Sunday, May 28, 2017

Spellfire The Sorcerer


Spellfire is a scrolling platformer developed by Dave Semmens for Code Masters and is set in a time long ago: a time of myth and legend when knights patrolled the woodlands and magicians were the cool guys. Our beef is with an emperor who is holding captive (wait for it) Fifi The Fairy in his tower so our valiant quest is to rescue her.

He begins his journey in a forest which leads to the castle where she is imprisoned. This is a great start which introduces us nicely to the gameplay mechanics: our hero can walk, leap, climb trees, shoot fire-bolts and even mash up magic spells using a rather large cauldron. Health status is displayed at the top of the screen and will decrease if you happen to touch the enemies or a dangerous object. Gold coins can be collected (after a kill) and these are used as currency inside a cauldron that can mix magical power-ups, ammo, or health.


The only chance you have at rescuing Fifi is to collect ten magic eyes which allow you to fight a guardian boss. The first is a wasp-like critter who isn't exactly intelligent and therefore makes for an easy kill. This grants us access to the castle via the dungeons which are creepy but the guardian is a bit of a bonehead. This castle takes us deeper into our quest but continuing with the same theme, with lots more tricks and traps to fool you.

Spellfire has some stunning visuals and I love the medieval environment. It's a little cluttered but very colourful using a gradient sky, erupting volcanos, and awesome skeletons when raised from the dead. The sprites have good attention to detail and complemented by smooth scrolling that never lags and keeps up with the pace. Audio is almost as impressive and can set to chipmusic or sound effects. Whatever you decide, you'll love it.


I have enjoyed playing Spellfire The Sorcerer which reminded me of a cross between Stormlord and Chronicles of Omega. It's very easy to get into so instantly entertaining with good levels, excellent monsters and power-ups that work nicely. However, I did feel that the screens were a little too cluttered albeit very pretty.

I'm grateful this isn't a lazy Amiga port and one which plays every bit as good as it looks. Code Masters released what I can only describe as a hidden gem which will appeal to fans of the genre. An all-round great platformer.

Download the HDD version by 8BitChip or floppies via Stonish.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Kult


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... No, wait, wrong game!! Okay, let me start again, many moons ago a good friend of mine [Tom!] surprised me with a gift sent all the way from the land of the Vikings. Inside was a beautifully preserved -sealed- copy of Kult, something I had never played before in my life. He was adamant that this was a true 16-bit classic and I remember it receiving good reviews, with Atari ST User rating it a perfect ten.

You are Raven, a psionic mutant, who saw a bunch of other mutants destroy a village and now want to fight back! That's the gist of this story for what is a most confusing adventure with lots of cunning puzzles to solve. Kult is a game like no other I have ever played and has an enormous learning curve to learn, especially the user interface. Graphics are creepy-cool and all sound effects are samples, love the speech effects!

Okay, let's play...
[updated Saturday, May 27th]
I've been getting to grips with this game today but the hard drive version fails to work for me (I think it's my SD Card) so I went for the floppy version, linked below, by Zuul and this worked perfectly. Well, after a couple of hours, I am blown away by this incredible and captivating game. The user interface might first appear confusing and quite laboured but in fact, it's actually anything but because navigation is a breeze. I also love how the rooms are titled, which certainly helps me a bunch!

I'm currently getting to grips with the locations and examining everything I see in the rooms. Objects are often tripped-out and plain silly - I've just polished the eyeballs on a fountain to get it working, why I'm not exactly sure yet but I've done it. I have also chatted to some strange looking fellas, so I followed them and used the attack function. Won this battle but then his friends ate the corpse!

I laughably love using the brain to select various instructions, such as inspect, attack, and talk. What a strange yet oddly obvious way to make decisions!! I've also learned not to trust people, I walked into a dark room and somebody told me to follow them. Stupid that I am, I did just that and promptly fell through a trap into a water-filled pit. Here, I was eaten alive by some kind of monster! Great...

This game is so different to anything I've played before. I love how its storyline is deep and involving but never overwelming. I feel that I've only just scratched the surface of what will be a unique experience!
LINKS

 - 8BitChip has created a version to be installed on your hard disk which is just brilliant.
 - Various floppy disks feature Kult and I recommend Zuul #195 via Stonish.
 - Wasabim has recorded a brilliant youtube video.
 - Atari ST User scored Kult 10/10 - wow!! [AtariMania]

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Guardian Angel


Freddy Hardest is our Guardian Angel for Dinamic's scrolling beat 'em up in the Big Apple, which actually ain't too dissimilar to After The War. Manhattan always seems to be the perfect setting of a grim future with crime and gang? We begin our Death Wish at the docks and instantly assaulted by waves of 80s-styled thugs! Some have brought along their toys, like baseball bats and knives. Where's Charles Bronson when you need him?

