Saturday, March 31, 2018

Impossamole



Monty Mole made it onto the Atari ST!!

I loved Monty Mole on my ZX Spectrum so I had high expectations of Impossamole. However, I was soon shocked to see a number of critical changes had been made and not always for the better. Why do they do that?

There are five huge levels to explore and you can begin on any of the first four, the fifth is locked until these are completed. Each is very different with its own unique environment, bad guys and cruel traps. Weirdly, this is now a scrolling platformer rather than the original flick-screen as seen in most games from that era.

However, the most shocking of all is that Monty can now fight back using karate kicks and weapons. It's a nice idea if the kicks had much effect and the weapons were plentiful and fun to use. Guess what, neither works and having Monty suddenly turn into a Mole version of Chuck Norris doesn't fit in with the original theme.




At least there's no Arthur Scargill

My first game began as an exciting stroll through memory lane with many familiar sights through a similar mining environment. However, my fun ended thanks to the basic mechanics which failed miserably. Things might appear nice but each level is impossibly tricky with enemies that appear to know your every move - before you've made it.

Also, Monty only has one life and it's not long until a couple of monsters have zapped your energy bar and "Game Over" comes all too soon. Sure, Monty can try to fight back with his kicks but those legs are way too short to be useful. The weapons are a neat idea but they're too few and far between. Nice ideas, badly executed.

My thoughts? As I said earlier, fighting back not only doesn't work here but it goes against the grain of what makes a Monty Mole game. The weapons are rubbish and his kicks are too short - well - moles only have little legs! This whole concept feels like an idea bolted onto the game last minute. It does not work.




Impossible Mole!

It doesn't matter which level I chose to play, the name Impossamole lives up to the expectations of being literally impossible. Every level will need to be pre-played to learn all the unfair and irritating traps that make no sense. Not to mention the enemies which are often impossible to kill and can appear from nowhere too.

That might actually sound 'fair' for a platformer but it doesn't work; the weaponry isn't good enough and the overall difficulty is constantly off the scale. Terrible, and incessantly far too tough. Whoever beta tested this game and then thought to themselves, "yes, it's ready" needs to be shot. Okay, I'm 30 years late - but shoot him anyways!

Can you tell I am absolutely gutted that I'm whinging about a game I was really excited about?




Graphics and Sounds?

Visually, this is a beautiful game with each level looking absolutely incredible. The attention to detail is stunning with highly detailed levels and gorgeous sprites plus everything moves along smoother than a hot knife in soft butter. To say it's impressive is an understatement because it's absolutely brilliant in every respect. I have zero complaints.

The scrolling... Well done @Andy Green!! Nailed it. No lame Amiga port here, folks.

The title music is a rendition of the Rob Hubbard classic and is chiptune magic. This is something I can leave playing in the background all night long. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the sound effects which are sparse.




The CryptO'pinion?

I really don't know what to make of Impossamole. Technically, it's well-programmed with great visuals and fantastic joystick controls. It appears to have it all. However, it's simply far too difficult thus infuriating and without any enjoyment. Fancy releasing a game that's no fun? That's literally the opposite Core needed to do...

Impossamole could easily have been another Rick Dangerous but, alas, it's the weakest Monty game in the entire series for any computer. I'm tempted to add Impossamole to my list!! Arrrgh, I hated this game. But I hated hating it more!!

If you're curious, then floppy disks can be found here with a hard disk version by D-Bug.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The One (magazine)



No PC here!

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



Pac-Man? Again? Yawn... boring!!

Yes, there are already lots 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 that comes with lots of cool gameplay/aesthetic extras which will impress!

The Pacman game is timeless but this version takes the familiar genre to a whole new level thanks to its furious speeds. There are 100 levels, zany visuals, funky music and a 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 STe's extra colours, Blitter and DMA Audio. Interestingly, the Function Keys can be used to change the bass, treble and volume (and more).

Credit:
Stuart Innes - Programming/Graphics
Robert Thompson - Graphics/Sfx
Alasdair Macmillan - Graphics


Come on, play the game

PacMan On E's can be enjoyed solo and you'll find it to be the most hilariously-challenging take on the original concept. It's tripped out and stuffed with colourful visuals and a bucket load of whacky sound effects. The action and fast and exciting so never gets boring, which is kinda how the original does get after a while...

