Wednesday, December 30, 2015

R-Type Deluxe


An early beta of the new R-Type Deluxe has been released at STNICCC. This is a game that means so much to me for a couple of reasons: it's such a great shoot 'em up and my parents bought me this for my 17th birthday!

This new Deluxe version isn't merely a lame Amiga port but one designed to make use of the extra hardware lurking inside the Atari STe. This means the Blitter, hardware scrolling and stereo sounds. The pictures you see here were kindly sent to me by Stephen and I have also recorded a video for y'all to drool over! (from the previous beta)

Today has been an awesome day as I've played R-Type Deluxe for several hours and loved every second of it! Please remember, this is a Work In Progress. Well, its high time I stopped writing and played some more...

    

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

lotharek

Shortly before Christmas, the hard drive inside my Mega STE sadly died. Thankfully, I had only just backed it up the previous day (how lucky am I) but this did give me a big kick up the backside to invest in something better. After all, it was the original 47MB SCSI from 1991. So it was only a matter of time before it went BOOM!! ;-) and I needed to sort myself out with the only mass-storage option I fancied... That meant Lotharek to purchase their Ultrasatan which comes with an 8GB SD card capable of silly storage! Fancy going from 47MB to 8GB :)

Ultra...WHAT? Okay, for those that don't know, the Ultrasatan is a tiny piece of hardware that utilises common SD Cards as a mass storage device. Hardly a ground-breaking idea in today's world, but the old Atari computer will see it has an ordinary hard drive (but silent!)

Lotharek are quick! They delivered it on Christmas Eve so I've spent the entire holidays playing and the possibilities appear limitless because I am no longer struggling with meagre storage.

Lotharek's ultrasatan is a brilliant piece of Jookie kit. Buy this!!




One of the most famous shoot 'em ups ever - Xenon II Megablast. This will always be a firm favourite of mine and it was exciting to hear Peter Putnik had doctored it back in January with his magic.

The game now streams 25Khz music directly off the Ultrasatan - sorry STFM guys - this feature requires the audio co-processor hardware of the Atari STE. It's a jaw-dropping 32MB upgrade, which is an unbelievably huge size for an ST game and I certainly hope Peter converts more games in the future!








Drone, an Atari STe demo which I would personally class as a masterpiece with music, artwork and presentation are so far beyond excellent. Released back in 2012 by the legendary Dead Hackers. Drone is an 11+MB demo and was released for Sommarhack to pay special tribute to the Ultrasatan.
This is one of the best demos I've ever experienced.




Thursday, December 24, 2015

Stario!!


Super Stario Land was released in 1995 by Top Byte and might remind you of a certain game featuring a daft Italian plumber? Yep, it's pretty darn similar but this isn't merely a cheap clone but a great game in its own right that offers fantastic entertainment. It's a delight to play with controls that are both easy and responsive so feel authentic.

The graphics scroll by at a smooth 50fps with fine attention to detail, if small by ST standards. Sound effects are pretty chirpy and suit the console style but, if you press F9, then music will play by Big Alec!

I love this game. It's like having a Nintendo on your desk, but with a keyboard! A brilliant platformer.


Stario's Christmas was released in 1996 and must rank as one of the last commercial games ever for the Atari ST. It basically offers more of the same but within a Christmassy winter wonderland and is equal in every awesome respect to the first game. Look, if you loved Super Stario Land then you're gonna drool over your presents for Stario's Christmas. Yep, two incredible platformers to play over the holidays. Merry Christmas everyone †

LINKS

 - Hard disk installable games can be found over at 8BitChip.
 - Old Games Finder has access to every floppy disk.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

3D con kit

I've always been interested in 3D from my early computing years as a kid in the 80s using the ZX Spectrum.  Games like Ant Attack, Deathchase and then later on the mind-boggling Knight Lore. That game just blew my mind, so when I came across 3D Construction Kit for the Atari ST I was delighted.

After a little googling, I came across a fantastic resource by a Stuart Wilson that should be very helpful to get the best from the program. They also run an active FaceBook community that you should join.

3D Construction Kit is a wonderful application for making your own worlds and I hope this web resource is of some help to any of you guys that fancy trying it out? This video is the actual VHS recording that was released back in the day as a trainer. Fascinating stuff and it does explain many aspects of the program very nicely. There are lots of interesting projects already created on the Atari ST and many are blimmin'' excellent too!

At my request, Peter Putnik has graciously adapted 3D Construction Kit so it can now be installed onto a hard drive rather than being run from floppy disk, so download this version! Plus it will also run on all Atari's - the better your computer then the smoother your experience. My 16Mhz Mega STe runs it beautifully!  :-)

Monday, December 21, 2015

SWIV


Sometimes you need a release from this strange world and today I did just that with SWIV, an exceptional shoot ‘em up released in 1991 by Storm. Yes, I blasted the living daylights out of those military bad boys using my chopper!

What a cracking game this is, and extremely well developed too. So, I then went one further and recorded a video (under emulation) and noticed it felt a little slower compared to playing on a real Atari ST. Also, the sound effect are not as pronounced. All this is very odd but NOTHING ever compares to the real hardware.

