Tuesday, April 25, 2017

ZombieCrypt



Cover your eyes in fear of this new Atari ST slideshow!

A few months ago I came up with the notion to create a slideshow based on a zombie/horror theme because I love George A. Romero and adore movies like Evil Dead and Resident Evil. Not to mention Milla Jovovich!!

I used Imagecopy 4 to convert several JPGs from various movies but that's where my artistic skills ended. I have none! So I asked a few friends if they'd like to donate some gruesome pics of their own. My thanks to the boys listed below for their images and Peter Jørgensen for his awesome slideshow. This program removes the lower border for a cool scroller, plays fantastic YMT music and can be launched from either floppy or hard drive.

I've really enjoyed working on this project and I hope all you ST nutters download it. Let me know :)


- CREDITS -


Production idea and childishly drawn images are by Meeeee!! :D
Artistic skills: Stuart Johns / Peter Jørgensen / Karim Mezaouri / Aurélien Vaillant
Also credit to the "unknown" for those images I nabbed off the web!
Slideshow programmed by Peter Jørgensen.
Addams Family theme tune by Vic Wizzy (converted Peter)



- SAMPLE IMAGES -





Friday, April 21, 2017

Hoog



Prepare thyself dear gamer...

The Atari ST is a computer with a wealth of games, programs, utilities, and more within its massive public domain and shareware library. In fact, this archive is huge and proves just how popular the ST was for both the users and those creative folk. I love this about the Atari ST and it's something I've yet to "feel" in modern computers.

Believe it or not, but Hoog is a shareware platformer released in 1994 by MP Lord - yes he of Droid fame. It's incredible and quite similar (visually) to Creatures but with more of a puzzle theme including elements that reminded me of Sleepwalker and Lemmings. Whether or not that's a good thing I'll leave it for you to decide...

You can check out what Miles released on the Atari ST by checking out the AtariMania archives.




Aww little baby Hoogs!

The objective is simple - rescue baby Hoogs that are trapped inside cages! Sounds so cruel? Yes, it is and they're trapped, waiting to be freed. However, these little kiddies are pretty darn stupid and, when released, will blindly wander off through their dangerous new world - and die!! They can get trapped, drown, or fry in burning flames. Yep, there's a lot of strategic thought needed when guiding these little babies home.

Hoog can walk, jump and even chuck bombs at his foes. However, he's only a short stubby fella so cannot do much without the help of his environment, like helium-filled balloons that can help reach those inaccessible areas. There are various other cool mechanics to aid our hero; look for springs to bounce high into the air, switches that unlock hidden ledges and special gateways that transport Hoog long distances in the blink of an eye.

Hoog is very easy to pick up and play. The controls are simple and responsive, without lag or finicky irritations. It plays great from the start and I was impressed with how each level becomes steadily and progressively harder. You're not thrown in at the deep end and gradually taught how to get the best from your environment to save those little babies. A lot of professional thought went into the design of this weird little platformer.




Amateur homebrew aesthetics?

Visually, this has got to be one of, if not the most, impressive "Public Domain" games that I have ever seen. The entire artwork is truly astounding and way beyond anything else that I can think of from the ST's homebrew scene. Each level features landscapes of stunning beauty, and I truly do mean stunning. Miles has made lovely use of colour, everything is so bright and cheerful. It's unbelievable and I recommend sunglasses before you play!

But that's not all, the sprites are also stunning and have a Bitmap feel to them. Animations are lovely with neat attention to detail - like when Hoog smiles during a jump. He even wiggles his bum in flight. Finally, I cannot end without mentioning the smooth parallax scrolling. This is a commercial game, right?

Audio is a treat and proves that chiptunes will last forever compared to fuzzy MODs. Sadly, there's only the one in-game tune that gets tiresome after a while. Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful tune that your YM2149 is knocking out but I'd have like a selection. However, I do love what we have and now, I cannot get it out of my head lol.





The CryptO'pinion?

