Friday, February 08, 2019

Missile Command

[ my video recording shows both colour and monochrome games ]


Let's take a big step back in time

Straight out of the golden age of Atari's retro gaming archives is Missile Command, a phenomenal shooter which I played a lot, but more so on my old Speccy thanks to Ocean's Armageddon, a fantastic conversion.

This cold war era shoot 'em up was all about protecting the cities of Zardon from a constant ballistic missile attack: aliens from Krytol noticed how prosperous Zardon is so want to free-roll in and take everything for themselves. You are Zardon's only hope so grab hold of the mouse and use your arsenal to defend us all from annihilation!


Yeah, baby!! You heard that correctly, Missile Command supports colour AND monochrome.


Angry aliens, again?

Anyhow, this has always been a cool game and the ST received a faithful conversion that feels just as good as I hoped. There is support for one & two players which can be configured to enable/disable other features - like the enemy's multiple warheads and smart bombs. Initial attack waves start off slow and sedate pace (can be skipped) but the war soon gets crazy when the Krytolians use their faster missiles and dreaded smart bombs. Trying to detonate them is tricky, especially during the heat of battle when you don't wanna run out of ammo!

Unlike other home conversions, the ST game makes convenient use of its tank mouse for perfect and precise control. Both mouse buttons are used to fire a limited supply of ammo - the left button fires from the left base and, well, I'm sure you've guessed what the right button does? The controls are simple and genius.


The action soon gets hectic and it's a panic trying to hit the oncoming missile attacks!

Come on, you can do it!! Just don't let any city folk perish... if you can...


8-Bit graphics and they rock!!

Ok, visually, don't expect to be blown away. The graphics are typically crude for such an early arcade game - most of the screen is simply a blank canvas. However, that's the charm of early retro games when gameplay mattered most and I feel they captured that (ahem) very well. You know, I do admire those blocky cities (which I'm supposed to save from an explosive death) but I also love the whacky colours and font. Yep, it's silly but so am I :)

Sound effects are fine but I am a little disappointed Atari didn't roll their sleeves up and go that extra mile! We have heard far better from the YM chip and the game is hardly pushing the Atari ST so why not use samples? Hmm, it's a little bland in the audio dept and definitely needed a something with a little pizzazz.


Wow!! So close it's given all the city folk a sunbed burn - free of charge! lol

My old man reactions are letting me down but at least it looks crisp as I loose in Hi-Res.


The CryptO'pinion?

Missile Command is such a simple game and one of the best from that early era. Fans of the original should appreciate what is an authentic arcade conversion and one which certainly brought back lots of great memories for me. This is fast, frantic and bucket loads of fun so that's a thrilling win in my book. A timeless classic.


Grab a floppy or the hard disk version.
Defend Zardon from its inevitable annihilation.




I hope you last longer than I did in my video recording? Not hard, is it... lol

Monday, February 04, 2019

TOS Legends



Stop what you're doing right now!!

It's funny the things you find when surfing the waves of the interweb. Well, I ended up finding TOS Legends by Sébastien Claret. From the moment I booted it up, I was gobsmacked. It's absolutely fantastic and something every Atari ST guy will adore!! Mac/PC downloads are available or you can play inside a web browser.

Check out these screenshots and grab the download from Sébastien's own website.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Hibernated 1 - This Place is Death



Yet Another New Game!

I've taken delivery of what is the latest game released for the Atari ST, Hibernated 1 by Stefan Vogt. You know, I feel like I've waited years for this to pop through my letterbox but here it is! I'm ecstatic to report a fantastic product that's so beautiful, I'm unsure whether remove its lovely plastic seal... Of course, I've already unwrapped it!!

Hibernated was reviewed back in August (click the link!!) and I included an animation to demonstrate the game's awesome sense of humour during the exploration - all links and a download/purchase are available here.

Wanna see the box and what goodies are inside? Of course you do...

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas


We're almost at the end of yet another year so here is a cute Christmassy slideshow I found whilst digging through the AtariMania archives. It's from a disk magazine by Effect and is stuffed full of text and even features the most annoying rendition of "The 12 Days of Christmas" I've ever heard - but at least it supports the STe audio!!

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their help and ST commitment over the past year. Once again, I've met some great people and seen things which I thought would never happen after the ST "died" in the mid-90s. There are so many awesome games and demos recently released but my personal favourite is, of course, Manic Miner which is a fantastic remake of Matthew Smith's ZX Spectrum classic from 1983. Absolutely brilliant.

Also, I'd like to thank: Tom/Karim for all their sharing across various social media. Peter for adapting these merry ST games (and my requests for more!!). AtariMania for always being my go-to place. Atari Legend for being ace and getting me addicted to Ultima V. And, course, every one of you guys visiting my website throughout the year :-)

All the beST and Merry Christmas †

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Time Soldier



Let's play Ikari..!

The conversion of Time Soldiers was released in 1989 by Electrocoin and is based on the vertically shoot 'em up which isn't too dissimilar to something like Ikari Warriors. The story goes that big bad Gylend has captured a few of our friends. They are being held captive in different time periods, so it's up to us to rescue them.

Now, I've not played the arcade game, but I see there's a slight name change which basically means we're running solo. That would be (almost) understandable but we're only given one life which makes the quest rather difficult. Before setting out, we're given the name and location of our captured warrior but the wonky teleporter can send us somewhere different, which means you gotta plough through and find the correct portal.




Shoot. Kill. Shoot. Kill.

Each of the time periods has a change of graphics but is basically the same format. These places are stuffed full of enemies that need killing and slain baddies leave behind goodies that should be collected for a power boost. Health can also be replenished which is needed when every contact drains you dry.

A boss is featured at the end of level and most are rather easy to kill. However, my power-ups sometimes ran out during the fight, which made it nigh on impossible to win!

