Sunday, April 26, 2020

The Curse of Rabenstein

Only the brave may enter...

Stefan Vogt, of Hibernated 1, has done it once again and released another brand new adventure game: The Curse Of Rabenstein. This story has us travelling through the Black Forest on a cold and eerie night! Somehow we managed to get ourselves lost and the coachman looks very worried so stops to rest the horses whilst trying to figure out his map. We get out to stretch our legs and notice faint lights shining from a distant village. Oddly, that place isn't on our map - or any map! Hmm, very strange, but I wonder if there's somebody there who might be willing to help?

I've spent a few hours over the weekend exploring the village of Rabenstein which has a captivating storyline and is easy to get into. Unlike Hibernated, this is a graphical/text adventure with gorgeous retro-artwork to help represent the current location. This adds another level to the creepy atmosphere and I'm having a great weekend!

First, let's take a look at some early screenshots from my own game...

Has that coachman ever watched a movie? Look, I'll stay here and YOU go to the village!
The village actually appears very nice with a pub, church, stables. What more do you need?

Lovely, so let's go and explore a little more...
Erm, I don't think it's a good idea to wander around a cemetery at night - esp naked!! ;-)

Hay, Hay we made it to the stables which are just what we needed...

Explore the horror!

Heavily inspired by the Level 9 games, playing is familiar using a two-worded parser that keeps things simple to look, examine, search, use, and so on. For example, "examine bed", "search hay", "get shovel", etc/etc. Also, shortcuts can be used, so X will examine something, N will walk you North, and so on.

There is something uniquely riveting about Rabenstein's spooky theme which captivates the imagination. In fact, I even had a pen and paper at the ready - but never used them. The locations are few but crammed with information and details to help you out so I feel novices (like me) will find Rabenstein a fantastic doorway into the genre. Stefan describes his game as more a short novella, which I feel is not a bad thing whatsoever.

It's great to see that humour isn't lost amongst the "horror" theme of Rabenstein!
I knew it was a terrible idea to go into a cemetery at night!! What was I thinking?

Like an old Hammer House Of Horror!!

So far, my journey is currently going well: I figured out how to stable my horses, booked a room at the Inn and chatted to the local villagers - they seem nice but spooked! Later, I heard a terrifying scream coming from the graveyard - so I ran back to my room at the Inn only to hide under the bed covers all night! Yep, that's me!

However, things were very different the next morning. The village wasn't the same anymore - years had passed, the people had gone and the forest was taking back the land. A tree had crushed the church but it wasn't long before I started digging up a grave and fondling a dead corpse - not something I'd ever thought about doing! Hang on, I can see a Manor on the hill... Let's hope things get better after a good night's sleep?

Hmm, that InnKeeper was too good to be true. Everything changed when I woke up...

The CryptO'pinion?

I think this adventure will appeal to both noobs and hardcore adventures alike. The atmosphere is brilliant and I love how things can change so swiftly - very Silent Hill 'ish. Sure, the locations are few but they are stuffed with clues that make you sit back and think. However, nothing is perfect and I have quibbles: interaction with the villagers felt limited and I also wish that (superb) idea of an alternate village would have been used a lot more.

Overall, I am really enjoying this and far more than I ever excepted. It's like a Hammer House Of Horror in both style and content plus the graphics are a massive bonus (I hope Stefan continues down that path in the future). This is a wonderful adventure and I'm excited to see what freakish horrors await for me in the Manor!!

[My current progress] I finally made it into the Manor and there's a trail of blood. Oh, great!!

The Curse of Rabenstein is free to download!
* However, there is the option to donate a few quid *

I opted to purchase the boxed version with tons of goodies!!
Yep, I'm just like a (big) kid at Christmas :-)

Gaming like it's 1990 with a box is stuffed full of quality goodies!

Sunday, April 12, 2020

STAX #90

Everyone knows I love Menu Disks and there's nothing better than going through a pile of floppy disks - even just to listen to the tunes or read through a scroller relevant 30 odd years ago! ;-) Well, here is a belter by STAX - it's their 90th disk and features a nice intro followed by a couple of demos and games - which are all impressive for different reasons. The rest of their disks (and more) is available on Demozoo and Pouet.