Hoog isn't easy and takes a little practice to figure out what's going on and the best, most efficient way to solve the puzzle of rescuing the babies. Well, unless you enjoy watching cute critters drown or burn alive? Perhaps you do? Who doesn't!! Or is it just me? Anyhow, whatever your preference, this is a great game that's going to keep you occupied for many hours with its humorously challenging gameplay that is so addictive.

Once again, Miles Lord has released a wonderful game and one which humiliates many commercial companies who rushed through sloppy ports. This proves what the Atari ST is capable of in the hands of talent; it's a magnificent example of great coding. Hoog is mind-blowing and one of my favourite ST games. Highly recommended!!


Monday, April 17, 2017

Starburst


Starburst is a shareware game by Chris Skellern that grants us the gratifying opportunity to blow stuff up!! This space-shoot 'em up is based on an old Sinclair QL game, which is actually pretty cool when you think about it!

The objective is to find six power bases and decimate them before attempting the ultimate goal of killing the super brain. Oooooh, that sounds amazing!! Pilot your spaceship through lots of rocky caverns, destroying everything that you come across. And, when I say everything, I really do mean everything!! Directional firing is available using the keypad, which I've demonstrated here in this simple animated GIF.

Okay, aesthetically, this isn't going to blow your mind with its basic 8-Bit visuals. However, that's the era I grew up in and I don't need fancy 16-bit graphics to enjoy any game. In fact, Starburst reminds me of Harrier Attack - remember that one? The chipmusic is superb with in-game sampled sound effects that aren't all that bad.

Starburst is dead simple and explosive fun so stop thinking and destroy everything!!


DOWNLOAD & MY HIGH SCORE -


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Atari ST games

        

How many Atari ST games can you fit onto a single floppy disk? No, it's not a bad joke because Peter Putnik already has the answer: a whopping twenty-three Atari ST games!! These are all heavily compressed on one bog-standard double density floppy disk and include classics like Arkanoid, Asteroids, Virus, Tempest, Head Over Heels, Pengy, Jet Set Willy, Crystal Castles, Xevious, Sentinel, Moon Patrol, Joust, and more - WOW!!

What, you don't believe me? Then I think you should clickety-click right now and grab the download - enjoy!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Magicland Dizzy



I'm so dizzy, my head is spinning...

Being a bit of an odd bod, I've never taken much time to play any of the Dizzy games so figured I should choose one from this hugely popular series and see where it takes me. I've decided on Magicland Dizzy, probably because I was reminded of Stormbringer from my Spectrum 128 days. Amusingly, I've gone and picked one which wasn't designed by the Oliver Twins but Neal Vincent and programmed by Derek Leigh-Gilchrist of Captain Dynamo fame.

Magicland has been infected by an evil wizard. Yes, another evil wizard but he's not banked on Dizzy who plans on saving the day. Dizzy must explore Magicland and rescue six of his friends being held captive. To do this he must solve many puzzles, trade items and talk to the natives. Basically, what you'd expect I guess!


Okay, the first demoed puzzle is easy. This scary dude is hungry so, feed him something nice!


Oi! egg head O_o

The graphics are beautiful with cartoon artwork by Leigh Christian (Magic Boy) which includes lots of neat animations and effects. Just look at that mean-looking troll in the animation above - it's better than watching Nick Jr. Audio hasn't been forgotten with stunning chip music to enjoy throughout. It's YM-tastic and I loved it!!

Well, having only played for a short while, I can honestly say I'm shocked at just how superb this game is. The controls are spot-on perfect and I'm getting the distinct impression that my old brain won't be frustrated by any stupid puzzles. From what I've seen, each character will need something, so it's a case of finding out what and where it is. Simple, but interesting without the irritation I lazy adventurer like me initially expected!



I found this map on a Russian Dizzy website. It's pretty biiiiiiig!!


So far so good?

