Friday, June 29, 2018

Insecticide


This game sure feels familiar but this time we're a ladybird who kills insects with her Spit Laser weapon! Yep, Insecticide is a Robotron inspired shoot 'em up by Peter Hague were each screen is littered with two types of critters for us to destroy: those that move must be killed quickly but the quiet ones are sleeping and offer extra points or bonuses. Controlling our ladybird is easy in all four directions plus also a diagonal flying manoeuvre.

Shooting the moth which dallies along at the top of your screen will gain extra speed, but only for the current level. Weirdly, you shall hear "Nairobi" when you kill it but this makes sense once you've read the docs. Yeah, I know... who reads the docs? Every eighth level a "parents" turns up for a battle which makes a nice boss fight that isn't too difficult and doesn't ruin the momentum so you're soon back fighting the insect hoard once again.

I seriously doubt that Llamatron fans will be convinced by Insecticide but it is a fantastic game in its own right and definitely worth playing. What it lacks in originality it - more than - makes up with great gameplay, jazzy colour cycling and sampled sounds. I've enjoyed this silly alternative to the Robotron theme. My final word: Nairobi!!!!!

Download the newly updated version of Insecticide released only yesterday :-)
Ironically, it's had many bugs squashed so should run fine on all computers [thanks PP!!]

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Shadowlands



Stay Awhile and Listen

Shadowlands is an RPG released in 1992 by Domark that was developed by Barry Costas who created another personal favourite of mine Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters. I've wanted this game for years, and I finally have it proudly displayed on my shelf!! But will it live up to my expectations after all these years?

The story is based on an ancient legend of a warrior prince who was slaughtered on the battlefield. Somehow, our dead dude has magically awoken to find himself alive and kicking with the nifty ability to mind-control. So he went out and selected four loyal subjects to venture back into the Shadowlands and wreak his vengeance!

I don't know about you, but I'm excited already!! Onwards we go...


Earlier messages may appear rather obvious but reading them can be rewarding later on...

Don't be so quick to begin your adventure - take the time to look around this open area!


It's that time... Dungeon Crawl time!

As with any RPG, everything is in real-time with lots of puzzles to solve and beasts to kill. We begin with the option to use the default characters or manually generate their attributes, which I suggest you do. The first level begins outside in a woodland graveyard with some useful pickings before taking the plunge down into the depths.

Our adventure really begins once you're inside the creepy dungeons but the first thing that hits you is the lighting - it's absolutely incredible using a technique called Photoscape. This adds a gradual gradient to the level of light around any character carrying a lit torch for a disturbing experience. Audio isn't too shabby featuring lots of sampled sound effects throughout, however, I do wish that fantastic title music was present during play.

Perhaps I'm picky? I think a chiptune might ruin the atmosphere? Let's crack on and see a few puzzles...


I love how subtle many hints are which nicely use silly wording to give you a hint.

Sometimes it's far too subtle but at least it tries to help you and I love that!

Hey, nobody can read in the dark...

Now it's time to spend a quid... All brilliant puzzles which help make this game so interesting!


Bring friends... and a torch!

Playing Shadowlands is an instant, and fascinating, experience. In fact, I couldn't wait to leave the graveyard to venture into the depths to see what nasties lurked. As you can see, we're in charge of four characters and each can lead and be controlled independently using their avatars along the bottom of your screen.
It's not always necessary to remain as a group. Sometimes, it's best to go alone when scouting in search of items. However, idle warriors should still be vigilant for critters that like to nibble!
Your four loyal subjects will need replenishment so don't forget to eat, drink and rest whenever possible but be wise and use your stock sparingly. Flasks can always be topped up from fountains but there's nothing stopping you from having a sip or two while there. Torches are most helpful as it's so dingy plundering through the grim levels but, once again, use these sparingly and extinguish any idle ones in your inventory to make them last longer.


Look out, something hideous is creeping up on you!!!

The warrior is now a bag of bones... Perhaps he should have read the notice?


Run, think, shoot, live!

It's now that you begin to realise how awesome the user interface actually is when controlling your A-Team. The inventory screen can be accessed at any time with a single right-click and is a cinch to use and with extra functions like swapping items or grouping the adventurers into structured squads rather than a clumsy mob.

Each level has a superb design which is interesting but without losing your bearings. It's a good idea to read everything you come upon because not every puzzle is obvious; it might be a masked trap that conjures something nasty. Always beware!! Also, look out for switches, wall slots, or even odd rickety floor panel. Other puzzles are a fun play on words such as "weight and see" (a great way to get rid of any useless items).

Weapons vary and can be just about anything you're able to carry and there are many impressive items just waiting to clobber your foe. Look around right at the start for something very helpful... However, it's always good practice not to feel like you need to fight everyone all of the time - sometimes it's best to simply walk away.


Okay, I've got the key!! So let's head through that teleporter, unlock the gate and run like hell!!!

The Magician finds three suspicious holes - will he choose the correct one?


The CryptO'pinion?

