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 and opted for a demo. I think I've found a belter: Xmas '88 which was released by Kenrick Productions. I hope you like this choice? I find it 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



Yes, this is a STOS game. Stop, come back!!

That's right, Death Chase was programmed in STOS which is something that can produce some neat results but often not and leaves me feeling cold with jerky scrolling and terrible gameplay. Anyhow, here is something that I first thought might have been a remake of Mervyn Estcourt's awesome ZX Spectrum racer. Alas, it isn't.

Actually, it's a vicious top-down shooter developed in 1996 by Daniel Fielding for the Atari STe and seems to take much inspiration from a variety of different games. Heck, it even supports both solo and an incredible co-operative two-player mode. Yep, this is starting to sound awesome already, whether you're playing solo or not.

We are a little guy roaming Rogue-like screens and armed (at first) with a pistol. Our job is to explore several rooms, all of which are inhabited by killer cyborgs armed to the teeth. Death Chase is loud, exciting and bursting with big explosions and many baddies. Come on, we have guns and lots of bad guys to kill. Oh yeah, bring it on!!



Each room holds so many possibilities for a whole new level of violence. It never gets dull!!!


Guns and loud violence?

Our armoury is huge with a possible 18 weapons ranging from pistols and shotguns to rocket launchers and lasers. Star Wars fans will enjoy using the lightsaber? Weapons, ammo and health are found in most rooms, so inspect lockers or look on tabletops. However, 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 through the room! Heck, even your own death can be a fun experience when a shotgun-equipped Eliminator blasts you across the screen. This leads me to the brilliant continue option so you can try again - without restarting from the beginning. However, you lose the cool weapons and start with the pistol.



Death Chase is insanely good fun and bucket loads of it too. Either solo or with a friend.


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 weak but they can use a range of devastating weapons and will often attack as a pack.

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



Only one guy stood between me and that ammo. So I fried him alive. Mwahaha!!


Controls, Gfx, Audio?

Similar to Rogue, movements are performed using a grid. I would not recommend using the joystick which is far too sensitive. Initially disappointed by that, I tried the keyboard as suggested in the docs. This actually works 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 (love that 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 impressed by the 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 played alongside crystal clear DMA samples. These were recorded using Microdeal's Stereo Master from movies like The Evil Dead.



Death Chase is almost like a nightmarish and blood-soaked version of Rogue. Love it!!


This is why we play Atari!!

I cannot stress how much of a thrill it is to experience such a psychotic shooter. It looks, sounds and plays brilliantly with an option for two-player co-op mode. The ability to continue on, after dying, is a killer feature that guarantees hours of fun. I love this barbaric game and Death Chase is definitely one of the best I have ever played.

Yes, I said that. Not only is this a brilliant Atari STe game but it's one of the best games I have ever played.

Stop everything - download now!!

Monday, December 04, 2017

Creepy



Atic Atac?

Creepy is about to enter a castle owned by The Lord Of Darkness to find four pieces of the Necromancy Scroll. That should help to defeat this nasty man and restore peace to a land ravaged by all kinds of evil monsters. 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 dragons. She might be tough but, if you 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!!



Dark rooms and lots of monsters!

We are equipped with arrows but these are slow so it's best to upgrade to something better in the castle's shop. Yes, this castle has a shop with which to buy various upgrades, like health and fireballs using the money 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. Gamblers will love these as you never know what's inside - something useful or something sinister?

Monsters won't aimlessly wander around your screens because this time they sure love to play chase - at the expense of your energy level. And this 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...

Creepy isn't a carbon-copy clone of Ultimate's classic and plays a lot quicker with other subtle differences within a castle that is far dingier than the colourful ZX Spectrum game. 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.



The CryptO'pinion?

Okay, those old enough to have gasped in 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.

Of course, Atic Atac still wins hands down but I think Creepy has much to offer. It's nothing less than a nostalgic 48K impersonator but it's also a great game in its own right. It's playable, very addictive and I enjoyed it a bunch so is highly recommend. So don't turn up your nose and give it a playtest because it's a great game.

