Tuesday, December 31, 2019


Another year is done!

I thought it might be nice to wave bye-bye to 2019 with a selection of previously featured games that you guys may have missed. So before welcoming in the new year, here's a bloated list of games which I personally think are true Christmas Crackers - and for a variety of different reasons. So, should be played by all ST Nutters!! :-)

We begin by taking gaming seriously. Yep, let's tax the old brain cells with four amazing games:
  • Yopaz is a familiar thinker running in GEM. But don't let that put you off because it plays really well and even supports the STe for some seriously cool ambient sounds.
  • Next is Unheart which has a C64 visual feel and some think it's a Boulderdash clone when they see screenshots - which it isn't. Instead, it's a mind-bogglingly brilliant puzzler!
  • Thirdly, it should be instantly obvious what BeGEMed is all about? Never have I played something so captivating with beautiful aesthetics. One seriously addictive puzzler!
  • Finally, the brilliant and originally titled Sokoban. This unassuming game is cunningly difficult and easily expandable. It will always get a thumbs up from me. Love it!


Two extra games

Now that's four games you should take time out to play. But wait, that's not all... Here are two more little-known games which I think deserve a lot of attention and for different reasons...
  • Alpha Waves. Wow, this is something so captivating and it blew me away when I first saw it. Imagine yourself trapped inside a box and the only way to escape is by bouncing your spacecraft on springy platforms. It's weird yet works so perfectly. A milestone in 3D game that will offer hours of fun. Download this right now!!
  • Okay, let's switch now to burning rubber and head straight onto the asphalt! The Atari ST is certainly blessed with lots of ace racers and driving games but few seem to remember Power Up? Okay, it's hardly original but it's so much fun, especially on the STe because it can make use of the DMA and Blitter. Faster Atari computers are supported for smoother framerates. Not perfect but I still love this game!


Fancy a little more?

Platformers are next and those who know me will be aware of my addiction to the genre. The Atari ST has many: Stario, Rainbow Islands, Gods, Ghosts & Goblins... But here are a few others which I wanted to share:
  • Prehistorik was written in STOS and is so much fun. It's a lightweight platformer but one with incredible mechanics and is GREAT fun. It should be played by all. Oh yeah!
  • Magic Boy is next and I said BOY not POCKETS!! This is another Christmas Cracker which plays as good as it looks and with STe support. No lame Amiga port here.
  • Next is a fella with a Big Nose who walks along boring landscapes - which should have been far better. But, you know what, this plays brilliantly and is so addictive.
  • Finally, we end with a Thug but he's a nice thug and another hidden GEM in the ST world.


Yes, there is always more!

Okay, it's time to end this little compilation but there are plenty more within our archives - so use the *search* function. Also, don't forget to download AtariCrypt Magazine. Yes, it's free... well... donationware... and obviously written by yours truly with visual flair by a talented Darren Doyle. Go on, grab yourself a copy.

Finally, thank you for checking out my website for another year. It's great reading the comments and your messages of support are always appreciated. Once again, I cannot leave without paying homage to our dear supporters: so this article continues over on Buy Me A Coffee as a special treat to those amazing guys!

All the very beST for 2020 and ... STay Atari !!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas

Catnap is a wonderful animation by Gary Johnson of Atari USA that makes the perfect Christmassy post! Apparently, the cat & dog are the pets of Ralph F. Mariano, publisher of online diskmag ST Report. Personally, I've never read an issue but it lived long into the 90s. Yep, this is something I must research over the holidays...

I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank our dear Patreons for their support over the year: Mind-Blowing support from our ST community!! Also, there are lots of cool friends in my little ST world who help in so many different: Tom, Dale, PeterJ, Marko, PP, Paul, Karim, Michael, Maarten, Seb, and my sincere apologies if I have forgotten anyone! Finally, my greetings to everyone who regularly visits this little ol' website to get their fix of Atari STuff :-)

Merry Christmas to all ST Nutters and I wish y'all the very beST †

Silent Night Atari ST chiptune by Chris French

Sunday, December 22, 2019


Today's cartoons are rubbish! #JustSayin

Thundercats was released back in 1988 by Elite and is obviously based on the old kid's TV show. Now, I don't remember the programme myself but YouTube does, which meant I finally got to see what all the fuss was about. An interesting show for the time and the game has many similarities, especially with the characters.

