Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Fractal Engine

 


It's time to get psychedelic

ST Format #42 featured The Fractal Engine by Daniel Grace and Mike Harris. I love programs like this and, after a couple of hours of tinkering, I began creating some rather funky images. What a superb program it is and so capable to create impressive images using tripped-out colourful effects - if you have the spare time?

Features of The Fractal Engine v3.0

17 different fractal types, including 11 Mandelbrot/Julia pairs and Lindemayer Systems
Divide and conquer algorithms, with fixed-point arithmetic
Zoom animation and Julia Set morph batch processing
3-Dimensional Mandelbrot and Julia landscapes
480, 16 colour palettes
Simple but effective image compression

The Fractal Engine delivers superb results and is easy to use and what's more fun than creating trippy images? Oh no, does this mean I'm turning into a groovy hippie? I hope not!! Anyhow, I hope you like my images which were all calculated using my own Atari STe. (Thanks to Michael Keenleyside for this link to the latest version)


Brace yourself for images of 8MHz power!
Check out my creative weirdness :-)


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Quartet


Only this morning did ST Survivor ask me for a video recording of Quartet, a new game based on the original, by Photonstorm. The task is to place pieces of four faces, into four slots, in four separate areas with bonuses awarded for a whole face. Watch my video recording and you will see that it's simpler than it reads - and very addictive!

Friday, July 28, 2017

The New Retro Show


I love finding YouTube channels with great Atari ST content and The New Retro Show is one such place to get my fix. It's run by a fella with a beard, called Mike! He's been addicted to the ST since he first got to play Dungeon Master (there's a shocker) and currently owns two machines: a Mega STe and a 1040 ST.

Now, after was watching this video I came up with the idea for a challenge and suggested a few games which have all appeared on AtariCrypt: Chubby Gristle, Cybernoid, Zynaps, along with a few others. Shockingly, he actually agreed to the challenge (Muwhahaha!!) and released the first Ironman Challenge which you can watch here.

My thanks to Mike for taking on my silly challenge but I am now looking forward to the second part!!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Whitewater Madness



Atari are crazy!

Whitewater Madness was under development in 1989 by Scott Williamson and Ed Schneider for Atari themselves and was designed specifically for their, then, brand new Atari STe. It's a weird shoot 'em up; just imagine what would happen if you took Toobin' and then slapped in a dollop of violence. Whitewater Madness is the result, a vertically scrolling shooter that has us sailing down a bizarre river through space and time shooting stuff.

Sadly, this game was never released even though it was completed and therefore ready to be published. So what Atari was thinking when they decided not to bother is anyone's guess! And it would have (probably) been the first STe-specific game to be released back in the day. You know, I love Atari but sometimes I hate them!


The controls are superb but you can also use the rapids for extra effect.


A Toobin' River Raid?

Okay, we're sailing down a magical river in our little Pod and searching for green energy cells. Collect these to raise your Warp Energy levels to maximum capacity so we can travel further through time. If successful, we are presented with an information screen telling you just how good (or bad) we did. However, if you failed to collect the required amount then you're sent back to the start again to do it all over again. (I saw that a lot)

Our dinghy is equipped with a rapid-firing mounted gun! This is a good job because we are under a constant onslaught of hazards and weird creatures. Try and avoid the many dangers such as rocky rapids, mines, artillery and other crazy stuff like kamikaze dinosaurs who love to leap from the shores! There are lots more causing mayhem; cavemen, something that resembles a pterodactyl, a giant turtle, and centaurs. Frantic and I love it!!

The controls are dead easy to get to grips with - and superbly responsive too I might add. I really love the directional method which works for fast and efficient guidance down the insane river raid. Picking up green "L" pills will re-charge the Pod and stop it from going BOOM but these are few, so collect as many as possible.


Those rapids are ace but you better watch out for the nasties - like kamikaze dinosaurs!


An Atari STe game that never was!

Old gamers like me will love the graphics which are 8-bit in their style. It actually feels like something you'd expect of an Atari console with a striking palette and dinky sprites that are small and with little animation, but detailed. Well, with one exception, a huge kamikaze dinosaur that loves to leap from the shores!!

Scott informed me that the Blitter co-processor was used to handle the visuals. And it shows with brisk movements that keeps up perfectly with the player and the hectic action.

Sound effects are pretty nice with lots of shooting, explosions and more. The DMA coprocessor is used to play and is super-duper. However, I must admit to being disappointed with the title music because it sounds like it's using low-frequency samples so is quite "STFM" in quality. A bit odd considering what the STe is capable of.


