Friday, September 29, 2017

Biomechanoid Locomotion

I spent some time last night listening to many incredible tunes from the SNDH Archive. Biomechanoid Locomotion, by Shinobi (aka Marcus Andre Rousseau) was probably my fave of the night so click the green arrow to hear it :-)

Turn up the volume and use these Atari ST programs to play everything from this amazing archive. 🎧

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Pole Position


Pole Position is an arcade conversion developed by Jonathan Thomas for the Atari STe. Minimum requirements are 1mb Ram, a good joystick and an addiction of this beautiful old racer which looks, sounds, and plays almost exactly like the original game that ate all of our 10 pence coins. Downloads are available via Atari-Forum (backed-up on my Dropbox). Stop right there!! Please don't be an idiot: play this awesome game using a real computer!!

The latest 'release candidate' has major improvements and delivers a near arcade-busting conversion:
Runs at a 60fps to bring the speed and difficulty in line with the arcade game.
You can thank the Blitter chip for whizzing the graphics so furiously!
Sprite scaling utilisied for that arcade feel for ultra-smooth results.
Even good 'ol Mount Fuji is displayed in all its glory!
The sky gradient is back along with numerous fixed graphical and audio glitches.
Sound effects are taken from the arcade machine and played using DMA coprocessor.
Code compiled with GCC 7.1 for a significant performance increase.
Many optimisations are made, mainly around text rendering for authenticity.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Space Monsters


Space Monsters was developed by Darren Ithell for Goodman PDL and I'm sure you've already guessed it's a conversion of the arcade classic, Space Panic. I'm often a little dubious of 16-bit conversions for old arcade or 8-bit classics. Quite often they don't work or it feels like something is missing. So I had high hopes...

This looks good with each screen has the expected platforms and ladders with lots of horrid nasties roaming. It's instant death if you bump into one so Spaceman has discovered the best way to kill these critters is to dig trap. Once they've foolishly got themselves stuck (for a few seconds) he has the opportunity to whack 'em with his spade which for a splattery death. Spaceman is a gruesome fella but whatever works, right?


- Watch out for this trio -




Oh, the nasties in this game are so... well... nasty!! The Boss is tough but Don is a killer!!

Yup, there are only three types of monsters but that doesn't mean their numbers are limited. The first is a "Creature" and is pretty gullible and easy to avoid or kill. However, the other two aren't so dumb and even possess a freakishly cunning AI. "Boss" is hard and "Don", well, he's the real boss. Try not to anger any monsters!!

Also, it takes a greater falling distance to kill the stronger nasties but you are rewarded with lots of extra points. However, if you fail to smash in their faces in with your spade, then they climb out very angry and looking for blood!! Finally, watch out for that time limit. Don't dawdle and get these beasts killed before your oxygen runs out.

The controls are superb which is a relief as I've played a few similar games which would require pixel-perfect alignment with the ladder before you're allowed to climb it. That's always a pain which I'm happy to say doesn't exist here. Digging holes and caving in the heads of aliens is easy and so much fun. My only quibble is not being able to fall down a hole otherwise, the authenticity for both style and gameplay has been perfectly captured.



'Creature' is a cute but gullible goon and temporally falling into a hole makes him very angry!!

Visuall, well, it's Space Panic so is everything you should expect it to be with a clean-cut design and cutesy sprites. It won't win any awards but who cares? The audio is far better with nice sampled sound effects throughout and that ROAR a monster makes when it climbs out a hole will scare you to death!! I just miss a background tune...

Overall, Space Monsters is fantastic and perfectly captures that oldskool vibe in both look and style. The gameplay itself gradually increases for that expected stressful experience and trying to tactically dig the right holes whilst worrying what could creep up on you is truly a PANIC. Yep, this is the best conversion I have played.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Sabre Team


Sabre Team was released in 1992 by Krisalis and is a turn-based war zone of hardcore strategy. We're in control of an elite SAS squad who enter the lion's den to kill bad guys, rescue hostages, and save the day. This ain't no fake arcade action affair but instead, tries to be realistic thus requires stealth and tactical thought so a wrong move could end with team members being killed. And dead means dead, there are no second chances in this world.

Okay, the first job is to select a 4-man team from eight of the best warriors. Equip these guys with the right weapons for each mission whilst taking into consideration type, rate of fire, ammo, weight, and noise. There are lots of cool hardware to chose from like machine guns, assault rifles, a sniper rifle, stun grenades, and gas canisters.

Tips? Choose your weaponry wisely and specifically for the particular mission at hand. Remember, some weapons might need a reload after each shot. You're not superman, it's often advisable to wear a bulletproof jacket. I hear there are a limited number of medkits and these will certainly help to recover from injuries.


Yes, there is a lot to consider, so you should put aside any ideas you may have had of arcade-style action. This demands careful, calculative and strategical thinking so your assault should be executed with a stealthy approach that protects your men from danger. For example, don't stand near an open window! The terrain isn't just something nice to look at, use it for cover as the enemy won't know you're there if they cannot see (or hear) you.

The battlefield is viewed isometrically using detailed environments and our soldiers are controlled through the use of 'action points'. This means your men are allowed a specific number of moves before the computer gets a turn. The user interface is excellent and has helpful animations to identify their purpose (just hover the mouse over).

These are used to turn, walk, shoot and other fun stuff like searching a dead body. The compass not only controls the soldier's direction but displays the number of action points required for each particular task. Along with alerts for what a soldier might see (red) or hear (blue). And this is exactly how you should play - as if you were there!

