Sunday, July 29, 2018

5 Random Atari ST Games


I thought it might be a good idea to select a handful of random Atari ST games - something different from what I would normally choose. So I picked 5 games from the Dream Weavers menu disks catalogue. Everything is available on floppy disk from Stonish but I used the hard disk versions (thanks to 8BitChip).

This was a lot of fun and with a few shocks. Yep, I certainly had a blast playing four totally new games (and Golden Axe!!). The video recording shows my very first attempt at each game and I hope you enjoy watching it?


- The Amazing Spider-Man -


Okay, first up is The Amazing Spiderman by Empire Software. Now, I think that I remember playing this a few years ago but wasn't too impressed by the fiddly controls and lethargic pace? However, I must say that this "platformer" has genuinely shocked me because it's an incredible adventure which puts a different spin on the genre simply because we're Spidey. This means we have the expected superhero abilities along with being quite the sneaky saboteur - it's superb walking on the ceiling to creep by our enemies or punch switches with our webs.

There is also a fantastic 8-Bit vibe going on. Especially visually, which might not go down too well for those looking for a classy 16-Bit quality, but I think it's absolutely perfect. Overall, this is now literally one of my favourite Atari ST games and I cannot possibly explain just how much I've loved being Spiderman!! An absolute GEM.


- Edd the Duck! -


Next up is Edd The Duck which was aimed more for kids and isn't really something I would normally choose anyhow. It's basically a poor man's Rainbow Islands but it does a pretty good job trying to live up to that class act. Actually, this is a cracking game and a lot better than I had expected but I found the jump mechanic a little off and the difficulty a harder than it should be. Good, but it's probably a better idea just to load up Rainbow Islands?


- Exterminator -


Audiogenic's Exterminator was developed by The Assembly Line and is something I've wanted to play for a while - because it reminded me of Trashman!! However, this is a pest control as an entire street is overrun with all types of critters: wasps, spiders and many other weird things. We won't be laying traps or leaving poison because we're quite literally a hands-on kinda guy. Yep, using a BIG hand, we crush, pound or shoot these critters which emerge from the darkest corners of each room to attack. It's kinda like a nightmarish mix of Klax and gets even sillier with support for two players. This is something pointless every Dad needs to experience with his kids - they'll love it.

A good bug-crunching game that excels in two-player mode and I'm shocked how much I enjoyed Exterminator. Finally, I must add that The Assembly Line did us proud by supporting the Atari STe with cool DMA sounds!!

- Golden Axe -


Golden Axe is a beat 'em up that needs no introduction from me. However, it's also one of those games I feel could have been a great chance to show off what the Atari STe was capable of. Sadly, there's no STe support and that was an opportunity lost [imho] but this is where my criticism ends. This game is awesome and a fantastic hack 'n' slasher which I love. I should make a proper feature on AtariCrypt for this amazing game and soon!! Play this :-)


- Ivan Ironman Stewart's Super Off-Road -


Virgin's Super Off-Road is another game I wouldn't normally have considered because it looks like a shameless Super Sprint ripoff. However, I am kicking myself because I took to this bumpy racer straight away and enjoyed tearing around its mucky tracks. It was odd being asked for my date of birth but the game itself has superb controls and the physics worked very well. What this lacks in originality it makes up for in great gameplay.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Cud Lee's Quest



A cuddly platformer?

I remember playing this quirky platformer many years ago and I really enjoyed its alternative personality. It uses some rather "odd" mechanics which are a little weird at first but wouldn't life be boring it every platformer played the same? Anyhow, Cud Lee (geddit?) was originally aimed at a younger audience with interesting child/tutor features but I also think there's something quite charming about this which appeals to everyone.

Interestingly, this was developed by Robert Dytmire who brought us the astounding Megapede, something I regret overlooking at first - this it's stuffed full of oldskool excellence!!

The aim is to fight our way through the hoards of baddies to rescue captured Pixies at the end of each level. It sounds easy but you better watch out for a range of enemies who are happily roaming through the screens. Its this mechanic which I adore because they are literally wandering the screens going about their business - whether you can see them or not. These suckers love to jump and many are really tough and can even fire weapons.

