Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Prince Of Persia

A 16-bit classic gets updated!

Prince Of Persia is incredible but today receives an audio upgrade which uses the DMA coprocessor to play the effects better. They sound a lot cleaner and without any slowdown because the DMA is a coprocessor, working independently of the main CPU. This means that the gameplay is actually smoother than the original release. Which is pretty cool :)

Download right now. Yes, now!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Adventurer's Box Art

Check out my new games!!

You all know that I love sharing my Atari ST collection with you guys. If you didn't then click here right away because that link contains lots of games I've managed to save from soulless eBay sellers! Okay, today is an extra special day because I'm not sharing one... or two... or even three Atari ST games. No sir, I'm sharing four of my latest fuji purchases!

All four games are (hmm) sorta new to me if I'm honest. Don't get me wrong, I've played them all at some point in my life but, not for long. Either I was confused (no instructions with menu disks haha) or I probably just died all the time. And if you scroll down, I'm sure you can guess which French RPG game that was in! (Such a cruel and unfair game!!!)

Okay, do start the downward scrolling now to see what games I bought. Are any players out there with these games? Tips, help, and advice are always welcome so let me know in the comments below......... ttfn


First up, is Heimdall with its excellent cartoon-style visuals and a funny storyline depicting life as a Viking demi-god on a brave mission. Three silly tasks need to be mastered before you can choose a decent crew of dodgy-looking characters - I dare you not to giggle during that axe-throwing contest! This is absolutely insane, like a Monty Python sketch!

Sadly, this feels like a lame Amiga port that was rushed. I feel a lot more could have been done - especially considering the Ram requirements. So it makes no sense about the lacking sampled sounds and poor scrolling... However, this doesn't distract from what is ultimately a humorous and crazy adventure through Norse mythology.

A cheap Amiga port but, I think I'm gonna enjoy it.


Drakkhen was a Christmas present from my wife and is in beautiful condition. The box I mean, not the wife! ;-) Okay, there are a few scuffs on the rear but I shouldn't complain because it's pretty neat and with all contents too!

This is a real-time RPG which involves four chosen characters and much dragon slaying. Most certainly one of my prized possessions and something I strongly recommend. However, it's damn hard due to incredibly unfair mechanics that sometimes make no sense. I hope to take on board the challenge and play it properly one day very soon!


Now, this is a game that could so easily be overlooked as a meagre Dungeon Master ripoff set in space. But it's far more than that and offers a great real-time RPG set onboard the Atargis, an abandoned space station.

The dude on the cover makes me think of Speedball... Can anybody see that? Okay, ignoring that amazing tidbit, this should be an engrossing game in its own right. Regardless of being verrrrry similar to a typical Dungeon Master. I am quite excited to play this someday soon....... (I really need to retire to have more spare time!!)

- OOZE -

Finally, we have an illustrated text adventure which is something old school and very popular pre-Atari ST when resources were obviously limited. This has a creepy cover but oddly one of the silliest of storylines I've ever heard: you are (wait for it) "Ham Burger" and Mr Cheez has given you a house in Salom's Lot which is rumoured to be haunted by lots of scary things going bump in the night. How freaky is this? I'm Ham Burger LOL!!

I must admit to being a little disappointed with my copy because the condition isn't great at all. In fact, it's a bit of a wreck with lots of dents, breaks and scuffs. But this is a rarity and something special to me so one day I'll find a mint copy, I'm sure of it. (Yeah, Yeah). Until then, I am proud to own this weird adventure.

I've since played this excellent adventure and featured it
here. Click to read!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Chaos Strikes Back

More audio clarity?

Following on from yesterday's wonderful news of the Atari STe enhanced update of Dungeon Master, Peter Putnik has now improved the audio for Chaos Strikes Back. Once again, this news is making me jump up and down with joy!!! So why not make your Atari STe just as happy and download this DMA audio upgrade right now? Enjoy!! :-)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Dungeon Master

Crawling with audio clarity

Peter Putnik has just updated Dungeon Master to use the DMA Audio hardware lurking inside the Atari STe. This is huge news for fellow adventurers! Playback is now much clearer and this won't impact on the computer's performance. Peter informs me that Chaos Strikes Back is next in line for the STe treatment - and I cannot wait!!

