Saturday, March 31, 2018

Impossamole


I loved Monty Mole on my ZX Spectrum and, naively, I expected more of the same from Impossamole. However, I was soon shocked to see a number of critical changes had been made and not always for the better. There are now five huge levels to explore and you can begin on any of the first four, but the fifth is locked until all these are completed. Each is very different with their own unique environment, bad guys and cruel traps. Monty can fight back using weapons and karate kicks but gone are multiple lives in favour of just one which uses an energy meter. Most shocking of all is the absence of flick-screen gameplay replaced by [albeit lovely] smooth scrolling.

   
In one of these videos, I used a trainer... Can you guess which it is? ;-)

Playing Impossamole started off as an exciting stroll through memory lane and this old retro gamer enjoyed many familiar sights. However, the fun soon ends thanks to the game's basic design mechanics which fail miserably. The environments might look nice but they are all incredibly hard with too many tricky enemies that seem to know your next move long before you've even thought about it. These guys are either difficult to avoid or nigh on impossible to kill (without losing energy) but at least you've got a super weapon to fall back on when the going gets too tough!

Graphics are literally beautiful with fine details, nicely animated sprites and smooth scrolling. This is exactly how I'd have loved Wanted Monty Mole to have been back in 1984! The title music is a beautiful rendition of the Rob Hubbard classic and is literally chiptune magic and something I could leave playing. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the sound effects which are okay but sparse, so fail to mask the lacking in-game background music.

   
Essentially, this platformer is superb but it's just too darn difficult (at least for me!!)

I really don't know what to make of Impossamole. Technically, it's a well-programmed game and has great visuals and joystick controls. However, it's simply far too frustrating and having just one life is a stupid idea which will only force everyone to use a cheat. Sure, I can accept that there had to be changes made compared to the originals but I fail to see the attraction here as Monty's legs are too short to kick effectively and the weapons are a rubbish idea.

Impossamole could easily have been another Rick Dangerous for Core but alas it's the weakest Monty in the series. In fact, I tempted to add Impossamole on this list which I recently made!! For me, I'm very disappointed but, if you're feeling curious, then floppy disks can be found via Old Games Finder and a hard disk version by 8BitChip.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The One


I've got quite a collection of Atari ST magazines and coverdisks but this disk has to be the best of the bunch. The text is something that I didn't really take any notice of at first but I've been giggling to myself over it:

"Visit interesting places, meet new people... and then kill them!". Funny!! Doubt they'd get away with it today...

Monday, March 26, 2018

Pacman On E's


There are already a number of cracking Pacman games for the best 16-Bit computer on the planet so how does Pacman On E's differ? Well, it's been developed specifically for the enhanced Atari STe and, unlike so many lost shareware titles, this is actually the registered version which comes with lots of cool extras!

Pacman is timeless but this version takes the genre to a whole new level with fast and furious gameplay. There are 100 levels with zany visuals, funky music and an incredible range of stereo sound effects - like the Road Runner's "meep meep" and the buzzer from Family Fortunes. Digital Dreams has made use of the extra colours, Blitter and DMA Audio. Interestingly, the Function Keys can be used to change the bass, treble and volume (and more).

However, best of all is the simultaneous two-player support for a hilarious time, especially hunting for the power-ups that offer a wide variety of silly effects. My video recording shows both my daughter and me playing together and it was absolutely superb - but she died first so decided to cheat by covering my eyes with her hands!

Both the shareware and registered games are available via the internet, so get the right one: 8BitChip has adapted the registered version for hard disk installation and the floppy disks can be found over on Stonish (this disk also features Tomtar). My greetings to Stuart Innes and Robert Thomson - awesome game fellas!!



The boys put most commercial companies to shame with their excellent STe support!!

Check out all those lovely colours and everything moves along incredibly smoothly.


The variety of insanely designed levels is truly outstanding and they will catch ya out...

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Central Cavern


After my last post about the unreleased Atari ST version of Manic Miner, I got talking to my mate Peter Jørgensen who said he used to struggle to beat the first level. Of course, I laughed at him as I've actually completed it.

