Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas

We're almost at the end of yet another year so here is a cute Christmassy slideshow I found whilst digging through the AtariMania archives. It's from a disk magazine by Effect and is stuffed full of text and even features the most annoying rendition of "The 12 Days of Christmas" I've ever heard - but at least it supports the STe audio!!

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their help and ST commitment over the past year. Once again, I've met some great people and seen things which I thought would never happen after the ST "died" in the mid-90s. There are so many awesome games and demos recently released but my personal favourite is, of course, Manic Miner which is a fantastic remake of Matthew Smith's ZX Spectrum classic from 1983. Absolutely brilliant.

Also, I'd like to thank: Tom/Karim for all their sharing across various social media. Peter for adapting these merry ST games (and my requests for more!!). AtariMania for always being my go-to place. Atari Legend for being ace and getting me addicted to Ultima V. And, course, every one of you guys visiting my website throughout the year :-)

All the beST and Merry Christmas †

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Time Soldier

Let's kill people!

The conversion of Time Soldiers was released in 1989 by Electrocoin and is based on the vertically shoot 'em up not too dissimilar to something like Ikari Warriors. The story goes that Gylend has captured a few of our friends who are held captive in different time-periods. So it's up to us to rescue them - gotta say I like the idea of the time zones.

I've not played the arcade game, but I see there is a slight name change - that means we're running solo. This would be understandable but we are given only one life which should make the quest rather difficult - unless the game is rewarding during play. Before beginning, we're given the name and location of our captured warrior - but the teleporter can send us somewhere different. Which is odd and means you gotta plough through to the correct portal.

So initial impressions are a little worrying? Let's take a peep at some screenshots...

I love the colour schemes throughout which nicely represent the original game.

Lots of action and even more death and destruction. I love it!

Shoot. Kill. Kill even more!

Each of the time periods has a change of graphics but basically follows the same format as you might expect. These areas are stuffed full of enemies that need killing, which is most satisfying. Those slain in battle leave goodies that should be collected for a power boost. Health can also be replenished that is needed because every contact drains you dry.

A boss is featured at the end of level and most are rather easy to kill. However, my power-ups sometimes ran out during the lead-up to this fight, which then makes it nigh on impossible to win!

There's nothing mind-blowing about Time Soldier; the gameplay is a cross between something like Wanted or Commando. I wasn't sure about the scrolling which often left me vulnerable to any baddies off-screen. I was never going to like the one-life aspect too so I'm beginning to pick flaws and I wonder who beta-tested this arcade conversion?

A good game that needed a little extra thought but that won't stop me from pushing some more screenshots...

Even Rambo wouldn't be able to survive this onslaught!

Those higher up have an advantage. But I'm still going to kill them.


I like the graphics in Time Soldier; from start to end, it's colourful and detailed. The backgrounds are great but we also have some of the silliest sprites. Not so much their appearance but how they attack in waves which means the screen is often cluttered with bullets and explosions- which I loved! It's maddening and frantic and chaotic. Loved it.

Heck, the game is even making use of overscan without any negative impact on the scrolling. Which always remains smooth so I am very impressed with the technical efforts that went into making this action shooter.

The music is well-balanced against the sound effects and suits the gameplay well. Zero complaints.

Hey, one final run of screenshots...

The purple works a treat providing another environment that is unique and fun.

This looks scary and tough. Well, more tough than scary but hey, what more can be said about it?

The CryptO'pinion?

This game was fun to play! However, I had mixed feelings: I wasn't too keen on the scrolling method which can sometimes fail to keep up with the player. Also, having one life is very restricting and forces you down the road of a trainer. Don't get me wrong, it's quite an authentic conversion in many respects but this insane design makes it very difficult.

Having said that, Time Soldier is actually an entertaining shooter in its own right. The levels are always interesting and brimming with lots of meaningless gameplay. This is pure gun love and will provide a few hours of fantastic action. For all its flaws, I enjoyed this peculiar conversion a bunch. Just be prepared to play with a trainer for extra lives!

Time Cops can download for floppy or hard disk.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Reach For The Skies

Ugh? Why am I thinking of S Club 7?

Anyhow, here is a flight sim by Rowan/Virgin called Reach For The Skies. This was released in 1993 and attempts a recreation of the Battle Of Britain era between the Royal Air Force and Luftwaffe. That was a crucial part of the war and is split into four mammoth sections. If you're up to it, you can be a brave pilot or the controller for an entire squadron.