Shadowlands has a few niggles and I failed to get the save game function to work no matter what I tried. But that's not much of a problem today when using the snapshot feature of your emulator or the hard drive version. Also, guiding our loyal subjects can sometimes be awkward as they struggled to walk around the graveyard or through an open doorway. Yes, they're a sandwich short of a picnic and often need a gentle push to help them out.

I've featured a variety of RPGs over the years and I genuinely thought nothing would live up to Dungeon Master or Legends Of Valour yet here we are addicted to another one! Okay, it's a different isometric take on that same RPG format AND there are a couple of quirks but Shadowlands offers a compelling experience. It's truly one of the most rewarding games I have ever played and therefore one of the best Atari ST games out there.

Install to hard drive using the snapshot-save feature!!
Are you stuck? AtariMania has access to game tips.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Anarchy


Running this humble little website means that I get to play tons of Atari ST games - it's hard work but somebody's gotta do it!!! (don't hate me lol). Quite often, I will revisit games that I remembered being good at and today, I thought it would be a neat idea to play the amazing Anarchy by Psygnosis [Wayne Smithson/WJS].

Anarchy is basically Defender with tremendously fast visuals, great audio and exciting arcade gameplay. It's fun, challenging and runs at a jaw-dropping 50/60fps (to think WJS didn't use the Blitter!!). Yeah, I remember this being a wonderful example of what the ST was capable of when in the hands of a developer who cares.

However, as I've got older, I've started to realise that there are some games which I shouldn't boot up anymore. Games that push my reactions too far and Anarchy has proven itself to be my new personal gaming nightmare!! I played for a while but was terrible. Yep, I was all over the place wondering just what was going on as I watched myself die over and over again. In the end, I gave up trying to play properly so just tried blasting anything I could whilst hoping for the best. Which meant that I didn't last too long but I still love playing it albeit badly!

... So, what is your "Anarchy" ??

Friday, June 22, 2018

Tetris


Another lost Atari ST game has been found and preserved inside the archives of AtariMania. Yes, it's (yet) another Tetris clone originally developed back in 1991 by Tassos Seizis and graphics by his brother John Seizis. Sadly, it was never released - until now!! I'm not a huge Tetris fan but today is a good day for all ST nutters!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Escape 2042



Escape 2042 for the Atari STe has just been released by Cedric Bourse and can be downloaded for only a few pounds - insane value for money!! And also a brand new game in 2018!! Your purchase will get you both the floppy and hard disk versions with the only requirement being an Atari STe with 1MB of Ram (2MB for HDD).

Also, a boxed release is planned later in the year for all those interested. Sigh, I hope I can afford that!!

The story goes like this: In the year 2042, a socialist government is in power, but nobody had foreseen progressive dictatorship that settled in. The elites of the government hid behind a sham democracy, disconnected from the life the people were leading and acted solely in their own interests.

The regime considered the dissidents as conspiracy theorists, treated them like terrorists and locked them away in highly-secured prisons, to prevent them from telling the people the truth about the manipulating medias accomplice of the government power.

You are Shun, a computer engineer and member of the Truth Defenders coalition.

After a clandestine operation to inform the people, you are locked away in the highly-secured prison Bulor 24. But your knowledge of security systems will enable you to escape.

Your turn now to escape as fast as you can from this place!


The Atari STe is looking good with detailed visuals and ultra-smooth scrolling.

Watch out for those cameras flipping between two points of views. Time those tricky jumps!!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Rolling Ronny



Rolling Ronny sounds a bit naff?

Well, it's a scrolling platformer developed by Carsten Neubauer for Bones Park and published by Virgin Games. It's set in the quiet town of Fieldington, a lovely place which has recently suffered the theft of their crown jewels. Fortunately, the gang of bumbling thieves were disturbed so hid each jewel inside glittering boxes and scattered them about the town before fleeing. Why? I don't know but Scotland Yard then decided it was a good idea to enlist Ronny as their secret agent to recover the stolen jewels in return for a generous reward.

Ronny uses skates to get around this oddball town but he can climb ladders and leap across onto most platforms. He will need every ounce of agility to avoid and kill the nasties that lurk here. And there are a number of silly creatures so defend yourself by hitting the fire button to fling your supply of killer salamis. You heard me correctly...

Ronny needs to watch out for various nasties, even those cute little birdies!


Run, Jump and Kill

The controls are responsive and allow Ronny to leap from ledge to ledge but, as usual, reaching for the function keys to activate a gadget is a bit of a pain. The status panel displays various pieces of information: love hearts indicate health, a clock is counting down, the number of remaining jewels, and the gadgets enabled. Along the way, you can be stopped to run errands for extra credit. This is an excellent way to top-up your earnings.

Ronny also has four spare pockets to store cool gadgets and these are essentially power-ups. They provide a variety of functions like a Super Jump or the Magnet which attracts any out of reach items. There is a massive range of different power-ups and I really like Power Sneeze!! Coins can be collected to spend in the town's shop. However, be wise and leave enough cash for your bus fare which is the method you take to play the following level.


This jump across the water looks tricky! Surely, I can make it in one?


16-bit Sex Appeal

The visuals are fantastic with superb cartoon quality, comical sprites and smooth scrolling. It's obvious that colour is a big deal because of the richly decorated backgrounds, even the title screen is a stunning Spectrum 512 image. I believe this was Bones Park's only Atari ST game and they should be proud of their commitment.

