Sunday, January 29, 2023

Uninvited ...not a walkthrough!


Helping Hands
There are many walkthroughs all over the internet but, blindly following one makes playing any game rather pointless. Used as a reference they're helpful to get you passed those sticky bits that have you stumped. I know all about that feeling all too well for this bloodthirsty adventure! Anyhow, did you read our review of Uninvited? Go on, check it out :)

Uninvited is tough and it's an understatement to say that some obscure puzzles are impossible to figure out because they make no sense whatsoever! Also, there are many areas used exclusively as a red herring - lots of dead ends with even more dreaded deaths (remember that giant spider under the church?). So, I figured I'd try to map what I can and provide some helpful tips that might help you out. Or you could just google for a walkthrough if you're a wimp?


Generous Big Tips
* After escaping the car, look around before entering the scary mansion.
* Once inside, you'll notice an unlit fire and comfy chairs. Rest a while.
* Inside the library room, there is an interesting book to read.
* Anything readable is often helpful for information, words to speak and numerical combinations.
* The hallway on the first floor has access to bottles for critters and phantoms.
* Hey, there's a spirit in the hallway on the ground floor, that's handy!
* Any books left lying about need to be examined and read.
* Flowers can be a sign of respect, especially when placed at the graveside.
* I always carry a box of matches with me because you never know...
* Aren't knives great for cutting stuff up? Vandals use them to slash things like chairs.
* Did you find a box in the Master's bedroom? If you're stuck, highlight all the shaded text with your mouse: "pick up the box from inside the locked cabinet. This needs to be burnt in the fire"
* Gems make great keys for (erm) aptly shapely keyholes.
* The greenhouse is another enigma. Highlight this text if you're stuck: "use the watering can on the empty plant pot which is on the table on the left. Pick up the plant pot afterwards"
* Those dogs aren't that bad, they just need to hear a friendly voice. Reading is always helpful, right?
* If you don't go to church then you should - but the chapel is so vague and if you need help then highlight this text: "light the candlesticks and pick up the Cross. Don't forget to speak to the head..."
* The maze is its own entity of annoyance. Explore if you must but this is the part of the game where I "cheated" to find my way through. I know, I know but at least I'm honest! So, if you're fed up wandering around the maze like a fool, then highlight this text for directions: "north, west, west, north, north, west, west, north, north, east, east, north, north, east, east".
* It's here that you stumble upon a zombie! This is an easy kill but only if you were listening and paying attention right from the start? After the car explodes, you needed something. Can you go back? Ha!
* The maze still isn't over with and after killing the zombie, these are the directions to continue on: "East, east, south, south and you better have brought those flowers!". Hint? "only birds go inside a bird cage"
* Now we can leave the maze. Can you remember the way out? Okay, here you go: "north, north, west, west, west, west, south, south, west, west, south, south, east, east, south, south, east, east, south, south".
* Ice caves need melting. If you need help, highlight this text: "that brass pentagram which you thought was pointless is actually the way to melt ice. I know, I know... what a rubbish puzzle".
* Remember that little red demon that flies by every so often? Highlight time: "he loves cookies and can be found in the Recreational room on the ground floor".
* Dead body? Police might assume the worst so why not try dumping it?
* Drowning in the bathroom? Look up and keep trying.
* One final tip for the last task? John 14:6 ... Yep, you need a †

I hope my obscure hints help you out in some of those stickier moments? But please don't ruin this game by mindlessly following a walkthrough. Trust me, this adventure has its annoyances but is worth playing properly. Well, except for the maze which is a stupid part of the entire quest. So yeah, cheat all you can inside that horrendous location!

Okay, I'm being harsh and paranoid because it's actually doable -but- only if you map it. This will take several attempts because of three things: 1) deadly creatures lurking in the maze. 2) dead ends. 3) Well, I won't spoil that one!! So, the best thing to do is draw a map and keep saving and replaying it. This way you can keep nudging forward your progress with each movement made. Yeah, it will take a while so wouldn't it be nice if someone had already mapped it?


The Map!
Yeah, I've managed to map all of the different rooms, paths and locations (that was fun!). However, there are some that I've not yet managed to suss out. For example, the locked door near the Observatory and I don't know how to kill the giant spiders (not possible). Update: the map is now complete so download it and take a look for yourself.