Gameplay is represented as a sideways-scrolling platformer over a number of (torturous) levels. We are Lion-O, a Thundercat with flame-red hair and a huge sword who battles strange animal foes. These baddies are from something called Mumm-Ra who have not only stolen the Thundera jewel but have also kidnapped the other Thundercats. What shall we do?

I think this translates as - we need to save the day! Okay, let's see some screenshots...

The first level breaks you into the mayhem nicely. Look for power-ups and try not to panic.

However, things soon get freaky with loads of enemies attacking from all sides!

Being attacked by so many birds at once isn't my idea of great fun.

The weapons are great but I didn't like that slowwwwww laser gun!


The terrain is straightforward with monsters, deadly water, disappearing platforms and rocks/etc to leap over - watch out for the bigger baddies who will follow. Random power-ups will appear at regular intervals and will need to be struck before you can collect them (I liked the mushrooms). An extra life is appreciated but I wasn't thrilled about the laser gun which is limited - it doesn't fire far thus annoying when something is out of reach! That doesn't make sense, does it?

The gameplay is regularly broken up by bonus rounds like trying to rescue Tygra, which proved impossible: one touch and you have failed the mission!! Also, the levels are broken up into themes which you can choose between: they are Fire, Water, Air and Earth. Basically, little changes but we do get different visuals and baddies to kill.

Okay, are you ready for more Atari ST screenshots? Of course, you are...

That creepy fella is tough, so repeatedly hit him where it hurts. No, not his wallet!

Don't forget the mushroom power-ups... You will need all the help you can get.

Hang on, what's this? A spaceship? Gun? Plane? Hover car?

Nope, it's a lame spaceship and one that features that silly laser too... Joy!

16-Bit gamers are tough!

The joystick controls are rather easy to learn and also very responsive: left/right walks our flame-haired hero and he can also jump and crouch with ease. I liked these controls which work well and the best part is our huge sword - which puts Conan's to shame!! However, it is oddly used more like a club which is weird, but it works.

Sadly, no matter how responsive the controls are - there are too many baddies to cope with. This is because they appear from both sides of the screen - so you're soon overrun as the hoards gang up. To make matters worse, your weapon can only kill what is directly in front of it so you're constantly jumping, crouching, and turning around... Add that to everything else and it won't be long until you've died - or launched the joystick in frustration! Yikes.

Yes, I think games were a lot harder back in the day and Thundercats certainly proves that!

I love the macabre artwork here. It's a bit crude yet very cool... and his toes are funny!

Graphics & Sounds

Visually, things are rather good I thought. The colours are bold and represent the cartoony-feeling very well plus I also loved the sprites which are superbly detailed. However, what shocks me most is how smooth the scrolling is and with a second parallax layer too. It's always nice to see when developers don't wimp out with flick/push-scrolling.

The in-game sound effects are okay, even if everything sounds all too familiar. However, it's the music I adore. This game ROCKS and the theme tune is pure Rob Hubbard awesomeness! It's brilliant and I love every second!

Check out this artwork and why not listen to the tune. Go on, it's lovely...

I always fail to rescue poor old Tygra!

 Click on the green arrow and enjoy this outstanding Rob Hubbard chiptune. Mmm, I love it!!

The CryptO'pinion?

Thundercats is a good game albeit ridiculously challenging. My red-haired hero was walking, jumping and crouching like a crazed hip-hop'ster on speed yet I still couldn't kill everything - without dying several times!! Even with a trainer, it's still far too hard but at least I got to see the later levels. Those who playtested this game needs their head examined!

I've moaned a lot about this game and yes, it's crammed full of annoying mechanics. However, it's still a game to boot up and play because it looks great, sounds great, and who doesn't enjoy clobbering animals with a huge sword? Personally, I'm more of a He-Man fan but I enjoyed this platformer and I think you will too. Flawed but a lot of fun.

AtariMania has the Super Pack floppy disks and 8BitChip has a hard drive game.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Summer Olympiad

A sports game? Me? Sporty? Yeah right...

Who'd have thunk it, yet another sports game here on the Crypt - a website by the least sporty guy on the planet! (Hang on, I enjoy watching NASCAR... Well, from the comfort of my sofa!). Okay, here we have TyneSoft's 1988 hit Summer Olympiad which features five Olympic events to compete in - either solo or against friends.

