best 8-Bit conversions I have played. 10/10.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Platform Capers


Platform Capers was released in 1992 by Kay Downes for Budgie UK and has obvious 8-Bit roots which is something I'm usually instantly attracted too. Aesthetically, I feel it's a cross between Clod Hopper, Jumping Jack and Donkey Kong with adorable authentic graphics and sound effects. These transport me back into the early 80s when I was a kid sitting in my cold room in front of an old portable tv waiting of my Speccy to finish loading from tape.

The objective is simple, collect the keys on each of the levels before exiting through the doorway. However, there is a myriad of frustratingly cunning enemies we need to avoid, otherwise, a life is lost and we go tumbling down the screen like a fat plumber. I believe there are 7 levels but I dare anyone to complete it without cheating: I can reach level 4 but rarely will I be able to complete level 3, if I'm honest. On bad days, I struggle to beat level 2 and usually end up throwing the joystick down in temper! Superbly programmed but the design is far too difficult (for me).

I love and hate Platform Capers in equal measure.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Deskpic


I got bored and converted a pic which I found on the net to 16-colours using Imagecopy 4. I figured it would make the perfect desktop background so booted up Deskpic, which you can find on ST Format cover disk #60.

Rock and roll, baby. STay Atari.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

The Lost World


The Lost World was developed back in 1989 by John Leather who sadly never managed to find a publisher. The game itself is complete but the audio was missing and he "only" managed to design half of the planned 100 levels. Since then, a tune has been added which suits the gameplay perfectly and, if dozens of playable levels aren't good enough for you, then why not try creating the remaining yourself using the in-game editor?

I have always loved platformers of this ilk and it's obvious the John was inspired by the Willy games from the Sinclair ZX Spectrum because every screen has a wicked title and even the main character walks similar mechanical fashion to Master Willy. This is an incredibly challenging platformer with a steep learning curve so, as with Mouse Trap, hit the F key (pause) and carefully study every inch of the screen to plan yourself a favourable route.

  
Just look at each screen's intricate design. You ain't gonna complete this on your first go!!

The first screen is tough and it took me more than a dozen attempts, but it's easier on the following level (although I failed miserably for my video recording). Then, the difficulty is cranked up for an amazing third level, the superbly titled: Pie Processing Plant. However, I've yet to beat The Locksmith so I doubt I'll ever get the opportunity to be disappointed that John didn't fulfil his desire to create all 100 screens!! Perhaps I should try that level editor?

The Lost World is very challenging, even for a hardcore platformer fan like myself. You need to get used to the evil critters which come in an insane variety and are not limited to moving back 'n forth or up 'n down. Watch out for sinking floors, sharp objects and lots of tricky jumps but it's also quite generous with many bonuses littered throughout each level along with stickmen for extra lives. Pressing the spacebar displays a dialogue of potential spells and potions for effects like invulnerability. Yes, there is far more to this lost world then first meets the eye.

  
Whatever you do, don't forget the keys... Watch out for sinking floor panels...

The graphics are beautiful, a 16-Bit take on the early 80s and stuffed to the brim with an incredible decor and an intricate attention to fine detail. Sadly, the original had no sounds but this was rectified a few years ago by Grazey, Psycho Hacking Force, so we now get to enjoy a fantastic Mad Max tune. This chiptune is a beauty and suits the gameplay perfectly but I still miss having sound effects, even if only for jumping or collisions.

For a homebrew platformer, this is huge and I don't simply mean the number of levels. The creativity which has gone into its making is quite exquisite and there's always something interesting that catches you out. Don't be a wimp, learn the mechanics and beat the learning curve because this is a tremendously addictive platformer!!

D-Bug has both downloads (silent original & one with music). Also, AtariMania has level editor help!

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

The Ultimate Arena


The Ultimate Arena was released in 1995 by STeam and must rank as one of the last commercial Atari STe games. Choose to play as Sandy or Terry before proceeding to the first match that has us battling against a series of dodgy villans, each of whom has their own skill set and special abilities. Some might say it is Atari Mortal Kombat and why not because we must now fight in various arenas against several lunatics whilst watched by a bloodthirsty crowd.