Gameplay is a cross between something like Wanted or Commando yet doesn't impress as much. I wasn't too sure about the scrolling which often left me vulnerable to the off-screen baddies. I was never going to like the one life aspect too so now I'm begin to pick flaws and I wondered who beta tested this arcade conversion?




Aesthetics

I quite like the graphics in Time Soldier; from start to end, it's colourful and detailed. The backgrounds are great and we have some of the silliest sprites who attack in waves. That means the screen is usually cluttered with their firepower - which I loved! Heck, it's even making use of overscan and the scrolling is pretty smooth.

The music is balanced well against the sound effects and suits the gameplay very well. No complaints.




The CryptO'pinion?

This was fun but I had a few mixed feelings: I wasn't too keen on the scrolling method which can sometimes fail to keep up with the player and having one life is very restricting. If you're expecting an authentic arcade conversion then brace yourself for disappointment. However, in its own right, Time Soldier is actually a great shooter with interesting levels and lots of meaningless action. For all its flaws, I actually enjoyed this peculiar conversion a lot.


Time Cops can download for floppy or hard disk.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Reach For The Skies




Why am I reminded of S Club 7?

It's time for some cool BoxArt and today we have a wonderful flight sim by Rowan/Virgin called Reach For The Skies. I've definitely landed lucky because the box is in superb condition and even the contents are in good nick: manual, keycard and disks. It's almost like I used a time machine and revisited 1993 ( sigh... just imagine... )

Reach For The Skies was released back in 1993 and attempts a recreation of the Battle Of Britain era between the Royal Air Force and the German Luftwaffe. That is obviously a crucial part of the entire war and is split into four mammoth sections. If you're up to the task, you can be either a pilot or the controller for an entire squadron.

Okay, the box looks awesome but what about those pixels? Are they just as good? Let's see...


Now, this is what I call awesome pixel artwork. Look at the detail. Love it!!
The German on the right looks like Colonel Von Strohm, I thought.

Awesome pixel art throughout and I love the moustache and pipe. Very British lol



Read The Flipping Manual

Obviously, the first thing I did was skip the manual and read nothing more than the keycard. This humble sheet of paper displays an array of keys that are used to successfully pilot the planes. Don't be too scared because there is a practice mode which is great for newcomers, like me. Why not completely bypass the take-off procedure and pretend to be a stuntman like Colt Seavers whizzing across those lovely 16-bit skies? Well, I did...

Those that prefer to take things seriously are advised to learn the cockpit and keep the keycard sheet at hand. As you get accustomed to flying the skies, you will note some great external views: I really enjoyed these and you can watch me messing about on my YT channel. There are other awesome features like video recording and even the ability to flip between each member of your squadron. Yup, this is a big game that will take time to master.

Let's take a look at some of the missions you'll be sent on...


Anything here catching your eye, hero?
Love the dated information that presents the mission ahead perfectly.
Those plucky German's with their technology, commitment and wishful thinking!



The CryptO'pinion?

Overall, this is a demanding flight sim with some neat features that help a novice, like me, get the most from the very start. I love the authentic cockpits, and the external views are stunning, but learning to hunt down and destroy the enemy will take much practice. But that's definitely a good thing, right? Reach For The Skies is one of the best flight sims I own and something I will enjoy time and time again. Tally-ho and chocks away, old bean!!

Whatever plane you decide to pilot, make sure you run this from a hard drive if you can (floppies on Stonish).

And finally, here is a video and some 3D camera angels which excel in Reach For The Skies...


The camera views are superb and I loved messing about with this feature. A lot!!
The graphics are incredible. It's like you're really there, well, for this 90s gamer anyways...
Oh no, pull up!! Pull up!! Why do I always die...?
Please note: the video recording is based on my own Mega STe (16MHz). I have tried to show the game's basic elements for both the German and the British sides. Perhaps I should have used the standard computer, but there are lots of videos out there on YouTube so I fancied putting the extra grunt of this amazing computer to use.
However, it is worth noting that the standard Atari ST performs so well (no change there then!).

Friday, December 14, 2018

Ballerburg

[This is the wonderful Atari ST game because I have no way to record off my phone!]

Let me start by saying that I never play "mobile" games. However, I was in my car bored stupid (it didn't take very long) and I remembered that Eckhard Kruse's Ballerburg has been remade by a company called DonkeyCat. Well, to say I'm blown away is an understatement because this classic mono game looks and feels very authentic and is pretty much like having an ST in your pocket. Well... But you know what I mean!

Gameplay is just as you would expect with wind, angle and speed to decipher so chose your kingdom and get blasting cannons over the mountains. I prefer the Atari ST game but it's still jolly good fun. Okay, I still prefer the ST original but get on your chosen App Store and download some of this mobile artillery action.


ST DOWNLOAD & SCREENSHOTS -




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.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

MANDELST



Let's mess about!

MandelST is a fractal generator developed in GFA Basic by Manos Kantzos (thanks to GeoAnas for the heads-up). I love messing about with funky fractals and this program is a cinch to use - which is a good thing for me!

Mandelbrot/Julia productions can be generated within moments but faster computers will benefit from their extra grunt. Of course, emulators are an excellent idea, unless you prefer leaving your ST on for long periods? Images can be exported as Degas PI1 or TIFF - which is superb. Also, basic animations are possible and these take us deep into an infinite mathematical world like nothing I've seen before. A stunning idea with great potential.

I've enjoyed creating many peculiar and wonderful images and animations - which I'm quite proud of. Also, it's fantastic to see something new being developed for the Atari ST so I'm hoping Manos continues on and improves his work in the future. This is a great program, so have yourself some geeky fun zooming in on infinite!!


My Funky Creations