Thursday, June 29, 2017

Flying Shark

Following on from Deathbringer, the next game to feature in our Atari ST Pixel Art collection is Firebird's wonderful Flying Shark. What an amazing example of 16-bit artistry, just look at that sinister glare as it zooms over the landscape. This loading screen is superb and has always been one of my favourite pictures, easily beating what the other computer conversions displayed back then. Heck, I could stare at this gorgeous image all day long!!

I remember getting this on ST/Am*ga Format cover disk #7 much to the envy of my Miggy mates. Obviously, this was a pretty faithful representation of the coin-op with great graphics, ace music and excellent gameplay. The play area didn't slide left/right (like in the arcades) but it didn't need to because of our wider resolution ratio. I personally think Firebird released a cracker and this is one of my favourite vertically scrolling shoot 'em ups for the Atari ST.


 - Klaz's Hideaway has a hard drive and floppy version to download w/ trainer!
 - 8BitChip has the hard disk version and Stonish has Flying Shark on Zuul #37 floppy disk.
 - ST Am*ga Format cover disk #7 can be downloaded from the ST Format website.
 - I downloaded the demo and recorded a video to recreate my first play. Yes, I'm mad but it was fun...

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Zone Warrior

Once again, pesky aliens are giving us Earthlings lots of grief. We fought them off but they managed to pinch a time machine and are now using this to alter history and wreak havoc by taking crucial hostages from each period in an attempt to halt their influence. From the invention of the wheel in prehistoric times to England's King Arthur uniting Britain and where would any of us be today without Japan and their technical wizardry?

So it's our job to travel these various timezones to rescue everybody. Whilst we're there we may as well kill each and every bad dude that gets in our way. Yup, it's time to save the day again so let's lock and load!!

Pick-ups are pretty cool but something like the Map parts is essential for this huge platformer!!

Zone Warrior is a MASSIVE horizontally scrolling platformer which reminded me of Psygnosis' Baal in looks and with more than a hint of Turrican-style action. Each zone is a labyrinth of large rooms interconnected by a series of doorways and there is a total of five timezones which need to be saved from the dreaded aliens:
  • Prehistoric - I really enjoyed this zone because it introduces you nicely into the gameplay style plus there are lots of power-ups and strong map designs compared to most other levels. I also thought the graphics were the best here with great use of the palette.
  • Egyptian - This is is little disappointing for me because it's basically more of the same design but with a different graphics. However, I found it to be a lot harder and rather frustrating instead of anything close to an enjoyable challenge...
  • Medieval - Saving the medieval Britons from their alien fate is a brilliant level and deffinitely on par with the Prehistoric Zone. I must admit, the music here is so gorgeous!
  • Japanese - I would rate this as the best level of all because it is really challenging, with some great mechanics. Unlike the finicky Egyptian Zone, I found it tough but without the frustration. And the chipmusic is out of this world!!
  • Holocaust - Sadly I didn't care for this zone... Very frustrating and ultimately annoying!
Travelling through most zones is a neat experience with constant action to keep your trigger finger happy. During this onslaught, look for hostages to free and a key for a final battle before you can progress to the next zone. Each of these periods has its own specific nasties to contend with and some cannot be killed so need to be avoided, like the Venus flytraps and sharp spikes. However, most have legs or teeth so have your trusty Turrican-inspired weapon at the ready. This is a rapid-firing gun which performs very well and can even be upgraded with a wider spread. Also, the spacebar is used to cycle through any extra weapons you may have picked up like bombs and mines.

The trouble with Zone Warrior is that it's too easy to lose your bearings. The levels are absolutely massive and wandering from room to room is quite overwhelming due to the lack of any distinctive visuals, so each location soon begins to look and feel the same. Thankfully, our little zone warrior can collect pieces of a map to help prevent him from getting lost but I personally thought this was poorly implemented and quite limiting, which is a shame.

I really enjoyed the prehistoric levels with their cool dinos and neat methods used to avoid them!

The visuals aren't the best I've seen from my lovely Atari ST but the scrolling is good and responsive to our hero's movements which is essential to a running shoot 'em up. The backdrops are nice but could have made better use of the palette for things like destructible blocks. Most sprites are well-drawn and detailed, especially the stripey dinos from the Prehistoric Zone. Overall, the Medieval and Japanese zones look the best, I thought.