Firstly, you're probably thinking the same as me? Five events! Yep, 1988 must have been a poor summer or maybe the TyneSoft guys got bored? Who knows! Anyhow, up to six players can compete against each other through a selection of athletic events and they are Skeet Shooting, Diving, Triple Jump, Hurdles and Fencing.

Well, before any of that malarkey we should first find a busty girl to light that Olympic flame... (click the image)

Well, that's how my mind works... But I must say, I love the billboard screen showing each event!!

Skeet Shooting can be controlled using either the joystick or the mouse - but please chose the mouse! The left button launches a clay pigeon(s) and your right button fires one desperate blast into that direction. Quick reactions and accurate movements are required otherwise you begin shooting at the empty sky. And I did that more times than I care to admit. It's quite difficult... ahem!

Wow, my aim is terrible!! Still, it's really good fun trying to shoot the discs.

Diving is really silly yet brilliant. Never have I seen someone fall in slo-mo and from such a massive height! Moving left/right rotates the diver as he falls, whereas up/down tucks him up. A well-timed splosh produces the best scrores, somehow... But I really enjoyed this event. It's great fun!

After falling 50 miles you think the crowd would be more enthusiastic!

Triple Jump is a joystick destroyer so get waggling to make our little athelete run like the clappers. However, that fun soon ends because I think TyneSoft deliberately did everything they could to sabotage any enjoyment thanks to the stupid controls: fire-button alters the controls to change your runner's angle by pushing up/down. It's pretty weird and ruined the event for me.
Waggle Waggle Waggle... Joystick breaks... Thanks TyneSoft!!

Hurdles was a pleasant surprise because I expected more 2D but instead we're viewing the event using a third-person perspective. Joystick waggling is still the order of the day with the fire-button used to perform a flawless leap over the hurdles. Well, if you practise because it's quite hard to judge. Personally, I think having a simple shadow at the runner's feet would have help a load - and save him from lots of leg bruises... Finally, don't forget to lean forward when crossing the finishing line!

I'd be great at this if the objective was to kick down each and every hurdle!!

Fencing sounded like it was going to be good but controlling my dude felt somewhat disconnected from what I saw on the screen. So it appers pure luck if I made a hit but then I fell asleep!! Yeah, this is a bit rubbish if I'm honest and I didn't care for it. So definitely the weakest of all five events.

Boring... It's time to whip out a shotgun and blast your opponent!!


The visuals are by Paul Drummond and I must say that I really liked what I saw. The sprites are good with acceptable (wooden) animations but scrolling is smooth, and the 3D Hurdles is pretty impressive so get waggling that joystick. Yep, it's all good but oddly, I quite liked the event's loading screens the most - especially Skeet Shooting!

Chipmusic is by Wally Beben and is totally superb, especially between each event. Sadly, I only wish I could say the same for the sound effects which fail to show us what the YM2149 is capable of. I'm sure there must have been enough spare clock cycles for a few rough samples? That would have been so much better...

This image is my favourite. Brilliantly drawn and I think he looks like Chuck Norris!
Two more loading screens: Fencing is awesome but that Tripple Jump guy looks somewhat deranged!!


There might be only five but each event has something for everyone. However, it's a mixed bag with Skeet Shooting being the best, closely followed by Diving and Hurdles. Sadly, the Tripple Jump is awkward and Fencing is plain boring. I think if you are going to feature so few games then they all needed to be super-duper perfect to compensate.

Overall, this is a cracking family game that we have enjoyed - even if my daughter completely fails to grasp the concept of waggling a joystick! (Kids!). Anyhow, Summer Olympiad is definitely at its best when competing against family/friends otherwise it's all over too soon. Good, but could have been better with a lot more content/events.

Remember to do warm-up stretches before downloading for floppy or hard drive.

Monday, December 02, 2019


Kermit would be proud!

I've been given an opportunity to playtest the latest alpha v1.2 update of Frogs by Thomas Ilg. I previously got to play this cute game of strategic hopping which feels like a lifetime ago. Thankfully, Thomas didn't stop tinkering and made some improvements: faster code, additional Atari STe features and more interesting ideas - along with some I didn't like.

For those who don't know, our game is based on the Commodore 64 original by Dr. Wuro Industries. Thomas is using the Blitter and DMA Audio plus the gameplay is faster with up to 4-players. Anyhow, I've had a play with the latest release and reported back my thoughts. That's always a worrying time but it was long before I was given an update.