Moving left/right walks us through these crime-infested streets and the fire button performs a punch, which is only good against the Sailors. Pulling down allows us to stomp on rats but offers little benefit against tougher dudes! Finally, pushing up will unleash the fury of your infamous high-kick which is your only powerful move. The difficulty is high and made worse because directional jumps aren't possible to get you out of sticky situations. Interestingly, your energy will automatically replenish itself IF you get a chance to stand still for a few moments...


Ahh, nuts! That guy is big and I hear sneaky footsteps behind me!

This is a game which doesn't take itself too seriously and will have you laughing at the silly antics. I love how the baddies turn into zapped skeletons for a split second after killing them - like a Tom And Jerry cartoon. Watch out for "Death Star", a forklift trucker called Ricky Chang who is probably the worlds worst driver. However, my favourite of all is being kicked out of your cute yellow boots when suffering that final deathblow. Hilarious!!

The gameplay window is small with much of the screen being -mostly- pointless decor. However, I do like the detailed backgrounds, even if they're far too colourful for a bleak city scene! Sprites are large and well-detailed but the animations aren't the best. But there are some cool effects and the Ricky Chang scene will always make me laugh! Each in-game sound effect is made from excellent meaty samples with the chainsaw guy being superb. Do take a few moments to experience the theme music, which is so terrible it's actually worth hearing. Yikes :(


What? You think ganging up is going to scare me away - not on your nelly!!

Guardian Angel sure has some good qualities; a bucket load of humour matched by the responsive controls, superb sprites and sound effects. Sadly, it's typically Dinamic and too tough!! Only having the one powerful attack spoils any long-term potential but I must admit, I enjoyed playing with a trainer enabled! But that's a bad thing, right?

Stonish has Medway Boys #85 Floppy Disk.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Fuzion #185


Fuzion #185 is a cool intro which gave us Ork, by Psygnosis. I love this intro because it presents itself particularly well with lots of colour and an adaptation of one of the most memorable chiptunes ever created. It also makes use of the Atari STe hardware for even better results, but happily works on either machine just fine.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Monitor Switch Box


Okay, it's not exactly a modern option compared to what's available but I love my old monitor switch box. If there's one thing I dislike about the ST (no, it's not the joystick ports) but it's swapping the cables when going from colour to mono. So, this little device works wonders for me but perhaps it's time I looked to upgrade?

However, next on my wish list is a graphics card for my Mega STe. Can anyone help me with that??

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Kid GP


This is the third Dave Munsie game to be featured on AtariCrypt but it's one I'd never previously heard of. The idea is to frantically run around each screen avoiding the baddies and collecting all of the diamonds. Originally aimed at the younger audience but I have found it incredibly fun so there's hope for all of us... Or I'm just simple?

Collecting diamonds may sound easy but there are a variety of whacky creatures zipping about the screens. Each one loves getting in your way whilst others are looking to give a good chase. However, bump into one and a life is lost!! So it's a good job we can use a hammer to smack these blighters and send 'em packing. Yeah!


Okay, it might look ...umm... rather familiar but the gameplay is rock-solid awesomeness!!

The game rewards your vicious hammer attacks with lots of bonus fruits - before respawning them again. Magic mushroom power-ups are available for a range of cool effects that may boost or alter your visibility. A bonus timer is counting down and, if you manage to finish with time remaining, then you can build up points by grabbing lots of extra goodies? What this lacks in originality is more than made up for in gameplay!

Graphically, it's pretty and the sprites are gorgeous but those big-eyed blue faces will always make me smile - especially after I've clubbed them! Interestingly, you can flip between 50/60Hz and also three game speeds, at any time. Sound effects are great but a background tune would have been nice to break that silence...


Wow!! Look at all that gorgeous colour and beautiful fruit. Yum Yum get it all eaten up!

Kid GP is exhilarating and manically running around, collecting lots of diamonds and fruits whilst avoiding the silly-looking nasties is surprisingly challenging. The controls are perfect. Always responsive and I loved the ability to have two different jumping options - because the hammer only works horizontally. Which is my only gripe?

