Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Golden Dawn Mod Disk #14



MCIBTYC!!

The Golden Dawn released many PD and Mod Disks for the Atari ST during their time. However, this disk is something quite different featuring a humorous hack of Cannon Fodder. Click play to watch little ST soldiers graffiti the Amiga HQ which obviously escalates into war. Of course, this can only end in bloodshed :-)

What a superb idea and one which nicely represents the tensions between ST and Amiga users back in the day. Well, mainly Amiga users because we ST guys were too busy enjoying our machine! After the intro, this disk is stuffed with cool tunes and supports various playback options, including the stereo playback on the Atari STe.

Thanks to STompy for this piece of gold and get it downloaded right now!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Bombuzal



Dazzling dots!

It's time for some more amazing #PixelArt with ImageWorks' 1988 hit Bombuzal. I remember seeing this in the magazines of the day, I couldn't believe the cartoon-like quality of the main character within a colourful isometric world. He is an odd potato-shaped dude who performs a funny expression as the bombs are exploding - it's almost like he doesn't trust himself!! There are some big names associated with this game but is it any good?

Well, this is quite a simple puzzler that requires us to detonate a collection of red bombs. Each screen contains a number of squares we can use to help calculate our best route through but watch out for traps: crumbling tiles that can be walked on only once before they disappear forever, so don't get yourself stranded!

Other tiles might be too slippy to walk on whilst some can transport you to another location. Slotted tiles allow us to move selected bombs to a different location, usually to avoid being caught up in an explosive chain reaction. I like Bombuzal, it's a fun game to tax the old brain cells and it's got fantastic pixel art too!

Floppies can be found via Old Games Finder with HDD versions by 8BitChip & Klaz.


Wow, this must be one of the brightest and happiest games on the Atari ST.

This is interesting and being able to flip POVs is neat. But I prefer it in 3D myself...

I love its pixel art. Isometric styles always look cool but this one also uses the palette perfectly.

Oh no, watch out for crumble tiles and (so many) other hazards. This 3D world is dangerous!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Rebellion



Where have you been all my life?

A nasty virus has infected the automated machines on Mars so the robots have captured our scientists and are holding them captive. We have no anti-virus program so it's our job to destroy any robots that get in our way and help lead the boffins to safety. Jump inside your spaceship and get ready to save the day, again!

Rebellion is a top-down shoot 'em up similar (ish) to a Gauntlet game and each screen has a number of trapped hostages which are often located in different areas. Some are behind a forcefield which can be partially deactivated by disabling a section of its wall - but you won't have long before a repair droid appears so don't dawdle. Others can be in locked rooms which require a key card which a robot may reveal when killed. Every level has a minimum number of hostages to rescue within a set time. Miss it and the spaceship will leave without you!


Okay, so how are you going to break into that complex, rescue everyone and get out in time?


Tactics, strategy and guns!

Enemy robots have a range of different abilities: some are slow whereas others are much faster and another can even lay down explosive mines. Some have no projectile weapon but others are only too eager to turn you into a blood splatter! Also, watch out for gun turrets, trapdoors, and large tanks. Interestingly, when you do lose a life, the robots are paused for a few seconds thus giving you some extra time to whack 'em full of lead.

Rejoice because our machine gun can be upgraded with greater power and a faster action - just try not to kill any humans in the crossfire! Well... Anyhow, you'll be please to hear that there are a variety of other power-ups to enhance shields, invincibility, a radar scrambler and even a supply extra lives. Oh yeah, we've got it all.

Aesthetically, the graphics are pretty nice albeit hardly groundbreaking for any 16-bit computer. I'm sure many might turn up their nose at the slow pace and tiny sprites but it's actually ideal otherwise each level would feel cramped and be very difficult. Sounds are fine and you'll hear the bam-bam-bam of your weaponry the most.


As you can see, each level is swarming with enemies and folk to rescue. It's never easy!


The CryptO'pinion?