I've spent several weeks making this map so let me know what you think in the comments below O_o



Yes, this is merely a partial thumbnail. The download link is juuuuuust above so grab it now!



Puzzling Puzzles?
As I said in my review (go on, you know you wanna click that link), there are many puzzles but some are plain stupid. Success is always about being a good adventurer and leaving no stone unturned so, if you rush, without making notes, then you're gonna make mistakes. Slow down, grab that pen and paper and you will do just fine (he says).

Before we see the absurd puzzles, let's take a look at some of the better ones you will come upon...



Why would I need a paralyzed spider? Well, isn't everyone scared of spiders? Everyone!


This is a game of experimenting so look everywhere and why not see if... something... works...


Yeah, you sussed it out! But now a peculiar haunting dude shows up. Scare him away!


Interesting information is everywhere so leave no stone unturned. Or chair.


What would you say to a gipsy? Well, I know but let's be nice! (hint, read everything)


Impossible Puzzles
See how painless yet productive those puzzles are thanks to a little common sense? Plus it always pays to read documents and books as that gathered information will help later on. However, there are a few puzzles that are very vague so stump even the most hardened adventurer. Heck, I don't think Spock could suss out some of these killers.

Melting ice, the church and the greenhouse sections made little sense and you already know how I feel about the maze. Also, there are some infuriating dead ends which are a pain in the bum especially when you're worried about the impending darkness creeping ever so near. So these aren't difficult puzzles more like impossible, which is illogical to me.

Sigh, it's almost like the game requires sneaking a peep at a walkthrough. Never mind, let's take a look...



Stone faces talk, really? Candles scare away ghosts - in the daylight - that was weird!


One wrong move in the maze and, you've guessed it. Death! Did you save the game?


Another dead end that results in your gruesome death. So glad I save regularly!!


I cannot stress just how impossibly irritating this puzzle was. Cool ghost drawing though!


Perhaps the most annoying death of all - I had no chance without referencing a walkthrough :(



Funny Faces!
Let's end on a high with some silly pixel art for a laugh. Uninvited is stuffed with great artwork but several screens are downright ridiculous, like the bathroom with its ugly miniature dolls hanging on the wall. Also, there are a few dodgy-looking monsters which certainly don't suit the "horror" theme (David Marsh what were you thinking?). Quite odd compared to the other drawings which are fantastic by comparison. Oh, and where is my brother on the final screenshot?

Anyhow, thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy this last batch of silly screenshots...



Attack of the killer tomatoes? Oh, and this was another ridiculous puzzle!!


Green fingers make this monster happy. Apparently...


One final demon to contend with but only if you steal from the chapel! Whaaaat?


The weather brightens and everyone is happy. Another day saved. Be happy.


lol yeah, that's me alright. And no, I don't have a printer!



What, do you want more?
Well, how about access to a hidden room? It's called the Art Gallery and is of no use whatsoever to your progress but is fun to visit. There is zero chance of stumbling upon it by accident due to the obscure way it's unlocked. Only by sheer luck did I spot it on The Cutting Room Floor (Mac version, but I was pleasantly surprised it also worked with the Atari ST).

What I liked about this secret is that it's actually twofold: not only can you unlock and access the room but you can also alter the girl in the painting. Give a guy half the chance and it was bound to happen. Yep, I'm talking boobs!

Seriously, thanks for stopping by and remember to comment or share this with the ST world...


As secrets go, this was nice to uncover but... it's meaningless to your adventure.

Bring along the correct brush and hey presto, boobs!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Uninvited



Thy Flesh Consumed

I enjoy adventures but MacVentures are something I had yet to experience. I believe there are four and this caught my eye because of its horror theme. Seeing as I had a bucket load of fun with Ooze and Curse Of Rabenstein, I booted this up to see what it was all about. Initially, it appeared very good albeit with many agonising deaths! But, fun nonetheless.

Hold your horses, what's a MacVenture? That's the name given to the engine powering the point-and-click Mac adventure by Icom Simulations. This is just one game from a series of adventures, all of which have been ported to the Atari ST Shadowgate, Déjà Vu and Déjà Vu II - Lost in Las Vegas. We call them AtariVentures, which is much better!