The joystick controls are the first thing that hits you because everything feels low-gravity with super-weird movements. Collecting power-ups is a good idea to increase speed, jumping abilities, weaponry and extra lives. Keys will unlock doors and some walls can be climbed like Zool because of "strange knobby things". Yep...


Gotta love the baddies and their freaky jumps but watch out for the little blue guy's arrows!!


Aesthetics?

Graphically, this is no Hoog or pretty much anything else from the Atari ST's PD library. Backgrounds are a boring black and the environments aren't anything much to write home about. However, it's got a certain charm with the character sprites being the best thing. They are so many and so well-defined too, I love 'em!

Sound effects are made from a mix of chip and samples which works really well. The 'WORRR' when something dies is quite pathetic. So pathetic that I loved it to bits. Hey, it's a PD game... Come on!


Weapons are great and can be powered-up to kill these hopping crazies with great efficiency!!


The CryptO'pinion?

Cud Lee's Quest is crudely entertaining but one I'm unsure will appeal to everyone because it's hardly a conventional platformer. What I love is the freedom we're given and the speed at which to explore our strange world. Also, the ability to float (err jump) with such great efficiency through the screens - that is superb!! Genuinely, one of the silliest yet most compelling games I've played - so why not have yourself a daft hour? Enjoy it!!

Grab the disk image if you're tempted?

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Hong Kong Phooey



A story about a mild-mannered janitor

Once again, I've been plodding through my YouTube channel and found another old video, Hi-Tec's Hong Kong Phooey. This is a scrolling beat 'em up that begins with a cool intro based on the 70s cartoon I watched as a kid - this certainly brought a smile to my face!! After Spot releases the unappreciated janitor from the filing cabinet, we begin our adventure searching for Baron Von Bankjob who has just escaped from jail.

Watch out for the thugs wandering back and forth who want to stop us from capturing the villainous Baron. Thankfully, we are a kung fu expert and the joystick controls are easy. We can punch and kick our foe in different ways: pushing up (whilst walking) performs a killer Van Damme flying manoeuvre. To reach higher platforms requires a bigger jump and that means also hitting the fire button which is a little cumbersome.

I love the title sequence. It's short 'n sweet but I feel like a kid watching it!
The moves are easy to learn but lots of fun. "Yee-ah that, sucka!" (say this in a Mr T voice!!!)


Hanna-Barbera magic?

The graphics are pretty nice and cartoony with an oldskool style that might not appeal to many looking for that gorgeous 16-Bit sex appeal. I must say, the scrolling is smooth but it's at the expense of screen size which has been reduced by a largely pointless status panel. Gotta love the crude character sprites and their pathetic animations but the worst of all is when we jump - it's more of a float through the air! Totally ludicrous, but who cares?

Musically, there are nice tunes which I loved and that's accompanied by sound effects for jumping and so on. Okay, they're just about good enough so it's the background music I enjoyed the most.


Learning kung fu certainly didn't help this janitor to jump grace. More like floating!

One gets kicked into the air and then Flash Gordon turns up!


The CryptO'pinion?

I remembered making this video recording along with a lukewarm feeling afterwards - basically because I kept on getting lost. Perhaps I should have had checked out the map first? Anyhow, back then, I wasn't sure if the game captured the heart of the TV show or not. And I must admit, I'm still not exactly sure now.

So, Hong Kong Phooey brings nothing new to the table. However, the lame Chuck Norris kicks are crudely entertaining and I enjoyed exploring a technicolour world. If you have a cat called Spot, and a cabinet to get changed in, then I suggest you boot it up. A good game but, there are better platformers available for the Atari ST.

Download the floppy or hard disk version.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Last Trooper



I'll be Danny Welinski

Last year, I spent several fantastic weeks enjoying Where Time Stood Still but was later left deflated because I also wanted to play The Great Escape, which is a truly outstanding affair. Alas, the Atari ST game was never meant to be, but wipe away those snowflake tears because there might be light at the end of this 16-Bit tunnel?

Here we have Mastertronic's very own The Last Trooper which appears to be more than a tad inspired by Ocean's 8-Bit classic! However, the historic storyline and adventure elements are completely gone in favour of four-levels of brutal arcade-style killing so go and grab your big boy pants because this is going to be tough!


