Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Golden Dawn Mod Disk #14



MCIBTYC!!

The Golden Dawn released many PD and Mod Disks for the Atari ST during their time. However, this disk is something quite different featuring a humorous hack of Cannon Fodder. Click play to watch little ST soldiers graffiti the Amiga HQ which obviously escalates into war. Of course, this can only end in bloodshed :-)

What a superb idea and one which nicely represents the tensions between ST and Amiga users back in the day. Well, mainly Amiga users because we ST guys were too busy enjoying our machine! After the intro, this disk is stuffed with cool tunes and supports various playback options, including the stereo playback on the Atari STe.

Thanks to STompy for this piece of gold and get it downloaded right now!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Bombuzal


It's time for some more amazing #PixelArt with ImageWorks' 1988 hit Bombuzal. I remember seeing this in the magazines of the day, I couldn't believe the cartoon-like quality of the main character within a colourful isometric world. He is an odd potato-shaped dude who performs a funny expression as the bombs are exploding - it's almost like he doesn't trust himself!! There are some big names associated with this game but is it any good?

Well, this is quite a simple puzzler that requires us to explode a collection of red bombs. Each screen contains a number of squares we can use to help calculate our best route through but watch out for traps: crumbling tiles which can be walked on only once before they disappear forever, so don't get yourself stranded!

Other tiles might be too slippy to walk on whilst some can transport you to another location. Slotted tiles allow us to move selected bombs to a different location, usually to avoid being caught up in an explosive chain reaction. I like Bombuzal, it's a fun game to tax the old brain cells and it's got fantastic pixel art too!

Floppies can be found via Old Games Finder with HDD versions by 8BitChip & Klaz.


Wow, this must be one of the brightest and happiest games on the Atari ST.


This is interesting and being able to flip POVs is neat. But I prefer it in 3D myself...


I love its pixel art. Isometric styles always look cool but this one also uses the palette perfectly.


Oh no, watch out for crumble tiles and (so many) other hazards. This 3D world is dangerous!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Rebellion



Where have you been all my life?

A nasty virus has infected the automated machines on Mars so the robots have captured our scientists and are holding them captive. We have no anti-virus program so it's our job to destroy any robots that get in our way and help lead the boffins to safety. Jump inside your spaceship and get ready to save the day, again!

Rebellion is a top-down shoot 'em up similar (ish) to a Gauntlet game and each screen has a number of trapped hostages which are often located in different areas. Some are behind a forcefield which can be partially deactivated by disabling a section of its wall - but you won't have long before a repair droid appears so don't dawdle. Others can be in locked rooms which require a key card which a robot may reveal when killed. Every level has a minimum number of hostages to rescue within a set time. Miss it and the spaceship will leave without you!


Okay, so how are you going to break into that complex, rescue everyone and get out in time?


Tactics, strategy and guns!

Enemy robots have a range of different abilities: some are slow whereas others are much faster and another can even lay down explosive mines. Some have no projectile weapon but others are only too eager to turn you into a blood splatter! Also, watch out for gun turrets, trapdoors, and large tanks. Interestingly, when you do lose a life, the robots are paused for a few seconds thus giving you some extra time to whack 'em full of lead.

Rejoice because our machine gun can be upgraded with greater power and a faster action - just try not to kill any humans in the crossfire! Well... Anyhow, you'll be please to hear that there are a variety of other power-ups to enhance shields, invincibility, a radar scrambler and even a supply extra lives. Oh yeah, we've got it all.

Aesthetically, the graphics are pretty nice albeit hardly groundbreaking for any 16-bit computer. I'm sure many might turn up their nose at the slow pace and tiny sprites but it's actually ideal otherwise each level would feel cramped and be very difficult. Sounds are fine and you'll hear the bam-bam-bam of your weaponry the most.


As you can see, each level is swarming with enemies and folk to rescue. It's never easy!


The CryptO'pinion?

Now, I don't normally enjoy games that have me worrying about the safety of computer-controlled characters whilst being hunted by the foe. I panic too much so people usually end up dead... However, Rebellion works very well even though the hostages are lame at following so will often get stuck behind a wall... I'm never too happy about time limits and this one seems to have a mind of its own and may prove troublesome on later levels?

Rebellion is quite simple but has been perfectly executed. I've enjoyed this shooter which I've found to be anxiously-entertaining - each level has an intricate and interesting military theme with gameplay that is progressively entertaining. Very addictive and one of those games that keeps dragging you back for more and it's always a fantastic rush killing the baddies whilst guiding the scientists back to safety. Yep, I loved Rebellion!!!!

