Sunday, January 29, 2017

Raiden

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. Commitments forced this to be put on ice, but he's since restarted with great progress and I've seen massive improvements in the last few weeks! As you read this, he's starting the initial work behind enemy sprite routines and more. This is an exciting update for the retro gaming world - watch this space!

Specs

 - Hardware scrolling is used for the entire screen - no status panel :-)
 - DMA hardware will be used for the playback of authentic arcade music!
 - The Blitter will be utilised for all the larger sprites.
 - Chip will be used for the sound effects without interfering with the music.
 - Support for the JagPad controller will also be implemented.
 - Please note that my video was recorded under emulation and performance was better on my real Atari STe!


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Operation Garfield


I've been browsing through the Floppyshop archives again and this time stumbled upon an Operation Wolf inspired shooter called Operation Garfield. Developed by Dave Brankin, it sparked my curiosity because of its support for the enhanced hardware of the Atari STe with DMA samples and Blitted graphics. I'm always extra eager to see a piece of software for the underappreciated Super ST but I do also admit to being a little sceptical about a Garfield theme!

Once again aliens are invading Earth but this time has decided to strangely disguise themselves as the lazy cat from a TV show. Why? Because they have watched our broadcasts and felt that we would forgive them if they were cute and cuddly invaders. Yep, the storyline is a stretch but it's quite humorous and whatever works, right? Gameplay takes place across a cityscape littered with invading Garfield's, all of whom enjoy firing bucket loads of rockets your way!! The mouse is used for all controls: aiming and to shoot the invaders and their rockets. There's also a near-useless Defender-style map that hopes to locate the baddies, but I didn't care for it. There are some neat touches like ammo caches (which I found by accident), smart bombs, and a little England flag in the distance!

I gotta credit David Brankin who created this Atari STe game because he was sick and tired of the commercial companies ignoring the enhanced so he's utilised the Blitter for sprites and 8-way scrolling, along with DMA samples. This puts to shame most of the commercial software houses of the time. However, I fear the gameplay has little to offer other than a simple (yet gratifying) Garfield-killing spree. The difficulty is extraordinarily high so rarely did I get the chance to fully appreciate much - before dying. Operation Garfield isn't to be taken seriously and provides nothing more than a few minutes of stress-busting gun love killing that annoying fat cat. Now that I did enjoy!!

LINKS

 - Both Demozoo and Stonish have links to various Menu CD's which feature this ace game!!
 - Check out our "Homebrew" group here on AtariCrypt for more "PD" games...

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

GEM Desktop


DeskFX is a GEM utility that I thought was pretty cool and quite entertaining, if annoyingly flawed. It replaces three parts of our beautiful GEM desktop - the default font, choice of wallpaper, and an animated mouse pointer. As you can see, above, the wallpaper feature only updates every three 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 but it worked okay in medium, which is probably what most people will be using anyhow. I thought this was a nice utility to share and you'll find it on disk UTL-4410 over at Floppyshop :-)

 --> Wanna read about more cool warez? Then check out our "Software" group :)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Grap


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

LINKS

 - The only place you shall find Grap is on the excellent AtariMania website. Get it now!
 - 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

Falcon

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

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 group. Why not take your own F-16 for a spin today?

LINKS

 - 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 the odd looking 8-bit hero, Horace. Not wanting to upset Psion, he changed his name to Harris for his Atari ST appearance, all thanks to a couple of brothers calling themselves OllySoft. 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 from the resort - who built their shop on the wrong side of a busy highway!

The graphics and sounds are quite close to the original but (an ST nutter) I admit nothing beats the authenticity of the original. Playing the Frogger screen is a little too easy in comparison to what I remember and simply waiting for a large gap in the traffic allows Harris to run across the road in one go! The skiing part is great and with many obstacles to avoid. Once the skiing is finished, somebody robs you and you are sent back to the start to repeat it over.

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. Highly recommended for everyone old enough to have played the original.