Escape the POW Camp in true A-Team style using whatever you can find...
Now it's time to attack your foes but watch out for those GEM-Green mines!


Good but hard!

We're a muscle-bound Schwarzenegger trapped inside an isometric POW camp. Oddly, we already have a machine gun but must find a way to escape before attacking the enemy to destroy their base. The enemy comes thick and plentiful but will run around like headless chicken which can be very annoying. Other soldier's hideout in trenches or operating gun turrets but you should also look out for other tricky traps, like camouflaged mines.

The controls are simple and responsive but I initially found it frustrating lining up a shot to kill the frantic headless chickens - it's like they don't care about you being there!! Anyhow, your crusade won't last very long unless you eat food left carelessly lying about and top-up your weapon with fresh ammo. Lots of other essential items are available: ropes are always handy and there's oddly a huge supply of wire cutters left inside the POW camp...


Things got a little tiresome by the third level which was more of the same but a lot harder!
But the fourth level is explosive and much better. Although it's a shame about the poor ending...


The CryptO'pinion?

I've quite enjoyed The Last Trooper - but only after activating a trainer for infinite lives. Without that, I failed to beat the second level due to the ridiculous difficulty thanks to those headless chickens that blindly shoot everything with extreme efficiency. I do wonder if anyone actually bothered to beta test this before release?

Overall, an above-average shooter that's quite flawed but still a bundle of fun for an hour or so. However, if I'm being brutally honest, then I'll stick with Fernandez Must Die and Ocean's Great Escape on the Speccy.

Download the floppy or hard disk versions.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Custodian


I've been going through my old videos and found this frantic 8-way shooter by legends, Hewson. Programmed by Chris Hinsley, who also made the awesome Onslaught and Verminator, it features stunningly fast visuals which whiz across your screen like lightning. It's crazy and these are all by Nigel Brownjohn who was behind one of my fave platformers, Beyond the Ice Palace. The audio is gorgeous, all thanks to the magic of Dave Whittaker.

We are a "custodian" of a massive tomb which has been infested by alien parasites. Obviously, we've gotta clean up this place which means killing everything! The best part is that we not only look like something from the demoscene [cough] but are also equipped with an armed-jetpack. Zooming about this place is exciting stuff but the aliens are relentless and the basic mechanics just don't work well together, so it soon becomes a demented slog!

Chris sure knew how to program the Atari ST but I feel he has missed the mark here. There's just too much going on with gameplay that is confusing and relentless. But, perhaps I'm wrong? If you're feeling brave then Custodian can be run from a floppy or hard drive. Get ready, brace yourself for a rough journey!! Let me know what you think...


Attack!! Attack!! Attack!! Attack!! Attack!! Attack!! ARGHHHH!! Helpl me, somebody!!


Too much!! Too much!! What's going on? Everything wants me dead... Oh, I died!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Risky Woods



Spanish Talent

Another oldie from my YouTube channel (please subscribe) and this time it's Risky Woods developed by those Dinamic fellas who gave us a Marine with wiggly legs (I love how those guys think!). This time we are Rohan, a young knife-wielding chap from a place called The Lost Land, a once-peaceful place protected by Monks.

Well, it was a nice place to live until the demon Draxos came along and imprisoned each monk as a stone statue! The entire place is now overrun with evil creatures so it's our job to kill them all and free the monks before Draxos takes full control. Yep, it's yet another silly story and just another normal day in retro gaming land. Let's play...


Check out those graphics. I think Dinamic have excelled themselves this time!


Sexy platforming!

Risky Woods is a scrolling platformer that has us leaping across platforms, frantically banging on the fire button to kill everything. Each level is stuffed with enemies who are only too eager to rush onto the screen but there are also lots of bonuses to help - just don't forget why you're here. Each monk needs freeing before you can leave.

Each level is superbly designed and looks absolutely stunning with lush environments, high details and fancy effects. However, it's the sprites that I love even more because they are large and superbly animated - just look at those skeletons!! Slain enemies leave behind gold coins to collect for use in the shop to purchase weapons.


There's no denying the stunning artwork which feels like a cross between Strider and Jim Power.


The CryptO'pinion?

The problem I have with this game is its design and difficulty. The constant onslaught of invading enemies is often too much and it's made worse by having to bend down to collect dropped coins. That's just awkward during the heat of battle. Also, bumping into a baddie makes you drop loot and you cannot fire for a brief moment. Irritating!!