The story starts with my brother and me experiencing firsthand what a nasty car crash looks like. I wake to find he's missing and the car is about to explode! This is the first puzzle - figuring out a way to open the car's door and scarper before it's too late. Afterwards, you find yourself outside a creepy old house and there is a sinister storm approaching. Thunder is booming and we have our brother to find. Dare we risk entering the scary-looking house to search for him?

Okey-dokey, let's take a peek at the road traffic accident where nobody rushed to our assistance...

Update: I've posted a new article for Uninvited. It's (not) a walkthrough! :)



Of course, we were gonna crash because somebody put the steering wheel on the wrong side...


Oh oh, looks like the crash happened right outside an intimidating haunted house. Let's go inside!


User Interface

The Uninvited uses GEM albeit with a few minor changes to its look and feel. Windows are resizable and used to display command options, what we're carrying, descriptions and also the current room as we view it. All commands are limited to eight options but these are direct and precise - examine, open, close, speak, operate, go, hit and consume.

For example, to inspect an object you would click it and then choose the examine button. Dead easy. The game employs this simple method of instruction throughout, but more "complex" actions like walking through a closed door require multiple commands: ie first opening it before attempting to walk through a closed door. Duh, obvious right?

Items you find can easily be carried in your inventory by drag & drop plus their contents can be sorted in order. The other window is for Exits - all of the possible ways to leave the current location. Being GEM'ish means we easily begin playing thanks to a functional and intuitive design but that efficiency comes at a price, ie I'm glad my ST has a Blitter!

Additionally, you can double-click on most things for a default option. Like the closed doors: double-click once to open it and again to walk through. The same goes for the Exits window, double-clicking in that is nifty.

The more observant may have noticed the "Self" button? Well, that's rarely used if I'm honest, but it may involve something that you need to do - such as drink a potion. Additionally, this is also another way in which the game shows its good sense of humour, try using the axe on yourself (save first). I love this freedom and the potential to be daft!!

Wanting to escape the oncoming storm, we head into the mansion for shelter. Oh, and two more screenshots...



The first room is a little weird, especially with that giant pentagram on the floor!


This is the room just off to the right (see previous image). Not much to see... Ahem, right?


Let's play!

As with any adventure, the Uninvited is all about exploration, study, investigation, and lots of trial and error. Well, with Uninvited, the trial and error parts are paramount with the earlier stages presenting a steep learning curve. This game takes no prisoners. Yes, I'm talking about you Scarlet O'Hara and that vicious temper of yours!

She is the lady lurking on the ground floor hallway and, no matter what you do, she will turn around and eat your face! Over and over I died. Too many times to count! The only way to safely pass her is via the stairwell to the first floor - but you need to come back downstairs at some point. Perhaps there is something up there we can use against her?

More or less everything that you see can be picked up and examined (it's now that I'm starting to realise there are a gazillion possible objects to inspect). Take a look upstairs; have a poke about and inspect each room for anything that might kill this Scarlet monster. It really is an obvious puzzle that you have probably overlooked several times.

Killing Scarlet is a big deal and opens up the game completely. I feel quite victorious and it's now the adventure really does begin as there is much work to do with many, many more rooms to plunder for anything that might help me find my brother. Oh, there are walkthroughs on the net which I won't be linking to as they'll only spoil the fun (although the maze section contradicts me entirely). Just play the game and enjoy everything that's on offer for the avid explorer.

Here are two more screenshots of the hallways that (embarrassingly) took me aeons to suss out...


Scarlet seems to be guarding each of the four doors. So why don't we sneak upstairs?


It's much safer upstairs and you can freely explore each room... for an item to combat Scarlet!


I love big tips!

* Go slow and don't rush as you will only miss what is obvious.
* Learn the user interface properly, it's dead easy but can be finicky.
* Just escaped the impending death of a car wreck? Snoop before entering the house...
* Inspect absolutely everything, even the smallest thing can get you out of trouble.
* Read the object descriptions carefully, subtle hints are usually given.
* Don't be a vandal, not until the time is right later...
* 90% of the items are useless so remember their locations rather than carrying everything.
* Make a map. I know, I know, but this is the time for pen and paper!!
* Install to hard drive - the experience is miles better with audio on cue.
* This next one is obvious but never more so for a game like this - save regularly!



