Sunday, January 29, 2017


Grab a joystick!

It's been almost a year since I first mentioned news of Raiden under development for the Atari STe by none other than our favourite Frogger dude, Scott Clifford. Sadly, his commitments forced the project to be put on ice temporally... But, good news, he has now restarted it and is making good progress.

The initial work behind the scrolling, backgrounds, and sprites is all coming together. Also, the enemy sprite routines and placements are now being coded. Quite incredible for a one-man effort and it's a very exciting project to see in progress. I wish Scott well and cannot wait to see the next update (hurry up mate). Watch this space folks!

Okay, here is Scott's feature plan...
- Hardware scrolling is used for the entire screen - no status panel.
- DMA hardware for the playback of authentic arcade music.
- The Blitter will be utilised for the larger sprites.
- YM chip will be used for the sound effects.
- Support for the JagPad controller can be implemented.
- Please note that my video was recorded using emulation (better on my Atari STe)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Operation Garfield

Wolves are better than cats!

I've been browsing through the Floppyshop archives and stumbled upon a game called Operating Garfield by Dave Brankin. As you might imagine, it's inspired by Operation Wolf but sparked my curiosity because its an Atari STe game. The Blitter pushes the 8-way scrolling and sprites. Not only that but the audio is played using DMA stereo hardware.

Okay, so how is this different from Operation Wolf? Well, it's a shameless ripoff and is also a crosshair shooter using the mouse. The story is different! Time, aliens are invading Earth but they have been watching and figured us easy prey if they disguised themselves as Garfield. Yep, that lazy cat from the TV, so I think they made the wrong assumption!!

The action takes place over a cityscape with its skyline littered with invading Garfield's heads firing rockets. Using the mouse for control, blast the rockets and Garfield heads. It's that simple but, while you're frantically blasting away in this pseudo-3D missile command, look out for ammo caches and smart bombs that will aid your progress. There is also a Defender-style map of the enemy at the top/left but I found that near-useless if I'm honest!

This game is good and a bundle of fun for a few plays. Sadly, the difficulty is extraordinarily high so rarely did I get the chance to see later levels. I also thought the scrolling (framerate?) could have been smoother considering the hardware. It's better when using a real computer but nothing like Asteroidia, and this would have helped tremendously. However, the worst are those T2 samples which are ... good ... but grate after a short while. Gimme chip any day!

Operation Garfield isn't to be taken seriously and provides a few minutes of stress-busting action! Just take it as a cheap Op.Wolf ripoff with loads of pointless yet gratifying Garfield-killing. Not great but a good game worth playing.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

GEM Desktop

When wallpapers weren't a standard...

DeskFX is a GEM utility that I thought was pretty cool and entertaining, if annoyingly flawed. It replaces three parts of our beautiful GEM desktop - the default font, a choice of wallpaper, and an animated mouse pointer. As you can see, above, the wallpaper feature only updates every 2/3 seconds which is a little lame compared to DeskPic. However, the new fonts are superb and (like a big kid) I just loved playing with various animated pointers!

It appears the author had an STFM and DeskFX worked fine on my computer in both resolutions. Sadly, I couldn't get it to work on my Atari STe in LOW resolution - only in medium which is probably better anyhow? Not in the sense of available colours but in terms of functionality, who uses low to work? Who still works on their ST? ;-)

I thought this was a nice utility to share and you shall find it on disk UTL-4410 over at Floppyshop.

Monday, January 23, 2017


Marko Latvanen, of AtariMania, kindly sent me a game developed by Tangram programmer, Mark Luthe, for the German magazine ST Magazin. Grap first appears as a Tempest clone but is actually a puzzler which I'm sure will appeal to the brainiacs? It was originally sold through the publication as a "budget" mail-order back in 1990 but hasn't been available since. I am very excited by this rare and fascinating find and I hope you enjoy playing it :-)

The only place you shall find Grap is on the excellent AtariMania website.
Computer Magazine Archive has more on ST Magazin (you'll need Google Translate)
Thinkers might wanna check out our "Puzzle" section right here on AtariCrypt :)

Saturday, January 21, 2017


It's very satisfying to finally complete a favourite collection of something we loved. I have just managed to complete the Falcon trio. Sure, there are the limited and classic releases that bundle the lot together, but I've never been much impressed with many compilations - I always wanted the original, individual, games. Well, now I finally have 'em all! :)

Falcon is a brilliant flight sim with awesome graphics and many interesting locations to fail its many missions! So here is my special 3x cover feature for our Box Art section. Why not take your own F-16 for a spin today?