Okay, I struggled on The Warehouse and Skylab Landing Bay and I had (ahem) extra lives but how could he struggle so much? So, with a bunch of arrogance, I downloaded the Speccy game and decided to record my success for him to weep over. However, it didn't go as well as I'd planned - perhaps I should have practised? lol

Manic Miner for the ZX Spectrum is emulated by my Atari ST using this Speccy emulator. Note: the music slows it down so I turned it off. Otherwise, I'm mightily impressed with the emulation!!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Manic Miner


(This teaser image was designed by Peter Jørgensen)

ST Review seemed to be pretty confident that Manic Miner was released for the Atari ST??
Sadly, I can find no evidence of this game being released. Can anybody help with information?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Virus


Playing with fractals the other week somehow got me thinking of David Braben's Virus - a game I've not played since the computer shops had Atari ST games on their shelves! Now, the original will always be best, but that's like comparing the STFM to a 32-Bit Falcon so we should stop right there because our Virus is a 16-Bit classic.

Going for a test flight over its chequered landscape (trying not to smash into anything) is an incredible experience. The mouse controls are tough but intuitive so will take considerable time to fully master. But stick with it because once you've got the feel of how it handles, there's a whole new amazing game waiting for you.

Visually, this is excellent. It's fast and smooth - better than the Amiga of course. I've gotta say, I love the ship's exhaust when it spurts out those lovely particles of thrusting power. Take it for a spin and enjoy watching the scenery whisky by... Sound effects are crisp and refreshing with the YM2149 chip doing us proud.

Overall, this game rocks and is a fantastic 16-bit conversion of the original masterpiece. Sure, it has a cruel learning curve (so be prepared for that) but, beat it, and you've found yourself a killer game that's gonna eat away the hours. Virus is a brilliant shoot 'em up and I've had lots of fun with it. This is one virus I'm glad is contagious!!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Disk 15


I recently bought this curiosity by "Cassette 50" legends, Cascade Games. It's called Disk 15 and shockingly contains 15 different Atari ST games which you can now download from AtariMania so boot it up and enjoy a wicked collection of mind-blowing "next-gen" games. Each has the ability to literally blow your socks off so brace yourself because too much fun could cause your Atari ST to explode into flames... you have been warned!!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Fullscreen Construction Kit


Fullscreen Construction Kit was developed by FMC Connexion to display high-resolution pictures using overscan. It works by piecing together four Degas "blocks" that will then generate the larger image - which can be viewed on your ST using the program provided. The process is simple but I had difficulties with the colour palettes, hence the reason why Milla is in greyscale and the dog is red rather than brown! Also, it's worth noting that I found it easier to create the blocks using my Mac, but there are online tools available to split the original image.

Six images are already on the floppy plus you also have the ability to create your own. This set of image blocks [by Killer D] should give you a better understanding of what's expected from budding Degas artists? But even folk without any pixel artistic skills (me!!) should be fine having a play. So why not give this great program a playtest to see what overscan goodies you can create? Enjoy dabbling and let me know what you make of this!

  
  
Click the images to see 'em large... but they look best using a real Atari ST!!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Michigan Mike And The Lost City Of Zorog


Michigan Mike is a scrolling platformer developed using GFA Basic by Gordon Storey. It features an Indiana Jones wannabe who's got himself into a spot of bother and now desperately needs our help to escape.

As you would expect from any platformer, each level has poisonous critters and many traps like crumbling rocks, acid pools and spikes. However, Mike's energy levels are slowly depleting, which is really annoying because this forces you to rush. Of course, touching any of the nasties only helps to increase that energy loss - so collect food to replenish him. Having said that, it's worth watching him die just to enjoy the explosive graphics!

Michigan Mike And The Lost City Of Zorog is a no-frills platformer with great joystick controls that make it very playable. Okay, he may have big feet and freaky eyes but I've actually enjoyed this. My only gripe is the energy meter because this goes down far too quickly. Not a great platformer but far from being a bad one. Give it a try!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Death Trap


Anco's Death Trap was released in 1990 and reminds me of a variety of platformers, like Horror Zombies From The Crypt with a hint of Prince Of Persia and Ricky Dangerous. The gruesome cover is nothing short of tremendous so definitely deserves its place in the AtariCrypt BoxArt hall of fame. Also known as my personal collection!

