Saturday, June 12, 2021

CRACKERS II: The Data Storm


What, another book? Count me in!!

Here we go again! Macro Breddin has the next Atari ST book on Indiegogo itching to be backed by the community. Sadly, I've not had the time to properly read through the first Crackers book and already the second is on its way! Like the three 'Borders' books before it, the Crackers book, The Gold Rush, is of the same high standard. In fact, I prefer this style, design and have thoroughly enjoyed what I've read so far. Check out my ST shelf!

Okay, the second volume takes us forward into the glorious 1990s...

"The Data Storm will look at the transformation of the illegal scene in the 90s. Between the U.S., Europe and Hong Kong, crackers strove for global deals through huge data lines. Bigger and better umbrella organizations emerged. From then on, cracking and hacking games developed into an international business – even with sophisticated hardware copying tools. The narrative of CRACKERS II reveals the story of some outstanding crackers and hackers on C64, SNES, Megadrive (Genesis), Amiga and especially on the Atari ST.

Relive the best computer times and experience the exceptional methods of famous code breakers, disk dealers, software pirates and lawmakers in the 1990s."


Anybody else only interested in the Atari ST side? Nah, I should keep an open mind hehe! Righto folks, if you loved any of the first books then I'm sure you're as excited to support this latest volume just as much as myself.

Don't dawdle as there is little time remaining, so back it now over on Indiegogo /|\

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

My ST shelves!


A peep into the inner world of the Crypt!

A long long time ago I had an ST shelf and I was very happy. But then along came a woman who wanted to redecorate and the idea of an old games shelf didn't quite fit in with her plans. Not having a backbone, I obliged and I endured a shelf-less life with all my lovely ST games boxed away, probably never to been seen again.

Thankfully, those dark years have finally come to an end as I've been granted an opportunity to display my prize positions once again. I admit that my little corner of the bedroom is hardly a man cave, but it will suffice. Well, for now! She doesn't know that I've got some posters and I'm talking Vixen, Game Over and Barbarian ;-)

I love my new shelves but I've been ordered to keep 'em dust-free and that will be tough because I'm a bloke and that means I don't do housework!! Ha. Anyhow, I better try because I'm going to push for a couple more shelves soon - so wish me luck as I've got more ST GEMs that need to be displayed for all to admire. Well, me really!

Isn't it funny when something as simple as a shelf can actually make you happy? Hmm.



Of course, it's so much more practical to boot ST games this way. But that's not as much fun, right?


Okay, let's have some feedback?

What does your ST world look like? Let me know in the comments below as I would love to hear about it. Sadly, I cannot accept photos in the comments (blame google!) and nobody uses email, right? So why not pop over to our (lame) Facebook page and send me some photos? (I really should remember to update that more)

Okay, let's take a closer look at some of my favourite Atari ST games and a few gorgeous new books...



Three classic books and some lovely games. Especially, the Elvira box. Work-of-art that one!


The same shelf, different angel - I'm getting creative. Here you can see two fantastic new products.


My little box of working floppies - that I use over and over to playtest my Crypt games :-)


Oi, stop drooling over your keyboard. Yes, this is a fine selection alright. Boy, I love the ST!!!


Okay, I wimped out and put up Resolution 101 instead but it's one of my favourite Atari ST games!



- UPDATE -


And today I get a new bookshelf donated to the Crypt from my beautiful wife. More ST games!!


Yep, I'm now surrounded by my collection of Atari ST games and they all work too, which is nice.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Winglord


Survival of the Fittest

I don't mind admitting it, but Joust is one of those games that I am absolutely terrible at. In fact, I could end this right now because I'm that bad. It really is quite humiliating! However, I also have much affection for flappy jousting, no matter the quality of my skills. Joust is something uniquely entertaining and something that thrills as much as it infuriates (me). So, it was a pleasure to discover that the Atari ST/e has a jousting competitor.

