Monday, May 28, 2018

DBA Magazine #06



Synergy's famous DBA Magazine intro helped to create one of those moments in time when everything changed. I've probably watched it several hundred times over the years and it never gets dull. It's magnificent with beautiful visuals and groundbreaking SIDtastic audio by Joris Maarten de Man. One of my favourite intros ever made.

This jaw-dropping experience can be yours by downloading from Demozoo but... come on, use a real Atari ST!

Credits:
BAT - Code, Other (FX Design)
Rapido - Code
Scavenger - Music, Other (FX Design)
Zanac - Graphics

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Switchblade





Looks like Ricky D. has a new bandana?

Switchblade was released in 1989 by Gremlin Graphics and programmed by Simon Phipps. Yes, he of the Atari ST classic Rick Dangerous. Okay, we are a little dude called Hiro who wears a bandana and can kick hard. He must explore the UnderCity to locate sixteen broken fragments of the Fireblade to reap revenge on today's evil entity - Havoc! This beast has been on a savage rampage, after being dormant for 10,000 years. So it's time for us to save the day... again!

I'm always worried when a big name makes something that is along similar lines to what they're famous for. After all, this is another platformer so, will we get another carbon copy of Rick Dangerous or will it be different?

Hmm, I worry too much so let's begin with a couple of cool screenshots...



Wow, that is in-your-face aggression alright!



Hmm, looks easy enough. Just gotta drop down a couple of levels. Hang on, what's that?



Get ready for a great adventure

We begin on the planet's surface before taking the leap (fall) into the orientally inspired UnderCity. This labyrinth is made up of lots of individual rooms and exploring each is fascinating and enjoyable. Tread with caution because you never know what baddies might materialise from out of thin air. Your route is completely "free-roaming", which I love.

Look out for dodgy blocks that might crack with a single kick: these can unveil health and weapon power-ups or may even lead you on into hidden rooms of even more goodies. Boss characters appear regularly, the first is easy to kill whereas later ones can be quite frustrating and beaten only with patience and lots of well-timed jumping. The only negative is the immense size of the map which isn't - visually - diverse so I often needed to backtrack after getting lost.

The controls are superb with the usual movements like running, jumping and climbing ladders but there are also three kinds of attack. Tapping firing allows you to punch like a weak Arnold Schwarzenegger but you should notice a white combat meter along the bottom right? This helps with two kicks: holding the fire button for a mere second (so the meter isn't at full strength) will perform a high kick Jean Claude Van Damme would be proud of. Holding it down indefinitely performs a powerful Chuck Norris sweeping kick. Master these moves before you begin exploring!

Stop drooling!! Yes, I can see you. Okay, let's view a couple more screenshots...



Wake up, there's something creeping up on you mister!



Tighten that bandana, Rambo. Now, go and kick his monster ass!



NESthetics!

Visually, I doubt Hiro will blow your socks off but it's clean and well-designed with a great 8-bit Nintendo style I thought. Underneath its unassuming graphics is a rather functional design with mysterious rooms. The characters are excellent with nice details that I adored. Also, the game self-maps in a similar fashion to Ranarama or even Rogue.

Switchblade has killer audio with brilliant chiptune from none other than Ben Daglish. Or you could decide to hear sampled sound effects? I love both and couldn't decide which I preferred in the end (a good predicament to be in?)

In most respects, Switchblade looks and sounds different and superb. Love it. Screenshot time...



Yes, there's a Ricky D. vibe plus a dollop of Saboteur and NES thrown in for good measure.


The level guardians are either daft or just plain awkward to hit - I wish they would keep still!!



The CryptO'pinion?

Switchblade is awesome. It's got a great adventure element that blends well with the action. Plus the lack of a linear structure is perfect for an explorer like me who is eager to see what's around the next corner. Thus it keeps you enthralled throughout. This is one of the few games I've completed and I will definitely come back to it again (and again).

As with Rick Dangerous, this is certainly one of the best platformers available for the Atari ST.


Fancy picking up the gauntlet to help Hiro find the scattered fragments?
It will involve deep exploration, fighting lots of silly monsters and several freaky boss dudes?

Grab the floppy or hard disk installable games right away and enjoy this incredible game.
Tip: you might find these maps useful to properly enjoy this beautiful platformer.

