Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Megapede


After drooling over Sinister Development's Centipede, there seemed little reason to play anything else so I skipped past Robert Dytmire's Megapede without giving it a second thought... Thankfully, I later went back and enjoyed what is nothing less than a fantastic homebrew effort with bosses, extra swarms, level-select and different play modes for adults and kids. The sounds are good but it's the clunky 8-Bit style visuals I love with comically cute sprites and enormous mushrooms!! This is a great millipede conversion in its own right and definitely worth playing.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Whirligig


Whirligig was developed by Maelstrom Games of Midwinter fame for Firebird and I've recorded a short video which I thought might be fun to share. Why? Simply because I cannot play Whirligig for love nor money and zipping about in space without ever being able to properly control my direction is agonising. If I happened to kill one of the baddies then it's pure luck because I usually end up killing myself instead!! Technically, Whirligig is impressive and I know I could have dug my heels in and mastered it but I just couldn't be bothered. Enjoy the video :o)

LINKS

 - Floppy disks can be nabbed of Exxos [Automation #10] and via Stonish [Klapauzius #1].
 - AtariMania has links to reviews and the manual. In hindsight perhaps I should have read this?

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Alien Blast


The Atari world is buzzing with news of Matthieu Isorez supplying his own copy of Alien Blast!! Previously, it crashed on level 3 because of data corruption and we've been after the original disks/files for years. Finally, we have them and can play the entire game from start to end - which is exactly how I plan to spend the rest of my Sunday.

Thanks to Marko Latvanen @AtariMania for the heads-up. Today is a great day!!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

KLAX


Jamie Hamshere (aka junosix) has released an Atari STe upgrade of Klax with sampled sound effects taken from the arcade game. Now, I've played very little but it's essentially a "3D" take on the Tetris idea released in 1990 by Domark. Once again, we're stacking piles of coloured tiles but now they travel towards us rather than falling down our screen. Drop these into your bin making sure they are stacked vertically, horizontally or diagonally. Sounds simple but it's brutal demanding quick thinking and lightning-fast reactions, so I failed miserably because I'm rubbish at Klax!!

This is a fabulous upgrade to replaces the drab chip sounds and transforms the game by leaps and bounds. I'm sure Tetris fans and brainteaser addicts will love Klax but it isn't my cuppa tea if I'm honest. Tiny brain, you see...

LINKS

 - AtariMania hosts both the boring old original and this spanky new Atari STe game.
 - Jamie is the same guy working on Droid and no that project has NOT been abandoned.
 - If, like me, you suck at Klax then hitting key '4' takes you to the final level... good luck!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Alien Thing


Alien Thing was released late in the ST's life by 999 Software for Top Byte and if you've ever played Alien Syndrome, Gauntlet or Storm then you'll know exactly what to expect from this overhead shoot 'em up set in space. It's the same old story: heading for Earth is a distant spaceship filled to the brim with a vicious alien hoard who are hungry for our blood. It's time to tool-up, sneak onboard, and begin mercilessly killing anything that looks like it's gonna bite.

Their spaceship is split into eleven levels with each requiring a particular mission to be completed. The first starts off simple (kill everything!!) with later missions being far more complex and if you happen to fail then you are immediately sent straight back to the beginning. This ship is huge, yet with a clear definition in design, so you won't lose your bearings. Almost every corridor has some kind of doorway which can be opened, one way or another. Key cards are a good idea and these can usually be found hidden inside the blue cabinets - along with other bonuses like a 1UP and ammo. However, use these cards wisely because not every door needs to be immediately opened...

   

Joystick controls are excellent and responsive so it's easy navigating this ship, even if I can oddly move quicker than the monsters! These beasts are everywhere - so stay frosty - because they can withstand several hits before you turn them into a splattered mess. Their eggs must be quickly blown-up before a new alien is born and pops-out to eat you! Some leave behind pools of poisonous slime and this need to be destroyed before you are able to pass. Each of your weapons has a varying level of effectiveness and the flamethrower is awesome so try searching the orange cabinets for yours. However, I'm not fresh on the laser which needs a recharge far too frequently for my liking.

  • I personally feel Alien Thing to be well-balanced but hardcore gamers might consider the revamped "Expert Edition". However, I found the changes made it ridiculously difficult thus frustrating.
  • The Director's Cut is the sequel that was due to be released in 1997. It featured a change in the visual perspective, complex missions, new enemies, and lots of DMA enhanced sound effects. A three-level demo is available but I'm unsure whether it was ever officially released. Can anyone help? Thanks.

   
Alien Thing on the left and the Expert Edition on the right. (click both pics)
It's an example of the differences: map changes, fewer items, pools of gunk and more.

The graphics are nicely drawn and I like the contrast of vivid colours against the spaceship's metallic build. The near-luminous green aliens really do stand out which works so well, even if they do move like squashed spiders! Sadly, the scrolling could be smoother so it's disappointing the ST'e hardware wasn't used to full effect. Sound effects might be crude but they're genuinely entertaining when an alien dies - almost as much as our own pitiful death cry! On an STFM the quality is quite fuzzy but on the STe they have put the DMA coprocessor to use for greater clarity.