Best of all is the simultaneous two-player support especially when everyone is hunting for the power-ups. These offer a wide variety of silly effects and my video recording shows both myself and my daughter playing it together in coop. Absolutely superb fun - but - when she died she decided to cheat by covering my eyes with her hands. Hmm!


Download me!

You can grab this belting Pac-Man game from most ST websites but Peter, aka 8BitChip, has adapted the registered version which you can download from my Dropbox (whilst his website is currently offline as I type). My personal greetings to Stuart Innes, Robert Thomson and Alasdair Macmillan for this wonderful game - awesome work fellas!!







Saturday, March 24, 2018

Central Cavern



Welcome to the caverns!

This is a short video of the Atari ST emulating the ZX Spectrum and running Matthew Smith's classic platformer. Please note, that this emulator struggles on a stock 8MHz ST when it comes to audio and scrolling the screen. Of course, this game doesn't scroll but the background tune pushes its luck, so I turned it off for better performance (it's then at the speed of the original, almost). You can find out more about Speccy Emulator by clicking here. Enjoy my video recording :)

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Manic Miner

Can you help?

ST Review magazine seemed confident that Manic Miner was released for the Atari ST. Sadly, I can find no evidence of this at all. Can anybody help with the information? Please, get in touch via the comments or my email - scroll down.



Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Virus



My computer has caught a cold

When playing with fractals the other week, I somehow got thinking of David Braben's Virus. This a complex game I've not played since the computer shops stocked Atari ST games on their shelves! Now, the original will always be best, but that's like comparing the STFM to a Falcon - so we should stop right there because our version 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 intuitive yet tough to master so that will take time - but stick with it because once you've got the feel of how it handles, there's an amazing game waiting to be enjoyed. Check out my animation above, I did quite well ;)

Visually, this game is a gem with an excellent style using fast and smooth 3D which is much better than the Amiga. There are lots of neat touches and I've gotta say, I love the ship's exhaust as it spurts out those lovely particles of thrusting power. The audio is great with crisp sound effects that are refreshing thanks to the YM2149 doing us proud.

Virus is a fantastic 16-bit conversion of the original 32-bit masterpiece. Sure, it has a cruel learning curve (so be prepared for that) but, after beating that, you've found yourself a killer game that's gonna eat away the hours. This game rocks and I found it really enjoyable, if very challenging. An infectious shooter that provided me with hours of fun. Love it to bits!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Disk 15



Yeah, it's time for more box art!

Okay, I recently bought this curiosity from "Cassette 50" legends, Cascade Games. It's called Disk 15 and shockingly contains 15 Atari ST games - which you can now download from AtariMania to instantly begin enjoying this wicked collection of mind-blowing "next-gen" games. Each one has the ability to blow your socks off!! So brace yourself because too much fun could cause your Atari ST to explode... you have been warned.

What? You don't believe me, uh? Well, here are some cool screenshots courtesy of AtariMania...

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Fullscreen Construction Kit



I've always had a thing for overscan!

The Atari ST/e might not officially support overscan but that hasn't stopped many games, demos, programs and more from making use of it. There's a lot out there with many already featured here on AtariCrypt not to mention the ability to activate overscan within GEM. Yep, the Atari ST is a versatile machine and often underrated.

Anyhow, Fullscreen Construction Kit is a cool utility program developed by FMC Connexion to display high-resolution pictures using this same overscan technique. It works by piecing together four Degas images which ultimately join up to generate the finishing picture. This image can be viewed on your ST using the program provided.

The process is simple but I had difficulties with the palettes because I'm not gifted when it comes to art!! Hence the reason Milla is in greyscale and the dog is red instead of brown. Also, it's worth noting that I found it easier to create the blocks using my Mac and there are online tools available to split images.

Six test 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 an understanding of what's expected from budding artists? But even those without any skills (me!!) should be fine, so why not give this program a playtest to see what overscan goodies you can create?