LINKS

 - Serenade #47 features Harris along with lots more cool STuff, thanks to Stonish.
 - Harris can be found on Automation #345 which is available using Old Games Finder.
 - OllySoft comprised of two brothers, Steve & Stu who developed five Atari ST games. Ignoring Harris, each are lame and rather tasteless but I imagine they had lots of fun making them. All games can be found using Old Games Finder but whether you want to bother is another the question! Good luck with :
     * Who Maimed Roger Rabbit - Imagine Operation Wolf but set in the President Trump's backyard which is overrun by rabbits! A successful hit turns those cute rabbits into a bloody mess of gore. It's quite fun, if repetitive.
     * SubHunt - a pointless two player game with a hidden easter egg!!
     * Ayatollah Invaders - An endless supply of angry ayatollah dudes running down your screen and into the path of your tank. It's mind-numbingly boring but I must admit, those somersault deaths are actually very cool.
     * Motorway Death - It's time to lower the bar even further to play hit and run! People appear glued to the road, so drive into them and watch blood splatter as their bodies spin off into the air. Funny... well... for a few seconds!

Who Maimed Roger Rabbit
SubHunt
Ayatollah Invaders
Motorway Death

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Head Over Heels


I stumbled upon Head Over Heels by pure chance today. It's been donkey's years since I last played this on my old ZX Spectrum and seeing it again is a heartwarming reminder of the 8-bit scene. However, I shockingly cannot remember completing this tough isometric adventure and I certainly don't ever recall playing the Atari ST version!

Head Over Heels is far more complex than it first appears with two characters who each have their own skill set with which to deal with puzzles. It's superb to see this again after all these years and anyone that loves the "filmation" genre will surely also love this. The graphics are Spec-tacular with superb details and more colour than my old rubber Speccy could ever have dreamt of back then. A huge and intriguing adventure offering many sleepless nights!

LINKS

 - AtariMania features this within the ST database including an interesting tidbit too!
 - Download Head Over Heels from 8BitChip as this supports a trainer and hard drive installation.
 - An extremely interesting website for the ZX Spectrum version with maps, videos, and more...
 - Retrospec remade a number of Speccy games and Head Over Heels is one of them.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Nebulus


Nebulus was released in 1988 by one of my favourite gaming companies, Hewson and features an armed frog with big eyes called Pogo. He isn't too excited by the thought of eight sea-based towers and considers it his personal mission to climb 'em and blow 'em up! Essentially, this is a platformer with some interesting pseudo-3D mechanics which provide a pretty unique visual style within an ingenious game design. This is class programming.

The world certainly revolves around little Pogo. During gameplay, he always 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. All are cylindrical in shape with several platforms dotted all around the outside and nifty tunnels which offer a great way quickly access the opposite side whenever your current pathway is a dead end. However, getting to the top won't be easy! There is a barrage of unusual nasties to either shoot or avoid with one that flys 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. So always consider the option of using these tunnels to quickly nip through to the other side... they might also 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 it doesn't necessarily mean a loss of a life, nor will it impede your momentum as you pick yourself up to try that bit of the tower again. However, if there isn't a ledge to land on, then you might fall even further down thus requiring lots of hefty backtracking, which could prove too much if little time remains. Sadly, falling further still (and into the water) is strangely fatal for this little froggy who doesn't like water - so he loses a life! Interestingly, a bonus game features in-between each level as Pogo travels to his next tower and is a nice horizontal shooter featuring lots of Psygnosis-busting smooth parallax scrolling. It's very simple and it should have been longer because I really enjoy these parts.

Throughout your adventure, the visuals are utterly tremendous. Nebulus is programmed by legend, John M Phillips, who treats us to a colourful display of great artwork and smooth framerates. It's amazing just what the ST could crank out - when programmed by somebody with talent and commitment. All audio is equally impressive with gorgeous sound effects, some of the best samples, and a beautifully unique chiptune I can leave running all day!

Nebulus can feel a little finicky at first, with a learning curve that is much steeper than you would expect but, with lots of practice, I guarantee many hours of addictive gaming because this is a real firecracker!! I love how it perfectly integrates both arcade action and strategical thinking using a fascinating visual style which is far ahead of its time. Nebulus is JMP magic and an icon of the awesome 16-bit era. Hard but a truly wonderful shoot 'em up!