Floppy disks can be found via Old Games Finder
A cool hard disk version by D-Bug.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

9 Lives


It's time once again for some Atari ST box art and today we have 9 Lives. Like most Arc games, this has a simple box design but is also pretty comical with a laughing cat that reminds me of Tom And Jerry. I must admit, I laughed at the glowing reviews plastered by three popular magazines! This has to be a great purchase, right?

Sadly, they were wrong because 9 Lives is incredibly difficult, bordering on impossible! At first, I thought this might be because of the controls, which do take some time to fully master. Once you have, I personally think they are perfect and find it easy jumping up through the platforms and those long leaps are guided by a meter for fine control.


What a massive and unique variety of characters this game has.


Just look at those funny faces! I'm sure these were designed by insane people!!

What I feel is wrong are the gameplay mechanics which present a number of awkward flaws that irk me. The enemy sprites are far too big so each screen is overly cluttered, thus Bob cannot help but touch something nasty. Sure, I can knock them out with my woolly yo-yo but it's not long before they get up to zap more of my lifeforce!

Also, the level design is incredibly unfair and requires a psychic gamer that previously is aware of every off-screen trap. Argh, those darn spikes!! Oddly, for a cat, Bob cannot fall very far without dying!! However, this does produce a hilarious animation effect not too dissimilar to Wile E. Coyote from the Road Runner cartoons.


Another life lost... Well, at least I'm going up and not DOWN!! Phew.


Oh dear, another life lost at the hands of the frustrating and over-crowded level design...

The animations throughout are absolutely brilliant and I love how Bob struts his stuff walking across my screen. I love it when he clings onto a ledge, just before managing to pull himself up. In fact, the graphics are always superb with every screen highly detailed, beautiful landscapes and characters. Audio isn't left behind, the most gorgeous YM Chipmusic plays and it's a belter. Yep, 9 Lives certainly looks a sounds superb for a gorgeous 16-bit title.

Personally, I think 9 Lives had the potential to be a great game but I doubt it was produced (nor tested) by actual gamers. Sadly, I imagine most will play this once or twice before giving up - which is a shame? To think I bought this... but it's still a piece of ST history I will cherish. Just make sure you enable the trainer option!!

Go on I dare you to play!! Floppies are found via Old Games Finder with a HDD version by 8BitChip.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Mystic Realm



Nineties gaming?

Mystic Realm is an arcade adventure that feels like an old skool mash of Gauntlet with RPG elements. It may scream "1985" but it was released later in the ST's life by developer John Lince for STart Magazine in 1990. Impressively, it's programmed this in GFA Basic, a powerful language that has produced many games over the years.

An evil vagrant has kidnapped the Princess (or Prince if you prefer to switch) and now she requires a valiant rescue. Whatever character, we are (once again) crawling through monster-infested dungeons fighting zombies, ghosts, bats, and more. Obviously, I chose to play the prince even though I think he looks like a gingerbread man!!


Wait, don't run away!! Remember that golden rule? Gameplay matters - not the graphics.


Plunge the depths!

There are 14 levels to plunder with the objective of finding keys to venture through and ultimately rescue our beloved. Each is made from a number of separate rooms and navigation is aided by directional arrows displayed at the top of the screen. These show us the sides of the screen that will lead us through the dungeon.

Each level is mapped and included on the floppy disk (see below). Each is designed to increasingly challenge, but, never to a point where you feel bewildered or bored. Battle against a range of monsters and also solve puzzles that are slowly integrated into the gameplay. For example, a wooden gate may block your path but that isn't a strong obstacle against a couple of hits. However, later puzzles require more thought than simply brute force.


A walking gingerbread man with many monsters to kill. That's this game for you!


Tread carefully, adventurer

Various weapons can be collected and each translates into a specific number of knives for our adventurer to throw like a ninja. Do note that no other weapons are actually used but collecting a high ticket item - like an axe - will reward your inventory generously. The firing method will instantly feel familiar to Berzerk fans: just hold down the joystick button and tap the direction you wish to throw a knife. It's apt and works superbly well.

Health points are displayed top/left of the screen and detail our vitality from 0 (you're dead) to 999 (the maximum). It's hungry work being a heroic gingerbread man so chomp on whatever you find to keep yourself alive. If you are already near the max then it might be worth leaving food behind until later? Sadly, health isn't regenerated at the beginning of a brand new level and you will transform into a skeleton if you foolishly starve to death!!