Friday, May 25, 2018

BoinkSave




What, an Atari ST screensaver?

I've been digging through the archives again and found an interesting piece of software on Atari ST User's cover disk from August 1992. It's a screensaver by Damien M. Jones and works brilliantly to save your old CRT from burning an image of the GEM desktop. This can also be fully configured to use other graphics along with altering the timeout.

I love finding programs like this and we all adore a good Boink so, I thought this was excellent. If you don't have the cover disk lying about, like geeky old me, it can be grabbed off the Zogging Hell website. I hope you download it.

Of course, something like this is pointless but come on, it's incredibly and utterly fantastic!! I love it :-)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Tempest 2000 Music Demo



Remembering the Atari Jaguar...

Tempest 2000 is an incredible psychedelic experience and sure made the Atari Jaguar roar like the beast it was always meant to be. The ST demo group 'Effect' released this cool music disk for the Atari STe. This has sure brought back many happy memories from the 90s when I first got my Atari Jaguar. Yup, a belting musicdisk this one!!

Credits and the download link...

Alastair Lindsay - Music
Blaze - Graphics
Jovis - Graphics
Kevin Saville - Music
ST Addict - Graphics
Tronic - Code
Wizzcat - Code (Tracker-Replay)
Grab the download via Demozoo and crank up the volume!!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Battle Command




If the tanks succeed, then victory follows

Late last year I planned to feature BattleZone but couldn't get to grips with it no matter how much I tried. I found it sluggish with lifeless controls that didn't feel right. In fact, I hated it and came away quite upset by this deduction. However, I still had an urge to jump into a tank and kill something with a big gun! How was I going to scratch this itch?

Of course, it can only be Ocean's very own Battle Command - which I've recently bought. The story goes that two factions are at war, and we are in control of a heavily armoured Mauler who must complete a variety of different missions that have us trawling the landscape looking for enemy tanks to shoot. And much more. But let's not kid ourselves! Yup, let's stop right now because this is basically a shameless BattleZone ripoff and it appears proud of it too.

Okay, before we begin, Battle Command is crammed with cool spinning 3D objects. Like this one...



I think this is excellent and shows they went the extra mile but not at the expense of gameplay.



Let's take it for a test drive

First, the controls are absolutely superb so it was easy to control my tank using the mouse for acceleration, turning and firing. It's worth taking the time to arm your tank properly and I had a preference for heat-seeking missiles. Inside the game's box is a nifty reference card that details the extras like: the damage display, a detailed map, and the chance to view our tank from outside - this offers cool perspectives, if kinda pointless. But I loved it all nonetheless!

For those who value a challenge, there is a huge mission selection ranging from the starter levels, through to more advanced tasks like protecting a bridge, accompanying a transport, and even recovering a U-Bomb! Before any missions, the briefing screen will detail the necessary information and weaponry options - accompanied by more 3D animation. Don't let the thought of tough missions fool you, this is an arcade game through & through.

Unlike Battlezone, this game has a nice framerate to compliment the controls and mechanics. You can take this game seriously, but, it's also fun roaming the landscapes looking for enemies. The difficulty is always challenging throughout the many assorted ranges of different missions so you're never likely to get bored. And, if you require even more of a challenge, then Battle Command will not disappoint as it features many strenuous missions to test your nerve.

This game isn't just an arcade blaster, it's much more. So let's celebrate with some more cool 3D...



You wouldn't believe how much swirling 3D there is!



Aesthetics

Battle Command has excellent 3D which reminds me of a cross between the obvious - along with Mercenary for some peculiar reason. I was hooked from the moment I saw each mission's 3D imagery swirling. Seeing our tank dropped into play by an aeroplane clinches it!! The in-game framerate isn't exactly Resolution 101 but everything is smoother than many games and the enemy crafts are great up close. It's an understatement to say I admire the graphics!

Music is amazing on the title whilst the game begins to show off its 3D. Sound effects during gameplay are good but certainly nothing like Starglider, for example. They do their job well enough to break the silence.

Right, let's take a look at some of these gorgeous graphics. Carry on scrolling...



Screenshots are great but this looks even better moving in-game!


Another mission begins and I admire the beautiful intro.


Don't dawdle and keep your witts about you at all times!



The CryptO'pinion?

