Monday, August 28, 2017

Phantom



Fancy a jaw-dropping Atari ST demo?

The Phantom Demo was released by Amiga/PC crew, Arkham who (for me) seemed to appear out of nowhere, only to disappear once again. This demo is actually two different party releases from 1993/4 bundled together. They feature super-duper visual effects and fantastic chiptunes by Kane Wood. I enjoyed this a bunch!!

The two videos you see are incomplete but still give a good idea of how fantastic this demo is. Of course, it's best to download and play on a real Atari ST computer. If you can, please do so!! The download is available over on AtariMania with more of Kane's music on Demozoo. Enjoy what is nothing short of blumming excellent :)

Hang on, don't go just yet! Check these out...


 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Top Banana



Get ready for this...

Top Banana is a vertically scrolling platformer not too dissimilar to Magic Boy or Rainbow Islands. Ignoring the stupid eco storyline, this has an unusual mix of weirdness but begins with a tripped out acid-style intro that reminds me of Grotesque and Aciid Burn (Whattaheck). Well, a little, and it's in stereo so worth watching.

Gameplay is simple, we start at the bottom of the screen and leap upwards using the platforms whilst avoiding the rising water levels. Along the way are the unusual nasties and our weapon appears to be "love" itself. We deliver a fatal kiss of death to anything that gets in our way. So take no prisoners and enjoy killing loving everything!!

Considering this is a game full of eco-preservation, it contradicts itself by killing animals. Anyhow, you win when you reach the top and then the screen falls and you can collect lots of doughnuts and other items before starting the next stage. Nothing new or mind-blowing but I actually quite enjoyed this incredibly cr4p platformer!

Before we go any further, let's take a peep at a couple of screenshots...

Top Banana played on the Atari ST (oldest model without a Blitter Chip)
Top Banana on the Atari STe. Eye-bursting visuals albeit with parallel scrolling.

Aesthetics

That's right, this is one of the few games taking advantage of the Atari STe, so kudos to Hex for going that extra mile. However, what do you think about these screenshots? The ST version is rather lacking with an empty feel whereas the STe is the complete opposite with a crazy display of mess scrolling along your monitor using parallax-scrolling. My eyes are bleeding, my head hurts... I think I'm going to die if I play for much longer!!

Top Banana is incredibly unique. Never have I seen a game with such a weird abstract style. I admit, at first, I hated it because it's cluttered so I would struggle to see the dangers ahead in time. After a few games, I eventually overcame that eye-burst feeling and was used to it. Well, I must applaud the artists for daring to be different.

Interestingly, Top Banana supports the Atari STe not only with madenning graphics and parallax scrolling but also with DMA sound effects. These beat the chirpy YM effects into dust but (like the visuals) are possibly way OTT. Check out the video...

The CryptO'pinion?

Top Banana is unusual alright. It offers an enjoyable challenge and I've nothing but respect for Hex for supporting both Atari computers. However, it looks, sounds and plays drab on the ST whereas it's way OTT on the STe. In fact, Atari STe owners should take out health insurance because your ears might burst with the incredibly annoying samples and the bloated parallax-scrolling display will give you a headache or a brain tumour.

I do wonder what Hex was thinking when they made this weird little game. Having said that, it is also pretty good and obviously inspired by Rainbow Islands. Sadly, it's one that I fear everyone might ignore which is a shame. Okay, I wouldn't bother if you're an ST guy but I'm tempted to sadistically recommend it for all STe owners!!

The D-Bug boys have a hard drive version and Stonish has two floppy disk options:
 1)  Fuzion #151 (a one-disk download without the intro)
 2)  Pure Energy #6A and #6B (with the silly intro but it comes on two disks)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Ironman Challenge II


Glutton for punishment Mike, of The New Retro Show, has just released the second part of our Ironman Challenge. As you may remember, I gave him a list of Atari ST games which I thought would help push him over the edge. Well, he's still with us, so let's see what torture he endured for the final part of this challenge (above).

This new video features Fire And Brimstone, Crash Time Plumber and R0x. If you missed the first video from this Ironman Challenge then simply clickety click to watch that video of Mike's torment! Get the popcorn - enjoy :)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Mystical


It wasn't that long ago we featured Mystical here on AtariCrypt and now it takes a place within our Box Art section, thanks to a lucky (and cheap!) purchase off eBay. I am extremely pleased with this because its box is in near-perfect condition as are all of the contents too. I'm very proud to own this piece of Atari ST gaming hiSTory!!