Tips? Easy, be a savvy adventurer! Beware not to waste ammo because you never know how long it will be before you can top-up your arsenal. Remember to eat only when hungry. Finally, there are lots of locked doors - but use your keys wisely because not all doors need opening. Use your brain, Rambo!!




Aesthetics

Don't be fooled by the humble graphics, I find Mystic Realm quite fascinating as it reminds me of the games I played as a kid in the earlier 80s. Sure, there are more colours and a higher resolution but the feel remains authentic without having any unnecessary bloatware that would ruin the authenticity. Also, the sprites are all nicely drawn and with comical details: like the wobble of a zombie walk! The ghosts are fantastic and are my favourite.

Even the meagre sound effects transport me back to the 80s. Hearing a knife skim through the air on its way to hit a fiend flat-bang in the face is brilliant!! I'm not ashamed to admit I adore the 8-Bit atmosphere.


Prince or Princess, here are the details for power, weapons, your enemies and everything else.


The CryptO'pinion?

Mystic Realm is one of those games that proves jazzy graphics and sonic boom sound-effects aren't required for a great game and that is exactly what we have. I don't imagine many reading this web page would agree until you take the plunge and play for yourself. Fans of the genre will love it, I'm positive of this. It's a no-thrills adventure and I have thoroughly enjoyed the arduous task of rescuing another damsel in distress! This is a great game.




- THE MAPS -


( Don't be a dummy!!! Click on each thumbnail to see the larger level maps displayed )

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ghouls 'n Ghosts


There's an interesting thread over on Atari-Forum about a new version of Ghouls And Ghosts under development for the Atari STe by Sascha Springer. He's teased us with images and videos of lush sprites/landscapes and smooth scrolling but has just released an early beta. This was a jaw-dropping moment and proves the potential of the Atari ST - when in the hands of talent. I cannot wait to see more and wish Sascha much success!

This download is available via Atari-Forum [requires a 4MB Atari STe w/ hdd]

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Floppy Image Runner (IMGRF2X)




Wait, don't cut the ST's case!!

Most Atari ST games are available on a floppy disk which has been converted into a disk image and downloadable off the Internet, be they legit or not. Nothing beats the sound & feel of using a real ST with its floppy disk chugging away. What an authentic way to spend an evening and there are thousands of games to choose from.

IMGRF2X is a program, developed by Peter Putnik and provides a great way to use these images - without the hassle of finding a real floppy disk. It's basically software CosmosEx/Gotek and works with most files: .ST and .MSA. Obviously, the requirements are increased beyond the stock 520ST as you will need >2MB Ram and a hard drive/Ultrasatan, but these aren't exactly high-end specs like they were back in the day!


Peter has converted many games to hard disk but there are hundreds only available on floppy!


But how?

It's simple to use: firstly, assign either ST or MSA file types in GEM. Dead easy - just watch my video recording. Now you can double-click on any image from your collection to load Image Runner - this copies it into Ram and reboots. The ST will start up as if it has that disk physically inside its drive - powered by black magic!!

Sadly, GEM cannot assign more than one file type to any single program. To get around this limitation, just make a second copy of "IMGRF2X.PRG" and rename it to something similar. Now you can assign both types of disk images to each of these two programs for instant access to your collection of downloaded floppy images!

Or manually edit the Desktop.Inf file using a text editor like Everest or similar.


Most Automation floppy disk images work a treat so here's a cool disk with Freddy!


The CryptO'pinion?

I must say Image Runner worked rather well and I enjoyed a good success rate on the whole. This program is a Godsend for us without a Gotek or CosmosEx and has certainly allowed me to enjoy Menu disks again! However, please remember that this is software so YMMV. Nobody can deny that this is genius so enjoy!!

There are two downloads on Peter's website for IMGRF2X which also includes an easy to use option.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Enduro Racer #AtariSTe



Another Atari STe remake in progress!

Enduro Racer is one of my favourite Atari ST racers because it's fast, fun and an uncomplicated thrill to play. In fact, it's the classic arcade racer and our conversion is pretty good considering the age of this 1987 release!

Anyhow, as you can imagine, I was very excited to find out that Peter Jørgensen (Mr Manic Miner himself!) has begun the development of an enhanced remake for the Atari STe!! He's graciously given me the latest beta to play with and it's already looking very impressive with lots of improvements both planned and partially completed.

1) The Blitter is utilised to push out a brisk framerate!
2) Expect many more colours on-screen at once.
3) Usage of the extended palette.
4) Remaster YMT music of the original ST scores by legend David Whittaker.
5) Arcade samples played using the DMA hardware.