DOWNLOADS

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Deathbringer



It's Hercules!

Deathbringer is a 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.

Karn can run and jump using three attack moves: fire + left/right for a jab that is handy against skeletons but useless for others. Push up for an overhead swing - great for flying enemies. Pull down for an underhanded swing that works well for the goblins and other peculiar nasties like rocks. Yep, rocks.

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 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 each level but they are rather easy and usually involve chopping off a snake's head or avoiding giant fists!



Psygnosis eat your heart out!

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 other 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.

They've made our lame port of Shadow Of The Beast look like Pong!!

The audio is on par with the stunning visuals and a great title tune along with lots of funny in-game sampled sound effects - 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. Eat that Psygnosis!



The CryptO'pinion?

Deathbringer appears to have it all but I've not yet mentioned how this Conan wannabe actually plays. Surely running and hacking at slimeball enemies is guaranteed fun? Well, it should be but this is where disappointment rears its ugly head thanks to the unresponsive controls and that's the last thing you need during the heat of battle!

For example, press fire/up for an overhead swing which actions a split-second later. Other niggles exist like when Karn and a baddie are standing too close - so are 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 this game before releasing it. Probably not, which is oddly peculiar.

Ultimately, a good game but the laggy controls that ruin what might have been a fantastic game.



Stonish has the floppies (Special FX (#53a / #53b)
But I would install to a hard drive if you can!

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 (those under 40) might scoff at the blocky graphics. Yes, I appreciate that they aren't spruced up to ST standards but that would have ruined the authenticity completely. Also, I love the speech synthesis which is spot-on perfect and makes me grin like the Cheshire Cat. "Chicken, fight like a robot" -this is brilliant!!

Berzerk is fantastic and this is one of the best 8-Bit conversions I have ever played. Overall, an easy 10/10!!

- Download the floppies from Stonish -

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 was bored and converted a picture I found on the net to 16-colours using Imagecopy 4. I figured it would make a great background so booted up Deskpic - which is on ST Format cover disk #60. Awesome sauce!

That's my rock and roll lifestyle, baby. Yep. Anyhow, STay Atari.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

The Lost World



Yet another unreleased game!

The Lost World was developed in 1989 by John Leather who, sadly, didn't manage to find a publisher. The game itself is complete except for the audio and he "only" managed to create half of the planned 100 levels. What a slacker, eh? I've always loved platformers of this ilk and it's obvious that John was inspired by various 8-Bit games with superb level names and a character that even walks quite similar to Master Willy, which I liked.

Since then, Grazey added an unreleased Mad Max chiptune that plays in the background. This ended the deafening silence and suits the gameplay too. So, I just had to tick this off my bucket list and take it for a spin...


Just look at the intricate layout and design. You ain't gonna complete this on your first go!!


Let's begin!

The Lost World is very challenging and I admit to struggling at first. The first screen is tough and it took me more than a few attempts before I beat it. Thankfully, this game is generous with many bonuses littered throughout along with stickmen for extra lives. Pressing the spacebar displays a dialogue of potential spells and potions for effects like invulnerability. Also, I love how each screen has a different name, like Pie Processing Plant!!

The controls are superb with simple movements that feel natural for a 2D platformer. You'll appreciate that because the level design is very cunning with lots of hazards, be it a sharp object, sinking ledges or tricky-jumps. Evil critters roaming the screens and they aren't limited to simply moving back 'n forth. Did I mention this was a tough platformer? Well, level two is actually a little easier but the third cranked up that difficulty once again. Sadly, I didn't beat 'The Locksmith' so I fear it's doubtful I'll be disappointed John didn't fulfil the plan to create more screens!

Perhaps I should try the level editor? Yep, if dozens of levels aren't enough for you, then why not try creating some for yourself using the in-game editor? That's quite exciting and the potential is huge!



Whatever you do, don't forget the keys... What's the little man doing there?


Willy's mansion never looked this good!

