Friday, December 31, 2021

A Box Of Surprises!


Santa has been!

Possibly the best thing about running with this crazy idea of an Atari ST website is the amazing friends I've made along the way. One of the first is a fella from Norway who has supported me over the years and it's his latest donation that blew me away: a large box of Atari ST games that the original owner was going to throw away!

Now, it's been a terrible few months here and I'm ashamed to admit that this generous gift came over a year ago. Yep, I'm absolutely gutted it's taken me this long to get around to sharing this box of goodies with you all. However, I do remember him subtly warning me that their quality was... ahem... a little rough.

Sadly, most jewel cases are badly broken with sharp edges. I doubt even an eBay seller could get away with exaggerating their condition lol. I don't care because I love anything for the Atari ST (there's a shocker) and the inlays are preserved plus all floppies work. So this collection will be kept safe for as long as I'm breathing.

Finally, there is a game that isn't in a broken jewel case - Mean 18 by Accolade. This is in great condition so definitely the star of the show and something I'll cherish. Before scrolling down, click on these 4 pictures...





Skidz

How does a little community service sound in your game? Well, in Skidz we're picking up litter whilst riding a skateboard or bike. Avoid all the usual silly dangers along the way whilst also collecting top-ups for energy and time... Ugh, I hate time limits in most games. Anyhow, the levels are fantastic with various opportunities to leap ramps and more. The scrolling is nice and smooth plus the graphics are constantly superb for each stage.

Skidz reminded me of Back To The Future II somewhat and isn't really the kind of game I normally play if I'm honest. However, I enjoyed it quite a lot plus I appreciate the effort that went into its creation - it ain't no lame conversion. So, a good start to the box and also possibly something I'll return to someday? Maybe. We'll see...

Wanna take this for a ride then click here for the floppy disks.


Check out those shorts, this is one seriously cool Marty McFly!

Fancy a race? Hit that fire button and get ready for those tight corners.


Liberator

Here's one that should be familiar to all who follow the prattle I post here on AtariCrypt. I won't repeat myself all over again so take a look at the review to see what I thought of it a couple of years ago. How time flies!

Go on, I know that you're curious so click the link above and download it.


Come on, tell me you're not tempted to play after seeing this title screen?

Okay, I bet you're wondering what on earth is going on!


Rock'n Roll

This isn't something I've ever played and didn't know what to expect. It feels like a weird cross between an overhead Marble Madness and Gauntlet. Except we are a ball that's stuck in a maze for some odd reason and I assume we need to escape. Who cares? I'm annoyed already by this game, but I guess I should plod on...

The intro is ace and not unlike a couple of demos we all know and love. The game itself takes a little time to grasp because of the feel of movement using awkward controls. Oddly, I never found the mouse a good option. Getting around the maze is easy after a while and I found keys whilst swerving my way into hazards and secret rooms.

The graphics are actually very good with smooth scrolling albeit at the expense of a smaller play area. Barry Leitch wrote the music and it's excellent, although it grates after a while because you feel like it needed to alternate.

This isn't something I would ever have bought back. The concept will possibly appeal to Marble Madness fans but I found it a galling experience. I simply don't have the patience for stuff like this. I think I hated it.

Don't let my negative nelly attitude put you off, grab the floppy disks and take it for a spin (ugh).


A ripped idea but this is actually the best thing about this game. No, really.

Loads of keys!! How can I reach those? Meh, I don't really care...


Skyfighter

The Atari ST has a great number of decent vertically scrolling shooters so I'm a bit perplexed that I have never played Skyfighter before. The gameplay and style reminded me of Plutos or Xevious but it's all a bit drab with slow scrolling and too few enemies to shoot down. Well, that's hardly a good start, is it?

Control is best using the mouse as it's far easier to move around the screen and shoot with either the cannon or bombs. Dropping bombs on fuel pods will top-up your ship's reserve but that can be a tricky task in itself. This concept of refuelling worked well in River Raid but less so here because you must stop concentrating on the bad guys to make a careful detonation. Very fiddly so expect to get shot down in later levels.

