Friday, August 31, 2018

Alien Vs Predator




Don't tread in the slime!

Rebellion's Alien Vs Predator is a 64-bit masterpiece and also the main reason I bought an Atari Jaguar. It offers a fascinating first-person experience set in outer space onboard an alien-infested spaceship. Rarely did I play as either the Alien or Predator because I almost always chose the Colonial Marine, Private Lance J. Lewis.

This marine is a bad boy who awakens from stasis in the Brig. Wondering what's going on, he conveniently finds a dead body and picks up a shotgun before speaking the line: "What on earth got hold of this guy?". Lance is very hungry and heads to the canteen on sublevel 3 only to find the place is swarming with vicious aliens!! I think it's Shotgun time?

What a storyline! I love it but we need to pause the reading for some screenshots from the intro...


  
  
  
Original and gripping storyline? Well, at least the artwork is gorgeous... Hang on, is that a pink ship?



All I need is a big gun!

Don't be scared - the ship might be overrun but we have a shotgun and there are plenty of supplies to pick up. Sadly, your clearance level is pretty lame but fumbling dead bodies could reveal hidden treasures and possibly better keycards. When all seems lost, follow in the footsteps of Gordon Freeman and use the vent shafts for a sneaky way to get around. Finally, don't ignore the computer terminals as they often contain helpful information and mapping details.

This adventure is yours to enjoy how you see fit but it will be hard unless you make a map - especially for the vent shafts which are tricky to navigate. Upgrading to the Pulse Rifle is a must and it sounds superb. I love the Motion Tracker which is really handy but don't dawdle because reports suggest another alien ship docking!! This game is big.

We aren't limited to simply being human! Choose your character race for a unique game...


Wanna be a Marine with a big gun? Of course, you do!!!

   
Or a sleek alien with speed and power? Or a big wimp who hides behind his gadgets?



The CryptO'pinion?

Alien vs Predator is all about taking the time to explore and tactical thinking. There's nothing like crawling the air vents looking for secret places or just places that aren't accessible the usual way. The game is massive and the excitement you feel when first firing that pulse rifle is legendary. These are nasty times so find the keycards, kill as many aliens as possible, and activate the self-destruct before it's too late. Be brave and don't step in the goo.

I highly recommend this wonderful FPS - just don't forget about the escape pod otherwise it's "Game over, man"!!

Did you enjoy this? It wasn't related to the Atari ST but I hope to feature more for the Atari consoles.
My apologies for the speed & quality of the video. Doing both the recording and running the emulator was a struggle for my old Mac. I had lots of fun but regret selling my Jaguar!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

No Buddies Land




When the demoscene and game industry join forces!

Eternal's No Buddies Land was released in 1991 by Loriciel and is programmed by David Boshoven who is possibly better known as Lair from the group Hotline. Okay, the story is silly but let's roll with it: the land is flooding and Bud is the hero of the day who must climb up into heaven to ask for help before everything is destroyed.

Five dreaded levels are all about to be flooded but our adventure begins in a dingy castle before heading outside to hop his way through the trees and then up into the clouds. As each level begins, the waters begin to rise just as in games like Flood, Goin' Down With The Captain or Killing Game Show. So, be quick and get moving!!

Before any more waffling from me, take a look at the first level...



Level one is pretty cool but it also introduces you to the cruel mechanics and an overpriced shop!




Prepare thyself!

Yes, prepare thyself for a world of hurt because this is cruel with wicked environments and lots (and lots) of traps and frustrating jumps. We must also contend with moving platforms, acid droplets, spikes, disappearing ledges and much more. Not only all that, but the local wildlife is never friendly and will zap your energy with a single touch.

Thankfully, there's nothing better than arming yourself with weaponry. It's perfectly natural to see a kid carrying a pistol in any 16-bit world - we love that! Best of all, this can be upgraded (along with health and more). Yep, you heard me, there are actually shops on the way up to Heaven. Who would have thought that? Well, brace yourself because I'm told there are also hidden side games and annoying puzzles (Grr!!). Something for everyone.

Want more screenshots? Of course, you do! So here is a couple from the second and third level...



I liked level 2 the most which also reminded me of Elf but I found level 3 a killer and really annoying!!




Platforming never looked so good!

