Sunday, April 26, 2015

Fire And Brimstone


Firebird released Fire And Brimstone back in 1990 and is one of the most visually stunning platformers I have ever seen. Your adventure takes place within a fantasy world of Norse mythology as the mighty Thor whom must battle with the forces of Hel. She has escaped and spread her lust for evil over the once peaceful Nordic lands with her minions creating much havoc so it's up us to clean up this hellish infestation and get home in time for tea.

Thor has four multi-screen worlds to explore, with each being a puzzle in itself which requires careful thought before you attempt to foolishly plunder through. Even the first screen can confuse some with its solution making little sense, but this style of trickery is a constant, and one you will soon get used to. Don't forget to search for objects to collect because no level can be completed unless you have found all the fragments of a key. If you happen to reach the end of a level, without finding all the parts, you are punished and sent back to the beginning. Which is an agonising experience!

Thor doesn't only carry an axe but two individual weapons which you can flip between and power-ups are available to collect to improve your abilities. You will need a decent weapon to battle the baddies which come in all shapes and sizes, with all possessing a cunning personality. They are often difficult to kill, from a magic-throwing witch to goblins, old bats and things hiding in trees. You can't help but love the game's charisma but I especially love the ghosts and those creepy witches flying on their broomsticks.

Visually, Fire And Brimstone offers an exceptional treat with astounding attention to detail with an artistic flair that perfectly complements the medieval atmosphere. Characters look amazing and are superbly animated with scenic settings that are always beautiful and a jaw-dropping example of extraordinary 16-bit pixel art. Music and sound effects are great but they cannot come close to the majestic quality of the graphics.

This is most definitely one of the most difficult games I have ever played. Gameplay will take sometime to master and even then, it's still an incredibly tough adventure! Progress will always be slow and often painful but it's far from frustrating with a rewarding longevity in its design. Fire And Brimstone is easily one of the best games I have ever played but I fear only the brave should enter into this world of torment. You have been warned!

LINKS

 - The mighty D-Bug have a hard drive installable version.
 - For those that require the floppy disk image, Old Games Finder can help y'all.
 - I'm shocked how little there is on YouTube, so here is my attempt to entertain you!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Teserae


Teserae is obviously a Tetris clone and it's by one of the best-named groups I could have ever imagined, The Albanian Sausage Corporation!! As Tetris rip-offs go, this one is pretty good and plays incredibly well with fun and progressive gameplay. The visuals take Tetris and shoot it up on steroids. Talk about jazzy graphics with a wobbly logo, zooming backgrounds, an overscan scroller, and all at 50fps. The music is chiptune heaven and utterly gorgeous. At first, I imagined the moving background would be distracting but it's not at all. Yep, this is probably one of the best clones and I'm not really a big Tetris fan but I loved playing Teserae.

LINKS

 - Demozoo have the download to umm download so do just that right now!
 - I recorded a video but emulation kills the smoothness, as does YouTube - use a REAL computer!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Lights, Camera, Action! (take 2)

Following on from a previous posting, here are the remaining videos being played using a program called ST Video Player. Just like last time, these are running on a stock 8MHz Atari STe w/ a hard drive, of course.







Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Chariots Of Wrath

Whilst fighting for King and Country, an evil Baron has kidnapped the beautiful Princess Arthena. So jump into your chariot and rescue her. Actually, this really means playing lots of different arcade style games which surely this can't be a bad day at the local war zone, right?

Released in 1989 by Impressions, Chariots Of Wrath isn't just one particular game but instead is a half dozen bundle of retro gaming oldies. If there was ever a mixed goody bag of various games (thrown together) then this is it. Each range in style, from a Breakout clone to a pretty nice shoot 'em up and each must be played in order before you can advance to the next. Of course, each and every game will become progressively harder the further you venture. Initially, I didn't care for the "operation wolf" clone because it's far too easy and a little boring but, later on, I admit to liking this as it became a lot harder and thus more challenging.

The breakout game is pretty darn awesome and comes with a number of power-ups to increase the excitement. I found it rather enjoyable but I'm sure the Arkanoid fanboys won't be quaking in their boots! The platformer looks nice but the controls feel wooden and it has an incredibly frustrating and extremely unforgiving time limit. Asteroids also makes an appearance and plays very well with some nifty new touches that I really liked. Finally, I really enjoy the vertically scrolling shoot 'em up which is both loud and exciting. Sadly, it suffers from amateur mechanics and a little slowdown, but it is still great fun and I did enjoy it with its BOOM BOOM sound effects!