Now, I don't normally enjoy games that have me worrying about the safety of computer-controlled characters whilst being hunted by the foe. I panic too much so people usually end up dead... However, Rebellion works very well even though the hostages are lame at following so will often get stuck behind a wall... I'm never too happy about time limits and this one seems to have a mind of its own and may prove troublesome on later levels?

Rebellion is quite simple but has been perfectly executed. I've enjoyed this shooter which I've found to be anxiously-entertaining - each level has an intricate and interesting military theme with gameplay that is progressively entertaining. Very addictive and one of those games that keeps dragging you back for more and it's always a fantastic rush killing the baddies whilst guiding the scientists back to safety. Yep, I loved Rebellion!!!!

Floppy disks can be found via Old Games Finder
A cool hard disk version by D-Bug.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

9 Lives


It's time once again for some Atari ST box art and today we have 9 Lives. Like most Arc games, this has a simple box design but is also pretty comical with a laughing cat that reminds me of Tom And Jerry. I must admit, I laughed at the glowing reviews plastered by three popular magazines! This has to be a great purchase, right?

Sadly, they were wrong because 9 Lives is incredibly difficult, bordering on impossible! At first, I thought this might be because of the controls, which do take some time to fully master. Once you have, I personally think they are perfect and find it easy jumping up through the platforms and those long leaps are guided by a meter for fine control.


What a massive and unique variety of characters this game has.


Just look at those funny faces! I'm sure these were designed by insane people!!

What I feel is wrong are the gameplay mechanics which present a number of awkward flaws that irk me. The enemy sprites are far too big so each screen is overly cluttered, thus Bob cannot help but touch something nasty. Sure, I can knock them out with my woolly yo-yo but it's not long before they get up to zap more of my lifeforce!

Also, the level design is incredibly unfair and requires a psychic gamer that previously is aware of every off-screen trap. Argh, those darn spikes!! Oddly, for a cat, Bob cannot fall very far without dying!! However, this does produce a hilarious animation effect not too dissimilar to Wile E. Coyote from the Road Runner cartoons.


Another life lost... Well, at least I'm going up and not DOWN!! Phew.


Oh dear, another life lost at the hands of the frustrating and over-crowded level design...

The animations throughout are absolutely brilliant and I love how Bob struts his stuff walking across my screen. I love it when he clings onto a ledge, just before managing to pull himself up. In fact, the graphics are always superb with every screen highly detailed, beautiful landscapes and characters. Audio isn't left behind, the most gorgeous YM Chipmusic plays and it's a belter. Yep, 9 Lives certainly looks a sounds superb for a gorgeous 16-bit title.

Personally, I think 9 Lives had the potential to be a great game but I doubt it was produced (nor tested) by actual gamers. Sadly, I imagine most will play this once or twice before giving up - which is a shame? To think I bought this... but it's still a piece of ST history I will cherish. Just make sure you enable the trainer option!!

Go on I dare you to play!! Floppies are found via Old Games Finder with a HDD version by 8BitChip.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Mystic Realm



It's time to crawl another dungeon

Mystic Realm is an arcade adventure that feels like an 80s mash of Gauntlet with some RPG elements. It may scream "1985" but it was actually released in 1990 by John Lince for STart Magazine. Impressively, it's programmed this in GFA Basic, a powerful language that has produced many games over the years.

Okay, the story is an evil vagrant has kidnapped the Princess (or Prince if you prefer) and now she requires a valiant rescue. Whatever character, we get to crawl through monster-infested dungeons fighting zombies, ghosts, bats, and more. Obviously, I chose to be the prince even though I think he looks like a gingerbread man!!

Please, ignore its 8-bit appearance and enjoy the first screenshot. Dull decore but ace character details...



Wait, don't run away!! Remember that golden rule? Gameplay matters - not the graphics.


Plunge the depths!

There are 14 levels to plunder with the objective of finding keys to venture through and ultimately rescue our beloved. Each is made from a number of separate rooms and navigation is aided by directional arrows displayed at the top of the screen. These show us the sides of the screen that will lead us through the dungeon.