SWIV is excellent. Certainly, an ageless shooter which I highly recommend. Download it from Klaz because this version supports installation to hard drive, cheats, and more. Of course, 8BitChip has an equally excellent download you should play with Old Games Finder having all the floppy images.
And just for giggles... Moments ago, my hard drive started to make a strange whirring noise, almost like it was trying its best to spin-up, but failing. I think SWIV killed it but I cannot complain because it was the original drive and therefore about 24 years old. Now that is quality and value for money, folks!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

We Were @

This is a brand new demo for the Atari STe and was only released 2 days ago by the mighty Leonard, of Oxygene. Yes, he has always been one of the most uniquely talented programmers but this production blew me away. Check out that Roto Zoomer! Do watch the end credits which feature many interesting details about the coding.

Truly amazing STuff. A beautiful production and certainly one of the best 16-Bit demos, ever!! [download]

Please note - this video was recorded using an emulator and YouTube itself suffers the quality somewhat.
If you can watch it on a real Atari computer - the way it was meant to be enjoyed :-)

Friday, December 18, 2015

Trans D-Bug Express


TDE is a program to convert your old floppies into MSA disk images. Yes, I know there are excellent apps already out like Jay MSA and Magic Shadow Archiver but TDE works at a technically lower level and therefore has far more success with those crusty old floppies. In fact, even if TDE fails with a dead part of a disk, it still offers you the option to save a good image thus you're able to rescue the remainder. Such an excellent and essential utility!

Those D-Bug'ers have the latest release of TDE to download so go grab it now!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Fernandez Must Die


ImageWorks gave us this cool shoot 'em up in 1988 and it's a pretty much another Commando/Ikari Warriors clone designed to unleash our inner combat soldier. Every time I play, I'm reminded of those A-Team episodes which took place a dodgy part of South America and, just like in the tv show, an evil dictator is causing havoc! However, B.A. Baracus refuses to get on the plane, so pick up your weapon and head out to the killing fields for some fun.

This war zone is stuff with enemy soldiers and their flying bullets so it's a good job our machine gun has unlimited ammo. Also, we have a rocket launcher for extra firepower and some buildings can be plundered by blowing off the door with dynamite and is especially useful on ammunition depots! Vehicles can be utilised, so why not mow down a few enemy soldiers along your journey? The visuals are very 1980s with a clean cartoon-like style and smooth scrolling. Sound effects are nice with various sampled sound effects too.

This is one of those games I'm glad I bought because it's incredibly good fun and highly addictive. Fernandez Must Die might have zero originality but it makes up for that with bucket loads of action. An awesome shoot 'em up!!

LINKS

 - The boys of D-Bug have a superb download which can be installed to your hard drive.
 - Pause your game and type in "SPINYNORMAN" for extra lives :-)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters


Evil reptilons are hell-bent on destroying us and have also taken hold of Planet X. They've enslaved the human population and forced them to build a robot army for an invasion. Jake and Duke are two heroes with a simple plan: destroy as many robots as possible, trash the computers, rescue ever cute girl and save the day.

Robot Monsters is played in a similar style to other 3D isometric games, just imagine a pinch Buck Rogers mixed in with a dollop of Gauntlet and you get a general idea. Your main goal is to rescue the humans, without forgetting those held in stasis pods, and all this is going on whilst Planet X constantly produces enemy robots. These are relentless in their hatred for you and will soon be a hoard if you don't start killing them. Along the way are traps designed specifically for us soft fleshy humans: sharp spikes, rotating chunks of metal and electric floor panels.

The robots come in a variety of models and I love the biscuit-looking ones! We have a laser weapon which is great but refrain from overuse otherwise it becomes less effective... Thankfully, it can be charged by collecting the green blobs that a dead robot can leave behind. There are also bombs - just hit the shift key and they detonate straight away killing anything within your vicinity - even the captives - so be careful. A canal stage appears after a few levels which offer extra bonuses but isn't essential to your overall progress and I wasn't too eager about it anyhow. The big Reptilon boss will first seem an impossible opponent but there is a cunning way with to avoid it using a few bombs and a little joystick waggling.... Just ask if you need any help.

Robot Monsters is full to the brim with originality and frantic metallic mayhem! It's a demented game and I love its comical personality, great characters, and frantic gameplay. An extraordinary and iconic 16-Bit game!

LINKS

 - A download is available from the mighty D-Bug's which can also be installed to hard drive.
 - But for those which require a floppy disk image just use Old Games Finder.
 - Yes, I recorded an awesome video for your viewing pleasure!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Lupo Alberto


Late last night I came across an interesting post by Philsan on AtariAge concerning an unreleased game called Lupo Alberto. This is a platformer which, I think, is based on a European comic or a TV show? Well, after 25 years of existing in unreleased hell, the ST version finally gets to see the light of day!

Graphics are nice with a gorgeous cartoon design with cute sprites - just look at those chickens!! However, it lacks scrolling and the mechanics of the game demand that instead of push-scrolling which could easily have been done, just look throughout the catalogue of great games. With this in mind, it still plays good enough but I found some of the jumps rather tricky because of the push scrolling methods. Okay, I cannot say it's up there with the best, but it's great to see something recovered after many years and it definitely warrants some of your gaming time tonight. Play it.

The download is available via Philsan's post on AtariAge forums and now also AtariMania.

Friday, December 11, 2015

XENON

If I was to select one game which perfectly describes my exciting entrance into the (then) new world of 16-Bit computing - it's gotta be Xenon!! Such an iconic release and, because I came from the colour-clash world of ZX Spectrum, this blew me away with its amazing mind-boggling visuals/audio.

Literally, one of the first floppy disks that I carefully slid inside my new Atari ST, but I didn't know what to expect as the drive made its infamous click..click..click. Moments later my jaw hit the floor when I first saw those incredible graphics along with the zesty chiptunes by Dave Whittaker.

