Showing posts sorted by relevance for query rogue. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query rogue. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Rogue



The ultima gauntlet?

I've always had a spark of curiosity for Rogue but I also wondered why I should even bother with anything "roguelike" when I could instead crawl within the '3D' realms of Dungeon Master. Of course, I'm being stupid because this dates back to 1980 when gamers spent their lunch breaks staring at Rogue's text-based dungeons looking for Rodney's Amulet of Yendor! Epyx released our turn-based conversion back in 1986 and it's essentially the same venture through the Dungeons Of Doom but graphics have replaced that original text display.

Don't run away just yet, this dungeon may look rather 8-Bit but it works perfectly to suit the atmosphere and I really love it!! For me, it's the monsters that look the best as these are superbly drawn - I love the Ice Monster the most. And the Zombie looks like he's about to get down and boogie. Pressing the Enter key will zoom out to display and the entire map is viewed full screen. This is probably favourable to the purist using a more traditional oldskool view of the dungeon? Monsters are then represented by letters, ie: B for Bat, R for Rattlesnake, Z for Zombie, etc...

Which visual display style do you prefer? Let's take a look at both right now...


Carefully explore each and every unique location and zoom out to see the map...


Let the adventure begin!

From the start, we're introduced to the adventure schematics which easily allows us to explore in relative safety against the easier baddies to contend with. I liked this learning curve because a novice adventurer (ie, me) should appreciate it. However, having said that, take a look at my screenshot from a recent game which I'd only just begun - Wow, quite an incredible gang of nasties, I'm sure you'll agree? But this is a testament to the game's ability to randomly generate interesting scenarios so Rogue will always feel different each time.

Direction control of our little explorer is done using the ST's keypad which can be used in combo with or without the mouse. Personally, I prefer to use the keyboard for everything. There are other useful functions such as pressing ALT/click to identify an object or creature. Also, pressing F1 duplicates your last attack action with other neat shortcuts like 0 to rest and '.' to search (repeated searches give the best results).

Rogue is an aRPG that is meant to be enjoyed from start through to death/victory. Once you've been beaten, you are buried and this is permanent. You can save your progress but, coming back to continue is only allowed once. Hence, permadeath, and this may sound unfair but it works well and suits the gameplay perfectly.



There's so much more to this old dungeon crawler than just slaying the funky monsters!


Beware, you're not alone!

The enemies are a wild bunch alright! From traditional beasts like Snakes, Zombies and Bats to fantasy spooks like Ice Monsters, Hobgoblins and even Emus. Yes, there are emus down there! It's worth noting that not every character is immediately aggressive so it's advisable to try and tiptoe around a Leprechaun, a Nymph or a Centaur. I only wish Trolls and Wraiths had that relaxed temperament so make sure you have good armour!

Fight back using swords, axes and more but there are also magical scrolls and potions which perform an insane variety of uses. For example, illuminating the dungeons or increasing health, weapon strength, and so much more. However, not all are good so you may wish to empower yourself with the ability to identify any obscure items you may be carrying. After all, you might mistakingly conjure a demon or leave yourself blind in the darkness.

Like the dungeons, both the enemies and objects are randomly generated so you never get to perform the same battles or know the location of items. This is one of the many things that makes Rogue so special.



Some kind soul has left food but it isn't long before something appears from out of the darkness!


Tricks and traps

Rogue has its fair share of humour and lots of hidden traps so, if something doesn't feel right, then remember to search and you might just uncover a hidden passage. Watch out for teleporters that will zap you to another part of the map or maybe even drop you down a level. Gas sends you to sleep and bear traps are dangerous and require a few turns to escape their clutch. Avoid the temptation of a Nymph who might sneak something from your inventory and I certainly laughed when battling a Leprechaun - he actually managed to rob me of some gold. O_o

Rogue has some aspects which are traditional yet still very funny - like being caught by cursed clothing which is then impossible to remove without using the right spell to counteract it. I travelled for five levels before being able to remove a nasty piece of cursed chainmail. Cursed clothing, who'd have thunk it?