Watch out for dinosaurs, mines, birds, riverside cavemen and lots more!


The CryptO'pinion?

Whitewater Madness has the hallmarks of a fantastic oldskool game and is something I'd expect to see on an Atari console. And yes, that's a compliment. I love the frantic Toobin-action which is perfectly balanced yet challenging without ever feeling impossible. There's so much going on and I think this is a great shoot 'em up.

Why Atari didn't release this is unbelievable sad because it's a great arcade game so easily sails into the seas of gaming gold!! It's simple, it's fun and it's now freely available to download after being 'lost' for three decades. That alone makes this extra special so enjoy what would have been the very first Atari STe game!

Download the official disk images
(with source code) kindly supplied by Scott.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Street Fighter II


The ST world constantly amazes me. Just when you think you've seen it all, a "new" version of Street Fighter pops up to slap you in the face!! Yep, I've never seen this before, so I gave it a try and was blown away.

It's developed for the Atari STe by none other than Patrice Mandin, a guy whom I'm grateful for giving us Doom and more. However, as you can see, it's incomplete without the full game content or even colour graphics. It runs using greyscale in ST low - not high/monochrome. As is, this is actually very playable and features support for two-players as Chun-Li and making use of the Blitter Chip, hardware scrolling and DMA stereo sounds.

Sadly, Patrice stopped development and left this in limbo - waiting for another techie to pick up the gauntlet. Great progress has already been achieved, and the source code is available, so it's sad that nobody has attempted to finish this incredible "beta". I think the potential is huge so download Street Fighter and prepare thy jaw to drop!!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Wowy by Tomchi


I have just listened to this amazing tune called Wowy, by Tomchi (played using JAM) and simply had to record it.
Kick off your weekend in style and Download this gorgeous chiptune right now for your Atari STe!! 🎧

Friday, July 21, 2017

Mystical



The French with their unique style of humour?

Infogrames has done it again and released what I think is something rather quirky and special. In Mystical, we get to play with magic and spells to battle against the strangest creatures. We are a novice magician for the Grand Wizard and are eager to learn the ropes but quick to make silly mistakes! Like losing the precious scrolls and phials so now we must travel parallel worlds to retrieve them. Get ready for the oddest journey ever...

We'll be battling against all sorts of whacky characters: Buzzards, Sheppards, faithless Monks, reptiles, sea creatures, farmers, little girls, Vikings, walking trees, funny faces, and most throw something or will chase you. Sounds mad, right? It certainly is and I'm sure everyone will love its silliness.

I must say that the palettes used are pastel perfect and with lovely artistic tones too.


Magically weird!

The big man has granted permission to use his magic which means the ability to cast the spells that provide a variety of unique ways to dispose of our foe. For example, the ring of fire scorches anyone who dares to get too close whereas the blue ring deflects enemy attacks. Another will open up the ground and swallow our victims whilst we can summon cages to trap those nearby. Possibly the best of all is shouting "Boo" to shoo off anything nasty!

Each spell activates immediately but, if you are quick, slap that Spacebar to stockpile it for later to use in combination with the Return key. Yes, it's quite a cumbersome design but it works well for those moments you're struggling. Each level ends when you reach the pentagram and must do battle with an end-of-level boss - the first throw babies at you! Once defeated, a very large sphere appears and whisks you off to the next level.

Yes, I'm sure you're thinking this is weird? And you're right, it is!! But it's brilliantly weird!!

Collect the funky power-ups and use all magic spells to the best of your ability!


Aesthetics!

The visuals are gorgeous with smooth scrolling across detailed landscapes using a very impressive and pleasing palette, I might add. However, it's the tremendous quality of all the characters which steal the limelight, never have I seen such beautiful sprites and their humour and animation are always so fantastic.

I must take off my hat and commend Olivier Roge and Jocelyn Valais for such amazing work. Take a look at these screenshots and tell me you're not impressed by the gorgeous sprites and even the artwork as a whole? Possibly one of the best examples of 16-bit pixel art I've seen in any game.

Sadly, the audio is a mixed bag. The sound effects are ace using samples for each character and other things like the spells. It's great and I adore the "Bla Bla Bla", which reminded me of the speech in Donkey Island. However, the title music is not good and I cannot see the point of low-quality sampled music over the option of a crisp chiptune...


Hey, what's that? I've got a doppelganger to help me out so let's cage the beasts!


The CryptO'pinion?