Each arena offers a different environment and I chuckled to myself when I first noticed the electrified fence - just one touch and you're crispy burnt toast!! Each warrior has their own trippy personality with a varying degree of speed, talent and special abilities. Watch out for a T800 which I thought was really well done and there is also an Indiana Jones wannabe who is an incredibly tough opponent. Interestingly, your energy bar isn't fully replenished at the start of the following round, thus increases longevity for determined gamers to figure out all the moves.

    

No beat 'em up would be worth its salt without fast and responsive controls to kick seven bells outta your opponent. The Ultimate Arena has what it takes and I found it quite easy to learn the various kicks, punches and jumps along with their special moves. Two player mode is great and even allows us to play as any of the other characters (all except the final guy). A turbo mode is optional but I found that rather pointless so I cannot say I was impressed too much... Blood can also be turned on/off but I figured it best to have that on and enjoy some of that 16-Bit realism!

Like Domark's Pit Fighter, each character is digitised and they try their best to look macho whilst kicking seven bells outta you. It's quite remarkable the amount of detail squeezed into each pixel with smooth animations and the backgrounds are always interesting too: like the Terminator watching you on a large screen and the crowd with their silly movements. However, I'm not so sure about the colour palette which I found too brownish. Okay, I was tempted to let this slide but then I remembered other Atari ST games which make great use of colour, ala Black Lamp!

    

As I've said before, I'm no beat 'em up expert but I am genuinely shocked how much fun I've had playing this. I half expected it to suck but it's shockingly good fun and has probably replaced Double Dragon 3 as my favourite? It's obvious a lot of hard work and love went into the production and during the twilight years which is incredibly impressive. I also love how it doesn't take itself too seriously and the fact I can try my luck against a Terminator. Beating the hell out of digitised people is a great way to spend a couple of hours of anyone's time!! Play this.

LINKS

 - I've recorded a video to demonstrate my own kombat skills. You have been warned O_o
 - Floppy disks can be found using Old Games Finder. (stay clear of the demo!)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Golden Dawn Mod Disk #14


The Golden Dawn released lots of Mod Disks and this one is extra incredible because it's a humorous hack of Cannon Fodder showing ST soldiers graffiti the Amiga HQ before it escalates into a mini-war. What a superb idea and one which nicely represents tensions between ST and Amiga users back in the day (did it ever end?). This mod disk is obviously stuffed with tunes, supporting various addon hardware gizmos and the DMA audio coprocessor of the Atari STe for stereo playback. My thanks to STompy for telling me about this fantastic intro!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Bombuzal



It's time for some more amazing 16-Bit #PixelArt with ImageWorks' 1988 hit Bombuzal. I remember seeing this in the magazines of the day and couldn't believe the cartoon-like quality of the main character within his colourful isometric world. He is an odd potato-shaped dude who performs a funny expression as the bombs are exploding - it's almost like he doesn't trust himself!! There are some big names associated with this game but is it any good?

    

    

This is actually a pretty simple puzzler which requires us to blow-up each levels collection of big red bombs. The screen contains a number of squares we can use to help calculate our best route through but watch out for a number of traps along the way. Like crumbling tiles which can be walked on only once before they disappear forever, so don't get yourself stranded. Other tiles might be too slippy to walk on whilst some can transport you to another location. Slotted tiles allow us to move selected bombs to a different location, usually to avoid being caught up in an explosive chain reaction. I like Bombuzal, it's a fun game to tax the old brain cells and it's got fantastic pixel art too!

LINKS

 - Floppy disks can be downloaded using Old Games Finder.
 - Hard disk installable versions are available thanks to 8BitChip and Klaz.
 - I've recorded a video which shows my brain struggling but at least I made a Hi-Score!! Can you beat me?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Rebellion


A nasty virus has infected the automated machines on Mars so the robots have captured our scientists and are holding them captive. We have no anti-virus program at hand so it's our job to destroy any robots that get in the way and help lead the boffins to safety. Jump inside your spaceship and get ready to save the day once again!

Rebellion is a top-down shoot 'em up similar'ish to any Gauntlet-like game you may have played. Each screen has a number of trapped hostages which are often located in different areas. Some are behind a forcefield which can be partially deactivated by disabling a section of its wall. You won't have long before a repair droid appears so don't dawdle! Others can be in locked rooms which require a key card a robot may reveal when killed. Every level has a minimum number of hostages to rescue within a set time. Miss this and the spaceship will leave without you!

