Monday, July 29, 2019

Atari ST demos [part two]


Following on from my previous post, here is part two of my personal homage to some earlier demos which I remember admiring so much. Keep watching, because I continue with two of the best megademos the world has ever seen before ending with Virtual Escape, possibly the best half-meg Atari ST demo ever released?

Once again, I hope you all enjoy what is nothing more than a silly fan-made video of a few demos that I remember enjoying from around 1988 onwards. Each production can be downloaded from either AtariMania or Demozoo. Finally, I've added an excellent background chiptune called Harmless, by Nemo aka Jan Daldrup. It's ace!!

* Grusel by Eckhard Kruse: I've always loved this and so does my daughter 30yrs later!!
* Death Of The Left Border by TNT: Finally, the left border had gone - an incredible moment.
* Singing Raisins by John Blakely & Mark Booth: An early animation which is so funny.
* The Junk Demo by TCB: From start to end these guys never failed to impress.
* Dark Side Of The Spoon by ULM: from the moment I first heard "U..L..M". Superb!!
* European Demos by OVR: What a jaw-dropping megademo with some incredible screens.
* Virtual Escape by Equinox: This runs on an 8Mhz computer with half a meg Ram. Outstanding!!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Atari ST demos [part one]


I decided to make a video showcasing a limited selection of the earlier Atari ST demos which personally hold a special place in my heart. You know, those productions which made our brains, eyes and ears exploded with shock and excitement when we saw our machine doing things it was never supposed to be able to do!!

I hope you all enjoy this video and I've also added one of my favourite chiptunes as a cool backing track, Best Part Of The Creation by Big Alec. A mesmerising tune from "Punish Your Machine" which is also one of few medium-resolution screens too!! Every demo is available on AtariMania and Demozoo and here is what I decided to pick:

* README.PRG by The Exceptions: Come on, nobody expected this when double-clicking that icon!
* Little Color Demo by The Exceptions: This is something I really love to listen to over and over.
* Full Screen Demo by Level 16: Both my TV and I were blown away by this stunning feat!
* The Union Demo by The Union: I still remember ordering this!! What a moment in time.
* The Cuddly Demos by The Carebears: To me, this felt like a Union Demo II. Ace STuff.
* Overdrive Demo by Phalanx: Oh, that menu. Wow, incredible!! How did they do it?
* Mindbomb by The Lost Boys: Possibly the best demo team? Ohhh what have I just started? lol

Update: I've made a follow-up video. Clickety Click! :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Myth



What might have been...

Myth was a promising game by System 3 Software that was released on several different platforms - except for the Atari ST. We got a playable demo to whet our appetites before they later pulled the plug. The first stage is fully playable but there is no music/sfx. So I added a wonderful chiptune by ActoDi called Friday to spice up the lacking audio.

This is /could have been/ a superb game as it's great fun and has a promising Gods/Black Tiger vibe that I really enjoyed. The graphics are fantastic with smooth scrolling and I enjoyed kicking and stabbing demon filth. Yup, this might have been great so I'm gutted System 3 wimped out on the Atari ST... Wow, the potential was there!!

The download is on Atarimania and there are more unreleased Atari ST games to cry over here - grab a tissue!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Frantick



Munsie power!!

I remember playing Frantick years ago so I figured it was about time that I gave this another shot. Well, after today's attempt, I still suck eggs but boy, is this a cracking game. Released in 1994 by the legend that is Dave Munsie, Frantick is a shoot 'em up kinda like a 2D Tempest! The documentation states that your reflexes and dexterity will be tested.

It's not wrong! This game is very challenging so features two extra game modes to help train you: Easy and Droid. Personally, I preferred the help from my trusty droid who seemed to enjoy sacrificing itself to compensate for my sluggish reactions... I suggest playing in either mode for several games of practice, you'll need it. Trust me.

Our spaceship is situated within a horizontal stripe along the middle of the screen. We can't escape this area but can move along it and fire up/downwards at the enemies. These blighters will ascend on your position, so be quick and kill them before they reach you. One touch and you're brown bread, but there are power-ups to help and other bonuses. If things get too crazy then whack your spacebar to activate a limited supply of nukes.