Winglord was originally a shareware game by Victor Bruhn who kindly released it as freeware a few years ago. Now, first things first, Winglord can run on either the Atari ST or its sexy sister, the STe. However, Victor intended it for the Atari STe as he utilised the Blitter and DMA audio. Older STFM's can still play but, won't get to hear the samples and might even suffer visual anomalies due to the lack of a Blitter that handles the smooth 50Hz display.


I struggle to fly whilst the computer cleans up. Yup, another drubbing by my faithful Atari ST...


README.TXT

Nobody ever reads the manual. Well, that's mainly a guy thing but, in this case, it's worthwhile taking a look. Not only are there lots of handy tips but also a great storyline that is fun to read. Come on, there are nasty wizards, medieval castles and winged unicorns which is all great stuff!! For those that still won't read it, here's my take:

Guardian Castle is above the villages in the valley below. They're under attack by the wizards of the Northlands whos minions have found a way into the tunnels under the mountain atop which it sits.

They have gained control of most of the caverns and passages that run through the ground underneath the castle, as well as a very large portion of the castle itself. Sinister beings now roam through these areas and have crushed all resistance offered by the sentries and the castle's contingent of soldiers. Evil creatures, some mounted by riders, continue to advance into the halls of the castle and through the caverns in a seemingly unstoppable march! (It's not sounding too good, is it?)

Thankfully, teleporting into the skies above the castle are WingLords who are ready to do battle with the invaders. Mounted upon winged unicorns whose beauty is matched only by their quickness and power, they descend into the depths of Guardian Castle and intercept a group of creatures. Two more riders enter the room and an airborne jousting battle begins between the adversaries.

Their powerful Fire Lances easily destroy the enemy riders, while providing their wielders with a shield against the enemy. The enemy is defeated and the Winglord's unicorn steeds use their natural teleportation ability and leave the battlefield to have their lances re-charged.

Now the WingLords wait for another onslaught, ready to do battle with the fire-spitting Yellow Jackets. The Dark Riders are also armed with fire-spitting lances. The Wing Masters, deadly flyers who are immune to missile weapons, and must be jousted against. This war is far from won!



The Apprentice knights are a little slow but a lot harder than you might think.


Winged unicorns?

Winglord will instantly feel familiar to seasoned jousters. One or two players can compete, at the same time, controlled by either the computer or another humanoid that you may have lying about your house. Each level is of a similar design with platforms that prove to be of strategic use. As with the original, the screens feature a wrap-around design when reaching the edge. However, the eggs are gone and there are ceiling vents.

Yes, there are some alternative changes plus some are quite peculiar ones I must say. Gone are the lanky ostriches for unicorns. And unicorns don't lay eggs but these majestic beasts love to strut their stuff - just watch them walk. So cool. Battling against enemy knights follows the same format but they now feature some unexpected traits and there are even buzzy bees too. Best of all, some medieval knights are expert jousters with exceptional skills.



This isn't good, I'm about to be pounced on or stung to death at any moment!


Know your enemy

Any level can feature four different enemies each with its own strengths, control, style and armament:
The Apprentice - these guys are armed with only a lance. You might be fooled into thinking he's going to be an easy opponent. Don't kid yourself, he's crafty and has some nice flying skills. Also, he's immune to your missile attacks. Hang on, a moment... did I just say missile?!!

Yellow Jackets - this is a buzzy bee with suicidal tendancies, which means they're quite tough to safely defeat. These can, and will sworm, so watch out. Okay, they're a little dumb but, as a nest, they are a fanominal force. Perhaps a missile in its face is a good idea to teach them who's boss?

Dark Riders - this guy carries both a lance and a pack of missiles. He's fast, he's brutal and he's a damn tough lancer. Basically, he's gonna kick your ass!! Excellent fighters.

Wing Masters - now Winglord shows its true colours as this guy enters the arena. These are jousting geniuses and tough cookies with ferocious combat skills. You have been warned. Beware!



I tried my best to get a screenshot of a missile hitting a bee! Quite impossible lol.


