Monday, July 24, 2017

Whitewater Madness


Whitewater Madness was under development in 1989 by Scott Williamson and Ed Schneider for Atari themselves and designed specifically for their new Atari STe computer. Just imagine what would happen if you took the Toobin' idea and added a whole load of violence. Whitewater Madness would be the result, a vertically scrolling shooter which has us sailing a down a bizarre river through time using a small Pod in search of green energy cells.

Collect as many as possible to raise your Warp Energy levels to maximum capacity which will allow us to travel further in time. If successful, we are presented with an information screen telling you just how good (or bad) our performance was before warping onto the next level. However, if you failed to collect the required amount then you're sent back to the start again to do it all over again. The controls are superb and I love the directional method which works well for a fast and responsive guidance along this insane river raid. Picking up green "L" pills will re-charge the Pod and stop it from going BOOM but these are few so try and collect as many as possible.

Our dinky is equipped with a rapid firing mounted-gun and it's a good job too because we are under a constant onslaught of hazards and weird creatures. Try and avoid the many dangers such as rocky rapids, mines, artillery and other crazy stuff like kamikaze dinosaurs who love to leap from the shores! There are lots more which you can try and kill during the mayhem; cavemen, something that resembles a pterodactyl, a giant turtle, and centaurs. Love it!!

Scott tells me that the Blitter was used for the brisk scrolling which smoothly whizzes by and nicely keeps up with the hectic action. The sprites are small yet nicely detailed with one exception, those massive kamikaze dinosaurs who love to leap from the shores - superb!! The DMA coprocessor is used to play the sampled effects and is super-duper but I must admit to being disappointed with the (albeit nice) title tune which sounds "STFM" in quality...

Whitewater Madness has the hallmarks of a fantastic oldskool styled game which I would have expected to see for something like an Atari 5200. I love its style and the frantic, challenging gameplay which is perfectly balanced thus doesn't frustrate and is always a joy. I'm gutted that I never saw this for sale because I would have saved up every penny to afford a trip down this crazy river. What a brilliant arcade adventure - top marks from me!!

LINKS

 - This download contains the official disk images kindly supplied by Scott himself (w/ source code)
 - I've recorded a silly video and only on the last part did I try to play it properly - but died lol
 - Whitewater Madness is now safely archived in the AtariMania database!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Street Fighter II


The ST world constantly amazes me. Just when you think you've seen it all, Street Fighter pops up and slaps you in the face!! Yep, I've never seen this before and no, I don't mean those terrible commercial games because this was developed for the Atari STe by none other than Patrice Mandin, a guy whom I'm grateful to for this Doom engine.

It features two-player support as Chun-Li and its engine makes use of the hardware scrolling, Blitter chip, and DMA for stereo sound effects. As you can see, it's playable but unfinished and will probably remain so, sadly. However, great progress has already been achieved and it sure makes you realise just what the Atari STe is capable of... but now I hate most commercial gaming companies even more for ignoring this amazing computer!

Even unfinished, it technically hammers the original conversions but that wasn't hard, right? I am shocked just how playable it is with smooth action and responsive controls, using both the joystick and keyboard. The source code is available and I'm shocked our community hasn't picked this up in over 20 years. The potential here is huge!!

LINKS

 - The game and source code can be downloaded from Patrice Mandin's website.
 - Along with the animation, I have recorded a video which shows me "fighting" both Chun-Li characters!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Wowy by Tomchi


I have just listened to this amazing tune called Wowy, by Tomchi (played using JAM) and simply had to record it.
Kick off your weekend in style and Download this gorgeous chiptune right now for your Atari STe!! 🎧

Friday, July 21, 2017

Mystical


Being the Grand Wizard's novice magician, we are eager to learn the ropes but quick to make silly mistakes, like losing his precious scrolls and phials! Now we must travel parallel worlds and retrieve as many as possible, so have your trusty magic wand at the ready because this is going to be a unique adventure you're unlikely to forget.

In Mystical, everyone is out to get us and we will battle hoards of the strangest creatures - Buzzards, Sheppard's who throw sheep, faithless Monks, reptiles, farmers, annoying little girls, Vikings, walking trees, and so much more. These amazing characters are the best part of this tripped-out silly game and there is such a stunning variety too. However, the first boss is a disappointment and bit of a freak who rapidly throws cute babies, which is just pure evil.

The big man has granted permission to use the magic we find and the ability to cast the spells which provide a variety of unique ways to dispose of our foes. The ring of fire scorches anyone who dares to get too close. Another opens up the ground to swallow our victims, cages that trap those nearby, and there are so many more. Possibly the best of all is shouting "Boo" to shoo them off. Each spell activates straight away but, if you are quick, slap that Spacebar to stockpile it for later and use in combination with the Return key, quite a cumbersome design but it works. The level ends when you reach the pentagram where you must wait for the sphere to whisk you away onto the next level.

The visuals are gorgeous with smooth scrolling across detailed landscapes using a pleasing palette, I might add. However, it's the tremendous quality of all the characters which steal the limelight, never have I seen such beautiful sprites. Audio is a mixed bag with each sound effect made from individual samples to suit their visual counterparts when casting spells. I adore the "Bla Bla Bla", this reminds me of the speech in Donkey Island. Sadly, the title music isn't as good and I cannot see the point of low-quality sampled music over the option of a crisp chiptune...

As much as it may try to hide behind the storyline, this is simply a generic shoot 'em up albeit with lots of cool power-ups and fun humour. It's obvious a lot of time and effort went into Mystical's production as it oozes so much artistic quality. I really enjoy playing this and I'm sure everyone will love its unique personality, at least for a couple of hours.

LINKS

 - Mystical can be installed onto hard drive thanks to 8BitChip.
 - Stonish has a superb floppy disk by Zuul #177.
 - I was going to record a video but what's the point when Gears Of Games recorded this belter!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hard 'n' Heavy


Hard 'n' Heavy follows on from Great Giana Sisters in true sequel fashion and offers lots of Mario-like levels to run and jump through. However, this was sadly a lame conversion with awful flip-scrolling so was basically a rubbish released which is probably best forgotten. A scrolling platformer needs to SCROLL!!

But that's where the bad history lesson ends and good news begins because, a couple of years ago, Peter Putnik began development of a version uniquely designed for each model of Atari ST. Hardware scrolling is used on the Atari STe and the Blitter within Mega STs and later STFM models. Even those really old STs without so much of an empty Blitter socket are supported with a smooth scrolling, albeit with a huge 4MB Ram requirement.

Hard 'n' Heavy obviously looks and certainly feels like Giana Sisters revisited so if you didn't like that then you may as well look elsewhere right now. Walk and hop your way through 25 levels, shooting baddies and destroying blocks searching for the bonuses and access to hidden levels. Special weapons are activated using the spacebar and we even have an optional flamethrower weapon, which I hate no matter how much I try to like it!! Also available is a two-player feature, with various game types, but I cannot comment more because I've no friends [sob].

Overall, this is superb and I'm sure any Giana fan will love what is basically more of the same with a few bells and whistles. Peter has done incredibly well and this is how the commercial game should have been all along - just make sure you play it on a real Atari. I still prefer Giana Sisters but this is really enjoyable and highly recommended.

LINKS

 - Atari STe computers have two downloads for [floppy] and [hard drive].
 - Atari ST computers with a Blitter can choose from [floppy] or [hard drive] or [hard drive w/ intro].
 - Atari ST computers without a Blitter need 4MB Ram for this download on [floppy & hard drive]
 - The Hard 'n' Heavy web page details each [WIP] game, scans of the manual, information, and even MAPS!!