Every so often, a little critter whisks across the screen! He's a little cookie he is!


A spider freely walks by, and then a winged eyeball appears. What is going on?!!



Aesthetics

The artwork is really good with each room well detailed to represent each scene nicely. Okay, it's not exactly The Pawn but I admire what they were trying to do and I thought it worked very well much of the time. The horror aspect is feeble, to say the least, but Scarlet is a babe and Romero would love to cast her I'm sure of it. The guy with the severed head is brilliantly drawn but what's even better is the glimpse we're given. That timing works really well for maximum effect.

As you progress, you'll realise just how many different monsters there are. Not to mention the different ways to die! Some of these monsters are really cool, I especially liked the zombies in the maze. However, some are rather lame - like the one that looks like a giant tomato. Yeah, the results are mixed but generally favourable with a comical twist.

I know some will disagree, but GEM works well for our version of AtariVenture. I think it's made great use of the windows, especially with the ease of issuing commands and the use of Exits and Inventory. But this also means it's slower than other similar games but a Blitter helps, as did my 16Mhz Mega STe.

As for audio, there is no music which is fine as that would have ruined the atmosphere, plus the sound effects are perfectly apt. Thankfully, these are made using crunchy samples and include everything from creaking doors to horrific screams. Amazing sound effects and, if I was playing this back in 1987, it would have blown my socks off!!



Death comes thick and fast throughout your entire adventure. I hate Scarlet so much!


Stuff that, I'm heading back downstairs! (probably the scariest moment in this 'horror' game)


The CryptO'pinion?

I found the Uninvited to be a challenging and intense adventure and one that I thoroughly enjoyed, especially considering this is my first frolic into the world of MacVentures, erm I mean AtariVentures. Like any of its ilk, you have to take your time and study all aspects of each and every location. That's the only way you're going to get anywhere.

However, it's not perfect with certain puzzles not making any sense whatsoever and therefore impossible to figure out without sneaking a glance at a walkthrough. Not only that, but I've never known any adventure with so many red herrings - either the many pointless items or dead ends (that often lead to your brutal demise!). That might sound fair in some respects but it's not when you're secretly restricted to a finite number of actions within the game at large.

Having said that, please believe me that I have thoroughly enjoyed playing Uninvited. Whilst certain parts of it made little sense, the Uninvited offers a richly rewarding experience and, if you fancy a different kind of adventure, then this is definitely it. Demanding, interesting, infuriating, and blummin' good fun for anyone looking for a challenge.

You can download the floppies but Uninvited is a dream when running off a hard drive / UltraSatan!



I love Uninvited. So I looked on eBay and there it was, going cheap as chips too. Excellent!!


Sunday, January 22, 2023

Frankenstein



Wait, Master, it might be dangerous. . . you go, first!

One of my favourite lines from the cult classic movie that is also fitting for Zeppelin's Frankenstein, a "horror-themed" platformer that had us searching for gruesome body parts for an ungrateful (and mad) scientist. Of course, there's nothing much original about this but its structure, challenge, scary graphics, and perfect joystick controls help make this one of my favourite Atari ST games. It's the bee's knees; you can read about it by clicking here. (go on, click it!!)

So, why am I telling you again about this old platformer? You've guessed it - it's now fully mapped for your viewing pleasure! Now, before the negative nelly's love to tell me, I do know there are maps already out there (based on another computer's version of the game). Regardless, I wanted to make an official Atari ST map - without a watermark :-)

Hey, do you want more Atari ST game maps? Of course, you do so click here for my new section! (WIP)

The map is horizontally-enormous so it's pointless including a thumbnail of the entire thing as you wouldn't be able to see anything. So here are a few snippets from different parts and you can download the hi-res map by clicking here. I hope you enjoy the map so much that you are persuaded to play the game? Let me know in the comments below...

Yes, the following images are snippets and NOT the full map. That's linked juuuuust above...