The visuals are by Bram Leyten, aka Sense of Hotline, and are stunning with incredible attention to detail for both the environment and cute sprites. Animations are also nice but Bud walks like he's rushing to the toilet - gotta laugh at his zippy legs!! Not only do these graphics knock you for six but they slide down your screen at a graceful 50fps using sync-scrolling.

This method screws up my VGA monitor each time it attempts to scroll, but it works dandy using a standard CRT monitor/TV. So, I guess it must be a VGA issue with my own setup?

Audio has not been forgotten and if you remember Monster Business' outstanding tunes then you're in for another treat. Laurens Tummers, aka Lotus, has done it again to provide the most stunning examples of timeless chip music. In fact, I would say No Buddies Land has some of the best tunes I've heard in any game. Stunning results.



Both levels 4 and 5 feature disappearing platforms which I really, really, REALLY hated!!




The CryptO'pinion?

Technically, a masterpiece and one that proves what the Atari ST is capable of knocking out when in the hands of talented people. However, No Buddies Land isn't perfect. The controls are great but jumping diagonally can be awkward unless Bud is currently walking (YMMV). Also, knowing which ledges to hop onto isn't always obvious when some can blend into the background scenery. Ultimately, with a little extra tweaking, everything would have been perfect.

Having said that, this is a belting platformer and I've really enjoyed playing it. It's nothing like I first expected and is actually enjoyable, unlike that other platformer by TCB. I loved the aesthetics but that doesn't make the game. Thankfully, the range of levels is extraordinary with each featuring different environments that are as challenging as they are gorgeous.

Overall, a belting game with a few niggles but otherwise really enjoyable and highly recommended.

Download the floppy or HDD versions.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Hibernated 1 - This Place is Death



WooHoo a new Atari ST game!

Hibernated 1: This Place is Death is a sci-fi text adventure by Stefan Vogt and released for a variety of different platforms along with our beautiful Atari ST. We are Olivia Lund onboard the intergalactic spaceship, Polaris-7 who has awoken from stasis. The ship appears abandoned and has been caught by an alien tractor beam.

You know, text adventures aren't often my cuppa tea - the brain needs to be fed visual wonders before I wander off dazed... But, I have gotta say, I've really enjoyed myself with this rather splendid adventure which has a fantastic sense of humour. The parser is easy to use with a two-word command system using Examine, Get, Open, Search, Move, etc. There are also shortcuts: I for Inventory and R to re-describe the current location. Medium resolution is supported but oddly not monochrome... The docs advised making a map and that is a very good idea!!

Hibernated 1 is possibly the first of a new trilogy that can be downloaded and bought right now. Name your own price - which I think is a wonderful idea - thus play before you pay. Are any text adventurers lurking out there?

UPDATE: You can now purchase a physical boxed release! :-)


This adventure has a great personality with cheeky remarks using buckets of humour!


A droid is punching me and I try to examine it. What was I thinking? A nice response though!!


Yikes, what is on that computer? The last thing we need is to be quarantined for four weeks!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

PONG


I love finding something "new" and only yesterday I saw a version of Pong on the amazing Atari Legend but one I had not played. It's by Construct Developments but I couldn't source a download from anywhere until ST Graveyard, aka Maarten Martens, kindly sent me the disk image. (Download also added into AtariMania for safekeeping!)

Pong works only on the Atari STe thanks to the stereo tracker music, but the gameplay isn't exactly what I assumed. Forget your friends and family because this is a one-player conversion which uses your joystick to control both paddles at the same time. So, as you guide the left paddle, the right will automatically move in the opposite direction for a brain-busting experience! It's quite tough to fully master - but Pongtastic and bucketloads of addictive fun!!

Sadly, it appears Pong wasn't finished so there are a few minor niggles. The only thing that bugged me was how the ball becomes difficult to follow when it passes over an area of similar colour - thanks to that cool background. Nothing is perfect and finding new Atari ST games is always good, and this game certainly offers a neat twist on the format.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Thunder Jaws



Big guns and a pervy boss!

I'd seen pictures of this underwater shoot 'em up but didn't really know what to expect from what seemed a pretty naff James Bond wannabe. Released in 1991 by Domark, our villain is the busty Madame Q who desires nothing less than to rule the world. She's gone and kidnapped lots of gorgeous girls who are to be experimented on and turned into monsters. Okay, so our task is to find her secret base, kill all the baddies, and free the hostages.

