Thursday, March 31, 2022

Title-Designer


Let's play...

By sheer chance, I found another demo/intro maker the other day and it's also something I've never actually seen before. It was released in 1987/89 for the Atari ST by Hans-Conrad Stamm. That's right, The Blade Runners! Just when you think you know your ST stuff, something appears out of the blue. Well, new to me!

Creating your first demo screen is a cinch because this is a remarkably easy program to use. Your intro can feature scrollers, colourful rasters, music and more. It's up to you to decide what and how to make your screen appear. Those with the skills to draw their own images or sample music will get even more from Title Designer.

( Sadly, there are some visual issues on anything other than the original Atari ST )

Over the last few days, I have made several intros and what's immediately impressive is how effortlessly I could make screens bursting with colour - I only wish it supported traditional YM tunes along with samples utilizing the STe DMA hardware. Having said that, this is a belting program stuffed with loads of features and I love it.

So, come on ST folk, get this program downloaded as I would love to hear what you make of it - let me know in the comments below. Don't forget there are many more gems for your Atari ST right here on AtariCrypt.

I've uploaded my own creation to YouTube so brace yourself for a thrilling rocky rollercoaster ride (hey, whilst you're there, why not check out our channel?). I'll also upload it to Demozoo for those wanting to download it!

Okay, here are a few cool Title-Designer screenshots to check out...

Remember reading those menu disk scrollers? Well, now you can write your own!

Chose their colours. Yes, that is colours rather than one single colour.

Why not add a couple of visual effects to your drawings?

I thought this was a powerful feature to have before loading another program or ST desktop.

And here's the result after mere minutes. Yes, minutes! (credit to unknown for the superb image)

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Persistence Of Vision


Menu Disk #099

POV was one of the best demo-packer groups for the Atari ST. They made 165 compilation disks, most programmed by Mac Sys Data, with fellow members including Ozymandias, Boris, Gonzo, Aly, and Dr Syne. Numerous disks featured music by Tao, Lotus, An Cool, David Whittaker, Ben Daglish, and many more.

I admire POV because they brought multiple demos, intros, and more to users like me who couldn't afford to buy, or freely source, everything flooding the ST world back in the 80s and 90s. Plus their compilations were professionally produced and crammed with loads of goodies I would probably never have got to see otherwise.

I've chosen to record their 99th menu because it's a great screen and also marked the end of an era, but not the end of the group, who continued on for years. Along with their copier, the disk features four demos: Life's A Bitch by TLB, The New Year Demo by X-Troll, Stuffy's Demo, and TSB/Adrenaline Intro by Kids Ghost Brothers.

Okay, it's not the greatest measure of what made the POV menus so appealing - there are far better - but I am sure that the infamous sampled soundtrack from Life's A Bitch more than makes up for the rest. So funny!!

Credits for Menu #099
Boris - Code & Graphics
Ozymandias - Graphics
Count Zero - Music
 
Links and a bundle of other POV Menu screenshots
Persistence Of Vision are on YouTube!
Exxos has a great POV section on his website.
Demozoo has a section dedicated to POV.
If you think this is all, boy, you're so wrong! [AtariCrypt]

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Hector vs The Mutant Vampire Tomatoes From Hell


Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes?

Hector vs The Mutant Vampire Tomatoes From Hell was released in 1993 by Pete Whitby of Jetpac fame (remember that superb conversion?). Of course, this is a platformer based loosely on the Space Panic theme and first begins with a fascinating demoscene-like presentation. It even has a scroller to read - a great start.

Each screen has a selection of evil tomatoes roaming about like they own the place! There are four types each with different characteristics and abilities but the only way to kill them is to dig holes with our trusty spade and hope they fall in. Then we rush over and smash in their faces with our spade. Gruesome fun made dead simple.

The monsters have various levels of AI which means there are the thickos who are all too willing to fall into a gaping hole along with the smarter ones who can jump and brandish weapons. What, you thought these privileges were yours alone? Oh, and don't expect them to remain helplessly trapped inside a dug hole - hurry!

Actually, there's little need to hurry because there's no time limit. That's right, no time limit. Fabulous!!


The first level nicely introduces you to the game so experiment with leaping, digging and killing.


Joystick Controls

Hector can walk, jump, and climb ladders and I must say how slick and responsive the joystick controls are. To dig, hold down the fire button and push upwards, whereas pulling down fills it in. A hole doesn't need to be completed in order to temporally capture a tomato, which is a superb ability, especially on later levels.

Hector is free and easy, he can change direction in mid-jump anytime and can cling and fall off ladders at will. That's a lot better than it sounds. This tomato-basher can even sneak up on any tomato to instantly begin the joy of clubbing. Try it!! Oh, and don't forget to jump! Have I said just how amazing the controls are?

Splattered tomatoes produce a range of bonuses - points, bigger leaps, extra lives, and more. You want guns? Yes, we have guns that can shoot, freeze and even throw out sliding landmines (an unexpected and welcome mechanic). Always grab any bonus because I felt they are an integral part of the gameplay design and success!