Finally, remember to look after yourself and watch those stats. Food is sparse down in the dungeons, which makes sense, so collect everything and only stop for a bite when it's absolutely needed. The action is always there but a careful adventurer will find tactical exploring to be both enjoyable and rewarding. Think before you act.



Carefully sneak by the old bat (insert mother-in-law joke) and beware of leprechauns on level 7


Aesthetics?

Nobody loads up Rogue to be blown away by dazzling visuals but this actually looks the part. I love how the dungeon itself looks which is bright, colourful and quite basic. It looks the business and feels like a graphical upgrade on the original but without ruining it. As I said earlier, the best parts are the sprites and seeing those little iddy-biddy monsters lurking in the dungeon is fantastic. They all look brilliant yet faithful to the original theme.

Sound effects are pretty much authentic to the original, ie there aren't any! Well, little beyond the default clicks & dings we're all used to as ST owners, which is perfectly fine and natural to what Rogue is all about. However, I'd have liked an option to turn off the clicks without having to resort to using something like XControl.

I had an idea for my video recording - that's at the top of this web page - so scroll back up. I wanted to replace the silence with something eerie using the Atari STe ACCessory: STe Background Audio Player. This plays samples using the DMA coprocessor (with a "hard drive" (Ultrasatan)) and works tremendously well without any slowdown. Let me know what you guys think?


Remember to use this view for a bigger image of your dungeon and keep stock of the inventory.


The CryptO'pinion?

As I write, I'm exploring level 14 but Rogue seems to have cranked up the difficulty a lot since level 9 and I admit to struggling: a Wraith and a Troll ganged up and sent me to an early grave so, I reloaded only to later suffer a humiliating beating by a Quagga! I now need to rest and hope nothing creeps up whilst I'm vulnerable. Hang on, I've a healing potion that should help me feel better and a spell to confuse the monsters. Yeah!!

Yes, Rogue is easy to get into and extremely rewarding. I'm still learning the ropes of this immense game so I feel I've only scratched the surface? But I'm loving every minute of what is a tremendous experience and possibly one of the best Atari ST games. This is a blast into the past that proves just what makes #roguelike so great.

Actually, this is one of the best games I have ever played, regardless of the platform. Absolutely wonderful!!

Brave adventurers can install Rogue to hard drive or load from floppy using Automation #79.
Struggling with Rogue?? Then check out my new level maps which should help. :o)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Death Chase - The Remix



Yes, this is a STOS game. Stop, come back!!

That's right, Death Chase was programmed in STOS which is something that can produce some neat results but often not and leaves me feeling cold with jerky scrolling and terrible gameplay. Anyhow, here is something that I first thought might have been a remake of Mervyn Estcourt's awesome ZX Spectrum racer. Alas, it isn't.

Actually, it's a vicious top-down shooter developed in 1996 by Daniel Fielding for the Atari STe and seems to take much inspiration from a variety of different games. Heck, it even supports both solo and an incredible co-operative two-player mode. Yep, this is starting to sound awesome already, whether you're playing solo or not.

We are a little guy roaming Rogue-like screens and armed (at first) with a pistol. Our job is to explore several rooms, all of which are inhabited by killer cyborgs armed to the teeth. Death Chase is loud, exciting and bursting with big explosions and many baddies. Come on, we have guns and lots of bad guys to kill. Oh yeah, bring it on!!



Each room holds so many possibilities for a whole new level of violence. It never gets dull!!!


Guns and loud violence?

Our armoury is huge with a possible 18 weapons ranging from pistols and shotguns to rocket launchers and lasers. Star Wars fans will enjoy using the lightsaber? Weapons, ammo and health are found in most rooms, so inspect lockers or look on tabletops. However, beware of potential traps like mines or even TNT crates.

The deaths are hilarious when you zap, sliced or blow up the enemy and there will usually be a bucket load of blood splattering through the room! Heck, even your own death can be a fun experience when a shotgun-equipped Eliminator blasts you across the screen. This leads me to the brilliant continue option so you can try again - without restarting from the beginning. However, you lose the cool weapons and start with the pistol.