The levels are mapped and included on the floppy disk (see below) and each is designed to be challenging but, never to a point where you feel bewildered or bored. Battle against a range of monsters and solve puzzles that are slowly integrated into your adventure. For example, a wooden gate may block your path but that isn't a strong obstacle against a couple of hits. However, later puzzles require more thought than simple brute force.



We're a gingerbread man? Yes! But there are still many monsters to kill. Oh yeah!!


Tread carefully, adventurer

Various weapons can be collected and each translates into a specific number of knives for our adventurer to throw like a ninja. Do note that no other weapons are actually used but collecting a high ticket item - like an axe - will reward your inventory generously. The firing method will instantly feel familiar to Berzerk fans: just hold down the joystick button and tap the direction you wish to throw a knife. It's apt and works superbly well.

Health points are displayed top/left of the screen and detail our vitality from 0 (you're dead) to 999 (the maximum). It's hungry work being a heroic gingerbread man so chomp on whatever you find to keep yourself alive. If you are already near the max then it might be worth leaving food behind until later? Sadly, health isn't regenerated at the beginning of a brand new level and you will transform into a skeleton if you foolishly starve to death!!

Tips? Easy, be a savvy adventurer! Beware not to waste ammo because you never know how long it will be before you can top-up your arsenal. Remember to eat only when hungry. Finally, there are lots of locked doors - but use your keys wisely because not all doors need opening. Use your brain, Rambo!!


Oh dear, it looks like I've run out of energy thus instantly became a skeleton. Love it!


Aesthetics

Don't be fooled by the humble graphics, I find Mystic Realm quite fascinating as it reminds me of the games I played as a kid in the earlier 80s. Sure, there are more colours and a higher resolution but the feel remains authentic without having any unnecessary bloatware that would ruin the authenticity. Also, the sprites are all nicely drawn and with comical details: like the wobble of a zombie walk! The ghosts are fantastic and are my favourite.

Even the meagre sound effects transport me back to the 80s. Hearing a knife skim through the air on its way to hit a fiend flat-bang in the face is brilliant!! I'm not ashamed to admit I adore the 8-Bit atmosphere.


Prince or Princess, here are the details for power, weapons, your enemies and everything else.


The CryptO'pinion?

Mystic Realm is one of those games that proves jazzy graphics and sonic boom sound effects aren't required for a great gaming experience. And that is exactly what we have here even though I don't imagine many people reading this web page would agree? Well, not until you take the plunge and play a few games for yourself.

Fans of the RPG/Dungeon Crawling genres will love Mystic Realm, I am positive of this. It's no thrills with fantastic adventure elements and I have thoroughly enjoyed the arduous task of rescuing another damsel in distress!




- THE MAPS -


( Don't be a dummy!!! Click on each thumbnail to see the larger level maps displayed )

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ghouls 'n Ghosts


There's an interesting thread over on Atari-Forum about a new version of Ghouls And Ghosts under development for the Atari STe by Sascha Springer. He's teased us with images and videos of lush sprites/landscapes and smooth scrolling but has just released an early beta. This was a jaw-dropping moment and proves the potential of the Atari ST - when in the hands of talent. I cannot wait to see more and wish Sascha much success!

This download is available via Atari-Forum [requires a 4MB Atari STe w/ hdd]

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Floppy Image Runner (IMGRF2X)




Wait, don't cut the ST's case!!

Most Atari ST games are available on a floppy disk which has been converted into a disk image and downloadable off the Internet, be they legit or not. Nothing beats the sound & feel of using a real ST with its floppy disk chugging away. What an authentic way to spend an evening and there are thousands of games to choose from.

IMGRF2X is a program, developed by Peter Putnik and provides a great way to use these images - without the hassle of finding a real floppy disk. It's basically software CosmosEx/Gotek and works with most files: .ST and .MSA. Obviously, the requirements are increased beyond the stock 520ST as you will need >2MB Ram and a hard drive/Ultrasatan, but these aren't exactly high-end specs like they were back in the day!



Peter has converted many games to hard disk but there are hundreds only available on floppy!


But how?

