Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Venus The Flytrap

Earth is dying because of mankind breeding like bacteria and a raping the planet of all its natural resources in order to serve our gluttony. The over-use of pesticides has finally killed off all the bugs and left mother nature rather unbalanced. Thankfully, the lab boys have come up with a last ditch attempt to save us all from their mess by creating cybernetic bugs to compensate our stupidity. Of course, they soon went postal and must now be eliminated before it's too late!

Whatever the story, this is a running kill 'em all platformer spread over fifty levels ranging from the green forests to Death Valley and much more. You're a mean-looking bug equipped with a cannon to fight off metallic foes, this can be upgraded using the power-ups left behind by those crazy insects. These consists of a wide range of improvements like better firepower, silly reversible controls, and even antigrav upside-down walking being possible - and that only serves to give me brain ache! Bonus rounds appear each way through a level and flip the game into an exciting shoot 'em up all played to grab yourself extra points and is very exciting.

Graphics are pretty darn beautiful with smooth scrolling, nicely animated sprites and it's worth noting all those many extra colours which spruce up what would normally have been a boring background. Music is perfect, something I can listen to all day and the sound effects aren't too shabby either. Controls are bang on perfect and this is what makes Venus a great game, with a style that is clean and responsive without every lagging. It can be a little repetitive at times but the gameplay is superbly balanced and so much fun with lots of interesting features. Overall, an extremely enjoyable platformer which has always been on my favourites list.

LINKS

 - Here is a video which I record a while back. Don't expect a walk-through :p
 - I also recorded a midi version of the game's excellent theme tune!
 - However, a remastered version by ACC:Xess completely blows that out the water!
 - Okay, here is a hard drive installable copy of Venus by the mighty D-Bug to download.
 - Those that require a floppy disk image should check out Old Games Finder.
 - AtariMania has Venus The Flytrap listed within their ST database with scans of magazine reviews.
 - Fancy some level codes? Of course, you do! Simply press the SPACEBAR on the menu screen and then ignore using that handy keyboard because they decided that the joystick would be far better to enter in these codes:
     -> The Forbidden Forest - (starting level)
     -> The Frozen Wastes - MANTIDS
     -> The Dead City - CICADAS
     -> Wood World - PSYLLIDS
     -> The Kaverns - PIERIDS
     -> Death Valley - SATYRID
     -> The Creeping Swamp - LYCAENID
     -> Tech World - PYRALID
     -> Translucent Plain - NOCTUID
     -> The Stygian Creek - ?
 - I believe these cheat codes work fine, however, I have never tried them so YMMV... enjoy:
     -> extra time - JUPITER
     -> extra ammo - PLUTO
     -> weapons galore - MARS
     -> fly like superman - MERCURY
     -> unknown - SATURN

Monday, September 26, 2016

Elvira - Mistress of the Dark

"Can somebody help me find my chest?"
Probably the best box art, ever? And after staring at it for several minutes, I have nothing more to say and should instead just play the game. Oh, it's a brilliant adventure too and highly recommended for all 16-bit horror fans! ;^)

LINKS

 - AtariMania has this marvellous and captivating adventure listed within their ST database.
 - A hard drive version is available from D-Bug. (highly recommended)
 - Old Games Finder has the floppy images for those that love disk-swapping hell.
 - A little surfing revealed this walk-through (untested by me... but now I'm tempted!)


Sunday, September 25, 2016

CarVup

CarVup is a scrolling platformer released back in 1990 by Core Designs. You get to play the part of a cheerful car who appears to love painting platforms by driving over them. It's pretty simple and will certainly feel instantly familiar to the ... well, more mature gamer!

Each screen has many platforms in need of a new coat of paint but this task soon becomes tricky because of the numerous baddies that carelessly populate the playing field. Don't think about shooting your way through because there are no weapons without power-ups, so they must be avoided, which will become troublesome seeing as your car has no breaks and is constantly driving kamikaze fashion. This mechanic forces you to constantly flip direction to find an alternative route to frantically complete your task. Many platforms are difficult to reach so require precise timing plus the enemy can often be blocking your path so you will need to immediately react to avoid losing a life.

CarVup would sink like a lead balloon if it had anything less than perfect controls so I'm grateful to say they are indeed responsive and well thought out without any lag. Core have also done a pretty nice job with the scrolling but there are technically better on the ST. The sprites are some of the cutest critters and each level looks superb with lots of colours and a great design. Sound effects are nice and do their expected job very but I love the chiptunes which are all foot-tappingly superb. (press key 'M' to toggle)

I'm not so sure CarVup will appeal to everyone but I do recommend you give it a try. It is an enjoyable painter with a high level of addictive gameplay across some amazing levels which keeps you coming back for more. Love it!