I had truly left behind the 8-Bit world and entered into another realm which is a feeling I shall never forget. Well folks, today is a good day, because I have just taken delivery of the original which is extraordinarily well preserved and feels almost brand new. I'm impressed and overjoyed to finally re-own this masterpiece. Gorgeous box art (click the pic)

Xenon is every bit as good as I remember. The gameplay starts off so well balanced with many baddies to encounter over a short area. We then there get to battle against a weird ball-like Alien ship. This takes a lot longer to kill than you first realise. (Well, for me anyhow!). Don't forget to waggle that joystick and flip your 'tank' into an aircraft at any time.

Xenon is pure brilliance. A true, and timeless, Atari ST classic which I urgently suggest you load up right now!

LINKS

 - Both D-Bug and 8BitChip have converted this great arcade game to run off hard drive!
 - Those needing a floppy disk can find Xenon on Timewarp #51 thanks to Stonish.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Pegasus


Satan has been a bad boy again and has turned the world on its head so it's our job to reverse his dastardly deeds before it's too late. You are Percius and fly the globe on a mythical horse called (wait for it) Pegasus and our adventure is split into two parts. A shoot 'em up has you flying on Pegasus and also a platformer where Percius is free to unleash his own hell using a rather large sword (it flips between these two gaming modes throughout).

The shoot 'em up parts are exciting and challenging, just imagine something like an R-Type but on horseback and you've got a general idea. Collect the crystals left behind from a kill to enhance your weaponry and there are also awesome power-ups to use. Plus you control Pegasus, a flying horse, how freaky cool is that? Graphics and sounds are a little bland but the scrolling is smooth and it plays well.

The platform levels follow and these are probably my personal favourites. Collect the crystals and kill baddies once again... but it plays good and scrolls along nicely to keep up with the action. Sadly, once again, it's a little bland in the audio department and needed far more enemies for better action.

Each stage is fun to play but it fails to stand out from the crowd. I fear Pegasus is a lazy port because it needs excitement, music and pizzazz sound effects so feels somewhat flat, which is a shame. The potential is staggering yet Gremlin didn't feel like getting the best from the Atari ST. An okay game but there are far better to choose from.

LINKS

 - Download Pegasus from the D-Bug and 8BitChip, both with hard drive support.
 - Floppy disks versions can be found using Old Games Finder.
 - You need to cheat? Then press P on the title screen and type in this code: FRUITBAT
          -> use the arrow keys to select your starting level.
          -> F1 for extra lives.
          -> F2 to select a power-up.
          -> F3 for an extra special weapon shot.
          -> F5 advance a level.
          -> F7 for a nifty shield.
 - To view the greetings, enter this code as a password on the title screen: CATFOOD.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

The Ultimate Captive Guide


I recently bought Captive and anyone with a brain knows this to be an awesome RPG game by Mindscape. The Ultimate Captive Guide is a website created by Pierre Fournier and I'm sure you'll find extremely useful.

Captive's story is simple, you have been held a prisoner for a couple of hundred years for a crime you did not commit (and the A-Team thought they had it bad). After such a long time, your freedom from the unjust hell is your only goal in this RPG not too dissimilar to the Dungeon Master ilk. Playing through a fantastic 3D first-person perspective with a creative UI that has you configuring and controlling droids from a conveniently placed briefcase! The graphics are excellent with beautifully drawn monsters that add perfectly to the futuristic realism. Sound effects could have been a little more ambient but that doesn't spoil the captivating (sorry) atmosphere. This is truly an amazing adventure and one which will certainly eat away the spare hours. It's an experience to love living through, an outstanding RPG.

LINKS

 - I've found a neat video which should help Captive newcomers tremendously.
 - ST Format published this piccy in their magazine which I think is very helpful.
 - TIDBIT: the original release supported DMA audio but this was dropped for the v1.2 update. How odd :-(

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Jim Power in Mutant Planet


Jim Power In Mutant Planet was released by Loriciel in 1992 where we play as a member of the Special Warfare Unit. These are in charge of the President's personal security and, of course, his daughter was kidnapped by evil beings which infest a Mutant Planet. So it is your mission to kill everything, rescue the girl, and save the day. Yeah!!

You begin your adventure in a rather funky looking environment that reminds me of Enchanted Land. A strange world of whacky colours that is populated by stupid enemies aimlessly wondering back n' forth. I first thought this was going to be easy but it soon picks up the pace to become quite the challenge with levels that are as interesting as they are superbly designed. Controls feel spritely to suit the game style perfectly and I love the way you can easily hop from platforms without ever feeling the uncertainty of plummetting to your death. Weapons are upgradable and if your joystick has an autofire option then I'd consider the option of switching it on to enjoy some deadly killing fun.

The box art may look like it was ripped from a bad 80s action flick but thankfully the visuals are all of a standard that I would describe as outstanding. It's colour galore as Loriciel mock the supposed hardware limitations with ease to feature scrolling which is both fast and smooth. Sprites are simply gorgeous and look as cute as they are innovative. The audio will not dishearten (view the credits!) and provides a thumping title tune with even more stunning in-game chiptunes. Also, the option is available to play with only the sound effects, but I personally thought this wasn't nearly as good as those boppin' tunes. Overall, this is an easy recommendation for platforming fans because it looks and sounds as great as it plays. Jim Power might not have much originality but it's an absolute cracker. Play this!!