Death Chase is insanely good fun and bucket loads of it too. Either solo or with a friend.


Two types of killer cyborgs

Security Guards - these are common and wear a blue uniform but have no intention to serve and protect. Their armour is weak but they can use a range of devastating weapons and will often attack as a pack.

Eliminators - these are the toughest and stand out like sore thumbs in yellow body armour. They can carry a range of advanced hardware, like a mini-gun or a rocket launcher. Also, they don't care who gets in their way - even unlucky Security Guards can be torn to shreds during a pursuit. Interestingly, these guys aren't restricted to the room and love chasing through the screens. So beware because running away like a chicken has little benefit.



Only one guy stood between me and that ammo. So I fried him alive. Mwahaha!!


Controls, Gfx, Audio?

Similar to Rogue, movements are performed using a grid. I would not recommend using the joystick which is far too sensitive. Initially disappointed by that, I tried the keyboard as suggested in the docs. This actually works better than I ever imagined: the A and D keys are used to turn anti/clockwise. W walks us forward with the Spacebar used to select from an array of different weapons (read the docs). Finally, banging on the Right Shift key is the best of all and provides an enormous amount of gratifying blood-soaked violence (love that double-barrel shotgun)

The graphics remind me of how today's developers seem to think "retrogaming" looked back in the day. Okay, it ain't no Enchanted Land but I'm impressed by the blocky pixel art which is a style perfectly apt to the theme. The audio is equal to the visuals with a bunch of incredible Mad Max chiptunes played alongside crystal clear DMA samples. These were recorded using Microdeal's Stereo Master from movies like The Evil Dead.



Death Chase is almost like a nightmarish and blood-soaked version of Rogue. Love it!!


This is why we play Atari!!

I cannot stress how much of a thrill it is to experience such a psychotic shooter. It looks, sounds and plays brilliantly with an option for two-player co-op mode. The ability to continue on, after dying, is a killer feature that guarantees hours of fun. I love this barbaric game and Death Chase is definitely one of the best I have ever played.

Yes, I said that. Not only is this a brilliant Atari STe game but it's one of the best games I have ever played.

Stop everything - download now!!

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Temple of Apshai Trilogy



Sigh, another old and drab-looking RPG ?

Temple of Apshai Trilogy was released all the way back in 1986 by Epyx with the ST conversion handled by Westwood, of Command & Conquer fame. The package features the original plus two expansion packs "Upper Reaches Of Apshai" and "Curse Of Ra". However, Hellfire Warrior is oddly not included?

This is a turn-based RPG with few expected similarities to Rogue. Each of the three realms has four different levels of difficulty and, unlike Rogue, each dungeon has been designed rather than randomly generated. Curiously, there's an almost nonexistent storyline beyond the point of killing and treasure hunting. Understandably, this might disappoint some of you but, for me, I enjoyed the freedom to roam without bothersome tasks to get in my way.


Each adventure comes with its own pitfalls, monsters and difficulties. Only the brave may enter!


Monsters, weapons and freedom to roam?

First things first, we need to build ourself a character using a combination of different attributes that will affect strength, dexterity, intelligence, and so on. Thankfully, you can save and reload your character at any time. Either keep it real and roll a dice or fudge the numbers to get playing. Personally, I wouldn't restrict yourself...

You can venture naked with only your pride as a weapon but it might be best to visit the Innkeeper and get yourself equipped. He has everything you need, even if you must haggle for the best price - if you can be bothered? Armour, weaponry, arrows and more all come with a financial and weight cost... So try and be wise!



The InnKeeper seems to have everything you need to get started. Well, for a price...


He's not a generous man. I tried to explain that I couldn't pay, so his heavies broke my kneecaps!


Role-play like it's 1986!

