Sunday, May 31, 2020

Easy Like Sunday Morning

Wakey Wakey!!

I woke up early today - in the mood for demos! No idea why, but I started watching a few old video recordings whilst suppin' my coffee. Yes, it's a weird way to spend those early hours when the family are still sleeping but... I am weird. There are so many great demos for the Atari ST and even a few for the STe too. (I never understood how the STe had all that extra graphical hardware, yet its demos pale considerably compared to the STFM releases?)

Anyhow, I ended up watching a few more videos - Punish Your Machine never fails to impress my old eyes and ears! Brace, by Diamond Design, is simply jaw-dropping. These got me in the mood - for another coffee!! Then I grabbed the headphones and enjoyed a few fave tunes by Scavenger, Nemo and TAO. A golden trio there!!

The trouble is, the hands ache holding onto the phone for that long, so I cast YM Rockerz' Spinning Wheels onto the TV. However, time was now running out and this "noise" woke my girls, who halted the fun ;-) But what a great start to the day! (Everything mentioned is within the above two [ST+STe] playlists I've linked.

I'll end this silly post with the groovy Sexgames by Christian Källström (Crazy Q) of DHS which is brilliant!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Line Of Fire

We're going to war, bring a mouse!

Line of Fire was converted from the arcades in 1990 by Creative Materials for US Gold and is basically a "crosshair" shooter. It begins from behind enemy lines as we're trying to escape never-ending hoards of angry bad guys. They're annoyed because we've sneaked in and pinched their brand-new toy - a Rapier Gun. Of course, we have no intentions of returning it so must now escape in a blaze of glory. A-Team style!

The gameplay is really simple: move the mouse onto the enemy soldiers and hit fire to send 'em to hell. Kill anything that looks mean, including the hardware that they use: a truck, plane, boat, or even their incoming missile attacks. Well, that's about as technical as this shooter gets - lots of frantic killing and loud explosions. Great stuff!

Oh yeah, so let's start by taking a look at the first screenshot...

The map shows our escape route through the base, jungle, rocky canyon, town, etc.

And bring a friend too!

One or two players is supported for a single or a (much-needed) co-op onslaught of pure adrenalin. Solo is controlled using the mouse which is perfectly precise but I felt the crosshair should have been bigger because it sometimes got lost among the action and explosions. Try it - hit the SHIFT key to spark a nuclear explosion (aka grenade) but be thrifty because these are best left for the end-of-level bosses. Trust me, you'll need 'em all.

We begin trapped inside the enemy compound with lots of baddies lining up the corridors all ready to kill us! The display shows our health and the number of grenades - both of which can be topped up by shooting the corresponding supply boxes left lying on the ground. There's a boss waiting at the end of every stage, be it two ugly brutes firing missiles, a plane stuffed with a cargo of airmen, or a ghost train and its endless supply of soldiers.

Okay, shall we take a stroll through the many levels of this crazy game? Yes, a good idea...

- Eight Stages To Freedom -

Level 1 - The Enemy Camp

This is where we broke into the enemy camp, kicked in their sandcastle and make the bad guys cry. However, tons of smurf-looking soldiers were alerted (very odd) and they're mean and sneaky - some even hide inside the floor panels and ceiling vents. Once you reach the end it's time to battle two enormous bad guys who are just asking to eat those grenades.

Overall, I really enjoyed this opening stage albeit very short. Should have been much longer!

Level one kicks in with an assault of smurf soldiers!

It's not long before a couple of bosses appear but I brought fire!!

Level 2 - Destroy The Enemy Jungle Base

Those smurfs failed to stop us and we made it outside to jump into our jeep and head for the jungle. Lots of enemies are lurking in these muddy waters, along with choppers and planes dropping bombs of mass destruction! The action feels unbalanced for solo gamers but the helicopter boss is pretty cool and a good fight without being too complicated.

Overall, this stage proves the developers used ST Basic and had no beta testers! Let's take a look...

Chug...Chug...Chug... alongside an unused Blitter...

Be quick and get blasting everything you see on the screen. Gun love time!

Level 3 - Exit By Speed Boat

Pretty much more of the same as the previous level - but this time we're riding through the soggier parts of the massive jungle. Watch out for the soldiers hiding on the river banks and you might even see the odd Rambo impersonator. The two bosses are back but this time they've brought some help for what is quite a fatiguing battle.

Overall, this level is more of the same which isn't great unless you have a faster computer?

It's good fun actually. Essentially, my pessimistic attitude is because of the framerate.

Okay, the two guys have brought in some help. It's very tough so expect to lose lives.