LINKS

 - 8BitChip has a version to install on your hard drive.
 - For those that require a floppy disk image, just see Old Games Finder.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sleeping Gods Lie


You're on Tessera, a world once rich but now suffering famine, disease, and a crime wave that only Robocop could fix. Their god, N'Gnir, strangely seems to be in slumber so it's your mission to find him, wake him up, and put an end to all the madness. It won't be easy because you must battle your way through the numerous different lands and each has eight kingdoms. This game is huge so pack some butties because it's unlikely you will be home for tea!

You begin from the comfort of your own castle which looks impressive from the outside but rather sparsely decorated within - there is only a chair! So let's exit and see what awaits us outside... and it's not long before you see chaos roams the land. Almost everyone is nuts and I guarantee you'll be stoned by angry villagers within seconds! These brawls are all too frequent and lots of fun too but beware of something hideous guarding the exit. Thankfully, a few characters are normal and these are the guys you should take the time to talk too for helpful information. As the box says, this isn't just an adventure game and is full to the brim with action and basic puzzles within a curious new world. There are many puzzles to be completed such as feeding a giant critter with mouldy cheese. These aren't brain-blasters and the information you acquire will soon fall into place if you talk to the right people.

The first-person engine is fast but the landscapes are sparse with distant objects being nothing more than fuzzy pixels - until close. Title music is chiptune magic but in-game sound effects are as sparse as the landscapes. Controls are perfect - mouse looks or moves but do also use the keyboard for a fantastic combination (not seen in the video). Hint, pressing F3 allows you to run rather than walk and I found this to be the greatest benefit.

Sleeping Gods Lie is an enthralling game with some very interesting ideas. It's not perfect and I wish the character interaction was better and a more visually detailed environment would have been nice. Overall, there's no denying this game is interesting, addictive and I love the mix of instant one-on-one skirmishes whilst exploring the lands. I feel this is an adventure to dig your heels into one quiet weekend so find a bag of stones and get out there!

LINKS

 - 8BitChip has created a version which can be installed on a hard drive.
 - Old Games Finder has all the floppy disks you should ever need.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

YOPAZ IceStar


Yopaz is a brand new game developed by Cedric Bourse and features a happy chap who has a lust for collecting stars in his Sokoban-inspired universe. However, being in the vacuum of space means that, once he starts moving, he is committed to travelling in that particular direction until bumping into an object. So, you need to cunningly use ice wall blocks to manoeuvre yourself in order to collect all the stars dotted about each level. Curious oddities exist like blocks that aren't ice but instead will teleport you out in a different direction elsewhere on the map. Interestingly, there is also an advanced mode for those with a sadistic desire to push their brains even harder - it's a KILLER!!

The game runs within a GEM window and is super smooth. Sound effects are simple but very nice and, if you have a min of 3MB Ram free, then you can also enjoy ambient sounds played via the DMA coprocessor. Cedric Bourse (aka Orion_) has a website where you can download a playable demo but he is only asking for $4 to purchase the full game. That is incredibly cheap and hardly going to break the bank so buy it - I have :-)

Monday, November 09, 2015

Bootsie


Bootsie, a utility by Stefan Krey that writes a boot sector to a floppy disk to perform many rather nifty system init functions. These will be useful for Atari owners with a hard drive or those fortunate to own a MSTE, TT or Falcon.

By default, my Mega STe boots up in an 8MHz "compatibility mode" which is great for gaming but pretty lame for everything else. After all, the entire boot process from start to end will be a lot slower than it could be at 16MHz. Enter Bootsie that can set the processor speed to steroid mode and it will also do lots more cool stuff, such as CPU caching, activate the Blitter chip, 60Hz display, and much more. What a fantastic utility that helps make a computer as zippy as is possible. Download it right now from Atari ST Essential Software List.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Ballerburg


Whilst enjoying my cuppa joe this morning (in my cool Atari ST mug) I stumbled upon a tweet about Ballerburg, an old turn-based artillery game by Eckhard Kruse. This is an ST classic and offers addictive and strategical gameplay to blast our enemy to smithereens and all using basic maths to calculate speed and direction.

However, Ballerburg requires the ability to read German and a monochrome hi-res monitor. But let's be honest, as ST users, we are familiar translating on the fly and there are many programs which fudge the ST's high-resolution mode. As I type, my Atari STe is running Ballerburg and I'm (trying) to teach our 6-year old daughter the basic mechanics... Sadly, that ain't going too well and I know she will be an easy victim so I'm going to destroy her Muwhahaha!!

LINKS

 - A download is available via Eckhard Kruse's website and also Ballerburg has a wiki page!
 - I use MonoPack to enable ST High Res on my colour monitor.
 - So, you didn't believe me about my Atari ST mug, uh?

Friday, November 06, 2015

The Immortal


You are a wizard and have been asked to help out another wizard that appears to be in a spot of bother. He is called Mordamir and somehow thinks your name is Dunric, which it isn't. So will you still help him? Of course, you will... However, it will involve exploring creepy dungeons infested with numerous nasty creatures. Still feeling brave? Well, it is time to wear clean underwear and venture forth into the realms of myth, sorcery, and brutal horror!

The Immortal is a scrolling isometric adventure set within a creepy labyrinth full of unforgiving traps and ghastly horrors. In fact, it's these characteristics which will torment even the most experienced adventurer along his journey and you will most definitely witness the bloodiest of deaths. This isn't a game you can complete in a few attempts because its design dictates the need for a determined player and one who will fall victim to many gruesome deaths.