As much as it might try to hide behind the storyline, Mystical is a generic shoot 'em up albeit with cool power-ups and silly humour. It's obvious a lot of time and effort has gone into the production as it oozes so much lush artistic quality. Sadly, it can be repetitive and the end-of-level bosses are very frustrating, to say the least!!

Overall, I have enjoyed playing Mystical and I'm sure most gamers will love its unique style & personality.


Grab a magic wand and help out our magician?
Download for floppy or a hard drive.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hard 'n' Heavy


Hard 'n' Heavy follows on from Giana Sisters in true sequel fashion to offer more Mario-esque levels to run and jump through. However, the official release was poor with awful flip-screen scrolling that ultimately ruined what might have been a great conversion. Sure, flip might work well with come platformers, for example, Jet Set Willy, as this particular game would have been horrendous with scrolling. But Hard 'n' Heavy requires scrolling!!

Thankfully, that's where the bad lesson ends and good news begins because Peter Putnik has developed a version which features smooth as silk scrolling thanks to the use of the Blitter co-processor lurking inside every Atari STe. And also most other earlier models (incl later STFM models which had a Blitter or at least a hungry socket).

Hard 'n' Heavy obviously looks and feels similar to Giana Sisters, so if you didn't like that then you may as well look elsewhere right now. The physics exaggerate that Giana experience to feel more like we're floating and this took me a few goes to master. It's pretty weird! Okay, there are 25 levels of shooting the baddies and destroying blocks to search for those bonuses and even access to hidden levels. Also available is a two-player feature, with various game types, but I cannot comment more because I've no friends [boohoo].

Wow, this is superb and I'm sure any Giana Sisters fan will love what is basically more of the same with a few extra bells and whistles. Peter has done well to transform that pathetic commercial conversion into something it should have been all along. Just make sure you play it on a real computer to experience the silky-smooth movement. Overall, I do prefer Giana Sisters, but this is really enjoyable and highly recommended.

- Download Hard 'n' Heavy -




Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Things Not To Do


Electronic Images released one of the most hilarious Atari ST demos I have ever seen. I did try and record a video but my emulator missed some graphics and also the sine scroller (which is beautiful) was jerking like it had a nervous twitch. So I burned the image to a floppy disk and it was perfect - because nothing beats the real hardware!!

Download this utterly stupid demo from AtariMania then turn up the volume and enjoy the show.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Menace [upgraded]



When something isn't quite right...

Menace is one of the few Psygnosis games that I actually like as I think it's a good shooter. Okay, it should have and could have been much better with a little more effort but that's an Amiga company for you. However, it's still a decent shooter but, what's with the YELLOW ship compared to that other version? For years, I've hated it and wondered what they were thinking and if it was possible to change it to something better?

So, I contacted Atari ST wizard Peter Putnik about this and he later came back with a neat solution that works very well. As you can see in the video and screenshots, our spaceship has a brand new paint job in white!! The caveat is a side effect to the status panel, which is due to the 16-colour palette that the game itself is using. Of course, the game itself remains exactly the same - but we can now enjoy a spanky-new WHITE ship which is brilliant.




The CryptO'pinion?

This is what makes the Atari ST scene a marvellous place to be a part of. Think about it, I wasn't happy with a commercial game from 30+ years ago so I asked a guy who I've never met, living in another country, for his thoughts. What's he do? He fixes it without hesitation for me. What an amazing community we have!

My sincere thanks to Peter for being gracious with my request - this version of Menace is the only one I will play and I love it. Here's the download to the newly designed AtariCrypt White Star release of Menace (geddit?)

Watch the video trailer and take a gander at these screenshots...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Reanimators #6


Reanimators #6 features a few simple effects with a superb chiptune (hmm, it sounds familiar). You know me, I love sine scrollers and this one is a belter and displayed using the full range of lovely rainbow colours. On the disk is Thunderstrike is an incredible 3D shoot 'em up with outstanding graphics - it feels like an early Cybermorph ;-)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

wave upon wave



There are many amazing artists out there and I've always had a soft spot for the guys that make up the incredible YM Rockerz. So here is the wonderful compilation called "wave upon wave" which they released 17 years ago! It features several tracks by their awesome musicians: 505, D-Force, Dma-Sc, Tao, Lotek Style and Milhouse.

It's impossible to pick a favourite, but I do love Shifter by Tao which you can listen to by clicking on the GEM green arrow. Check out the YM Rockerz website ... I think that I'm going to listen to "Seven" again tonight :-)

Wave Upon Wave by YM Rockerz [demozoo download]

Credits:
505 - Music
D-Force - Music
Dma-Sc - Music, Text
Exocet - Graphics
MC Laser - Graphics (ASCII), Music, Text
Milhouse - Music, Text
Tao - Code, Music

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Atari ST demos



Today I fancied some ST GLAM!!