Okay, before we carry on, let's take a look at the first screenshot using Atari ST graphics. What? Look...

It's crazy with four froggies hopping around the screen but have you that many friends?

Uh, a Froggy game?

Yep, and frogs love ponds so each screen is a giant pond of rocks/lilypads that stay floating on the water's surface - for a short time. Hop around the screen, look for bugs, and then press fire to stick out your tongue to feed your belly. Be quick and beat the other players but watch out because the computer AI is actually quite superb - plus it's fun watching them brawl amongst themselves!! Oh, tongues have more than one use so don't be a pushover, okay?

Numerous ponds are available with three different gameplay modes and support for 2-4 players. Controls are rather unique featuring support for the keyboard, joystick, Jagpad or ST4PLAYER via the parallel port. Players can either be human or computer-controlled and there's even the option for a Midi link-up. Come on, tell me you're not impressed!!

Wanna see another screenshot? How about one using C64 graphics? Yes, on the Atari ST...

The C64 graphics are superb and add something extra retro to the game.

Yeah, Commodore!

Our Atari version features various enhancements with one being scrolling. Yup, the playfield (umm, pond) now scrolls and, in my recording, you can see how great this works. It's a treat and I (mostly) loved it. However, I thought that the single-player mode needed to scroll much more because it felt somehow short and restricted (to me). So a new "Single Frog Scrolling" option has been implemented for one-player and this also includes the C64 mode. Incredible support!

Of course, purists will be relieved to hear that scrolling will be an option selectable from within the game's menu. Yup, it won't be forced which I personally think will please folk from all corners of the gaming scene? Well, I hope so!

The graphic modes are going to shine alongside the recent (and staggering) framerate improvements when running on the Atari STe - we're talking 2VBL / 25fps. I'm also happy to announce other minor improvements that are in the pipeline, like the decals which I thought desperately needed changing!! Wow, I can moan about stuff, right?

Steve the frog always wins because he's the greatest!! :o)

The CryptO'pinion?

Frogs is a brilliant game and my sneak peek is proving to be extremely fascinating. For me, the option to scroll the screen is a fantastic idea and is implemented very well. Additionally, I'm happy to see Thomas is not restricting the Atari STe with the limitations of the older Atari ST or the Commodore 64. I'm excited to see what comes next - watch this space folks!

* Update: Frogs v1.2 Beta is now available to download *

If you've been living on another planet and missed out on this amphibious wonder then I suggest you head over to AtariMania and download it right now. Sorry, but you will have to wait a little longer to play v1.2 :-)

Also, consider buying Frogs boxed w/ its own multiplayer adapter!!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Seconds Out

Wanna be a Tyson Fury?

Do you remember a game called Frank Bruno's Boxing on the ZX Spectrum? Well, it looks like the folk over at Tynesoft did when they released Seconds Out in 1988. As in the Speccy game, we're in a boxing ring fighting ugly dudes and the action is viewed ringside from behind our noble challenger. Yup, it's original alright!

We are Marco, a challenger who must compete against five increasingly difficult champions from around the world. His first bout breaks us in gently against Joe Weed who lives up to his name and is pretty easy to knock out. The second is much harder, closely shadowing you and can easily block your punches. The third is rather odd and that's saying something for this peculiar boxing game: it's a lame fella who wears glasses and can headbutt. (I believe there are two more champions: an American and a Russian. Just don't ask me if I can reach that far!!)

First up is Joe Weed, an easy opponent! But Jonesy is harder, although he seems shocked to lose!

Punching people with a joystick?

Controls are initially odd but the one-button ST does well after a few practices. Moving left/right is easy, but slow, and we can guard ourselves using up/down with a little sway thrown in for good measure - if absolutely pointless. With the fire button pressed, we can punch with either arm as we float around that ring looking to sting. Well...

Energy levels are displayed along the top of the screen: decreasing with each hit taken and increasing when dealing out damage/resting. Also, a throbbing boxer's "KO" glove will indicate when your opponent is weak enough for a knock-out. That is the time to hit up/fire to perform the special ability, a swift right hook!!

Each round lasts for 1:30 seconds but oddly feels longer against the tougher guys who cannot easily be knocked out. Between rounds, we are slumped in the corner with our coach who helps to recover lost energy - something I didn't realise until after I made my recording. That'll teach me not to read the manual... Doh!!

