Friday, June 19, 2020

Serenade #78


I really enjoyed the STAX #90 feature so figured I would do another one! This time we delve into the Serenade archives to see what's lurking on one of their amazing 85 "PD" disks - nothing quite like keeping it legit? Anyhow, menu #78 appeared to stand out from the crowd with lots of cool games crammed onto the one disk.

This is quite a simple menu compared to others from their catalogue but there is stereo music for those lucky enough to own an Atari STe. In fact, it's one of few mods which hasn't aged badly at all, so it's a massive thumbs up from this chiptune guy. Also, the scroller is very interesting - apparently, Man Utd did well against their arch-rivals!

The entire Serenade library can be download from Stonish with credits/etc on Demozoo.



- DEADLAND -

A platoon of little stickmen have crash-landed on the planet Ursula Minor and this place is crawling with Ursulan Soldiers who are eager to kill you without mercy! Also, there are dangerous natural disasters to avoid so it's best we don't hang about and quickly repair our spaceship to escape this hellhole. Which means piecing that together (JetPac-style!) before anyone can be safely evacuated. Sounds very easy, right?

Deadland first feels similar to Rebellion or Cannon Fodder: control the direction of your active soldiers using the mouse and a right-click turns them into trigger happy Rambo's. The planet is crawling with enemies and constantly frantic so it's tough learning to battle whilst planning construction work - that might also leave some vulnerable? It's easy to lose your bearings and, just when you're getting to grips, your men drown in a mud pool!!

The enemy is relentless so you cannot expect to wander about easily killing anything without taking a more strategical approach. Each member of your team is listed on the righthand side of the screen for a health condition and other abilities. Don't forget to look after these guys - green is never good outside of the GEM desktop. There is a lot to master whilst here, especially whilst defending against enemies, incoming rockets, mines /etc.

I really enjoyed Deadland and the concept is great but this isn't something you can easily pick up and play. It takes time and a map would have been nice as would using the cursor keys to scroll. Yep, I have struggled getting to grips with Deadland but it's an excellent strategy and potentially rewarding. If you're brave enough?


Deadland doesn't give a moments peace and constantly throws everything at you. Is that a rocket I can hear?



- TRAPPED II -

I couldn't get this to work on my Atari STe - blank screen! So I switched to emulation to discover a nifty Tron game. I've never been much of a fan of the genre but I gotta admit that it's good and features different game styles, screen layouts and even a few power-ups (which I didn't expect). There's not much to look at (shock) and I imagined the sound effects would grate, but they didn't. After all these decades, I actually enjoyed a Tron game!


Some of the screens are nicely designed and help spruce up the simple gameplay.



- MANIC MINEFIELD -

Minesweeper was another fad which I have always failed to appreciate and Manic Minefield appears faithful to what I remember with gameplay that's about as enjoyable as I expected. Anyhow, after a few games I enjoyed this crude imitator even though I never won a single game! Actually, I would often feel robbed of a win because I'm sure the ST cheats!! Then it rubs salt into your wounds using a fuzzy sound sample to mock your lack of success. Interestingly, the board size, wallpaper, /etc can all be altered in the Options screen, which is kinda cool.

Manic Minefield is okay and I imagine fans will enjoy it? But I doubt it's something I will play again...


With one click I nearly cleared the board screen which left no real options... which means BOOM!!



- FRANK & THE LOST AUBERGINE -

Never would I have imagined loving a game's title more than "Hector vs The Mutant Vampire Tomatoes From Hell" yet here is Frank And The Lost Aubergine which is superb!! It's a fast-paced platformer developed using the STOS Missing Link extension and has us frantically running around screens crammed with monsters and gems.

Collect every gem to proceed onto the next level but watch out for the baddies. These can be killed by dropping a well-timed bomb directly in their path - difficult but doable. Or you could just slam into them albeit at the expense of losing one of your 50 lives. Yep, 50 and you'll need them all because there are lots of monsters!

Movement is very fast - too fast!! It's extremely difficult positioning just where to stand when you wish to leap off a ledge. In fact, leaping over the wider gaps is close to impossible and it takes too many attempts. I love a platformer that tests your patience, skills and dexterity but it simply doesn't work here. A good idea poorly executed.


Never have I known a game to give so many lives. Be warned, you will need every one of them!



- DELUXE INVADERS -

I love Space Invaders and I'm confident nothing will ever beat Sinister Developments' fantastic conversion which is arcade perfect using authentic effects!! However, this is a conversion of Roklan's 8-Bit Deluxe Invaders by the legend that is Dave Munsie. I've never played the Roklan game so was hoping for something different.

There are two game modes: slow and fast. The slower game looks superb with colourful aliens invading your screen and can be sped-up by flicking over to 60Hz - something you should consider. The faster version is better to play but appears boring in comparison, so I went looking for green cellophane to wrap around my monitor!

Sadly, I didn't feel it with Deluxe Invaders and much preferred the original if I'm honest. There are better "Invader" games for the Atari ST and I'm also a bit deflated because I've finally found a Munsie game I don't like :(


So, which game do you prefer - colour or speed? Yeah, I'm not so sure I get it either...



- NIBE -

This is a great snake game which I featured this a couple of years ago so I'll copy and paste:

NIBE is a Nibbler/Snake game by Marc Bourlon that features an ever-greedy snake who wants to chomp his way through lots of apples. However, this gluttony makes him grow longer with each bite so it becomes harder protecting him from bumping into walls or even his own tail. It's our job to help him eat his way through lots of screens - and many are pretty cruel in their design. You can even change the game's speed (if you dare!!)

Graphics are humble and suit the retro theme plus I love its title screen - which is actually a good intro. Sadly, there are no sound effects so Mad Max music plays throughout - never a bad thing!! Overall, Nibe is pretty straightforward and also extremely challenging thanks to a sinister design. Stick with it because the basic mechanics are spot-on and Nibe will certainly test your reactions, patience and concentration so prepare thyself to be tormented!!

I really enjoyed this olde game but beware, it's tough. Probably too tough for you!!!


Nibe demands Godlike gaming skills. Come on, just look at those impossible apples!!



- MULTRIX -

Groan, another Tetris game? Yup, and it's not that good I'm sorry to say so play BLAT or Teserae instead.


Okay, I'm being harsh!! It's a basic Tetris clone, which is "fine", but you should still play BLAT!



- The CryptO'pinion -

Well, that wasn't the awesome ride through the Atari ST history books that I first imagined. In fact, it was a little bit of a letdown if I'm honest! Not only did I have compatibility problems with a couple of games (Atari STe) but this was a true mixed bag of joy, disappointment and even a few stinkers thrown in for good measure!

It all depends on what you like but, for me, Deadland and Nibe are the best reasons to click download.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting! I'd not heard of these PD compilations before so I'm currently grabbing what is available to play via emulation.. Thanks for the heads-up and the in-depth review of this disk.
    I see the 1mb STe version of Llamasoft's 'Revenge of the Mutant Camels' is on one of them (not technically pd but I'm sure Jeff wouldn't mind :p ) which will be nice to try as I don't think i've played that version before.

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    1. Yeah "PD" with quotes ;-) Glad you enjoyed this article. Thanks very much for commenting here 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

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