The graphics are a true 16-Bit spin on an 8-Bit genre and look lovely. Every screen is stuffed to the brim with incredible decor using intricate attention to detail. I love the colour schemes and sprites move smoothly.

Audio never made it into the original and made your Atari ST as loud as a ZX81. Thankfully, Grazey (Psycho Hacking Force) changed that so we now get to enjoy a fantastic Mad Max chiptune. It's brilliant, of course, but I admit to missing sound effects for the jumping and collisions. I know, I'm being picky but I do miss those effects.


That purple flying monster is a pain in the £@$!! and killed me more than once!


The CryptO'pinion?

For a homebrew game, this is huge and I don't simply mean the number of levels. The creativity that went into the development is exquisite and there is always something new that catches you out and makes you come back for more. However, it is really hard so be warned!! But please, don't be a wimp, learn the mechanics and beat its cruel learning curve. When you do, you are rewarded with a tremendously addictive platformer.


D-Bug has both of the downloads and
AtariMania has level editor help!

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

The Ultimate Arena



Wax on, wax off...

The Ultimate Arena was released in 1995 by STeam and ranks as one of the last commercial Atari STe games. Choose to play as Sandy or Terry before proceeding to the first match against a series of dodgy villains, each of whom has their own skillset 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.


Whether you're Samantha Fox or a Terminator - this game is kick ass!! Love it!!

Showing off some cool moves there? Or is he just defying gravity? You decide.


Don’t forget to breathe, very important!

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 easy to learn the various moves along with their special abilities. Two-player mode is great and allows us to play as 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: like the Terminator watching you on a screen and the crowd with their silly movements. However, I'm not so sure about the colour palette which is too brownish. Okay, I was tempted to let that slide but then I remembered other Atari ST games make better use of colour, ala Black Lamp!


Kick people to death while they're already being electrocuted. It's all allowed!!

Or just pounce from a great height until they are splattered. All good fun!


The CryptO'pinion?

As I've said before, I'm no beat 'em up expert. However, I am genuinely shocked how much fun I've had playing this. I half expected this game to suck being release long after the gaming side of the ST had died. Surprisingly, it's shockingly fun and has probably replaced Double Dragon 3 as my favourite?

I also love how it doesn't take itself too seriously and the fact I can try my luck against a Terminator is kinda cool. It's obvious that a lot of hard work and love went into its production - and all during the twilight years which is extra impressive. Beating the hell out of digitised guys is a great way to spend a couple of hours!! Play this.

The floppies can be found via Old Games Finder. (but stay clear of the early beta - it's rubbish!)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Golden Dawn Mod Disk #14



MCIBTYC!!

The Golden Dawn released many PD and Mod Disks for the Atari ST during their time. However, this disk is something quite different featuring a humorous hack of Cannon Fodder. Click play to watch little ST soldiers graffiti the Amiga HQ which obviously escalates into war. Of course, this can only end in bloodshed :-)

What a superb idea and one which nicely represents the tensions between ST and Amiga users back in the day. Well, mainly Amiga users because we ST guys were too busy enjoying our machine! After the intro, this disk is stuffed with cool tunes and supports various playback options, including the stereo playback on the Atari STe.

Thanks to STompy for this piece of gold and get it downloaded right now!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Bombuzal


It's time for some more amazing #PixelArt with ImageWorks' 1988 hit Bombuzal. I remember seeing this in the magazines of the day, I couldn't believe the cartoon-like quality of the main character within a 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?

Well, this is quite a simple puzzler that requires us to explode a collection of red bombs. Each screen contains a number of squares we can use to help calculate our best route through but watch out for traps: 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!

Floppies can be found via Old Games Finder with HDD versions by 8BitChip & Klaz.


Wow, this must be one of the brightest and happiest games on the Atari ST.


This is interesting and being able to flip POVs is neat. But I prefer it in 3D myself...


I love its pixel art. Isometric styles always look cool but this one also uses the palette perfectly.