Grab something rubbery to wear because her base is deep underwater which reminds me of Scuba Dive on my old ZX Spectrum! But these dangerous waters are patrolled by armed guards and robotic sharks. Harpoon everything that moves and destroy the automated defences before blowing open an entrance to her lair.

Let's check out the initial screens...



A cool loading screen but where's the intro disappeared to??


Still, at least a 2-player co-op is still included which is ace!


The opening scene is underwater heading to the evil lair...

Inside are lots of baddies and some great weapons to pick up - the punk girls scream lol


Wear your best flippers for the girls!

Inside, the game changes to a scrolling platformer which is basically a ripoff of Rolling Thunder (yikes, we all remember that dreadful conversion). Anyhow, this stage is better with henchmen and other strange characters chasing you. Weaponry remains the same and can also be upgraded to a flamethrower, uzi, rocket, and more. Finally, battle a boss and rescue yourself a few gorgeous babes - who will be extremely grateful.

Once completed, it flips back to the underwater stage and we repeat for similar missions. The difficulty level increases as we infiltrate through the base but it's now that I needed to activate a trainer because the later levels are crammed with an insane amount of baddies!! Also, the end-of-level bosses are tough and made worse by tons of other bad guys turning up to help out their boss. Argh, my screen is littered with too many brawling sprites!!

Gimme a flamethrower and I'm happy...



Yikes, our evil villain looks freaky like something from Twisted Sister!


Rescuing the sexy girls produces lots of kisses and hugs for our hero!!


Later on, we're in dirty waters with toxic waste barrels.


This leads to a scary rock monster and naked firewomen. Nice!


Graphics & Sounds

The visuals are nice with gorgeous backgrounds and different artwork styles. I liked how each level looked and the sprites were always superbly drawn: nothing beats watching the girls falling to their feet for lots of comical kissing. The scrolling is smooth but feels a little lethargic, especially on later levels when there are lots going on.

Sadly, there isn't a chiptune bopping away in the background but the sound effects are quite good. Actually, no, they are crude but the grunts are deranged - I loved the haunting female's scream of death. Sonically superb!!

Check out these screenshots that demonstrate this game's stunning artwork...



The end boss battles are rubbish if I'm honest. You are forced to cheat which is a bit daft!


This is basically because there are far too many enemies. It's impossible!


Finally, we get to meet the flame-haired temptress. Gorgeous pixel art!


But it isn't long before she morphs into something hideously ugly. Like a dog turd with hair!


The CryptO'pinion?

I must admit, I'm a little unsure what to make of Thunder Jaws. It's predictable fun and the addition of a two-player co-op is excellent. However, the later levels are impossible without cheating and I got a whiff of a lame port when things slowed to a sluggish pace. Having said that, it's not the disaster Rolling Thunder was and I enjoyed pretending to be James Bond, rescuing sexy girls, and saving the world from a busty flame-haired tyrant.

Yep, I enjoyed Thunder Jaws - it's not perfect but I played through to the end and loved every second of it!!

You can download for floppy or hard disk but only if you look good in a wetsuit! Note, faster computers will certainly benefit with smoother framerates when running of hard drive - thanks to 8BitChip.


Here is the end screen... it's probably best I don't comment? :)

Monday, August 13, 2018

Ikari Warriors




The battle of the Atari's?

Ikari Warriors brings back many special memories for me because it came free with my first Atari ST and was something I loved from the moment I loaded it up that Christmas morning (yikes that was 1988). I don't think anyone forgets the first time they saw how superior the ST was compared to their old 8Bits...

Anyhow, I admit it's hardly perfect but Elite certainly delivered the goods for a brilliant arcade conversion which is still one of my favourite ST games. Now, unlike my dreadful progress with Commando, I am actually pretty good at Ikari Warriors so figured it a good idea to check out the Atari 7800 game alongside the classic ST version.

Now, before you moan, this isn't a MCIBTYC comparison! I just wanted to see how the game itself compares...


  
The 7800 has superb scrolling, albeit surprisingly very blocky unlike the Atari ST



Graphics or Music?

After watching the 7800's intro swoosh by, I instantly wished Atari would have released the STe back in 1985... Anyhow, once the game began, the first thing that struck me was its sexy-smooth framerate. However, the sprites themselves are rather crude in comparison with blocky heads? Yikes, what's wrong with the resolution?