After completing the level, you shall be quizzed. Yep, the computer will ask you a basic question about the stage that's just been played. It's a nice idea but rather pointless although very rewarding. To think your commander will send you out to war understocked with weaponry if you get the question wrong. Quite funny...

Graphics and sounds are boring and I'm sure any 8-bit computer could have done better. To me, Sky Fighter feels rushed in every respect but I had fun for 10 minutes. However, I would rather play Flying Shark.

Don't listen to me, grab the floppy disks and take this for a test flight yourself.

It's cheap and very tacky but there's some fun to be had here.

Completing the end of the level task rewards you for the next stage!


Bombuzal

Here's another one I have already featured but this time it wasn't so much a review but rather something that I wanted to share within our Pixel Art section. Why? Because it's got amazing graphics and I wanted to celebrate that wondrous fact. Bombuzal is a beautiful looker and a great puzzler too, so check it out right here.

Don't miss out on this wonderful puzzler. Click the link above and download it right now!

Is it just me, or does he look like he's sleepwalking with his eyes open?

He looks crazy. He is! He plays with bombs after all.


Forgotten Worlds

This is one of those arcade conversions that should never have been. Don't get me wrong, I think Tim Round (of Dragon Breed and R-Type 2 fame) did a great job with this. Except for the botched controls.

Even if you had never played the arcade original, it's obvious that the home computer game doesn't feel right. Shooting straight, whilst moving up and down, is fine but what about shooting in the other directions? Well, you need to hold the fire button to get our guy to rotate that attacking move. It's too weird and very clumsy.

I'm gutted because everything about this conversion is class. I love the presentation from the arcade and both the graphics and sounds are excellent. However, I simply cannot control the darn thing for love nor money. Why didn't they compromise and create something new or compromise, aka Ikari Warriors? You know what I mean...

A beautiful game ruined by the controls. What a shame!

Grab the floppy disks or a brilliant version for hard drive installation by D-Bug.


How cool is this title screen? Love the artwork throughout.

Okay, let's just stay on the left and move up & down. Yeah, that'll work...


Impact

Going old skool... If you enjoy Breakout then Impact is gonna make you grin like a Cheshire Cat because it's brilliant. Audiogenic aren't exactly a big name on the Atari ST but John Dale and Martin Day came up trumps.

A good Breakout needs to be fast and smooth with responsive controls and lots of power-ups to keep you interested. This has got the lot and it's so aesthetically pleasing to considering it's just bricks and balls. A fantastic Break-Out and most certainly one of the best there is for any computer. I guarantee you will love it.

Waste no more time and grab the floppy disks or better still a hard drive version by D-Bug.


What a naff title screen for such an immensely brilliant game.

Smooth 50fps action throughout and it sounds wonderful too.


Battle Chess

This is one of those games I first got to see on a friend's Amiga. However, since I cannot play chess, I never bothered to 'find' the Atari ST version. Although I cannot play the game, I do enjoy watching the computer move all the pieces. The pixel art is gorgeous as are the animations but I think I like the busy bee mouse pointer the most!!

The kind of game that makes you wish you were lazy and learnt to play chess. Or is it just me?

Download the floppy disks and get battling!


Very regal loading screen. Liking it!

Unlike me, the computer seems to know what it's doing... Look at the busy bee!


Joust

Come on now, tell me you don't adore this classic game? And the Atari ST game is practically arcade perfect. Anyhow, this has already been featured and was part of a special posting comparing it to other console conversions. I should do more like that... Check it out. (pssst, you might also like Winglord, best on Atari STe)

The D-Bug lads have done it again with a superb hard disk version and the floppies are here.

Ostrich's flying, dropping eggs and jousting each other. Sounds normal to me!