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Darkman



The darker side of pixel art

Darkman is a combination of mini-games strung together in that Ocean style we loved so much. However, the first thing that struck me was the quality of the artwork and I instantly knew this was going inside our PixelArt section. The title image and cutscenes have a mysterious theme that perfectly captures the movie's atmosphere.

There are movie scenes - like dodging the oncoming traffic or covertly sneaking pictures for a disguise (which will produce hilarious results). But, no matter how much Darkman tries to hide it, this is mostly a generic arcade-style beat 'em up. Sadly, there aren't many different attack moves and I noticed a few minor issues with collision detection. There are some annoying mechanics, and I will always hate that rooftop dash! But, I admit to getting a kick out of punching Durant's hoard of henchmen - it's fast and furious with responsive controls.

For all my moans, I really enjoyed playing this game and hope to feature it fully somebody.



Pixel Art!

Okay, this is why it's here - for its artwork - and its darker theme continues through to the end with a short comic strip. It's hardly a mind-blowing finale but it's better than many other games that looped back to the beginning or simply displayed 'well done'. This game is a great example of extraordinary 16-Bit artwork.

Thanks to the pixel talent of James Clarke/Mister X, Darkman enters into our PixelArt hall of fame!!





Download links

 - Floppy disks can be downloaded off Stonish and I recommend Now 5 #7.
 - A hard drive installable version of Darkman is available via D-Bug.
 - AtariMania list the other works of James Clarke and the ominous Mister X.
 - Grit your teeth Atari fans but here are excellent maps thanks to the Hall Of Light website.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Crackman In The Search For His Dealer





What a belting name!!

Crackman was released for the Atari STe by Teenage [Pung] and has one of the most idiotic storylines I've ever heard - make sure you read the docs. Okay, I'm sure you've already guessed, Crackman is a PacMan clone but is also one of the most challenging I have ever played. Well, that's an understatement actually...

The maps are huge with a crafty design but it's the ghosts themselves that cannot fail to impress with insanely intelligent AI. This dictates practice before considering matching wits as their AI isn't like previously seen, it's more Lode Runner. My first game almost ended in tears - I needed many more attempts before recording a video.

Along with the crazy storyline are a few surprises like mines, hidden walls and power pad support. I love the ghosts and our little pill-popper has a full set of teeth but my favourite is when he dies and turns into a puddle of gore. The Atari STe is used to great effect with silky smooth 50fps hardware scrolling and superb DMA audio.

Everyone knows Pac-Man but if you thought it was boring then take a look at this - I dare you!! Is it better than Crapman? I don't know... but what I do know is that we have yet another excellent Pac-Man game!!

Saturday, August 05, 2017

ElefantaSTic


I love ElefantaSTic!! This was released at Silly Venture 2013 by Genesis Project and is an amazing demo. I feel it breaks away from the norm with unique and stunning styles. Plus the artwork is superb and there are beautiful effects with a perfectly apt chiptune. One of my personal favourites and downloadable from Demozoo.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Rogue



The ultima gauntlet?

I've always had a spark of curiosity for Rogue but I also wondered why I should even bother with anything "roguelike" when I could instead crawl within the '3D' realms of Dungeon Master. Of course, I'm being stupid because this dates back to 1980 when gamers spent their lunch breaks staring at Rogue's text-based dungeons looking for Rodney's Amulet of Yendor! Epyx released our turn-based conversion back in 1986 and it's essentially the same venture through the Dungeons Of Doom but graphics have replaced that original text display.

Don't run away just yet, this dungeon may look rather 8-Bit but it works perfectly to suit the atmosphere and I really love it!! For me, it's the monsters that look the best as these are superbly drawn - I love the Ice Monster the most. And the Zombie looks like he's about to get down and boogie. Pressing the Enter key will zoom out to display and the entire map is viewed full screen. This is probably favourable to the purist using a more traditional oldskool view of the dungeon? Monsters are then represented by letters, ie: B for Bat, R for Rattlesnake, Z for Zombie, etc...

Which visual display style do you prefer? Let's take a look at both right now...


Carefully explore each and every unique location and zoom out to see the map...


Let the adventure begin!

From the start, we're introduced to the adventure schematics which easily allows us to explore in relative safety against the easier baddies to contend with. I liked this learning curve because a novice adventurer (ie, me) should appreciate it. However, having said that, take a look at my screenshot from a recent game which I'd only just begun - Wow, quite an incredible gang of nasties, I'm sure you'll agree? But this is a testament to the game's ability to randomly generate interesting scenarios so Rogue will always feel different each time.