LINKS

 - Still not convinced? Here is my video recording for the Doubting Thomas' amongst you!
 - AtariMania has CarVup within their incredible ST database.
 - 8BitChip have created a hard drive installable version which is just dandy.
 - The One magazine released a demo of CarVup which contains extra levels NOT in the commercial release!
 - Did you know? If you press the 'Z' key during gameplay then it will stop your car...
 - Enter these codes into the high-score table :
          -> infinite lives - R.J.TOONE
          -> infinite bumpers - BUMPER
          -> 9 lives - PUSSYCAT
          -> faster turn speed - WOOAARRGGHH
          -> level skip - WHOOPSIE
          -> extra points - ARNIECAR
          -> more points - BARMY CAR

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Resolution 101

The future is often portrayed to be a grim, crime-ridden hell hole and Resolution 101 presents us with its own vector equivalent of that scenario. Here you are an ex-criminal turned good with an armed cop car that feels more like a hovercraft. This has presented the perfect opportunity to make up for a dodgy past and to make a difference by hunting down evil drug runners. So, just like an 80s Van Damme flick, you should expect fun, thrills, and plenty of action as you clean up the city!

Resolution 101 was created by one of my favourite developers, Astral who also made such awesome title as Archipelagos and Horror Zombies From The Crypt. This is a first-person shooter released when the genre was still in infancy, and long before we got to shoot Nazi's in Castle Wolfenstein or zombie soldiers in Doom. But don't expect a crude, sluggish or even a dated experience because it features one of the fastest 3D engines you could ever imagine from out of our old 68K! At its heart, Resolution 101 is nothing more than a cracking shoot 'em up and the aim is to kill all the bad guys! During the carnage, they will drop their stash which oddly looks like coloured balls so go and collect them quickly. They will often materialise in random locations so keep an eye on your radar and map, both help to navigate through the urban jungle. Each level has a drug lord who will take lots of hits to be destroyed and, once dead, there is always somebody else higher up the food chain to deal with.

Control is from within the comfort of your anti-gravity squad car which is conveniently directed using your ST's mouse or joystick (mouse is best). Move it to view your surroundings, the left button accelerates and the right is used to fire your weapon. This works so well and controlling your ship to chase the baddies is marvellous fun. I really do enjoy zooming through the city, which is both fast and fluent and always offers a satisfying chase.

After all these years, Resolution 101 still looks great. Frame rates are high and move along swiftly, this is probably the most advanced 3D engine I've ever seen on the STFM. Chiptune music plays throughout and is captivating to a point where you are tapping your feet, I've always enjoyed it myself. However, if you like, it can be turned off and replaced with sound effects by pressing the F7 key.

This is one of the best action-filled shoot 'em ups on the Atari ST. It's brilliant and so much fun with no overly complicated and unnecessary storyline to get in the way. Quite simply, Resolution 101 is one of the best retro games ever and one I am proud to own. If you've never played it before then it's now time to end your stupidity!

LINKS

 - Here is a great map which also comes free with the box if you spent the pennies.
 - Wanna watch my expert gameplay skills? Of course you do!
 - Download the hard drive installable version from 8BitChip.
 - Those that require the floppy disk can grab that via Old Games Finder
 - AtariMania has Resi within their ST library and with cool scans.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Frogger


Back in July, I posted a teaser of a work-in-progress by Scott Clifford, yes good ol' FROGGER. A near perfect representation of the classic arcade game has recently seen many of its features enhanced - machine compatibility, speed, audio, and controls. The "last" bug has been squashed and Frogger has finally leaped his way across that busy highway and into the history books as the newest Atari ST game to be released - well done Scott!!

LINKS

 - Frogger is downloadable right now from the mighty AtariMania website. Get it!!
 - Scott's portfolio is listed on Demozoo.
 - Mathieu Stempell, aka Dma-Sc, has crafted every awesome chiptune for Frogger.
 - Wikipedia has a nice page on Frogger (for those too young to remember!)

Friday, September 16, 2016

Happy Happy Happy STE coding!

Following on from this article, I have today uploaded a video of the latest version of Douglas Little's latest piece of Atari STe magic. This is becoming a jawbreaker and is so impressive. So stop reading and just play the video!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Demos


Okay folks, I need to select a handful of cool demos for the Atari ST -and- STe computers. I've already chosen about a dozen or so of my personal favourites but I'd love to know which yours are. They don't necessarily need to be predictably famous megademos, anything that oozes a style you love whilst it displays its majestic 68K power!