The joystick controls are extraordinary, both in function and in the fluidity of action. Wonderful just wonderful!!


Okay, I've got a weapon and I'm not afraid to use it.


Aesthetics

Each level feels 8-bit and is a little boring at times. Okay, it ain't no Rainbow Islands or Magic Pockets but that's okay because I like the style which is perfect for the Panic theme. The sprites are the best thing with cute expressions and are nicely animated - just wait until you see the Berzerker, so freaky. I love how he looks.

Music is wonderful and there's a great reason for that - thank you Jochen Hippel for his absolutely magical musical talent. The sound effects are produced from a variety of FM samples so, I imagine Pete didn't have an Atari STe, which is a tremendous shame. Hang on, did I just hear a Rick Dangerous sound effect? Excellent!!


Argh! Don't forget where you dug those holes otherwise you're left hanging and vulnerable.


The CryptO'pinion?

Hector provides a brilliant spin on the Panic genre with perfect controls for fluent movements that have us leaping and clubbing the freaky fruits with ease. However, I'm baffled why he climbs the ladders so slowly as this doesn't gel with the rest of his movements. And that's my one and only beef with this incredible PD game.

For me, the game design, controls and AI are marvellous. All these help to make the game so playable and therefore very, very addictive. Quite simply this is one of the best platformers I've played in ages. Amazing game.

Okay, the all-important download, a great video by Wasabim, and some more awesome screenshots...


The main menu is ace with a belting chiptune, scroller and helpful information.
The only level I didn't like the look of because it's a bit too green 'n mushy!
Those tomatoes are annoying so squash them for a great pizza topping!
I love the armour this guy is wearing but who's that sneaking about near the top? Freaky!!
I scored 9301 on my second attempt. Not a bad score if I'm honest. Can you beat me?

Friday, March 11, 2022

The Chaos Engine



Run. Shoot. Kill. Kill some more!

Hello and welcome to another slice of Atari ST history from my own collection and this time it's the Gauntlet shooter, The Chaos Engine by the Bitmap Brothers. For some reason, I didn't buy the game back in the day and I'm unsure why... Ah, I've remembered! I was probably too busy roaming the universe in Elite II to care about anything?

Anyhow, Chaos Engine incorporates a Victorian-era steampunk composition with several unique characters who each have their own traits. Quite often with games like this, I have a favourite character that I stick with throughout but not so with Chaos Engine as I tend to bounce between them all depending on how I feel.


Credits
Title: The Chaos Engine
Year Of Release: 1993
Developer: Bitmap Bros/Renegade
Programmers: Mike Montgomery, Steve Cargill
Design: Eric Matthews, Simon Knight
Graphics: Dan Malone
Sounds: Richard Joseph
Music: Farook Joi, Richard Joseph, Haroon Joi

Downloads
D-Bug has a fantastic version that can run from a hard drive.
If you're wanting the floppy disks then visit Atari Mania.


Personally, I absolutely love this shooter and feel it's one of the best by the Bitmaps. However, I have also found that it's marmite to some who don't like its style, control system, or even the fact it's a ripoff Gauntletier. I find that baffling so why not click here to see what I thought of it a few years ago. (2015 actually - how time flies!!)

How do you gentlemen feel about this marvellous creation by the legendary Bitmap Bros? A great shooter or a cheap Gauntlet ripoff? Let me know in the comments below. Until then, let's check out the box and its contents...


Now that's what I call a decent collection of screenshots rather than the usual one or two!
Here are the floppy disks. Now it's getting really interesting, eh!
The manual is really good. Although I've never read it until I went to take this snap!!
One day, I will post one of these cards...
I love this but, to me, it feels like an afterthought or the original design for the back of the box.
I've always thought that the computerised player two is an incredible feature.
The Bitmaps always went that extra mile. I only wish DMA samples were implemented.
Normally I keep everything safely within the box and in pristine condition. But, not this time...
...I couldn't help myself and the wife was pleased that I'm taking over a corner of the bedroom. Honest.

Sunday, March 06, 2022

Rodney v KFC


Zinger Burger anyone?

Rodney is a cool chap who loves his Atari ST and meeting up with fellow friends. One day, he was happily on his way to the Dullsville copy party until he had his compact disk collection stolen by KFC Gang. No, not that tasty fried chicken place but a mob calling themselves Klepto Foreign Chickens. So he went back home determined for justice! Grabbing an anti-chicken gun, he headed to their hideout for revenge - and his floppy disks!

In case you're wondering, they are ST compact disks and not CDs. ;-) Think Automation, Fuzion, Pompey Pirates, Elite, Dream Weavers and others that you can find over on Atari Legend.

The plan is to kill the chickens and reclaim his collection. But he's only got a few minutes before the bus drives off leaving him behind - and he doesn't wanna miss the copy party! Yep, this may sound like a lame dream but we must help Rodney get his collection back so he can meet up with his mates and copy some ST disks.