The morgue area really pushes that time limit so it might be worthwhile shifting a few items a little closer?

The crematorium area was one of my favourites because it's simple but superbly designed with hidden touches.

This is the first area that most found challenging because of the stupid hidden platforms... not a good idea!!

Ghosts, creepy hands, bats, dead people... what more could you ever want from a horror game!

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Rotor



One for the collection?

In the not-too-distant future, everything will be impossibly expensive with jobs becoming scarce and no decent opportunities for the majority of us (now that's quite a scary prediction). Perhaps we should quickly move on? Thankfully, there is the prospect of joining the Roto-Raiders who pilot huge tanks through dangerous caverns all for a lucrative reward. Only the brave need apply because the missions are deadly. Dare you sign up? Of course, we do so count me in!

Gravitar-Esque games are popular for the Atari ST and we have some killer titles that are extraordinarily awesome - Oids and Thrust instantly come to mind. However, that means Arcana had to bring something new to the table in order to stand out from the crowd. Plus I naturally had high expectations considering the strong competition!

Before we crack on, I blindly bought Rotor off eBay as it was going cheap! So let's take a look at all the goodies...


Yeah, it's hardly in perfect condition but it's pretty good and I like the design too.

  
Hmm, mind-blowing content, right? Yep, minimalistic but it's nice owning a piece of hiSTory.


Get to it, I wanna blow stuff up!

Okay, Rotor is a game much like Thrust with numerous tasks split into separate missions. We begin with a training simulator to learn the controls and how to collect items and kill enemies. This is a great way to understand the basics and grasp its user interface. Oh, and the training needs to be fully completed before moving on to the real missions.

Once it is, you can attempt each of the missions in many different environments - earlier levels are quite tame compared to the torturous ones later on. Every cavern has antagonists (as the manual loves to say) who are enemies like Cannons, Laser Guns and Gravity Generators. Some can be destroyed whereas others can be temporally disabled.

Our spaceship is a large circular craft with adequate but sluggish manoeuvrability. Physics plays a part, so there is gravity to consider and you can only accelerate in the current facing direction. All caverns are pretty vast but feel claustrophobic due to the bulky ship size - with its lacklustre abilities so feels leaden compared to Thrust or Oids.

All missions follow the path of needing to complete requirements like shooting Container Pods for their contents. Destroying them and killing as many enemies as possible rewards lots of extra points. Sadly, all this is within the time constraints of limited fuel and armour. Once you're finished, exit coordinates detail where to go in order to escape.

Simple stuff, so let's take a peep at a couple of early screenshots...


The training missions are a fantastic way to learn the ropes.

In this simulator, we only need to shoot (and then collect) what's in that box. Easy!


Power-ups & other stuff

Rotor could have been a very simple game of shooting/collecting stuff and leaving. But it's not. Arcana obviously thought this would have been far too boring so jazzed it up with pointless clutter. Let's begin with its user interface...

On the left-hand side, is a map detailing your position, the dots above that are your remaining lives. The coordinates of zeros will change once the mission is complete to show the exit location to rendezvous (the other coordinates are your current location). The three icons between these are 1) the time left until a bomb explodes. 2) The time left until a disabled laser resumes. 3) The required number of crystals to gain exit coordinates.

At the bottom of the screen is the radar and this shows helpful information like the state of your armour, cargo, and remaining fuel. However, it also displays potential enhancements that can be gained by collecting pearls. For example, the second icon is for the ship's rotational speed. The third icon improves upon its lethargic thrust.

Hang on, what was that about Container Pods and Pearls? Container pods offer a variety of goodies like fuel, upgrades, explosives (potential traps) and sun crystals (to exit the level). Pearls can affect the performance of Rotor significantly: collect two and the ship rotates faster. Pick up a third and you have the choice of upgrading thrusters.

However, I cannot help but wonder why these needed to be earned rather than come as standard? It feels unnecessary to upgrade the ship during a mission instead of concentrating on the task at hand. Why complicate things?

Anyhow, let's take another look at some more screenshots from my victorious venture...


I would advise blasting those gun turrets before attempting to sneak by.

Things are getting hectic in lego land which is very difficult to manoeuvre through.


Tips and level codes!