Obviously, the first thing I did was skip the manual and read nothing more than the keycard. This humble sheet of paper displays an array of keys used to successfully pilot the planes. Don't be too scared, because there is a practice mode which is great for newcomers - like me. This means we can completely bypass the complex take-off procedure and pretend to be a stuntman like Colt Seavers whizzing across those lovely 16-bit skies? Well, ahem, I did :)

Those who prefer to take things seriously are advised to learn the cockpit and keep the keycard sheet at hand. As you get accustomed to flying the skies, you will note some external views: I really enjoyed these and you can watch me messing about on my YT channel (shown below). There are other features - video recording!

This is a demanding flight sim with some neat features that are brilliant for a novice, like me! This means you can get the most out of this flight sim from the start. I love the authentic cockpits, and the external views are stunning, but learning to hunt down and destroy the enemy will take much practice. But that's definitely a good thing, right? Reach For The Skies is one of the best flight sims, something I will enjoy time and time again. Tally-ho and chocks away old bean!!

Whatever plane you decide to pilot, it's best to download the hard drive version (floppies on Stonish).

Now, this is what I call awesome pixel artwork. Look at the details. Love it!!

The German on the right looks like Colonel Von Strohm, I thought.

Awesome pixel art throughout and I love the moustache and pipe. Very British lol

Is anything here catching your eye, hero?

Love the dated information that presents the mission ahead perfectly.

Those plucky Germans with their technology, commitment and wishful thinking!

The camera views are superb and I loved messing about with this feature. A lot!!

The graphics are incredible. It's like you're really there, well, for this 90s gamer anyway...

Oh no, pull up!! Pull up!! Why do I always die...?

Please note: the video recording is based on my own Mega STe (16MHz). I have tried to show the game's basic elements for both the German and the British sides. Perhaps I should have used the standard computer, but there are lots of videos out there on YouTube so I fancied being different and put the extra grunt of this amazing computer to some use!

However, it is worth noting that the standard Atari ST also performs very well (no change there then).

Friday, December 14, 2018

Ballerburg for mobile phones

[This video shows the wonderful Atari ST game because I have no way to record directly off my phone!]

An ST classic goes mobile

Let me start by saying that I never play "mobile" games. However, I was in my car bored stupid (it didn't take very long) and I remembered that Eckhard Kruse's Ballerburg had been remade by a company called DonkeyCat. Well, to say I'm blown away is an understatement because this classic mono game looks and feels very authentic.

The gameplay is as you would expect with wind, angle and speed to decipher. So choose your kingdom and get blasting cannons over the mountains! Okay, I admit that I prefer the Atari ST original but this mobile game is jolly good fun. Waste no more time and get on your chosen App Store and download this mobile artillery action (both iOS and Android).

Consider this isn't on an Atari ST... I had buckets of fun with this game. Highly recommended.


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny

Santa has come early!

Atari Legend is playing Father Christmas with a fantastic run-up to Christmas by releasing something special every day throughout December. It wasn't until the 7th when they released an HDD-patched download of Ultima 5 did I become intrigued. I've not played any Ultima before and this looks especially interesting so I had to try it!

The land of Britannia has lost its king, Lord British (cool name dude) and is now ruled by a tyrant called Blackthorn. Okay, it all sounds corny and the visuals might not rock the Bitmap Bros off-top spot (but when did great graphics ever matter to the gameplay?) I mean, just look at Rogue which I found to be a breathtaking experience. Nuff said.

Okay, I take that back, the graphics are really very nice so let's check them out in these screenshots...

Looks like I'm in a pretty cosy place and very glam too.

Okay, let's get out and explore the lush countryside.

Oh no, a two-headed Ettin has found me when walking over the hills...

I'm too weak and need better weapons - I should have run away!

First Impressions

Creating yourself a character is an unusual affair. It's something I didn't expect, but this process eventually got little Stevie configured and straight into the thick of it. Boy, are there a large number of keys to learn for each and every additional action - which basically means the interaction within your world at large. In fact, the world is huge and the battles are very hard so exploring Britannia is going to be lots of fun (or agony?). But, I can take it!!

I am genuinely enjoying my first couple of games: a lovely country walk through grasslands and forests until I found a small bridge - with a Troll. Luckily I made it across without him noticing me but I then ran into some red demons who decided that they wanted a piece of me. You know, those pieces that I need to stay alive... Yep, my first battle didn't go down well if I'm honest - DEAD! But wait, I think I've been resurrected for another bash! Let's hope I can do better?

This is one seriously addictive and immersive RPG. I'm talking months of my life, gone...

Vicious snakes decide to spit venom at our plucky adventurers.

Now I feel Ultima V is finally starting to show its true colours.

What a game and I must say that I adore the graphical style and detail. Amazing!

Hey look, I've just found a map! Time for a drink before leaving...

Have my plans changed?