Download the new upgrade from 8BitChip.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Scott Clifford

As many will know, I've been a friend of Scott's for a while now, even though he's from Yorkshire I've never held that against him! Anyhow, I've always been eager to know what he's working on, from those humble beginnings with a Turrican music disk to a near-perfect arcade version of Frogger (and to think he's not been coding for that long... Quite incredible!)

But, then, he decides to take on the immense task of a Raiden conversion for the Atari STe. His plans are to make full use of the Blitter, DMA audio, hardware scrolling, and more. Such fascinating enthusiasm! Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later, I asked for an interview in the hope it would be interesting to anyone who doesn't yet know the guy behind Frogger along with the upcoming Raiden project. My thanks to Scott for this interview and I hope everyone will enjoy reading this... just keep on scrolling... :-)

- Scott Clifford - the interview -

Tell us about yourself

Where do I start? Heh.. Let's skip ahead to Christmas 1990, that's where the real fun begins with the introduction into my life of the Atari STe. I never really had any 8-bit systems, this was the first for me, bearing in mind my age. I turned on the STE, stuck in a disk and for the first time in my life was immersed in the world of Indiana Jones. (Kids these days... Tsk!)

From then on, I only really used my ST for games and some school work, but soon started looking into other uses as a teen. One thing I will remark on though was the ease Automation disks were very easy to get hold of... That is another story, by that I mean, wait for the Automation/DBUG DVD ;)

Coding hiSTory?

I only recently started “coding” on the ST, about 2 years ago, roughly 2014/2015 I started messing about in STOS and found it really easy to program and soon enough I was writing small routines, asking for help on the Atari forums, and generally messing about. At the same time, I was trying my hand at everything, music, games, art, programming and getting into the hardware side too. I now have an STe (Of which there is a certain unnamed person I should thank!!! - He knows who he is) and started coding in STOS full time before moving onto ASM for Frogger, which gave me credibility or notoriety.

The Turrican Music Disk was created simply because I am a fan of the game. I just wasn't very good at it, to be honest, and found it far too difficult beyond the “spaceship” levels so that kind of put me off... My music demo started because I did enjoy the tunes but didn't fancy loading the actual game disk each time, and what's more impressive is the fact that this is the first time STOS has used SNDH convincingly I might add. A point missed by a lot of people - the player routine was developed by me and might be the first time STOS has ever used SNDH (note big ego trip here!). As far as music disks go, I did have the idea for a UMD style music player but it never went beyond the ideas stage. 

Frogger for the Atari ST is arcade perfect and possibly the best home computer version ever.

Why the peculiar handle?

A nickname was given by a dear friend who is no longer with us, referring to my overuse of the colour black, right down to the nails and eyes. Yeah, I was a goth, but I'm now more immature than anything. :) I suppose I tend to lean on the darker side of life, metal music, Gothic architecture (Prague is awesome, need to go there!) and other such “out of the light” topics. But there is the bonkers side of me too, the sort of person that is bubbly but not annoying... by that I mean I can jump down the stairs backwards when I'm bored!

You must be proud of Frogger?

Frogger, to me, is the epitome of a decent arcade game - full of colour, noises, damn hard gameplay, and it doesn't involve rescuing a princess or collecting gold. I wanted to write Frogger initially in STOS because as I was playing it on #cough MAME I realised that the ST was the perfect platform for it. The game itself is simplistic enough but not rubbish AND didn't require some glorious technical ability - there is no scrolling, no bullets, and nothing beyond the ST capabilities.

The fact that I got really close (using STOS) to releasing it just goes to show how easy, in terms of computing, the game was handled by the ST. Unfortunately, like all simplistic programming languages, BASIC was eventually thrown out and I started (with the huge help of Xia!!!) the process of writing the game in assembly - faster code, closer control over the ST and I could use the computer more reliably. STOS is great, but not for this due to too many things on the screen.

I'm so proud of Frogger. It might not be F1 by Geoff Crammond or Anarchy by Psygnosis but it's mine, and it's my first assembly program that works. At this point, I must thank all the people involved in its creation, there are so many who gave support, ideas and actual assets I could use, like music and SFX from Zerkman and Dma-SC. Immense support and patience from XiA too .. I did get some criticism for not making it 21st-century, but I always wanted to replicate the original and never to out-do it.

