Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Worm



I got worms!

Every so often, I come upon something so ridiculous it's weirdly enjoyable. Well, today I found an absurd game called Worm which I can imagine was made for kids. Oddly enough, the big kid within me still found it very amusing. Worm was developed by Craig Graham of Data Uncertain Software and is a public domain release (shocker). The title screen says it was released in 1991 but the game files are time-stamped 1989 on my floppy disk so who knows... Maybe a default?

The story is, we're a worm called Ooey Gooey who is on a mission to save the world from an unnatural disaster. Yep, we have been invaded once again by monsters that threaten our very existence. These nasty creatures have they've taken all the worm's eggs so it's our job to rescue those before it's too late (hey, do worms actually lay eggs?).

Wow, I've just googled it and worms do indeed lay eggs!! On that note, I think we better see some screenshots...



The title screen oozes a professional presentation easily on par with the Bitmaps ;)


There is a designer used to create your own levels. Look what I've started making...Hmm!


Let's play

There are 25 whacky levels and each is displayed side-on like many platformers. Using the joystick, Ooey can crawl along the ground, ledges, and other objects looking for eggs. This isn't exactly mind-blowing but there are some located in high areas and worms cannot fly so how can we grab 'em? Well, it's a good job Ooey has a hidden gadget - a helicopter pack! This is actually pretty cool and he uses it to reach those dizzy heights no worm was ever designed to see.

Don't be too quick to rush off and collect the eggs because there are other items for points and helicopter fuel. Also, there are power-ups like extra lives, invulnerability, and ice - used to freeze both enemies and everything else. Once all the eggs are collected, we are automatically whisked onto the next room to repeat the task on a slightly tougher level.
Interestingly, the main menu has a scroller but it's incredibly lame!! However, it does mention about a possible cheat code "Craig Loves Andrea". Perhaps it's for the high score table or maybe a key combo? I didn't have any luck but YMMV. If anyone's still reading this review, then let me know in the comments below.
And that's about all there is to this bizarre game. It's dead simple to play and quite enjoyable in a terrible way...



Leave the title screen alone and you get to view the instructions.


The evil eyeball looks drunk!



The CryptO'pinion?

To be honest, there's not a whole lot to this game and its design feels very amateur with crude aesthetics. Weirdly, I actually found the concept humorous, and enough to warrant writing about it. I really admire what Craig was trying to achieve but sadly, the sprites are far too big and this also comes with a bunch of truly dreadful collision detection too.

Sadly, this spoilt what might have been a silly and childishly enjoyable game. Regardless, it's worth downloading especially if you have kids - who might need punishing for spending all your money and ruining your life. Whaaaat?

You can find this game and lots more over at Exxos' excellent Floppyshop archive (GAM-3341)

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

17BIT




Disk Magazine #6

The ST is fast approaching its 40th birthday yet this old computer still manages to surprise me with something new. Recently, I rescued a floppy disk by Seventeen Bit Software called "Disk Magazine". It's labelled Membership 5000 which seems a little dubious being such a high number. Although I do wonder if that was the original owner's ID?

It appears 17BIT supported the ST for only about a year until late '89. They supplied commercial games for both the ST/Amiga platforms at a discount along with tons of public domain software too. Membership was required (free!) and that got you a regular disk magazine of which I found number #6. (cheers to Atarimania's Marko for all his help)

The disk boots to the GEM desktop with a hilarious wallpaper - are these the guys behind 17BIT? The contents are varied from utilities to a couple of Spectrum 512 images and also a megademo by XXX International. But the main reason was to advertise everything in their PD catalogue using a program by Andy Styles to browse through their stock.

I'm eager to find disks 1-5 along with anything else they produced. Sadly, I suspect the worst but I have hope that their other disks aren't lost in the void! If you know more or happen to have their disks laying about then get in touch. For now, at least no. 6 is safe because I've made a copy that you can download for either your Atari ST or emulator.

Wait! Before you go, check out these exciting photos and screenshots...



"That Bit Better Than The Rest", I really like their slogan!


This is where all the magic happens. Well...


QMOUSE is cool and I wonder how SPEEDDISK might perform?


One of the readme files. Gripped with excitement now, aren't ya?


XXX International Demo by XXX International (must have taken ages to choose the demo's title)

One of the Spectrum 512 images.


Their program allows you to slowly browse through everything they had in stock.