Audio is a blast with great sound effects used throughout. However, it's the music I really loved because everything is composed by Barry Leitch who created a wealth of fantastic chiptunes. Show stoppingly brilliant audio!!

The graphics and music may change but the gameplay is pretty darn familiar for each level...

What a great action-platformer with interesting levels using mechanics that work well and spot-on responsive joystick controls. It's always fun killing monsters whilst avoid silly traps but I felt that the level where too samey and far too large. I lost my bearings, even with a map - so I'd have liked smaller levels using a more varied style of visuals.

Overall, I've enjoyed being a Zone Warrior even if it does whiff of a cheap Turrican perfume!


 - Update: we now have a hard drive installable game thanks to Peter @8BitChip.
 - Stonish has the floppy disk download thanks to the Fuzion #80 disk :-)
 - Click the GEM green arrow below to hear my favourite tune from the game!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Criminals In Disguise #22

I love anything with swirling dots and especially sine scrollers so this intro by Criminals In Disguise is right up my street. The fx are very nice with a beautiful hum-tastic chipmusic that I can leave playing all day. My video recording is fine but (you know what I'm going to say) it's best experienced using a real Atari computer for perfection and better sound. Especially on the Atari STe, so connect it up to your speakers and crank up the volume!!

This disk contains Jetpac, which is an awesome conversion of the Speccy original.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sinister Developments


I recently found the Sinister Developments website and was surprised they still listed all their Atari ST software. These guys were one of the best shareware groups in the 90s and released five fantastic games. However, the download links failed so I sent an email and got a reply from Gordon Gibson himself!!

He's fixed the links so all games are now downloadable AND the latest (registered) releases. Each game is a brilliant arcade conversion that often supports the enhancements within the Atari STE. Which is always cool. Did I also mention that they are free? :) Come on, that is incredibly generous. Feel that Atari love!

  • Centipede - Gordon said they wanted a mix between Centipede and Millipede which worked out incredibly well but boy was my mouse-hand killing me after half an hour!! I found a few bugs but nothing to stop the fun. This is a frantically zany and frenzied version of the classic, a superb conversion. (click on the above animation to view it large).
    To bypass the shareware message just press "ESC" key on the language screen.
  • Painter - I personally thought this was the weakest of the bunch but it's still enjoyable and very difficult with killer AI (literally). There is also funky stereo music on the Atari STe - yeah!!
  • Asteroids - This begins with a familiar intro supporting stereo playback for the Atari STe. I found it initially difficult but, after a few tips from the man himself, I began to do a little better. I still suck at it but at least I'm "better" :-) (click on the above animation to view it large).
    To bypass the shareware message just press "F10" key on the language screen.
  • Space Invaders - I think this is my favourite of the bunch. It's a beauty and feels authentic and fresh. Yet again, the Atari STe features DMA music with stereo sound effects too.
    To bypass the shareware message just type in "PEPSI MAX" on the language screen.
  • Galaxians - I've always been rubbish at this but it's such a great conversion. I think that Sinister have created one of pure gold and one that has me feeling that I'm back in the 1980s. Now, perhaps it's just me, but I can see a 3D effect on the main menu!! Can you?
    To bypass the shareware message just press "INSERT" key on the language screen.

To safeguard this precious archive of Atari ST history, I have a zipped each game and stored it on my Dropbox as a backup. Also, I have recorded videos of Space Invaders (STe) and Galaxians (border removed).

So, what are you waiting for? Download these incredible Atari ST/e games right now! :-)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Archer Maclean Pool

Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker is terrific and technically superb but it wasn't long before I was falling asleep at the keyboard. Sorry, but that's snooker (Zzzz). However, I then realised that I had never played Archer Maclean's Pool...

Pool is an exciting, fast-paced pub game with a far shorter playtime compared to the dullness of snoozeville snooker. American and English variations of the game are available with the added options to play through tournaments or to set up trick shots. If you've played Whirlwind then you'll instantly take to this but I doubt any newcomers will struggle with the interface, which is instinctive so very easy to grasp. Use the mouse to alter your viewing angle but don't forget to chalk the cue before setting up the shot with the right amount of power, spin and direction. There is a wide range of computer opponents from the amateur to the godlike, so it's best to practice before taking on the pros!

You know from the very start this is gonna be good. Then the balls get very rude... Ahem!!

