Saturday, April 28, 2018

Fred




Let's get medieval

Okay, I think it's time we posted more pixel art and today, we have Ubi Soft's Sir Fred (aka Fred) which is a scrolling platformer with beautiful visuals by Jean-Marc Torroella and Jerome Guerry. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that this contains some of the most unique styles with stunning attention to detail using a colourful, yet eerie, palette. The sprites are wonderful and nicely animated - even those rude ones who stick out their tongues!!

The intro is fantastic - our fearless knight is tragically zapped into a midget by an angry dwarf. Shocked by this, he shakes his fists at his foe but, they cannot help themselves and burst out laughing. Then, and adding salt into Fred's wounds, is a little gnome who completes Fred's ridicule. This is what I call a brilliant opening intro.

Why can't all games get this much love and respect? Kudos to Jean and Jerome!



Now come on, who would have ever expected rude gnomes to be our enemy?

Hang on, these are armed. They might be little but they're evil little b4s@£@s!


A garden centre platformer?

We begin life as a miniature warrior in a spooky forest who battles cute garden gnomes. There are other beasts lurking in the woods and castle grounds like skeletons, snakes, headless axemen and ghosts. Everything wants you dead, so kill them with your arrows - these will even reach the baddies off-screen which is kinda cool.

Fred is a nimble chap with the ability to walk, leap and roll his way through his quest but the controls often got me into trouble. Turning around reminded me of Black Lamp feeling quite restrictive and lethargic. This cumbersome method of turning around spoils the gameplay somewhat because our ability to react is hampered by its speed.

What is it with developers back in the day, didn't they play their own games? Or is it just me being grumpy?



I absolutely love the details and the murky palette which is perfect for the creepy scenario.

Check out that headless axeman and the gnome's facial details are truly astounding.


Perspective platforming

Interestingly, we have multiple platform layers used to climb steps or bypass obstacles like rocks or trees. This is used to present a more 3D or realistic feel to our ability to travel. Sadly, it feels weird at first when you happen to be higher/lower or behind an object. It's a 3D effect that isn't really needed and only complicates exploration.

Battling the foe requires that both parties are on this same level. That's quite fiddly and didn't work well when being attacked from all sides. Energy levels are indicated by three apples and, once they're gone, you're dead as a dodo. These don't last long but, your death produces a hilarious effect as our hero drops his sword in agony!

I honestly don't think there's a more humorously graphically unique and fascinating game.



Those darn gnomes are a pest even the rude ones lol

Oh no, is that a skeleton or a zombie? Whatever it is, I should run away!


The CryptO'pinion?

Fred is a good game but it's simply far too difficult thanks to the fudgy controls and having to fudge the current perspective of your character. This ultimately spoils what might have been a cracking platformer. Also, more checkpoints are needed to prevent you from restarting from the beginning - which is extremely annoying.

Overall, I felt Fred had huge potential but somehow fell short of the mark, which is ironic, uh? It's good, but it looks a lot better than it plays but I'm proud to feature it in our Pixel Art section. If you fancy helping out Fred in this beautiful 16-bit adventure then pick up a sword and boot up this floppy disk or run this hard disk program.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Portal To Xenithor



Portal To Xenithor is a brand new flick-screen platformer currently under development by Michael Keenleyside. The adventure begins with us having survived a crash landing on a monster-infested moon colony. Our job is to kill the nasties and search for a replacement spaceship before piloting it through to a victorious escape.

It's early days, but the storyline and map designs are nicely taking shape with end-of-level cutscenes also planned to be used as the adventure unfolds. The visual style is dark and moody and soon to be enhanced by eerie music. Michael is about six months into his project and is making nice progress with the possibility of using another engine for other parts of the game. And these will use the hardware scrolling and DMA Audio of the Atari STe.

Michael is nuts about STOS Game Creator and wishes to pay homage to Francois Lionet so all development will be done using this and Missing Link/Maestro. The estimated requirements are a 4MB Atari ST with support for hard disk installation. Personally, I'm reminded of Stryx and Baal so cannot wait to see this completed!