The graphics are pretty cool throughout each of the games with smooth scrolling and lots of colours, so overall my ears and eyes had little to complain about. However, in terms of playability, Chariots Of Wrath almost has an homebrew feel and, with a little spit and polish, we could have had a unique release? The potential is certainly there with this jack of all trades but I fear it sadly falls short and there are better games for the Atari ST.

LINKS

 - The best version is usually by 8BitChip and this game is no different!
 - For those which require a floppy disk version look no further than Old Games Finder.
 - Check out the superb video recording by CaptainD from Indie Game News.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Destruction Imminent


Destruction Imminent was released in 1996 by Cunning & Devious Games for the Atari ST/e and is a first-person shooter, similar to a typical Wolfenstein clone. The atmosphere is quite creepy with each area infested with a variety of strange creatures - but not to worry because there are many weapons ranging from the humble pistol to the more powerful machine gun, rocket launcher and plasma rifle. The monsters are a spooky bunch of oddballs and one is just incredibly weird looking like something from a nightmare (like a crude Daroou from Dungeon Master).

    

Controls are simple: the cursor keys are used for movement and walking, CTRL key fires the weapon and SHIFT allows you to run away like a cowardly chicken. Also, side-stepping is supported and the function keys are used to flip between weapons and health. Movement is responsive and, considering it's keyboard, I'm so impressed just how fast and smooth a stock Atari ST/e computer performs. Ignoring the drab user-interface, the 3D engine is mightily impressive with texture mapping, light-sourced sprites, and a smooth framerate. Power without the price!

    

Destruction Imminent is an extraordinary example of what the Atari ST/e is capable of knocking out and it's obvious that a lot of love went into development. It's great on the ST but everything is better on the STe with better/faster visuals along with DMA stereo music and sound effects. Stop reading and start downloading this great FPS.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Tiger Road

I remember playing this in the arcades back in the 80s but the 16-bit versions don’t do the original any justice if I’m honest. It’s almost like looking at a different game, I know the Atari ST is capable of far better but graphics and sounds aren’t everything, right and there is still a certain charm to it. From the very beginning, you're thrown into instant hack and slash action through hoards of bad guys. So grab your axe and thrash your way to victory!

Sadly, it’s quite bland to look at and with a serious lack of sound effects plus the baddies are often just plain awkward or very stupid. The harder baddies are sometimes annoying to kill because I found myself wanting more visual feedback from their progressed beatings! Having said all that, it’s still pretty good at times and I did enjoy it. Annoyingly, the music and sound effects cannot be played together which was a little disappointing. Far more could have been done with this conversion and it's a shame the developers didn’t push themselves. In the end, we have an average game that's pretty good for half an hours gaming. There are better on the Atari ST.

(first recording.. Ohh I'm so goooooood!)


(second recording.. slightly better performance!)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Lights, Camera, Action!

ST Video Player is one of those programs that will drop your mouth wide-open with amazement. You just won't believe that your humble 512kb 8Mhz Atari STE (with a hard drive) can produce such amazing high-colour movies.

This piece of magic was written by Cyg of BlaBla (the creators of some of the best Atari ST/e demos that I've ever seen). Movies come in the format of .CAV files so just drag & drop one onto the program and prepare to be amazed. I hope to see more videos released for the Atari STe - very soon! Download from Demozoo and Pouet.



Sunday, April 05, 2015

Atari ST magazines

( my Atari Falcon w/ MiNT desktop and three PDF magazine being displayed using zView )

The Atari ST had some of the best magazines the world has ever seen and it's often a great idea to refer back to those old issues for their various features, reviews, and other information. Thankfully, there are websites which have scans of this golden era be it ST Action, ST Format, Atari World, ST User, etc... So enjoy the reading!!

LINKS

 - AtariMania is always a great resource and they also have a fantastic magazine section.
 - Here is a wonderful website dedicated to Atari ST Review, including their ace coverdisks.
 - Kiwis World seems has bucket loads of Atari ST magazines.
 - Exxos has a page for ST Format and Atari World with cover disks.
 - The Zogging Hell website has a great collection of various magazine coverdisks.