Thursday, February 22, 2018

Supa Zazai Da!

Supa Zazai Da is another Gamopat conversion by Templeton, the same coding genius who graced us with the stupendous Crash Time Plumber so I couldn't wait to get my grubby mitts on his latest work after reading the superb review by ST Graveyard on Atari Legend. Sadly, I admit to being more than a little disappointed with it because I failed to play more than a handful of - frustrating - games before rebooting my ST in disappointment.

Now, I'll never knock anything powered by Maria Whittaker (yeah!) but this game is rock solid. It felt far too difficult and having just the one life certainly didn't help, especially when the enemy can fill the entire screen with their bullets! Yep, this is certainly a wolf in sheep's clothing and almost seemed like a bad joke. I was genuinely gutted...

Trust me, the player is soooo overwhelmed on their first few games. It's insane!!

I later returned and anxiously grabbed my creaky old joystick wholly determined but expecting the battle of my [retro gaming] life. After many embarrassing failures, I eventually beat the first hoard of cute nasties and somehow even gained extra points thanks to the green particles. But how I managed to dodge the enemy's bullets felt like a personal achievement!! The clue is how you navigate through the cloud of bullets, it's easier than you might think...

However, the big scary boss instantly gave me a good drubbing and I was greeted with the Game Over screen once again. But I defeated him on my next nerve-racking attempt and was close to tears in my ecstatic joy!! Once the second level begins you realise there's a familiar and repetitive pattern so I hammered it home and battled my way onto the third and fourth levels, with relative ease. What a massive learning curve - but it can be conquered!!

Keep trying because it's doable and the insanity is manageable when you've sussed it out...

The modest visuals scroll along at an ultra-smooth 50fps but it's the outrageously cute sprites from a wide variety of games which everyone will adore. Your computer will require a Blitter coprocessor which is not a problem for the Atari STe and Falcon but the original ST models might be outta luck - unless you have a later revision or a Mega ST. Musically, Supa Zazai is fantastic but also very different depending on your hardware: unnerving chip rattles the ST player whereas the STe gets exhilarating streamed audio. As instructed, pump up the volume!

What a journey!! And one nothing like I first imagined yet it lived up to all my expectations. Supa Zazai Da is an exhilarating shoot 'em up with gorgeous aesthetics and I hope Templeton has many more games are planned!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Mario's Quest

Mario's Quest was released in 1993 by Dean Sharples of Silly Software and is basically a Hunchback clone but this time we're that ridiculous Italian plumber I've always hated! As you would expect, there are tricky jumps, pesky moving platforms and annoyingly well-timed flying arrows coming our way. Gee, this sounds like great fun?

Well, I admit I did get some level of enjoyment from Mario's Quest as I like the 8-Bit look along with the superb music. However, the controls are too sensitive so trying to judge just where a platform ends - without falling your death - is nigh on impossible. Later screens feature moving platforms, flying arrows and wider gaps to hop over thus making Mario's Quest one of the most frustrating games I have ever played. Beware of this infuriating platformer!

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 gratifyingly brutal violence!

This multi-level scrolling shoot 'em up involves nothing more than walking grim alien landscapes to hammer down the fire button and 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, which are needed when the main gun isn't effective... Hmm, perhaps you should drop a few into the crater?

The aliens are an obscene bunch of misfits ranging from man-eating plants to mechanoids that even Robocop would run away from. Don't get to close to the unassuming caterpillers, these will suddenly grow in size - and teeth!! I think AMC has some of the best enemies ever and the monstrously huge Guardian proves it.

Technically, AMC could have been better and I got a distinct whiff of a rushed port: the scrolling could have been more energetic, landscapes look unfinished, but the joystick controls are excellent. However, it is awkward reaching for the keyboard to throw a bomb - especially when mechanoids are chasing. Sigh, with a bit of spit and polish...

Overall, AMC is crude and predictable but it's also thoroughly entertaining with great baddies, crunchy sound effects and tons of action. I loved being an Astro Marine and it was fantastic killing the alien scumbags. Superb fun!!

Waste no more time and install AMG onto your hard drive or grab the floppies.
Also, Stonish has a couple of great Menu disks: Dodgysoft #81 and Flame Of Finland #25.


Even the plant life is out to get you in this crazy game so watch out where you walk!!

Awe look everyone it's a strange little worm... No... Wait... ARGHHH it's growing!!