Oh no, watch out for crumble tiles and (so many) other hazards. This 3D world is dangerous!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Rebellion



Where have you been all my life?

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 so it's our job to destroy any robots that get in our way and help lead the boffins to safety. Jump inside your spaceship and get ready to save the day, again!

Rebellion is a top-down shoot 'em up similar (ish) to a Gauntlet game and 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 - but 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 which a robot may reveal when killed. Every level has a minimum number of hostages to rescue within a set time. Miss it and the spaceship will leave without you!


Okay, so how are you going to break into that complex, rescue everyone and get out in time?


Tactics, strategy and guns!

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.

Rejoice because our machine gun can be upgraded with greater power and a faster action - just try not to kill any humans in the crossfire! Well... Anyhow, you'll be please to hear that there are a variety of other power-ups to enhance shields, invincibility, a radar scrambler and even a supply extra lives. Oh yeah, we've got it all.

Aesthetically, the graphics are pretty nice albeit hardly groundbreaking for any 16-bit computer. I'm sure many might turn up their nose at the slow pace and tiny sprites but it's actually ideal otherwise each level would feel cramped and be very difficult. Sounds are fine and you'll hear the bam-bam-bam of your weaponry the most.


As you can see, each level is swarming with enemies and folk to rescue. It's never easy!


The CryptO'pinion?

Now, 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 so people usually end 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?

Rebellion is quite simple but has been perfectly executed. I've enjoyed this shooter which I've found to be anxiously-entertaining - each level has an intricate and interesting military theme with gameplay that is progressively entertaining. Very addictive and one of those games that keeps dragging you back for more and it's always a fantastic rush killing the baddies whilst guiding the scientists back to safety. Yep, I loved Rebellion!!!!

Floppy disks can be found via Old Games Finder
A cool hard disk version by D-Bug.

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 box design but is also pretty comical with a laughing cat that reminds me of Tom And Jerry. I must admit, I laughed at the glowing reviews plastered by three popular magazines! This has to be a great purchase, right?

Sadly, they were wrong because 9 Lives is incredibly difficult, bordering on impossible! At first, I thought this might be because of the controls, which do take some time to fully master. Once you have, I personally think they are perfect and find it easy jumping up through the platforms and those long leaps are guided by a meter for fine control.


What a massive and unique variety of characters this game has.


Just look at those funny faces! I'm sure these were designed by insane people!!

What I feel is wrong are the gameplay mechanics which present a number of awkward flaws that irk me. The enemy sprites are far too big so each screen is overly cluttered, thus Bob cannot help but touch something nasty. Sure, I can knock them out with my woolly yo-yo but it's not long before they get up to zap more of my lifeforce!

Also, the level design is incredibly unfair and requires a psychic gamer that previously is aware of every off-screen trap. Argh, those darn spikes!! Oddly, for a cat, Bob cannot fall very far without dying!! However, this does produce a hilarious animation effect not too dissimilar to Wile E. Coyote from the Road Runner cartoons.


Another life lost... Well, at least I'm going up and not DOWN!! Phew.


Oh dear, another life lost at the hands of the frustrating and over-crowded level design...

The animations throughout are absolutely brilliant and I love how Bob struts his stuff walking across my screen. I love it when he clings onto a ledge, just before managing to pull himself up. In fact, the graphics are always superb with every screen highly detailed, beautiful landscapes and characters. Audio isn't left behind, the most gorgeous YM Chipmusic plays and it's a belter. Yep, 9 Lives certainly looks a sounds superb for a gorgeous 16-bit title.

Personally, I think 9 Lives had the potential to be a great game but I doubt it was produced (nor tested) by actual gamers. Sadly, I 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 I will cherish. Just make sure you enable the trainer option!!

Go on I dare you to play!! Floppies are found via Old Games Finder with a HDD version by 8BitChip.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Mystic Realm



Nineties gaming?

Mystic Realm is an arcade adventure that feels like an old skool mash of Gauntlet with RPG elements. It may scream "1985" but it was released later in the ST's life by developer John Lince for STart Magazine in 1990. Impressively, it's programmed this in GFA Basic, a powerful language that has produced many games over the years.

