Tuesday, October 30, 2018

MANIC MINER



We're going back to 1983

It gives me the greatest of pleasure to present Manic Miner for the Atari ST!!! This has been InDev by my mate Peter Jørgensen throughout the year. It's a brand-new remake with redesigned graphics and incredibly funky music (sound effects are yet to be completed). Each, and every one, of the twenty screens is included but there will also be a few surprising extras which I'm excited about. However, we are wickedly keeping these under wraps for the time being!

Those who have played the original game on their old 8-bit computers like ZX Spectrum or MSX will instantly be at home with this new Atari ST platformer. The basic game control mechanics and physics are perfectly replicated. This means it feels just like it should with authentic gameplay that hasn't been altered (or spoilt, like we saw with Chuckie Egg II).

Please note, this is still a WIP as there are a few niggles to be ironed out. Each level faithfully follows the same playable mechanics of the original but, don't for a second think this means we have a boring ripoff. Willy's adventure has received a cool makeover with beautiful YMT audio and each screen has been designed with painstaking accuracy.

Peter has kept the keys familiar and included extra keys for a few additional features...
  • During the title intro, press 1, 2, 3 to change the music.
  • Pressing R will display a CPU usage raster for the geeks.
  • In-game, use the cursor keys to walk and he jumps by slapping the spacebar.
  • You can quit and kill poor Willy anytime by hitting the K key.
  • Need a wee? Just pause the game by hitting the P key.
  • Crazy fools who don't love the gorgeous thumping tunes can hit M to mute.

Without cheating, I have reached level 14 - Skylab Landing Bay. However, I have never beaten this terrible screen in 40 years - either on my ZX Spectrum or Atari ST. It's a killer room that blows my mind. Let me know how you do!

Okay, keeping this project quiet from everyone has been tough - but months of beta testing have been an absolute joy. It's impressive how its development has progressed into a fully playable game. The final version is near completion - so you know where to come when it's ready. Genuinely, this is one of the most exciting Atari ST games released in recent years.

I'd like to take a moment to thank Peter for creating this Atari ST version of Manic Miner. It originally started as a joke, a playful teaser, but it wasn't long before he began programming a playable demo. From there, we created and tested what was nothing less than a crisp clone of the original - with spanky new aesthetics. To think that we now have a (near) complete version of Manic Miner is mindblowing. So, I'd like to thank Peter for all his hard work and kindness. This is something I'll always appreciate beyond words.

Okay, the latest version is now available to download via the Demozoo website. Go on, grab it now!!



A few words by Peter...

I wrote Manic Miner because I have a friend that was very sad that this platformer didn’t exist for the ST. So I thought that I would make him happy and began drawing the title picture which soon lead me onto designing the intro screen - but I only wanted to make a prant screenshot for April 1st. Sadly, I did not finish in time. But then the idea started to continue on with the programming to see what happens. However, I’ve not made a game in decades because life always got in the way but I wanted to do this remake just to stop my friend from crying.
So you could say that this is a Manic Miner AtariCrypt Edition! (I love that -Steve)

My goal was to make the gameplay feel as close to the original as I could but still take advanced of the Atari ST's hardware. Thus, this is a remake rather than a conversion because I have not used a single piece of the original code. I have spent many hours analysing each level, and I’ve used the original sprites and recoloured them but some needed minor changes to work. The map graphics were changed in a big way, to what I think was the idea was behind each level. I played the MSX version so I could see how the game acts and I also think this is close to the Speccy original.

Overall, I'm quite pleased with the results and I hope people enjoy playing Manic Miner :-)


Atari ST Music and Game Map





The famous menu screen with its funky music. It's also (kinda) used in the final level.


The first room that everyone knows so well and brilliantly reconstructed for the ST!


A confusing level which is actually easier than you think.


Perhaps my favourite level in the entire game. And I've no idea why!


This is the erm, I forget... Oh yes, the 16th level :o)


You cannot tell, but what Peter did with this final screen is legendary!!


This is the level to prove how authentic the game is. Faithfully reconstructed!!


An iconic room this one and so much fun without being overly difficult.


He's back and dying to be slaughtered once again!


I could never complete this screen as a kid but it is doable!

Ugh, what is this??? It's a map of our Atari ST game which you can now download :)

Friday, October 19, 2018

Dungeon



Much thought went into that title!

Dungeon is a role-player released in 1993 by TC Basset for legends Budgie UK. It uses the Talespin adventure game creator engine which is something I've personally never encountered before. Upon loading, we are greeted by a creepy dude (with an obvious blood pressure problem) who has an incredible sense of humour. He warns us of the adventure ahead and offers the choice of character but, listen carefully and heed his warnings. No, seriously listen to him!

Ultimately we must battle the evil necromancer, Malik Abdul Aziz, and recover something called The Great Orb Of Thoth. Who thinks of these names? The dungeons are pretty simple but also infested with a wide range of hideous creatures so tread carefully. It wouldn't be right without monsters! Choose your character wisely but newcomers are best picking a Warrior or Fighter as they come readily equipped to tackle most beasts well. And who doesn't love a free weapon?