Playing the Temple of Apshai is fantastic but I recommend starting on the first level of Temple rather than foolishly jumping in at the deep end. When you begin, your world is viewed from a top-down perspective with some helpful information listed on the right for health, ammo, information, etc. And yes, it's running under GEM :)

It's odd that there isn't any real point to these dungeons - other than killing the baddies and collecting loot. However, Upper Reaches does (umm) attempt to give your adventures some purpose. Well, it tries... For example:

Level one takes place behind the Innkeeper's Backyard which needs tidying up. Yep, we're on cleaning duties but at least he's warned us of a bandit in the area. Come on, this has to be the strangest tasks ever?

Level two, Merlis' Cottage is quite odd. We're in Merlis' home looking for cash because he failed to cough up after we painted his fence!

Level three is Olias' Cellar but nothing is mentioned in the manual so I assume we're back to killing and looting without reason? Fine by me!

Level four is set within Benedic's once peaceful Monastery which has been turned into an unholy Romero movie thanks to an evil vampire!


Start slow. Why not fire an arrow at your first opponent and don't forget to search everywhere...


I found a secret room inhabited by a swamp rat. I killed that and took the Magic Sword. Bonus!!


Stay Awhile and Listen

Whatever realm you're in, each room has a design that includes a written description detailing what you see and hear. There's no need to pick up the manual for the ST game just hit [return] to read about your environment. Also, the rooms are numbered so it's possible to map your adventure noting routes, traps, hidden doorways, etc.

Getting around the dungeons is done using a keyboard command system quite similar to something like Ultima. Predefined keys are used to walk, turn, fight, talk, search, and much more. You can use the mouse - but it's a bit of a mess - so stick to using the keyboard. This is perfect and also a lot better than you might first assume:

RETURN = Make sure you read each room's description.

0 = Use this to rest and recover from some of that nasty fatigue.
L/R = This is pretty obvious and makes turning around easy.
V = Swoosh, you've just made a complete 180°
1-9 Let's go for a little walk, under the moon... Erm, never mind!

A = Hit 'em hard when you're up-close!!
T = Thrust a lunging attack which might leave you vulnerable?
P = Defend yourself with a countermove, you wimp!!
F/M = Take 'em out from a safe distance, sniper-style.

E = Budding adventurers will look under every stone.
O = Doors won't just open themselves you know!
S = Don't rush through, search for those hidden thangs...
I = Inventory (there's a shock).
G = Grab any treasure you find.
D = Ugh, drop that heavy trash.

Q = Shushh, did you hear something?
! = Dr Dolittle, he talks to the animals!

H = Heal yourself before you croak it.
Y = Ohh, gimme some of that fancy Elixir healing.


An RPG needs characters, with character!

Yep, characters make any adventure fun and interesting so it comes as no surprise to find out that this Trilogy is stuffed with many exotic creatures. Many spooky delights are waiting around every corner with the first being a skeleton - a classic encounter! This guy is pretty tough so I wouldn't let him get too close if I were you.

Brilliantly, we have an option to listen for distant sounds and even talk to some of the nasties. I doubt you'll get much sense from most but sometimes a creature might respond. They might just let us pass or reveal something interesting? Attempting a dialogue is something unexpected, mind-blowing and pretty funny too.

Each of the 3 realms has a myriad of ghoulish creatures and some unexpected ones. Battles are fought using few weapons but victory comes to those prepared. Press [A] to attack when up-close and personal but you could use [T] to execute a ravaging thrust? This might plunge your sword into a beast's heart but at what cost? Those carrying a bow can use arrows to pick off their prey from afar. Just make sure you're facing them properly!

There are some fantastic enemies within the dungeon. And ants and mosquitos too...

Upper Reaches is so different but can you find the bandit? Whereas Merlis' home has ... a cat!


The Antmen are incredibly tough blighters but oddly, the Ghoul was an easy victim of mine!


Bears and Giant Bats, whatever next? You'll be telling me there's Vampire Bats around the corner!


Mind As You Go

Playing any part of this trilogy is an amazing experience but it's a good idea to experiment with your newly-created character, just to see how clothing and weaponry feel to your own preferences. Experience is gained as you progress deeper into the dungeon and it's always good practice to take it slow at first. Remembering to search/examine/listen no matter where you currently are. You never know what might be nearby - be it a treasure chest, a trap or something lurking in the dark waiting to pounce. It's never a bad idea to read the room's written description!