Controls

Joystick controls feel much like they did in ST Joust, which was a massive relief because I was dreading any disastrous changes. Both flight and control are perfect, even if you are as skilless as me. However, there is an option to chose your preferred 'flap power' that will alter the effect of the vertical force which is applied with each press of the button. Choosing high will gain greater altitude whereas low offers better control.

Pushing downwards will fire a missile. Yep, a missile. It's one of the most unexpected treats I could have imagined. At first, it feels a little weird but comes in handy against those dopy Yellow Jackets and who doesn't love blasting rockets? Note, these work against the Dark Riders and the bees - and can only be used during flight.

Missiles are a fantastic twist over the original format. However, purists may be disgusted by such an conflicting addition? Not me. I personally feel the use of missiles is optional, not a necessity.



Mummy, I wanna go home now!


Big Tips!

1) Don't panic.
2) Playtest with the different flap rates to see what suits you the best.
3) Disable the second player, he can be distracting I found.
4) Disable the second player anyhow as he's far too skilled!!
5) Judge your entrance for a well-timed drop onto your unsuspecting opponent.
6) Don't bang down on the joystick too quickly, unless you enjoy hearing the sounds.
7) Those platforms can make for good defence.
8) Bonus rounds are a great way to earn extra points.
9) Why you listening to me? I suck at jousting!
10) For those with skills like mine, hit the Up/Down arrows on the main menu!!



So, there's a swarm of nasties coming and my unicorn decides to strut his stuff and look cool. Sheesh!


Aesthetics

Visually, it's more or less, Joust and a damn good take on that original format I might add. However, being similar to Joust means it's also hardly something to gawk at in wonder and the levels appear to have less detail compared to the official ST conversion. Having said that, it looks nice and the animations are quite beautiful. I love watching my unicorn walk between the levels just for fun. He just loves to strut his stuff!!

It would be a crime to end it there without mentioning the framerate. It is smooth. Very, very smooth. In fact, it's smoother than Kojak's bald head drenched in baby oil. I believe this is thanks to the Blitter lurking inside the Atari STe. It's a great thing to see a developer that obviously enjoyed going that extra mile.

The sound effects are made up of a neat selection of samples. All are crystal clear, thanks to the DMA hardware that Victor is using. I only wish he would have recorded more for extra pizazz. Sadly, older ST's suffer minimal sounds but Winglord was developed on (and intended for) the Atari STe. So stop moaning and upgrade!



Hang on, I've lasted longer than the computer? Time to shoot and beat his score, for once!


The CryptO'pinion?

Joust is one of the best arcade conversions for the Atari ST. With that in mind, Winglord really needed to deliver and, it did. The cosmetic changes are nice and I loved the option to use missiles. Tinkering with the flap-power attribute is a superb idea and the option for a second player is just dandy, even if the computer outperforms me each and every time. The change of theme worked well as did other changes like the regular use of bonus rounds.

Winglord cannot replace Joust, that's impossible but, I don't think it was ever meant to. As it stands, it's a fine alternative and something that doesn't disappoint. This game is so much fun and I would have liked nothing better than to show you more of it in my video. But that was never gonna happen with skills like mine. Sorry!

Personally, I think this game is a fantastic "clone" of the original and the differences work great. Best of all, the Atari ST/e has another version of Joust and that's never a bad thing in my opinion. Winglord is excellent.

- Download from AtariMania -

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Droid Special Edition



Missing: One Droid

Droid was originally developed by MP Lord (he of Hoog fame!!) and was a smash hit that saw a sequel three years later. Sadly, neither of these games supported the enhanced hardware of the Atari STe which meant chip fx, flick-scrolling and a fair bit of slowdown when things got hectic. Not only that, but the joystick controls were finicky and I would often fall off ledges when struggling to jump (pulling down and then leaping - arghhh!)

I remember (back in 2016) being excited to hear that Jamie Hamshere was working on an improved version that would take advantage of the Atari STe. I could only imagine what it would be like to play a scrollable Droid and Jamie even planned to tweak those controls to remove the irritation that threatened each and every jump.

Well, that project was completed late last year yet somehow, I completely missed it. What planet have I been living on? Anyhow, I figured I should boot it up to see how this cult ST shooter played on the Atari STe...