Lurking within the labyrinth are trolls, goblins and lots of other scary creatures with some have exquisite names - like The Shades, that you encounter early. A life form that hides in the darkness, only casting a faint shadow under firelight - are you scared yet? Each room is unique and has its own battles, treasures, and pitfalls to solve, so think first, be vigilant and always on your guard. The good news is that you can often avoid a confrontation by being stealthy, but brave warriors can always use their weapon or even conjure magic spells to beat their foe.

Expect your endurance to be tested to the full with each level's cruel traps, thankfully each isn't overly large so they are within eventual reach of learning. Exploration is the key to success so examine everything that may help later on. Finally, don't forget to rest, if you see a straw bed then take the time for forty winks, gain a little health and maybe even an enlightening dream. There is no save game function instead you will be awarded level passwords which first seem disappointing but it certainly forces you to tread carefully thus creating a more knowledgeable adventurer.

The Immortal is a groundbreaker due to its gripping storyline, eerie atmospheric and a captivating adventure. Mix that in with both RPG and arcade elements and it's apparent why I love this game. An extremely excellent game offering hours of agonising pleasure as you uncover its secrets. The Immortal is a cruel yet highly addictive adventure.

LINKS

 - Floppy disk downloads can be found using Old Games Finder.
 - 8BitChip has a download for hard drive installation.
 - Here are some nifty codes if you fancy seeing the later levels:
          --> Level 2 = cddff10006f70
          --> Level 3 = 0adda21000e10
          --> Level 4 = bfdfe31001eb0
          --> Level 5 = 09de443000eb0
          --> Level 6 = 3b7fd53010e41
          --> Level 7 = e590d710178c1

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Rana Rama


Most action games have you playing as something rather cool, like a wizard or a musclebound warrior or perhaps even a Hollywood hero with a deadly automated weapon that never runs out of ammo. Well, not so with Ranarama. You're a novice magician called Mervyn who has accidentally turned himself into a frog? That's right, you're a frog!

   

Wizards have invaded and brought with them a horde of monster followers who killed everyone, although luckily they ignored the unassuming slimy frog. So it's time for you to leg'it and deal these evil beings a hefty dose of revenge! Played through an overhead view, you crawl a dungeon battling the numerous minion slaves of the powerful wizards. First impressions are of another action-packed Gauntlet clone and, although it looks aesthetically similar, it's quite different. Beginning in the upper area of this 8-level dungeon you must kill the baddies and defeat the wizards. Interestingly, only the places you have explored are visible and the baddies themselves are only seen when you’re within the same room. This makes entering new rooms an anxious moment and who knows what surprises lurk!

   

Monsters come in various scary shapes and sizes, starting with the humble Dwarf (I love those) leading up to the mighty Gargoyles. All can be killed with increasing efforts and wizards need to be defeated in a Countdown-style sub-game that has you rearranging letters to form the word "Ranarama". It's not easy and later wizards are very tricky, but once won, he dies and leaves behind his rune goodies. Magic plays its part in Ranarama and can be a little confusing at first but good ‘ol Mervyn has four categories at his disposal: offensive, defensive, effect and other powers. Look after yourself, all monsters (and even your own movements) can reduce energy but fear not because you can cast a spell or collect the energy cells which are frequently available. Finally, use the floor-based glyphs to activate special features like a map, status and casting powerful spells. This game is far bigger than you first imagine!

   

The graphics are superb with such a fine attention to detail and great use of colour. The in-game Sound effects are very good and the music is by Dave J. Rogers, he of Exolon and Zynaps fame so is absolutely superb. Ranarama was one of the first Atari ST games (I owned) to feature speech, thus always delivers a happy moment each time I hear the fuzzy woman speak. Overall, if you view the screenshots and are expecting a typical Gauntlet clone then you might be disappointed. Ranarama is quite different and offers a long-term mix of arcade action with so many hints of role-playing as you venture through the cunning levels. This is a very difficult adventure but it's also extremely rewarding so expect lots of late nights in. An utterly fantastic Atari ST game, a legendary Hewson game!

LINKS

 - The best download is made by 8BitChip if you have a hard drive.
 - Old Games Finder should suffice for all you floppy disk dudes!

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

ASCII art


Unreversable demo (2013) by M.E.C for Atari ST
Credits : bob_er (code) | Dhor (music) | gwEm (code/music)

I came across this rather mesmerising demo the other night on Demozoo and I just had to record it. Unreversable is an ASCII art sensation accompanied with a funk and dunk of ace chipmusic for an outstanding experience. Perhaps most amazing is that it's only 64kb, quite incredible... I hope you enjoy it as much as I did?

Unreversable is by a group of talented 8Bit'ers called Masters Of Electric City.
 (creators of Unbeatable - a monochrome Atari ST demo!!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Gauntlet


This is an arcade masterpiece with a design that is simple, yet genius! A combination of dungeon crawler mixed in with a kill-em-all mentality for an unstoppable multiplayer experience which 1-4 gamers can enjoy hacking and slashing their way through its underground of hell. And going to hell is always best with friends!

Gauntlet offers you the opportunity to be one of four groovy heroes: a Warrior, Elf, Wizard, Valkyrie and each have their own characteristics for strength and battling the nasties. I personally go straight for the Warrior because he's bound to be the Samson of the group, and thankfully there is no Delilah. Each character needs to be fed, so don't be doing anything daft like shooting food which will have a serious effect on your health.