Always keep an eye on your fatigue level, which can take a hit whether you're exploring or battling something freaky. Walking isn't free and multiple movements will cost a little tiredness that adds to your fatigue. Hitting [0] now and then can be rewarding. As is purchasing a box of bandaids before heading out into the unknown...

Remember, we're not God and any deadly battle will result in severe wounds possibly leading to death. Thankfully, not all is lost - roaming these dungeons are three peculiar helpers who may help. Bendic is a lost priest who can revive your broken body and all he asks in return is a financial donation. However, others aren't as kind, watch out for a dwarf or wizard who yields greater sacrifices - so keep your hands in your pockets!


During those desperate moments when all has gone wrong, this is the message I prefer to see!


Graphics & Sounds

Visually, this is pretty lame by ST standards yet faithful to the barebone originals. The backdrops are rather basic but the sprites are detailed and can look pretty good. Personally, I prefer the visuals in other RPGs, of the time, but Apshai still has its own unique charms. Also, it's GEM-based, which I think is crude but it works great.

Audio features a nice chiptune on the title screen but only spot effects in-game. However, I do love the little clipping that plays when a monster appears - scary stuff! lol. Overall, more than good enough for an RPG, I say!


This is the time when you remember that aesthetics never make the game. Never.


The CryptO'pinion

Temple of Apshai Trilogy is brilliant but possibly also a forgotten and a much-underrated RPG for the Atari ST? That's a shame because the original game was a massive success and I think the Atari ST conversion captures the essence of that very well. And, dare I say it, improves upon it? Well, at least visually anyhow.

Whatever you chose to play first, each game is absolutely huge with hundreds of rooms to explore over four levels. Most of my time has been spent within the realms of the temple, which I'm still battling through to this day. I love how each room has been pre-designed yet still manages to feel fresh and interesting.

I've been making a map with notes of hidden doorways along with curious hints taken from a room's description. This took me back to the 80s when I was a geek. Of course, I'm no longer a geek. Honest. Anyhow, I feel that I've only scratched the surface, especially with Upper Reaches and Curse Of Ra. So I need to change that asap.

If you love being transported to another level filled with weird creatures and looting treasure then this old timer is definitely for you. Ignore the graphics, don't use the mouse, read the descriptions, and remember to save regularly! A whole world awaits you so expect lots of late nights. One of the best olde RPGs and I love it!!


Grab yourself a copy of this brilliant RPG

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Switchblade




Looks like Ricky D. has a new bandana?

Switchblade was released in 1989 by Gremlin Graphics and programmed by Simon Phipps. Yes, he of Atari ST classic Rick Dangerous. Okay, we are Hiro, a dude in a bandana who must explore the UnderCity to locate sixteen broken fragments of the Fireblade to reap revenge on today's evil entity, Havoc. This beast has been on a savage rampage, after being dormant for 10,000 years, so it's time for us to save the day - once again!

Okay, I'm always worried when a big name makes something that is along similar lines. After all, this is another platformer so will we get another carbon copy of Rick Dangerous or will it be different. If it's different, will it suck or could it be something special? Hmm, I worry too much so check out a couple of screenshots...




Get ready for a great adventure

We begin on the surface before taking the leap (fall) into the orientally inspired UnderCity. This labyrinth is made up of lots of individual rooms and exploring each is brilliant but tread with caution because you never know what baddies might materialise from out of thin air. Your path through is "free-roaming" which I love.

Look out for dodgy blocks that might crack with a single kick: these can unveil health and weapon power-ups or may even lead you on into hidden rooms of goodies. Boss characters appear regularly, the first is easy to kill whereas later ones can be quite frustrating and beaten only with patience and lots of well-timed jumping. The negative is the immense size of the map which isn't visually diverse - so I often needed to backtrack after getting lost.