It's a crazy idea and features funky cool physics and mechanics. Works a charm!


Targhan

Now we're talking! This is a belting hack 'n slasher in a time of barbarians and bloodied swords. I've always loved Targhan and it's one of those games I periodically boot up for a quick couple of plays. It's simple, it's fun and it sure doesn't take itself seriously. Walk along, see a bad guy? Kill him with your mighty sword. Oh yeah!

We can run, leap like a girl, dodge attacks, climb ladders/ropes and explore as we please in a near-open world style. It's that freedom I love plus the constant enthusiasm for gratifying violence. The controls are responsive and a cinch to learn using the joystick. Attack moves can be performed only when holding down the fire button:

The graphics are great with huge sprites and decent animation along with background aesthetics like flying birds. Sadly, the limitations of the 16-colour palette mean everything is tinted a glaring red. That's a shame because hundreds of ST games feature palette splitting routines to increase the number of on-screen colours. For example, to separate the play area from the status bar so each part of the screen has a separate palette.

The audio is pretty cool with a fuzzy sampled tune bleating away on the title screen. But things get far better in-game thanks to the sound effects which are superb. Lots of Barbarian inspired grunts, screams, chinks, footsteps and more. Some are rather strange though - killing a bat produces a peculiar explosion sound.

I personally feel this is one of the better hack & slashers for the Atari ST. It's just downright good fun!!

Download the floppies to hack and slash your way to victory!


When you begin, the screen is clear of enemies so practice with the controls.

Okay, this fella is the first badass you meet. Are you ready?


European Soccer Challenge

Ignoring the fact that I almost lacerated myself on a sharp corner of the box, I booted it up expecting good things. The Atari ST seems to excel with these games, just look at Sensi Soccer, Kick-Off, Goal and Speedball.

The game is viewed overhead but the pitch always has a way to feel cramped and cluttered with too many players fumbling for the ball. The action is sedate and feels like they're trying to run through a field of thick glue. I thought the game was much faster? Its speed reminded me of the ZX Spectrum game, Match Of The Day!

I know, I know, I'm not a soccer fan so what do I know? Well, I partially enjoyed playing Team a while back because it had a large playing area and was fast. But this is one of the worst things I've ever played albeit with great sound effects. They think it's all over. Well, for European Soccer Challenge, it most definitely is. Don't bother.

If you fancy a kickabout then grab the floppy disks from here.


Try as I might, I wasn't able to kick the ball into their net...

Somebody kicked a ball high into the air. Hmm, exciting.


Blasteroids

This is another I have already featured here on AtariCrypt and, I must say, I had a blast with it. Pun intended! Okay, it's not quite as good as Stardust but it's incredible and a bucket load of fun. Check it out.

Our job always takes us somewhere hot and sunny.

Shoot, move, don't stay still. Kill everything!! Oh yeah, I love it!!


Out Run

This is a racer that's no stranger to most Atari ST owners out there who naively wasted their precious cash. The driving angle is too low and complemented by the worst framerate any game has ever delivered. Tidbit: scientists have proven that if you play Out Run for more than 30 seconds your eyeballs will burst. Fact.

Why anyone would boot this up I've no idea. The Atari ST has far better alternatives: Crazy Cars 3, Lotus Esprit 1 or 2, Vroom, etc... Or go slapdash in a fantasy land with Buggy Boy. Or challenge yourself in Stunt Car Racer. Heck, we even have a brand new remake of Pole Position for the Atari STe by Jonathan Thomas.

Thankfully, there is a rumour of an upgraded version in the pipeline for the Atari ST. It's a work-in-progress by Peter Jørgensen of Manic Miner fame. I have played a few betas and it's much faster, smoother and better looking than the drivel Probe/US Gold produced. An exciting project and I hope he manages to finish one day.

Download the floppy disk or this hard drive installable version from D-Bug.


Out Run looked so promising from the moment we first load it...