Having said that, I've had a blast with this gorgeous platformer! It's exciting, frantic and devilishly addictive. What a good albeit flawed platformer - if only Dinamic had balanced the gameplay better than it would have been nothing less than a classic. Little old me found it too hard without a trainer. Am I wrong? I feel I am. Let me know!


Downloads for floppy and hard drive.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Magic Pockets



Fancy a game of pocket pool?

I thought it was about time we posted some more BoxArt from my own collection. Well, I finally re/bought Magic Pockets by the awesome Bitmap Bros and these guys sure knew how to program and never once settled for a lame Amiga port. The cover art is quite simple, especially when compared to other covers I've already featured but, I'm proud to own what is nothing less than another belting piece of hiSTory by the Bitmaps!!

The Bitmap Kid (BK to his burger friends) has been given a brand new pair of magical trousers from an old man he met in the park one evening. No, not really lol!! Anyhow, he loves these trousers but then finds out that his toys have somehow disappeared into a fantasy world: PocketLand. Of course, this cool Kid is determined to get his toys back so enters via a black hole he conjured!! Boy, if there was ever a whackier storyline...


There are lots of crazy monsters to kill but... hang on... what's that TV doing there?


Short arms, deep pockets

PocketLand is split over four enormous levels and BK is armed with different powers depending on the world he's currently in. There are so many awesome enemies, bonuses, and he even has extra abilities like the whirlwind to jump higher. Sometimes the route through can feel like a wild goose chase, but often you're lead onto secret areas which contain lots of goodies. I admire their overall design because most levels never feel linear.

Joystick controls are spritely with responsive action and movement. I have always liked the mechanics because it feels less like a computer platformer and more like something a console would knock out. Neither is better than the other, it's just how Magic Pockets feels to me and I like it today as much as I did back in the 90s.


The first level nicely introduces various aspects of the game with its trippy mechanics.


Aesthetics

Visually, this has a Godly appearance with lovely colours splashed throughout every level. The scrolling is fast and fluent and always manages to keep up the pace. However, it's the sprites that are something else; so many incredibly cute critters all of which are nicely animated too. Why can't all games look this beautiful?

The sound effects are fantastic but I would have preferred an option for a background tune. Famously, the title music is by Betty Boo but now, I'm kinda meh about that. I guess it's nice to have and the quality is pretty good...

Hey, I've found a bike? Weeee, come on, there aren't many games like this!!


The CryptO'pinion?

Well, I'm new (again) to Magic Pockets so haven't gotten very far. But, what a gem this platformer is and it's wonderful to play it once again and I feel it hasn't aged badly whatsoever. In fact, it's still just as much fun and as entertaining as it ever was. You could say that I'm feeling like a big kid on Christmas Day here!!

Magic Pockets is an outstanding platformer and very easy to get into. This article might be a preview but, anything from the Bitmap Brothers is top-notch. So I know I'll be enjoying this for many moons. Highly recommended.

Downloaded for floppy and hard disk.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Bug Spray


Pssst, wanna play a game bursting with frantic fun and originality? Then check out Bug Spray, developed by Philip Bishop which should please the gamers with green fingers and a natural love for killing nasty insects. In fact, it might look familiar if you're old enough to remember the 1983 Speccy original by Ultimate Play The Game?

Sunflowers need our protection from various hungry pests who love to nibble. To stop it from being bitten to death, we use three different cans of bug spray. Each one is designed to kill a specific creature so spraying any other (with the wrong bug spray) will only stun them for a few seconds. Sadly, our gardener can only carry one at a time and this is what makes the gameplay such a rush battling against the critters as they swarm in.

Just like Jet Pac, this isn't an exact conversion but it's close enough and has brought back many happy memories for me. The graphics are pretty much ZX Spectrum standards and the sprites are cute, especially the spiders. Sound effects are adequate but there is an option for chipmusic which is a far better choice.

Bug Spray is a blatant rip-off but it works. My only criticism is manoeuvring the gardener into the gaps which feels quite tight. That aside, I've enjoyed playing what is essentially a fantastic conversion of Pssst!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Scanners


I was just going through old video records and found this which is an absolute classic!!
[ Download available on Demozoo - just make sure you turn up the volume ]

Friday, July 13, 2018

Bombaman



Bomberman sucks and Bombaman rules!