It's simple to use: firstly, assign either ST or MSA file types in GEM. Dead easy - just watch my video recording. Now you can double-click on any image from your collection to load Image Runner - this copies it into Ram and reboots. The ST will start up as if it has that disk physically inside its drive - powered by black magic!!

Sadly, GEM cannot assign more than one file type to any single program. To get around this limitation, just make a second copy of "IMGRF2X.PRG" and rename it to something similar. Now you can assign both types of disk images to each of these two programs for instant access to your collection of downloaded floppy images!

Or manually edit the Desktop.Inf file using a text editor like Everest or similar.



Most Automation floppy disk images work a treat so here's a cool disk with Freddy!


The CryptO'pinion?

I must say Image Runner worked rather well and I enjoyed a good success rate on the whole. This program is a Godsend for us without a Gotek or CosmosEx and has certainly allowed me to enjoy Menu disks again! However, please remember that this is software so YMMV. Nobody can deny that this is genius so enjoy!!

I think you will all appreciate this program as the results are often positive. I love it and hope Peter continues working on this. Okay, there are two downloads on his website for IMGRF2X (which includes an easy to use option).

Let me know in the comments below what you think and what worked. Above all, enjoy!!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Enduro Racer #AtariSTe



Another game updated for the Atari STe

Enduro Racer is one of my favourite Atari ST racers because it's fast, fun and an uncomplicated thrill to play. In fact, it's the classic arcade racer and our conversion is pretty good considering the age of this 1987 release!

As you can imagine, I was very excited to find out that Peter Jørgensen (Mr Manic Miner himself!) has begun the development of an enhanced update specifically for the Atari STe!! He's graciously given me the latest beta to play and it's already looking very impressive with lots of improvements both planned and partially completed.

1) The Blitter is utilised to push a brisk framerate!
2) Expect many more colours on-screen at once.
3) Usage of the extended palette.
4) Remaster YMT music of the original ST scores by legend David Whittaker.
5) Arcade samples played using the DMA hardware.

From what I've seen, heard, and played, this is looking to be a tremendous project. To take one of my favourite Atari ST racers, and improve upon that using the STe hardware, is going to be mind-blowingly exciting.

Good luck Peter - I cannot wait to see more. Check out these screenshots and watch this space!!


Thursday, October 12, 2017

STrange roboTS


Strange Robots was released in 2013 for Silly Venture by BlaBLa and Mandarin. It's one of those demos I've had on my Ultrasatan since the very beginning and is a personal favourite of mine. I love the presentation styles that also display an incredible range of colours with a funky 505 tune enjoyed throughout. What's not to love?

Demozoo has the download which will require an Atari STe with a jaw-dropping 4MB Ram. If you like this, then I suggest you take a look at Circus back²STage, JAPAN beauties and troubles and STreet Art - all excellent demos!!

    

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Horror Zombies From The Crypt



Bring out your dead!

I've always been fascinated with Astral's haunted house platformer which I feel has a charming comical character. No haunting would be the same without lots of frightful creatures and this has everything from witches, zombies, werewolves, vampires, ghosts and even the odd weird statue that sticks out its tongue at you!

Each level has a particular task which is described to us during a mini-intro at the start. The objective is to hunt down and collect all the skulls and lay their souls to rest. However, this is one tricky platformer through, it's a maze of creepy screens that often contain infuriating traps to catch you out. This is no arcade-style platformer, more of a Fire And Brimstone so keep your composure and wear your patient head, Worzel.



The artwork is beautifully creepy and I love the attention to detail - look at those eyes!!


A haunted house movie in a game?

The first level introduces us nicely to the game's personality with some puzzle solving along with a variety of classic baddies: zombies, headless ghosts and a Morticia Addams lookalike. Puzzles are quite easy and shouldn't tax the grey matter too much: move a table to reach an item, find keys to unlock doors, and wear cute booties to creep past something scary. Things hot up on the next level with tougher monsters and trickier level designs.

Level passes: WolfmanHammerLugosiNosferatu & Garlic.