Graphics are... well... it's a table with balls on it, so there isn't much to drool over, but the framerates are very smooth and shows just what 8MHz can deliver. The 3D engine works ever so well with fantastic first-person like views when lining up a shot. Let's not forget the game's comical side with taunting balls, evil-eyed fans or the flies on the table!! Sound effects are nice and rather varied with clinks, plops and the oddly humorous cue-chalking moments. Overall, it's a mostly silent experience but I do find the celebrational cheering after a win to be quite annoying! lol

What I love about this game is the superb design which feels natural and realistic. After your first shot, you realise just how incredibly superior the hidden mathematical calculations are that make the physics appear so believable. There are near-limitless possibilities for each shot you make, which is quite incredible. I cannot ever imagine anyone having anything but good things to say about Archer Maclean's Pool. Sure, it's best in the pub with a couple of cold beers, but this virtual version definitely comes a close second. A brilliant and faultless release by Virgin!!


 - 8BitChip have the hard drive installable game (works on the faster Mega STe, TT, Falcon).
 - Stonish has the floppy disk on Gravatics #93 which also includes the incredible Kid GP!!
 - AtariMania has Pool listed in their library with scans of the manual.

Friday, June 23, 2017


ImageWorks released Phobia back in 1989 with a gorgeous retro-themed cover. The artwork is stunning with lots of colour, action and a cruel glare from evil eyes which reflects the game itself perfectly! Phobia has all the hallmarks of a potentially outstanding shooter but it's impossible to get very far without a trainer because of its choppy framerate. Probably a poor port and it pales in comparison to shooters like R-Type, Alien World, or Menace.

Well, I bought Phobia for only 99 pence and it was sealed too. The box and contents are in superb condition but I wonder why nobody ever bought it? <yes, sarcasm!>. Maybe I'll be brave and record a video? Maybe...


 - ST Format #1 reviews Phobia but wasn't too impressed with the difficulty - lol wimps!!
 - D-Bug has a download with a trainer and hard drive support.
 - Stonish has the floppy disks and I liked Timelords #29 Menu CD (1MB).
 - Here is a fantastic video recording by Stefan Lindberg.
 - My tweet after playing Phobia for a few minutes... ARGGHHHHHH!!!

I should have known this was going to be hard with such a hideous screen.

Annnd this next screenshot is of me and my ship being blown up! Again.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017



The Atari ST has many great games that feature superb pixel art so I figured I should start a new section specifically for them! Let's kick things off with Colin Swinbourne's artistic skills for Empire Software's Deathbringer with its hideous loading screen: just look at those teeth and the hatred in his evil glare from sinister eyes!! The pixels don't stop being awesome because the intro is freaky but with great sounds and a fantastic comical ending.

I hope you agree that Colin's skills are a superb way to kick off this new Pixel Art section?

Update: we now have a review!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Automation #496

Press 1 for...
Nope, there's none of that with Automation #496 because this intro is based on Rick Dangerous. Well, there's no interaction and little to do other than walk and climb ladders but it's still a cool alternative compared to what we would have expected back then. Control Ricky D. with the joystick and entering a doorway selects a game to play!!

Monday, June 19, 2017


Spot... Erm sorry, Roger is a fast-paced 25 level platformer released by Tobe of MJJ. It offers a frantic run collecting jewels for a rather demanding girlfriend, Georgette. However, this "platformer" has many jewels scattered about - without any ladders and very few ledges to use!! So how will poor Roger complete his task?

Bubbles, of course! All he needs to do is jump on one and, when it bursts, that force thrusts him upwards. If there's another bubble, then the cycle continues and he uses that speed and momentum to reach all other required jewels. Roger has limited energy, so it's advisable to avoid the sharp spikes that burst on contact and drain valuable energy. Thankfully power-pills can be collected to compensate but they are often few and far between...

Roger is such a cool dude and Georgette is pretty much a babe with her luscious red lips!

Use the joystick to walk left or right with the fire button helping Roger leap with joy onto his first bubble. Once you begin bubble-jumping, it's simply a matter of altering your direction towards the next whilst passing the nearby jewels to collect as you're zooming through the air. Previously burst bubbles will reappear after a second or so and this cunningly allows you to revisit all the places that you may have missed or perhaps faltered on a hop.