Ever since I first played Erik And The Floaters on my ZX Spectrum, I have enjoyed many Bomberman clones and here is yet another called Bombaman. Developed by Kevin Callahan for the Atari STe, this conversion is multiplayer for two-four people, with support for those enhanced joystick ports lurking on the side of the computer.

Blowing up stuff is superb with light and easy control. Tons of power-ups are available and contain some favourites, like a molotov cocktail and chucking bombs over a wall. Others can increase the number of bombs we are able to drop - but watch out for chain-reactions during their explosions as they will detonate the others. Roller skates speed up gameplay whilst flap jackets protect us but slower players better watch out for zombies...


It starts tame but soon you're using power-ups and blasting everything!


Aesthetics

The visuals are incredibly colourful but may require sunglasses to protect your eyes from all that glare!! Everything runs smoothly at 50fps thanks to the Blitter and is displayed in overscan too I might add.

Chipmusic plays throughout, which I really enjoyed because it's downright awesome. Thankfully, it never overpowers the DMA sound effects bursting out of your Atari STe. This is how it should be!!


All that colour could drive you insane - if it wasn't such a great game!!


The CryptO'pinion?

Overall, this is a brilliant multiplayer which has lived up to my expectations, even though I miss a singleplayer option. We have both thoroughly enjoyed Bombaman and my daughter says it's her favourite ST game [watch our video recording]. So, if you fancy throwing a few bombs at friends, then I suggest you play it. Now.

AtariMania has this wonderful game in their archives!!

Monday, July 09, 2018

Ben Pritchard



It's interview time!

When AtariCrypt was just a little baby I came upon a scrolling platformer called The Curse Of Bolda which is such a fun game and one I really enjoyed playing. However, I was new to Hatari and figured I was doing something wrong because it seemed sluggish so I whacked it up to the dizzy heights of 16Mhz and everything was perfect.

Shortly afterwards, I heard from the developer who seemed chuffed that people were still playing his old games and (eventually) I got around to playing his other called Kev's World. This is a flick-screen platformer which I really enjoyed, probably because STOS coped better without trying to scroll the screen? Fantastic game!

Anyhow, I've since been talking to Ben who has found the original [registered] disks of The Curse Of Bolda which are now freely available from AtariMania. However, I couldn't leave it there. Yup, I had to ask a few questions for our interview section. My sincere gratitude to Ben for hunting down the disks and answering these questions. :-)



Ben Pritchard - The Interview


Hello Ben, please introduce yourself.

Well, first of all, my STory can't be told without that of my best mate Paul; he introduced me to the Atari ST and was my "sparring partner" in making games. We started out making text adventures at first - me on an Amstrad CPC at the time, and him using ST Basic - around 1988/89. Then he got his hands on the Shoot 'em up Construction Kit, which sold me on making the jump to the Atari. And then - just by sheer chance - I ended up getting the Discovery pack, through which we discovered STOS and start the voyage of discovery/development/geeky one-upmanship that ultimately led to Kev's World, the Curse of Bolda and indeed what I'm up to right now...


Which Atari ST were you using?

I started out with the 520STFM that came in the Discovery pack, then upgraded to the 1040STE Music Maker pack a couple of years later. I never had any hard drives or memory upgrades. Having attempted to solder adaptors into place, in a failed attempt to boost my 520 up to a 1meg, kind of put me off. And being in my teens, at the time, I didn't have the money for much else.



Although technically inferior, I personally thought Kev's World was a cracking platformer.


Tell us a little about your two games.

Both Kev's and Curse are very special to me - Curse because it was the first game I had actually released (despite it actually being the sequel to Kev's!), and because it had the 8-way scrolling and all the stuff I had originally wanted in Kev's but couldn't get working at the time. But I had a very special moment with Kev's - a few weeks after releasing it, I got a letter from a chap in Scotland (this is about 1995, before broadband and home internet/email became a thing) saying how much he enjoyed the game and asking for a hint on getting past the boss. That really struck a chord - someone was so into something I had made that they had taken the time to write to me and let me know...