This is a belting program and I've enjoyed dabbling! Let me know what you think of it in the comments below.





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



My first ever Anco game!

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 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.




It's all about the killing!

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!!

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

We're armed with a pathetic blade but this can be upgraded with 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.




The CryptO'pinion?

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 very tough; the maps are huge and I often got wiery of the enemy's constant onslaught which can feel annoyingly unfair.

Well, I suppose you could use a trainer to fudge that but surely that's not right? [Don't Call Me Shirley!!]


- DOWNLOADS -

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




I've been searching for more...

Yep, after the jaw-dropping Berzerk, I went searching for other variants of the genre to see what might be 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 are 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. Come on, you must love the humour in this whacky style?

Well, defend yourself using an armour-piercing gun that 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. Now we're back on the familiar ground lol.

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



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



Another lost soul has been rescued!

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. We loved it and so will you guys!

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Games I hate!!





My ST love is DEAD!!


I decided it might be 'fun' to play a handful of games I have always hated. Good idea, right? As it turns out, there are many games I absolutely loathe! Perhaps I'm just being a miserable guy but here is a handful of dreadful games...

1) Lemmings is a game everybody went crazy for but I couldn't find any joy in herding those docile and idiotic critters. A few screens in, I would soon discover that I had no tolerance for their stupidity and thus, found it irritating. Instead, I would deliberately watch them plummet to their death or explode. Now, that was fun!!

2) Next is a 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.

3) Next is Strider, a game I saw in ST Format and it looked amazing. They gave it a glowing review so I went out and 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) < < < < <

4) Yolanda is a platformer that 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 well as it looked? Well, this is my experience:

Start the game... Wonder what to do. Die. Start again... Run left. Die. Start the game once again... Run right. Die. Start for yet another go... Panic. Die. Reboot the Atari ST as that's about all there is to it!!


The CryptO'pinion?


In case you're wondering, this article was for a bit of fun. Well, except for the part about Lemmings as it's another lame Amiga port by Psygnosis (explain its intro if you can). Okay okay, ignoring the odd game like Blood Money and Anarchy, they sucked with their rushed ports. My apologies to their fans throughout the world. Sorry, not sorry. :p

Are there any Atari ST games you hate? Let me know in the comments below...



This is a recording of my typical game. All over the road and driving like a drunk!


A typical game. Seriously though, I need to play this again to see what it's all about.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Racer 2



Dune race onto the Falcon!!

I thought it was time to introduce more 32-Bit games to AtariCrypt, especially as AtariMania's Marko Latvanen has promised to give me his Falcon - Muahahahaha!! (he's since denied that conversation!). Anyhow, I'm happy with Hatari as it appears to emulate that 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 thrills and excitement to keep me coming back. Yes, my fingers are crossed... Anyhow, Racer provides its motor fun with three 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.

Wanna see a couple of colourful and (Mmm) absolutely gorgeous Falcon screenshots...



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!!


Let's race!!

This feels like Crazy Cars 3 or Lotus 2 with its arcade styles and car handling. 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 the effortless controls. They're dead easy and you can choose either the keyboard, joystick or a JagPad - absolutely brilliant!!

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 if I'm honest.

Optional bonus items can be collected for a myriad of effects: freezing the timer, increasing speed, ejecting your closest opponent, flattening the opponent's 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!! (hmm, he's a rotter!!)

Right then, it's screenshot time and here are a couple of beauties. Well, they're still colourful...



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


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


32-Bit Aesthetics?

It was the graphics that originally enticed me to play this game - they are knockout and easily on par with other machines in the mid-90s. So many different environments and each is accompanied by its 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, the point of view is a tad low and it's also a shame that so few frames are used for when the car is cornering.

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

Looks and sounds incredible? Well, isn't that nice? Wanna see a couple more screenshots? Of course, you do...



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


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


The CryptO'pinion?

What a freakishly awesome race this is!! In fact, I could end my review right now but let's waffle on for a little longer - to say that I've enjoyed this game is an understatement. However, 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 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. 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 I highly recommend, even in emulation!!

Falcon peeps should download Racer 2 right now!