The graphics are a mixed bag; Roger's sprite is superb with side-splitting animation and I could watch those lanky legs walk for hours!! Sadly, the in-game decor is quite boring with drab backgrounds that change every 5 levels. I'm sure better could have been designed with an itsy-bitsy more flare? However, the framerates are frighteningly fast with scrolling that leaves you gasping, all thanks to the Blitter coprocessor. It's breathtaking!

Roger's lanky legs allow him to walk really fast with spritely movement and high jumps.

Sound effects are crisp and perfectly suited to the game's style. I like the explosion sound for the spikes and magnificent chipmusic plays throughout. Well, I say magnificent but that's because I cannot think of a better word - it is absolutely amazing!! This certainly proves that chiptunes will last forever and I can listen to it all day long!!

Roger is quite a unique experience and feels like an airborne Boulder Dash. It's easy to pick up and play but learning the location of jewels might take some practice and can be a little disorientating at first. However, I guarantee you won't be able to put down your joystick because hopping from bubble to bubble looking for treasure is frantic and downright silly. Legendary gameplay that is extremely addictive and an awesome adrenalin rush!!


 - Roger can be found lurking on Demozoo and Pouet for floppy disk and hard drive installation.
 - 8BitChip also has a hard drive installable version ready to go.
 - TobĂ© excellent archive is fully detailed on Demozoo, although he did stray a little ;-)

Saturday, June 17, 2017


I enjoy the occasional brain teaser and Blat is an excellent twist on the Columns genre which was released into the public domain by The Infamous Cabbage, aka Chris Vance, for the Atari STe. Yep, sorry STF dudes but this game is only playable on an STe because of the excellent samples, thanks to the DMA hardware. Interestingly, this brain-blaster was released on June 17th, 1992 and is 25 years old today. So let us all sing, "Happy Birthday, BLAT"

Falling columns of coloured blocks will need reordering during their descent and, if we can successfully match them up, then it's KABOOM!! This explosion earns us lots of points and helps clear the board space for the oncoming blocks, so the more we match the greater the points. Diagonal rows are the most rewarding and you will receive a smart bomb when matching five or more. It's advisable to keep these until the later (faster) levels!

There are 15 levels in all but it won't be long until you're grateful for keeping a stockpile of smart bombs because this isn't an easy game and it soon picks up the pace for an extremely harsh difficulty. Thankfully, there are other items to help, like the clocks which can slow the pace right down - two is good but three is much better. There are also sticks of dynamite, lightning bolts and even indestructible blocks. Many of these can be paired so try positioning a light fuse next to the dynamite for a massive explosion that conveniently destroys many other blocks.

What a great alternative to Tetris and one I thoroughly enjoyed. This is a polished product with some gorgeous sound effects so I'm surprised it's PD and not shareware. I didn't get anywhere near level 15 and doubt I ever will - only the savvy need apply for this gruelling puzzler. Highly recommended, especially for those who like a REAL challenge!!


 - Stonish have Serenade #1 floppy disk (it features Teserea, another which you may like).
 - AtariMania has Blat listed in their database with the readme conveniently available.

Friday, June 16, 2017


Sorry guys, I'm leaving the Atari ST scene because I prefer a slower computer and have therefore decided to switch. Okay, okay, don't sweat it because this animation shows the infamous "Amiga Emulator" by Philip Nelson. It's really nothing more than a good bit of fun which can be found on the internet - I recommend Quartet #30 via Stonish.

Right then, enough of this silliness... let's boot up GEM and enjoy our faster processor!!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ripped Off #87

Unamed Intro is a remarkable screen created by The Fingerbobs which was used on Ripped Off #87 and is one of the most bewitching intro screens I have seen. The attention to detail is jaw-dropping and I could watch the little men for hours - mesmerising. Go on, pick one guy and follow him throughout his journey. Brilliant STuff!!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Whipper Snapper's Race

Merge a little "Horace Goes Skiing" with the visuals from Cannon Fodder and we have Whipper Snapper's Race. This skier is by New Design in 1996 and developed by Petr Sumbera in Omikron Basic, of all things.

Max is a dude who skis through many vertically-scrolling levels in a race against the clock to reach the finishing line. Navigate left/right to pass each obstacle but don't bump into anything otherwise you're on your bum - seeing stars! Pushing up will reduce your speed whilst pulling down will increase it and fire will perform a pointless leap into the air. Passwords are used to access the "missions" without having to start over from the beginning. Yes!!

