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 Atari ST classic Rick Dangerous. Okay, we are Hiro, a dude in a bandana who 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 - once again!

Okay, this is sounding great so let's check out a few screenshots before we begin...



I'm getting that Ricky D. vibe with a dollop of Saboteur and NES thrown in for good measure.


Get ready for a great adventure

We begin on the 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 brilliant but tread with caution because you never know what baddies might materialise from out of thin air. Your path through is "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 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 negative is the immense size of the map which isn't visually diverse - so I often needed to backtrack after getting lost.

Controls are superb with all 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 also notice a white combat meter along the bottom right? This helps perform 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. Finally, holding it down indefinitely performs a powerful Chuck Norris sweeping kick. Superb!!


Tighten that bandana, Rambo and go 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 style. Underneath its unassuming graphics is a rather cute design with great details and the characters you'll encounter are excellent with nice ideas. Also, the game self-maps in a similar fashion to Ranarama or even Rogue.

Switchblade has killer audio with brilliant chiptune bleeps from none other than Ben Daglish with the choice of sampled sound effects. I love both equally and couldn't decide which I preferred in the end!

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


The CryptO'pinion?

Overall, Switchblade is awesome. It has a great adventure element plus the lack of a linear structure is excellent, thus keeping you enthralled throughout. This is one of the few games I've completed and I'll definitely come back to it again. As with Rick Dangerous, this is most certainly one of the best platformers 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? Of course, you do!! So grab yourself the floppy or hard disk installable games right away. Tip: you might find these maps useful to properly enjoy this beautiful platformer.

Friday, May 25, 2018

BoinkSave



Screensavers?

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

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

Monday, May 21, 2018

Interphase



One more ST game from my collection!

It's time for some more box art and we have a gorgeous "Starglider" by Image Works. Interphase was given away free on a magazine cover disk, so I reckon every ST guy has played this before? However, I never actually owned the boxed original - until now!! It's actually in fantastic condition and with all contents perfectly preserved.

My gaming tonight will be an amazing gouraud-tastic experience!! This is a fine game and a great example of what the ST can do when programmed by people with talent and commitment. The framerates are fast, smoother than any other 16-Bit computer with beautiful sound effects too. This is one amazing shooter 'em up. If you fancy a multi-level polygon blaster then download the floppy or install it to your hard disk and enjoy!!


Ya can't beat a Fine Young Cannibals sample for this cool title screen.

You begin in this weird tunnel sequence which is better and tougher than you realise.

The graphics are fast and smooth with some unique polygons - like the unicycling frog!! O_o

The power and performance of the Atari ST... when in the hands of developers with talent!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Tempest 2000 Music Demo


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. This is a beauty!

Credits and download links: 

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 Atari's BattleZone but I couldn't get to grips with it. No matter how much I tried, I found it sluggish with lethargic controls that just didn't feel right. In fact, I hated it and came away quite upset by this disappointment but still with the urge to jump into a tank and kill something. 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. Okay, 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. Come on, let's stop right there because this is basically a BattleZone ripoff!


This game flaunts its 3D at every opportunity.


But is it good to play?

Controls are absolutely superb and it was easy controlling my tank using the mouse for acceleration, turning and firing. It's worth taking the time to arm your tank properly and I must say I had a preference for the heat-seeking missiles. Inside the game's box is a nifty reference card that details the extras, like the damage-screen, a detailed map, and the chance to view our tank from outside - this offers cool perspectives, if kinda pointless.

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

If you require more of a challenge, then Battle Command certainly has many excellent missions.


There is more spinning 3D object than any other game I've seen!


Aesthetics

This shooter has nice 3D and reminds me of a cross between the obvious and Mercenary, for some peculiar reason. I was hooked from the moment I saw each missions 3D imagery swirling about and loved how our tank is dropped by aeroplane!! The in-game framerate isn't exactly Resolution 101 but everything moves far smoother than Atari's lame effort and the enemy is great up-close. It's an understatement to say I really admire the graphics!

Music is great on the title whilst the game begins to show off its 3D. Sound effects during gameplay aren't brilliant and certainly nothing like Starglider, for example. But, they do their job well enough to break the silence.



The intro is short but ever so awesome!


The CryptO'pinion?