Graphically, things are actually pretty simple but using freakishly psychedelic styles! There are many different aliens and everything comes alive with colour. Heck, there is even an epilepsy warning! The sound effects are superb and STe owners, with enough Ram, can listen to streamed DMA music in-game which I really enjoyed. Oh yeah!!

As with Anarchy, this is one of those games that is too fast for old Stevie! Frantick completely bemuses and overwhelmed me with its furious action but it's such a thrill. But boy, what a ride. Phew!! This is what you'd call a great example of arcade-style gaming at its best. Just make sure you wear cheap sunglasses and drink lots of coffee first!

Brilliant game and something that I've thoroughly enjoyed. This is nothing less than a ridiculous shoot 'em up!!

Download from AtariMania for the fully registered game.
 [ Install to hdd/ultrasatan for best results

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Oh No! Not More Radioactive Mineshafts



A simple idea perfectly executed

Not since Rumbo or Hector vs The Mutant Vampire Tomatoes From Hell have I loved a title. I mean, come on, Oh No! Not More Radioactive Mineshafts - how fantastic!! This is a catch 'em style game released by Breakpoint Software (Jon Garry) for the Atari STe and, once again, the 'PD' world comes up trumps with a charming title.

We are a penguin who has somehow fallen down a mineshaft. Hmm, okay... To escape we need to collect colourful blocks which are raining down from above using our head. Yes, I said using our head!! Before a level begins, we are instructed on the number and type of each block to be nutted by our noggin before a timer expires.

The ones that you miss will fall onto the ground and these then become radioactive (I presume). And that also means they will slide away to the sides of the screen. Your job is to hop over them without dying and that's as technical as it gets. Thankfully, there is a password system to skip directly to any level - brilliant!!



Surely I can beat Tony Hart and Les Dennis!!!


Input & Output

Controls are best using a joystick (keyboard sucks). You can move left or right plus hitting the fire button (or pushing upwards) allows you to leap over the radioactive sliding blocks. Right from the start, the gameplay is fast and I'm incredibly impressed with the controls which are superbly responsive. In fact, they are perfect.

Graphically, these mineshafts aren't half bleak: a black screen with colourful blocks. Okay, the penguin sprite is cute, the palette is always bright and bold for those squares and everything breezes along at a smooth pace. I love the menus which are very kaleidoscopically and something like you would see in a demo!

Audio is where things shine and throughout are some of the most spectacular tunes by musicians like Tao, Big Alec, Sally of STAX(hello Jon!), Mad Max and Count Zero. All are electrifying and something rather special.



A password system? Ohh, brillopads!! ^ ^


The CryptO'pinion?

This is a frantically simple game that I've thoroughly enjoyed - even if it did drive me nuts!! I'm unsure whether it will appeal to everyone but give it a go because you never know? My only criticism is the lack of a points display, which means you won't know whether you've done enough to progress - until the timer has expired.

Oh No! Not More Radioactive Mineshafts is infuriatingly addictive and will certainly have you screaming at your SC1224 in no time. It is irritating, agonising and yet ever so simple and addictive. An exhilarating game!

Download from AtariMania or
Stonish with a great menu disk by Pure Energy [video]

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Dusty Old Disks!



Arghh floppies everywhere!

I figured it was time to start doing a little housework. No, not the dusting and hoovering kind because that's a women's job. (Ouch!!! The wife just hit me!). Anyhow, I've got hundreds of coverdisks scattered about the house but I can never find the one I need - without hunting through a mess of disks. BooHoo, right?

I'm amazed how many coverdisks were released by magazines like ST Format, ST Review and ST User. But there are also many others: The One, ST/Amiga Format, Computer Express, ST Action, Zero, etc/etc.

Unsurprisingly, most of my disks are by ST Format with ST User and ST Review following for a close second and third respectively. I've been playtesting most disks and I'm shocked to discover that almost everything works. I have a few bad sectors on a few ST Format disks but otherwise, I'm partying like it's 1990.