Get out quick, this area is pretty hellish with droids and wall-mounted guns!


An armless Robocop!

Oh yes, we most certainly are. Just imagine yourself as a mechanoid armed to the teeth and able to leap huge heights. Somehow, this beast is trapped inside a massive underground cavern and wants to escape to get home for tea. However, the path through isn't as easy as walking in a straight line and into the light ahead.

The caves are a labyrinth of dangerous rooms and many are guarded or patrolled by other mechanoids all too willing to blast you into smithereens. This is a hideous maze designed with numerous dead ends that require keys to unlock many doorways. It's an underground hell and is nigh on impossible to escape without making yourself a map to help plot your journey. No, wait we don't need a pen and paper because Jamie has added an auto-mapping tool. This helps navigate, find objects and prevent the frustration of getting lost. An exceptional new feature.

That's not all that's changed, the old (large) status display has gone and replaced by the tiniest bar. This still shows the same information for lives, weapons, energy and so on but we now have far more gaming real estate. Are you loving this upgrade already, or what? The various weaponry you're able to carry is also shown - pressing the ALT key will cycle through what you have available. Don't waste your supplies on the wrong monsters!


Oh no, a different type of droid and this one is throwing bombs!


Mummy, I'm scared!

Droid might be a metallic brute but that doesn't mean he's invincible. Watch out for other droids wandering back and forth protecting their area of the cave. They're a few butties short of a picnic but will still shoot on sight. As you progress, you'll see other areas are protected by a variety of strange objects: some shooting out bombs and others like wall-mounted lasers. But there are other things to avoid, like fire or falling into the bottomless pit...

Using the map is an absolute must otherwise you'll only get lost and probably give up. Keep on looking for those keys and carefully plot a route. Mini-bosses appear throughout the entire journey and the first is like an angry prawn! The armoured truck is excellent and an unexpected boss to find in a cavern. I wonder if it's Jet Man?

This game has always been a tough nut for tough nutters and I think this still applies today with this upgrade. Those later rooms are merciless with a cruel design that feels OTT many times with lasers, bombs and mechs all ganging up on you at once. Death results in a life lost which unfairly send you back to the starting checkpoint. Only a skilled and determined gamer willing to spend time and much effort is going to succeed. So good luck!


What the heck is that, some kind of sea creature? I hope you saved your better weaponry?


Fancy a few juicy tips?

1) Don't kill everything you see and therefore run out of precious ammo.
2) Collect power-ups for energy and ammo only when you need to!
3) Closely stalking droids is fun plus it's safer and uses no ammo.
4) Learn to use the mapping tool. It's a little odd at first and reminded me of Heartland.
5) Some weapons are best left until you need them for a specific purpose.
6) Learn the controls and enjoy a few practice games before taking on the challenge.
7) Walk away and give up. You're not good enough!! (I'm kidding, I'm kidding!!)


Be patient and unlock the doorway barrier only after the droid walks away.


Did you know?

Jame worked with Jonathan Thomas on the recent Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge for the Atari STe. This is an upgrade of the classic racer that brings it in line with the Amiga version in every respect, except the tracker music. Now, I know what those guys will think, but I prefer chip over a MOD any day. I personally don't see YM chipmusic by Ben Daglish as a bad thing. Quite the opposite and it's one of the many things that makes the ST so cool.

To play, all you need is a 1MB Atari ST so check it out, folks because the collaboration between these two has proved far beyond fruitful and the expertise Jamie has for the DMA hardware is jaw-dropping. Lotus has been transformed from a great racer into an awesome racer which wasn't easy. I'm sure you will all love playing it.

    * The original web feature proving why 2021 might not suck after a year of paranoia.
    * The public release of #LotusSTE was April 10th so get it downloaded right now mister!!


Another killer area with droids, bombs, guns and fire. RUN!!


