Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Goodbye...



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 downloads:
  • 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!
 
 


For a moment, let's remain within the boundaries of thinking rather than arcade fun or mindless violence...
  • 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!
 
 


Platformers next and those who know me will be aware of my addiction to this genre and 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.
 
 


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 Patreons for their extra support: so this article continues over on Patreon as a special thank you to these 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 also 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

Thundercats



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 I can see many similarities, especially with the characters.

The Atari ST game represents the cartoon as a sideways-scrolling platformer shooter played over a number of (torturous) levels. We are Lion-O, a Thundercat with flame-red hair and a huge sword who battles against 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. 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!


Run...Shoot...Die!!

The terrain is simple with lots of monsters, killer water, disappearing platforms, and rocks/etc to leap over - but watch out for the bigger baddies who will follow. Random power-ups will appear at regular intervals and will need to be hit 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 because it doesn't fire far. Thus annoying when something is just out of reach!

Gameplay is regularly broken up by bonus rounds and trying to rescue Tygra proved impossible: one-touch and you have failed in the mission!! Also, the levels are broken up into themes and you're asked which you'd like to play: 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 on you. To make matters worse, your weapon can only kill what is directly in front of it so you're constantly jumping, crouching, turning around... Add that to everything else and it won't be long until you've died - or launched your 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 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 listen to the tune. 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 even if ridiculously difficult. My red-haired hero was walking, jumping and crouching like a crazed hip-hop'ster on speed yet I still couldn't kill every attacking monster without dying loads of times!! Even when using a trainer, it's still too hard but at least I got to see the later levels. Hmm, not very good?

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 because it looks good, sounds great, and who doesn't enjoy clobbering animals with a huge sword? Personally, I'm more of a He-Man fan but I still enjoyed this platformer and I think you will too. Well, with a trainer!!

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!!




- THE EVENTS -
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!!




- GRAPHICS & SOUNDS -

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 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!!




- THE CRYPTO'PINION -

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?

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 with too soon. Good, but could have been better with more content.

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

Monday, December 02, 2019

Frogs



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 game what feels like a lifetime ago, but Thomas didn't stop and has made some improvements: faster code, additional Atari STe features and some interesting ideas - along with some I didn't like!

Anyhow, I've had a play and reported back my thoughts. It was long before I was given an updated version...


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


What, a Froggy game?

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

Numerous ponds are available with three different gameplay modes and support for 2-4 players. Controls are rather unique using 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. Tell me you're not impressed!!


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


Yeah, Commodore!

One of the new enhancements is scrolling. Yup, the playfield (umm, pond) now scrolls on the Atari STe and, in my recording, you can see how 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 restricted (to me). So a new "Single Frog Scrolling" option has been implemented for one-player and this also includes the C64 mode. Absolutely incredible.

Of course, purists will be relieved to hear that the 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? 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!!

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


The CryptO'pinion?

Frogs is a brilliant game and my sneak peek into the stuff #InDev is proving to be extremely fascinating. For me, the option to scroll the screen is a fantastic idea and it is implemented really well. But I'm happy to see Thomas is not restricting the Atari STe by the limitations of either the older Atari ST or the original C64 game. Yup, he is making good use of the Atari STe so I'm excited to see what's coming 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!!