I've just been going through the latest uploads on Demozoo and there have been many incredible releases of demos, artwork and music from both the Outline and Sommarhack parties. I'm constantly blown away by what the DHS boys can produce: the video above is of Midnight Sun for the Atari STe which runs in complete overscan!!

Check out these screenshots for an idea of what the Atari ST #demoscne is cable of knocking out. Remember, YouTube is good, but nothing beats the experience of using a real Atari ST/e computer. #JustSaying :p

Saturday, July 08, 2017

P-47 Thunderbolt


P-47 was released in 1988 by Firebird and is based on the popular Jaleco arcade game. There are several levels through a wide variety of landscapes so put on your Biggles outfit because you're about to reach for the skies.

Any great shoot 'em up needs decent scrolling, awesome controls and lots of enemies to kill which P-47 has by the bucket load. It's immediately obvious the teamwork that went into development has certainly paid off with a quality product: choose either a 50/60Hz display with smooth parallax scrolling, great graphics throughout and fast sprites that honour the original. Funky chipmusic plays alongside the pizazz sound effects, both of which are great.

The action is hectic as the planes whizz onto the screen with tanks blasting their artillery - they're just asking for a MOAB!! Other levels have us flying through sunset clouds, pyramids, and over the seas - I love the missiles which emerge from underwater. Strangely, the bosses are often easy to defeat by simply positioning yourself in a safe place and repeatedly dropping a payload of bombs. Each level varies but the concept always remains the same: fly, avoid, panic, and kill everything you can. Yes, this game is one incredibly fun arcade blast 'em up!!

Where P-47 fails is the frustratingly high difficulty because your screen will always be cluttered with many baddies and a collision is inevitable. Stick with it; collect the power-ups, learn the enemy's attack pattern and keep on firing - practice makes perfect!! Sure, this is imperfect but it's also one I really enjoy and a darn fine shoot 'em up.

LINKS

 - Stonish has the game on floppy disk and I recommend New Order #20 Menu CD.
 - Hard drive installable versions are available by both 8BitChip and D-Bug.
 - Enter "ZEBEDEE" into the high score. Press F1 for a level skip and press F2 for infinite lives. Have fun!!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Bold / Wiliness III



BeST laid plans...

I recently came upon an unreleased shoot 'em up called Bold, by Laurent Kermel which I instantly liked. But I then did something most guys don't normally do - I read the documentation!! This listed his website - which still works - and that linked through to an Atari ST section that detailed lots of unfinished ST games. Just look at these pictures of Slug, Dragoon Twins, Tenesis, and Empire. Impressive STuff I'm sure you will agree? O_o

I contacted Laurent to thank him for Bold and another game I download - a Dungeon Master clone called Wiliness 3. I've only just started to play that, but boy is it a cracker. Laurent is a really nice guy who I enjoyed talking with - I urgently suggest fans of either shooters or RPGs, should play Bold and Wiliness 3.

Here's the link to the Atari ST section of his current website along with his superb YouTube video.



- B O L D -



Lazy programmers say the ST can't scroll

Bold is fantastic, albeit unfinished, shoot 'em up for the Atari ST/e and is influenced by a number of other games. I personally feel it's a cross between Zynaps or R-Type with fast and frantic gameplay as every enemy zooms onto the screen like they're on steroids. Quick reactions are the order of the day.

I love the graphics but it's a shame there's a large part of the screen unused - probably meant for a status panel? Bold isn't controlled using a joystick but instead the mouse and, I admit that the thought of this failed to impress me, at first. I changed my mind after the first play because it's perfect for sharp manoeuvrability.

Any model of ST is compatible but Bold plays better (and smoother) if you have a Blitter chip. Of course, all Atari STe computers are fine but others may need to shop with exxos to fill that empty socket inside their STFM. Sadly, those really old pre-1987 STs might not even have an empty socket so I imagine an extra cost?

Although unfinished, Bold is furiously great with precise mouse control I loved. A thrilling shooter!!

The Bold web page has the download and a nifty walkthrough of each level.
I made a video but I hate YouTube so advise you don't watch and instead PLAY the game :-)
A cheat code is mentioned in the interview with Laurent within Alive Magazine #09.
Chris Swinson, aka Exxos, sells Blitter chips but I've now exhausted my hardware knowledge...




