Sunday, February 18, 2018

Fractal Landscape Generator



Fractal Landscape Generator was developed by David Billington to create mountainous 3D landscapes. It's worth reading the docs before you begin experimenting but for those who (like me) never read the manual, there is a mini guide. Seeding your first landscape is easy using a superb user interface and the results are produced quickly, even on an 8MHz computer. The 3D part was initially difficult to grasp and at one point I think that I was upside down!! Don't give up - keep on tinkering - and once happy you can add light-shading, alter various colour parameters, and increase the detail level. Heck, you can even animate a fly-by through your newly created world.

Dabbling in 16-Bit creation to see what wonders I could knock out is impressive and to think I only found it by chance on this disk: Floppyshop ART-3647. It's always a nice feeling to find something "new" and this is a cracking program to get you started into the world of fractal landscapes. Give this a try and see what you can design!

  
  
These four images were generated using my own Mega STe and I'm really impressed with the results achieved.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Astro Marine Corps


Sometimes a game doesn't need a longwinded storyline, cunning puzzles or life-sucking RPG elements. Sometimes all you want is a huge mother of a weapon (with unlimited ammo of course) and lots of baddies in need of urgent annihilation. Be happy because Dinamic's AMC fits the bill with lots of mindless and gratifyingly brutal violence!

   
Watch out for the various plant life and some critters can instantly change with a drastic consequence!!

This multi-level scrolling shoot 'em up involves nothing more than walking grim alien landscapes and hammering down on the fire button to kill everything in sight. Upgradeable weapons use a directional-firing technique and our marine can also crouch and leap high into the air with wiggly-legs. We are also equipped with powerful bombs and these are needed when your main weapon isn't effective against mechs or whatever lurks inside craters...

The aliens are an obscene bunch of misfits ranging from man-eating plants to mechanoids even Robocop would run away from. Don't get to close to the unassuming caterpillers, these will suddenly grow and give rather a nasty bite. I think AMC has some of the best enemies I've seen and the monstrously huge Guardian proves it.

   
I love that beast man thingamabob with the large fangs but he's nothing compared to this huge guardian!!

Technically, this isn't the best game as it feels a like a rushed port with less-than spritely scrolling across sparse landscapes. Joystick controls are great but it's awkward reaching for the keyboard to throw a bomb - especially when mechanoids are chasing! AMC is crude and predictable but it's also thoroughly entertaining with great monsters, crunchy sound effects and tons of levels. I loved being an Astro Marine and killing alien scumbags is fantastic.

LINKS

 - Installation to a hard disk is possible thanks to 8BitChip and Old Games Finder has the floppies.
 - Stonish has a couple of great Menu disks: Dodgysoft #81 and Flame Of Finland #25.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Verminator


Jake is a rather odd looking fella who exterminates bugs in a fantastic fantasy world of weird. However, this is as much as I currently know because I've never played it until today! Verminator's graphics are jaw-dropping so my first play lasted mere seconds before I wanted to write this article for our PixelArt section. Actually, Verminator is granted VIP access because of Nigel Brownjohn's outstanding artistry using such bold colours with a fine attention to detail. This has to be one of the most gorgeous 16-Bit games created so perhaps I should now take time to play it...

 
 

LINKS

 - 8BitChip has the hard drive version and Old Games Finder has access to the floppies.
 - Trusteft recorded a video last year and seemed pretty much impressed by this beautiful game.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Gribnif Software


Dan Wilga has kindly released NeoDesk and Geneva as freeware and both of these incredible products can be downloaded from the Gribnif website right now. I have quickly just run a test installation (using Hatari) which was a breeze and worked without a hitch. Next, I need to get my Mega STe working with this amazing operating system and funky desktop. Please, don't forget to donate and my thanks to Luis Ortiz for this great news.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Killing Machine


Killing Machine is a vertically scrolling shoot 'em up by Atlantis Software. It's set on a remote planet controlled by a giant brain who identifies you, and your sassy spaceship, as nothing less than invading vermin that needs to be wiped out (gee, thanks). The battlefield spans over three levels and is stuffed full of kamikaze enemies out for blood so don't expect a cakewalk because it will demand lightning-fast reactions and plenty of luck.

The first thing that struck me was the graphics which are uniquely colourful using a gorgeous palette. The smooth scrolling is slow and steady but it's the enemy sprites zipping across the screen which are impressive. Sound effects go beyond mere bleeps for some rather raspy samples. They're not the greatest but the grunge still works for me.

Killing Machine is brutal and will require lots of practice before you begin to beat the first level. Its a painful learning curve but try to remember the enemy attack patterns and collect every power-up offered otherwise you will die a suckers death in no time at all. Sure, there are better Atari ST shooters but I've still enjoyed this a bunch.

LINKS

 - Stonish has the floppy disks (Pure Energy #53) and 8BitChip has a version for hard disk installation.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Rambo III


Rambo III was released by Ocean Software and is an overhead shoot 'em up not too dissimilar to other "Gauntlet" games like Into The Eagle's Nest. I'm incredibly excited to finally own my own copy which I proudly add in AtariCrypt's Box Art section thanks to the tremendous Hollywood artwork. This is also one of few that has both a great front and back cover so I decided to take a piccy of both and double-up on our love for movie legend Sly Stallone!