Don't be a fool like me!! Waggle that joystick and put that old man to some good use ;o)

Graphics & Sounds

Graphically, this ain't anywhere near what the ST is capable of but it does feature lots of comical aspects - like Mike "Hammerhead" Hagman!! Also, the see-through wireframe idea works well but is spoiled by us having a pixelated head. Animations are okay and the crowd make very few movements so look rather bored.

Audio has been forgotten with no music and the near-static crowd is completely silent for such an event.


Watch out for this dirty Jeff Minter fighter. Even when I'm knocked out, he still tries to headbutt me!!

The CryptO'pinion?

This game has massive drawbacks, like speed. There isn't any. These athletes are the slowest I've ever seen! But never will you feel like you're participating in a big event with a motionless and silent crowd. Also, the gameplay itself is very short and obviously linear in structure, so I'm sure better players could complete it in under an hour... Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee? Hardly, it's like walking barefoot in slutch, with a broken leg!!

That being said, Seconds Out is still quite enjoyable and everyone needs to witness that Glaswegian and his idiotic headbutts! Overall, an average sports game, that needed to be much quicker, flashier and a lot noisier.

Those who fancy sparring with Marco can find the Super Pack floppies on AtariMania.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Road Wars

There's always one

For the most part, my Super Pack run has been a glowing success featuring lots of brilliant Atari ST games. Okay, there's been a couple of bumps along the way, but that's only to be expected and even Atari wasn't able to please everybody all of the time. Although I seriously doubt I'll ever load up Chopper X or Marble Madness again.

Well, up next is Road Wars by Melbourne House which looks a bit like Eliminator. Apparently, a computer controls the safety mechanisms of the highways but it isn't working properly so the roads are no longer safe. Perhaps it was running Windows, who knows? So hop into your Battlesphere droid and rid the roads of menaces!

Weirdly, I like that their title screen and they get straight to the point with the instructions!

Fast & Furious!

Road Wars is a 3D racer but, instead of a car, we're a mounted-gun sliding down a yellow highway. We're also inside something called a Battlesphere which looks like a giant bowling ball and acts as a shield. Two players are supported and solo gamers will be happy to see the computer automatically assume the role of an absent friend.

The highway is walled on both sides with several types of enemies and other problems. Some wall panels are blue and fire electricity across the highway. Shooting either panel will disable that or you could just roll through hiding inside the safety of the Battlesphere. When both panels are gone, you're free to zip onto the next level.

Controls are simple to move left/right and pushing UP activates the Battlesphere's shield to hide inside. Pulling DOWN removes this so you're free to kill stuff using the fire button. The controls work okay but there is a noticeable lag when things get busy. I also found it way too easy to kill my friendly opponent. Clumsy me... Oops!

We're not alone! Beware and look out for the dangers on these futuristic yellow roads...
Red balls. Yup, red balls. These can kill you with one touch unless you're shielded - but even then, it'll completely destroy your sheid leaving you vulnerable. These can also appear in clusters which obviously gives you much more to shoot at. Also, beware of those that turn into missiles!!
Chevrons are an unusal surprise and it worth rolling over one...
Spikes are a pain in the rearend so cloak up quickly and hide inside your protective sheld!
Satellites frequently flyby and some can fire a deadly laser beam.
Barriers are quite fun and something to enjoy ramming through. Well, if cloaked!

We begin on Electric Avenue hunting down the evil villain, Eddy Grant. No, not really!! :p


The graphics are drab. When I say drab, I really do mean drab. The only thing I actually like is the loading screen which features the two developers - because I felt had a demoscene vibe to it. Oh, I also like the rolling moon animation which isn't too shabby. Well... However, what disappoints me the most is its ludicrously sluggish framerate.

The audio is freaking annoying with the one tune that plays constantly. Aggravating!!

Taking screenshots is usually a mad rush during the fun of frantic gameplay. Not during Road Wars! Yawn...

The CryptO'pinion?

Road Wars had the potential to be so much more, but its limited design lets it down because there ain't an awful lot to this shooter. I did wonder if we had another Quadralien on our hands but, no matter how long I played, I was bored by the repetitive gameplay, laggy controls, terrible framerate, and the constant music only makes matters worse!

Overall, this has to be one of the most disappointing games I've played and I'm struggling to think of something nice to say. Well, for what it's worth, Road Wars comes on the same floppy disk as Chopper X. I rest my case.

Masochists will be happy to know that AtariMania has the download!!