What's so special about Kevin?

Kev was kind of an evolving design... Originally he was a spaceman - believe it or not - for another game which I was working on called "Galanium". Then his space helmet was replaced by the face and red baseball cap for another game called "AstroKid" (again, abandoned). Finally, he got made over into the black t-shirt, blue jeans and big white trainers you see it in the games. As for the name - well, I was an unashamed metaller back in those days, and the trendy guys - who wore baseball caps and big white trainers were known as "Kev"s - so there it was: he was called Kev because he is a Kev!



Kev's World is only a demo and I'm desperate to play the full release.


Did either game live up to your expectations?

Both games blew me away - again, Curse by virtue of being first, and Kev's due to that letter I mentioned before. Plus the fact they made a few hundred quid between them - given that I had just started at university when I released Curse, extra cash was an amazing bonus. But the big thing was that both games got reviewed in both ST Format and Atari ST user - I never saw that one coming!


What happened to game no.3??

"Odyssey Island" was the working title of the third Kev game, and it was going to be bigger than Curse, with more complicated puzzle elements, impromptu boss battles, other characters to interact with, and a weapon system based on earth/air/fire/water elements, that also fed into the puzzle system. But by this time, it was 1995, and not only was I deep into my university course, but I had also been very ill, and everything seemed to be heading towards the PC and 3D, so it just stalled in the end.



The Curse Of Bolda is perfect using a 16Mhz computer to give STOS that little extra help!


Why STOS?

Because it came with the Discovery pack, and was better than SEUCK - or indeed anything Paul or I had used until then. Of course, we started using extensions - Curse owes its very existence to The Missing Link, and towards the end, we also learned how to use little assembly language snippets to improve performance, but STOS was the backbone of what we did.


What was it like working with Floppyshop?

Floppyshop and their "floppyware" scheme was a great experience - Steve (Delaney) was great to work with and full of enthusiasm, despite some teething issues with corrupted disks! He gave both games a great write-up in the catalogues - if memory serves, he said that Curse was "better than a lot of the £25 off-the-shelf titles" of the time! Looking back, licenceware worked well for both titles.



The Curse Of Bolda is a massive game to tax your brain and reactions.


Why so little love for the Atari STe?

The STE version of Curse does actually use the DAC to play samples (hence why the STFM version is music only). As for the scrolling, we did not really understand enough about the guts of the STe to be able to do much (we were working largely in STOS and its extensions. Looking back, maybe we depended on that too heavily).

Secondly, from what we could tell of the market by looking at other games released, magazine coverage etc., it felt like the vast majority of ST owners had STFMs, so we coded to accommodate the widest possible base. Heck, Kev's World was cut down for half-meg STs - although we did do a 1meg version with extra sound effects!


Would you upgrade either game with more STe support?

I must admit - much to my shame - that since Odyssey Island stalled in '95, I haven't really thought about developing for the ST/STE. "Real life" got in the way too much - first university, then getting a job and a flat, and various other life events. In fact, I pretty much dropped out of game writing altogether from then right through to 2005 due to lack of time, money, hardware etc...



The Curse Of Bolda is cruel. Flipping a switch caused a fire and the platforms evaporated!


What are your favourite Atari ST games?

Back in the day, I was a huge platformer fan (as my own games may indicate!) - I loved Turrican 1 & 2, Rainbow Islands will always have a special place in my heart, titles like Ozone and Prehistorik that showed just what was possible with STOS... but my all-time number one has to be "The Killing Gameshow" by Psygnosis - now if ever there was a title that deserved an STE version it was that, for the music alone!


What are you and Ledasoft doing today?

These days, I am usually playing "being a Dad"! To be honest, I'm really not into playing games as I don't have the time to dedicate to the mainstream mega-titles, and the "indie" scene is just so full of shovelware it takes too long to even look for something to play! To be honest, these days I prefer to spend my time making games than playing them... which brings us neatly onto:

LedaSoft has undergone two major re-inventions since the ST days - the first was back in 2010 when we resurrected the "Leda" name as "Leda Entertainment" in an attempt to break into the mobile game market. We released about a dozen games over five or so years, but it really didn't work out.