Yep, they sure have. I now plan on spending the Christmas holidays in the world of Ultima V - which also includes whiskey, turkey butties and mince pies!! I'm really looking forward to learning more about Ultima V and have enjoyed a few interesting attempts (aka failures). So I'm excited to take this game seriously and see how my next adventure plays out.

Thanks to Atari Legend for the daily treats!!
STay Atari. Or die!

Sunday, December 09, 2018


Let's mess about!

MandelST is a fractal generator developed in GFA Basic by Manos Kantzos (thanks to GeoAnas for the heads-up). I love messing about with funky fractals and this program is a cinch to use - which is a good thing for me!

Mandelbrot/Julia productions can be generated within moments but faster computers will benefit from their extra grunt. Of course, emulators are an excellent idea, unless you prefer leaving your ST on for long periods? Images can be exported as Degas PI1 or TIFF - which is superb. Also, basic animations are possible and these take us deep into an infinite mathematical world like nothing I've seen before. A stunning idea with great potential.

I've enjoyed creating many peculiar and wonderful images and animations - which I'm quite proud of. Also, it's fantastic to see something new being developed for the Atari ST so I'm hoping Manos continues on and improves his work in the future. This is a great program, so have yourself some geeky fun zooming in on infinite!!

My Funky Creations


Saturday, December 08, 2018

Lupo Alberto

Taking another look...

Do you remember the excitement when Lupo Alberto was released back in 2015? Well, today I've taken another look because I was contacted by Luca Stradiotto who supplied a cheat code that enabled me to get much further into this *difficult* game. Otherwise, I'd have never stood a chance! However, I found a bug and got stuck lol

Lupo Alberto looks and sounds great but that push scrolling sure lets it down, especially when killed by something off-screen! But, it's still great and the two-player co-op is a fantastic feature to change characters. Overall, it's a shame that this was never released because I have enjoyed playing it. Well, until I got stuck!

It's silly (and a bit buggy) but it's so worth downloading!!

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Clever And Smart

Fancy something weird?

Magic Bytes released Clever & Smart back in 1987 and is a peculiar puzzler that is based on an original Spanish comic strip. Now, if I'm honest, I've never heard of that comic strip before nor have I ever played this Atari ST game. I'm hoping that being new to something is going to be a good thing. I can but hope! Let's see and take this weird game for a spin.

So, we begin at an odd city and are two special agents - who are controlled at the same time. Okay, they're hardly Mulder and Scully but these guys have been informed about a gifted scientist, Dr Bakterius. He is being held prisoner by a terrorist organisation called OMP. Yup, I guess it's our job to free him but why is there always an evil scientist on the loose?

Folk, brace yourself. This is going to be a bumpy ride so let's check out a couple of screenshots...

Terrorists are causing trouble again so let's plod through the city looking for clues... I think?

I must admit, the graphics are quite shocking but the character sprites are kinda cool.

Let's play something different, you said?

The city is viewed from above and exploring is quite a weird experience. Watch out for odd characters lurking in the streets - it usually ends in a brawl for some insane reason I cannot figure out. Finding a cop won't help because they just disappear (like in real life). I wandered around for a while until a car suddenly appeared with the sole purpose of running us down!

By chance, I entered the sewers through a manhole and found myself in a place that reminded me of an old ZX Spectrum game, Maziacs. I pottered about, dodging rats and silly cats, but there wasn't much else of interest other than to seek out an exit. Also, bumping into the walls displays a menu with two useless options, so I assumed I needed to previously hunt down items from in the city above? However, I found nothing in the three games I recorded. Yes, three.

Aesthetically, this sucks. It's almost like my Atari ST has been transformed into an Amstrad with such poor visuals. The animations are suspect and whoever created that shuffling walk (during the sewers scenes) should be shot!! Saying that some of the sprites are kinda cute and those brawls are a neat cartoon-like touch. However, this isn't a game you'll boot up to show your friends (lol). Sadly, the YM2149 blurts out little more than the odd scratchy effect and footsteps.

However, this now leads me to a couple more screenshots with humorous sprites like this cat...

Wow, the sewers are bad but not as much as our shuffling walk which is quite odd.

Hey, look is that a baby trapped in the wall or just hilarious graffiti. Love it!!

The CryptO'pinion?

Well, that was certainly one of the most unusual Atari ST games that I have ever attempted to play. It's quite confusing with lots of careless walking about. Little makes any sense so you basically wonder, wondering what to do and where to go. But then be prepared as you'll probably get mowed down by a car for no reason! Nah, this game didn't give a good vibe.

Those willing to torture themselves can grab the floppy and hdd versions for instant fuji pain. Good luck and enjoy it!

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