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 (Demozoo link). However, this particular disk is something quite different and features 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 will end in bloodshed :-)

A superb idea and one that 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 rather than looking over our shoulders! 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. Fantastic stuff!!
Credits
Incubi - Text, Other (Compilation)
Lucid Dream - Code
Stoo Cambridge - Graphics
The F.U. Man - Code

Friday, October 27, 2017

Bombuzal




Dazzling dots!

ImageWorks' 1988 hit Bombuzal is one of those games that I remember seeing in the magazines of the day. Those pixels - I couldn't believe the cartoon-like quality of the main character within a uniquely colourful isometric world. We play the part of an odd potato-shaped dude who performs a funny expression as the bombs are exploding - it's almost like he doesn't trust himself!! Interestingly, there are some big names associated with this game but is it any good to play?

Well, this is quite a simple puzzler at heart. It requires us to detonate clusters of red bombs. Each level contains squares used to help calculate our best route. However, there are traps to look out for - crumbling tiles that can be walked on only once before they disappear forever. Others might be too slippery to walk on, some transport us, and slotted tiles can move bombs to different locations (usually to avoid being caught in an explosive chain reaction).

I like Bombuzal, it's a fun game that looks hot as it taxes the old brain cells. It's bomb-blastingly excellent!! 


Floppies can be found via Old Games Finder
HDD 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?

It's a weird feeling when I come across a game that I've never heard of before. I mean, there are plenty I've heard of yet never played (which is strange enough!) but this game looks incredible. Yet, here I am baffled by my ignorance!

Let's read the storyline...

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 any type of Gauntlet game. Each screen has a number of trapped hostages which are often located in different parts of the level. 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. Yikes, so ruthless!

How did I not know about this game back in the day? Nearly 30 years with this game! Wow...



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



Tactics, strategy, 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. This is most satisfying!

Rejoice the weapons are superb and our machine gun can be upgraded with greater power and faster action - just try not to kill any humans in the crossfire! Well... Anyhow, you'll be pleased to hear that there are a variety of other power-ups to enhance shields, invincibility, a radar scrambler, and even a supply of 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 to navigate. Sounds are fine and you'll hear the bam-bam-bam of your weaponry the most.

Guns, tactics, strategy, and extreme military violence. I'm all in!! This game rocks...



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... Well, always! However, Rebellion works well even though the hostages are lame at following you and can often get stuck behind a wall so remember that.

Rebellion is simple, without irritating complications and 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




Reach out for the power

Once again, it's time for some more Atari ST box art and, today we have 9 Lives. Like most Arc games, this box has a simple 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 problematic - the gameplay borders on impossible! At first, I thought this might be because of the controls, which take some time to fully master. Once you have, I found them perfect: it's easy to navigate and jump through the platforms and those long leaps are guided by a meter for fine control.

So, no matter what others say, it's not the controls. Are you shocked? I am. Let's view a couple of screenshots...


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's going on?

It's not the joystick controls but the game itself. These present several awkward flaws that irk me: the sprites are too big so each screen appears "zoomed in". This means the rooms feel cluttered, thus Bob cannot help but touch something nasty. Sure, I can knock them out with my woolly yo-yo but soon they're back up and ready to zap more of my lifeforce!

Also, the levels are incredibly unfair and require a psychic gamer to be previously aware of every off-screen trap. Argh, those darn spikes!! And - oddly, for a cat - Bob cannot fall very far without dying!! However, this produces a hilarious animation effect not too dissimilar to Wile E. Coyote from the Road Runner cartoons. And I loved that!

The idea is great but the design doesn't quite feel right. Sigh, I think it's time for more screenshots...


Another life was 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...



Aesthetics?

The cartoon graphics are created by Simon Butler and are superb. Sprites are drawn with amazing detail and feel more like an exhibition than a game! The animations throughout are brilliant - I love how Bob struts his stuff walking across my screen. And what about how he clings to a ledge, just before managing to pull himself up. Fantastic!!

Audio isn't left lagging behind thanks to the most gorgeous YM Chipmusic created by Martin Walker and Simon Butler. Throughout the music is nothing less than perfect. Zero complaints about the musak from me.

No more screenshots! This time we get to see what's inside the box...



Okay, there's not much in the box but the manual doubles as a poster!



The CryptO'pinion?

Personally, I think 9 Lives had the potential to be a great platformer but I doubt it was produced by anyone that enjoyed playing games. It certainly wasn't beta tested before released lol. 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 that I will cherish.

Take it for a spin and enjoy the aesthetics but, just make sure you enable the trainer option!!

Floppy disks at Old Games Finder & HDD version by 8BitChip.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Mystic Realm




Cute dungeon crawling!

Mystic Realm is an action/adventure that feels like an early 80s mash of Gauntlet with limited RPG elements. It may scream "1985" but it was actually released in 1990 by John Lince for STart Magazine. Impressively, it's programmed in GFA Basic, a powerful language that has produced many games over the years so I already have high hopes.

Okay, the story is about an evil vagrant who has kidnapped a Princess (or Prince if you prefer the only other gender). Man or woman, it doesn't matter, as both will plunder monster-infested dungeons for a valiant rescue. Expect to fight zombies, ghosts, bats, etc. Obviously, I chose to be the prince even though I think he looks like a gingerbread man!!

Please, ignore its 8-bit appearance and enjoy the first screenshot. Dull decor but exquisite characters...



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



Plunge the depths!