Aesthetics

Things might appear similar but a keen ST gamer will notice the play area has increased by a huge amount. The colours are improved and the Blitter is moving the sprites so that ugly slowdown has gone. The only thing missing is Droid's minigun from the original. Finally, this shooter now smoothly scrolls in all directions compared to the dreadful horizontal flick-screen method. Jamie, you've (respectfully) blown the original game into pieces!!

The audio has also seen big changes with the addition of in-game music and sampled sound effects thanks to his skills in getting the utmost out of the audio hardware. Check out the funky theme music using his own program: Turbochip to knock out 7-channels using the DMA and YM2149 together for phenomenal results.


The new map tool. Finally, I won't get lost anymore. He says...


The CryptO'pinion?

Miles did a great job and produced a platformer that was different, challenging and stuffed full of action. It's quite incredible considering it wasn't commercial so all credit to his talent, commitment and love for the Atari ST. However, the lack of dedicated hardware had a negative effect, plus I found the controls very irritating and I would also get myself lost - a lot. I guess Jamie felt the same way and went ahead to rectify these niggles?

Jamie's project to enhance an already great game has come together well and is a perfect blend of improved aesthetics with better gameplay. Finally, I'm not accidentally falling off ledges by failing to make those tricky jumps. As remakes go, it's fascinating to think just how much hard work he invested into improving this olde classic. Yes, it's still the same game but one that has been rolled in glitter so sparkles like it's brand new and I love it.


- DOWNLOADS -

AtariMania has the floppy disk download.

Jamie bravely recorded a complete playthrough!

Fancy going Godlike with infinity energy and ammo?
Then enter this code on the title: FEELCOSMICALLTHETIME

Saturday, April 17, 2021

50 ST games you have to play


A new Atari ST book!

I know, I know, I'm late to the party for this new goodie - a brand new book by non-other than Karl Morris to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the Atari ST. A flabbergasting 50 games are featured along with segments for point & click games, Jeff Minter, how to emulate an ST, YM2149 chip. Oh, and I particularly enjoyed the Ad Breaks!

Karl begins with a heartwarming dedication to the passing of his friend and fellow Atarian, Curt Vendel. An introduction then begins to offer an extraordinary insight into the entire era of just what makes the Atari ST everything we love: from its early years, the people, events, stories, hardware, technology, and specifications. I found this to be a fascinating glimpse into the mid-80s and something that I'll probably read a number of times.


Arghh, somebody's broken up my beautiful Atari ST in pieces!!


Get to the games!

Okay, you all know how much I love my Atari ST, and this is my era of "Atari" so, I was expecting only good things and the book does not fail to impress. Starting with the earliest, we have the timeless classic Time Bandit to begin his 16-Bit gaming journey. Later, there are beauties like Operation Wold (Arcade Conversions), Dungeon Master (Adventures), Backlash (shoot 'em ups), Supremecy (Strategy), Vroom (Sports) and much more.

But wait, not only is there the usual selection but also a raft of games traditionally ignored, which was a lovely surprise. I was pleasantly shocked to see greats like Sentinel, Corruption, Masterblazer, Beyond Zork, Stardust, Backlash and Lode Runner. Karl is obviously a guy who loves to play Atari and that shines through.

Hang on, I didn't see Resolution 101!! (Okay, I'll stop that now! I don't want to be one of those people lol)



The book has a number of cool ads and I'd forgotten about this for Defender of the Crown!


Same old same old?

We've seen dozens of magazine articles and books so this had to offer something extra special. Thankfully, this is a book that is well-made with a chic style and presentation that is nothing short of excellent. The writing style is engaging and from a perspective that is both insightful and fun to read. Content is both predictable and unexpected so it doesn't fall into the trap of featuring the same old games we've already seen a million times.

Each of the games is presented in a format that I really admire rather than defaulting to a meaningless Top 50 chart show. All are split into segments of genre which makes finding what you need a cinch. I also liked the layout with photos of title screens, box art and other tidbits displayed as a funky GEM window. Ad Breaks feature often and are a nostalgic reminder of how the Atari ST magazines once captivated our imagination. Love it!!