Level 4 - Fighting In The Canyon

Like the jungle, this time the graphics have changed to an odd-looking rocky canyon. Hmm, those walls don't look right, especially when you see soldiers hovering in mid-air! Anyhow, this level is another which is stuffed full of gun love and there's even an aeroplane boss that lunges rockets at your face.

It's probably better than the jungle stages but just as crazy with too many enemies eating away at your credits.

Enemies everywhere! Shoot - quicker - shoot some more. No, be quicker!

Gotta be impressed by the boss scenes, especially as no Blitter is utilised.

Level 5 - Do Or Die Battle In The Desert

Landscape graphics are gone and the display is reduced to objects and sprites. It's now that I noticed the odd blue background - it really stands out because there's nothing else. Looks very strange. However, the benefit of this sudden change is a decent framerate which means it plays better than all the other levels. The boss stage is a train, which is something solo players should fear!

Overall, a great level and I wish the others were as fast and responsive as this one. I enjoyed it :o

It looks... odd... but fear not there's a bunch of fun to be had here!

The train level is great actually, but there's a lot to do and it seems to last forever.

Level 6 - Foes Await In The City's Ruins

Finally, we've made it into a rough shantytown for a terrifying urban siege. Terrifying because that horrendous framerate has returned with a vengeance - I think this stage is the most sluggish of all? To be honest, it's a bit boring and also far too tough in solo. Where's the boss stage?

Overall, it's okay but all a bit... meh because of the dreadful framerate.

The idea behind this stage is actually very good but poorly implemented.

I'd had enough by the time this screenshot was taken and that's not good, is it?

Level 7 - Evade The Enemies Aircraft

We're on the runway and zoom off into the skies for aeronautical hell. However, this stage is tacky with a lame submarine boss - which is rubbish. Overall, this feels like a stocking filler and is the worst level so far.

Wow, I said that after playing the previous stage? Dang!

I've really had enough...

Oh, go away! (Yes, I've really really really had enough of the game now)

Level 8 - Fly To Your Base By Helicopter

Glad I didn't throw in the towel because Howling Mad Murdock would have loved this stage! The enemy chucks everything at you for one final attempt to get their fancy gun back! Don't get defeated because the end is very near. Sadly, I did, because it's insanely difficult! Which means I failed to save the Western World from the dreaded Terrorists.

Ah well, at least I tried...

That blue background might look daft, but imagine it black. See, it's actually a good idea!

No matter how much I tried, I failed to complete the final stage by my lonesome.

Graphics and Sounds

Visually, Line Of Fire is an oxymoron because it impresses and shocks in equal measure. Overscan is utilised with both top and bottom borders removed to provide tons more pixels. I also loved the palette which is comically bold, the sprites are huge and those explosions are just ginormous! Sadly, the sprites look like I've drawn them and the framerate shocking. In fact, it's possibly the worst performance I've seen from an Atari ST which is a sad thing to type.

The audio failed to impress. It begins with a nice title screen chiptune with a humorous intro but it's all downhill afterwards. In-game sound effects are basically your gun and grenades. So it's your gunfire that you're constantly hearing, which sounds like a room full of dancers shuffling their feet. Ugh, turn down the volume.

A mixed bag of goodies alright but the Blitter would have helped a lot... sigh... Time for another screenshot...

Gotta take my hat off to the developers for using overscan albeit at the expense of framerate? :/

The CryptO'pinion

I must admit, I'm not a huge fan of crosshair shooters but Line Of Fire shocked me. There's no 2D landscape with pop-up cardboard soldiers waiting to be shot. Instead, we have a first-person perspective similar to something like Narco Police but in overscan. Which is kinda cool for a machine with only half a meg Ram!

However, this conversion is screwy and appears to do everything it can to make the Atari ST perform like a Vic-20. Okay, I would never compare a home computer to the specs of an arcade machine with its faster processors, sprite scaling hardware, etc but this feels rushed and should have been better. I don't understand what Creative Materials were thinking. Then again, aren't these the guys that gave us Street Fighter 2 and Days Of Thunder?

Overall, I enjoyed Line Of Fire because it's something different from what I usually play. It's better with a friend as it's not balanced for solo play, but at least it provides a few continues to keep you interested. I'm glad I didn't buy this terrible game, but I still enjoyed rampaging through the various levels. Worth playing - but only with a friend.

- Downloads -

Floppy - Bad Brew Crew #33 (Stonish)
Hard Disk - 8BitChip (w/ extra credits)

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Silly Dabbles Demo

Oh no, I've been creating again...