AtariMania features every Falcon release within their ST database :
     ~ Falcon
     ~ Mission Disk 1 Operation: Counterstrike
     ~ Mission Disk 2 Operation: Firefight
 - 8BitChip has done it again and adapted a Falcon bundle for hard drive installation.
 - Old Game Finder has the floppies for those poor souls without the original disks or a hard drive! :p

Friday, January 20, 2017

Harris Went Skiing


Today we rewind the clocks all the way to 1982 for a skiing adventure with an odd 8-bit hero, Horace. Developed in STOS by a couple of brothers calling themselves OllySoft and released (I think) a whole decade after the ZX Spectrum original. However, for his Atari ST appearance, he didn't want to upset Psion so changed his name to Harris to avoid confusion!

Anyone old enough to remember the original will feel right at home with Harris who is once again looking to enjoy a skiing trip. However, it's not started off well... Harris finds himself in a pickle as he didn't bring along any skis so must hire replacements from the resort - who built their shop on the wrong side of a busy highway.

The Frogger part is way too easy in comparison to what I remember! Simply waiting for a large gap in the traffic allows Harris to run all the way across the road - in one go! The skiing part is great and with many obstacles to avoid. Once the skiing is finished, somebody robs your skis so you head back to the hire shop to repeat everything...

OllySoft has done a great job with Harris Went Skiing and playing "Horace" again has certainly brought back lots of warm and fuzzy feelings of nostalgia. The Atari ST game is simple and very silly so is highly recommended if you're bored.

Grab the download of Atari Legend and game like it's 1982!!

Hang on, don't go!! There are even more OllySoft games to play. But looking at these makes me think that the boys had serious issues or a belting sense of humour. I'll go with the latter. Take a peep at their other games...

Who Maimed Roger Rabbit

Imagine Operation Wolf but set in President Trump's backyard which is overrun by weak rabbits! Aka lefties. So grab your gun and let's fix this once and for all. A successful hit turns those rabbits into a bloody mess of gore which I'm sure animal lovers will really appreciate. Overall, it's a simple game but also quite enjoyable, if repetitive.


A pointless two-player game so rubbish alone and possibly rubbish anyhow. Well, I didn't like it whatsoever if I'm honest. However, it does feature a cool hidden easter egg and that's worth the download. Brilliant!!


Ayatollah Invaders

An endless supply of angry ayatollah chaps running down your screen - straight into the path of your tank. It's mind-numbingly boring after a few minutes but I gotta admit that those somersault deaths are fantastic.

Motorway Death

Perhaps it's time to lower the bar to the lowest of low extreme levels? Is that even possible? Okay, how about a game of hit and run! Yep, you heard me right. And, on this road, people appear glued down so drive into them and watch blood splatter as their bodies spin off into the air. It's really funny... well... for a few minutes!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Head Over Heels

Heading back to my Your Sinclair days

I stumbled upon Head Over Heels by pure chance today. It's been donkey's years since I played this on my old ZX Spectrum and seeing it again is a heartwarming reminder of my 8-bit days. Ocean released this tough isometric adventure in 1989 for the ST but I don't recall ever booting it up. Perhaps an 8-bit game wasn't appealing to me back then?

Head Over Heels is more complex than it first appears - solve puzzles using two characters who have their own skill sets. It's superb to see this game again and anyone who loved the "filmation" genre will surely be in heaven. The graphics are Spec-tacular with superb details and more colour than my old rubber Speccy could ever have dreamt of.

Head Over Heels is a huge and intriguing adventure offering many sleepless nights! Highly recommended.
AtariMania features this in their ST database including an interesting tidbit! Download Head Over Heels from 8BitChip as this supports a trainer and hard drive installation. Also, here is an interesting website for the ZX Spectrum version with maps, videos, and more which prove helpful.

Saturday, January 14, 2017


Pogo the frog? Oh boy, this is gonna suck

Nebulus was released in 1988 by one of my favourite gaming companies ever, Hewson. It features an armed frog with big eyes called Pogo. But he isn't too happy with the thought of eight large sea-based towers and decides they need climbing and blowing up! Essentially, this is a platformer with some interesting pseudo-3D mechanics that provide a pretty unique visual style within an ingenious design. This is class programming as you will soon discover...

All towers are cylindrical with several platforms dotted all around the outside and nifty tunnels which offer a great way to quickly access the opposite side - if the current route appears a dead end. The world certainly revolves around little Pogo because he remains at the centre of the screen with horizontal movements causing the screen to scroll in a "three-dimensional" circular motion. Thus turning the tower around into view, it's quite brilliant.

Sounds rather insane, right? But let's ignore that initial opinion to check out this colourful screenshot...

Talk about going the extra mile and NOT sticking to 16 colours! Absolutely superb.

Frogs love water, right?