This thingamabob is absolutely superb. Look at the detail in his eyes and teeth. Love it!!

AMG has some huge monsters but the bosses are even bigger. This beast is ginormous!!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Jake is a rather odd-looking fella who exterminates bugs in his fantastic fantasy world of weird. However, this is as much as I currently know - because I've never played it before! Verminator's graphics are jaw-dropping so my first play lasted mere seconds before I wanted to write this piece for our new PixelArt section.

Actually, Verminator is granted VIP access because of Nigel Brownjohn's outstanding artistry. He used incredibly bold colours using fine attention to detail for the sprites and backgrounds. This has to be one of the most gorgeous 16-Bit games created so perhaps I take time to play it? Yes, I think so too... Watch this space!

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.

Verminator took my breath away when I first booted it up. So much sexy pixel art!!

Nigel Brownjohn knew just how to use the palette and get the most from low-res. So impressive.

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. What a fantastic download this is - don't forget to donate whatever you can.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Killing Machine

Killing Machine is a vertically scrolling shooter by Atlantis Software and released in 1992. We're on a remote planet controlled by a giant brain who identifies you (and your sassy spaceship) as nothing less than an invading bacteria. Vermin, that needs to be wiped out!! The battlefield spans over three levels and is stuffed full of kamikaze enemies out for blood - so don't expect a cakewalk because it demands lightning-fast reactions. And plenty of luck.

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

Killing Machine is brutal and requires lots of practice before you begin to get close to beating the first level. This is a painful learning curve but collecting the power-ups and learning the enemy attack patterns is a must. Don't die a suckers death! Overall, this is a darn nice shoot 'em up and I've really enjoyed it. Recommended.

Stonish has the floppy disks (Pure Energy #53) and 8BitChip has a version for hard disk installation.
AtariMania has this listed in their archive along with scans of the instructions manual.

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!

I can't help but admire this superb screen. Okay, grab your knife because it's time to kick ass!!

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).

Tread carefully because most rooms are heavily guarded with many tunnel vision soldiers!

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.

Tear your shirt off and grab Rambo 3 on floppy disk from either Stonish or Old Games Finder (Automation #47). And for those 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, 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


When my hard disk decided to kick the bucket I replaced it with an Ultrasatan. Built like a tank and incredibly versatile but it's (obviously) silent - my old hard drive sounded like a Vulcan Bomber!! Of course, I could have gone down the CosmosEx/Gotek route but I would rather attempt open-heart surgery than risk breaking my Atari ST.

But what about games?? Don't worry, there are alternatives thanks to Peter's Floppy Image Runner program which actually works out surprisingly well as a virtual Gotek. Also, he has adapted hundreds of games to run directly off this device which acts just like a typical hard drive. Believe me, it's so cool and works perfectly.

Yep, I sure love my Ultrasatan which is a superb clump of hardware and one I cannot recommend highly enough. So visit Lotharek's website for more information and lots of other goodies - get yourself one of these beasts!!

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 have one of the silliest titles since those robot monsters invaded our screens! Okay, imagine yourself as the unlucky cabinboy onboard a sinking ship running around looking for all the lifebuoys and it's all in a race against the clock.

Collecting the lifebuoys is easy but you will need to venture deep into the waters to find most because they are all scattered about the ship. Fetch them back to their hangers up on the top deck but you are only able to carry a maximum of two at a time and later levels will require multiple trips into Poseidon's realm.

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

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.

The joystick controls are incredible with responsive movements and no learning curve. Using the levers is an entertaining moment and brought back memories of Decathlon but this time you're waggling up & down!!

Remember, not every door needs to be unlocked - so use your keys wisely. Oh, look an air bubble! How handy...

The graphics aren't exactly at a Bitmap Bros standard but they do their job good enough, albeit with the occasional slowdown. Music and sound effects are made from low-quality fuzzy samples which I didn't care for. Audio is in stereo on the Atari STe but I'd much rather have heard the crisp YM chip over poor samples any day.

This is an oddball game with an amateur-feel throughout but it's fantastic fun. So ignore the bland visuals and the fuzzy audio because the gameplay is top-notch and that's what matters, right? So I think Going Down With The Captain is a great platformer, very challenging, addictive and one of the best PD games I have played.

Goin' Down With The Captain can be downloaded from AtariMania :-)