Enemy robots have a range of different abilities: some are slow whereas others are much faster and another can even lay down explosive mines. Some have no projectile weapon but others are only too eager to turn you into a blood splatter! Also, watch out for gun turrets, trapdoors, and large tanks. Interestingly, when you do lose a life, the robots are paused for a few seconds thus giving you some extra time to whack 'em full of lead. Our machine gun can be upgraded with more power and a faster action - just try not to kill any humans in the crossfire! There are a variety of other power-ups to enhance shields, invincibility, a radar scrambler and even a supply extra lives.

      
Things don't sound too great... Sabotage... Mutiny... Rebellion? I wanna go home!!

I don't normally enjoy games that have me worrying about the safety of computer-controlled characters whilst being hunted by the foe. I panic too much and everyone usually ends up dead! However, Rebellion works very well even though the hostages are lame at following so will often get stuck behind a wall... I'm never too happy about time limits and this one seems to have a mind of its own and may prove troublesome on later levels?

This is an enjoyable shooter and it's anxiously-good fun guiding scientists back to safety. Each level has an intricate and interesting design with gameplay that is progressive and an addictive experience. I love this game.

LINKS

 - A hard drive installable version can be downloaded from the D-Bug website.
 - Floppy disk based games can all be grabbed via Old Games Finder.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

9 Lives


It's time once again for some Atari ST box art and today we have 9 Lives. Like most Arc games, this has a simple design but is pretty comical with a laughing cat that reminds me of Tom And Jerry. I also liked the glowing scores from three popular magazines so I knew this was a great purchase... Sadly, they were wrong because 9 Lives is incredibly difficult to play, bordering on impossible! At first, I thought this might be because of the controls which take a little time to master but I actually think they are perfect. I find it easy jumping up through the platforms and those long leaps are guided by a meter to control the strength. The animations throughout are absolutely brilliant and I love how Bob struts his stuff walking across my screen or when he clings onto a ledge before pulling himself up. In fact, the graphics are always superb with every screen highly detailed with beautiful landscapes and characters. Audio isn't left behind, the most gorgeous YM Chipmusic plays and it's a belter too! Yep, 9 Lives certainly looks a sounds superb.

     

What -I feel- is wrong are the gameplay mechanics that present a number of awkward flaws which irk me. The enemy sprites are far too big so the screens are overly cluttered and Bob cannot help but walk into something nasty. Sure, I can knock them out with my amazing woolly yo-yo but that doesn't last nearly as long as it should before they're up and awake again zapping my lifeforce. Level design is incredibly unfair and requires a psychic gamer who knows about every off-screen trap - those darn spikes!! Also, for a cat, Bob cannot fall far without dying, however, this does produce a hilarious animation effect not too dissimilar to Wile E. Coyote from the Road Runner cartoons.

     

Personally, I think 9 Lives had the potential to be a great game but I doubt it was produced (nor tested) by actual gamers so I can imagine most will play this once or twice before giving up. Which is a shame? To think I bought this... but it's still a piece of ST history so I will cherish this game. Just make sure you enable the trainer option!!

LINKS

 - Go on I dare you to play!! Floppies downloadable via Old Games Finder with a hard drive version by 8BitChip.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Mystic Realm


An evil vagrant has kidnapped the Princess (or Prince if you prefer to switch characters) and now she requires our valiant rescue. Whatever character, we are once again crawling through monster-infested dungeons fighting zombies, ghosts, bats, and more. It may look like it was made in 1985 but Mystic Realm was released much later in the ST's life by developer John Lince for STart Magazine in 1990. Impressively he programmed it in GFA Basic!

Mystic Realm is an arcade adventure which feels like an old skool mash of Gauntlet with various RPG elements. Obviously, I chose to play as the prince even though I think he looks like a gingerbread man!! There are 14 huge levels to plunder with the main objective finding the keys to the exit through the levels, ultimately rescuing our beloved. Each level is made from a number of separate rooms and navigating through is aided by directional arrows displayed at the top of the screen. These show us the sides of the screen that will lead through the dungeon. All 14 levels are mapped and included on the disk (enlarged screenshots here). Each map is superbly designed and very challenging as you progress, but never to a point where you feel bewildered or bored. You will have to contend with a range of baddies and puzzles which nicely integrate into the gameplay. For example, a wooden gate may block your path but it isn't a strong obstacle against a couple of knives but later sections will require more thought than simply throwing a sharp object. There are other locked doors but use your collected keys wisely because not all need opening...