The other books and goodies by Zafinn are magnificent - I feel like a BIG kid on Christmas morning!


The CryptO'pinion?

I think you can already guess how thrilled I am to own yet another Atari ST publication. I've found it to be an enjoyable read which I'll return to time & time again. However, the AtariCrypt website failed to get mentioned, but I can forgive Karl because he managed to get Atari Legend's website wrong - twice!! (Oops, I'm so sorry Maarten!).

But seriously, this is the bee's knees and for a meagre €35 it's incredibly good value. Sadly, I believe the available stock is running low so now is the time to act if you want a copy. My sincere gratitude to Karl for holding onto a copy for me over the last few months - I love the extra goodies, especially the fridge magnets!!

Come on folks, grab yourself a copy of this wonderful new Atari ST book from the Zafinn Books website.


Friday, April 09, 2021

Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge #AtariSTe



It's finally here, folks!!

After months in development, the time has now come to ditch your PC and dust off the old Atari. Yes, a public release of the Atari STe upgraded Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge will be available to download from tomorrow - April 10th. The only caveat is that your computer requires 1MB Ram and a working floppy disk drive.

The plan was to update Lotus with features missing from the original ST release. Jon added sky rasters, revamped roadside details and boosted the framerate. He later used the Blitter Chip to crunch those car sprites and smoothly scroll the landscape which delivered even more speed. Jamie Hamshere worked on the DMA audio to ditch the horrendous sound effects. As you can imagine, the end result of all this effort is staggering.

I'd like to thank Jon for all his hard work and for sharing what he created each step of the way. It's been great to follow, a fascinating experience and tons of fun. I would like to thank Jamie & Masteries for their incredible DMA skills; I'll never forget the first time I played Lotus with sampled sound effects alongside the chip music.

Downloads will be available from tomorrow morning via AtariMania. Well, that's my weekend sorted - enjoy!


One day I'll get myself a sports car and I'll live the game for real. One day...


Did you know?

The new Lotus Esprit actually works on the Atari ST and features nice sky rasters, faster gameplay and more. The only caveat is the 1MB Ram and also a Blitter Chip (check the Options menu in GEM if you're unsure!). All Mega ST's meet these requirements and late-model STFM's have an empty socket... Feeling tempted to upgrade?

Worried that you don't have a working floppy disk at hand? Well, the download is compatible with floppy disk replacements and can also run off hard drive/ultrasatan using programs like Floppy Image Runner.

The 16MHz Mega STe can run Lotus at dizzy speeds - just hold down the SHIFT key at bootup. Also, if you're missing the peculiar YM effects then press the ALT key at bootup to disable the DMA samples.

Finally, if you have extra hardware connected to your Atari STe, like hard drives, then power it off. Do not try leaving the hard drive on and attempt to bypass its auto-booting. Power it off and cold boot the computer.


Check it out, I made the high score table. Honest, I swear I did... ahem!!


Preview Release Timeline Updates (for reference)

Exciting news alert folks!! Massive progress is being made to the Atari STe upgrade of Lotus Esprit Turbo and I have been given the latest development releases that feature DMA sound samples alongside that gorgeous chipmusic. The roaring samples are taken from an unknown computer made sometime in the mid-80s.

Sorry, I forget its name. Amoeba or something silly? Not sure...

Anyhow, I've made a few video recordings to flaunt each release. All credit to Jonathan Thomas and Jamie Hamshere & Masteries (for DMA audio) for their hard work with each new release. Don't worry, the fantastic chipmusic remains as an option and the DMA playback has no negative effect on framerate. Great work lads, keep it up!!

For reference, here are the links from each development build history I've received:

Apr 10th - It's finally here to download from AtariMania!!
Mar 31st - video #6 Player two has sky gradient, Blitter scrolls the landscape per pixel, more audio refinements and a higher framerate!
Mar 28th - video #5 Portugal track (audio sample for the intro and many improvements made to the volume balance of YM/DMA.
Mar 21st - video #4 Practice track with a massive change to the audio. Lotus can play play DMA sound effect samples alongside the glorious Ben Daglish chip music!!! Volume refinements to come thanks to Jamie...
Mar  7th - video #3 Iceland track (DMA sfx).
Feb 28th - video #2 Mexico track (chip music).
Feb 21st - video #1 Italy track (chip sound effects).
Feb 21st - website feature with information, specs, photos, etc.. :-)
Dec 24th - Jon posted on Atari-Forum about his Lotus plan!