Battle Command is a great tactical shoot 'em up and a lot of fun but, it's not perfect. What I didn't like was the immense size of the play area which felt like a slog for my little tank (and now I sound like Hubert Gruber!). This means opponents feel like they're a zillion miles away - not good for a 320x200 display to cope with. Also, making distant attacks would be impossible but for some suspect collision detection - that actually balances things out rather well. Hmm...

With the bad stuff out of the way, I enjoyed BattleZone... oops... Battle Command. This game is a stonker and I've enjoyed blasting everything in sight. Even the trees feel the wrath of my uncontrollable insanity. Battle Command is adventurous and bucket loads of fun with eloquent controls. A brilliant action shooter and one of the best in my collection.

Get it downloaded (floppy or hard disk) and then jump inside your tank to kill every last enemy!!



There's nothing quite like flaunting your Atari ST collection! :D


This is the reference card I previously mentioned.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Muzzy



Wait, come back!!

Muzzy was featured in ST Format (#58) and is a budget puzzler by Enigma Software Developments. It caught my eye because I liked the old skool visuals, plus it's something I've never actually played before. I believe it should be compatible with both the ST and STe (sadly, it crashes on my STFM but works dandy on the STe but YMMV - the download).

An intro kicks things off at the start accompanied by stereo music on the Atari STe. Playing my first game was quite confusing and I wasn't sure what to do but I soon learnt the game's crazy personality. The object is always the same: collect every gem before being whisked off to do it all over again on the next zany screen.

Of course, the difficulty constantly increases as does the variety of silly mechanics and vicious enemies who can kill you instantly. So fight back by blowing up these pesky critters using bombs. That is always going to be great!

The trusty joystick is used to control little Muzzy which is simple and easy but first feels overly sensitive. Stick with it because pushing against something, whilst pressing fire, will be the most complex action you will learn.

Visually, I doubt Muzzy will blow you away with its tiny sprites and meagre 8-Bit style. By ST standards, they suck. But since when have graphics ever made a game better? (Yes, I'm talking to you, Dragon's Lair). The audio is basic and it's disappointing that the DMA wasn't used for lots of jazzy sound effects. Having said that the old YM does an excellent job.

Muzzy is a strange game with many weird levels that make little sense - it's very different from what I expected. Attack each screen with a 'trial and error' to see what solution will work best. In my video recording, the last screen had me stumped but it was actually annoyingly obvious - but that's Muzzy for you!!

It looks peculiar, I know. But get it downloaded because it's great fun and something unexpectedly different.



Monday, May 14, 2018

ST Globe




By 1999 we will be living on the moon!

In a time long ago, when there were no search engines, we had to read something called a "book". If we wanted to chat with friends then that would mean leaving the house to meet up - in person - for a real conversation. Crazy times, right? Well, I've found something cool that takes us back to this early disconnected age (that we loved to return to).

ST Globe was developed by Jean Pierre Cazes which you will find on the Page 6 website. I thought it was rather amusing (respectfully) but very interesting. It definitely put Encyclopædia Britannica to shame [ahem]. However, my daughter was having none of it and prefers to use Siri or Google. Sheesh, what's up with kids these days, uh?

Grab yourself ST Globe and pretend the Internet isn't real.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Capy




Crappy... Capy... Uh, what?

Capy is a spin on the Sokoban theme and was released in 1998 for the Atari Falcon by YesCREW. We are a shiny ball that desires refuge within an exit tile that is usually located on the other side of the screen. Initial levels are easy and break you in nicely but it soon gets very tough, so careful thought is required to execute the correct route.

Interestingly, there is also the option to create your own "worlds" using an Editor but read the docs before jumping in at the deep end. This is an interesting addition and I hope somebody picks up the gauntlet and has a bash.

Take a look at these screenshot animations to get a feel of what to expect...





Sokoban in space

The goal of any level is to guide your little black ball into a black hole exit. That may sound simple but it's not... Well, it is based on Sokoban so what did you expect an easy ride? Anyhow, there are often obstacles in your way, routes that need to be followed correctly, and even the risk of falling into the gaping deep space that stands between you and your exit. So, take a moment to think about how you're going to get to your target as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Each screen uses different tiles in a variety of alternative ways: for example, push tiles can be moved almost anywhere and can allow access to other places by fixing holes. Be careful not to push them into a useless part of the map in error, and also don't get yourself trapped! Look out for cracked tiles that disintegrate after one use, thus altering your potential route through. Sliders are fun and can transport you across the void very easily and Movable tiles have an arrow pointing in a one-way direction with which to travel. Don't forget to collect the goodies for extra points.

