Wednesday, May 26, 2021

My ST shelves!

A peep into the inner Crypt world

A long long time ago, I had an ST shelf. I was happy man. I proudly displayed my gorgeous ST gear to, well, myself. However, along came a woman who wanted to redecorate and the idea of having an old games shelf in our bedroom didn't quite fit in with her plans. Not having a backbone, I obliged and endured a shelf-less life without ST love.

Those dark days have ended!! How or why this has happened I've no idea but, I've been granted an opportunity to display my prize positions. I admit, my corner of the bedroom is hardly a man cave, but it will suffice. I love my shelves but I've been ordered to keep 'em dust-free! That's gonna be tough, I'm a bloke which means I don't do housework!!

I'm wondering how long to wait before putting up posters. I'm talking Vixen, Game Over, and Barbarian! Yeah, I'm only joking but isn't it funny that something like an ST shelf can make a grown man happy? Anyhow, wanna see photos...?

Three classic books and some lovely games. Especially, the Elvira box. Work-of-art that one!

The same shelf, different angel - I'm getting creative. Here you can see two fantastic new products.

My little box of working floppies - that I use over and over to playtest my Crypt games :-)

Oi, stop drooling over your keyboard. Yes, this is a fine selection! Boy, I love the ST :-)

These last four images are of a different cabinet donated by my beautiful wife!!

Yep, I'm now surrounded by my collection of Atari ST games and they all work.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021


Survival of the Fittest

I don't mind admitting it, but Joust is one of those games that I am absolutely terrible at. In fact, I could end this right now because I really am that bad - it really is quite humiliating! However, I also have much affection for flappy jousting, no matter the quality of my skills. Joust is something uniquely entertaining and something that thrills as much as it infuriates (me). So, it was a pleasure to discover that the Atari ST/e has another jousting competitor.

Winglord was originally a shareware game by Victor Bruhn who has since kindly released it as freeware a few years ago. Now, first things first, Winglord can run on either the Atari ST or its sexy sister, the STe. However, Victor intended it for the Atari STe as he utilises the Blitter Chip and DMA Audio. Older STFM's can still play but, won't get to hear the samples and might even suffer some visual anomalies due to the lack of a Blitter that handles the silky-smooth 50Hz display.

I think we need to stop reading and take a gander at the first screenshot. Well, here ya go then...

I struggle to fly whilst the computer cleans up. Yup, another drubbing by my faithful Atari ST...


Nobody ever reads the manual. Well, that's mainly a guy thing but, in this case, it's worthwhile taking a look. Not only are there lots of handy tips but also a great storyline that is fun to read. Come on, there are nasty wizards, medieval castles and winged unicorns which is all great stuff!! For those that still won't read it, here's my take on it:

Guardian Castle is above the villages in the valley below. They're under attack by the wizards of the Northlands whos minions have found a way into the tunnels under the mountain atop which it sits.

They have gained control of most of the caverns and passages that run through the ground underneath the castle, as well as a very large portion of the castle itself. Sinister beings now roam through these areas and have crushed all resistance offered by the sentries and the castle's contingent of soldiers. Evil creatures, some mounted by riders, continue to advance into the halls of the castle and through the caverns in a seemingly unstoppable march! (It's not sounding too good, is it?)

Thankfully, teleporting into the skies above the castle are WingLords who are ready to do battle with the invaders. Mounted upon winged unicorns whose beauty is matched only by their quickness and power, they descend into the depths of Guardian Castle and intercept a group of creatures. Two more riders enter the room and an airborne jousting battle begins between the adversaries.

Their powerful Fire Lances easily destroy the enemy riders, while providing their wielders with a shield against the enemy. The enemy is defeated and the Winglord's unicorn steeds use their natural teleportation ability and leave the battlefield to have their lances re-charged.

Now the WingLords wait for another onslaught, ready to do battle with the fire-spitting Yellow Jackets. The Dark Riders are also armed with fire-spitting lances. The Wing Masters, deadly flyers who are immune to missile weapons, and must be jousted against. This war is far from won!

Sounds cool, right? Of course, it does so let's take a break from reading and check out another screenshot... 

The Apprentice knights are a little slow but a lot harder than you might think.

Winged unicorns?

Winglord will instantly feel familiar to seasoned jousters. One or two players can compete, at the same time, controlled by either the computer or another humanoid that you may have lying about your house. Of course, each level is of a similar design with platforms that can/will prove to be of strategic use. As with the original, the screens feature a wrap-around design when reaching the edge. However, the eggs are gone and there are ceiling vents.

Yes, there are some alternative changes and also some that are peculiar ones. Gone are the lanky ostriches for unicorns - and unicorns don't lay eggs. But these majestic beasts love to strut their stuff - just watch them walk. So cool. Battling against enemy knights follows the same format but they now feature some unexpected traits and there are even buzzy bees too. Best of all, some medieval knights are expert jousters with exceptional skills. Beware!