Various weapons can be collected throughout our journey and each translate into a specific number of knives for our adventurer. No other weapons are actually used but collecting a high ticket item like an axe will reward your inventory generously. The firing method will instantly feel familiar to Berzerk fans - hold down the joystick button and tap the direction you wish to throw a knife. It's apt and works superbly well. However, beware not to waste your ammo because you never know how long it will be before you can top-up your arsenal.

Health points are displayed top/left of the screen and detail our vitality from 0 (you're dead) to 999 being the maximum. It's hungry work being a heroic gingerbread man so chomp on whatever you find to keep yourself alive. If you are already near the max then it might be worth leaving food behind until later? Sadly, health isn't regenerated at the beginning of a brand new level and you will transform into a skeleton if you foolishly starve to death!!

Don't be fooled by the humble graphics, I find Mystic Realm quite fascinating and it reminds me of the games I played as a kid. The little sprites are nicely drawn with comical retro details, I love the wobble of a zombie walk and the ghosts look fantastic. Even the meagre sound effects transport me back to the 80s as I hear the knife skim through the air on its way to hit a fiend. Yes, I'm not ashamed to admit that I adore its authentic 8-Bit atmosphere.

Mystic Realm proves jazzy graphics and sonic boom effects are not required to make a game great and that is exactly what we have here. I've really enjoyed the arduous task of rescuing yet another damsel in distress!

LINKS

 - I've recorded a video and AtariMania has the official download with the level maps (enlarged below).

    

    

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ghouls 'n Ghosts


Over the last few months, I've been doing the same thing as most ST gamers - following Atari-Forum about a new arcade conversion of Capcom's classic platformer, Ghouls N Ghosts. It started as a fascinating idea by Sascha Springer to port the game onto an Atari STe. We all drooled over the concept and wondered if it was possible...

Lately, he has posted many videos that show the gorgeous sprites, lush arcade landscapes and smooth scrolling but Sascha has this week released the first download for us all. This is one of those jaw-dropping moments and proves just what the Atari STe is capable of producing. An incredible release and one which won't fail to impress!

The first download is available right now via Atari-Forum [beta requirements are a 4MB Atari STe w/ hdd]

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Floppy Image Runner


Image Runner was developed by Peter Putnik for Atari ST/e computers with a hard drive and 2/4MB Ram. It allows the use of virtual floppy images (.ST / .MSA) to be run without the bother of actually creating a real disk. Think of it as having a virtual Gotek drive but without destroying your ST's case (I bet that gets me some comments!)

This is so easy to use: copy the disk images onto your hard drive and then configure GEM to use the Image Runner as an installed application for either file type. Double click to load a disk image into Ram, just as if you had a floppy in the drive. I must say Image Runner works rather well for hard drive users and it certainly allowed me to start enjoying Menu disks again. However, it is software so my success rate has been varied - many worked and many sadly failed in some manner. In the demonstration video, I get nothing but a black screen for the last game so YMMV.

The download contains separate programs depending on your version of TOS - I used "IMGRF162.PRG" for my 4MB Atari STe with Ultrasatan. Give Image Runner a playtest whilst saving up the pennies for the hardware options...

Friday, October 13, 2017

Enduro Racer


Many already know that Peter Jørgensen is developing an Atari STe upgrade to one of our favourite racers and I'm very excited about it!! The current betas feature faster gameplay compared to the original conversion with extra on-screen colours and the horizon's landscape/clouds are driven using the Blitter Chip. Title music will be replaced with 5-channel (DMA) YMT based on the arcade scores. The in-game music is also to be replaced with 3-channel YMT because the DMA audio hardware will be used for the sound effects, again taken from the arcade.

The betas which I have been playing with are a fascinating insight into how the final product will be. Even at this early stage, it's much better than the original ST conversion (which I love). So, yes, I am very excited about this project!!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

STrange roboTS


Strange Robots was released in 2013 for Silly Venture by BlaBLa and Mandarin. It's one of those demos I've had on my Ultrasatan since the very beginning and is a personal favourite of mine. I love the presentation styles that also display an incredible range of colours with a funky 505 tune enjoyed throughout. What's not to love?

