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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!!


2 comments:

  1. Damn this looks impressive... Never played it!

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    1. Please share anything you find and let the world know. And brace yourself for a challenge too. It looks cute but has a Lemmings side to it that frustrates the hell outta me lol

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