We begin our adventure in a labyrinth of horror and encounter traps, like falling blocks, poisonous chests, spikes and much more. Each map is incredible but it's easy to lose your bearing so I doodled myself a basic route which helped a bunch. Puzzles are simple, like flipping a switch to unlock a door but this might mean backtracking and sometimes you're even required to walk the long way around, which isn't easy when under constant attack.




Yes, evil creatures inhabit this place and can annoyingly appear at the most inconvenient times. Watch out for ghosts who materialise from out of thin air, jumping frogs, bats that swoop in and drop rocks, Egyptian wizards, and many others. I must say, I love the stripy grabbing-hands before the culprit appears to chases you!!

We're armed with a pathetic blade but this can be upgraded by collecting potions - I love the fireball that grants the ability to kill something before it gets close. These potions can be used to conjure spells, recover health, etc.

Controls are responsive and keep up with the demands of our adventurer. The tighter jumps can be a little difficult because you need to tiptoe right to the very end of a platform's edge, which is difficult when being constantly chased by creatures! Oddly, your direction cannot be altered during the jump, which can be a little awkward.




Technically speaking, this spooky adventure impressed me with agile scrolling, beautifully animated sprites, great controls and sampled sound effects (I missed a background chiptune). However, Death Trap is simply far too hard in the long run and I soon got wiery of the enemy's constant onslaught which is frustratingly so unfair.

And that is this great game's only real failing for me. It's far too difficult and that is a huge shame - who beta tested it? Well, I suppose you could use a trainer but surely that's not right? [Don't Call Me Shirley!!]

LINKS

 - Back when AtariCrypt was just a baby I recorded this gameplay video.
 - Stonish has a great floppy disk and the hard disk version is available thanks to 8BitChip.
 - If doodling ain't your thing then Hall of Light has every level mapped.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Sleuth


After the jaw-dropping Berzerk, I went searching for other variants to see what's lurking inside the ST's archives. Eventually, I found Sleuth a PD release by Larry Scholz of MajicSoft in 1993. The year is 2525 and man's existence is threatened by evil cybernetic organisms (yup, robots!) which Dr Spirit has so kindly butchered and made evil. Okay, it's not exactly what you would call an authentic clone (ahem) but the premise is there!

We are Inspector Sleuth and are about to infiltrate the doctor's lair to show these clumps of metal who's in charge! Gone is the randomly generated screens, replaced with a map that is populated by six different models of the doctor's robots. These range from the Hemroid which is a low-level (wait for it) "pain in the butt" to the Hopperoids and their warp technology, so don't get too close. Defend yourself using an armour-piercing gun which features a nuclear charge to incinerate all robots from the inside out. You still need to stay clear of the electrified walls and if you hang about for too long then something freaky appears and chases you across the screen.

Sleuth feels like a tacky ripoff with rubbery controls, dodgy graphics and terrible sounds. Is it better than Berzerk? Not on your nelly! However, it's a pretty good game in its own right, and my 8-year old daughter loved it!!


IGNORE the graphics!! Remember, gameplay counts the most. It always does.


Shoot anything that looks... well... weird. Don't think, just shoot!! Enjoy :D

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Bombs And Bugs


Bombs And Bugs is a multiplayer Bomberman clone developed by Stefan Eilert of Awkward Software. Sadly, the full version was never released but, as of today, it has been found and is downloadable from the AtariMania website. Supporting two or three players, superb power-ups and lots of the jazziest graphics ever seen!

I missed an option for single-player if I'm honest but it's such a brilliant multiplayer. The video shows gameplay by me and our 8-year old daughter - we both loved it!! It's fun, freaky and always silly. You will love it.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Atari ST games I HATE!!



Today, I decided it might be 'fun' to play a handful of games that I have always hated. Good idea, right? Well, first up is Lemmings, a game everybody went crazy for but I couldn't find any joy in herding those docile idiotic critters. A few screens in and I would soon discover that I had no tolerance for their stupidity thus found it irritating. Instead, I would deliberately watch each one plummet to their death or explode over the screen. Now, that was fun!!

Next is a great conversion of the monster arcade hit, Hard Drivin'. This sure looks the part with its fancy polygons and whacky stunts enticing you to try your luck. However, it never goes to plan for me as I cannot steer the car in anything that resembles a straight line. In fact, I drive and corner worse than a drunk Stevie Wonder.