* Don't even think about skipping the training missions. Trust me!
* Bombs automatically activate after first shooting the pod. You have two options, leave the screen safely and survive or collect the extra cargo and take it home.
* Beware of how much cargo you're carrying. Extra weight means a slower ship using more fuel.
* Watch the walls, take your time and let the scrolling catch up with you.
* If something is able to shoot at you then it's best to shoot that first and clear the way.
* I hate to say this, but don't worry about ship upgrades as this wastes time (and fuel).
* I said don't skip the training but, if you really can't wait, here are the level codes:
Level 1 = GAG,
Level 2 = LIP,
Level 3 = SLY,
Level 4 = MEW,
Level 5 = AWE,
Level 6 = TNT.


As tough as it is groovy-looking. Must admit, I do love the weird palette!

Argh, this level looks so passive but is insane! I died straight after taking this screenshot.


Input & Output

Controls are as familiar as you expect: fire button to (erm) fire, upwards to thrust and left/right rotates your craft. I doubt there would ever be any reason to change this asteroid-ripping formula because it's tried, tested and works great. However, my problem is the craft's manoeuvrability which is far too sluggish by default, and that's a bit rubbish.

Graphically, Rotor is really nice with a futuristic/Tron-like feeling for the training simulator. Later levels look funky with colour and a neat design that feels 8-bit in some respects. The screen scrolls in all four directions quite smoothly but it will struggle to keep up with your ship if go too fast. Hmm, at least that forces you to be more careful I guess?

Sounds are acceptable albeit not the best you've heard from your ST. There are various effects for the engine, shooting, enemies, etc. All hold back the deafening silence of space and make Rotor pretty much what you expect.


Later levels are far too hard (for me) because there's too much going on for your sluggish ship.

Another later level which has far too much going on for my reactions to cope with!


The CryptO'pinion?

I've enjoyed Rotor but not nearly as much as I should have. Don't get me wrong, Rotor has some good points like the training missions and groovy graphics. However, it then complicates what should be a fun shooter for no decent reason at all. The worst is the absolute necessity to upgrade your ship rather than it being optional. That doesn't make any sense.

There's a lot to moan about I guess? Well, believe it or not, I have enjoyed Rotor because it's nice to play something new. But let's not kid ourselves, it's bordering on mediocre when compared to Thrust and Oids. Close but no cigar!

PP has adapted Rotor to be run from a hard drive and Old Games Finder has the floppy disks.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Prehistorik



I've missed clubbing animals!

Incredibly, it was 7 years ago that I first featured a game by Titus called Prehistorik (go on, click that link). Unlike most games programmed in STOS, I found this cute, playable, and instantly very addictive. So I figured I should map this beautiful platformer right away and there are many more web pages of mapped Atari ST games here. Check 'em out!

Okay, it's been superb playing this game again and I still appreciate its simplicity; each level is pretty much the same albeit with different graphics and a few extra baddies. That's no bad thing, I hate it when developers attempt to bulk up a game with extra stages that often end up overbearingly bloated and unnecessary. So, it's great to see Titus sticking to their guns with lots of mindless animal bashing and yes, I have not changed my opinion of Prehistorik whatsoever.

I've tried to map everything correctly with all the items shown properly. This includes each of the caves and the secret rooms - I've added directional arrows to help navigate properly. Prehistorik has been an absolute blast and I hope you enjoy these maps as much as I've enjoyed making them? Let me know in the comments below if anyone's here?

Here are a few sneaky thumbnails of what to expect and you can download the hi-res images by clicking here.

Level one is very easy to play and features lots of caves with a few hidden screens.


Perhaps it's now I should warn of spoilers? Nah, download the maps and enjoy it for yourself!


Things are getting tough with new monsters (I really like those crafty snowmen throwing snowballs)


Actually, the snowmen are very tricky and this level has some formidable screens. The boss is rubbish...


We're in the woods for the penultimate level and guess what? It's a brilliant level!!


Well, except for those squirrels who throw their nuts with such annoying accuracy. Ooer!


The final level is a belter, and really enjoyable with great gameplay. I genuinely loved it!!


After all your hard work you return home to the family. Hey, check out my wife!