                            

Playing Sabre Team is something new for me but I admit to being a little perplexed by the amount of time it takes for the computer to calculate its decisions during the 'Enemy Turn Screen'. Perhaps I'm missing the point here but sitting around, for 3 or 4 minutes, seems like overkill to me? Sure, it's relevant when an enemy takes a pop shot at one of my soldiers but I really don't want to watch a hostage wander around his cell.

Thankfully, I finally took a look at the manual (not something I normally would do) and my agony was "eased" somewhat. The solution is easy - hold down the mouse button. Very odd but, it does speed up the whole process to a more acceptable minute'ish. But come on... all that time... with your finger on the mouse button... waiting...


Visually, things start off great with a title screen depicts a sinister SAS soldier emerging out of the darkness like a post-apocalyptic/Who Dares Wins style - ready to assassinate. I think Phil Hackney did a superb job. In-game graphics are superb and each mission environment uses fine attention to detail. The sound effects are excellent with lots of samples used to complement the silent tension of tactical warfare.

Ignoring the quibbles, never have I enjoyed such a game of tactics, stealth and strategy. This is a fantastic game but one that will take some time to master and you shouldn't expect a cakewalk as your first attempts will surely end with casualties. Stick with it because this is an innovative experience with massive attention to detail and very rewarding. Covertly eliminating terrorist scumbags is satisfying and Sabre Team is nothing short of a classic.

DOWNLOAD LINKS

 - 8BitChip have a hard drive installable game and floppy disks can be found via Old Games Finder.
 - Trusteft has recorded an incredible video from unboxing to gameplay!

Friday, September 08, 2017

PouifOuf


PouifOuf is a platformer developed by Le Glod for the Atari ST using GFA Basic. Firstly, don't go off the visuals! This is nothing like you're thinking because our Kid must run around like a headless chicken collecting items scattered around familiar-looking screens. Of course, we can move onto the next level once all are collected.

The style here is fast and frantic which reminds me of a cross between Roger and CarVup. We can walk left or right which means there is no way to jump or to use any weapon with our magic pockets... However, each level has several platforms with "springboards" that will propel us upwards to reach items. It's now you realise the cunning thought needed to beat the maze-like design because there is usually a specific route. So, think!

Hang on, is that the Bitmap Kid I see? The little fella is running around collecting everything!

Beware of silly enemies who love to get underfoot, they aren't lethal but will humorously bounce your around the screen like a pinball. Also, fruit items will fall from the top of the screen but don't appear to do much more than to offer a little visual diversity for extra points. I'm not sure but I can only assume PouifOuf is an unfinished project but I would love to know more about this GEM - so I've contacted Le Glod but heard nothing back as yet...

The visuals are lovely and smooth to compliment the ultra-fast gameplay. However, and I cannot stress this highly enough, please forget about emulation and play using a real Atari STe for the best experience. Sound effects and music can be activated at any time using the Function keys but I preferred the gorgeous chiptune myself.


Use the springboards but watch out for the baddies who will make you tumble!

What a game!! Yep, I've really enjoyed playing this game which I found a refreshing surprise. And nothing like I first imagined but this had me smiling like a Cheshire Cat thanks to the fantastic playability. I might not be able to pronounce "PouifOuf" but I know a fun game when I see it - and this is a blummin' furious platformer!!

Download this superb platformer - now!!

Friday, September 01, 2017

Jumping Jack'son


Jack is a fella who simply wanted to chill out and listen to a few of his favourite records but he never got the chance because the soul of Rock 'n Roll is somehow trapped and now manic classical instruments roam the land looking for blood. Of course, your blood... Yep, if ever there was ever a strange idea for a game then this is it!

Jack's world is viewed top-down and made up of square tiles which he can hop on. There are also special groups which can produce a record if you turn them all the same colour. This must correspond to an unused turntable so, for example, a red record for a red player. The song will gradually compile as each record player is activated - which means that the level is only complete once all are working. Sounds weird but it works really well.


Each level is like a jigsaw and isn't always continuous, so the use of a transporter may be required. However, this can potentially be dangerous as it's not always possible to see the destination - don't bump into a baddie! These are instruments who love to chase and if you get too close, a life is lost. But at least you witness a humorous "Pif-Paf" cartoon-like effect! There are many items to collect for extra points and other features to: wear a pair of cool shades... or rest to safely gather your nerves on a chequered tile...

Also, why not try dropping a couple of your old cassettes on the floor to block an instrument dead in his tracks. Well, for a few seconds but it gives a desperately needed break nobody uses those old tapes anyhow! As you progress, the maps become more technical and offer a great challenge in this insane musical world of craziness!


Aesthetically, Infogrames have worked their magic and produced another jaw-dropper. The music is great and the sound effects are hilarious, I love it when instruments violently bash out their sounds if you get too close. Graphics are constantly amazing - rich in colour, ultra-smooth scrolling and some of the most fantastic animations. Heck, even the high-score table is like a funky demo screen! But can you beat my first attempt score?

Jumping Jack'Son is superb and has lots of great and unique humour - come on, there's nothing like an angry trumpet chasing you down the screen! One of the prettiest puzzlers on the Atari ST and one that presents itself as a timeless classic and still feels fresh and innovative today. It's obvious a lot of love went into making this game and I cannot stress enough just how highly recommend this game comes. A personal favourite. 10/10.

LINKS

 - 8BitChip has a cool download that can be installed onto your hard drive.
 - Floppy disk dudes should try Reanimators #11 from Stonish or Automation #239 via Old Games Finder.