Magicland Dizzy is an intriguing adventure and something I didn't expect. I'm not the greatest explorer with these games but I'm going to give it a stab. There are lots of things I need to do, like rescuing somebody called Dylan? Also, Dozy is fast asleep so I should figure out how to wake him... Have a blessed Easter everyone †

- DOWNLOADS -

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Narco Police



Drugs... Guns... Violence!

In the future... or rather... back in 2003 most of us were heavily dependent on hardcore drugs and this addiction made the dealers rich and powerful. So the various nations of the world all got together to form an elite anti-drug unit: The A-Team. No, I meant NARCO POLICE who have been trained to rid this filth from existence. Yeah!!

Three Narco units are deployed to infiltrate the drug lord's hive which is located on a remote island, off Columbia. It won't be easy because they have invested in extra security, including lots of marines and combat soldiers. You start with the 'option' of choosing your team's equipment and weaponry which is important. Also, a map of the island allows you to view the landscape and chose an entrance into its network of underground tunnels.


Don't forget to visit the armoury before heading out into no-mans land!
There's little to actually plan but at least we get to tunnel in like killer worm cops!


Walk... Shoot... Kill

It's now we encounter the henchmen, security systems, and heavy artillery! And, as we venture deeper, the enemy will surprise you by jumping out from hidden sidewalls or fall down from the ceiling to ambush. So use the joystick to direct gunfire at their location and reign an onslaught of gun violence! Controls can take a little getting used to with movement first feeling awkward - but you will get used to dodging grenades in no time.

Other defences cannot be destroyed so easily and require a tactical approach. (It's now that you realise your team needed the correct equipment). A terminal is available to enter basic control commands, such as 'C' (which stands for 'chopper') to display information about your teams. The 'K' command is helpful in restoring vitality and the 'M1' command is rather entertaining in sticky situations. A command list can be displayed using 'DIR'.

Don't be fooled into thinking this is a simple shooter; hold down fire and blindly kill everything. It isn't. Far from it in fact and is something you'll need to practice in order to start getting anywhere. The controls are great and the progression you make is slow, but rewarding. I hate to say it, but you should read the manual O_o


Come on, tell me you're not impressed by this floppy-disk based computer from 1985!!!


Aesthetics, long before Doom!

Visually, this is gorgeous with cool locations and huge sprites with great animation. Hang on, this is a 16-bit computer, right? Well, as impressive as it is there are some minor issues: it's quite tacky when you see a wooden-looking baddie waiting to be shot like a cardboard cutout. There are some soldiers who love to roll across your screen in slo-mo! Thankfully, we are superbly animated as we patrol the corridors - even if we have a suspect limp.

I've always had a passion for 3D shooters (especially the first-person variety) and, even though this is third-person, it's one I have enjoyed since the 90s. Narco Police actually uses a pseudo-3D engine that pushes our 8MHz CPU by using clipped graphics that increase as you walk, giving the illusion of movement. I remember drooling over my ST's keyboard the first time I got to see this in action!

Audio is fantastic and starts with a stomping title tune during the display of an 80s retro-styled title screen. All in-game sound effects are made from samples, which are impressive. However, it's odd walking without the sound of footsteps? Maybe I'm being picky and perhaps our hero is just too stealthy for his own good!!

Hands up who would love a job as a Narco Policeman? No, me neither! lol

The perspective used in this game is so impressive but that doesn't stop me from dying!


The CryptO'pinion?

Technically, this is a Christmas Cracker stuffed full of mayhem to get the blood flowing - all over the walls usually! Who doesn't enjoy killing idiot henchmen and repetitive tunnel exploration? Sadly, Dinamic has made yet another game that is ludicrously tough and perhaps too tough? Maybe the Spanish are ultra-hardcore gamers?

Having said that, I'm always drawn back into the tunnels, time & time again because Narco Police is a seriously addictive shooter. Sure, it's always predictable but in a good way and, even though it's insanely tough, I cannot help but recommend it to those who love guns, loud explosions and plenty of killing. A fistful of fun and I love it.


