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 into their natural cold habitat. This is actually two different party releases from 1993/4 bundled together and features super-duper visual effects and fantastic chiptunes by Kane Wood. I enjoyed this a bunch!!

The two videos you see are incomplete but still gives 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 :)


 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Top Banana


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 and even begins with a tripped out acid-style intro! It 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 must leap upwards using platforms and avoid the rising water levels. Along the way are many unusual nasties to kill and our weapon appears to be love itself - this delivers a fatal kiss of death to anything that gets in our way. So take no prisoners and enjoy killing loving everything!!

Graphically, this is so incredibly unique. Never have I seen a game with such a weird abstract style like this! 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 more games I eventually overcame that and got used to it. I must applaud the artists for daring to be different!

Interestingly, Top Banana supports the Atari STe with extra graphics, parallax scrolling and DMA sounds. The older ST models (without a Blitter) feature fewer graphics and YM sound effects.

Top Banana is unusual. It offers a fun challenge but I don't think it's anywhere near as good as the previously mentioned games. However, I do fear it's also underrated because it's a great alternative to play one quiet afternoon, which is exactly what I'm doing today. Finally, kudos to Hex for supporting both ST computers!!

DOWNLOAD LINKS

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

Top Banana played on the Atari ST (oldest modest without a Blitter Chip)

Top Banana on the Atari STe. Yes, too busy! But that background moves in parallel.

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


Darkman is a combination of mini-games all strung together in that Ocean style we love 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 picture and cutscenes have a dark and 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 too many different 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.


The artwork continues right to the end with a short comic strip showing our savage victory. Okay, it's hardly a mind-blowing finale but it's better than many other games that looped back to the beginning or simply displayed a 'well done' message. A great example of extraordinary artistic talent - and I imagine those blunt spikes must have hurt!!

Darkman is far better than I originally gave it credit but it's a little rough around the edges and I don't think it plays quite as good as my personal beat 'em up "benchmark", Double Dragon 3. It's great fun and highly recommended but it's the artistic talent of James Clarke/Mister X that sees Darkman enter into our PixelArt hall of fame!!





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




Crackman was released for the Atari STe by Teenage [Pung] and has one of the most idiotic storylines I've ever heard so 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. The maps are often huge with a crafty design but it's the ghosts themselves that cannot fail to impress with an insanely intelligent AI which dictates lots of practice before matching wits. In fact, my first game almost ended in tears and 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 mean-looking 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 perhaps you need to take a look at this - I dare you :-)
Is it better than Crapman? I don't know, but what I do know that we have yet another brilliant 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 and 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 the entire map full screen and probably favourable to the purist with a more traditional view of the dungeon. Monsters are then represented by letters, ie: B for Bat, R for Rattlesnake, Z for Zombie, etc. Anyhow, let's begin...



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 with the easier baddies to contend with. I liked this learning curve because even 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 games ability to randomly generate interesting scenarios so Rogue will always feel different each time.

Control of our explorer is done using the keyboard and/or mouse but I personally prefer to use the keyboard for most actions. Also, there are other useful functions such as pressing ALT/click to identify an object or thing. Pressing F1 duplicates your last attack action with other neat shortcuts like 0 to rest or . to search (repeated searches are best). Rogue is a 'fast-playing' RPG that is meant to be enjoyed from start through to death (or success?) and in one sitting too. Once you're dead, you are buried and this is permanent. Sure, you can save your progress but when you come back to continue on, that is allowed only once. Hence, permadeath and it works.



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 wear 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 increase 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.



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 funny. Heck, it's possible to be caught out by cursed clothing which is impossible to remove without using the right spell to contradict its effect. I travelled for five levels before being able to remove cursed chainmail which wasn't nice. 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 needed. The careful adventurer will find exploring to be enjoyable and rewarding.



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. And that's perfectly fine and natural to what Rogue is all about.

I had an idea for my video recording - that's at the top of this web page so scroll back up! Anyhow, 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. Excellent!!

Yes, Rogue is easy to get into and very rewarding!!! I'm still learning the ropes of this immense adventure so, have only scratched the surface, but I'm loving every minute of what is a tremendous experience. Possibly one of the best Atari ST games and a fantastic blast into the past that proves just what makes #roguelike so great.

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)