Friday, August 11, 2023

L'Abbaye Des Morts




The Abbey Of The Dead

You all know of my love for the Atari ST/e computers but, now and then, I stray to other machines. Don't panic, I'm not talking about the Ameoba but a powerful 32-bit computer Atari should have had more success with - and released sooner. Yep, the Falcon which already has its own section here on my website. Go on, be unique, and check it out!

The Abbey of the Dead, or more precisely, L'Abbaye Des Morts was originally by Locomalito and converted to the Falcon by Jo Even Skarstein (Joska). Earlier this year, Cote Gamers released the boxed version which I had to have :)

As you all know, I do not own a Falcon so am stuck in the virtual wastelands of emulation thanks to the (fabulous) program Hatari. Sadly, this great emulator doesn't appear to support 60Hz so the game suffers slowdown and more. Have you seen the cost of a Falcon? Yeah, I can live with this performance hit until my pending lottery win comes through!

Righto, I think we need to see a couple of sexy Atari Falcon screenshots? Who's with me? Come on...



We begin with the Crusaders chasing us through the forest.



A couple of dangerous leaps in the windy woods and we make it to safety within the church!



So what's this game about?

It's quite a historical tale from the 13th century and somewhat disappointing thanks to humans being typically stupid. The Cathars, who preached Christian beliefs, were expelled from the Languedoc region of France by the Catholic Church. Sigh, I guess these people missed the point of what Jesus was teaching? Well, they treated the Cathars as heretics and banished them! If you're interested in more information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albigensian_Crusade

Thankfully, one plucky monk managed to escape and, as he scarpered through the woods, he stumbled upon old church ruins. His name is Jean Raymond but he wasn't the luckiest guy because what he didn't reckon on was the evil lurking underneath the ruins. What are the chances of that? Anyhow, to exorcise this evil, he needs to find 12 crucifixes that have been scattered about but, it won't be easy, thanks to an infestation of monsters waiting for him!!

Okay, in this game, it's always a good idea to read signs and look for helpful items. Just like in these screenshots...



Activate that checkpoint Cross and read the script which hints at a hidden passage...



The only pointless script is here but look, behold our first Cross to collect!!



Gameplay

The Abbey Of The Dead is a 2D platformer with many rooms to explore as we go hunting for the Crosses. Each screen is separate, offering its own piece of the adventure with different monsters, objects, and tricky jumps to test our dexterity. We begin with only three lives but this can be topped up by collecting the hearts found on many screens.

Along with the 12 Crosses, there are other items that could prove very helpful. Firstly, there are scrolls that often provide cryptic clues - the first hints at a secret passage that needs discovery to begin our adventure. There are also checkpoints about the church, which are automatically used after losing a life. These are essential as you can imagine.

The joystick controls are dead simple - left/right to walk and fire to jump just like Manic Miner. What I really liked was the ability to alter my direction during a leap. Also, pulling downwards activates a crouch which will be very handy on some of the trickier screens!! The keyboard can also be used (which I preferred) and a Jagpad if you have one spare?
I'd advise playing several games - just to explore as many rooms as you can. With each attempt, you should find yourself going deeper into the church (which isn't a big) so make notes of Cross location and anything else that might be helpful - hearts, teleporters and easier routes. I would also look out for something that might appear out of place, this is how I stumbled upon a secret passage in my video recording!
Let's take a gander at some more screenshots whilst those Crusaders keep banging on that wooden door...



Here you might say we're Out On A Limb. I loved how the leaves blew with the change of music.



This is a fantastic room but I was running out of lives in order to find a cool screenshot!



Aesthetics

I have already experienced the joys of what the Falcon can knock out thanks to Racer 2. Although some might look at this platformer and assume it's technically a humble, static-screen game - they are wrong. It looks gorgeous and I think Joska/Mun has done a brilliant job using a style that looks uniquely different to what I initially expected.

It begins with a nice intro describing the historical tale with text scrolling over the title screen image. What I loved was how it doesn't overlap the logo - a simple effect with excellent results. The game has a console feel thanks to smooth sprites, palettes, and design. The level of detail is superb and I appreciated how each room has an individual feel.

I won't spoil the surprise of the Game Over screen. It's dark. But it's superb!!