Narco Police floppy disks and hard drive.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Ghouls 'n Ghosts


Today I thought that I would entertain myself with a few games of Ghouls 'n Ghosts, a classic platformer and a fantastic Atari ST conversion by Software Creations for US Gold. However, I only ended up laughing out loud whilst I suffered numerous deaths in utter frustration! For those that have been living on another planet, this is the sequel to Ghosts 'n Goblins, another game which I'm not particularly great at. Sigh... when will I ever learn?

This is a beautifully crafted conversion faithful to the original with rock-solid gameplay that will take many moons to master. The visuals are lovely with nice scrolling and superb sprites - who doesn't love it when Arthur bumps into a baddie and somehow loses his clothes? It sure doesn't make any sense but it has our 7-year old laughing her cotton socks off which is a win in my book. In fact, all sprites are beautifully drawn with gorgeous details - just look at the buzzards as a wonderful example. Musically, Ghouls 'N Ghosts features captivating tunes and some of the most memorable I've ever heard. Just listen to the first level's music. Wow, it doesn't get better than this!!

Ghouls N Ghosts is such a tough game and also an arcade classic. The Atari ST received a fantastic conversion which looks great, sounds incredible and offers you the chance to enjoy the most frustrating action. Dare you accept this challenge? Of course, you do and those brave players can grab either the floppies or a hard disk version.

Check out these screenshots while you decide how brave you really are... Good luck!!

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Clod Hopper



A game for those with big feet?

Clod Hopper was released through the Budgie UK label back in 1992 by scener Goth, aka Gary Wheaton. It stars a fella called Bill that's in search of his girlfriend who foolishly wandered off into the nearby plutonium mines - which are inhabited by crazy creatures, numerous whacky puzzles and dangerous hazards. Women, uh? Luckily, she left a convenient trail of footprints so venture forth to rescue our beloved and save the day.

Bounty Bob fans will love this: each screen contains platforms that need walking over before we can exit and progress deeper into the mine. Anyhow, this isn't as easy as it sounds thanks to tricky level designs and cunning puzzle elements - and these often need completing in a particular order. Watch out for those slippery slides, dangerous falls, and the nasty inhabitants who seem to love getting underfoot.

Thankfully, there are magical items we can collect that will render these creatures defenceless, if only for a short period of time. Some rooms will feature working machinery, often necessary to operate to help you clear the level, a fascinating concept which works well. However, you shouldn't dawdle because Bill only has about five minutes of air supply in each room - before he suffers a cruel choking death. Yes, it's tough, but so addictive!!


Paint those platforms with your feet and enjoy the slides while you're there!


Looks and Sounds?

Graphically, I really REALLY like Clod Hopper. The look and design is reminiscent of those early 8-bit days and it works so well but it's also as smooth as silk with console-like movement and animation. The level designs took me right back to when I was a kid but it never looks cheap and tacky. Brilliant artwork design throughout.

The same applies to the audio with great chip music and superb raspy effects for the screens and gameplay. To think Gary Wheaton designed everything you see, hear and play is quite incredible and I personally think he was going for sounds similar to the Atari 2600. He certainly got the best results from out of the YM2149!


Can you make the hi-score table? Not on your first go, you won't lol


The CryptO'pinion?

I've enjoyed this oldskool romp and I think it'll appeal to fans of Bounty Bob and indeed any console owner from the early/mid-80s. This is a quality platformer and my only gripe is the measly three lives - which aren't enough for such a challenging game. Overall, Clod Hopper is a freakishly outstanding old skool platformer!!

- DOWNLOAD -

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Army Moves



Reliving Christmas 1987

The last time I played Army Moves was probably on my Spectrum +3 back in 1987 before getting my Atari ST. I remember it being part of Ocean's Live Ammo compilation and what a great compilation that was. However, it was extremely sluggish and I was also rubbish so I never managed to beat the first level (stop laughing).

