Sunday, May 31, 2020

Easy Like Sunday Morning


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

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!!

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

I'll end this silly post with the groovy Sexgames by Christian Källström (Crazy Q) of DHS. It's ace!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Line Of Fire



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!

Gameplay is real 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!

One or two players is supported for 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 amongst 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 are lining up the corridors all ready to kill us! The display shows our health and 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...


The map shows our escape route through the enemy base, jungle, rocky canyon, a town, and more.



- 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 actually liked this stage albeit short with a sluggish framerate.



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 difficult. Overall, this stage proves the developers used ST Basic and had no beta-testers!



Level 3 - Exit By Speed Boat

Pretty much more of the same but now we're riding the soggier parts of this 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 a fatigued battle. Overall, this level is more of the same. See above.



Level 4 - Fighting In The Canyon

Like the jungle, only 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. Overall, it's probably better than the jungle levels but just as crazy with too many enemies eating away at your remaining credits.



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 and looks very strange. However, the benefit of this sudden change is a decent framerate which means it plays better than all the rest. 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!



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 if solo. Where's the boss stage? Overall, it's okay but all a bit... meh!



Level 7 - Evade The Enemies By 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.



Level 8 - Fly To Your Base By Helicopter

Howling Mad Murdock would love this stage! The enemy chucks everything at you for one final attempt to get their fancy gun back so don't be 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...




- 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 is shockingly bad. In fact, it's possibly the worst performance I've seen from an Atari ST.

Audio also failed to impress. It begins with a nice title screen chiptune w/ 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.



- 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 your Atari ST perform like a Vic-20. Okay, I would never compare any home computer to the specs of an arcade machine with its faster processors, sprite scaling hardware, etc... but this feels rushed and could 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 once - with a friend.



- Downloads -

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Silly Dabbles Demo


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 - like 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 chose 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)
https://demozoo.org/groups/38004/

Picture was taken from Beastlord by WJS Design/Grandslam
http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-st-beastlord_8696.html

Music by An Cool used in The Death Demo for 2-Life Crew
http://sndhrecord.atari.org/mp3/AN_Cool/

- Screenshots from L.A.I.M -



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


Oodles of fonts to chose 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

Randomazer


It's always exciting to hear of another brand new game in development for the Atari STe and we've just been given an early playable demo of Randomazer. It's by Thomas Ilg, the same fella who gave us a fantastic conversion of Frogs which should also work fine on the Falcon and Mega ST (check your STFM for an empty Blitter socket).

As you have probably guessed, Randomazer features randomly generated mazes were we guide colourful baubles around the screen and safely home. It sounds simple, and it is, but it's not - especially with multiple balls! There are four different game modes, tutorials, buckets of levels and also cool actions that can be applied to destroy walls and teleport. The graphics are designed by none other than STS with sweet tunes by xFalcon.

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 is 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 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 and the boxed version 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


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 later.

We begin by holding a terrain map which details the quality of possible locations: white areas have the best pickings, brown is good whilst green is poor. However, travelling costs money, and we don't have much too 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 ourself down into the mine.


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

Our shack wouldn't be complete without a credit-munching Vendomatic! This machine is used to restock dynamite that's used to clear a path through the mine. 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.

But wait, that's not all the magical shack offers! There's a copy machine - no, put your butt away because this is used to exchange mined ore into credits. Eagle eyes will notice a save game feature - which you should use! The doorway represents an exit onto other sites but the computer isn't something I've used - because I've never earned enough credit... Use the hatch to return into the mine but don't forget to turn out the light on your way out!!


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

Okay, we've built ourselves a shack and have a fist full of dynamite so let's get inside the mine. 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 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 good security. There's nothing worse than being underground whilst someone's on the surface robbing you blind (great to watch though!)


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


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

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's always 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 upon how much of the good stuff remains. Also, bear in mind that it costs us money to detonate a stick of dynamite...

So, it's decision time, should you restock and return into 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 actually a lot more to this game than just digging. Good luck!


(left) I've pretty much cleaned out the mine! Wait, a monster... at least he didn't bite me (right)


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

Graphically, this is amateur but pretty thanks to lovely landscapes, good use of colour, well-drawn decals and funny sprites. However, it's the cartoon animations which steal the show and it's a blast watching your Ford F150 (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.

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 wasn't utilised (1992!!) and they do 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 did have some 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 perfectly. 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. A great day!

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 with regards to the credits system because everything is too expensive in comparison to the mining rewards earned. Also, we get charged detonating dynamite and then charged again for using supplies!

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