If you're hoping the audio is just as impressive then you're in for a treat. The music is quite distinctive with a selection of fantastic chiptunes by Skuggemannen. I must admit, I didn't expect to hear "ST tunes" but they work well (and I'm relieved not to hear tracker music). Interestingly, playback isn't blindly continuous and can change depending on your location. This first happens in "Prayer Of Hope" and I think it's a killer effect that adds depth and tension.

Things aren't so impressive for the sound effects which are barely audible thanks to the problems of emulation. For example, I can hardly hear the Crusaders banging on the door and the church bell sounds miles away. Okay, this is hardly the end of the world but still disappointing. I envy Falcon owners more and more with each breath!

Yes, it looks and sounds the business so let's celebrate this 32-bit coolness with even more screenshots...



Otto from Berzerk is here, erm I think. He chases so use the platforms wisely to dodge him.



I might have struggled to reach this fantastic room without the aid of a nifty teleporter.



The CryptO'pinion?

Please note, that this review is based purely on what I experienced with Hatari. So, with that in mind, I must admit that I've had a fistful of fun albeit with some annoying slowdown and disappointing sound effects. Thankfully, it's still very playable and nothing can ruin my enjoyment of this excellent platformer which is challenging and very entertaining.

With each play, I get a little farther whilst noting everything of interest. It's this exploration and gradual progression that took me back to my ZX Spectrum days roaming the factory of Chuckie Egg 2 and the mansion of JSW.

L'Abbaye Des Morts is an excellent platformer and I'm chuffed to bits I got my order in with Cote Gamers. Yes, I'm stuck using an emulator but, even with the problem that presents, I enjoyed it. I love its old-school charm along with the fact that it keeps on dragging me back for more. I only wish there was a cutdown version available for the Atari ST/e.

I must admit, there's a part of me tempted to > map < this platformer but it's gonna be a tough one if I do...



Tough? Yeah, Hatari makes some scenes harder than they actually are. And with my gaming skills...!!



Credits and other stuff

It's obvious that a lot of love, sweat, and tears(!) went into this Falcon platformer which is thanks to these guys:
Jo Even Skarstein (coding & graphics)
Geir Vælidalo (additional code & graphics)
Mun (additional graphics)
Nevat (additional graphics & maps)
Skuggemannen (music)
Joska's website with Atari game download: https://atari.joska.no/abbayedesmorts/
Cote Gamers published the boxed release: https://cotegamers.com/shop/en/39-atari-falcon
Video recording by tIn^demos using real hardware: https://youtu.be/J3JKvEop74Y

Hmph, I've no Falcon but I do own the game! Weird, I know, but take a gander at this boxed beauty...



The cover artwork is superb and it feels like you're trying to view the monk through the glare.



Squidgy bits to stop the disk rattling about have been kept. I don't know why either!



I know I'll never get to boot this up unless someone donates their Falcon O_o



I love the manual which is mostly an interesting "making off" in English and French.

Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Blubbersongs



505's Blubbersongs by Paradox

Every so often, I leave a music disk playing in the background as I work. After all, what's better than living life like it's still the 1990s? Nothing beats the groovy music my Atari ST knocks out and I've already got many favourites disks. Oddly, I haven't listened to Blubbersongs in many years which is by Paradox and stuffed with 27 superb tunes by 505.

Nils Feske/505 pushes maxYMiser to produce some incredible music with a selection utilizing the STe DMA hardware - which I really enjoyed. Shockingly, there are no YouTube video recordings so I made my own - it demonstrates a couple of minutes from each track. Use only to whet your appetite, because nothing beats real hardware (best on the Atari STe).

All music by 505
Coding and graphics by Paranoid
Coding by RA
maxYMiser by gwEm
ASCII graphics by Lotek Style
Graphics by Zweckform

Download available on Demozoo.

Sunday, August 06, 2023

Boardgames, anyone?




Having a blast in the past

I've found another floppy lurking in the depths of my collection. It's a public domain disk by Wizard PD, a company I disappointingly don't ever remember buying from! Although I do recall their adverts in magazines like ST Review. The disk is labelled "BRD 34" and was part of their Boardgames collection featuring six games, which is pretty cool.

Ironically, I'm not a massive fan of most board games and I have no understanding of chess beyond pure guesswork. Well, I'm still excited to give this a playtest so brace yourself for an exciting ride as we take a quick look at each one...