Army Moves was developed by Dinamic, the same guys who brought us After The War, and it's a scrolling shooter with many ingredients 'borrowed' from a variety of great(er) games. It begins with us happily trundling over a damaged bridge in a surprisingly well-armed jeep. Firing the infinite supply of rockets at the constant flow of enemies whilst hopping over potholes in the hope to safely reach the other side. Sound familiar?


This jeep is ace! Realistic handling with fantastic leaping abilities! Yeah!! ;)


When variety isn't the spice of life!

The next levels have us flying a helicopter over enemy territory protected by planes blindly shooting, whether you're in their sights or not. The controls are agonisingly lethargic and it makes avoiding the enemy rather difficult. Oh, and don't forget to manually land on the helipad at the end - otherwise you suffer a suckers death!

The next part is more of the same theme, ie nothing-you-haven't-seen-before. The later levels take us through the jungle avoiding grenades and silly buzzards before it flips into something resembling Joe Blade. Sigh...

Oh all the levels, I enjoyed the first the most whereas the others are too hard and irritating.


Honestly, I swear that jeep doesn't fly all the time!


Speccy aesthetics?

Visually, I quite liked Army Moves but that's probably because I'm reminded of my colour-clash days on the old 128K Speccy? The graphics are barebones for the Atari ST but, I must admit, everything scrolls along nicely and I do like the detailed sprites. The helicopter levels feature parallax scrolling, which is a neat touch. However, there ain't anything that's gonna blow your mind and certainly nothing to push the Atari ST to its limits.

David Whittaker music plays throughout and isn't his best work but is still excellent. Nuff said.


Reversed scrolling is pretty weird and doesn't feel right so makes stage two quite frustrating!!


The CryptO'pinion?

I like some of Dinamic's ideas but it doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. Plus they spoiled it with ludicrously-long levels and high difficulty made worse by being sent back to the start after losing a life!! Ignoring the nearly-fun Jeep stage, I find it difficult to recommend this - just play Moon Patrol, Silkworm or Joe Blade instead.

Army Moves could easily have been great but feels like a rushed 8-Bit conversion offering little fun and a massive fist full of frustration. Unlike the Spectrum game, our conversion feels like a glammed-up quick port and one that lost what little playability it had thanks to faster gameplay mechanics; scrolling, enemies, etc. I don't get it, what were they thinking? Overall, the first level is the best but the rest of the game is far too difficult to be entertaining.

Wear camo and then grab the floppies or hard disk version!

Monday, April 03, 2017

Jinks


Jinks appears a horizontally scrolling Breakout clone but is technically one of the worst Atari ST games ever released. A shameful port by Rainbow Arts with incredibly jerky scrolling that is enough to make your eyes bleed after only a few minutes of horrendous gameplay! Thankfully, Peter Putnik has begun work on an Atari STe version that makes use of the enhanced hardware for far better results, which you can see in the video above.

However, as with Son Shu Shi and After The War, all current copies of Jinks contain bad data so Peter is looking for somebody to supply an image of their floppy so he can repair this piece of hiSTory. Can you help?

Now, I've still no idea how to play Jinks but give it a try and see what you think! Answers on a postcard...

LINKS

 - This work-in-progress is available for both floppy and hard drive installation (Atari STe / TT / Falcon)
 - If you want to torture your eyeballs then the original (albeit bugged) game can be found via Old Games Finder.
 - Trusteft has a humorous recording of the original jerky game...

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Collaboration Two



Following on from last year's success, Collaboration #2 has just been released. The STatariART gang have been very busy and created even more funky pixel art - by many different people who kindly submitted their Degas dabbles. Heck, you will even see a few images from yours truly - brace yourself and don't get your hopes up :o)

A lot of hard work went into this production and it's always fantastic to see so many people coming together like this. People who aren't often associated with the "scene" so let's hope we see many more disks. Any ideas? Contributions? Let us know. Until then, Clickety-Click and download Collaboration #2 via Demozoo. Enjoy!!


- SAMPLE IMAGES -