Graphics are (ahem) original and with smooth scrolling and lots of neat touches borrowed from the Sensible Software archives. It's Cannon Fodder gorgeous so I felt like dumping the skis for a machine gun rampage through the woods. No luck, however! Sound effects are fantastic - on the Atari STe and Max is very vocal too!!

Skiing in Cannon Fodder... never been so much fun... (sorry!). Okay, Whipper Snapper's Race is absolutely superb and I've really enjoyed playing this humble yet intriguing game. Thanks to the great controls, it's easy to pick up and play but still presents an excellent challenge too. Whipper Snapper's Race is shockingly addictive!!


 - I've made a floppy disk image for all you dudes stuck in 3.5" hell :^)
 - Download the hard drive installable game from Demozoo and get racing!
 - Petr's website is still up and running after all these years and still offers a download and much information!!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Virtual Escape

After about 6 years, Equinox eventually released Virtual Escape in 1999 and its one of my favourite demos - ever. The tunes are utterly sexy and there are also some of the most incredible visuals that will blow your socks off!! Those swirling dots are gobsmackingly beautiful and I love the 3D which is so fast. It's hard to believe this is all on a stock 512kb Atari ST running at 8MHz. An incredible production which oozes class and is definitely one of the beST 16-Bit demos there is. Please don't emulate - experience this on your real Atari ST and turn up the volume!


 - You can download Virtual Escape right now off Demozoo.
 - Democyclopedia mentions each effect, along with the awesome Skyline which you can see above.

Sunday, June 11, 2017


I'm sure everyone knows that Jetpac was originally released in 1983 for the ZX Spectrum by uber gaming legends, Ultimate Play The Game. Its one of the most iconic 8Bit games from that era and our conversion was developed by Pete J. Whitby in 1992 for Budgie UK. Heck, he also made all the graphics and sound effects.

Jet Man is one lucky fella who works for Acme Interstellar Transport Company as a space pilot. They're sending him to fifty remote planets to assemble (and playtest) their technological creations. Sadly, his luck soon ran out as he's discovered each planet is being bombarded by a variety of hostiles ranging from fiery comets to fluffy aliens.

There are so many different baddies to blast and not all are like they first appear.

Playability is impressive with tight controls which feel a tad quicker than on the Speccy but Jet Man's movements are exactly as you would expect. Oddly, he cannot wrap around the screen which is disappointing but he compensates this lost ability with shield power-ups that work surprisingly well. The range of nasties is wide and with differing attack patterns that help to keep gameplay interesting. Many are new and some will require several shots whereas others are invulnerable. Also, watch out for deadly platforms that can zap Jet Man into an early grave. There is even an ending, something which the original didn't have... if only I had better gaming skills to see this!

Graphics are pretty much the same as in the Speccy classic but with the extra colours. Sprites are amateurishly drawn but move smoothly. However, I'm not too keen on the background picture, which I feel isn't necessary. The sound effects are pretty lame and it's shocking to hear the ST out-performed by the Spectrum's inferior bleeper.

Jet Man is one lucky dude who gets to play with all the cool new rockets!

Jetpac is Jetpac and it will always be superb. Okay, this remake was never going to beat the original but I feel Pete has successfully captured that authentic feel and even implement a few new ideas. What's not to love about frantically zapping a relentless alien hoard when you're trying to collect fuel pods? An excellent conversion.


 - Jetpac is available on both floppy disk and can even be installed on to your hard drive.
 - Play the original ZX Spectrum game on your Atari ST using an emulator:
             > Artemis is a great b/w emulator which only works on 8MHz Atari ST/e computers.
             > Speccy is another emulator w/ support for colours and faster Atari computers too.

Saturday, June 10, 2017


Finally, I am the proud owner of HUNTER and I couldn't wait to add it into our BoxArt section. Everyone knows that this is one of my favourite Atari ST games and is also in my all-formats Top 10. If you haven't played Hunter then slap yourself silly - right now!! Do you feel better? Okay, now click here for your enlightenment.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Oids [new upgrade]

Oids is an adventure set deep in outer space where we need to rescue little metallic men from captivity. Every ST guy has played this game at some point in their life. It's a classic -simple as that. Nothing else comes close and I've probably spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours on this through the decades.