From what I've seen, heard and played so far, this is looking to be a tremendous project. To take one of my favourite Atari ST racers, and improve upon that using the STe hardware, is going to be mind-blowingly exciting.

Good luck Peter - I cannot wait to see more. Check out these screenshots and watch this space!!


Thursday, October 12, 2017

STrange roboTS


Strange Robots was released in 2013 for Silly Venture by BlaBLa and Mandarin. It's one of those demos I've had on my Ultrasatan since the very beginning and is a personal favourite of mine. I love the presentation styles that also display an incredible range of colours with a funky 505 tune enjoyed throughout. What's not to love?

Demozoo has the download which will require an Atari STe with a jaw-dropping 4MB Ram. If you like this, then I suggest you take a look at Circus back²STage, JAPAN beauties and troubles and STreet Art - all excellent demos!!

    

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Horror Zombies From The Crypt



Bring out your dead!

I've always been fascinated with Astral's haunted house platformer which I feel has a charming comical character. No haunting would be the same without lots of frightful creatures and this has everything from witches, zombies, werewolves, vampires, ghosts and even the odd weird statue that sticks out its tongue at you!

Each level has a particular task which is described to us during a mini-intro at the start. The objective is to hunt down and collect all the skulls and lay their souls to rest. However, this is one tricky platformer through, it's a maze of creepy screens that often contain infuriating traps to catch you out. This is no arcade-style platformer, more of a Fire And Brimstone so keep your composure and wear your patient head, Worzel.



The artwork is beautifully creepy and I love the attention to detail - look at those eyes!!


A haunted house movie in a game?

The first level introduces us nicely to the game's personality with some puzzle solving along with a variety of classic baddies: zombies, headless ghosts and a Morticia Addams lookalike. Puzzles are quite easy and shouldn't tax the grey matter too much: move a table to reach an item, find keys to unlock doors, and wear cute booties to creep past something scary. Things hot up on the next level with tougher monsters and trickier level designs.

Level passes: WolfmanHammerLugosiNosferatu & Garlic.

I must admit to taking a liking to the wolfmen but I hate the old hunchbacked witches who will drop rocks - with surprising accuracy! Every level has a password so there is never a need to restart from the beginning each time which is an excellent idea and one I wish more games would have supported (I'm talking to you Navy Seals!). Hint: try and remember to search for hidden rooms or secret objects that may heed a different type of key.


Oh no, a skeleton with a bow!!! Gets me every time...


Aesthetics

The visual style is perfectly apt for the 1950's cinematic theme with smooth scrolling, spooky artwork and freaky characters - who are superbly animated. Just wait until you die and see yourself shudder before violently suffering a Scanners-like headache, no matter the actual cause of death! I must say that I am impressed with the palette, each level is its own mini-movie and looks tremendous. The horror aspect is typically cheesy and I love it.

Audio is nothing short of incredible with a chippy rendition of Montagues and Capulets which couldn't have been a more perfect choice (I'm sure I'll be humming it all day). All sound effects are high-quality samples with the wolf howls being my favourite. However, I'm disappointed there is nothing for my head-exploding deaths?



I hate it when the old witch drops objects on my head!


The CryptO'pinion?

This is one of those games that will eat away your spare hours as it requires practice and patience. It can be so cruel. In fact, it's often infuriating on later levels, just try Family Chapel if you don't believe me... Horror Zombies From The [Atari]Crypt is the perfect title for such a cheesy platformer. I wish it was a little easier but killing wolfmen, zombies and running scared from piercing vampire glares is right up my street. Gory fun!

A hard disk download can be found on D-Bug
Floppies can be sourced using Old Games Finder

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

River Raid


Today I fancied a quick blast of one of my favourite ZX Spectrum games - RIVER RAID!!

Okay, I know it's lame compared to the Atari 2600/5200 games but I have many happy memories playing it during my school years. So I figured I should put some of that Mega STe muscle to good use and boot up the Speccy emulator for some colour-clash action. Sadly, there was never an official Atari ST release. #gutted

Obviously, I cannot record directly off my Mega STe so I duplicated the setup in Hatari to make this video: a stock 16Mhz Mega STe with TOS 2.06 runs the game very well. It's almost at the same speed as a real ZX Spectrum which ain't saying much, but it was still great fun to play. Hey, perhaps my recording might fool people into thinking it's a real ZX Spectrum? Well, until they see the GEM desktop right at the end of the video! ;-)