More recently, we have changed direction again - this time we have kept the Leda Entertainment name, but changed what we are all about. Over our time in mobile, we met a lot of people trying to get into the games industry but always stuck behind the "lack of experience/no published titles" wall. So we changed direction - Leda is still firstly about us enjoying making games, but instead of hoping to make money, we have teamed up with a number of these talented artists and audio designers in the hope that the game we make and release together will help at least one of them on their way to their dream job!

The game we are working on is called "Bullion - The Curse of the Cutthroat Cattle" - it's a local multiplayer brawler based around a crew of pirate bulls. There are currently eight in the team, including Paul and myself, so Leda has grown a bit since the ST days! If you want to check out Bullion, go to www.bulliongame.com

So the plan for the future is to keep making games and, hopefully, help some people kick-start their career - ultimately to have fun! That said, I must admit that it's tempting to crack out the Atari STe once Bullion is done, just to see what I can still do - and I also have a half-finished PC remake of Curse somewhere I might finish up...

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Into The Eagle's Nest



'Allo 'Allo!

Into The Eagles Nest is an overhead Gauntlet-like shooter set within the enemy's castle, heavily occupied by thousands of Nazi soldiers. Our orders are simple: infiltrate the castle, rescue three allied soldiers and then detonate the hidden explosives. Leaving without blowing the place to kingdom come would just be rude!!

As soon as the game begins, the battle is on! And it's against an onslaught of soldiers who eagerly patrol the castle's dingy corridors. Sneaking into the enemy's lair was the easy part, now we've gotta bust out of our safe room with guns blazing and rescue our fellow Allied soldiers before General Von Klinkerhoffen orders their execution.


Look for keys, health and ammo because you never know what's gonna happen next!


Search, Shoot, Kill

As you explore, look for anything that may assist in completing your mission: health packs help repair hits you've endured and an ammo stash will replenish your Nazi killing abilities. Elevator keys need no explanation - but don't be too quick to use these because you should fully explore the current level a lot more than you might realise! Don't forget to disable the messages telling what item has been collected... so annoying!!

Collect keys and use them wisely to unlock parts of the map otherwise out of limits. But some doors were bought from Ikea and need only a little gun-love to bust open!! Some soldiers have had too much beer and fallen flat out cold drunk so an easy target - but unnecessary if low on ammo. Remember to watch the status panel because you can withstand 50 hits, which sounds a lot but even Rambo would die without stealth and a tactical approach.


Shoot the barrels and make way to a secret area with items to collect.


Aesthetics

I've always enjoyed overhead shooters but I oddly didn't care for this at first - the push-scrolling technique isn't ideal for this type of game. So my first impressions weren't good. However, it does grow on you and I've gotta say that I love the general 8-Bit feel with the superbly drawn sprites and a point of view which truly is "overhead".

Title screen music is flunky but pretty good at the same time. I'm more of a chip guy but I still liked it. In-Game sound effects are all samples and really nice too but I miss a background chippy tune if I'm honest.


Sneak by and pinch their food [oddly on the floor]. Hang on, they're asleep? BAM BAM BAM!!


The CryptO'pinion?

This is an easy one to rate because it's a freaking brilliant shooter, a true classic, and the Atari ST got a fantastic conversion. I think most of us have played this incredible game? So I'm positive everyone has happy memories and should play it again. An engrossing adventure that offers a huge challenge for the most persevering player.

Grab it on floppy or hard drive.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Kev's World



Another GEM lurking within the ST's library!

Kev's World was developed for FloppyShop by Ben Pritchard and is the prequel to The Curse Of Bolda. In this flick-screen platformer, we explore many rooms, grabbing stars and shooting monsters in order to rescue our beloved Katherine from the clutches of Bolda. Okay, I know what you're thinking but stay with me on this one!

This platformer features many pitfalls and even the odd puzzle to solve using keys and teleporters before eventually battling the deranged-looking Bolda in a rather crude end-of-level boss fight. Okay, remember this wasn't commercial, so you should forget Magic Boy or Rainbow Islands when you take a gander at a couple of screenshots...



There are many different baddies but watch out for the little green alien thing - I hate those!

Shoot Bolda in the face to save your girlfriend...


It's time to be a 2D hero again!