Battle Command is a great tactical shoot 'em up but it's not perfect and what I didn't like was the immense size of the play area which is a slog for my little tank (and now I sound like Hubert Gruber!). This often means opponents can be a zillion miles away which feels too far for a 320x200 display to cope with... However, distant shots would have been impossible but for a suspect collision detection system that balances things out rather well.

BattleZone... Oops, sorry... Battle Command is a stonker and I've really enjoyed blasting everything in sight and even the trees feel the wrath of my insanity. Overall, a brilliant game. One of the best action shooters I have in my collection so jump inside your tank and kill everything in sight using either a floppy or hard disk.



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

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Muzzy


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 that it should be compatible with both the ST and STe (sadly, it crashes on my STFM but works dandy on the STe).

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 you soon learn 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 - which is always going to be great fun.


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, meagre 8-Bit style and by ST standards they suck. But since when have graphics ever made a game better? (Yes, I'm talking to you, Dragon's Lair). Audio is quite basic and it's disappointing that the DMA wasn't used, especially after listening to the stereo tracker music!


Muzzy is a strange game with its 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 is going to work best. In my video recording, the last screen had me stumped but it was actually annoyingly obvious - that's Muzzy for you!! Loved it.

AtariMania has Muzzy to download

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 someone then that would mean leaving the house to meet up 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.

ST Globe and was developed by Jean Pierre Cazes which you will find on the Page 6 website. I thought it was rather amusing but interesting and it definitely puts Encyclopædia Britannica to shame [ahem]. However, my daughter was having none of it and prefers to use Siri and 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



No R in Capy!

Capy is a twist on the Sokoban theme and 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? Anyhow, there are often obstacles in your way, routes that need to be followed correctly or even the risk of that gaping deep space that stands between you and the 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 different 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 and don't get yourself trapped! Look out for cracked tiles that disintegrate after one use, thus altering your potential path. 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 logical thought. 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 Capy got its first upgrade in 20 years. Which is fantastic!!




The CryptO'pinion?

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 major problem for me and has (thankfully) been removed so I can now enjoy Capy to its full potential without having to rush. Why rush a puzzler?

This is an odd take on the Sokoban theme but I'm sure its cunning levels will have you all stumped for decades! It's not simply an old, boring conversion of a game that's been done a million times already. Its style is fresh and presented beautifully with levels that are fascinatingly cruel to solve. I love it all and I'm not a Sokoban fan!

Capy is a fantastic puzzler and something I hope gets converted to ST High sometime?

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 it simple and just enjoy blowing stuff up. So, here is Galactic Conqueror published in 1988 by Titus and it's a personal favourite of mine because it grants stress-busting, wanton violence!

Yup, pick up that joystick to mindlessly destroy everything in your path. It's basically a kill 'em mash of Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom, Afterburner and Thunder Blade. Okay, it's not perfect but it's still fantastic fun and that's what matters the most. Highly recommended after a "great" day at work (sarcasm!!). Okay, enjoy my video recording.

Download this awesome 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 a strange creature who appears from 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 lacking 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. Which 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 our college had in 1987. So, I figured this would be a nostalgic trip down memory lane? Well, who knows...

Okay, a stock Atari ST is more than capable of running this emulator and many DOS programs will run fine. However, you should probably forget it for games? I used my own Mega STe which barely had the horsepower to handle many titles. So, in my video recording, Hatari is running a 16Mhz to simulate my real machine.


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 sluggish, even on my 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 that just leaves one last thing to do: del *.*  😇

- DOWNLOADS -

 PC-Ditto can be found on AtariMania or using Old Games Finder.
 DOS 3.3 is downloadable from Atari-Forum thanks to Jake/Depression.
 I found many DOS games on various websites and I really liked My Abandonware.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Commando


I remember trying to conquer this arcade shoot 'em up on my ZX Spectrum long before I became an ST nutter. However, no matter how much I loved it, I always sucked because it's so difficult. Now, I've not played Commando for absolute ages but remember being just as bad in 16 bits, which this old video recording nicely demonstrates! Thankfully, I've improved with age because I've finally beaten the first stage with those tricky soldiers ^ ^

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

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!!

Wear camo and grab a BB Gun before daring to download Commando for either floppy or hard disk.