I love finding Atari ST programs that do something silly or unexpectedly cool. There are lots already within our Software section, like Full Screen Construction Kit, MandelST and I even got to play with overscan. Yep, I love to dabble in hiSTory so I was pleasantly shocked to find an intro maker which I had not heard of before...

It's by Deviant Designers, called Letter And Intro Maker (L.A.I.M.) and is simple to use. Just select the various fragments of what actually makes an intro - a picture, fonts, chip music and, of course, a text file used for the scroller. There are already lots of fonts on the disk and dozens of chiptunes to choose from - the hardest part is writing the text (read the docs) and finding a decent image to use - unless you're talented in NeoChrome?

Once you're happy, save your production to disk and then quit into GEM to load it up. Yep, you've created your first demo screen in mere seconds! This is what I've done here and called it "Silly Dabbles" which features an image from Beastlord and music by An Cool. Try this program - I'd love to see what you guys create.

I've recorded a video and the disk image can be downloaded too. It's jerky under emulation (for me) but smooth as silk on a real Atari ST. Anyhow, I hope you like my Silly Dabbles Demo and enjoy using the program too?

Credits and Download Links:

Deviant Designers for Letters And Intro Maker (LAIM)

Picture was taken from Beastlord by WJS Design/Grandslam

Music by An Cool used in The Death Demo for 2-Life Crew

- Screenshots from L.A.I.M -

Nothing flashy here but it works great and never crashed on me once!!

Oodles of fonts to choose from and a preview is shown before you decide, which is nice.

Dozens of awesome chiptunes to choose from but sadly no preview. Can't have it all...

Saturday, May 16, 2020


Thomas has been busy again!

It's always exciting to hear of a brand-new game in development for the Atari STe. I have just been given an early playable demo of Randomazer, by Thomas Ilg. That's right, the fella who gave us a fantastic conversion of Frogs. The graphics are designed by none other than STS with sweet tunes by xFalcon. Both are nothing less than top-notch!!

As you have probably guessed, Randomazer features randomly generated isometric mazes. Like those old Christmas presents, we guide colourful baubles around this maze, trying to guide it safely home. That sounds simple, and the idea is, but the gameplay isn't, especially when there are multiple balls! That's when things get frantic!! There are four different game modes, tutorials, buckets of levels, and also cool special actions. These can be used and applied to particular needs - like destroying walls or teleporting elsewhere on the map. Tilt-guide the ball home, can you handle it?

These type of puzzlers aren't really my cuppa tea because I simply haven't got the patience for something like this!! However, I have actually enjoyed playing Randomazer which is something that both Thomas and I are probably shocked to hear!! Why, I hear you scream?

Well, after suffering through Marble Madness, I wasn't initially keen with Randomazer. At first, I struggled and it destroyed what little patience I managed to muster! But the tutorials are helpful so I managed to get a grip of this intriguing puzzler which has elements of Lemmings in some respects. Yep, I still find it infuriating (sorry Thomas!) but it's unique and oddly very addictive!

It's incredible to think a brand new Atari STe game was born from what was a basic maze generator only a couple of months ago. I wish Thomas much success with this but please remember that it is currently a Work-In-Progress. Any feedback, help, or other ideas will be appreciated so click the link and get this baby playtested right now :-)

Update: the game is pretty much finished albeit marked as a beta as I write. You can download it right now from Thomas's website for free with the final release only hours away. Please note, that the boxed version is available to pre-order!! Also, it's worth checking out Stickhead's fantastic new video showcasing the current game. Enjoy!!

Use those green arrows to safely guide your ball home (the green square)

I never thought I'd see "perfect" when I first started to play this tough game!!

Woo!! Things are getting difficult now and what are those buttons at the bottom? Hmm...

Hang on, I can blow up walls? Let's try that for starters!!! :D

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

The Galactic Miner

We dig for diamonds, we dig for gold...

Galactic Miner was developed by William Anderson of (wait for it) Willie Wonka And The Software Factory. How ludicrously funny is that? Anyhow, this started life on the TI-99 4/A and is basically a Digger developed using STOS. However, it doesn't appear compatible with many models of the Atari ST/f/e but more on that problem later.

Dig Dug fans are gonna love this but we begin with a terrain map that details the quality of possible mining locations: white areas have the best pickings, brown is good whilst green is poor. However, travelling costs money, and we don't have much, to begin with, so it's best to keep things local. Once a decent spot is chosen, a fantastic animation displays us driving along in a truck before stopping to erect a mining shack. It's from here we can lower ourselves down into the mine.

Chose the location of our shack wisely. Here is a screenshot of the mining map...

We're the red block and this is the map used to pick ourselves fertile lands. In theory!

Shack Attack!