As you can imagine, this was quite the trip down memory lane. I've found many games and programs like Recover, Quick ST, Harlekin, K-Graph, That's Write, Cyber Paint, Ani ST, GEMview, Easy Draw, Spectrum 512, loads of CPX modules, etc... In fact, the abundant amount of utilities is most appealing!

A cynic might say, all of which I could have easily found on the internet!! But where's the fun in that? So come on, what does your cover disk collection look like? Do they work? Let me know in the comments below...










Grr, I found another 12 disks after taking this photo!! (10xSTF / 2xSTR)

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Super Wonder Boy in Monster Land



Oh boy, this game looks so bad...

Okay, we're a kid called Tom-Tom who wears a nappy and wields a sword. Hmm, I was hoping for something macho with blood and gore but, there is none! However, Tommy holds his own for his one and only outing on the Atari ST.

Anyhow, Tommy (yes, I've renamed him) lives in a pleasant place called Wonder Land which he apparently protected during the first game. However, don't get too comfy because a dragon has wreaked havoc on Wonder Land by releasing an army of hideous creatures. Not only will most of these beasts aimlessly walk back and forth, in a menacing manner, but they've now managed to turn Tommy's once beautiful home into Monster Land. Oh no, we can't have that!

Okay, let's end that sarcasm because this is where we come in to be a kiddy hero with the demanding task of killing all of the baddies and freeing the land of evil. Wanna turn your Atari ST temporally into a Nintendo and save the day?

I already know the answer so let's begin with some cool screenshots...


Hmm, that looks like a slab of juicy meat floating in the air?

Argh no!! Tell me I don't need to kill this cute, er, thing? Yes, KILL IT!!


Wonder Boy has to deal with some of the silliest monsters - which can be a pain to kill.


Kiddy killer time!

Monster Land starts off very bright and cheery with lovely colours and a cutesy design that I really like. Right from the beginning, you meet with somebody who details your quest and kindly arms you with a sword. Every level has its baddies who get more frequent (and nasty) the deeper you progress through the land. Easy ones are snakes and rabbits but there are many others which are trickier: bats, mud men and grey things that fire arrows (ugh, I hate those).

Currency is a big thing in this game and slain monsters will leave behind gold coins when slaughtered. Also, it's worth jumping up into apparently empty parts of any level because these areas might reveal extra hidden coins. You've just gotta be willing to hop here, there and everywhere - like an idiot! (I'm good at that)

Wanna spend those coins? Well, look for doorways that are often scattered throughout most of the maps. These provide access to various different stores to purchase items, enhancements, or friendly advice. For example, it's a good idea to carry a shield when you come across a grey fella who fires arrows. Other items which you might find useful are shoes for faster movements, weapons (I love the fireballs) or perhaps you're just after some basic help and advice?

Oddly, there's an egg timer displayed in your status bar and I hadn't got the foggiest what it was for. But, when it expires, some of your health is frustrating taken so try to keep it topped up by collecting the tiny egg timers hidden throughout the levels. Yep, they're probably going to be invisible so you better start randomly jumping...

Bosses appear quite frequently I thought, with the first being Death himself. Actually, he's rather slow and moves in a predictable pattern so is quite easy to kill, However, the others aren't defeated so easily so prepare thyself. Once any level boss is dead, you're then able to collect his loot and a key to the exit. Tip: don't dawdle & grab the loot first!

Okay, it's that time when I show some responsible screenshots. Fancy a beer, kid? What...


Oh not again? But boss-eyed helpers, whatever next?


A drink you ask? Beer please, and ignore the nappy I'm wearing. I'm over 18, honest.


Input & Output

Use your joystick to walk, leap and activate power-ups. When Tommy moves, he abides by humble laws of physics with regard to momentum: so he cannot simply stop moving when you release the joystick and will instead slow to a halt. At first, that is rather annoying I gotta say, but it soon becomes second nature. Oddly, the spacebar is used to open shop doors, which can be a little awkward and I would have preferred not to let go of my joystick.

