Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

It's that time again when I find something Christmassy from within the Atari ST archives. However, this time I didn't want a game so opted for a demo. I think I've found a belter: Xmas '88 which was released by Kenrick Productions. I hope you like this? I find it endearing with cute animations and a few appropriate chiptunes to get you in the festive mood.

Merry Christmas everyone and I wish you all the very beST †

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Death Chase - The Remix

This is a STOS game. Wait, come back!!

That's right, Death Chase was programmed in STOS which is something that can produce some neat results but (more often than not) tends to leave me feeling cold with jerky scrolling and terrible gameplay. Anyhow, here is something that I first thought might have been a remake of Mervyn Estcourt's awesome ZX Spectrum racer. Alas, it isn't.

Actually, it's a vicious top-down shooter developed in 1996 by Daniel Fielding for the Atari STe and seems to take much inspiration from a variety of different action/shooters. Heck, it even supports both solo and an incredible cooperative two-player mode. Yep, this is starting to sound awesome already, whether you're playing solo or not.

We are a little guy roaming Rogue-like rooms and initially armed with a pistol. Our job is to explore several screens and all of which are inhabited by killer cyborgs armed to the teeth. Death Chase is loud, exciting and bursting with big explosions and many baddies. It's intense!! Come on, we have guns and lots of bad guys to kill. Oh yeah, bring it on :)

Wanna see a screenshot from my (one-player) game? No? Well, here you go anyways...

Each room holds so many possibilities for a whole new level of violence. It never gets dull!!!

Guns and loud violence?

Our armoury is huge with a possible 18 weapons ranging from pistols and shotguns to rocket launchers and lasers. Star Wars fans will enjoy using the lightsaber? Weapons, ammo and health are found in most rooms, so inspect lockers or look on tabletops. However, beware of potential traps like mines or even TNT crates.

The deaths are hilarious when you zap, slice or blow up the enemy and there will usually be a bucket load of blood splattering through the room! Heck, even your own death can be a fun experience when a shotgun-equipped Eliminator blasts you across the screen. This leads me to the brilliant continue option so you can try again - without restarting from the beginning. However, you lose the cool weapons and start with the pistol.

This is a loud and fascinating game stuffed with violence and I love it! Screenshot time...

Death Chase is insanely good fun and bucket loads of it too. Either solo or with a friend.

Two types of killer cyborgs

Security Guards - these are common and wear a blue uniform but have no intention to serve and protect. Their armour is weak but they can use a range of devastating weapons and will often attack as a pack.

Eliminators - these are the toughest and stand out like sore thumbs in yellow body armour. They can carry a range of advanced hardware, like a mini-gun or a rocket launcher. Also, they don't care who gets in their way - even unlucky Security Guards can be torn to shreds during a pursuit. Interestingly, these guys aren't restricted to the room and love chasing through the screens. So beware because running away like a chicken has little benefit.

What, only two enemies? Ignore that and enjoy what is a thrilling shoot 'em up...

Only one guy stood between me and that ammo. So I fried him alive. Mwahaha!!

Controls, Gfx, Audio

Similar to Rogue, movements are performed within a grid layout. I would not recommend using the joystick as it's far too sensitive. Initially disappointed by that, I tried the keyboard as suggested in the docs. This works better than I ever imagined: the A and D keys are used to turn anti/clockwise. W walks us forward with the Spacebar used to select from an array of weapons (read the docs). Finally, banging on the Right Shift key is the best of all and provides an enormous amount of gratifying blood-soaked violence (love that double-barrel shotgun). Fascinatingly violent!!

The graphics remind me of how today's developers seem to think "retrogaming" looked in the day. Okay, it ain't no Enchanted Land but I'm impressed by the perfectly blocky pixel art which is a style perfectly apt to the theme.

The audio is equal to the visuals with a bunch of incredible Mad Max chiptunes that play alongside crystal-clear DMA samples. So not only are there amazing chiptunes to hear but there is a range of excellent sound samples for every effect. These were all recorded using Microdeal's Stereo Master from movies like The Evil Dead. Killer stuff!!

Keyboard. Keyboard. Keyboard. Keyboard. Keyboard. Got that? Okay, screenshot time...

Death Chase is almost like a nightmarish and blood-soaked version of Rogue. Love it!!

This is why we play Atari!!

Every so often, a game comes along that not only takes you by surprise but completely blows you away with its excellence. Something that first appeared quite simple, gimmicky, or perhaps even senseless. Heck, it doesn't do itself any favours concerning the terrible joystick controls. But then you play it and its style is captivating and complemented by exciting bloody visuals and fantastic sound effects. And you find yourself having another go. And another...

I cannot stress how much of a thrill it is to experience such a psychotic shooter. It looks, sounds and plays brilliantly - and with an option for a two-player co-op. The ability to continue on, after dying, is a superb feature that guarantees hours of fun. I love this barbaric game and Death Chase is one of the best I have ever played. Well done Daniel Fielding.

Yes, I said that. Not only is this a brilliant Atari STe game but it's one of the best games I have ever played. Ever.

Stop everything - download now!!

Monday, December 04, 2017


Atic Atac?

Atlantis Software released Creepy in 1991, it may sound like yet another predictable good vs evil affair but just wait until you play it! Some might say it's inspired but really it's nothing more than a shameless Atic Atac rip-off. Whaaaat?

Creepy is a little fella but very brave and his old brother appeared in a certain 1983 game. Well, he is about to enter a castle which is owned by The Lord Of Darkness. Why I hear you cry? Is he mad? No, it's to find four pieces of the Necromancy Scroll that will defeat this nasty man and restore peace to a land ravaged by all kinds of evil monsters.

What, you don't believe Atic Atac appeared on the Atari ST. Hmm, you better take a look at this then...

Dark rooms and lots of monsters!

The Lord's castle is huge with rooms spawning a whacky bunch of evil monsters. Some are easy to kill but others are a lot harder, like the She-Warriors who ride on dragons. She might be tough but, when you defeat her, Puff is left behind so hop on for a ride. Watch out for other nasties like the odd-looking Frankenstein and a ginormous spider!

We are equipped with arrows but these are slow so it's best to upgrade to something better in the shop. Yes, this castle has a shop with stuff like health and fireballs - I really liked the fireball weapon and restoring health is always a wise purchase. Locked doors can be opened with the correct key and tiny yellow keys will unlock treasure chests that adorn many rooms. Gamblers will love these as you never know what's inside - something useful or something sinister?

Monsters won't aimlessly wander around because this time they sure love to play chase - at the expense of your energy level (displayed as a crunchy apple rather than a roast turkey). Also, a life loss no longer leaves behind a Cross where we breathed our last breath. And I still haven't made up my mind about which has the best effect when falling between floors...

Ignoreing the graphics, Creepy is not a carbon-copy clone of Ultimate's game. It plays quicker with other subtle differences within a castle that is dingier than the colourful Spectrum game. It took me a while to feel comfortable with the speed but it wasn't long until I was zipping through the rooms like a crazy medieval dude.

The CryptO'pinion?

Okay, those old enough to have gasped in awe at Ultimate's 1983 classic will probably turn up their nose at this blatant imitation. However, I am incredibly impressed by the fast and furious oldskool gameplay.

Of course, Atic Atac wins hands down but I think Creepy also has much to offer. It's nothing less than a nostalgic 48K impersonator but it's also a great game in its own right because it's playable, very addictive and I enjoyed it a bunch - so is highly recommended. Don't turn up your nose and give it a playtest right now - it's a great game.