I must admit to taking a liking to the wolfmen but I hate the old hunchbacked witches who will drop rocks - with surprising accuracy! Every level has a password so there is never a need to restart from the beginning each time which is an excellent idea and one I wish more games would have supported (I'm talking to you Navy Seals!). Hint: try and remember to search for hidden rooms or secret objects that may heed a different type of key.


Oh no, a skeleton with a bow!!! Gets me every time...


Aesthetics

The visual style is perfectly apt for the 1950's cinematic theme with smooth scrolling, spooky artwork and freaky characters - who are superbly animated. Just wait until you die and see yourself shudder before violently suffering a Scanners-like headache, no matter the actual cause of death! I must say that I am impressed with the palette, each level is its own mini-movie and looks tremendous. The horror aspect is typically cheesy and I love it.

Audio is nothing short of incredible with a chippy rendition of Montagues and Capulets which couldn't have been a more perfect choice (I'm sure I'll be humming it all day). All sound effects are high-quality samples with the wolf howls being my favourite. However, I'm disappointed there is nothing for my head-exploding deaths?



I hate it when the old witch drops objects on my head!


The CryptO'pinion?

This is one of those games that will eat away your spare hours as it requires practice and patience. It can be so cruel. In fact, it's often infuriating on later levels, just try Family Chapel if you don't believe me... Horror Zombies From The [Atari]Crypt is the perfect title for such a cheesy platformer. I wish it was a little easier but killing wolfmen, zombies and running scared from piercing vampire glares is right up my street. Gory fun!

A hard disk download can be found on D-Bug
Floppies can be sourced using Old Games Finder

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

River Raid



Thank you, Carol Shaw!

Today I fancied a quick blast of one of my favourite ZX Spectrum games - RIVER RAID!! Okay, I know it's lame compared to the Atari 2600/5200 games but I have many happy memories of playing it during my school years. So I figured I should put some of this Mega STe muscle to good use and boot up the Speccy emulator for some colour-clash action. Sadly, there was never an official Atari ST version released. #gutted

Obviously, I cannot record directly off my Mega STe so I duplicated the setup in Hatari to make this video: a stock 16Mhz Mega STe with TOS 2.06 runs the game very well. It's almost at the same speed as a real ZX Spectrum... which ain't saying much, but it was still great fun to play. Hey, perhaps my recording might fool people into thinking it's a real ZX Spectrum? Well, until they see the GEM desktop right at the end of the video!! /silliness

Friday, September 29, 2017

Biomechanoid Locomotion

I spent some time last night listening to many incredible tunes from the SNDH Archive. Biomechanoid Locomotion, by Shinobi (aka Marcus Andre Rousseau) was probably my fave of the night so click the green arrow to hear it :-)

Turn up the volume and use these Atari ST programs to play everything from this amazing archive. 🎧

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Pole Position



The arcade comes to the Atari STe

Pole Position is an all-time classic arcade racer from a time when the world was an exciting place without social media and pop music was something you could enjoy without it grating like fingernails on a blackboard. The Atari ST has a raft of great driving games but sadly, never received an official port of this olde racer. Until now...

Today that changes because Jonathan Thomas has released a brand new version that has been reverse-engineered from the arcade machine and even uses real-time sprite scaling, DMA sounds and more. The requirements are 1MB Ram, a joystick and an appreciation of this great racer. Booting it up is surreal and somehow feels like you've got an arcade machine in your home. But this time we don't need to spend all of our 10 pence coins!



Oooh, I'm feeling like a kid in the Blackpool arcades!!



Yes, put your money away!

It's impressive to see Pole Position running on my Atari STe. What an authentic conversion of the amazing arcade original and it even features the same (ripped) visuals and sonix I fondly remember. Now, if you're looking at the screenshots and wondering why the display is narrow, then blame Namco. It's all down to the arcade machine's vertical monitor which the Atari STe obviously doesn't have, so it attempts to replica that ratio.

Gameplay is tough, very tough. Initially, I was all over the road, slipping and sliding into other cars and skidding off into the roadside objects. In fact, it felt like I was purposely trying to hit everything I was that accurate! Stick with it and put aside half an hour to begin driving - even at an amateur level. Yes, those corners are a killer!