With that in mind, let's check out a couple of freaky screenshots of what you're likely to encounter...



No sooner had I begun and the first nasty creature is a blood-dripping zombie. YEAH!!


A couple of steps deeper into the dungeon and the mother-in-law appears. An old bat!


Then this weird dude appears from the darkness fancying a piece of me.


Monsters, battles and blood!

Yep, you are not alone down inside the dark corridors, so stay frosty and be ready for anything freaky that's waiting to jump out: decaying zombies, barbarians, venomous snakes, gnarly bats, and many more hideous creatures are all lurking in the shadows. Fighting is crudely entertaining and far more frequent than you initially realise.

The metallic chinks of your weapons are great but battles can also be fought magically using potions and victory ensures a deathly scream - before hearing their bodies crump to the ground. Each defeated enemy (even a bat) will reveal a hidden treasure chest filled with random goodies so collect your loot and leggit!! Those that cluck like cowardly chickens may wanna run away? Your choice but beware, there could be a price to pay...

There's nothing better than exploring a village and hey, check me out and my body...



The first dingy tunnel takes us into a medieval village.

It actually looks like a nice place. Might stay an enjoy a beer or two?


Mr Muscles is actually me. Yes, me!


Chat and try your luck

Exploration is never a bad idea, so take your time and turn over every stone. Why not chat with the locals, there are some interesting characters with superly silly personalities, even if conversations are a little shallow. Communication reveals more than you realise and perhaps you might earn a bob or two and make friends?

A tavern is a safe place to rest and recuperate. Just as with Lure Of The Temptress, they are the perfect place for a chat and why not order yourself a beer and enjoy a flutter whilst here? Perhaps I had too many beers, but I loved this experience which entertains constantly with a wicked sense of humour. Those, outside this great island of ours, might not fully appreciate it but we Brits always had a daft sense of humour. Well, I had a great laugh!

Fancy a beer? Of course, you do. It's a fact that no man can refuse beer so check out these images...


  
Being a normal guy, I head straight for the tavern which opens up a world of new options.

  
I gambled with these likely lads but didn't do very well... Wait a moment, is that a trapdoor I see?


Aesthetics

Graphically, we have a homebrew Dungeon Master wannabe. It's actually pretty good and I believe the funky images taken from Deltronics' Fantasy Graphic Disk are quite well-drawn and often humorous. However, I was gobsmacked when the zombie appeared to eat my brain because I think this is superb pixel art.

Sadly, there's no atmospheric background tune but at least the sound effects are all made from samples. These certainly help to enhance the game's humorous nature: footsteps, knocking doors, groans and the clang of metal, are all good. But it's the horrifying screams that are amazing and really makes me chuckle.

We always seem to meet the same type of monster down in a dungeon. Which is great stuff...



Abandon hope all ye who enter here as each step reveals something scary!

Or even a hideous ... erm ... Viking?


Beat all of them and then a giant snake appears. Will it ever end?


Sometimes emulation is better than real hardware!

I've never previously experienced the Talespin engine and, although I wasn't expecting commercial quality, it's obvious this creator had limits. The problem is an agonising wait between each and (almost) every action which is quite poor and spoils the experience. Oddly, installing it onto a hard drive didn't present much of a benefit.

Sadly, my 16MHz Mega STe didn't speed up the gameplay as I initially hoped. In fact, it made things slightly worse because a few screens suffered palette corruption and its sound effects didn't play correctly. So, (sigh) I find myself in new territory here, and thus advise using an emulator like Hatari - I sped up those waits by hitting CMD X.

Okay, one final screenshot and it's something no adventurer ever wants to see...


I should have spent more time in the tavern!! At least the great humour remains until the very end.


The CryptO'pinion?

I enjoyed finding something "new" and this was most certainly an interesting adventure with silly characters and lots of battles against unearthly creatures. Sadly, it's let down by the Talespin engine itself, which is very slow. However, if you can put up with that, then you have something different to enjoy one quiet night in. A most enjoyable adventure.

Grab yourself the download right now.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Goldrunner



Robb says wow!

It's been a while since I posted something cool in our Music section. So, I went looking for something extra special and then I remembered this gem: a "Dark Rock" remake of the Rob Hubbard original. This completely blew me away!!

Okay, I'll award 100 points to those who can answer this question: What game is this music from? (Noooo, don't look at the post title hehe. Pah, never mind). All credit to Yoshitaka Hojo who you can check out on Soundcloud :)

I'm on the lookout now for other "dark rock" or "darker" remakes of ST tunes...

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Yomo


Yomo is an oldskool-styled shoot 'em up by Aaron Fothergill for Mandarin Software. It was runner-up in The 1989 Games Writer Of The Year Award competition which is pretty cool. I've had this on my bucket list for a while because I always admired its 8-bit feel which reminded me of games I played as a youngster back in the early 80s.