An evil vagrant has kidnapped the Princess (or Prince if you prefer to switch) and now she requires a valiant rescue. Whatever character, we are (once again) crawling through monster-infested dungeons fighting zombies, ghosts, bats, and more. Obviously, I chose to play the prince even though I think he looks like a gingerbread man!!


Wait, don't run away!! Remember that golden rule? Gameplay matters - not the graphics.


Plunge the depths!

There are 14 levels to plunder with the objective of finding keys to venture through and ultimately rescue our beloved. Each is made from a number of separate rooms and navigation is aided by directional arrows displayed at the top of the screen. These show us the sides of the screen that will lead us through the dungeon.

Each level is mapped and included on the floppy disk (see below). Each is designed to increasingly challenge, but, never to a point where you feel bewildered or bored. Battle against a range of monsters and also solve puzzles that are slowly integrated into the gameplay. For example, a wooden gate may block your path but that isn't a strong obstacle against a couple of hits. However, later puzzles require more thought than simply brute force.


A walking gingerbread man with many monsters to kill. That's this game for you!


Tread carefully, adventurer

Various weapons can be collected and each translates into a specific number of knives for our adventurer to throw like a ninja. Do note that 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: just hold down the joystick button and tap the direction you wish to throw a knife. It's apt and works superbly well.

Health points are displayed top/left of the screen and detail our vitality from 0 (you're dead) to 999 (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!!

Tips? Easy, be a savvy adventurer! Beware not to waste ammo because you never know how long it will be before you can top-up your arsenal. Remember to eat only when hungry. Finally, there are lots of locked doors - but use your keys wisely because not all doors need opening. Use your brain, Rambo!!




Aesthetics

Don't be fooled by the humble graphics, I find Mystic Realm quite fascinating as it reminds me of the games I played as a kid in the earlier 80s. Sure, there are more colours and a higher resolution but the feel remains authentic without having any unnecessary bloatware that would ruin the authenticity. Also, the sprites are all nicely drawn and with comical details: like the wobble of a zombie walk! The ghosts are fantastic and are my favourite.

Even the meagre sound effects transport me back to the 80s. Hearing a knife skim through the air on its way to hit a fiend flat-bang in the face is brilliant!! I'm not ashamed to admit I adore the 8-Bit atmosphere.


Prince or Princess, here are the details for power, weapons, your enemies and everything else.


The CryptO'pinion?

Mystic Realm is one of those games that proves jazzy graphics and sonic boom sound-effects aren't required for a great game and that is exactly what we have. I don't imagine many reading this web page would agree until you take the plunge and play for yourself. Fans of the genre will love it, I'm positive of this. It's a no-thrills adventure and I have thoroughly enjoyed the arduous task of rescuing another damsel in distress! This is a great game.




- THE MAPS -


( Don't be a dummy!!! Click on each thumbnail to see the larger level maps displayed )

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ghouls 'n Ghosts


There's an interesting thread over on Atari-Forum about a new version of Ghouls And Ghosts under development for the Atari STe by Sascha Springer. He's teased us with images and videos of lush sprites/landscapes and smooth scrolling but has just released an early beta. This was a jaw-dropping moment and proves the potential of the Atari ST - when in the hands of talent. I cannot wait to see more and wish Sascha much success!

This download is available via Atari-Forum [requires a 4MB Atari STe w/ hdd]

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Floppy Image Runner (IMGRF2X)




Wait, don't cut the ST's case!!

Most Atari ST games are available on a floppy disk which has been converted into a disk image and downloadable off the Internet, be they legit or not. Nothing beats the sound & feel of using a real ST with its floppy disk chugging away. What an authentic way to spend an evening and there are thousands of games to choose from.