Wow, this game is a tough nut to crack with each screen requiring much logical thought and planning. In fact, my first stumbling block was on Level 6 which my old brain really did struggle to compute! This was mainly due to the time restriction (which isn't necessary) so spoils what should be a difficult puzzler played slowly. I asked Swe [Janez] if this could be removed and it wasn't long before it was removed as Capy got its first upgrade in 20 years. Which is fantastic!!

Okay, let's check out another animated screenshot from one of my games...






The CryptO'pinion?

I've had a blast playing Capy but sadly, there just aren't enough levels for me. Thankfully, there is an editor so perhaps I should pick up that gauntlet and take a stab at creating some of my own levels? Also, the timer was a problem for me that has (thankfully) been removed so I can now enjoy Capy to its full potential without rushing. Why rush a puzzler?

Capy is an odd spin on the Sokoban genre but it works. I'm sure its cunning levels will have you all stumped for decades! This is no boring or predictable conversion that's been done a million times already. Capy is fresh and very addictive using a beautiful presentation. The levels are fascinatingly cruel to solve and I love it - and I'm not a Sokoban fan O_o

You will love this fantastic puzzler and I hope it gets converted to run on STs in high resolution, soon!

Capy has humble requirements: a stock Falcon with a VGA display @ 640x480 / 16 colours.
My download contains the original along with the newly updated "Crypt" version - greetings to Janez!! :)



One day I'll get to see this screen for myself. One day...

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Galactic Conqueror



STress relief!!

Sometimes I need to keep my life simple and take time out to just enjoy blowing stuff up. So, here is Galactic Conqueror published in 1988 by Titus. This is a personal favourite of mine because it grants stress-busting, wanton violence without any hassle. Yep, no life-sucking storyline just shoot everything and enjoy the pointless destruction!

And that's as complex as it gets - pick up that joystick to mindlessly destroy everything in your path. It's basically a wicked mash of Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom, Afterburner and Thunder Blade. Okay, I admit that it's not perfect but it's still fantastic fun and that's what matters the most. Highly recommended especially after a "great day" at work (yes, sarcasm!!).

I plan to post more pointless video recordings of games I play to blast away my stress of the rat race!

Download this awesome space shooter now!

Monday, May 07, 2018

Automation


Forget Elvira and Maria Whittaker because this is the sexiest screen your Atari ST will display!! :@)

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Rumbo



Rumbo is a flick-screen platformer developed in STOS by Pete Halloran and isn't too dissimilar to Rick Dangerous with more than its fair share of <cough> similarities. The story is simple, our girl has been kidnapped by something hideous so it's time we dressed like Rambo and tool-up to begin our valiant rescue mission.

After watching a short, but superb, intro of our girl being kidnapped the game begins inside the underground in caves - a place that only Rick Dangerous himself would normally enjoy exploring. Within here are many rooms with a variety of tricks and traps - but many predictable ones like spikes to leap over. Also, there are some cruel ones like strange creatures who appear out of thin air without any warning. I hate him!

The first end of level boss is a giant bat but don't fret too much because it just moves up and down. It's lame and probably should have been left out if I'm honest. But Rumbo has come prepared for all these monsters and bosses and is loaded with more than enough ammunition, which is something I love about the game.

When level two begins it's pretty much more of the same, but with different graphics! However, there appears to be a bug that prevented me from completing the final(?) room: hitting a switch did nothing that I could see. Thus I found myself stuck with no way to venture on which is a huge shame because I was really enjoying Rumbo until that moment. I'm now wondering if I've missed something stupidly obvious in the previous rooms?

Graphics are quite average Joe but do their job even if entering a new room draws at ST Basic speeds. Sound effects are made up of a few fuzzy samples but they're good and I especially liked those howel of death. Also, Rumbo's tippy-tappy walk reminded this old gamer of Chuckie Egg 2 (ZX Spectrum version). I know I'm being daft, but I loved it and it also broke the near-silence due to the lack of in-game music. Which is a shame?