Nothing is perfect and Alien Thing provided me with enough to whine about - like when a corridor is blocked by a pool of slime and it's impossible to destroy it because it's too close to the wall. Also, one touch of this slime annoyingly means instant death! Plus it's silly having one sound effect when a shot hits the wall, regardless of the weapon...

   

My moaning aside, Alien Thing is a nice take on the Aliens scenario with a nifty balance of arcade-style action, exploration, and strategical thinking which is all thanks to a simple design and challenging missions. I love this game so stop your grinnin' and drop your linen because this is one seriously enjoyable and addictive shoot 'em up!!

Downloads are available all over the internet but I've bundled together all "three" Alien Thing games to download off my Dropbox. For those struggling, there is a genuis password system (just press the "/?" key on the main menu) and here are the codes to use: PARTY,  WORK,  LARD,  WHEEE,  HELLO,  HARD,  GOSH,  NIGHT,  PEN,  RULER

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Grusel


Thanks to the insanity of Eckhard Kruse, I've been hooked on graveyards and their weird skeletons and ghosts for over 30 years. Yes, it sure looks silly but it's a timeless ST classic and something I just had to share. Grusel can be download from Eckhard's own website but don't forget Ballerburg, an outstanding turn-based strategic shooter!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

HangAbout!


HangAbout! was released in 1995 by John Hodskinson and is one of the oddest games I have played. Three (randomly generated) mountains need to be climbed by a little stickman with the first being relatively easy, the next is much harder, and the third is a killer! The mountainside has many ridges which our adventurer can cling to and use for his route to the top. However, if you fall too far then expect nothing more than a pixelated mess of death.

Our stickman can make use of his arm to reach those parts that are a pinch out of reach - without a good stretch. However, sometimes, the route to the top appears blocked by a gap simply too large to reach so a "megajump" can be used - but only the once so use it wisely. Overall, HangAbout! is one of those games that first appears rubbish but actually turns out to be incredibly addictive! In fact, it's gobsmackingly brilliant and all for less than 10Kb.

Download PD Games Compilation Disk #2 which also features another game by John called Haywire.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Turrican II - The Music


Turrican II The Music by Black (aka Scott Clifford). A musicdisk for both ST computers that shows just how great this game's tunes really are. Also included are a selection of stereo remixes for the Atari STe so what more could you want? I've recorded this video which plays about minute from ten random tracks but you should nab the download via Demozoo and hear all the tunes yourself. Best experienced with a real Atari STe - crank up the volume!!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Burger Dream


Burger Dream is Reisoft's spin on Clowns & Balloons which has us helping a Ronald McDonald lookalike to collect flying burgers. Imagine Breakout with a dollop of Space Invaders - but replace the aliens with juicy hamburgers!

Ronald is left to feel the wind in his wig because we are in control of a couple of goons who move a trampoline contraption for this freaky clown. He uses this to bounce high in the air to collect burgers which scroll across the screen (and now I'm hungry) so try not to drop him otherwise he ends up in a crumpled heap! The mouse is used to for movement and is perfectly implemented for smooth and precise control. However, the graphics aren't exactly 16-bit in quality, more like something I would have drawn, so I think only the blind will appreciate these pixels.

Burger Dream is hideous and repetitive but I admit it was also surprisingly enjoyable. Well, for a few minutes...

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

NIBE


NIBE is a Nibbler / Snake game developed by Marc Bourlon in the late 80s and eventually released in 1991. An ever-greedy snake slithers the screen, chomping his way through every apple but his gluttony makes him longer and longer with each bite. So it's our job to safely guide him to all the fruit - rather than a wall or his own tail.

That's easier said than done when you have been dropped in at the deep end thanks to the incredibly cruel level design. Each and every screen is a tough nut to crack and I must admit to getting "fed up" of biting my own tail, or accidentally slamming into walls!! It took several attempts before I began to enjoy success and the trick is to take into consideration the constant gain in length whilst hoping to figure out a logical path through. So good luck!

    

Graphics are humble and perfectly suit the required retro theme. I love the main menu which is actually an intro which offers the chance to alter certain preferences: the gameplay speed (I dare anyone to play on the fastest speed!!), redefine the keyboard controls, and also the ability to instantly begin playing on any of the 50 levels. The audio is superb but there are no sound effects so Mad Max music plays throughout - and that is never a bad thing.

Nibe is pretty straightforward and also extremely challenging thanks to its sinister level design. Stick with it because the basic mechanics are spot-on and the chance to fiddle with the speed and access each level are both killer features. NIBE will test your reactions, patience and concentration so prepare thyself to be tormented!!

LINKS

 - Floppy downloads are available via Stonish on the excellent Serenade #78 disk.
 - If you liked Nibe then you must also play N.o.B.I. - Racing right away!!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Breakout


Breakout is a desk accessory that lets us play a game of brick-busting on the GEM desktop. It's a favourite of mine which I had installed on my boot drive back in the day and I remember marvelling at the multitasking capabilities of my lovely Atari ST computer! This seemed like black magic back then, even if ACCs just faked it...

