Friday, December 30, 2016

Outrun New Year Demo

I'm going to end 2016 with a brand new release by a good friend of mine - Bionic Nerd - aka Peter Jørgensen. Outrun New Year Music Demo has just been released and I've recorded a few seconds of each track as a little teaser for you all. Clickety click to grab this cool musicdisk "intro" right now and enjoy it. :-) Here is a little background by Peter:

"Hi all, I made this little new year music demo because I always loved the music from outrun and I always felt that we Atari ST guys were cheated on. Firstly, there was a track missing. Secondly, it kept shifting between the two other tune every time one would die. Lastly, I do not think that David Whittaker did his best. The music files are YMT format running at 300hz and the reason the program file is so big. In the new year I will make a new sound format, still as fast, but be taking less space but you will need a 2mb Atari to run this. Thanks to everyone for listening and I hope you like this? Thanks, Peter."

2016 has been a fantastic year for the Atari ST/e platform. We've seen bucket loads of demos and games come out or begin development so let's hope 2017 brings many more goodies for us all to tinker with. Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Droid


Droid is a platform-shooter released for the Atari ST in 1991 by the distinctively titled M.P. Lord. You are a robot mech who is apparently lost within a catacomb of well-armed caverns and the aim is simple : to escape. It might look familiar but forget you saw that Psygnosis game as you explore and kill all the metallic baddies along your journey.

This was one of the most popular public domain games on the ST and even gave us a sequel released in 1994. However, neither game uses the enhanced hardware lurking within the Atari STe which was disappointing. Today that changes because Jamie Hamshere is working on an update which will utilise the enhanced hardware to feature smooth 50fps hardware scrolling, Blitted sprites, and DMA sample sounds. The results are truly outstanding.

You can download the early-beta release and have a play yourself. Please remember that this is unfinished and he still has much more hardwork left to do. However, it's a tremendous improvement over the original which was already an incredible game. I wish Jamie well with his piece of STe magic ... watch this space, folks!!

LINKS

 - If you wish to play the original 1991 STFM game then download it via Stonish.
 - The brand new beta for the Atari STe can be download from Atari-Forum.
 - I recorded a video of the new beta but it's best using a real computer. YouTube and emulation kill it!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

SantaFly

It's got to that time again where I search for something Christmassy and SantaFly by the awesome Reservoir Gods was the best choice this year. Regular readers will remember I have previously featured its sister game but don't get the two titles confused, even if they are basically the same idea! Yes, SantaFly is every bit as frustratingly addictive but with a peculiar and silly Christmassy theme. It's great fun and I advise you clickety click and download it.

Thank you to everyone who frequently stopped by throughout the year to read the articles about our favourite (and best) 16-bit computer. I hope every Atari ST nutter has a fantastic time and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas †

Luke 2:11
The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

ZX Spectrum


Artemis, by Ralf Hemsing is a Z80 / ZX Spectrum emulator. There are numerous configuration options for the technically minded but sticking with the defaults seem to work well. Her performance is more than acceptable but there sadly appears to be no support for colour. Which isn't too big a deal, who had a colour TV in their bedroom back in 1983 anyhow? ;o)  One game is included and it's a good one, Jetpac! Strangely, this isn't a snapshot but instead something I've not heard of before, a ".PRO" file. Can anyone please help me locate other games in this format?

Artemis comes with no docs, lacks colour and doesn't seem to like any computer faster than an Atari ST/e. But it's always great to discover "new" software and, whilst it might not come close to beating the Speccy emulator, it did run Jetpac far better than I imagined and it certainly offers great #geek appeal for my fellow ST nutters! Enjoy.

LINKS

 - Floppyshop has the download on disk "UTL-3025" which also features Speccy!
 - I recorded a video of Artemis running Jetpac and me playing the first level ;)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Unheart


Unheart is one such title I've been meaning to feature for far too long. It's actually quite new and was only released in 2014 at Silly Venture by Masters of Electric City. Based on the original PC game, Heartlight which happily mixes Sokoban with a dollop of Boulder Dash to produce a riveting and refreshing brain teasing challenge.