Mchess - I guess my floppy fun didn't begin well with this game? Anyhow, let's crack on and pretend to know what I'm talking about! MChess was released in 1989 by Bill Cook and runs in medium resolution supporting 1-2 players and the computer. Playing is "dead easy" using a drag & drop method with each chess piece. There are three difficulty levels with support for beginners and even the option to 'undo' any mistakes.

The documentation is outstanding and so apt for the era we grew up in because it's helpful without the hand-holding kids get today. What really cracked me up, was how Bill ends with this line, "If any comments or questions contact me on Compuserve". Just imagine writing something so inprecise these days!


Picture Concentration - I think it's pretty obvious what kind of game this is going to be? Well, it was released back in 1987 by Mark Sloop and runs in low res thanks to lots of colourful images. Interestingly, it was developed this using Atari's dreaded ST BASIC so he deffinetly deserves a medal for that!

I've never been good when it comes to remembering stuff - just ask the missus, apparently I've a memory like a sieve! Yes, this is a game of remembrance with different images hiding behind 40 tiles and all you gotta do is find matching pairs. Sounds easy but there are 40 tiles which are too many to cope with, at least for me.

Crossword Editor ST - We all know somebody sad enough to enjoy crosswords (the wife!). Well, here is the ST adaptation developed by Adrian Green in 1991. The design actually works very well and I really liked its interface which is clean and even has the option to change fonts. However, the clues are incredibly cryptic, almost to the point where some made little sense. Yes, you guessed it, I was rubbish at most questions!

There is support for either medium or high resolution and it sure looks best in monochrome!! There is a selection of ready-to-go crosswords with an option to make your own using the inbuilt creator. That's pretty cool but, I won't bother because I'm very lazy! But it's a fantastic feature thinking about it.


Computer Patience - This took me back to the 90s when I played Solitaire on the work's PC. The ST game was developed by Eric Chapman back in 1990 and features six different versions of patience. If I'm honest, I really enjoyed this program and spent a good half hour playing "golf patience".

Eric had a good sense of humour when he asks for any type of feedback: comments, criticisms or abuse!


TechMate - Another spin on the game of chess and this time we have a demo version of what was a 1986 commercial release by Microdeal (I'm unsure who to credit for its development). The gameplay feels faster than MChess and appears very good too. But, yeah, it's chess so here ends what I think about it.


Cards - This is an another odd one as I remember the release by Microdeal and this also features five games ranging from Blackjack to Poker Squares. Developed by J. Weaver Jr in 1986, this is fun for those who love playing cards but use a colour monitor because it's very ugly in monochrome. I enjoyed this game a lot.


The CryptO'pinion?

Amazingly, the disk is still in full working order (which is a bonus in itself) so I've made an image if anybody wants to download it for themselves? I know it's stupid, but I love finding stuff like this and digging around any PD disk is great because you never know what goodies are waiting to be discovered. Okay, this one might only be full of old board games but I've still had my slice of 80s fun and enjoyed playing Cards, Crossword Editor and Patience the most.

Let me know in the comments, below, if you downloaded the disk as I'm (as always) curious about what your thoughts are. Wanna see some photos of the disk and each of the ST games? Of course, not! But here you go anyhow...



For those in the know, this is the floppy disk. Just in case you were wondering or hungover.


The disk boots into Medium Resolution without the Blitter active - annoying.

(Mchess) By now you're probably wondering why these screenshots are so bad?


(Picture Concentration) Well, I took all these photos using my phone - before ripping the disk!

(Crossword) I should have waited, but real hardware is always best. Except for screenshots!


(Patience) I'm reminded of Solitaire/Windows 3.1 and this was another game that I enjoyed.


(
TechMate) Groan, another chess game? I figured its jazzy title screen was nicer to look at ;)


(
Cards) I end with the most terrible screenshot ever captured. I'm a record-breaker. Erm, sorry!

Thursday, August 03, 2023

Cosmos Chronicles


Update: I have begun a daily playthrough!! Check it out... :-)



Gamopat goodness!

It's always exciting to hear of new games being released for our amazing Atari ST/e. Sadly, it always feels that other vintage computers get the support that our 16-bit fuji lacks (hey, whatever happened to AGT). Anyhow, I've been following the Cosmos Chronicles on/off for many moons but it's originally a French Gamopat game - that means I understood now't as I know little beyond "bonjour" and "jeu"! So I eagerly awaited an English version I could playtest.