The object of Gauntlet is simple - kill and escape. Trapped in a 100-level creepy dungeon and everything lurking inside wants to eat you. So it's up to you (and any potential co-op players) to kill everything and find the exit in order to ultimately escape the hellish catacombs. Keys are littered everywhere which unlock access to restricted areas and you shall also note the booty which is conveniently left for you, collect them for extra points.

The monsters are some of the most varied I've ever seen, we have ghosts, demons, grunts, lobbers (I hate those!) and much more. They all have their own evil attributes and almost all born from a generator - so destroy those first to cease the onslaught of hatred against you. Finally, Death is here and he's almost impossible to kill so try to avoid him wherever possible. Which brings me to the magical potions you can discover also scattered about each level. By collecting these your chance of survival is greatly improved and will certainly help during an encounter with Mr Death. Hint: do not assume he is a single individual making a single appearance! Be wise and use only when needed.

Stop whatever you're doing and download this via Klaz' Hideaway (both hard drive and floppy versions) and it also supports faster Atari computers for even better framerates!! Gauntlet for the Atari ST is pure gaming gold. 10/10

Monday, October 26, 2015

Mad Professor Mariarti

This is a rather cool retro-themed platformer which first appears a typical run and jump game, but there is actually an integrated puzzle element to Mariarti's world that cannot be ignored.

Professor Mariarti features five whacky laboratories ranging from a biological lab to futuristic space rocket development. However, as a result of some dodgy experiment going mental, everything has strangely come to life and taken over.

To make matters worse, these creatures aren't in the best mood and have also grown body parts, like eyes and legs. I think we better fix this problem and clear out the various labs before it drives the Professor potty! There are four levels to choose from with a fifth only selectable after completing the first four. I've been playing the Computer Lab level today and there are many strange creatures populating the rooms, lots of hazards to avoid, and many puzzles to solve. Don't worry too much, these puzzles aren't exactly mind-blowing and are often be as simple as flicking a switch. However, there are some puzzles that will require a little more thought - take a look at the massive pressure chamber which is lethal without first wearing a divers helmet!

The baddies are a most interesting bunch and quite humorous. Sadly, the slightest contact will zap valuable energy and potentially kill you dead. It seems nothing you do will permanently kill them - use your trusty collection of greasy spanners and kaboom they've gone but, seconds later, they are back for more. Actually, this is a good mechanic and certainly keeps the game interesting and fun to play without any empty and boring screens. Also, weapons can be upgraded at using the terminals but that costs money so don't forget to collect any coins scattered throughout.

Mad Professor Mariarti is a challenging game and so addictive with bucket loads of humorous personality. I highly recommend it, especially if you prefer a platformer that requires a little more thought from the old grey matter.

LINKS

 - 8BitChip has a download for both floppy and hard drive users.
 - Check out this awesome video by The Joy of Sticks!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Frenetic


Frenetic is a vertical scrolling shooter released in 1991 by Core Design with gorgeous graphics that are very rich in colour and style. The gameplay is quite good but nothing that we havn't see before. However, I am very impressed by the well-balanced mechanics so I don't instantly go looking for an infinite lives cheat because I could do rather well. If I had to be picky then I would mention the poor sound effects and it's annoying to loose power-ups after a life lost...

Frenetic is quite a nice shooter with cool graphics but it's sadly so obvious that it's a rushed conversion. Which is a massive shame because the potential is there and we all know that the Atari ST is certainly able to produce far better. So, with a little commitment, this could easily have been much better and I'm actually really angry with Core for another poor Amiga port!! An average shoot 'em up but worth taking a look at if you have an hour spare. Maybe.

LINKS

 - As always, 8bitchip have a version configured to be stored and ran from off hard drive!
 - For those needing the floppy disk image, check out Old Games Finder!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Chuckie Egg II


After playing the Atari ST version of Jet Set Willy, I remembered that we also had another 8-Bit platformer - Chuckie Egg 2. This is one of my favourite ZX Spectrum games - EVER. Like JSW, I love the ability to freely roam and the rooms are quirky always interesting. I was extremely excited to play the ST version.

Yep, ours should have had all the usual improvements to make Spectrum owners green with envy. I was hoping for a bigger game map, more colourful graphics and better sounds but alas we got nothing more than a coding shambles. This game is an embarrassment because they've completely ruined the look and feel. The new controls now make the game totally unplayable so they have successfully destroyed what was previously a beautiful platformer.

Play it on the ZX Spectrum and stay clear of this ST game!! 😡

LINKS

 - If you're feeling stupid then a floppy disk can be found using Old Games Finder.
 - A hard drive installable game can be found thanks to 8BitChip.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Jet Set Willy


Who hasn't played with Mr Willy in one form or another over the decades - surely the most respected series of 8-bit platformers ever to grace our CRT screens? Well, here is the Atari ST's attempt at Jet Set Willy which is a perfect replica of the original which mimics the gameplay without any unnecessary bloatware "improvements". It's completely authentic and guarantees the same level of entertainment you experienced back in 1984.

Although finished, it wasn't ever released and that's a shame because I feel Software Projects did a great job and captured the authenticity of the ZX Spectrum game. Please do note: the animation was taken off my Atari ST and not a ZX Spectrum! Okay, enough of my talking because now it's time to help Master Willy clean up his messy mansion. He is extremely tired and strangely hasn't realised that he could simply sack Maria and just get in bed... Doh!