Controls are superb with all the usual movements like running, jumping and climbing ladders but there are also three kinds of attack. Tapping firing allows you to punch like a weak Arnold Schwarzenegger but you should also notice a white combat meter along the bottom right? This helps perform two kicks: holding the fire button for a mere second (so the meter isn't at full strength) will perform a high kick Jean Claude Van Damme would be proud of. Finally, holding it down indefinitely performs a powerful Chuck Norris sweeping kick. Superb!!


Wake up, there's something creeping up on you mister!

Tighten that bandana, Rambo. Now, go and kick his monster ass!


NESthetics!

Visually, I doubt Hiro will blow your socks off but it's clean and well-designed with a great 8-bit style. Underneath its unassuming graphics is a rather cute design with great details and the characters you'll encounter are excellent with nice ideas. Also, the game self-maps in a similar fashion to Ranarama or even Rogue.

Switchblade has killer audio with brilliant chiptune bleeps from none other than Ben Daglish with the choice of sampled sound effects. I love both equally and couldn't decide which I preferred in the end!


Yes, there's a Ricky D. vibe plus a dollop of Saboteur and NES thrown in for good measure.
The level guardians are either daft or just plain awkward to hit - I wish they would keep still!!


The CryptO'pinion?

Switchblade is awesome. It's got a great adventure element that blends well with the action. Plus the lack of a linear structure is perfect for an explorer like me who is eager to see what's around the next corner. Thus it actually keeps you enthralled throughout. This is one of the few games I've completed and I will definitely come back to.

As with Rick Dangerous, this is most certainly one of the best platformers out for the Atari ST.


Fancy picking up the gauntlet to help Hiro find the scattered fragments?
It will involve deep exploration, fighting lots of silly monsters and several freaky boss dudes?

Grab the floppy or hard disk installable games right away and enjoy this incredible game.
Tip: you might find these maps useful to properly enjoy this beautiful platformer.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny



Santa has come early!

Atari Legend is playing Santa with a fantastic run-up to Christmas by releasing something special every day throughout December. It wasn't until the 7th when they released an HDD-patched download of Ultima 5 did I become intrigued. I've not played any Ultima before and this looks especially interesting so I had to try it!

The land of Britannia has lost its king, Lord British and is now ruled by a tyrant called Blackthorn. Okay, it all sounds corny and the visuals might not rock the Bitmap Bros off top spot - but when did great graphics ever matter to the gameplay? I mean, just look at Rogue which I found to be a breathtaking experience. Nuff said.

Okay, let's check out some screenshots...


Looks like I'm in a pretty cosy place and very glam too.

Okay, let's get out and explore the lush countryside.

Oh no, a two-headed Ettin has found me when walking over the hills...

I'm too weak and need better weapons - I should have run away!


First Impressions

Creating yourself a character is an unusual affair. It's something I didn't expect, but this process got little Stevie configured and straight into the thick of it. Boy, are there a large number of keys to learn for each and every action and interaction within your surroundings. This place is huge and the battles are very hard so exploring Britannia is going to be lots of fun (or agony?). But I can take it!!

I've genuinely enjoyed my first couple of games: a lovely country walk through grasslands and forests until I came upon a small bridge - with a Troll. Luckily I made it across without him noticing me but I then ran into some red demons who decided that they wanted a piece of us. Yep, my first battle didn't go down well if I'm honest - DEAD! But wait, I think I've been resurrected for another bash! Let's hope I can do better...

This is one seriously addictive and immersive RPG...

Vicious snakes decide to spit venom at our plucky adventurers.

Now I feel Ultima V is finally starting show its true colours.

What a game and I must say that I adore the graphical style and detail. Amazing!
Hey look, I've just found a map! Time for a drink before leaving...


My plans have now changed!!

Yep, I plan on spending the Christmas holidays in the world of Ultima V - with whiskey, turkey butties and mince pies!! I'm really looking forward to learning more about Ultima V and have enjoyed a few interesting attempts (ahem failures). I'm now excited to take this game seriously and see how my next adventure plays out...

My thanks to everyone over at Atari Legend for these daily treats!!
Keep up the great work and STay Atari.