The actual framerate is twice as good as you can see here in my capture.



The gory details

The latest release candidate has major improvements and delivers near arcade-busting gameplay:
1) 60fps framerate to bring the speed and difficulty in line with the arcade.
2) You can thank the Blitter Chip for whizzing the graphics so fast & furiously!
3) Sprite scaling utilisied for ultra-smooth results.
4) Even good 'ol Mount Fuji is displayed in all its glory!
5) The sky gradient is back along with numerous glitches fixed.
6) Sound effects are taken from the arcade game using the DMA coprocessor.
7) Code compiled with GCC 7.1 for a significant performance increase.
8) Many new optimisations, mainly around text rendering for authenticity.



If only those tyres would look like they're rotating (one day eh Jon?) :-)



The CryptO'pinion?

It's impressive to think that this wasn't ever developed for the Atari ST yet, somehow has been reverse-engineered from the arcade machine. Everything looks, sounds and feels like we remember with only a couple of missing features: the animated tyres is nothing more than a bit of a colour wobble (I hope it gets fixed)

Possibly the toughest racer and most certainly one that keeps dragging you back for more, kicking and screaming. It's so addictive and a cracking arcade port that's making good use of the Atari STe hardware: I love its framerate, audio and authentic feel. Pole Position is nothing less than a spectacular arcade conversion!

What are you waiting for? Come on and play this outstanding arcade racer!! (Download from AtariMania).



Friday, September 22, 2017

Space Monsters



Don't panic!

Space Monsters was developed by Darren Ithell for Goodman PDL and I'm sure you've already guessed it's a conversion of the arcade classic, Space Panic. I'm often a little dubious of 16-bit conversions for old arcade or 8-bit classics. Quite often they don't work or it feels like something is missing. So I had high hopes...

This looks good with each screen having the expected platforms and ladders with horrid nasties roaming. It's instant death if you bump into one so Spaceman has discovered the best way to kill these critters is to dig trap. Once they've foolishly got themselves stuck (for a few seconds) he has the opportunity to whack 'em with his spade which for a splattery death. Spaceman is a truly gruesome fella but, whatever works, right?

Let's check out the different types of nasties that you'll encounter. . .





Oh, the nasties in this game are so... well... nasty!! The Boss is tough but Don is a killer!!


No matter how much I try, I panic!!

Yup, there are only three types of monsters but that doesn't mean their numbers are limited. The first is a "Creature" and is pretty gullible and easy to avoid or kill. However, the other two aren't so dumb and even possess a freakishly cunning AI. "Boss" is hard and "Don", well, he's the real boss. Try not to anger any monsters!!

Also, it takes a greater falling distance to kill the stronger nasties but you are rewarded with lots of extra points. However, if you fail to smash in their faces with a spade, then they angrily climb out looking for blood!! Finally, watch out for that time limit. Don't dawdle and get these beasts killed before your oxygen runs out.



Right, we've got him just where we want him. Quick, club the sucker!!


Input & Output?

The controls are superb which is a relief as I've played a few similar games which would require pixel-perfect alignment with the ladder before you're allowed to climb it. That's always a pain which I'm happy to say doesn't exist here. Digging holes and caving in the heads of aliens is easy and so much fun. My only quibble is not being able to fall down a hole otherwise, the authenticity for both style and gameplay has been perfectly captured.

Visuall, well, it's Space Panic so is everything you expect it to be with a clean-cut design and cutesy sprites. It won't win any awards but who cares? The audio is far better with nice sampled sound effects throughout and that ROAR a monster makes when it climbs out a hole will scare you to death!! I just miss a background tune...



'Creature' is a cute but gullible goon and temporally falling into a hole will make him angry!!


The CryptO'pinion?

Overall, Space Monsters is fantastic and perfectly captures that oldskool vibe in both look and style. The gameplay itself gradually increases for that expected stressful experience and trying to tactically dig the right holes whilst worrying what could creep up on you is truly a PANIC. Yep, this is the best conversion I've played.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Sabre Team




I always wanted to be Lewis Collins!