Once again, let's stop reading my nonsense chit-chat and take another gander at a screenshot...

This isn't good, I'm about to be pounced on or stung to death at any moment!

Know your enemy

Any level can feature four different enemies each with its own strengths, control, style and armament:
The Apprentice - these guys are armed with only a lance. You might be fooled into thinking he's going to be an easy opponent. Don't kid yourself, he's crafty and has some nice flying skills. Also, he's immune to your missile attacks. Hang on, a moment... did I just say missile?!!

Yellow Jackets - this is a buzzy bee with suicidal tendancies, which means they're quite tough to safely defeat. These can, and will sworm, so watch out. Okay, they're a little dumb but, as a nest, they are a fanominal force. Perhaps a missile in its face is a good idea to teach them who's boss?

Dark Riders - this guy carries both a lance and a pack of missiles. He's fast, he's brutal and he's a damn tough lancer. Basically, he's gonna kick your ass!! Excellent fighters.

Wing Masters - Winglord shows its true colours when this guy enters the arena. These are jousting geniuses and tough cookies with ferocious combat skills. Be warned!! Hey, it's time for another sexy screenshot...

I tried my best to get a screenshot of a missile hitting a bee! Quite impossible lol.


Joystick controls feel much like they do with ST Joust, which was a massive relief because I was dreading any disastrous changes. Both flight and control are perfect, even if you are as unskilled as me. However, there is an option to choose your preferred 'flap power' that will alter the effect of the vertical force which is applied with each press of the button. Choosing high will gain greater altitude whereas low offers better control. It's best to experiment with what feels right for you.

Pushing downwards will fire a missile. Yep, a missile. It's one of the most unexpected treats I could have imagined. I must admit though, at first it felts a little weird but it sure comes in handy against those dopy Yellow Jackets! And who doesn't love blasting rockets? Note, these work against the Dark Riders and the bees - and can only be used during flight.

Hey, come back!! I know that you're dying to play this game but we're not done yet - it's screenshot time...

Mummy, I wanna go home now!

Big Tips!

1) Don't panic.
2) Playtest with the different flap rates to see what suits you the best.
3) Disable the second player, he can be distracting I found.
4) Disable the second player anyhow as he's far too skilled!!
5) Judge your entrance for a well-timed drop onto your unsuspecting opponent.
6) Don't bang down on the joystick too quickly, unless you enjoy hearing the sounds.
7) Those platforms can make for good defence.
8) Bonus rounds are a great way to earn extra points.
9) Why you listening to me? I suck at jousting!
10) For those with skills like mine, hit the Up/Down arrows on the main menu!!

So, there's a swarm of nasties coming and my unicorn decides to strut his stuff and look cool. Sheesh!


Visually, it's more or less, Joust and a damn good take on that original format I might add. However, being similar to Joust means it's also hardly something to gawk at in wonder and the levels appear to have less detail compared to the official ST conversion. Having said that, it looks nice and the animations are quite beautiful. I love watching my unicorn walk between the levels just for fun. He just loves to strut his stuff!!

It would be a crime to end it there without mentioning the framerate. It is smooth. Very, very smooth. In fact, it's smoother than Kojak's bald head drenched in baby oil. I believe this is thanks to the Blitter lurking inside the Atari STe. It's a great thing to see a developer that obviously enjoyed going that extra mile.

The sound effects are made up of a neat selection of samples. All are crystal clear, thanks to the DMA hardware that Victor is using. I only wish he would have recorded more for extra pizazz. Sadly, older ST's suffer minimal sounds but Winglord was developed on (and intended for) the Atari STe. So stop moaning and upgrade!

Jousting is excellent fun but can you handle the heat when it's 6 against 1 like in this final screenshot...

Hang on, I've lasted longer than the computer? Time to shoot and beat his score, for once!

The CryptO'pinion?

Joust is one of the best arcade conversions for the Atari ST. With that in mind, Winglord really needed to deliver the goods and guess what, it did. The cosmetic changes are nice and I love the option to use missiles. Also, tinkering with the flap-power attribute is a superb idea and the option for a second player is just dandy, even if the computer outperforms me each and every time. The change of theme worked well as did other changes like the regular use of bonus rounds.

Winglord cannot replace Joust, that's impossible but, I don't think it was ever meant to. As it stands, it's a fine alternative and something that doesn't disappoint in the slightest. This game is so much fun and I would have liked nothing better than to show you more of it (in my video) but that was never gonna happen with skills like mine. Sorry :p

Personally, I think this game is a fantastic "clone" of the original and the differences work great. Best of all, the Atari ST/e has another version of Joust and that's never a bad thing in my opinion. Winglord is absolutely excellent. Play it!!

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