I remember seeing Strider in ST Format and it looked amazing with a glowing review so I went out and blindly spent all my pennies. Well, I certainly won't be giving it a glowing review because I cannot stand this platformer for more than a few minutes - without throwing down the joystick!! A terrible Tiertex port. (UPDATE)

Yolanda is another platformer and one I've always thought was curiously interesting. The sprites are superb and it has a funny title screen so I've often wondered if it played as good as it looked? Well, this is my experience :

Start the game. Wonder what to do. Die.
Start the game. Run left. Die.
Start the game. Run right. Die.
Start the game. Panic. Die.
Reboot the ST!!

In case you're wondering, this was all just a bit of fun. Well, except for Lemmings which I personally consider to be another lame Amiga port by Psygnosis. My apologies to the fans throughout the world. NOT!! :p

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Racer 2


Dune + Falcon = Oh boy, this is gonna be good!!

I thought it was time to introduced more 32-Bit games to AtariCrypt, especially as AtariMania's Marko Latvanen has promised to give me his Falcon - Muahahahaha!! For now, I'm happy with Hatari as it appears to emulate this powerful bird pretty well (even on my old Mac). So, what better than to begin with Dune's Racer 2 which was released at Silly Venture 2014 for the stock 16MHz Falcon and just 4MB Ram in 320x240 true-colour.

For me, a driving game needs to be an interesting road trip with the thrills and excitements to keep me coming back for more. Racer provides its motor fun with three different types of gameplay: championship, challenge and the good old arcade mode. Each can be played using three levels of difficulty from the beginner to an ace driver!


Creepy!! So keep the pedal to the metal when things get too spooky for you to handle.

Hey, I saw that you naughty boy. Don't stop to look at the pretty beach girls!!

This feels a lot like Lotus with its arcade styles and physics. It works well using either a manual or automatic gearbox so it wasn't long before I was whizzing around the tight corners thanks to its effortless controls. They're dead easy to pick up and you can choose either the keyboard, joystick or a JagPad - brilliant choices.

Championship events are tough and definitely put this gamer through his paces so don't expect to complete it on your first attempt. Both arcade and challenge modes offer a great way to quickly practice the laps with also the potential to further yourself by unlocking numerous extra tracks. I probably enjoyed Challenge mode the most.

Optional bonus items can be collected for a myriad of effects: freezing the timer, increase speed, eject your closest opponent, flattening opponents tyres, etc. However, joystick-players might find reaching for the keyboard each time too much hassle? Perhaps I should try my Jagpad? Oh wait, I've no Falcon... Marko help!!


Perhaps I'm boring but I turned off the Bonus feature...

New Race Unlocked? Oh yeah, I love it when that happens!!

It was the graphics that first enticed me to play this beautiful game - they are knockout and easily on par with other machines available at the time. So many different environments and each is accompanied by their own unique styles, drivers and background tunes. Framerates are constantly superb and can be increased further by disabling the lovely textures. If I had to be picky, I feel that the player's point of view is a tad low. There were times my rear-end got in the way! Also, it's a shame so few frames used for the car when cornering the bends...

Audio is... well... it's an Atari Falcon so it's gonna be nothing less than gorgeous. The selection of music is incredibly varied and suits each track's style perfectly. All sound effects are made using awesome samples so, whether you're skidding, bumping or tearing up the road, it's amazing. Love it all, especially that smooth engine noise.


Some tracks are weirdly different from what I expected...

...whereas others look more "traditional". Don't worry, all are great!

What a freakishly awesome game. In fact, I could end my review right now but let's waffle on for a little longer To say I've enjoyed this is an understatement but it isn't without faults: slamming into roadside objects can stop you dead - even if that object is a spectator! Starting off from zero feels lethargic, almost as if you're behind the wheel of a Kia. The strangest thing is when the countdown timer that begins before the green light appears...

However, let's stop nitpicking because Racer 2 is a stonker with great graphics, roaring sounds, unique tracks, and superb controls. Yep, this is one utterly addictive experience and one of the best arcade games I've played. It certainly proves the power of the Falcon and to think this isn't even commercial... An extraordinary racer!!

Lucky Falcon owners should download Racer 2 right now!