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'm 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 a jousting competitor.

Winglord was originally a shareware game by Victor Bruhn who 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 utilised the Blitter and DMA audio. Older STFM's can still play but, won't get to hear the samples and might even suffer visual anomalies due to the lack of a Blitter that handles the smooth 50Hz display.

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:

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!

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. Each level is of a similar design with platforms that 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 plus some are quite peculiar ones I must say. 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.

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 - now Winglord shows its true colours as this guy enters the arena. These are jousting geniuses and tough cookies with ferocious combat skills. You have been warned. Beware!

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


Joystick controls feel much like they did in 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 skilless as me. However, there is an option to chose 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.

Pushing downwards will fire a missile. Yep, a missile. It's one of the most unexpected treats I could have imagined. At first, it feels a little weird but 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.

Missiles are a fantastic twist over the original format. However, purists may be disgusted by such an conflicting addition? Not me. I personally feel the use of missiles is optional, not a necessity.

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!

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 and, it did. The cosmetic changes are nice and I loved the option to use missiles. 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. 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!

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 excellent.

- Download from AtariMania -

1 comment:

  1. AnonymousMay 16, 2021

    Great article which has convinced me to play it asap. If the game is as pleasant as your article the game should be good then 😀👍