IMGRF2X is a program, developed by Peter Putnik and provides a great way to use these images - without the hassle of finding a real floppy disk. It's basically software CosmosEx/Gotek and works with most files: .ST and .MSA. Obviously, the requirements are increased beyond the stock 520ST as you will need >2MB Ram and a hard drive/Ultrasatan, but these aren't exactly high-end specs like they were back in the day!


Peter has converted many games to hard disk but there are hundreds only available on floppy!


But how?

It's simple to use: firstly, assign either ST or MSA file types in GEM. Dead easy - just watch my video recording. Now you can double-click on any image from your collection to load Image Runner - this copies it into Ram and reboots. The ST will start up as if it has that disk physically inside its drive - powered by black magic!!

Sadly, GEM cannot assign more than one file type to any single program. To get around this limitation, just make a second copy of "IMGRF2X.PRG" and rename it to something similar. Now you can assign both types of disk images to each of these two programs for instant access to your collection of downloaded floppy images!

Or manually edit the Desktop.Inf file using a text editor like Everest or similar.


Most Automation floppy disk images work a treat so here's a cool disk with Freddy!


The CryptO'pinion?

I must say Image Runner worked rather well and I enjoyed a good success rate on the whole. This program is a Godsend for us without a Gotek or CosmosEx and has certainly allowed me to enjoy Menu disks again! However, please remember that this is software so YMMV. Nobody can deny that this is genius so enjoy!!

There are two downloads on Peter's website for IMGRF2X which also includes an easy to use option.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Enduro Racer #AtariSTe



Another Atari STe remake in progress!

Enduro Racer is one of my favourite Atari ST racers because it's fast, fun and an uncomplicated thrill to play. In fact, it's the classic arcade racer and our conversion is pretty good considering the age of this 1987 release!

Anyhow, as you can imagine, I was very excited to find out that Peter Jørgensen (Mr Manic Miner himself!) has begun the development of an enhanced remake for the Atari STe!! He's graciously given me the latest beta to play with and it's already looking very impressive with lots of improvements both planned and partially completed.

1) The Blitter is utilised to push out a brisk framerate!
2) Expect many more colours on-screen at once.
3) Usage of the extended palette.
4) Remaster YMT music of the original ST scores by legend David Whittaker.
5) Arcade samples played using the DMA hardware.

From what I've seen, heard and played so far, this is looking to be a tremendous project. To take one of my favourite Atari ST racers, and improve upon that using the STe hardware, is going to be mind-blowingly exciting.

Good luck Peter - I cannot wait to see more. Check out these screenshots and watch this space!!


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



Bring out your dead!

I've always been fascinated with Astral's haunted house platformer which I feel has a charming comical character. No haunting would be the same without lots of frightful creatures and this 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 which is described to us during a mini-intro at the start. The objective is to hunt down and collect all the skulls and lay their souls to rest. However, this is one tricky platformer through, it's a maze of creepy screens that often contain infuriating traps to catch you out. This is no arcade-style platformer, more of a Fire And Brimstone so keep your composure and wear your patient head, Worzel.



The artwork is beautifully creepy and I love the attention to detail - look at those eyes!!


A haunted house movie in a game?

The first level introduces us nicely to the game's personality with some puzzle solving along with a variety of classic baddies: 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.

Level passes: WolfmanHammerLugosiNosferatu & Garlic.

I must admit to taking a liking to the wolfmen but I hate the old hunchbacked witches who will drop rocks - with surprising accuracy! 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!). Hint: try and remember to search for hidden rooms or secret objects that may heed a different type of key.


Oh no, a skeleton with a bow!!! Gets me every time...


Aesthetics

The visual style is perfectly apt for the 1950's cinematic theme with smooth scrolling, spooky artwork and freaky characters - who are 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, each level is its own mini-movie and looks tremendous. The horror aspect is typically cheesy and I love it.

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 it all day). 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?



I hate it when the old witch drops objects on my head!


The CryptO'pinion?

This is one of those games that will eat away your spare hours as it requires practice and patience. It can be so 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!

A hard disk download can be found on D-Bug
Floppies can be sourced using Old Games Finder