Chickens everywhere should be scared of Rodney with his anti-chicken gun!


Rodney should have locked his disk box!

As you've guessed, this is a platformer in a similar mould to the likes of Magic Pockets and others. Infiltrating the gang's hideout is easy, to begin with. This place is inhabited by the thieving scumbag birds who robbed your floppies and scattered them about their lair. Thankfully, one shot is all it takes to kill them and, if you see your disks, then grab 'em quick. Walk, jump, shoot, collect disks - that's about as complex as it gets.

Interestingly, Padman coded the game in GFA Basic for all 1MB computers. But it's best when run on an Atari STe thanks to the extra colours, DMA sound effects and gorrrrgeous music.

The controls are very responsive: left/right walks and pushing upwards leaps Rodney - with diagonal support. The fire button blasts a puny gun that sends the chickens to a slaughterhouse - I found it best pressing once, instead of repeatably bashing the button. Hey, these cluckers make a funny noise when dying which I love!

However, don't dawdle with idle exploration or listening to the chickens die. Remember that bus we need to catch? Yep, there's a timer and it's immensely restricting without any allowance for mistakes. So, if you need to backtrack after missing a ledge, don't bother. It's best to restart because you'll never make up the lost time.

Once all disks are collected, and the KFC dead, you can head towards the exit and then catch the bus to see all your ST mates at the copy party. This quest is straightforward: locate the disks and kill the KFC gang members along the way. I won't knock that simplicity because this is fun and the map is huge with a superb design.



I love how the chickens have those beady eyes and fall off the screen when shot.


Aesthetics

Graphically, this game is great with a murky palette that nicely represents the KFC's underground hideout. The sprites are few but humorously bright and perfectly drawn - I love those chickens so much! All animations are excellent and I adore how Rodney's quiff flaps as he walks (a ripped sprite from an unreleased Amiga game?)

The scrolling is smooth in all directions but sluggish which is disappointing, especially on the Atari STe. Perhaps I'm being harsh because Padman miraculously used GFA Basic so the results are outstanding in one respect. However, the cynic within asks why the Blitter/hardware scrolling wasn't used for a faster display.

For the audio, we have excellent sampled sounds used for dying chickens, disk pickups and an 'ugh' as we jump. Okay, it's no Death Chase but what we have, I like. However, it's the music that sets this game apart from the crowd thanks to terrific chiptunes. TAO's in-game music (Atari STe) is absolutely phenomenal.



Liking the subtle stamp Padman placed here. Let's turn that chicken into a curry!!


The CryptO'pinion?

I've enjoyed (trying) to help Rodney reclaim his Atari ST disk box but there are a few issues that obviously narcked me. For one, there is no indication of the outstanding disks left to collect so I felt blinded. Plus I wanted a better gun and more chickens to shoot. Worst of all, I hated that stupid time limit with a vengeance!!

Nevertheless, I don't want to be overly harsh as this isn't commercial and better than some of the dross we've endured by certain companies. Rodney vs KFC is actually very playable and, although it's doubtful I will find all the disks, it keeps dragging me back for that "one more go" and I love that aspect of this cool platformer.

Grab the floppy disk from Atarimania and check out a great video by Gears Of Games.



Those look like the unbranded disks we would all order by the 100s back in college :D
This is possibly the hardest part of the game, one slip and you fall into the fire!!

Can you beat my high score? In fact, this was my first ever attempt. So beat that! :p

Saturday, March 05, 2022

Sealed for 32 years



Chronicles Of Omega

I've returned to browsing through eBay after a few years away and, lo and behold, I see a sealed copy of one of my favourite platformers, Chronicles Of Omega. Yes, one of my favourites I actually said that. Please note, I am not saying that it's one of the best platformers for the Atari ST/e but, in fact, one of my favourites.

For those new to this often unknown website, I first featured Chronicles Of Omega back in 2016 so you can read all about it by simply digging through our archives (loads of links on the righthand side) or by skipping straight to that page by clicking here. Go on, enjoy yourself!

I liked ARC but they didn't seem to last that long, so I reckon that I was dead lucky to find this still sealed. In fact, being sealed means I carefully sliced it open to breathe in some of that 20th-century air before inserting the disk and praying it still worked. Well, it does and I'm happy to say that I stand by my earlier thoughts about this platformer, it's one of my favourites albeit with clunky mechanics. Click the link above folks.

For those interested in other Atari ST games that I've purchased, click here to see lots more (all are from my own collection). Okay, let's check out the cover art of this platformer and also see what's inside the box...


I must admit, a part of me wanted to keep this sealed and safe from the insanity of the 21st century!
Is anyone else reminded of Thunder Jaws? No, I mean the game...
Wow, what incredible cover art!
A good storyline and cool Atari ST screenshots. Nicely done, Arc!
Inside the box and we have a poster. That the wife won't let me pin to the wall... :(
No guys ever read the manual? Well, it's tiny and enough even for us blokes to bother with.
Has anyone got a stamp?