Visually, Monster Land honours the arcade game well, but I doubt it'll blow your socks off: we're not talking Seven Gates Of Jambala or Risky Woods. What we do have is a gorgeous cartoon design with the cutest sprites - I love the snakes but those horrendous Mudmen are the best. Scrolling suits the gameplay perfectly and is smooth and responsive. Sure, they reduced the screen size but at least they didn't wimp out with flick or push scrolling so respect from me!

The audio is good and features chiptunes throughout by David Whittaker which I really liked. They're oldskool style and I doubt they're his finest work but there's still something cool and timeless about chip music and these prove that. Sound effects are nice, nothing more than the expected spot effects for weapons /etc. No complaints.

Okay, let's check out those cool kiddy visuals with the final run of screenshots...


Blue flying rabbit/bat things. Cute and annoyingly deadly!

Aye-up, what's inside here? Treasure, I hope...


And there's always an end-of-level boss just itching for a fight!


The CryptO'pinion?

Considering that I have never liked this style of platformer (yep, including Mario!), I must admit that I have really enjoyed Wonder Boy on the Atari ST. It starts off easy but soon becomes challenging with a massive variety of cute baddies to kill whilst exploring a range of interesting levels. Blummin' excellent game I thoroughly recommend!!

A massive shock for me this - who would have thought a nappy-wearing toddler would have been this fantastic?

Download for floppy or hard drive!

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Steps



What, Steps?

No, not that annoying camp-as-Christmas pop group but, instead Cream's musicdisk stuffed full of Tao tunes. My recording has short samples taken from random tracks, it's just enough to read all the scroller - which is always a lamer's necessity. YouTube has its uses, but this disk is best experienced using real hardware so click the link above.

I've really enjoyed this disk, Tao never ceases to impress and Steps is nothing short of extraordinary. Love it!!

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Amazine Weekend!




It's time for a good read

I've not been feeling too good over the weekend so I've sadly, not been able to play, record or write for my favourite Atari ST website. (Yes, this one!!) Typical though, isn't it? After being at work all week, I get myself a dose of the dreaded man flu. Let me tell you, women, there is nothing worse than this illness. Scientific fact. Honest.

As I've not been in the mood, I just popped over to Fujiology and grabbed a random diskmag. I love reading these - when I get a chance - and the ST has so many to choose from. In the end, I downloaded Amazine #4 by HMD which is probably one of the most short-lived magazines ever? I wonder what happened to No.5 /etc? How odd :/

Amazine #4 begins with a fantastic intro by Animal Mine - which has jaw-dropping fx. The magazine itself is displayed using medium resolution so it looks gorgeous and is very easy on the eyes. (I remember my old flickery SC1224). Inside are all kinds of information relevant to the early 90s which is both incredibly interesting and also a shame, especially when you see various productions that never got finished - Yuppies Land. I also enjoyed the interviews and then seeing who topped the leaderboard for best artist, musician and more. Geeky fun!!

Sometimes ... ugh... I wish I could be ill more often so I can take the time to relax with a good diskmag like this. The Atari ST has such an impressive library, covering a wide range of topics and interests. I enjoyed this one: it's interesting, funny, geeky and something today's youngsters will probably never appreciate. Check out these screenshots...



I love megademos but they can be spread too thin with fillers. I prefer dentros myself!



I love the GUI and how it pushes the pages across... Looks cool in ST Medium resolution too!


What? Fuzion are dead?? Right, come on guys, own it - who killed the Fuzion boys??



This was an interesting and sobering read and I would have enjoyed Yuppie's Land...

Friday, July 05, 2019

World Championship Boxing Manager



Do not talk about fight club

Okay, outside of stock car racing, I can't say that I'm a big sports fan and Boxing is something that has never appealed to me in the slightest. However, in the interest of keeping things as varied as possible, I'm always looking to try new stuff. So, I downloaded World Championship Boxing Manager by Krisalis which they released in 1991.

Now, I admit to being dubious about anything with "manager" in the name because it usually means boring and just for the uber-geeks. But then I noticed AtariMania had this listed as STe Enhanced which certainly whet my appetite. Well, what can I say, I'm a sucker for anything STe enhanced!! Let's just hope I don't die of boredom. Ha!