- W I L I N E S S  III -




Grab a flask and sword, we're going in!!

Laurent developed a Dungeon Master clone called Wiliness 3 which is shockingly professional and certainly on par with the FTL classic and another favourite of mine, Walls Of Illusion. The RPG experience is amazing with a familiar user interface as we crawl through another creepy dungeon. It's unfinished but 6 levels are playable and I liked the control system and those eerie sound effects. Wiliness had the potential to be a winner.

This is something I need to spend a weekend on sometime very soon...

The Wiliness web page has the download and a BUCKET load of help and information!!
Finally, check out Walls Of Illusion and the newly updated Dungeon Master games for the Atari STe.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Bootblock



First impressions

There are so many different boot sector programs that add cool fx onto a floppy. This helps to prevent virus infections but we all love the dazzling effects and some are technically amazing! Bootblock by The Fingerbobs is one of my favourites programs that writes a number of boot sectors and the one above is Bladerunners. Which is ace!!

Credits: Bootblock was coded by Oberje of Fingerbobs with music by Jochen Hippel.

There are lots of great boot sectors to choose from and I love finding awesome programs like this. There are more lurking out there somewhere in ST Land. Let me know in the comments below what programs you've found...

Monday, July 03, 2017

Flappy Bird


I always said I wouldn't... but... here we are!! Yes, the most annoying game arrives on the Atari ST and I managed about 30 minutes before I felt like throwing the joystick out my window. The animation, above, is just a slice of the hell I went through - I hope y'all have a good giggle at my pain! It wasn't fun whatsoever lol ;)

Well, at least it looks good as it torments you? The graphics are bright and colourful plus it's running in 1VBL which means it's ultra-smooth. However, I just don't get it. I'm wondering why the entire world appears to be in love with this flappy little flyer? I never actually reached that point where I started to enjoy it. I simply hate it so much!

Be brave and give it a playtest? Download's are available from AtariMania.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Mudpies



Time for a Food Fight!

Mud Pies is one of the oldest Atari ST games there is and stars Arnold, a kid who thought he would love the circus. However, it came to his town and he absolutely hated it - so he threw a pie at one of the clowns. Unfortunately, these clowns aren't known for having a good sense of humour so chased after him. There's only one thing left to do... No, we aren't running off home to tell our Mum, we're gonna throw even more pies!!

Each screen represents a tent from the circus and has an invading army of clowns - who look more like jelly monsters dressed up as Ronald McDonald! They're insane and wander waving their arms and chucking juggling pins. This invasion will last forever but the pies won't so look for an open door to another tent full of mud pies - and more clowns. Throwing a mud pie will see them flying off the screen and multiple hits scores extra points. Try not to get yourself trapped in a corner otherwise, you might receive a juggling pin knockout blow!

Just imagine the look on today's kids if you show 'em this 1985 game. Will they "get it"?


Simple, yet brilliant!

Challenge rooms are a bit different from the standard tents because they have no mud pies but instead, lots of clowns to avoid whilst grabbing the prizes - for 1000 points. Every 20,000 points, a secret door will appear for the chance to enter into a Mudslinging Round where you have 30secs to throw pies at wandering clowns!!

Don't clown about too much and get hit. If you do, two medics appear with a stretcher and carry you off to the first aid tent. Only three times can this happen before it's game over, but a freebie is awarded for every 10,000 points. A health meter is displayed top/left of the screen and is split into three segments with the middle one enabling you to run very fast. However, this speed is reduced if you become too hungry or if you've over-faced on burgers and fries. So try to keep your health a nice happy medium throughout for maximum agility.


Always frantic, always fun and so addictive. This game is eternal!!


Aesthetics

Graphically, this isn't exactly stressing our Atari ST in the slightest. But remember that is was developed and released back in 1985 before programmers knew how to push this new computer. Having said that, it's got a certain Charley Chuck charm to it and, as a gamer since the early 1980s, I love its retro look. Love it!!

Spot-sound effects are fine, but it is best to leave the music on if I'm honest. Again, this isn't anything near the quality we are used to hearing but it's still surprisingly enjoyable. No complaints, it's an old game remember.

Oh, just take a look at the high score table!! Can ya' beat me??? ;-)


The CryptO'pinion?

Mudpies is terribly good fun and a nice take on the Food Fight theme with gameplay that transports you all the way back to your youth. There isn't a lot to this simple arcader but I've had so much fun slinging mud pies at clowns - this is so entertaining. Grab a piece of this old skool action for either floppy or hard drive. Enjoy!!