You gotta check out this music disk, especially using the Atari STe!!

Raiden is humungous

It is!! I had the idea again from playing it on mameUi64 (Plug right there folks!) and looking at it, I wondered if it was possible. I wrote some routines, originally in STOS, and found it far too slow (this is before I started with assembly language and Frogger). So, after Frogger and after I'd gained some knowledge in ASM, I went back to it. I wrote some routines in assembly language and started to learn about the STE specific hardware scrolling. 
All of the music and sprites you see in Raiden are taken directly from the arcade but, because of the 16 colour limitation, I've had to look at the Megadrive version for the level's graphics. This means the levels are quite dark in colour and maybe a little too washed out - at the moment. As far as technical difficulties go, the oddest thing... the tanks are actually the most complicated, after the player, to write code for.

What games do you play?

I'm kind of notorious for it in my house haha! Although I've recently been putting myself through the Forza experience on the Xbox One (a close second to pride and joy, the Atari STe). I do love the ST and Shadow Of The Beast 2 I have been playing a lot of lately, cant seem to get very far though lol. I'd say I'm not a huge fan of RPGs or fantasy stuff like Ishar, could never get into it, although it's very pretty. But certain consoles for me hold certain games, so for instance, Shenmue on the Deamcast, the Lotus Trilogy (yeah I have the actual boxset) for the Atari ST. I need to get some friends with STs and have a four-way … hahahaha obviously in Lotus :P

Raiden, a WIP conversion for the Atari STe... Will it ever see the light of day?

Who inspires you?

This is a strange one because most of my inspiration for coding comes from, not the current scene but from the days gone by. People like Wayne Smithson who, at the time, were cutting edge and mostly “on their own” releasing games like Anarchy. Even its title “it cant be done” says it all lol. The bedroom coders also hold a certain nostalgic feeling too, like the guys over at DMA or even some of the pirate groups like Automation and the Pompey Pirates, what they DIDN'T do for games, they did FOR the ST … if that makes sense? 
I think nowadays it should be looked back on as part of the ST and not the reason for its downfall, Atari did that themselves. I also like niche programmers, those that don't tend to conform to whats expected, Excellence in Art is a prime example of what I'd consider coding for yourself and NOT for the masses. It's probably one of the reasons me and the leading guy there get on so well, even if we do disagree about binary - haha (in-joke)

Any future plans?

Haha, where Do I begin... Flashback (Delphine) is another do-able game, despite reservations from the “scene” ;) I'm also thinking Mortal Kombat... However, whatever I do, I think it will definitely be game related. I don't consider myself a demo writer and although I've put some code into demos I don't think I'd actually write my own. I'll leave that to the pro's like DHS, their “Sea Of Colour” demo is awesome!! Games require a slightly different process to demos and I feel like I'm more suited to the games really.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Everyone's A Geek

Top Of The Pops!

I've just been contacted by Robin, of Robberie who are an acoustic indie group. Their latest record is all about retro gaming and features numerous devices like the Atari ST and ZX Spectrum. In fact, an Atari ST even played a role in the production using VideoMaster and this alone is mind-blowing. I was extremely fascinated by the ST's role in the production so he kindly sent information and pictures... Clickety-click to visit the Robberie website!


"My 1040 STE plays a starring role in the robberie video for Everyone's a geek, helping to create the pixellated monochrome shots. To do this, footage was recorded on a video camera, which was then fed through a Microdeal Videomaster cartridge. The software has a live preview mode which displays a quarter-screen feed of whatever you play in 16 shades of grey. So the recorded footage was played back and then I recorded the output from the computer's screen on my smartphone in order to get into a format compatible with editing software on my Mac.

There are some other Atari relics in the video. There are some shots of Roadblasters on my Lynx, which is modded with the brilliant replacement LCD colour screen. The shot of Pong is I'm afraid not original hardware but comes from an Atari classic tv games joystick.

And the Powerplay Cruiser joysticks are the ONLY ones that I could properly play Kick Off 2 on! You can find out more about the other retro hardware to be found in the video on the robberie website."