Update: Michael has started a new STOS Coders group with Francois Lionet



Sunday, April 22, 2018

Zaptastic


When I first loaded up Zaptastic, I immediately assumed a cheap Robotron ripoff but it's actually based on an old Jeff Minter game called Ancipital. Lee Burrows not only coded this conversion but did all the graphics and sounds and runs on both models of ST but was for the Atari STe because it uses the Blitter for the sprites and DMA for all the crazy effects. Sadly, I couldn't get it to work on my STFM without getting two nasty bombs popping up!

We're in control of a Dolph Lundgren dude with spiky hair and cool shades who must frantically clear 64 rooms infested by an incredible array of nasties. He gets around using the screen's four sides and can escape the hoard by leaping across to the opposite side - but be careful because your shield won't last forever! Firing is constant and in the direction last used but can be temporally frozen by holding down the fire button <cough> Llamatron.

Visually, things are quite amateur but it works great with lots of silly sprites filling up the screen. Audio is insane thanks to the DMA coprocessor pushing out funky samples to keep everything very loud and exciting. Overall, this is one incredibly addictive and psychedelic shoot 'em up and I loved every zany minute of it!!

Zaptastic can be downloaded of ST Format (disk #81)




Friday, April 06, 2018

Half-Life II Slideshow



Half-Life 2 is here at last!

Well, no it isn't but this is the next best thing. Well, no it isn't but you guys might like it if you're into digitised pixel art? Okay, after last years mega-hit, ZombieCrypt [yes, sarcasm!], I have made another slideshow and it's based on my addiction of the incredible Half-Life II games. Once again, I have used Peter Jørgensen's awesome slideshow engine and chosen a superb tune by TAO called Line of Fire, which I think suits this production perfectly.

Each picture is a screenshot from my own game which was converted to Degas format using Imagecopy 4 and the entire process took me about six months to compile. I hope you enjoy my lame release? [download]


- A Few Sample Images -








Sadly, a couple didn't make the cut as I ran out of floppy disk space... Doh!

Monday, April 02, 2018

Enhanced Games



Fancy an upgrade?

Everyone knows that Peter Putnik has adapted hundreds of games for hard disk installation. These often include extras like bug fixes, TOS compatibility, 4MB patching, and so on. However, some are also super-charged with cool coding that utilises the Blitter coprocessor and other hidden chips lurking inside the Atari STe.

So, I thought it would be nice to offer a brief round-up of these enhanced games as a compilation? Oids and Uridium are particularly impressive as both updates improve tremendously upon their original counterparts. I also enjoyed playing my own background music during a game of Xenon 2 (read the docs and convert music from your iTunes library). There's something here for everyone. Let me know what you think!


Let's play...

Okay, let's take a look at some of these enhanced games you can download and play right now...

 Xenon II - updated for the Atari STe and features DMA streamed music. Turn up the volume!
 Cannon Fodder - enhance this lame port with your chosen DMA streamed music.
 Prince Of Persia - allow the DMA hardware lurking inside the Atari STe to replay the game's sounds.



Did you enjoy that? Well, here are three enhanced FTL games that are nicely improved...

 Dungeon Master - far cleaner samples are heard thanks to the DMA hardware within the Atari STe.
 Chaos Strikes Back - Again, the DMA hardware allows cleaner sample playback for this awesome sequel.
 Oids - the potential for double framerates delivering a smoother experience when rescuing the stickmen.



Right, let's take a peek at three more. Three that aren't exactly favoured by the average ST gamer...

 Jinks - this jerky game is weird but at least it now uses the smoother STe scrolling [original disks still required]
 Menace - I cannot thank Peter enough for replacing that horrendous yellow ship with a white one!
 Uridium - Blitter-boost that sluggish ship and add DMA streamed background music while you're at it!



Now let's take a little run-around with these three you might never have expected to boot up...

 Giana Sisters - this Zamuel_a enhanced game now also comes with optional DMA streamed music!!
 Hard 'n' Heavy - gone is that embarrassing flip-screen gameplay, all thanks to cool Blitter programming.
 Road Runner - Improved and also Blitterized for faster scrolling - but it's still a rubbish game (sorry!)



Okay, let's end in style! Here are two ST classics and (wait for it) a PC classic too! Ooh...

 Goldrunner - Some might not like this, but I love hitting the F3 key to disable that fuzzy speech!
 Gauntlet - this sluggish hack 'n slash arcade game gets big improvements but still needs extra CPU grunt.
 Wolfenstein 3D - Ray's jaw-dropping FPS now has bugs removed with decent save game support.