LINKS

 - It goes without saying, check out ST Survivor's awesome Demo Encyclopedia website!
 - Demozoo is a great place to search for your reminder of any Atari ST/e demos.
 - AtariCrypt has a "demoscene" category listed on the right-hand side >>> Or just clickety click here!
 - Of course, we also have our own YouTube playlists for both STFM and the STE.
 - Let me know! Please comment right here or contact me with your faves :-)

Friday, September 09, 2016

The Land That Time Forgot

Where Time Stood Still is one of those games that bridged my transition from the ZX Spectrum to Atari ST. It was developed by the legends, Denton Designs and published by Ocean Software in 1988.

For those too young to remember, Denton Designs came out from the ashes of the famous Imagine Software and I spent much of my youth playing (and mapping) many of their excellent games. I still miss playing The Great Escape, which I personally rate as pure retro gaming gold.

Your plane has crashed on a remote plateau somewhere in the Himalayas. Thankfully you and your three passengers survive the wreckage but find yourselves in a land inhabited by prehistoric creatures, dodgy bridges, quicksand slutch, killer rock hands and even strange tribal dudes who anger easily at their new white friends. Your name is Jarret, the classic hero type who probably has a chiseled jaw and an expensive designer stubble! The other characters are mostly controlled by the computer and follow you wherever you go, so long as you keep feeding them! They have their own unique personalities - Clive is a rich fat man who can moan a lot and tires easily. Gloria and Dirk are a couple in love and I hear Dirk has some rather nifty language skills under his belt. Well, so long as he has Gloria to keep him happy...

The world is viewed from an isometric perspective and scrolls along very nicely. Music is by Fred Gray (of Black Lamp fame) and it is truly amazing, however, if you so prefer, sound effects can be used instead. Controls are with either the mouse or a joystick (I prefer the latter) with a user interface that is both simple and intuitive. On screen information for health and ammo will assist during the times when you consider eating, drinking or resting.

Exploration is the key to success so take your time and make notes of the areas you visit and examine everywhere for useful items. Don't forget about team morale and I'm sure your group will let you know when they are in need of rest, food, water or suffering with an injury. However, don't be too eager to waste supplies pandering to their every need because sometimes it's good to make them wait. But don't be too much of a slave driver because grumpy, tired people tend to make daft decisions like splitting to go it alone! Coming face to face with a dinosaur is scary and I always use cowardly stealth tactics when I can, which usually means walking a longer and wider route or simply taking cover in the trees. This game has it all and I feel I should be wearing a butchered animal skin when playing :-)

I've been playing Where Time Stood Still throughout "summer" and it's a satisfying feeling when you begin to make progress. We've made it through the swamps, found a box of dynamite, ran like a girl when I saw a scary T-Rex and even chatted to the nice locals over a cup of tea. However, later on, a nasty hand came out from nowhere and choked me to death! That forced me to rethink my strategy before advancing across the river, only to later wrestle with unfriendly (and hungry) natives. I'm really enjoying Where Time Stood Still and I can sense that victory is close!

LINKS

 - Download a hard drive installable version from 8BitChip which features a save game function you'll love.
 - Those needing a floppy disk image can grab that from Old Games Finder.
 - AtariMania has Where Time Stood Still listed within their ST database.
 - Fancy a map of the landscape? This will help players so much!
 - Here is an older map from Sinclair User magazine. It's small but still handy with a planned route!
 - Fred Gray has created a handful of awesome chiptunes which are featured in Laird's video.
 - Crash Online has a great Denton Designs web page.
 - Fancy a few tips to get you started?
          -> pick up the rope at the start otherwise you might get into a spot of bother crossing a bridge
          -> surprisingly, it's often possible to run away from dinosaurs and then shelter in the trees!
          -> refill your flask in the river
          -> just because someone (chubby) is moaning, he can be pushed to continue for a while longer...
          -> there are two native camps, the first are the friendly guys!
          -> keep moving in the swamp - don't stop!
          -> hands love a peice of fresh meat...
 - I always did like this advert - boobs and legs - it's a shame the tloading screen wasn't quite as nice. Boooo! :^)

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Spectrum 512

I recently came upon an interesting video by Sascha Springer, aka Anima. He's created a web tool that converts your pictures into the Spectrum 512 format which can then be viewed on your Atari ST/e. The results are astounding!!

LINKS

 - Watch his video for a simple tutorial.
 - Clickety click and visit his website and get converting (best with Firefox or Chrome)
 - Using his slideshow tool you can view the .SPU pictures on your Atari ST/e.
 - Sascha has an incredible Atari portfolio, all featured on Demozoo.
 - Finally, here is an amazing picture of Milla Jovovich converted and displayed using an Atari ST (.SPU)

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Pommitus

I recently read a posting by Tatu Salmela, who created Pommitus back in 1996. I contact him, we got talking and I was then sent the latest release followed by the English version. I also found out he learned to program by reading ST Format magazine and he is still patching and improving Pommitus to this very day. Since then, it has been converted from Finnish into English and you can now find a download on AtariMania.