However, I must admit that I was shocked to discover that it only runs at 10/12fps (PAL/NTSC). I'm sure today's kids will probably laugh at such a low framerate but it's not really an issue because it feels perfectly fine. Well, until you see this newly upgraded version by Peter Putnik! Yes, Oids has been transformed and now runs at 25/30fps!! It looks gorgeous and moves so smoothly across your monitor - even the controls feel more responsive.

Check out this new upgrade for yourself - it's added a whole new dimension to our iconic thruster!!!

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Commodore 64

I'd bet good money that this is the last thing you ever expected to see here? Well, I've had this C64 emulator on my drive for a long while and figured that it was about time did something with it. So I started my day by trawling through Old Games Finder looking for cool games which I remembered seeing in C&VG magazine in the early/mid-80s. I really wanted to play Pitfall, Manic Miner and Staff Of Karnath but sadly I had zero success.

However, others did work (to a degree) but display text instead of pixels and some even crash the emulator. Yes, I should have read the docs first - lol - yeah right. Basically, games aren't supported if they demand fancy scrolling, sprites or joystick control, etc... but what could work are applications, educational titles and so on. This includes exciting Type-Ins and text adventures which is impressive but hardly worth my hassle over the last few hours!

Okay, I'm no Commie expert but these commands might help to get you started:

   LOAD "$",10               (this loads the disk's directory into Ram)
   LIST                      (this lists that directory to screen)
   LOAD "filename.prg",10    (you've guessed it, this loads a program)
   RUN                       (go on, take a stab at what this might do!)

  Please note:
     - The "10" is the device ID for my Atari ST's hard drive.
     - If you are running the emulator from floppy disk then you should instead use "8".
     - Copy the Commodore ".PRG" programs into the same directory as the Atari file: "C64.TOS".
     - C64 emulation was tested on my 8MHz Atari STe and then Hatari (same spec) for the animation, above.

I'm not sure who to credit for this emulator but he did a great job and the docs indicate many useful intentions. This has been fun and the Commodore 64 is a pretty decent machine (shush don't tell anyone). However, I'm not sure how much longer I can stand the pain of having C64 software on my Atari ST's hard drive... it hurts already!!


 - The best download (that I've found) is on disk LAN-0066 via Floppyshop and it has the docs!
 - Stonish features Medway Boys #68 within their immense library (without docs).
 - Old Games Finder links to zillions of C64 stuff in the .PRG format. Just don't try and run these from GEM!! :p
 - Come on, you know I was itching to try this!!! (and it worked lol)

Tuesday, June 06, 2017


It's time for another hardcopy trip down memory lane and I can still remember lifting this one off the shelf. At first, it was only to admire the gorgeous box art. Wow, its medieval imagery is so captivating but I loved those lush colours which are in stark contrast to the brutal warriors. I think this is great artwork and quite scary too, so it perfectly illustrates the savage gameplay ahead. So, if you feel brave enough, shall we open the box?

Phew!! I was more than brave - I paid the money and bought what was possibly my first Hewson game for the ST. I always enjoyed their Spectrum games, this is a company I associate with quality. Each and (almost) every title appeared to have time and love put into its development. Never did they release a lame Amiga port. Respect.

Onslaught was programmed by Chris Hinsley, he of Custodian fame, and is a horizontally-scrolling hack and club 'em all to death battle. This exciting platformer has us killing everything in sight with massive explosions that beautifully light up the colourful backdrops and grungy medieval scenery. The music is perfectly suited for the theme and accompanied by meaty sound samples for all the grunts, booms, and metallic clangs of the weapons!!

This is a tough game that requires lots of practice but stick with it because Onslaught is superb. It's loud, stuffed full of brutal carnage, and it is so much fun. One of my favourite Atari ST games back then and now.

Download the floppies from Stonish - I loved FOF #51.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Monster Business

Monster Business is a fun-themed platformer released in 1991 by Eclipse and produced by incredibly talented people you may recognise from the ST scene. As storylines go, this one is a Christmas cracker!! Crazed "mad meanies" have been loosed from their forest habitat and are pinching valuable items from Mr Bob's construction site. You are (wait for it) Leroy The Beast Buster who must help Bob blow-up the invaders. Yep, this entire situation sounds like total diarrhoea but we should still help Bob because we are the only beast buster in Tin Town. O_o

Each level follows a familiar Bounty Bob design of platforms and slippy slides where we chase after the beasts. Be careful because they kill with one touch so I'm grateful that we carry an air-pump weapon to inflate them for a bloated and cruel death. This is nothing short of hilarious and once they begin floating away you are able to nudge them into oblivion, leaving behind their stolen goodies. If you're lucky, they might drag along some live animals...