Sabre Team was released in 1992 by Krisalis and is a turn-based war zone of hardcore strategy. We're in control of an elite SAS squad who enter the lion's den to kill bad guys, rescue hostages, and save the day. This ain't no fake arcade action affair but instead, tries to be realistic thus requires stealth and tactical thought so a wrong move could end with team members being killed. And dead means dead, there are no second chances in this world.

Okay, the first job is to select a 4-man team from eight of the best warriors. Equip these guys with the right weapons for each mission whilst taking into consideration type, rate of fire, ammo, weight, and noise. There are lots of cool hardware to chose from like machine guns, assault rifles, a sniper rifle, stun grenades, and gas canisters.

Tips?
Choose your weaponry wisely and specifically for the mission at hand. Remember, some weapons might need a reload after each shot. You're not superman, it's often advisable to wear a bulletproof jacket. I hear there are a limited number of medkits and these will certainly help to recover from injuries.





Think covertly

Yes, there is a lot to consider, so you should put aside any ideas you may have had of arcade-style action. This demands careful, calculative and strategical thinking so your assault should be executed with a stealthy approach that protects your men from danger. For example, don't stand near an open window! The terrain isn't just something nice to look at, use it for cover as the enemy won't know you're there if they cannot see (or hear) you.

The battlefield is viewed isometrically using detailed environments and our soldiers are controlled through the use of action points. This means your men are allowed a specific number of moves before the computer gets a turn. The user interface is excellent and has helpful animations to identify their purpose (just hover the mouse over).

These are used to turn, walk, shoot and do other fun stuff like searching dead bodies. The compass not only controls the soldier's direction but displays the number of action points required for each particular task. Along with alerts for what a soldier might see (red) or hear (blue). And this is exactly how you should play - as if you were there!


                            



Rome wasn't built in a day

Sabre Team provides an incredible insight into the strategy and tactics involved. Running in, guns blazing will only get you and your teammates killed. I think it's perfectly suited to the turn-based genre which works so well. However, waiting 3/4 minutes for the computer to decide what it wants to do is brutal and I hated it.

So here's another tip - press and hold the mouse button to speed up this process. Odd, but it works. However, I feel this quicker method should have been the default instead as I'd have preferred to hold the mouse button when I wanted to watch the computer more closely. Perhaps it's just me but it took me a while to get used to this...





Graphics & Sounds

We begin with a title screen depicting a sinister SAS soldier emerging out of the darkness ready to assassinate terrorists. It's almost like a post-apocalyptic/Who Dares Wins and is so impressive! I think Phil Hackney did a superb job with the in-game graphics with each mission environment uses fine attention to detail.

However, there is some rather dodgy artwork, which I'm sure you have noticed? Thankfully, the game is finely detailed with wonderful precision and I adore how the environments take on a realistic scene without feeling cheap or tacky. Standing at the wrong angle near an open window and you're vulnerable to being picked off.

The sound effects are excellent with samples used to complement the tension of tactical warfare. Their quality is great and I'm excited to see they didn't wimp out by using samples for weaponry, cries, and other effects.





The CryptO'pinion?

Ignoring my quibbles, never have I enjoyed such a game that employs a tremendous demand of tactics, stealth and strategy thinking. It's fantastic and instantly appealing yet also deep with quite a learning curve to master, so don't expect a cakewalk! I'm sure your initial attempts will end with many incredibly laughable casualties as you uncover the joy of what this realistic game has to offer. It's cruel and takes no prisoners but is so addictive.

Sabre Team isn't something to play when you have a few moments to spare. Time, patients and skilful wit are required. So, when you have the time, stick with it because this is an innovative experience with massive attention to detail. Who would have thought that covertly eliminating terrorists would be so satisfying?

What we have here is very rewarding and nothing short of a classic. And I loved every second of it.


DOWNLOAD LINKS

8BitChip have a hard drive version with floppy disks via Old Games Finder.
Trusteft has recorded a great video from unboxing to gameplay!