LINKS

 - Download Jet Set Willy from my own Dropbox file server.
 - AtariMania has a download and an interesting piece of text to read on their website.
 - Here is a pretty darn cool map of the entire Willy Mansion. Ahh, the memories!!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Chaos Engine


Not too dissimilar to the mighty Gauntlet, the Bitmaps unleashed Chaos Engine back in 1993. It's a top-down arcade shooter where you get to choose from a selection of cool characters before running around sexy-looking levels with only one purpose - killing baddies. Okay, there is a [minor] puzzle element but this game is all about reaping death!

   

Each character has their own unique skills so I advise that you should play each one to find out which you prefer. The environments are extremely interesting, both their wicked mechanics and visual styles which create a wonderful Victorian England theme and more. Co-op is enabled whether you're alone or with friends and I love having a computer controlled player fighting alongside you. This really helps, especially in the later levels, and is implemented well without ever taking over. However, it is embarrassing when he grabs the coins quicker than I can.

   

The graphics are literally outstanding - from start to end - with their beautiful artworks, detailed sprites and gorgeous landscapes. It's obvious just how much time and commitment went into its production and then those talented Bitmap Brothers decided to take it a step further and make use of the hardware scrolling on the Atari STe. It's only a shame they didn't use the DMA coprocessor for the audio which I feel is a missed opportunity.

   

I have always ranked the Bitmap Brothers as one the best 16-Bit developers and the freakish charm of Chaos Engine certainly helps to prove this. A brilliant and remarkably addictive shooter stuffed full of action-packed levels. Love it.

LINKS

 - 8BitChip and D-Bug have created hard drive installable versions which are both superb!!
 - If you need Chaos Engine on floppy disk then Stonish have Adrenalin #37A  #37B Menu CDs.
 - Fancy some level codes? Well of course you do, right?
          -> World Two = T6MV6J4LGLCZ (Thug + Mercenary)
          -> World Two = 73VBPXY1PZV1 (Brigand + Navvie)
          -> World Two = QLVKM4YKJQVS (my own code!)
          -> World Three = 4WQZTTRG61MZ (Navvie + Gentleman)
          -> World Three = 2#YNLN7SR94W (Navvie + Brigand)
          -> World Three = JSP99G416LY2 (I've no idea where I found this!)
          -> World Four = PK2R9J6G5W4K (Navvie + Gentleman)
          -> World Four = C8737KFPBCDB (Navvie + Preacher)
 - ST Format featured a fantastic guide and a walk-through solution (issues: #51 #52 #53 #54)
 - Bitmap Bros have a cool website with maps, guides and more!
 - Let's Play have a great page with many info.
 - I love this game so much I went "out" and bought the Apple Mac conversion!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Damocles - Mercenary II


Update: Paul Woakes sadly passed away on July 15th 2017. RIP †

Today I bring you an online resource I recently found for Novagen's mind-blowing Damocles, aka Mercenary II. During a ramble across the virtual wastelands that is the internet, I found a great site by 'Symoon' dedicated to the series so I simply had to contact the man himself and you can read his response below :-)

Damocles is a game that I personally cannot recommend highly enough and one which should be experienced by all Atari ST players who love to explore an open-world adventure with non-linear gameplay. Now, ignoring your ever fruitful ticker-guide (Benson!) you're on your own and free to do pretty much whatever you choose. However, ultimately you have been paid to save the doomed planet Eris - which is about to be struck by a comet so it's our job to save the day. How you go about this is entirely up to you because there are many paths to take so the choice is yours. I cannot stress just how great Damocles is - a corker that oozes its intriguing adventure from every orifice!

LINKS

 - Take a gander at Symoon's excellent The Mercenary Site website!
 - ST Action featured a cool solution guide.
 - ST Format featured a solution in issue #20 and a cockpit guide in issue #13.

...The site is horribly old but, to me, the content is more important than its look - and spare time is a rare thing these days ;) .... (OOPS.. we started to talk about Hunter!) ... I also have fond memories of Hunter, except that the life was dropping way too fast! I cheated to block that and finished all the missions a long time ago. Real fun using helicopters or hovercrafts!

There isn't much to say about me - I can't call myself an active Atari ST owner. But my brother bought an Atari ST and we mainly played games with it, and I remain attached to it, but not as much as I am to my very first computer (an Oric!). You'll find a few occasional posts from me on some Atari forums under the nickname Symoon, but nothing worth talking about really ;)

I actually began the website around 1996, learning HTML to make a solution page for Mercenary III while I was doing the compulsory military service in France (I'm French, you guessed! ;)  I had struggled so much to get my copy of Mercenary III (I guess it hasn't been imported at all in France then) that I played it so much and found a way to complete it with all the solutions. There was almost no information about Mercenary III on the Internet at the time, and I had discovered the great Mark Sachs' guide to Damocles which inspired me. So it all began as "the Mercenary III solution page", designed in the same way…
Then the site grew little by little, as I added content very quickly thanks to many, many contributors. I recently read back old emails and was puzzled at how many people wrote me about it, and how interesting many of the messages were. I got in touch with many people from Novagen (first was Mo Warden), all very kind, and even met some of them. I'm so sad that Bruce Jordan, who lead the Novagen company with Paul Woakes, passed away 9 years go. First and before all because he really was a friendly man, and of course on more Mercenary-driven motivations, because he was a great source of information. The MDDClone, that appeared around 2002, also was a source of real motivation. Its author hadn't been here, I might not have kept updating the site so long - and certainly not with so much detailed content.