The levels are bigger than you think using smooth vertical scrolling to hunt down the freaky monsters!

The joystick controls are spritely and I like how there are two height levels to jump - this depends on how long you push upwards. Repeatably pressing the fire button activates your weapon to bloat the monsters - so I appreciated the autofire function. Two-players are supported but sadly not for co-op, which would have been superb...

The graphics are nice with simple backgrounds and ultra-smooth scrolling. However, it's the sprites which shine the most: I dare anybody not to laugh when seeing that ginormous duck waddle across the screen. I loved their expressions and bloated deaths!! Audio is so impressive with a superlative range of gorgeous chiptunes by Laurens Tummers, aka Lotus! The sound effects are great but completely overshadowed by the music.

Bloating animals is shockingly entertaining and I guarantee you will enjoy hunting down your cute prey. However, it is quite repetitive and this lack of variety will reduce your long-term enjoyment. I also thought the time limit was too harsh... Monster Business is best with friends and I guarantee everyone will be giggling like school kids!!

Ignore Bounty Bob and play Monster Business instead using a floppy or your hard drive.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Pure Energy #42

I love this Menu Disk released by Pure Energy early in 1993 which has a gorgeous plasma whilst playing excellent chipmusic by Crawdaddy and the text might have a simplistic feel but did you notice anything a little different??? Anyhow, the disk contains Doodle Bug and Centipede which are both great games.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Sebastien Larnac

I thought it was about time we featured another interview here on AtariCrypt and who better than my mate Sebastien Larnac! He's better known as ST Survivor, a name you might have seen credited in many wonderful Atari ST demos. Also, he's created screens for other programs, such as gwEm's STj and MaxYMiser.

Compared to most of us, he became an ST nutter quite late in the day. But it wasn't long before he was testing the waters of the demoscene with his doodles and later writing for disk magazines. He appears modest but it's quite an impressive hiSTory!

So I had this bright idea to interview the dude behind those funky glasses and see what makes him tick. Some details I found quite surprising but overall this is an extremely talented young gent, even if he is French! :^) Seriously folks, take a gander at Demozoo to see his superb art. I hope you enjoy this interview...

ST Survivor - The Interview

What’s your STory?

I received my Atari STe as a Christmas gift back in 1990 and spent a couple of years copying hacked games… until one day one of my floppies was filled with something called a “demo”. What the heck was that? I instantly loved the idea behind it and got in touch with the creators (I actually phoned one of them!). I already doodled on paper, why not on a computer? So I joined NLC at a time when some people were leaving the demoscene (damn me, for being too late!). I worked on a GFA megademo (Back In France) with my friend Thyrex, who ran the French diskmag ToXic.

I had the opportunity to make more pictures for various demo crews and took the position of the main editor of UnderCover Magascene. I also founded aLiVe! with CiH/Maggie Team and that’s it. I left the Atari Scene around 2003 because I was pi**ed off with life and finally got back to my second family somewhere around 2013.

Your favourite work?

It may sound silly but definitely, my best memory and true pride remains for our GFA megademo with Thyrex/NLC. It was started in 1994 as a multi-crew project, then, of course, everyone left and the two of us remained, wondering what we would do. Oddly it did not kill our motivation! Sure it took us another four years, the final result far from perfect, yet it is a demo made with a lot of passion and friendship.

Moving onto more recent artwork, I am very proud of the work we did on POOZ along with Cooper, Exocet and DmaSc. I personally think the game looks and plays like a true commercial game!


I am not inspired, graphics wise, by anyone but me and this must be the reason why I know/feel that most people don’t like my art. Well, sorry folks, art is a matter of taste :) I truly admire people like Evil/DHS who have brought us so many great demos. I don’t admire, but have a lot of respect for the friends I have worked with because -most of the time- it was a great opportunity to share ideas and artistic passion. I am still impressed by people like Niko, Mic, Prowler or Slayer, you know the kind of dark-inspired graphics ;)

For a very long time, I have been a fan of Niko with his tortured and highly detailed style. Now I see that most of his pictures were mostly copies of existing paintings, not that it takes away any of his pixel art qualities. Yet today I would rather admire people like Mic/Dune and Exocet who not only have a very specific style but can also work either with very limited palettes or with wider ones. Exocet is also very well known for painting on a lot of platforms, thumbs up! They are true artists who manage to bring art whatever the challenge they need to face.