LINKS

 - A hard drive installable version can be grabbed off the 8BitChip website.
 - Stonish has it on floppy disk and Chaos Crew #56 is a great choice!
 - JMP made many technical demos ... all listed on Demozoo.
 - The only Nebulus cheat I know is this :
          > On the title screen type in HELLOIAMJMP and press keys F1-F8 for your tower of choice.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Donkey Island


In 1997 a rather fed up Ed Cleveland had spent many moons working on comedy adventure, Donkey Island. However, the latter end of the 90s were bitterly cold days with most of us having sold up and moved on, so it appears he got very little feedback and thus decided to call it a day. Massive shame. Thankfully, later that year, he released all that he had created as shareware and here we are. Okay, I might be a little late...

This is a graphical adventure that I admit is so very different to what I first expected and is vaguely similar in style and content to Lure Of The Temptress or a Sierra On-Line game. You are Fred, a geek who loves playing games on his Atari ST so life is obviously TOS-taSTic! However, this soon changes when he finds out that Donkey Island, a game he has been eagerly awaiting, has been cancelled. As you can imagine, Fred is crushed and cannot accept this sad fact - and as Atari ST gamers we know exactly how he feels. So, switching off his beloved little green desktop computer, he leaves his cushy flat to explore his silly tripped-out hometown to find out why it was cancelled.

Fred is controlled throughout his environment using the cursor keys which is simple and effective. The keypad is used to interact with your surrounds and also the characters who are interesting, to say the least! Each location is depicted with a great cartoon style like something from a comic book and the sound effects are pretty good too. What I really love is the interesting technique used for speech - it's superb and reminds me of Charlie Brown's teacher!

It won't be long until you find yourself in a silly situation and realise humour is the heavy ingredient throughout this game. Donkey Island had incredible potential, I imagine it would have ended up being a hugely fascinating game. It still is, albeit unfinished. I'm sure Monkey Island fans will appreciate the humour and I feel I've seen only the tip of this incredible gaming iceberg so I now need to play more again tonight. What an utterly brilliant adventure!

LINKS

 - Demozoo features Ed Cleveland's portfolio and also the all necessary download. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Motor Massacre


Motor Massacre was released by Gremlin Graphics and feels like a wicked mix 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 something like a Mad Max movie. All food stores were destroyed in the holocaust and people are starving until Doctor A. Noid came up with a food substitute called "SLU" to help the waning populous. Hmm...

Why are these masterminds always qualified doctors? Anyhow, it was all a trick because SLU tastes like poo and turns the people into crazed 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. Yes, Motor Massacre is actually more than one single game: the cities are explored from the comfort of your ATV in a top-down fashion similar to Chicago 90 or Nitro. Enter buildings and it changes to something like a Time Bandit or Gauntlet.

Driving around the city is tremendous fun as you are free to roam the streets, blasting away at anyone who might get in the way. All other drivers are out for blood and want you dead by means of their silly road rage antics so it's a good job your vehicle is fitted with a cannon to defend yourself. Use it to blast the suckers into oblivion but always 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.

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).

However, you will soon discover that these places are also thriving with ghouls and odd creatures lurking in the shadows - but you are armed with a pistol - so shoot first and ask questions later! Keep searching these places and you should find the arena pass to a demolition derby event where you battle foes by pushing them down into a chasm of instant death. Success grants you access to the next city...

At heart, this is a pretty basic game with crude graphics and jerky scrolling to match. However, I must admit being mightily impressed with the animation of the little running men, reminds me of Impossible Mission. Sadly, the sound effects are just as poor as the visuals but, let's be honest, when did aesthetics matter to gameplay? Motor Massacre is bursting at the seams with fun and I really enjoyed zipping around the city looking for my next victim. Sure, it should have been technically better but it's still an addictive game and one that I can spend hours playing!

LINKS

 - Stonish lists Zuul #228 which is a great Menu CD on a floppy disk.
 - Hall Of Light has some awesome maps (cities, buildings and especially the arena). Look carefully!

Monday, January 02, 2017

Lure Of The Temptress

I wanted to kick off the new year with something special and that means cool box art for one of my favourite Atari ST games, Lure Of The Temptress. First featured on AtariCrypt last spring, it remains one of our most popular posts and for very good reason too. However, I doubt I would ever be able to find the right words to fully explain how much I love this superb and humorous adventure with its amazing characters and fascinating storyline. So, just play it :)

LINKS

 - 8BitChip has adapted LOTT for easy installation to an Ultrasatan or hard drive!
 - No hard drive? Then grab the floppies via Old Games Finder.
 - Even more amazing examples of cool box art is within our (wait for it) Box Art group!