But graphics aren't everything nor is the audio which happens to be as good and exactly what I expected. Those grenade throws are excellent but I missed the sound of the tank. Background music is okay but I don't think anything compares to the legendary ST tune by Jason C. Brooke which is bleeping excellent.


  
The 7800 looks poor but I really like that chunky look plus it won't slow down like on the ST.



Pros And Cons?

Anyhow, enough of this talk about aesthetics because what we all want is great gameplay and the 7800 certainly produced the goods. Okay, my console might very well be virtual, but I'm still able to use BOTH joystick buttons which means the machine gun and grenades are separate and that beats the ST's one-button method hands down.

Also, firing can be locked in any specific direction thus rapid - independent - shooting is possible until you decide to release the button. This takes a little getting used to but it's certainly worth mastering because it works extremely well - especially when making use of the superb power-ups always being offered.

Sadly, I admit to struggling with this conversion because I found it shockingly difficult. Perhaps it's just me and my lame joystick skills? But, no matter how much I tried, my progress was always weaker in comparison. YMMV of course, but I personally found this excess difficulty only promoted just how balanced the Atari ST game is.


  
The console struggles with visual definition but this is a beast of a port! Just like the ST.



The CryptO'pinion?

Ikari Warriors is a class act on almost all platforms and both the 7800 and ST succeed in delivering a great arcade conversion which is so much fun. All that's required are quick reactions and a love for guns and oldskool violence! So, enjoy what is nothing short of a cracking shoot 'em up for either your 7800 or Atari ST [floppy or hard disk].

I hope you enjoyed this sway from being dedicated to the Atari ST... let me know what you guys think in the comments below (because I was actually quite smitten by the Atari 7800 if I'm honest. A hidden gem!)

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Berzerk



Comparison Time!

I figured an expansion to AtariCrypt was in order because there are many other great Atari games to play. We already have sections for the Atari STe and Falcon030 so why not the consoles? The Jaguar has many superb titles but, I admit that I am a noob which means I'm excited to see what's out there in Atari console land...



- A T A R I  2 6 0 0 -

This actually looks/sounds a lot better than I first imagined albeit without speech. The control mechanics are spot-on perfect with spritely movements that almost made me forget about the Chicken's limited one-shot mechanic. However, I didn't see Otto during the recording so perhaps I did something wrong? But the fat man did show up in other games and he can even be shot. What? Overall, a limited version but without limited gameplay.

  




- A T A R I  5 2 0 0 -

Things feel familiar from the go, possibly because it's an authentic conversion and also reminded me of the ST game - both visually and with that funky digitised speech. I enjoyed it but the speed feels a little slow and it's extremely difficult, to say the least. The robots are way beyond accurate - more like ruthless assassins. They're quick so expect no mercy. Yep, I fear my old-man reactions found this the hardest of all. Chicken, fight like a robot...

  




- A T A R I  S T -

Finally, we shouldn't forget the ST/Falcon game developed by an ST legend who needs no introduction. Those robots might be a little too eager to smash into the walls but I fear this is one of the best conversions. Bold statement - but it has well-balanced gameplay, is authentic, and incredibly playable. Check out our feature from last year.

  

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

RVF Honda





Let's be Street Hawk!

It's time for more Atari ST box art from my collection with MicroStyle's RVF Honda. I can't lie and say this is the prettiest ST game box, it isn't. However, that bike is a beauty, so let's open up the box and take my new Honda for a ride.

First things first, RVF Honda isn't an arcade racer, more a simulator with semi/realistic mechanics like manual gears and opponents that only Barry Sheene could beat. The graphics are barebones but the performance is fast and furious. Heck, there is an option for a faster 60Hz display - which is something all games should have.

This racer is fun albeit with a massive learning curve due to the way it handles. Also, having to push the bike is a neat touch when restarting. But that soon wears thin when struggling to master those corners thus slamming into yet another tree... Yep, the learning curve is hell on two wheels which I think is successfully demonstrated in my video recording.

Let's take a look at the back of the box and what's inside along with screenshots and a video...

The back of the box is actually better than the front, which is odd!


The manual is concise and stuff full of information. Make sure you read it...


Hmm, not much for your pennies when you think about it?


Make sure you're in the right gear for the corners otherwise, you hit the tarmac!



That then means pushing your bike to get going again. Love it!!


Take time, learn the controls and grasp the feel of the handling.



Oi you, keep off my grass!! Pah, a need to practise more...




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