Favourite demo?

I've had my STe since Christmas 1990 so I have never been either fond of nor familiar with what the early years produced. Sorry guys, but I’m not in love with rough demos from the 1980s. In the nineties, demos started showing technique AND style and I have some favourites from this era, as well as some others from more recent years.

If I had to choose only one it would be… Wait, only one you say? Tough choice but I think I would go for Froggies Over The Fence. Not because of some national pride but because it’s a huge megademo showing many different styles - “classic” demo parts, an animated story, a Tetris-like game featuring the Jess tunes (I’m a huge fan!), an awesome high colour slideshow and a very long end scroller. Of course, there are tons of other demos I also love.

Favourite demo group?

To me, a good group is formed by a bunch of friends who enjoy working together. Dead Hackers Society prove this with their many impressive demos and I am always amazed to see new effects from them, things we thought could not be done. Yet it is not my favourite demo crew, I don’t think I have one, to be honest. I like the guys of Cream though, they seem to embody the true essence of a crew: each individual does something important, none is ahead, it’s a thing that could not be done without every member. It may sound silly, but this is how I feel this group works (and their latest demo Stresstest proves this perfectly).

Any funny demoparty tales?

Yeah sure! The very first demo party I attended was Place To Be again in 1994. I had no drivers licence so my father offered to drive me (+900kms) to the place! I was thrilled, like a kid on Christmas morning, being amongst the last of the great French demosceners. Guys like Dune, Holocaust, Niko/OXG, EXA…

I spent three sleepless days running all round the hall room and then went to get some rest on the compo night… only to eventually wake up on the following morning! Yes, I had completely missed the compo! In the end, it was a mixture of joy and disappointment but undoubtedly a great memory :)

Pick your favourite Atari ST year!

Again, I would choose 1994 because it was –in my humble opinion- a turning point in the Atari ST history : famous ST crews left for PC or even fewer for the Falcon, while I was only just starting my “scene” life. The ST demoscene died in 1994 and was reborn, even stronger, a few years later. The death of a generation and the birth of another one!

Are you STill doodling?

These days it’s a bit tricky to find time and motivation to work on things and I don’t even doodle that much on paper anymore. I have never been too fond of Art Studies so that I missed the basics... I went back to pixelling in 2013 but I haven’t really been too productive and the few things I did, well, I don’t think anyone will remember them? I don’t own an Atari ST anymore (gosh, it tore my guts out to give it away!) yet even though I’m using Peecee, it’s only to run Steem and CrackArt. The only way I know is : 16 colours, STf palette, nothing more, nothing less.

Will you remaster any artworks?

I have never really thought about reworking my Atari pics on the peecee. Firstly, because I like to paint on such limited retro hardware and within the STf limitations (I don't need STe palette). Secondly, because peecee is no fun to me, I don't ever want to mix Atari with peecee. Thirdly, I don't have the needed knowledge nor the will to do so. Basically, the answer is "no Steve" :-)

The future of the Atari ST?

I am no fortune teller but, over the last 3 decades, I have claimed the demoscene to be dead more than once! Obviously, we probably cannot expect fresh blood from the younger generation and we are all growing older and have busy lives. However, there is still room for newcomers and I hope that people find some motivation to do something over the years. Big Atari events, be it Sillyventure or STNICCC (2032?) or God knows what else are needed. We are quiet but we are still here and for a long time!

Last but not least you are invited to visit my blog: or visit me on Twitter @stsurvivor. Thank you for this interview Steve and keep up to good work!

- My favourite artwork -

Here is a selection of images I've chosen from Sebastien's back catalogue. I personally feel his style is a constant throughout whilst always having that particular charm and flamboyant flare. The "lamer" image is a classic for us that spent hours reading scrollers back in the day, it makes me smile. However, the "Loudhead" image scares the c$!p outta me! The blooded "Cradle" picture, well, that's just wrong... I think it's impossible to pick out just one favourite but I think "STj" is pure genius. Click each of these incredible pictures and everything available via Demozoo.