Pommitus is a multiplayer strategy game which involves using calculated tactics to bomb your opponent. At first, I wasn't too keen on the user interface because I often clicked outside the control box, thus mistakingly taking my shot. Thankfully, it soon becomes second nature and is great fun bombing your neighbor to kingdom come! Sounds are minimal but good enough and the mono graphics are sharp and detailed - that's right, you will need a monochrome monitor for the best experience. Being GEM-based, it should work on all Atari computers and even supporting those lucky enough to have a maths coprocessor installed!
Oddly, an emulator like Hatari might run Pommitus slower than a real Atari computer but that is easily fixed by flipping the CPU setting to 16 or 32MHz. However, nothing ever beats the real hardware!
I am incredibly impressed with Pommitus and so grateful Tatu shared his works with AtariCrypt. Oh, and also this little tidbit of news - he is developing a new Atari ST game similar to Pommitus which will work in ST Low. It is in the early stages but I am very excited to see yet another Atari ST game in development! Watch this space, folks. :-)

LINKS

 - AtariMania has the English and the original Finnish version from the 90s listed & downloadable.
 - If you loved Pommitus then also try Ballerburg. Two superb strategy games you will love.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Spontaneous Compression

Say hello to the third album by YM-Digital, Spontaneous Compression that was released only yesterday. Nine tracks, featuring over 30 minutes of awesome audio for all to enjoy and it was created using their own Atari ST computers!!

LINKS

 - Stop reading and download Spontaneous Compression from the YM-Digital website!
 - YM-Digital is made up of these two talented folk Yerzmyey and Factor6.
 - I posted Yerzmyey's other album a while back, "fatal aTTraction". What a cool TiTle.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Pole Position

It is always brilliant to hear of new games in development for the Atari ST and Pole Position is one such project which I have been closely watching, for what seems like decades! It's developed by Jonathan Thomas, who originally posted news of it on Atari-Forum back in early 2014 and then also graced us with videos on his YouTube channel. To say I was extremely eager to see this completed is an understatement!

Unfortunately, as is often the case, life gets in the way of even our love for Atari ST and I soon began to hear nothing from him for many months. However, I never give up and always try to offer any kind of support I can (some people call it pestering) to see a new game come to the best 16-bit computer on the planet!

Jonathan has today updated his forum thread with information, a beta download and also news of his request for help to see his hard work fulfilled. As you can see in the animation above, it is incomplete and there are bugs but the framerate is high with most of the game finished. Sprite scaling, Blitter support and extra on-screen colours are all used - it plays like the real thing because of reverse engineered code from the original arcade machine.

We are so close to seeing a fully working and beautiful version of Pole Position on the Atari ST. I hope somebody helps to get this Work-In-Progress finally completed. Right then enough talk, let's play Pole Position! :D

LINKS

 - The Atari-Forum posting from Jonathan with the information and a download.
 - Here is his YouTube Video channel .
 - AtariMania now feature Pole Position within their ST database.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Mad Professor Mariarti

The awesome multi-platform Retro Video Gamer has again featured a review of mine, a humorous platformer by Krisalis. I thought it was pretty darn excellent with lots of neat features. A great game so check this one out, folks!

LINKS

 - Pop over to RVG right now and clickety click to read the review. Just don't forget to come back here!
 - AtariMania has the mad professor within their ST database.
 - Whether you need a floppy or hard drive installable version, 8BitChip always have the goods!
 - I was going to make a video and then I realised StickHead had his, so that was that. Enjoy :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

BeGEMeD


BeGEMeD is a fantastic version of Bejewelled and is created by Alexander de Vries for the Atari STe (and later models). It features gorgeous 16-colour graphics with the in-game music by Dma-Sc, which is utterly sensational. A demo was released at STNICCC 2015 however, I think was living on another planet back then and completely missed it... So I've been catching catch-up and spending lots of my spare time lately playing BeGEMed.

I later contacted Alexander to thank him for his hard work and before long I was testing his betas! I'm thrilled to report that there have been numerous bug fixes and new features galore in the current beta with a final release due very soon. BeGEMed is a fantastic puzzler, I am honoured to have played a (tiny) part in its production and I'm very excited to see the Atari ST homebrew scene so active. I cannot wait for the final release... watch this space, folks!

LINKS

 - AtariMania has the download to the latest beta release on their website.
 - Alexander has created his own webpage for BeGEMeD with a link to his own video recording.
 - Here is my video recording of BeGEMeD (I only get to level 7 but level 12 is my personal best)
 - Dma-Sc has a massive Atari portfolio of talent and its all listed on Demozoo.
 - Last year's public release can be downloaded off AtariMania.