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Sophélie




It's all bums and boobs!

Sophelie was once a goddess of heaven but has since been vanquished and left to roam the lands searching for her body. Why, I hear you cry? Well, some kind soul has turned her into an albatross so she now spends her time flying through worlds looking to find her original appearance. As storylines go, this is silly, to say the least!

Yep, this is a horizontally-scrolling shooter not too dissimilar to the typical R-Type or Menace. However, this time we're not killing monsters or aliens but instead some of the weirdest things that you might never have expected to see; planets, snowmen, wolf heads, giant eyeballs and even trees. The landscapes are lush with colourful and angels will appear to help at regular intervals. Hey, this is starting to sound really great, right?

Well, let's take a look at some screenshots from the first level...



Yep, giant eyeballs are coming for you and are actually tough to kill too!

Now, this is getting silly! What have the trees ever done to you?

Let's kill the planet? No literally by shooting down rotating planet Earth's!!



Spit, don't shoot!

We begin with the (ugly?) hand of God safely delivering us to each world ready for battle. These worlds are split into several segments with each having its own brand of baddies all too eager to see you dead. Each will swarm with its own style of attack pattern and might even shoot at you - the Earth fires mini-planets!

Some of the nasties are far too easy to kill whereas others are quite impossible thanks to the rate at which we shoot. It's too low, so this makes killing certain enemies quite impossible because they move too quickly in comparison to what we're able to shoot. Dying can be a bit troublesome especially when you materialise too close to an enemy and therefore instantly die. Invulnerability could easily have been utilised for a second or two to fix that!

Angels visit after each of the segments to offer a power-up and these are pretty much essential from the start. Miss them, and the following swarm of enemies is quite impossible to beat. Also, dying baddies might sometimes throw out an extra power-up, but these fall off the screen before you've had a chance to even think about collecting them. Finally, there is a time limit to kill everything which is very peculiar, to say the least.

Let's now take a peep at some screenshots from the second world...



Some of the sprites are freaky... freaky-cool!

I can't make out whether these are balloons or floating severed-heads!

Damn snowmen, they all deserve to die!! O_o



Aesthetics?

Visually, this isn't too bad with colourful palettes, funky sprites racing across the screen and smooth parallax scrolling running at a brisk pace. In fact, I love the level of detail that's gone into the sprite's artwork the most: Sophelie's animation is superb and never have I played a game with such a whacky variety of enemies!

Sadly, the audio is disappointing with a fuzzy theme tune and near-silent gameplay. Well, apart from the death kill sound effect and a strange background whistle. Overall, it's shocking because the YM is far more capable.

Well, that was a mixed bag alright so let's take a peep at the third world...



These are insanely difficult to kill, if not impossible without losing all your lives!

He's big. He's bad. He's about to be brown bread!!

Hey, a power-up appears from a dying beast yet you have no chance of collecting it!



The CryptO'pinion?

On a basic level, this isn't a bad shoot 'em up. The levels are colourful, the baddies look great zipping across the screen and the action is constant. Also, I like how angels regularly appear with a gift to improves your chances of winning. However, this is also one of the most boring games I've ever booted up. The graphics might change but the gameplay is bland and repetitive so becomes tiresome. And then there's the audio... Ugh, terrible!

It's an understatement to say that there are better Atari ST shooters. Sophélie looks nice, sounds awful and doesn't bring anything new to the table but there are boobies so perhaps it's worth it after all? Nah...


- DOWNLOADS -


8BitChip has Sophélie ready to run from your hard drive.
Stonish and Old Games Finder has floppy disks.


Oh no, another grisly death beautifully laid out. Interesting artwork!