The world is viewed two-dimensionally with a landscape populated by many destructible buildings and whacky vehicles which use the most frustrating mechanics. Our character is a tiny stickman who's on a mission to recover a dodgy nuke dropped behind enemy lines. However, this won't be easy because the baddies are constantly attacking so why not fire off a few heat-seeking missiles before jumping inside something probably stolen from the 1960s? On foot isn't fun, but if you see other stickmen wobbling across your screen then hit fire and gun 'em down!!

Visually speaking, you better not have high hopes because this ain't no glamourous Bitmap Brothers product: the graphics are lame with titchy sprites and ugly scrolling that had my Atari STe crying out in agony. However, I must admit that the sounds aren't bad thanks to lots of crunchy samples - lightning is oddly my favourite!

Yomo is pants but it's also surprisingly a lot of fun and the ability to jump into any aircraft is genius. However, there isn't enough ammo and collecting extra supplies is laborious and very tricky during the heat of battle. Overall, Yomo is frustrating and overly difficult but if you enjoy blowing stuff up then it's possibly worth downloading.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Rubicon




16-bit games are tough!

21st Century Entertainment released Rubicon in 1992 and it's something I've enjoyed playing for years. It's simply my kinda game as it's a ludicrous mix of platformer and shoot 'em-up genres. However, I admit that I'm rubbish and fail to reach the third level - sometimes I cannot beat the first!! So, I've whacked on the trainer and played through to the end.

Developed by the Fingerbobs who certainly had a grim view of the future - by 2011 there would have been a nuclear accident which transformed the local wildlife into vicious mutations. Apparently, the situation is so bad that Finland and Russia were evacuated. Okay... it's our mission to kill everything before these creatures find a way to blow us all up!!

Hey, wanna see some amazing screenshots? Well, whatever you said, here they are...


Level one introduces us to the unfair mechanics, it's not long before infinite lives is enabled!!



But it's also now that you realise the beautiful artwork too.


I love level two with its enormous enemies and trapdoors which host something silly.



Oi, pick on someone your own size!!



Right, I'm impressed

The first thing that hits you is the tracker music which is stereo on the Atari STe and very nice. Why couldn't other developers go that extra mile? Anyhow, the aesthetics keep on getting better with superb in-game graphics: smooth scrolling across gorgeous landscapes with a wide variety of mutated monsters. The attention to detail is outstanding but animations are hit-and-miss because some are great whilst others are oddly void of any extra frames.

Sadly, slowdown occurs when particular (ie, ginormous) enemies are displayed. I must admit that I'm disappointed they didn't also utilise the Blitter along with the DMA - that would have helped! Curiously, this framerate drop occurs for unanimated sprites like the Ceratopia which is surprising after battling a screen-sized skeleton and a squid!

Anyhow, I can live with a little slowdown so let's check out more outstanding screenshots...


Level three continues the theme but in the snow! That tank driver should have ducked down...



Get out of that tank and fight like a man!


We're Pitfall Harry for level four with sinking stepping stones, spikes and lots of monkeys!



That is gonna hurt...................



I need a big gun!

This game is fun but throughout the seven levels, each is pretty much the same but with different graphics. However, I absolutely loved the last two levels which reminded me of Thunder Jaws and, of course, Aliens. Our hero has access to lots of weapons and the single-shot gun initially does the trick well but it's not long before you need to upgrade to something with a little more muscle because those bigger enemies are nigh on impossible to kill with your peashooter.

Weapons are generally excellent but the laser sucks. Thankfully, there are many other great weapons to choose from like the "Scatter" and "Napalm" (my fave). However, we start with zero ammo for everything other than our basic gun so must instead collect ammo boxes which are periodically dropped in. This isn't too bad but is made awkward because you must first press the required Function Key to choose your desired weapon before making the pickup. I would have preferred random types of ammo dropped which would save us from fumbling for the right key before it frustratingly disappears!!

Nothing makes more sense than a fun and senseless game of killing so let's so more of it now...


Level five is incredible with many obscure enemies so upgrade your weapons!



Check out my flame thrower. Take a closer look!


Level six takes us into deep waters and I dare anyone not to love every second of this.



I'll kill you and eat you for my dinner. Well, no I won't but I sounded macho!



The CryptO'pinion?

Rubicon is great fun but doesn't break the mould and is also stupidly hard at times, especially on levels two and three. Also, the gameplay is pretty much the same regardless of the beautifully designed environments. Having said all that, I really love this quirky platformer with its freakish enemies and huge monsters - levels six and seven are my favourites.

Yup, Rubicon is far from perfect but it's still bucket loads of fun and is definitely worth your time playing.

If you fancy going shirtless and flexing your rippling muscles before taking on the hoard then you have this choice: grab either the floppies or one of these versions for a hard drive: 8BitChip or D-Bug.


The final level has us battling Aliens, Facehuggers, giant eggs, and even the queen herself!!



Alien queen beast! What?? Yowzers!!


Hmm, where have I heard that line before? ;)

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