Getting through any of the towers will never be easy thanks to a barrage of unusual nasties to either shoot or avoid - and one that flies by to conveniently get in your way. Access to the top will involve careful strategy because your route is broken thus forcing you to use opposite sides of the tower depending on where you are. Always consider the option of using these tunnels to quickly nip through, they might come in handy to avoid those flying obstacles!!

Nebulus may sound easy but, it's actually very challenging and a brisk time limit allows little room for error. Bumping into an enemy will drop you down to the previous ledge, which is fantastic because that doesn't necessarily mean a frustrating loss of life, nor will it impede your momentum as you pick yourself up to try that part of the tower all over again. However, if there isn't a ledge to land on, you might fall even further down thus requiring lots of hefty backtracking.

Falling further still (and into the water) is strangely fatal for this froggy - the only frog ever to have existed who can't handle the deep waters. Yup, that means we lose a life! Also interesting is a bonus game featured between the levels - this has Pogo travelling to his next tower via a nice horizontal scrolling level. It's a shooter with lots of Psygnosis-busting smooth parallax scrolling! It should have been longer because I really enjoyed it a bunch (best viewed on a real ST).

Right then, you guessed it! Yep, it's time for another cool screenshot...

Another day and another tower to climb. Ahh, this one looks too easy, right?

16-Bit Sex Appeal!!

Throughout our adventure, the visuals are utterly tremendous. Nebulus is programmed by legend, John M Phillips, who treats us to a lovely display of great artwork and ultra-smooth framerates. Not only that but he spared no idle cycles, bursting the limits with a ton of extra shades for the backdrops. The end result is a game that puts others to shame. Isn't it incredible what the Atari ST cranks out - when programmed by somebody with talent and commitment?

The audio is equally impressive with gorgeous effects that are zesty and sharp totally suiting the gameplay styles. Also, a beautifully unique chiptune that I could leave running all day... it's captivating. Totally enchanting audio.

This is how all 16-bit games should look and sound. And that was all in 1988 too. Wow!!

Okay, ignore my jerky capture because this part scrolls so smoothly. And is great fun!!

The CryptO'pinion?

Nebulus can feel daunting thanks to its hefty learning curve which is steeper than you might expect. With lots of practice, I guarantee hours of addictive gaming because Nebulus is a real firecracker. I love how it integrates both arcade action and strategic thinking using a fascinating visual style. I think in many respects this game was ahead of its time.

Yes, it's pretty tough at first, but you will soon get the hang of this rather unique and wonderful shoot 'em up. In fact, I would personally rate it as an Atari ST classic - not only because of how it looks and sounds but the addictive gameplay. Enjoy this beautiful piece of JMP magic which is nothing less than an icon of the 16-bit era.

Floppies are available on Stonish
and 8BitChip has a hard drive version!

Monday, January 09, 2017

Donkey Island

Monkey Island?

All the way back in 1997, Ed Cleveland (aka Eddie Cat) spent many moons working on a comedy adventure called Donkey Island. However, the latter end of the 90s were bitterly cold days with most of us having sold up and moved onto the world of Mac/PC. Sadly, it appears he got little feedback from us all and thus, decided to call it a day. I'm gutted!!

Well, that's my take on what I read. Whatever happened, it's a shame because his talent and dedication were on the way to creating something rather special. Yep, it's disappointing but at least he released this final/beta version work. This was very kind of him and, as is, it's more-than-worth downloading and playing.

Donkey Island is a graphical adventure that is quite different from what I was first expecting. Think of something vaguely similar in style and content to Lure Of The Temptress or a Sierra On-Line game and you get the idea. But with a comical twist: we are Fred, a geek who loves playing games on his Atari ST. So he's a smashing lad and life is obviously TOS-taSTic!

However, that changed when he found out that Donkey Island, a game he has been eagerly awaiting, had been cancelled. Fred is crushed and cannot accept the news so he powers off the little green desktop computer and begins exploring his hometown to find out why it was cancelled. (Sigh, a feeling not new to ST gamers in the 90s!)

That's depressing, isn't it? Well, let's check out a screenshot to cheer us all up...

The cartoon design works really well and some drawings are superb!

He looks familiar O_o

Fred is controlled using the cursor keys which is very simple and effective. The keypad is used to interact with your surroundings and characters - who are incredibly entertaining and interesting, to say the least. It's now that I feel even sadder that this game wasn't finished because the style and sense of humour gone into making Donkey Island is quite beautiful. Although incomplete, there is a large town to explore with some cute surprises to discover.

In its current form, this is pretty much a broken adventure game but one we can still fully play. Getting around Fred's town is a cinch and we have all the abilities to investigate this horrifying gaming incident. Roam, explore, and never forget to chat with the locals. They're nothing like you are expecting and their humour is often superb!