Direction control of our little explorer is done using the ST's keypad which can be used in combo with or without the mouse. Personally, I prefer to use the keyboard for everything. There are other useful functions such as pressing ALT/click to identify an object or creature. Also, pressing F1 duplicates your last attack action with other neat shortcuts like 0 to rest and '.' to search (repeated searches give the best results).

Rogue is an aRPG that is meant to be enjoyed from start through to death/victory. Once you've been beaten, you are buried and this is permanent. You can save your progress but, coming back to continue is only allowed once. Hence, permadeath, and this may sound unfair but it works well and suits the gameplay perfectly.



There's so much more to this old dungeon crawler than just slaying the funky monsters!


Beware, you're not alone!

The enemies are a wild bunch alright! From traditional beasts like Snakes, Zombies and Bats to fantasy spooks like Ice Monsters, Hobgoblins and even Emus. Yes, there are emus down there! It's worth noting that not every character is immediately aggressive so it's advisable to try and tiptoe around a Leprechaun, a Nymph or a Centaur. I only wish Trolls and Wraiths had that relaxed temperament so make sure you have good armour!

Fight back using swords, axes and more but there are also magical scrolls and potions which perform an insane variety of uses. For example, illuminating the dungeons or increasing health, weapon strength, and so much more. However, not all are good so you may wish to empower yourself with the ability to identify any obscure items you may be carrying. After all, you might mistakingly conjure a demon or leave yourself blind in the darkness.

Like the dungeons, both the enemies and objects are randomly generated so you never get to perform the same battles or know the location of items. This is one of the many things that makes Rogue so special.



Some kind soul has left food but it isn't long before something appears from out of the darkness!


Tricks and traps

Rogue has its fair share of humour and lots of hidden traps so, if something doesn't feel right, then remember to search and you might just uncover a hidden passage. Watch out for teleporters that will zap you to another part of the map or maybe even drop you down a level. Gas sends you to sleep and bear traps are dangerous and require a few turns to escape their clutch. Avoid the temptation of a Nymph who might sneak something from your inventory and I certainly laughed when battling a Leprechaun - he actually managed to rob me of some gold. O_o

Rogue has some aspects which are traditional yet still very funny - like being caught by cursed clothing which is then impossible to remove without using the right spell to counteract it. I travelled for five levels before being able to remove a nasty piece of cursed chainmail. Cursed clothing, who'd have thunk it?

Finally, remember to look after yourself and watch those stats. Food is sparse down in the dungeons, which makes sense, so collect everything and only stop for a bite when it's absolutely needed. The action is always there but a careful adventurer will find tactical exploring to be both enjoyable and rewarding. Think before you act.



Carefully sneak by the old bat (insert mother-in-law joke) and beware of leprechauns on level 7


Aesthetics?

Nobody loads up Rogue to be blown away by dazzling visuals but this actually looks the part. I love how the dungeon itself looks which is bright, colourful and quite basic. It looks the business and feels like a graphical upgrade on the original but without ruining it. As I said earlier, the best parts are the sprites and seeing those little iddy-biddy monsters lurking in the dungeon is fantastic. They all look brilliant yet faithful to the original theme.

Sound effects are pretty much authentic to the original, ie there aren't any! Well, little beyond the default clicks & dings we're all used to as ST owners, which is perfectly fine and natural to what Rogue is all about. However, I'd have liked an option to turn off the clicks without having to resort to using something like XControl.

I had an idea for my video recording - that's at the top of this web page - so scroll back up. I wanted to replace the silence with something eerie using the Atari STe ACCessory: STe Background Audio Player. This plays samples using the DMA coprocessor (with a "hard drive" (Ultrasatan)) and works tremendously well without any slowdown. Let me know what you guys think?


Remember to use this view for a bigger image of your dungeon and keep stock of the inventory.


The CryptO'pinion?

As I write, I'm exploring level 14 but Rogue seems to have cranked up the difficulty a lot since level 9 and I admit to struggling: a Wraith and a Troll ganged up and sent me to an early grave so, I reloaded only to later suffer a humiliating beating by a Quagga! I now need to rest and hope nothing creeps up whilst I'm vulnerable. Hang on, I've a healing potion that should help me feel better and a spell to confuse the monsters. Yeah!!

Yes, Rogue is easy to get into and extremely rewarding. I'm still learning the ropes of this immense game so I feel I've only scratched the surface? But I'm loving every minute of what is a tremendous experience and possibly one of the best Atari ST games. This is a blast into the past that proves just what makes #roguelike so great.

Actually, this is one of the best games I have ever played, regardless of the platform. Absolutely wonderful!!

Brave adventurers can install Rogue to hard drive or load from floppy using Automation #79.
Struggling with Rogue?? Then check out my new level maps which should help. :o)