The game is basic but it's great fun having breakout instantly available to play right there within GEM plus it runs in all three resolutions too. However, I doubt anyone will dump it for Bolo anytime soon which is by far the best of all the clones (IMHO). This has made my day so thank you to whoever developed this fun ACC - get in touch!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Holocaust


Holocaust is an (unreleased) vertically-scrolling shoot 'em up developed by Dattrax Software and later given away in ST Format. It's incredibly fast and features lots of sprites zooming across the screen with plenty of bonuses to collect and bosses to kill. There are a couple of nice mini-intros which you will probably watch once (before disabling for faster loading speeds) and it even talks to you - I'm sure Currah MicroSpeech fans will love this.

It might not look too dandy but it moves beautifully at 50fps for a smooth experience and one which demands a real Atari ST to be fully appreciated. Gameplay is initially very frantic and makes Wings Of Death seem like a pushover but it's strange that we're only given one life (without bonuses). This is kinda lame and I would have expected three or more to tame this rabid beast but I cannot deny the fun I've had. Brace yourself for a breathtaking shoot 'em up!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Sector One Music Disk


Sector One is a music disk by Denis Huguet (ST Ghost) that pushes the DMA audio hardware to its limits with a selection of stereo tunes, some of which feature 8 + 16-channels. Quite mindblowing and certainly proves the power lurking underneath the grey plastic case. We also have options to chose the various playback frequencies and also control the volume, treble, bass and more. Yep, this is a technical masterpiece and I love the Just Buggin' tune!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Special Forces


Look what the postman has just delivered: Special Forces which is the sequel to Airborn Ranger and released in 1992 by gaming gods MicroProse. Actually, I've wanted this game for such a long time so I'm extremely excited and eagerly looking forward to getting my teeth into this over the coming nights - I'll try not to ruin the box!!

Ignore the sexy girl on the cover and grab yourself the floppies (FOF #109A/#109B) or the hard disk version.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Frankenstein


Let's kick the new year off with some awesome box art from my own collection. I bought Frankenstein for only a couple of quid and instantly fell in love with the comical artwork plus I don't own anything else by Zeppelin so it's a sweet addition to my personal collection. This platformer was released in 1992 and is horror-themed and reminds me of a selection of games, like Warlock and Horror Zombies. We're basically a slave to the bad-tempered doctor who needs several chilling items that should help him regenerate life into a dead corpse. Fun times ahead!

Egor - Half man... Half creature... All idiot!

Yes, we are Egor. A fella who, not only has he a hump the size of Texas but is also the doctor's unappreciated lackey. He suffers his demand to find several gruesome items and to complete this he needs several oddities ranging from a pillow to a hanged man's body which is left abandoned in the woods. Ohh very B-movie!!

The play area is huge and you begin in the mad doctor's castle but we are free to explore wherever we choose. That includes the dungeons or going outside into a spooky forest and onto the local village with its creepy morgue. There are many creatures along the way like spiders, skulls, wolfmen, ghosts, rats and even animated body parts. Now, Egor isn't exactly the bravest guy and hates these creepy things so there is a fright-o-meter which displays his current state of mind. This ranges from "okay" to "panic" and will degrade every time he touches something nasty. So once he's a blithering wreck Egor will drop whatever he's carrying to rush back to the Doctor and loses a life. Also, he gets a 5-ton weight dropped on him while suffering verbal abuse before being punched in the face and sent back out again. Yes, it's a harsh life being the servant of the insane Doctor Frankenstein. However, it's rumoured that a young serving wench is the one kind soul who may help to reduce his anxiety issues...

No platformer is worth its salt unless the control mechanics are smooth and precise. It always saddens me when a potentially great platformer has been ruined by controls which don't quite feel right - just look at Chuckie Egg II right here on AtariCrypt as a cruel example of how to spoil a great 8-Bit conversion! Thankfully, Egor's walking speed is just right and he also jumps with ease and effortless control. Spot-on perfect joystick controls, I say.

     

Graphically, this is a mixed bag for me. Each screen has extraordinary cartoon-like artwork, especially in the Spooky Forest with the scary trees, ghosts, bats, and funny zombie-like men. I am constantly amazed by the attention to detail and their nice animations - I love that pitchfork guy! Sadly, the programmer decided to implement the push-scrolling technique which is far too slow for my liking and I feel the flick-screen method would have been better. Sound effects are fine but limited to collecting items, bumping into monsters and a strange lightning weather.

This is a cracking platformer with progressively challenging gameplay and I adore the spooky theme. Each screen is incredibly detailed and always interesting without ever being impossibly hard to beat. I can spend hours exploring the huge map which constantly reminds of my 8-Bit days playing games like Chiller, Chuckie Egg 2 and so many others. A simple platformer that doesn't push the Atari ST yet is superb fun to play and that's what matters. Love it.

LINKS

 - Floppy disks can be found on Stonish and 8BitChip has a version for hard drive installation.
 - Hall Of Light has an incredible game map which you can also nab off my Dropbox.