Overall, I have really enjoyed Rumbo which I've found to be balanced and fun to play. Sadly, there's that bug on level two but maybe it was me? I tried it twice and each time I got stuck... Ignoring that, Rumbo offers platform fans to be an avenging squirrel in a Ricky D world. This is cool so grab your bandana and download the floppy disk!

Thursday, May 03, 2018

PC Ditto




Ugh, I hate Winblows PCs!!

I thought I'd have a quick play with PC-Ditto, an old emulator by Avant-Garde Systems. Now, please do note that I've never owned a PC in my life but I remember tinkering with the one (and only) Amstrad PC that our college had in 1987. So, I figured this would be a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Well, maybe!
For anyone interested, AtariCrypt has an emulator section with lots more :)
A stock Atari ST is more than capable of running this emulator just fine. Many DOS programs will also run fine. However, you should probably forget it for games. I used my own Mega STe which barely had the horsepower to handle numerous games. So, in my video recording, Hatari is running a 16Mhz to simulate the real machine here on my desk.

Pah, the idea of using DOS for gaming or home computing makes me shudder. Terrible idea but, read on...



I had little luck with Castle Wolfenstein (a bad copy?) but Serpentine ran pretty well.




How did it go with this DOS malarkey?
Surprisingly, I did have some success as you can see in the video which shows me booting DOS 3.3 and then loading a selection of rubbish games. The first is Serpentine, which was definitely the best of the bad bunch and I enjoyed eating the other slo-mo snakes. I then rebooted to try something called David's Kong. Ugh, this is absolutely laughable so please don't waste your time!

Next up was Bird-Brain which didn't seem to work very well because the keys specified on the main menu didn't work for me. Instead, I suffered rapid beeping sound which was rather annoying!! So yet another reboot was called for so I could try Castle Wolfenstein. Ohh, I had such high hopes for this game but alas it didn't appear to run properly and then oddly got itself caught in a loop?


I then loaded Space Commanders which slowed my Mega STe down to the speed of a Casio calculator for some insane reason. In the video recording, I could cheat by hitting CMD X to speed up Hatari but that didn't really help too much. No loss anyhow because this is a ludicrously bad shoot 'em up!!


I was now beginning to lose the will to live and only had one game left: Buck Rogers Planet Of Zoom which is one of my favourite ZX Spectrum games. Sadly, it wasn't (umm) too playable due to slow speeds but I managed a couple of minutes before PC-Ditto disappointly froze for some reason!


Oh boy, how did the PC win the computer war? The worst Kong and Invaders I've ever played!!




The CryptO'pinion?

This was fun and I enjoyed (temporarily) turning my ST into an Intel paperweight. Games will generally require more CPU grunt but I doubt anyone would abandon the ST's archive for any of these horrendous DOS equivalents? Of course, not being a hardware product meant overall performance was always sluggish, even on my 16MHz Mega STe.

PC Ditto did a grand job at running DOS and many programs and other utilities. However, I wouldn't bother using this for games - unless I had something beefy like a TT or Falcon. Overall, this is a pretty good product depending on your needs. But I'll stick with my Atari ST. So, with that in mind, we are left with one final thing to do: del *.*  ðŸ˜‡

You can find PC-Ditto on the great AtariMania or by using Old Games Finder. You will also need the operating system and DOS 3.3 is downloadable from Atari-Forum thanks to Jake/Depression. I found many compatible DOS games on various different of websites - I really liked My Abandonware. Enjoy yourself!

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Commando




Elite did it again!

I remember trying to conquer this arcade shooter on my ZX Spectrum long before I became an ST nutter. However, no matter how much I loved it, I always sucked because it was so difficult. Thankfully, I've improved with age because I've finally beaten the first stage with those tricky soldiers. It's small victories like this that keep me going!

Unsurprisingly, our conversion has more glam in comparison to that gory Speccy game. I also think we received an authentic conversion with responsive controls, gorgeous smooth scrolling and everything is zany and as spritely as it should be. The one-joystick/button method to control works well compared to the original arcade controls.

Commando is something I love and hate with equal measure, so it's a good job this old skool shooter is so infuriatingly addictive. Highly recommended - if you've got a couple of hours spare to master the learning curve!!

Grab a BB Gun before daring to download Commando for floppy or hard disk.

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