You are a dwarf who enjoys digging his way through caves looking for love hearts. Watch out for falling rocks that might block your path or a head-crushing blow. You might even come upon a bomb as you crawl through the soft soil but, be careful, because these will detonate when impacting something hard, like a wall or rock. Heck, there are even balloons that will float upwards potentially pushing whatever gets in their way...

Hitting the ESC key causes our dwarf to humorously explode so we can restart the level. Also featured is a level-skip function which allows us to bypass mind-destroying levels with the option of coming back to them later (yeah right). The graphics are simple yet superbly detailed with a gorgeous palette. The status bar displayed in overscan, which is always going to be a great thing for the obvious reasons. Now, the music is totally breathtaking and suits the game perfectly. But why aren't there more?

Boulder Dash fans should look elsewhere because this is a Sokoban game and a brilliant take on the idea too. The difficulty generally remains a constant throughout - high - with cunning map designs causing the most intense problems to overcome. Thankfully, with unlimited retries and the ability to skip troublesome levels, this is a game you will keep on coming back to. Unheart is a challenging and distinctively brilliant puzzler. One of the beST.

LINKS

 - A download is available from Demozoo which also links into Silly Venture and more!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Anduril


This should feel instantly familiar to those old enough to remember an old ZX Spectrum game called Kokotoni Wilf. Anduril is a high-resolution PD game by Markus Dheus from all the way back in 1986 and features a winged hero stuck inside a 2D world of object collecting. Like the Speccy game, this is a flick-screen platformer which contains many well-designed rooms for us to explore on our item collect journey. Unfortunately, unlike Kokotoni Wilf, our hero cannot walk nor even touch the landscape scenery as it results in an instant loss of a life!

Thankfully, he can put those wings to good use and manoeuvre in a similar fashion to a flappy bird. The controls are extremely simple: use the SHIFT key to fly with H + J turning you left or right. I imagine Anduril is beginning to sound rather easy? You couldn't be more wrong and anyone that loves a challenge will certainly get that here. The first couple of screens are easy but it isn't too long before the game's true sadistic nature is exposed. Most of the map is made up of incredibly tight spaces with which to guide our hero. If that wasn't tough enough, once gravity is factored in, Anduril soon becomes a distressing adventure for all but a calm and patient gamer. Indeed, very challenging.

   
The colourful ZX Spectrum version of Kokotoni Wilf vs Anduril and the crisp Atari ST monochrome mode.

The graphics are crisp and detailed but I sometimes notice odd collision detection, which often worked in my favour so I shouldn't complain! Sadly, sounds are almost void with only a low-volume spot effect for an item pickup. However, I can live with these quirks if the gameplay measures up and (after mastering its vicious learning curve) it definitely does. If you're willing to put in the time, Anduril is one seriously addictive game which I highly recommend.

LINKS

 - Clickety click to download Anduril from the AtariMania website.
 - No VGA or Hi-Res monitor? Don't worry just clickety-click right here for an easy fix.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Pung


Pung is an old Atari STe game which has been released after years of lurking in software purgatory. It's obviously based upon the 1972 classic and currently stands at v0.30 which means it suffers a few bugs that might lead to those infamous bombs across your screen. Just reset and keep on playing! I'm glad this got a release as we have enjoyed playing it over the weekend - it's different with a few neat ideas and I recommend you take a look.

LINKS

 - Demozoo website has a download with all the credits and more.
 - I nabbed the MOD music file off Demozoo and made a recording. Love it!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Potsworth & Co

Here we have a cute platformer released in 1992 by Hi-Tec Software which is based on an old Hanna-Barbera cartoon (which I'd never heard off until a sneaky google). Okay, so I've learned that Potsworth is a dog who happens to have a group of kiddy friends called The Midnight Patrol. Well, someone bad has stolen a sleep potion and conveniently placed the pieces within silly five worlds. It's now up to the kids to find these and return it to the Grand Dozer, whatever that is!!

This means we get to be each of these kiddy characters from the tv show. First up is a rather stroppy looking girl who's adventure oddly places her underground in a place that reminds me of Rick Dangerous. A wide range of baddies are aimlessly walking back and forth doing their best to make life troublesome but it appears our heroine only has to open her mouth to kill (most of) them.