However, get yourself ready for headache-inducing framerates!


Mean 18

Along with Leader Board, this is one of the oldest golf games for the Atari ST and the screenshots certainly help to prove that. But wait, don't be put off by these naff DOS-like visuals because this is actually a cracker.

There are three courses with two difficulty levels: experts choose their own clubs with trickier controls so it's probably more fun as a novice. The 'action' is viewed from a third-person perspective and the balls are whacked using a 3-click method: once to begin, again to select the power and the final click to hit the thing in a straight line.

Compared to Microprose Golf, it might not have much appeal at first glance but it's a cracking golf game so ignore the frightful graphics and take it for a spin. Ugly as hell but I love this game a bunch. Plus the condition of the slimline sleeve/box, along with the contents, is superb so this is definitely the best of the entire package for me!

It won't ever be as cool as my original but you can grab the floppies from here and play it.


Another glorious shot. Hmm, will I ever break even with a PAR?

Ok, we made it onto the green so let's carefully line up the shot and calc the distance.


The CryptO'pinion?

If ever there was a mixed box of goodies then this is it. Okay. not all games will appeal to everyone and Outrun was always going to be a disappointment but at least the floppy disk still works. Perhaps I should use that as a blank? Thankfully, Targhan, Joust, Blasteroids, Battle Chess, Impact, Bombuzal and Mean 18 are all corkers.

Those with keen eyes would have noticed that there were loose floppies? Captain Blood and Pro Tennis Tour. The first is an astronomical game I should properly feature someday soon. Whereas the other is tennis, a repugnant excuse for a sport. Plus it's the only floppy disk that doesn't work so I'll get Fast Copy on that asap!

Thanks to Loggins for this wonderful gift. Each dangerously broken box will eventually be replaced and carefully preserved within the AtariCrypt archives. Yes, even European Soccer Challenge. Greetings to everyone that helps support AtariCrypt (see the scroller at the top of this page) and also to you for being here right now :-)

Stay Atari and all the beST for 2022.

4 comments:

  1. Bitmaps Retro (still alive)January 02, 2022

    Good to see mention of Bomb Uzal - absolutely love that game, had such a blast with it back in the day. As you say it looks gorgeous but it's also a really nice puzzle game. Battle Chess is proper legendary too. Re football games, there's Kick Off/Goal/Player Manager and Sensi - in truth everything else is shit. Championship Manager if you want a management game. It's amazing how many bad football games there are, though one could argue that's better than the modern situation of only 2 football games full stop.
    Captain Blood is well worth a play - it's weird as fuck though and I'd highly recommend a walkthrough since it's not exactly intuitive. Pro Tennis Tour however is absolutely fucking unplayable. Looks great but it's just super hard.

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    1. "Battle Chess is proper legendary too". Loved that! Totally agree. Great to see you back mate.

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  2. Wonderful atricle from Steve as usual, my favourites amongst these are Targhan and Outrun. For different reasons - Targhan i was amazed by the graphics, and play style. Unfortunately targhan had a slow control style that ruined a lot of the experience - i still finished it though :-). Next is Outrun, i spent a great deal of coins on this as a young boy, and i was excited when it was about to come to the AST. Unfortunately, the developers didnt spend the time to make the scrolling perfect (unlike Lotus and Vroom) so it was a terrible disapoinment when it came out. *cries* Then a Honorable mention to Bombuzal for its great puzzle elements, and pretty great graphics and sound!

    Regards, Tom

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    1. Targhan is ace. I love picking that up for a bit of time kicking ass. I find the controls very responsive and there aren't too many so (for me) that's a good thing. It's just great!
      Peter Jørgensen is in the process of updating Outrun for the STe and I remember the last beta he sent was 100x better than the official game. Sadly, his health isn't great so I think development is on hold for the time being. I wish I'd have kept a copy of that beta... sigh...
      Glad you liked it tom, thanks for the gift :)

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