The musclebound action hero is infiltrating a Soviet base which has Colonel Trautman held captive. Our mission spans over three levels with the first being the rescue before fleeing for our escape with a final shoot gallery stage that feels like a mash of Op. Wolf / Battlezone.

Gameplay is the same for the early levels but (ironically) you shouldn't run around like Johnny Rambo but carefully explore the complex looking for the best routes through and useful items like health, ammo and Infra Red goggles to detect otherwise invisible boobytraps!

Enemies occupy each screen but they feel more like automated drones than the Soviet elite as they robotically patrol back and forth. I imagine these guys also suffer tunnel vision because they are unaware of your presence unless you stumble directly in the line of sight. If that happens, an alarm sounds and nearby soldiers begin attacking - but at least you have an awesome health meter!

This might first appear rubbish, but it actually works well to distinguish itself from being a mere Gauntlet clone so play more like the real US Army Special Forces rather than the fake Hollywood claptrap. My only quibbles are trying to memorise the humungous map which is too easy to lose your bearings. Plus each room is blindly entered so try and learn where the soldier's patrol otherwise those Ruskies will gang up to give Sly a good kicking (health packs are scarce).

I understand why Rambo III failed to capture the hearts of most reviewers back in the day. It's a little like Marmite and you'll either love or hate it but I truly do think it's a belting game albeit with those niggles. It's not Gauntlet so use a stealthy approach and prepare thyself to spend many hours mapping the levels and sneaking up on bad guys.

LINKS

 - Floppy disks can be found via Stonish and Old Games Finder (Automation #47).
 - For the weirdos who don't enjoy making their own maps: Speccy Screenshot Maps and Hall Of Light.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Atari ST


Today I received my latest "Atari Games" mug thanks to Peter Jørgensen (Enduro Racer / YMT). No, they're not all the same, just take a peep at their reverse-side which is pictured here. Aren't ST folk incredibly generous: the mouse mat you can see was also a gift from my mate Tom, another ST nutter. Peter/Tom even made for me the ZombieCrypt mug - probably because the slideshow I  released last year was so awesome? Hmm, well probably not lol. However, I must apologize for my "keyboard cup" who decided to photobomb!! There's always one...

There's now't better than suppin' coffee from an Atari ST mug... hmm but which one shall I choose? :-)

Monday, February 05, 2018

KillThings


KillThings, by Orm of Digi Tallis is a first-person shoot 'em up in a similar vein to Wolfenstein but alas it was never finished. It's playable and I must admit to being impressed by the speed of the game's engine and its map function works like the one in Doom, which I really liked. Sadly, there is no sound and very little to do other than wandering the stark corridors looking for a bug-eyed stickman! But there is a level editor if you're feeling bravely creative?

This is never going to replace Wolfenstein or Substation but I'm always fascinated by oddities like this and impressed by the hopes and dreams of what some developers were trying to create. However, it's also a huge shame when these dreams come to a halt (the 'readme' explains a great deal) but at least we have this demo to play with.

   
The map is superb and moves around just as in Doom (left). Make your own levels using the editor? Go on!! (right)

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Ultrasatan


When my hard disk decided to kick the bucket I replaced it with Lotharek's Ultrasatan. Built like a tank, it's incredibly versatile and obviously silent (the old hard drive sounded like a Vulcan Bomber taking off). Of course, I could have gone down the Cosmos/Gotek route but I would rather attempt open-heart surgery than risk breaking my beautiful Atari ST. Not to worry as there are alternatives thanks to Peter's Image Runner program which actually works out pretty well. Yep, I sure love my Ultrasatan because it's a superb clump of hardware and one I cannot recommend highly enough so visit Lotharek's website for all the information along with lots of other Atari ST goodies!

Friday, February 02, 2018

Goin' Down With The Captain


Goin' Down With The Captain was developed in GFA Basic by Terry King of Ninth Wave Software and must be one of the silliest titles since those robot monsters invaded our screens. Imagine yourself as the unlucky cabinboy onboard a sinking ship trying to find the lifebuoys and return them to their holders in a race against the clock. Collecting the lifebuoys is easy but you'll have to venture deep to find them as they're scattered about the ship. You can carry a maximum of two so later levels will require multiple trips into Poseidon's realm which certainly adds to the rush!

The flooding is constant and rising quickly with leaky pipes spirting out more water. Thankfully, these can be patched with a sticky plaster and some decks have pump levers you can operate to help reduce water levels. Flooded decks can still be accessed if you hold your breath and use the air bubbles to top-up your oxygen supply. Any treasures you find are yours to keep but beware of snippy crabs roaming the lower decks who are itching to nip at your toes.

   
Leaky pipes, rising water and now a crab has spotted us. One deadly pinch and we float off to heaven ala Monty Mole!

The joystick controls are class thus incredibly playable with responsive movement and little learning curve. Using the levers is an entertaining moment and brought back memories of Decathlon but this time you're waggling the joystick up+down. The graphics aren't exactly at a Bitmap Bros standard but they do their job, even with the occasional slowdown. Music and sound effects are made from low-quality fuzzy samples but in stereo on the Atari STe.

I almost feel like I need to justify why I have enjoyed this silly platformer so much. After all, it's freeware with bland visuals and extremely poor audio but it plays great and surely that's all that matters? Well, I think so. Going Down With The Captain is challenging, addictive and definitely one of the best PD games I have played. Loved it.