Any platformer needs good, responsive controls which blend well with the basic mechanics of the game. Think something simple like Manic Miner. Well, the joystick controls are perfect and I love how agile Kevin's movements are which is brilliant. This is a typical game but there are a few neat touches that I love: keep this Krazy Kid busy otherwise, he complains that he's bored using a speech bubble which isn't new but a fun characteristic.

This bubble can also be used to indicate when Kev's hurt along with any items/power-ups he's collected. Floor panels are randomly placed and stepping on one will reward you with extra points or a smart bomb that kills everything on-screen. However, this is totally random so may instead cause a rockslide, alert the baddies to your location or reverse the controls. Are you ready to take a chance? I know right, it's something different and I love that!!
Lots of bonuses are scattered throughout and offer a variety of features:
QuintStar contains the value of five individual stars.
Aurora Of Invincibility provides temporary invulnerability from everything but spikes.
Hero Head ... well, don't get too excited because it's a 1UP!!
Power Heart boosts Kevin's health.
Sands Of Time adds to the ever-decreasing time limit.
Oh, and Kevin's also partial to playing arcade games, if you happen to find one...


...before she is (slowly) whisked off once again!!

Completed!! I made 12th place and even beat Metallica. Howzat!!


The CryptO'pinion?

What I love about Kev's World is its traditional oldskool gameplay which is just downright excellent and very good fun. The joystick controls are superb and additional bonuses, along with smart bombs and other surprises, really makes this game stand out from most other PD/Shareware platformers available for the ST.

Sadly, it's a little sluggish so I'm sure the Blitter would have helped along with the DMA for the samples? (Sadly, no Atari STe features are being used). Anyhow, I have enjoyed playing this two-level demo and it's definitely something I would have bought back in the mid-90s because it's great fun!! We need the full registered game. Period.

The two-level demo of Kev's World can be downloaded for either floppy or a hard disk.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

StarRay


Logotron's StarRay is a beautiful Defender wannabe developed by a trio of incredible talent. Programmed by Steve Bak, a man who always knew how to get the very best from the Atari ST without resorting to any lame excuses. The graphics are obviously by Pete Lyon which are superb from the moment we see the futuristic Monument Valley to skimming across those lovely landscapes. David Whittaker created all the funk you hear which is jaw-dropping (anyone with extra Ram has sampled music on the title screen - but I prefer chippy tunes myself).

StarRay is so much fun and boosts the original Defender format with great gameplay styles, beautiful sounds and gorgeous multilayer parallax visuals. This is how all retro gaming should be, so if you fancy taking to the skies then download either the floppy disk or use your hard drive. Enjoy what is nothing short of an Atari ST classic!!
As you can see in my recording, emulation works fine but just doesn't compare to the ultra-smooth experience you get with a real computer. So play StarRay using real hardware - or die!!

Monday, July 02, 2018

Overdrive


Feeling the need for speed, I booted up Overdrive by Ross McNaughton which he developed in 1996 using STOS. It's an overhead racer similar to Super Cars or Power Up and features 25 GEM-green tracks!

After listening to the horrendous title music [nails on a blackboard] you're asked for your initials before viewing a diagram of the first track. The physics are pretty dodgy but controls are easy to learn so it's not long before you're tearing up the asphalt. However, that's about as deep as it gets because your opponents are like laid back Sunday drivers! Plus there are no differing road surfaces, weather conditions, car repairs, etc...

Okay, I'm probably being too harsh because Overdrive isn't commercial and there is a level of fun to be had here. Sadly, it's too easy so gets repetitive very soon and that green colour hurts the eyes. It's not long before things feel monotonous and hence why I abruptly ended my recording. Enjoyable for a few minutes but nothing more...

Go on!! I dare ya to download Overdrive and play it. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Crash Time Plumber (completed video recording)



> Read our review featurette all about this beautiful game. Check it out!!

Crash Time Plumber is quite an astounding platformer but I struggled to reach level 6 with my lame joystick skills so I couldn't resist cheating to reach those later levels. However, the later levels are incredibly difficult - die, die, die!! Arghhh!! I seriously doubt anyone can play this game to the end without infinite lives? Whatever, it's still one of my favourite platformers and I love what is nothing less than an infuriatingly awesome game!!

Enjoy the longplay video which features all levels from start to end :-)