Okay, let's take a peep at some screens that push the ST to its limits... ahem...



  
Here's the place to get things organised and to make sure your fighters are cared for. Gripping stuff.


Silly faces you can punch!

We're first greeted by a range of dodgy blokes, who are all after a contract, so pick who you fancy before heading out to the office for a hard day's graft. It's here you can arrange a fight, train, view contracts, and even watch a fighter receive his physio. The actual fights are watched from behind the commentators - who will describe everything that is going on for each round. However, I soon felt the life force drain from me, so hit the fast-forward button!!

I can't say I was converted to the sport, or even hooked on this style of game, but I continued on and headed back to my office to see what other wonders awaited me. It was now that I noticed hands on the right side of the office, but clicking did nothing so I figured it was just part of the background... Well, until I clicked the filing cabinet...

I almost spat my coffee out when I began to watch my assistant walk across the office - for an eye-popping moment in 16-bit sex appeal. Okay, walking in those heels obviously looks tough, but she certainly excelled at handing over my documents!! Come on folks, I'm sure better use of the STe palette could have been made? lol



  
The car animation is pretty cool as are the opening scenes within the stadium. Very exciting!


The CryptO'pinion?

Boxing Manager isn't a bad game whatsoever and I imagine it will appeal to sports and strategy fans. Sadly, it wasn't something that I personally found particularly entertaining. Except for the girl strutting her stuff and flashing those long legs and boobs. Yep, I can imagine the folk at Goliath Games had themselves a right laugh making this? Brilliant stuff.

Overall, this is strictly one ideally suited for Boxing enthusiasts with lots of spare time on their hands.

Floppy disks can be found using Old Games Finder
or on Mantronix #6 thanks to Stonish.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

The Seven Gates Of Jambala


It's been ages since I posted any box art so let's end this dry run with something from my ST shelf... The Seven Gates Of Jambala was released in 1989 by Grandslam thanks to lots of talented sceners from Thalion. I actually bought this a few years ago and paid handsomely too. Not only is it Thalion, but it was sealed so in pristine condition: opening it was immense especially when I got close and breathed in that trapped 80s air... Mmm!!

There are some big names associated with this platformer, which I'm sure many will recognise from the ST's demo scene. These talented sceners sure knew how to get the most from the ST to prove just what this awesome machine was capable of when programmed by people who didn't make excuses and got this beast to grunt hard!

I must admit, its box design is kinda hit and miss: I like those monsters in the foreground but that freaky idiot inside the archway is lame - so makes me want to reach for my shotgun!! Having said that, the 3D perspective is nice... Well, I finally have a Thalion title in my collection and one which proudly takes its place on my ST shelf.

Sadly, as with Enchanted Land, this is another game which looks and sounds a lot better than it actually plays. Don't get me wrong, the basic mechanics are quite good but there's something off... I've never liked the feel of the momentum and slippy floors, especially when at the edge of a tight platform. Yes, I'm probably being too cruel because, unlike the above-mentioned game, this is better to play and therefore a lot easier to explore to see more of what it offers. What a shame I usually get lost! 

I'll probably make a video for a review at some point? But if you fancy trying it for yourself then I suggest downloading this version by Klaz which runs off either floppy or hard drive and includes a trainer. You'll need that trainer...


- SCREENSHOTS -


We begin in a village but beware the threat of drowning in tiny purple puddles!


Where could these doors possibly take us? Let's knock and find out...



Woo!! It's really creepy down here and there are monsters too. Watch out!


The tunnels reminded me of No Buddies Land! You can find THAT on this website too :o)

Monday, July 01, 2019

Dark Mode




Finally, Amazon delivered a new ST book - Faster Than Light. It's a cracking read and I couldn't help but giggle when reading about ST Writer's dark mode. Today's companies would rave about a feature like that as if it was... well... new.

This line hit home with me about Dark Mode, "The ST had that in 1985". Absolutely superb STuff!!