Although unfinished, full exploration is possible and many characters are available to knock up a conversation with. Some rooms are complete whilst others are in an unfinished state. Yet, they are still available for us to rummage through, which is brilliant. I'm so happy this "beta" was released yet, at the same time, I am gutted. What a game this almost was!

Yep, we will never know what may have been. Here is one of the unfinished locations...

Sadly, some areas of the game will never be finished but at least they're left in for us to play.


Each location is depicted using a cartoon style similar to a comic book which Fred walks through in a rather crude but functional fashion. The artwork isn't exactly brilliant but the amateurish quality works wonders and the characters are superb. I love the way we communicate with others and our surroundings which is quite unique in style.

The sound effects are good but what I really love is the technique used for speech - it reminds me of Charlie Brown's teacher. Come on, tell me you can't hear that too? Well, I think it's superb :)

So, visually and sonically superb so here is another screenshot. My daughter says he looks like me...

Exploration is always the key to success and there are lots of (hidden) locations.

The CryptO'pinion?

Donkey Island had incredible potential and I imagine it would have ended up being a hugely fascinating adventure. It still is of course, albeit unfinished. I've enjoyed playing what is potentially a killer product that offers a different approach to the genre whilst being thoroughly entertaining with a wonderful sense of humour, strange locations and the silliest characters.

Trust me, this is a hidden gem and something truly brilliant. I wholeheartedly recommend you play this!!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Motor Massacre

Mad Max with choppy graphics?

Motor Massacre was released by Gremlin Graphics and feels like a wicked blend of a number of my favourite games. The action takes place in a grim post-apocalyptic future where each city is suffering from the devastation of war and resembles a Mad Max movie! All food stores were destroyed in the holocaust so people were starving until Doctor A. Noid came up with a substitute called "SLU" to help the waning populous. This all sounds great, right?

Why are these masterminds almost always qualified doctors? Anyhow, it was all a trick because SLU tastes like poo and turns people into zombies! So it's up to you to rescue the city from its psychotic drivers, explore buildings, and then battle in a demolition derby event to ultimately find the doctor and end this misery. See, it's basically Mad Max in game form :)

Pandy's Pork Palace sounds a lot better than it actually is!

It's Carmageddon out there!

Yes, this is more than one single game: the cities are explored from the comfort of an ATV - top/down similar to Chicago 90 but when inside buildings, it changes to something like Time Bandit or Gauntlet.

Driving around the city is tremendous fun because you are completely free to roam the streets and that also means blasting at anyone who might get in your way. All other drivers are out for blood and want you dead by any means and their road rage antics are vicious - so defend yourself using the cannon fitted to your vehicle.

Use this to blast the suckers into oblivion but also watch out for hazards such as oil spills and explosives carelessly left lying in the road. Do note the gun turrets which line many streets and are annoyingly highly accurate.

It's demolition derby time when we can shove other cars into dark oblivion.

Explore and have fun!

An interesting "mechanic" is how your vehicle's appearance alters the more damage it endures, so I'm grateful the holocaust didn't destroy the repair shops which also offer a wide range of other services like fuel, weapons, and ammo. The mechanic working here scares me, but I like his T-shirt! There are some more places and these offer a good opportunity to collect goods like weapons and health, so look out for their location using the road markings (Pandy's Pork Palace is available right from the start and contains a handy ATV upgrade).

You soon discover that these various places are thriving with ghouls and other creatures lurking in the shadows. Nowhere is safe, but you're armed with a pistol so shoot first and ask questions later! Keep searching these areas and you should find an arena pass to the demolition derby. This event is pure Carmageddon and nothing beats pushing your opponents into a chasm! Success here, grants you access to the next city.

The mechanic is freaky. It's almost on a Chucky level here... (shudder)


Visually, this is a basic affair with crudely-drawn graphics and jerky scrolling to boot. However, I must admit being mightily impressed with the animation of the running men which reminded me of Impossible Mission.

Sadly, the sound effects are probably worse than the visuals. Truly terrible.

However, we need him because the roads in the future are just terrible.

The CryptO'pinion?

Motor Massacre has been a nice surprise. Sure, it's about as glam as a dog turd but I enjoyed the mix of arcade-style action with levels of adventure lurking below the surface. Also, being able to enter buildings adds that extra dynamic which I loved - and there's always something stupid waiting for you! So don't take it seriously and have fun.

I have enjoyed zipping around the city looking for my next victim. It's crude but fantastic and really enjoyable!!

Mel Gibson wannabes can download the floppies
Tear up the roads like Mad Max!

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