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.

   

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.

   

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 good collection of Atari ST magazines and cover disks 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, but I 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 hilarious gameplay, 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 version are widely available on the internet so make sure you 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!!

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 so I laughed at him because I've completed this great game. Okay, I struggle on two levels: The Warehouse and Skylab Landing Bay but how could he be so rubbish? In my arrogance, I figured that I play the Speccy version and record my success for him to weep over. However, it didn't quite go as well as I'd hoped and now I'm thinking I should have had a few practice games before recording! lol

Manic Miner for the ZX Spectrum is not only the best version but is being emulated by the Speccy emulator using a stock 8Mhz Atari ST. Note: music slows it down so I turned it off otherwise I'm impressed with the playability.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Manic Miner


ST Review magazine seemed to be pretty sure Manic Miner was released yet I can find no evidence to support their claims. This is a scan from the magazine page that shows a screenshot and also a mention of Jet Set Willy - thankfully now released!! However, as far as I know, Software Projects never officially released either game so I wonder if Manic Miner is possibly hiding away in an attic somewhere... Can anyone help with information?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Virus


Playing with fractals the other week somehow strangely got me thinking of David Braben's Virus, a game I've not played since the shops sold ST games. Now, the original will always be best, but that's like comparing an STFM to the mighty Falcon, so we should stop right there because this game is also a 16-Bit classic.

Going for a test flight over the chequered landscape, trying not to smash into anything, is incredibly good fun. Mouse controls are beautifully intuitive but they will take some considerable time to master - you have been warned!! I've gotta say I love the ship's exhaust spurting out those lovely particles and our weaponry is Oids-tastic. I asked my daughter if she'd like a go, which was a disastrous decision, but one that produced many spectacular crash scenes.

If Virus is new for you, then Trusteft has a superb video recording which covers why it's so great. Well, I've had some fun today but at no point would I say I've remastered the controls, but I will because this virus 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 but I have to admit I'd never even heard of this back in the day. Well, thanks to my expertise in MSA archiving, this cool disk can now be downloaded off 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. Yes, I said literally so brace yourself because too much fun could cause your Atari ST to explode... you have been warned!!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Fullscreen Construction Kit


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

  

Six outstanding examples are already on the disk 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 (like me!!) should take a look at this fun program. So why not give it a playtest today and see what overscan goodies you can knock up? Enjoy dabbling and let me know what you create!

  

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 and features an Indiana Jones wannabe that's got himself into a spot of bother and now desperately needs to escape from his nightmare adventure. Each level has poisonous critters and many traps like crumbling rocks, acid pools and spikes. However, Mike's energy levels slowly deplete and touching any of the nasties only helps to increase this. Collecting food along the way helps to replenish him but sometimes it's worth watching him die just to enjoy the explosive graphics!

Okay, he may have big feet and freaky eyes but I've really enjoyed playing Michigan Mike And The Lost City Of Zorog. This is a simple, no-frills platformer with great controls which makes it very playable. I only wish those critters didn't drain so much energy from our intrepid hero because he only has a few lives, which isn't nearly enough...

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 initially 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 are armed with a pathetic blade but this can be upgraded by collecting potions - I love the fireball which grants the ability to kill something long before it gets close. These potions can also be used to conjure spells, recover health and more.

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 quite 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 (but I admit to missing 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.

Of course, this is easily fixed by using 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 others and eventually found Sleuth by MajicSoft. Okay, it's not exactly what you would call an authentic clone but the basis is quite faithful. The year is 2525 and man's existence is threatened by evil cybernetic organisms (aka robots!) which Dr Spirit has so kindly butchered for us. 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 tin can 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 that also 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 to chase you across the screen...

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

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, you can download it from the AtariMania website. It supports two or three players and has superb graphics with lots of power-ups. I do miss single player mode but this is such a brilliant game. The video shows me and our 8-year old daughter playing together and we both absolutely loved 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. First up is Lemmings, a game everybody went crazy for but I personally couldn't find any joy in herding the docile idiotic critters. A few screens in and I would soon discover that I had no tolerance for their blind stupidity and found it rather frustrating. Thus I spent my time watching each one plummet to their death and blowing them up! Now, that is fun, for a few minutes...

Next is a great conversion of the monster hit, Hard Drivin'. This sure looks the part with its fancy polygons and the whacky stunts enticing you to put your skills to the test. However, it never goes to plan for me because I cannot steer my car in anything that resembles a straight line and I handle the cornering worse than Stevie Wonder!

I first remember seeing Strider in ST Format and it looked absolutely arcade-amazing with even 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 to play this frantic platformer for more than a few minutes without suffering severe eyestrain thanks to how it scrolls. Yep, the only Atari ST game that actually causes me to feel physical pain. Gee thanks, Tiertex.

Yolanda is another platformer and one I've always thought looked curiously interesting. The sprites look superb and it has a funny loading screen so I've always wondered if it played as good as it appeared... No, it does not!!

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 your ST...

Additionally, I feel I must also give a mention to these terrible titles which are already featured here on AtariCrypt: Days Of Thunder, Carlos, and Sophélie. All are genuinely worthwhile games that you will love, honest!

In case you're wondering, this article was just a bit of fun directed at each game's weaker attributes. Except for Lemmings which is a lame port and I really cannot stand it so my apologies to the fans throughout the world. Not.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Racer 2


I thought it was about time I introduced more 32-Bit games to AtariCrypt especially as AtariMania's Marko Latvanen has promised to give me his next Falcon - Muahahahaha!! For now, I'm happy with Hatari as it appears to emulate this powerful bird pretty well 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 running with just 4MB Ram in lovely 320x240 true-colour.

 
Tracks are so varied: keep the pedal to the metal when things get spooky and don't stop to look at the beach girls!

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!

Racer feels a lot like Lotus with similar styles and physics that work very well through either a manual or automatic gearbox. I wasn't long before I was whizzing around the tight corners thanks to the effortless controls which are easy to pick up. You can choose either the keyboard, joystick or a JagPad - even my old creeky joystick did me proud.

Championship events are incredibly 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 cool effects: freezing the timer, increase speed, eject your closest opponent, flattening opponents tyres, and more. 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!! lol

  
Perhaps I'm boring but I turned off the Bonus feature... New Race Unlocked? Yeah, I love seeing this screen!!

It was the graphics that first enticed me to play this beautiful game and they are knockout, easily on par with other machines available at the time. So many different environments and each is accompanied by their own unique graphics, 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 too low as there are times my rear-end got in the way! Also, it's a shame so few frames are displayed when cornering the bends.

  
Some tracks are certainly different to what I expected whereas others can take on a more traditional look.

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 a roadside object can stop you dead - even if that object is a spectator! Starting off from zero can feel rather lethargic, almost as if you're behind the wheel of a Skoda, but the strangest is when the timer starts its countdown before the green light is shown.

However, let's stop nitpicking because Racer is a stonker with great graphics, roaring sounds, unique tracks, and perfect controls which all add up to one utterly addictive experience. One of the best driving games I've played and one which certainly proves the power of the Falcon. To think this isn't even commercial... Extraordinary!!