Well, you knew this was coming... Wait no more, the international edition of Cosmos Chronicles is finally out. It's beta v0.95 so it may feature a few problems in translation - but that's nothing your feedback cannot fix! I've played a little after work today and I must say it's impressive. You might say it's Ultima-impressive so very much worth the wait!!

The game was coded in GFA Basic, a tool that never ceases to impress. The full credits are:
    Programming: Laurent Fontaine [Dr. Floyd]
    Music: Nic Alderton [Count Zero]
    Sound effects: Laurent Fontaine [Dr. Floyd]
    Visuals: Laurent Fontaine [Dr. Floyd] & Francois Pino [Grostonton]

Wanna see a couple of screenshots about the background story? Yeah, come on and gander at these babies...



It's a bit "empty" and soulless I thought. Are you still interested?



I'd say so! This is a strange baseline but carry on scrolling...



Frontier, Ultima, Sundog, whaaaaat?

I instantly got that Ultima V vibe, which is excellent! However, there is more to this game than first meets the eye. Roguelike comes to the Atari ST yet again and what's more, it looks the part with a style I love. Yes, it does draw heavily on the imagination but that's the best way - I don't want anything "better" as this would bloat and spoil the whole experience. Also, I cannot help but mention the audio surprise when first booting up - thank you Count Zero!!

Okay, this #roguelike is completely free to download. However, please consider contributing a little of your hard-earned cash to help support Dr Floyd/Gamopat for all the hard graft that's obviously gone into the production of this tremendous game. I truly mean this, because the game is very promising!! I'm hugely excited about it :)

Here is the download link with a copy & paste of the basics along with some of my fabulous screenshots...

The whole universe in your ATARI ST: 200 billion galaxies, hundreds of billions of stars and planets in each galaxy (*), the possibility of visiting every patch of grass or rock on every planet, houses, caves, the ultimate open world. The ability to eat, drink, poop, shower, repair your ship, booze in the pub, fight in arenas, play in casinos and arcades, pray to the Gods, buy condoms, go on space trips, slalom between asteroids, see things no one has ever seen at the edge of space, to infinity and beyond.

The uncompromising #ROGUELIKE
- Persistent universe
- You only have one true life
- There's no going back. You die, it's over... just like in real life ;)
A combined tribute to the following
- ULTIMA IV and V, for gameplay & visual rendering (which draws heavily on the imagination)
- ELITE and ELITE FRONTIER (for the open world and space trading)
- SUNDOG (for futuristic adventure and numerous gameplay possibilities/interactions)
Atari computer compatibility
- ATARI STF
- ATARI STE (supports Blitter)
- ATARI MEGA ST
- ATARI MEGA STE 8-16Mhz
- ATARI TT (a little fast)
- FALCON 030 (too fast?)


So, first things first, we need to seek out the farm as there's trouble afoot!



As you can see, these aren't friendly soldiers at all and kill your family.



Look inside the house for a weapon and let's kick their arse!



The English breaks up a little in places but you get the general gist. Hey, check out that rabbit!



The family are slain but there's no time to mourn as we go looking for anything useful.



Yeah, I found a cave and hoped for treasure but all I found were demons!

Sunday, July 30, 2023

The Final Frontier?



Attic finds

Another curious disk lurking within the darkest regions of my collection was this floppy full of extra levels for Car-Vup. You may remember the game from what feels like many, many, many moons ago? What, you don't remember? Sheesh, there's a search option to the right where you can read more about it. Anyhow, Atarimania tells me that this disk was released by The One Magazine and, as my photograph shows, we have six brand new levels to play.

Car-Vup is a belting game and something of an automotive spin on Painter and Bristles (I loved that game). Anyhow, Core where very generous in stuffing this cover disk with loads of manic levels with silly creatures and pointless driving. Not the best advert for any game is it, but I genuinely enjoyed playing so it's a pleasure to find this disk.

Yeah, I love finding oddities like this from the depths of the Atari ST's almost-forgotten history. Good times!



I can imagine this cover disk giveaway was a great way to advertise your game?


We have a job to do so ignore the helpless spaceman!


This is a brilliant level and possibly the best of the bunch?


Things are getting tricky now, especially that guy pulling a face at me lol.


Another successful and valuable mission was completed!


Oh no, my game ended the usual way - limping home to mummy!

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