What I loved about the games?  I can't tell you really, I'd say the freedom feeling, and the first-person 3D which put YOU in the world (it wasn't that common at this time). The fact that a whole world was created for the player to simply walk around and the mix between adventure and some kind of flight simulation too. Also, it's humour. As a French young man though, I didn't always notice or understand the fun there was in Benson's words!


I was visiting each and every location hoping to find something significant at any corner. I found (and still find) it amazing that a whole universe was there on a disk. Well, pick anything you want from this ;) But a simple link to the site will suit me as well - without credit - feel free to make it the way you like ;) Thanks again, I hope you spend many pleasant hours in the Gamma system soon!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Black Lamp


Let's cut to the chase: you’re a clown. Yes, you are plucky Jack The Jester who happens to also be in love with the Princess, Griselda. Sadly, she will never look at you with the same love-struck passion (probably because of that silly costume you are wearing!). Fortunately, for you, the kingdom of Allegorid was attacked by dragons and they stole the magical lamps which protect everyone in the kingdom from evil. This also includes the most acclaimed lamp, a cherished and powerful Black Lamp. So monsters lurk everywhere and the task is a simple one: get the lamps, save the day and be rewarded with your dolly bird princess Griselda. Fail and death awaits you... great, uh?

Black Lamp is your typical flip screen platformer with ledges to hop on, ladders to climb, items to collect, monsters to kill and hundreds of rooms to visit as you undertake the honourable lamp quest. Interestingly, once our plucky jester ventures outside, it changes into a scrolling platformer as we walk the castle walls and streets. Various bonuses are offered for points and also special abilities like increased firepower and invincibility. You will be thankful for any help after only a few moments of gameplay. Trust me!

The monsters here all reign supreme and this is perhaps the game’s greatest most and annoying characteristic because their numbers are countless and their assault is relentless. Wherever you go, they appear like magic! It's a little odd as they don't require any opening because they walk through the wall so this means there is literally no safe place that can offer a quiet moment of refuge. This soon becomes a little tiresome which is a shame.

Throughout your adventure, the graphics are constantly awesome and their detail feels like a cartoon chronicle of England's medieval age. I have always thought that the monsters were the most alluring - they are incredibly charming! My favourites are the Imps and Trolls which are bewitching to watch and I don’t think there is another retro game with such gorgeous and nicely animated baddies. However, it's this animation which is also a curse as it affects Jolly Jack - imagine you are walking right and need to turn left to kill oncoming monsters. Well, this action cannot immediately happen because of the walking animation, which first needs to finish. So it can be a little frustrating!

Black Lamp is an adventure and a hectic one at that with beautiful visuals, gorgeous music and an addictive gameplay style which keeps you coming back for more. It's not perfect but I've always enjoyed this game and I'm sure you will also. The kingdom of Allegorid offers you an excellent challenge one which I hope you will accept!

LINKS

 - 8BitChip have a hard drive installable game with floppy disks available via Old Games Finder.
 - The Bird Sanctuary features the Atari ST version of Black Lamp and other 'bird' games.
 - Oi! Hands off because this is all MINE :-)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Codename HUNTER


Hunter was released by Activision in 1991 and many consider it one of the first open world/sandbox productions. I think this is so relevant to today's modern gamer who might think there was nothing before GTA or Battlefield. It takes place within a massive three-dimensional world where you are essentially a James Bond with objectives to complete in various missions. These are far-reaching and the key to success is strategic exploration, communication, and common sense. For example, don't drive off without remembering to first find a jerrycan. Why not look for a medkit too, you never know... It's always a good idea to stock up on extra ammo and to find (and use) a map!

   

However, I often boot up Hunter to drive around its humungous world to explore and blow stuff up... life can be boring, so why not create a little mayhem and have yourself some fun! Actually, this freedom is my favourite aspect of Hunter because the player is completely free to roam and go almost anywhere they choose to do anything they like. It's incredible, why not ride a wonky-looking bike or get some fresh air and go out for a country walk and watch the birds fly? The hippie in you might wanna go for a swim with the fish or enjoy chasing little cute rabbits... But why would you do any of this when you can instead drive an army jeep, steer a speedboat or pilot a helicopter? Heck, you can even hop into a tank and blow stuff up, like somebody's house like a true psychopath!! lol

  

In some respects, this is many years ahead of its time and comparisons have even been made to newer games like GTA and Battlefield 1942. Even when played properly (yeah I should do that more!) it's an immersive and engrossing experience with taxing missions which often require a tactical and explorational approach. The emphasis is always on your freedom and that extends into how you choose to complete the mission because there is no linear path to follow.

Hunter is extraordinary and I guarantee its one of the best 16-bit games you shall ever experience. I promise!

LINKS

 - 8BitChip have created a hard drive installation version which I highly recommend.
 - Stonish has lots of floppy disks and I think Zuul #160 is the best.
 - Here is an entertaining video of Hunter (not for kids)
 - Another video which is very interesting. . .
 - Don't ruin this amazing game ... but... here are some co-ordinates you might find useful :
           --> Security pass : 90, 153
           --> Master key : 164, 169
           --> Old man : 181, 197
           --> Second man : 99, 61
           --> Third man (In rock) : 195, 119
           --> Professor : 49, 115
           --> Prisoner : 135, 239
           --> Injured man : 10, 36
           --> Antibiotics and saw : 151, 121
           --> Monk (in tree stump) : 85, 174
           --> Scroll : 91, 173
           --> Disk : 100, 225
           --> Computer : 244, 199
           --> General's bunker : 135, 239
           --> Officer's red uniform : 190, 65