Menu disks are an exciting part of the ST world and I've enjoyed this feature so I'm thinking I should do more?

- Aromatica -

Aromatica is a collection of old skool demo screens by The Swedish Meatballs and features lots of scrollers with extra colours and chiptunes. It reminded me of the days prior to the Union Demo, which is no bad thing. There's nothing here to blow you away, but I still enjoyed flicking through this neat collection. Definitely worth a look.

- Flight Over Sirius -

If you love dots then you're gonna fall big time for this dentro by The Sirius Cybernetics Corporation. There are several cool effects here with a fantastic chiptune. And just wait until you see those end credits with that diagonal scroller!! I felt it could have sped up a little with each section but I really enjoyed this fantastic demo.

- Snacman -

Everyone loves running around a maze popping pills with Pac Man and the Atari ST/e already has a number of fantastic clones. Snacman was developed by Ralph Lovesy of Impact Software, the same team that gave us ... Team for the Atari STe! Multiple players are also supported using a combination of keyboard/joysticks.

For one-player things are pretty much what you'd expect with PacMan even sporting some cool shades. Four ghosts haunt the maze: Eeney, Meeney, Miney and Mo and chomping a power star turns the tables on them. Fruits are available for extra points and a freebie life is awarded when reaching 20,000. Also, you can grab a couple of isolated family members and huddle around the ST to play as Eenie and Meeney? This is a brilliant feature being able to chase Snacman around the screen - watch the end of my video recording for a quick demonstration.

Visually, there's little to spruce up this oldtimer but that's exactly what they've done using gorgeous colours. Music is by Greg Lovesy and best heard on the Atari STe with stereo tunes on the title and also in-game!!

Snacman is tons of fun and implementing support for more players - as the ghosts - is fantastic. You and your kids will be playing Snacman for hours - especially those plucky Atari STe dudes who get to hear stereo music. Crank up the volume and enjoy what is nothing less than a fantastic game of PacMan. An easy 10/10.

- Masters Of Chaos -

Now, this is an interesting one and I first thought we had another Dungeon Master clone on our hands but it's actually a two-player shoot 'em up developed by Genuwax Games. Yes, one or two players are supported either using the same computer or connected via Midi. The screen is split using separate gameplay windows for each person and it's now that your jaw drops to the floor thanks to the use of overscan for a ginormous display!

As player one, we move and shoot with the WASD key combination and 1-4 to handle objects/buttons (a second player uses the numerical keypad). Exploring the halls feels instantly familiar with basic puzzles, hidden doorways and our health, stamina and mana are all shown as the green bars. Blasting out a couple of fireballs is your best defence when coming face to face with any of the dungeon's nasties! The ripped graphics look superb, especially in overscan! However, there are no sound effects which is disappointing and oddly freaky.

This was a fascinating find and not something that I ever expected. As a shooter, it works quite well but there are no sound effects, few monsters and it's easy to get lost - unless you've got a pen and paper at hand? Okay, I could live with the silence but it needed many more monsters for my liking. Overall, a unique and good game.

Credits to Damon Chaplin for the background music (from The Last Trooper)

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

The Crackers

Marco's on the scene again with a great idea for a fourth book: The Crackers. This will be an "untold story" of the secretive world of the cracker and what life was like for those lurking in the illegal side of creativity.

The darker side of the Atari ST is something quite fascinating and, whether you like it or not, this naughtier side of 16-Bit computing is part of our history. The plan is to feature the infamous groups and their hackers: Automation, Empire, Hotline, Blade Runners, Fuzion, MCA, D-Bug, Cynix, Ford Perfect, Elite, The Replicants and more.

Hopefully, crowdfunding will begin on April 20th via IndieGoGo. Sadly, the world is in lockdown so there's a risk this might not happen without help. To find out more, visit the website and subscribe to their newsletter.