Demozoo has the download which will require an Atari STe with a jaw-dropping 4MB Ram. If you like this, then I suggest you take a look at Circus back²STage, JAPAN beauties and troubles and STreet Art - all excellent demos!!

    

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Horror Zombies From The Crypt


I've always been fascinated with Astral's haunted house platformer which I feel has a charming and great comical character. No haunting would be the same without lots of frightful creatures and this game has everything from witches, zombies, werewolves, vampires, ghosts and even the odd weird statue that sticks out its tongue at you!

Each level has a particular task described during a mini-intro but the objective is to hunt down and collect all the skulls and lay their souls to rest. However, this is one tricky play through a maze of creepy screens which often contain puzzles. This is no arcade-style platformer, more of a Fire And Brimstone so keep your composure wear your patience head, Worzel.

The first level introduces us nicely to the game's personality with some not-so-obvious puzzle solving along with a variety of classic baddies, like zombies, headless ghosts and a Morticia Addams lookalike. Puzzles are quite easy and shouldn't tax the grey matter too much: move a table to reach an item, find keys to unlock doors, and wear cute booties to creep past something scary. Things hot up on the next level with tougher monsters and trickier level designs. I must admit to taking a liking to the wolfmen but I hate the old hunchback witch who can drop rocks with great accuracy! Always look for hidden rooms or secret objects that may need a different type of key. Every level has a password so there is never a need to restart from the beginning each time which is an excellent idea and one I wish more games would have supported (I'm talking to you Navy Seals!)

The visual style is perfectly apt for the 1950's cinematic theme with smooth scrolling, incredible artwork and freaky characters who are also superbly animated. Just wait until you die and see yourself shudder before violently suffering a Scanners-like headache, no matter the actual cause of death! I must say that I am impressed with the palette used, each level is its own mini-movie and looks absolutely tremendous. The horror is typically cheesy so if you think this is going to be scary, then you're in for a different kind of shock.

Audio is nothing short of incredible with a chippy rendition of Montagues and Capulets which couldn't have been a more perfect choice. I'm sure I'll be humming this all day long! All sound effects are high-quality samples with the wolf howls being my favourite. However, I'm disappointed there is nothing for my head-exploding deaths?

This is one of those games that eats away the hours but also requires practice and plenty of patience because the gameplay mechanics are cruel. In fact, it's often infuriating on later levels, just try Family Chapel if you don't believe me... Horror Zombies From The [Atari]Crypt is the perfect title for such a cheesy platformer. I wish it was a little easier but killing wolfmen, zombies and running scared from piercing vampire glares is right up my street. Gory fun!

LINKS

 - A hard drive installable version is by D-Bug with floppy disks available via Old Games Finder.
 - Level passwords: Wolfman, Hammer, Lugosi, Nosferatu and Garlic.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

River Raid


Today I fancied a quick blast of one of my favourite ZX Spectrum games - RIVER RAID!!

Okay, I know it's kinda lame compared to the Atari 2600 original but I have many happy memories playing this with my schoolmates. So I figured I should put some of that Mega STe power to good use and (because there was sadly never an official ST conversion) boot up the Speccy emulator for some colour-clash action. YEAH!!

Obviously, I cannot record directly off my Mega STe so I duplicated this setup in Hatari and made a video. A stock 16Mhz Mega STe with TOS 2.06 runs the game very well - almost at the same speed as a real Spectrum. Perhaps my recording might fool people into thinking it's a real Spectrum? Well, until they see the GEM desktop ;)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Biomechanoid Locomotion

I spent some time last night listening to many incredible tunes from the SNDH Archive. Biomechanoid Locomotion, by Shinobi (aka Marcus Andre Rousseau) was probably my fave of the night so click the green arrow to hear it :-)

Turn up the volume and use these Atari ST programs to play everything from this amazing archive. 🎧

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Pole Position


Pole Position has been released and boy is it a cracker!! Minimum requirements are a 1mb Atari STe with its engine now running at 60fps just like the arcade game, all thanks to many performance tweaks. The download is available on Atari-Forum (backup on my Dropbox). Right, don't be an idiot: please play this beauty using a real Atari STe!