Dave Munsie may have originally intended this game for kids (my 7yr appreciates that) but there is no denying the positive effect that it's had on this big kid. Yes, I loved Kid GP so much. What a fantastic game!!

Stop whatever you're doing and download this wonderful game now

Saturday, May 13, 2017

EasyAraMiNT


Aranym is a piece of software by Petr Stehlik to create a virtual Atari computer capable of running GEM software at lightning speeds. However, most find Aranym rather awkward to set up from scratch so a fella called Philippe Noble has created something called EasyAraMint which is a ready-to-go installation using EasyMint 1.18 so offers an incredible multitasking environment using the power of the host computer, be it a Mac or PC.

As you can see in my expertly recorded video, I'm using an old Mac Mini that was recently donated to me (thanks Mum!). My video shows me using the 'scp' copy command, viewing images, reading a PDF, listen to cool tunes, and playing Doom before ending with a little web browsing. Yes, this is as geeky as it gets and I love it!!

EasyAraMint can be installed in minutes and also comes pre-installed with many Atari programs. Philippe has done an outstanding job and created a ready-2-go multitasking GEM platform - which I highly recommend!!


- My Screenshots -



I accessed another Mac via FTP and chatted online to a friend. What a geek I am!!


The command line might not look much fun so I jazzed up this screenshot with PixArt...


Not all websites display perfectly but what do you expect for free? Good enough, I say :o)


After browsing the web, why not read a PDF document and listen to some background tunes too!

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Jug


Jug is a scrolling shoot 'em up released by one of my favourite companies, Microdeal. Set in the distant future, we are tasked to save Spiraeus, a living planet, suffering a nasty tumour, which we urgently need to eliminate. However, its autoimmune system sees you as a threat and decides to unleash its defences intent on your demise. Oh, great!!

Programmed by Paul Hunter, of Armour-Geddon fame, this is obviously no lazy conversion and certainly pushes our old STFM to the limit. Playing Jug is a strange and frantic affair, it combines elements from various other games: Blood Money, Custodian, Droid, and Return To Genesis. Your ship moves left or right but also has the ability to fly. However, this is affected by gravity, similar to Alien World, and also requires fuel top-ups... The controls work well but movements are a little slow thus making it difficult avoiding the nasties without losing precious energy.


Some of the eye candy is pretty ghastly whereas others are great examples of beautiful artwork.

The action is relentless with lots of baddies constantly zipping across your screen in various attack waves. However, they aren't the brightest bulbs and appear to move/shoot blindly with little AI thus offering much of a challenge - it's almost like they aren't even aware of our presence. Weaponry is an upgradeable mixed-bag: however, the plasma gun is mounted far too low to be fully effective. Replacing that with a laser cannon is lots of fun!!

The best thing about Jug isn't its humorous name (based on the ship's barrel-chested assets!!) but the visuals. These are utterly gorgeous boasting ultra-smooth parallax scrolling using a cool metallic palette. Martin Kenwright has done another amazing job and you should use a real Atari ST to fully appreciate the graphics breezing across your screen. Theme music is a masterpiece, by Paul Shields. So leave the main menu be and enjoy the incredible chiptune! In comparison, the in-game sound effects are totally overshadowed, but they do their job good enough.


Look out for teleporters but when death comes at least it's pretty demoscene'y. Which I love!

Jug has all the ingredients to be a brilliant shoot 'em up but incorporates some weird mechanics that hogged my desire to continue playing. I would recommend any of the above-mentioned games along with Uridium, Cybernoid, or Sideways!! Hmm, I'm still on the fence with this one which has left me with lots of mixed feelings. Unsure.

Okay guys, the all-important links. Firstly, if you have a hard drive or Ultrasatan then grab this download which is so cool. Floppy disk addicts can find Jug on the Stonish website. Finally, and untested by me, here is how to get infinite energy and extra lives: press and hold down the ESC key on the title screen and use the mouse to click on the right-hand edge of the picture. This should help the game be a little more achievable!!

Friday, May 05, 2017

Chicago 90


Chicago 90 was released in 1988 by Microids. It has superb cover art that portrays an exaggerated car chase scene which is a fantastic example of cool Atari ST box art (even though the loading screen has a different car!). I originally reviewed this last summer and, although I found it far from perfect, I still had tremendous fun. What a great racer and something I felt was like an early take on Driver in some respects, which is cool. Highly recommended.

LINKS

 - 8bitchip have a fantastic hard drive installable version to download.
 - If you instead require the floppy disk image then take a look at Old Games Finder.