Our shack wouldn't be complete without a credit-munching Vendomatic! This machine is used to restock dynamite that is used to clear a path through the mines. Droids are bought to help protect us from sneaky thieves and Clones aid with extra lives. The final option is another shack, which will be used at the next dig site. Sounds expensive, right?

But wait, that's not all the magical shack offers! There's a copy machine - which is used to exchange mined ore for credits. Eagle eyes will notice a save game feature - which you should use regularly! The doorway represents an exit onto other sites but the computer isn't something I've used - because I've never earned enough credit... Hmm, everything costs money! Finally, use the hatch to return to the mine but don't forget to turn out the light on your way out!!

Let's take a peep inside our shack, it's pretty cool actually...

Not your typical mining operation but everything you need is available from inside your shack.

Too scary for Miner Willy!

Okay, we've built ourselves a shack and have a fist full of dynamite so let's get inside the mine and begin the hunt for goodies. Instantly, the gameplay feels familiar but with a few basic differences. Freely moving through the dirt is only possible when something collectable is within your grasp. Use dynamite when thicker dirt or small rocks are blocking the way to the goodies. Dynamite has no effect on the larger rocks which are too strong, so look for another way.

Beware of ugly creatures lurking within the depths! There are scary monsters that will roar onto your screen at random intervals and in random areas. Thankfully, these can leave behind a present to pick up. Also, it's a good idea to protect your shack from thieves by purchasing a Droid - it's expensive but has good security. There's nothing worse than being underground whilst someone's on the surface robbing you blind (great to watch though!)

Check out these fantastic screenshots which detail my busy route looking for cool stuff...

What's wrong with the world today? I'm working and that no-mark turns up to rob me blind!

The attention to detail is pretty cool and I love my truck. I want one!!

As you can see, each mine is always different as are the quality of your dig with gold, gems, etc...

Grab as much loot as you can and run!

Each screen is randomly generated so always different including item locations, monsters and cave-ins - which can change things drastically. It's also possible to run low on dynamite but there is the option to return back to the shack to cash in and restock? Deciding if/when to do that is entirely up to you, based on how much of the good stuff remains. Also, bear in mind that it costs us money to detonate a stick of dynamite. There is more to this game than I first thought!

So, it's decision time, should you restock and return to the same mine to collect what's left or move on to new pastures? It's all up to you based on your finances and what remains to be collected but, if you do go back, then I seriously advise buying a Droid. Yup, there is actually a lot more to this game than just digging. Good luck, you'll need it!

It's time for more screenshots so keep on scrolling ST Nutters...

I've pretty much cleaned out the mine!

Wait, a monster... at least he didn't bite me!

I forgot to clone myself... How often have I said that? And then this screen mocks you!


Graphically, this feels oldskool and very amateur. But it's also very appealing thanks to lovely landscapes, good use of colour, well-drawn decals and funny sprites. However, it's the cartoon animations that steal the show and it's a blast watching your Ford Ranger (I'm daydreaming, okay!) drive along the landscape before we stop to masterfully build a shack. Heck, even the truck's suspension rises as its cargo is removed!! So much effort obviously went into this and I love it!!

The title screen has a neat chiptune and there are a few jingles here and there to enjoy. In-game sound effects are all made from crunchy samples which I really enjoyed. Okay, I'm gutted the STe hardware wasn't utilised (1992!!) as the samples sound rather STFM'y but I love how they're used. Watch out for those roaring monsters!

Sadly, I couldn't get Galactic Miner to work on my Atari STe (TOS 1.62). It booted up fine but then appeared to hang on the title screen. Sadly, things didn't improve with Hatari on my Mac - using my usual default ST/STe configurations (TOS 1.02/1.04 and TOS 1.62).

I had better success using an ST (in Hatari) but the miner lost his position on the screen - and that got worse with each movement!! So, I went back to the basics and emulated the original ST with TOS 1.00 and everything worked. Looks like this game only works with TOS 1.0 but YMMV?

I love the neat touches, like being able to collect a dead clone's loot.

I never did get why the old shack needed to be blown up?

...but then I'm eaten alive. What a great day!

The CryptO'pinion?

Ignoring the need to emulate with TOS 1.00, Galactic Miner has a couple of other issues I didn't care for. I don't feel it's well-balanced concerning the cash/credit system because everything is far too expensive in comparison to the rewards earned via mining. Also, we get charged for detonating dynamite and then charged again for supplies!

Ignoring my sneaky plea of an extra credit cheat (any hackers reading this??) Galactic Miner is one of the silliest yet most addictive games I've played in ages. Enjoy digging in the mud like a kid from the 70s. You're gonna love this.

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