Audio is nice with a sweet title tune (that I can't get out of my head) and neat in-game sound effects are accompanied by an obsessive tune that always manages to get my foot tapping. No complaints from me here, folks.

Hang on a moment, there's an actual droplet of water chasing me? Or is it a ghost lol


The CryptO'pinion?

As platformers go, Rolling Ronny doesn't exactly break the mould but a skating clown is a rather odd idea and it works (even if he has mad hair - well, just look at the hideous barnet - lol - brilliant). There are a few niggles which I didn't care for, the most irritating is when I failed to collect enough cash for the bus fare - I hate that!!

However, there is something quirky and extremely entertaining that I love about this game. It's so much fun - for all the family - whilst offering a good challenge that keeps you coming back for more. This ain't no lame Amiga port and it's obvious that a lot of love went into making Rolling Ronny. One of the best platformers for the Atari ST.

Floppy & hard disk versions from Klaz!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Flight Of The Intruder


Check out my latest purchase: Flight Of The Intruder. The huge box has a minimalistic yet sleek artwork style so it's going straight into our Box Art section. I have always admired this game but somehow I oddly never got the play it back in the day... Well, finally, I can do just that and I'm really looking forward to taking this for a spin. However, first I must read through the weighty manual, so why not take a few moments to admire its beauty while you wait?

Flight Of The Intruder can be downloaded for floppy or the highly-recommended hard disk version.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

H.A.T.E Hostile All Terrain Encounter



8/16Bit Legends

Vortex Software released some amazing games for the ZX Spectrum and they were one of my favourite companies back in the day. H.A.T.E was their final effort and is a scrolling shooter quite similar in style to Zaxxon.

Our all-terrain encounter takes us through numerous isometric levels using a variety of crafts, from planes to tanks and even a hovercraft. As the landscape scrolls by, we need to destroy the nuclear generators where it hurts to reveal plasma cells. Collecting these not only determines how many lives we are given on the next level but they also act as a shield to protect us from harm during the current game, which I personally think is genius!




So, this is just Zaxxon?

The enemy appears in various guises, from ground-based machinery that spew out deadly mines to missiles, tanks and aircraft. Use evasive manoeuvres, especially when piloting a plane, as the enemy will often attack in waves. At the end of the level, a mothership whisks us off whereas the original continued on as far as I remember?

Controls are confusing but I soon got the hang of it after a couple of attempts. Every craft can move left or right with the fire button used for your main weapon. But there are differences to learn depending on the craft being used. For example, land-based tanks can move forwards and backwards whereas planes cannot - they increase or decrease their altitude. Also, pushing up whilst firing will activate a secondary weapon such as lasers or bombs.




Aesthetics

Graphics remind me of Highway Encounter but aren't nearly as polished. In fact, they're often boring with murky colours and lethargic scrolling. However, I gotta say that I love the shadows, especially when carrying the plasma cells. Okay, it has a Zaxxon vibe but it's not Zaxxon in either looks or gameplay, so stop it!

The title music is a gem and most certainly one of the best chiptunes ever, thanks to Ben Daglish. Timid music plays during gameplay to provide a nice background that complements the zip-zappy sound effects.




The CryptO'pinion?

This is a good conversion of Costa's brilliant 8-Bit classic but it's not perfect and a couple of issues frustrated me. It began the second level and my beefy tank exploded because I accidentally touched a nearby building - hate that!! Also, after losing a life, it can feel like forever and a day waiting to continue on. Ugh, petty but agony...

Hostile All Terrain Encounter might look as sexy as a bruised banana but it plays great and is extremely addictive. I've spent several hours playing H.A.T.E and I have L.O.V.E.D every second of it. This is a fantastic game!!

Fancy a little extra hate in your ST life?
Grab the download for either floppy disk or hard drive.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Quartz


I've spent much of my recent time trolling through loads of disks using the nifty Floppy Image Runner and eventually came across this beauty. Quartz was released in 1988 by Firebird and is a tripped-out 8-way shooter that has us playing inside a cloud of sub-atomic particles. Each stage is a variety of short mini-stages quite similar to Asteroids but there are also incredible horizontal and vertical shooters along with some impressive 3D effects.

Our job is to shoot the colourful hadrons, transforming them into quarks - which we blast into tiny neutrinos. Collecting these eventually offers a selection of power-ups ranging from ship repairs to a variety of awesome weapons. The end of level boss is perfect for the physicists lurking within and needs to be shot several times until it spins into oblivion. Lives are limited but you're offered the chance to continue on - if you're willing to give up a weapon - which is actually a strange idea but one that forces you to play better rather than simply whining for extra lives!

I'm gobsmacked just how brilliant this is with its frantic action, rich graphics and chirpy audio not to mention its beautiful parallax scrolling. My 8-year old daughter gave this a playtest and she found the controls daunting but soon got the hang of it and said it was crazy and lots of fun. I think that sums up Quartz very nicely!!


Fancy taking this groovy spaceship for a spin?
Then grab the floppy or hard disk game right now!