There are 14 massive levels to explore with the basic objective of finding keys to venture through and ultimately rescue our beloved. Simple stuff! Each level 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.

The levels are mapped and included on the floppy disk (scroll down to view 'em here). Each is designed to be challenging but, never to a point where you feel bewildered or bored. Expect the usual and battle against a range of monsters and solve puzzles that are slowly integrated into your adventure. 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 simple brute force.

Fun, but requires some thought later on so use your brain. Hey, it's time for another screenshot...



Hang on, am I a gingerbread man? lol maybe! But there are still many monsters to kill. Oh yeah!!



Tread carefully, adventurer

Various weapons can be collected and each translates into a specific number of knives (visually displayed) 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 which is a terrible shame. 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!!


Oh dear, it looks like I've run out of energy and thus instantly became a skeleton. Love it!



Aesthetics

Don't be fooled by the humble, almost childish, graphics. I find Mystic Realm quite fascinating as it reminds me of the games I played as a kid in the early 80s. Sure, there are more colours and a higher resolution but the "feeling" remains genuine - 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 excellent and are my favourite.

Audio? Well, 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 this - I adore the 8-Bit atmosphere.

Mystic Realm teleports me back to my pre-ST days and I'm loving it. Let's see another screenshot...


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 helps to prove jazzy graphics and sonic boom sound effects aren't required for a great gaming experience. And that is exactly what we have here and, even though I don't imagine many people reading this article would agree? Well, not until you take the plunge and play a couple of games for yourself.

Fans of the RPG/Dungeon Crawling genres will love Mystic Realm, I am positive of this. It's no thrills with fantastic adventure elements and I have thoroughly enjoyed the arduous task of rescuing another damsel in distress!

An enjoyable, dungeon-crawling romp with frivolous graphics. Humble yet I absolutely loved every second of it!!




- THE MAPS -


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


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


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


( 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 damage 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 raised beyond the stock 520ST because you need >2MB RAM. Also, a hard drive or UltraSatan is beneficial to store all your virtual floppies. Which is only obvious, right?

I don't think there are many Atari ST users these days struggling with only 512K RAM. Exactly, so read on...



But how is this possible?

It is very simple: 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. Easy peasy!



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!!

I think you will all appreciate this program as the results are often positive. I love it and hope Peter continues working on this. Okay, there are two downloads on his website for IMGRF2X (which includes an easy-to-use option). Watch the video!!

Let me know in the comments below what you think and what worked. Above all, enjoy yourself :)

Friday, October 13, 2017

Enduro Racer #AtariSTe



Yet another Atari STe game #indev

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

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 update specifically for the Atari STe!! He's graciously given me the latest beta to play and it's already looking impressive with many improvements - more are planned. This version is so fast!!

1) The Blitter is utilised to push 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, this is a tremendous project. To take one of my favourite Atari ST racers, and improve upon it using the STe hardware, is going to be mind-blowing!! Good luck Peter - I cannot wait!!

Don't go just yet, 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 have had on my Ultrasatan since the very beginning and is a personal favourite of mine. I love the unique 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, I suggest you look at Circus back²STage, JAPAN beauties and troubles and STreet Art - all amazing demos!!

Here are a couple of tripped-out screenshots from the demo that I love...



Sunday, October 08, 2017

Horror Zombies From The Crypt



Bring out your dead!

I've always been fascinated with Astral's haunted house platformer from all the way back in 1990. It's full of charm with a comical edge and no haunting would be the same without lots of frightful creatures! We have 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. And by that, I mean it starts easy but ends up 'challenging'!

I have always adored a 'horror' theme since playing Chiller, so let's check out the first scary screenshot...



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


Enter the haunted house!

The first level introduces us nicely to the game's freaky, yet comical personality with some puzzle-solving along with a variety of classic baddies: zombies, headless ghosts and a Morticia Addams lookalike. Initially, the 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.

Every character is different and, 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 need a different type of key.

This game is tough and is no pushover so expect lots of comical deaths. Like this one here...


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


Aesthetics

The visual style is perfectly apt for the 1950s cinematic theme with smooth scrolling, spooky artwork and freaky characters. Everything you see is 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.

The 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 that all day long). The 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? That's weird!

Sound and vision are almost perfect in every respect! So let's look at an evil witch with her pet wolf...



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 a lot of patience. This game can be so cruel at times. In fact, it's often infuriating on the later levels, just try Family Chapel if you don't believe me. Oh, and Horror Zombies From The [Atari]Crypt is the perfect title for such a cheesy platformer. See what I did there?

Okay, I wish it was a little easier on many screens but I'll never be bored of killing wolfmen and zombies. Although I admit to running away like a scared child from those piercing glares a vampire can give! This is a fun platformer with lots of puzzles, action and a cruel design that's always going to win. Like with Fire & Brimstone, it's tough but it's superb!!

The HDD download can be found on D-Bug
Floppies can be sourced via Old Games Finder

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

River Raid for Mega STe




Thank you, Carol Shaw!

I fancied a quick blast with a favourite ZX Spectrum game - RIVER RAID!! Okay, I know it's lame compared to the Atari 2600/5200 versions but I have happy memories. I figured I should put the Mega STe muscle to use and boot up the Speccy emulator for some colour-clash gaming action (there was never an official Atari ST version released).

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 well as it's almost at the same speed as a real Speccy. Hey, perhaps my recording might fool people into thinking this is real? Well, until they see the GEM desktop right at the end!!

If you wanna emulate more older computers on your Atari ST then check out this section of my website.

Even More ATARI ST Articles

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