There are also numerous puzzles to solve along the way but don't worry yourself too much because rocket scientists need not apply. They are simple and might require dropping a heavy block (or teddy bear!) onto a push-switch. These tasks add a spark of interest and offer a variety I thought was enjoyable. Each new level sees us change into a new character and I especially enjoyed the third where we are the dog in candy land. It's bursting with interesting mechanics, many awkward platforms to learn, and is overall positively interesting to explore. (displayed above)

The one thing which remains a constant throughout is the superb controls which are precise, responsive and never feel laggy. The visuals are also truly superb with fantastic locations, awesome sprites, and loads of colour with scrolling that is both fast and fluent. Audio is sadly the mirror opposite and appears to be nothing more than an afterthought with only a few spot effects and no background chiptune. The theme tune is even worse and should be skipped as quickly as is possible, just like in Alien World which is another humongous disaster of audio waste!

    

Potsworth and Co has great controls, huge levels and gorgeous graphics which all make for a fantastic experience. Each map is very different from the other with mechanics that help to keep the gameplay exciting and interesting. What I don't like are the limited number of lives and awkward with finicky jumps but it's the audio which disappointed me the most because it's mostly silent which is a shame on a computer with massive chiptune potential...

Overall, there might be the odd frustrating quirk but I still feel Potsworth & Co is one of the best platformers I've played on any computer and is a testament to the power of the Atari ST. Get ready for an incredible venture through immensely interesting worlds, I'm sure all platformer fans will love this hidden GEM as much as I have.

LINKS

 - Peter Putnik from 8BitChip is addicted to this game!! Download his hard drive adapted version.
 - Those who require the floppy disk version should check out Old Games Finder.
 - I recorded a youtube video a long time ago which features me struggling along on level one.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

MonoPack


MonoPack was released by Shrimp of NewCore and allows the Atari ST (w/ colour display) to run in high-resolution mode without the need for an Atari or VGA monitor. Yes, there are already lots of programs that already offer this function but I think this is better because it saves itself onto the boot sector of a floppy disk. This means it's fast to activate and also has the option to use the Blitter coprocessor for fast rendering. What an excellent utility!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters

Probably the best titled Atari ST game, ever!!! Not only that but it's an awesome game too and one I enjoyed featuring here about a year ago (how time flies). One of the most frantically enjoyable shooters I've played but check out the
a-m-a-z-i-n-g box art which is incredibly colourful, comical and certainly one which I'm proud to have in my collection!

LINKS

 - Clickety click to read our review of Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters.
 - It just wouldn't be AtariCrypt without an accompanying video recording of extreme gaming skill.
 - Both D-Bug and 8BitChip have a download if you can handle the requirements.
 - For those who require a floppy disk version then look no further than Old Games Finder.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Super Space Invaders


How could you possibly ever consider improving upon the all-time arcade classic Space Invaders? Well, you might try supersizing it which is exactly what Domark with the imaginatively titled Super Space Invaders. This is a conversion of the old favourite with an alternative array of next-gen invaders to quench our two-dimensional alien zapping thirst. They have twisted and moulded the original idea into something which looks and sounds very modern (for 1991) with lots of neat touches and a few stolen ideas.

From the very start, we're treated to a superb intro - which you should watch - it's one of the best I've seen since Race Drivin'. As in the original, each wave starts off slow and gradually speeds up with each kill but they're now presented as a group of levels, similar to Blasteroids or Stardust. The alien grunts are awesome and come in a wide variety of targets for our gun love - some will bloat after being shot, thus requiring extra effort for the kill. Don't expect the same attack formations, this time the aliens will use various methods with some breaking away - Galaxian style!

An easily-targeted mothership frequently passes by at the top of the screen and, once destroyed, she drops a handy power-up in true Arkanoid fashion. These come in all shapes and sizes and I love the laser which slices through the alien hoard like a hot knife through butter. I do admit to taking a predictable liking to the rapid-fire power-up, okay it's simple but it works perfectly. If Space Invaders ever had a flaw, then it's repetition and Super Space Invaders attempts to break that by also introducing bonus rounds - flying saucers are invading the rural countryside and abducting cattle, of all things. It's a pretty lame and I always end up losing most of my cows! Finally, groovy end of level bosses are on guard and in urgent need of a good hiding - I am especially impressed by the level three boss which I thought was beautifully animated (and not too difficult to kill).

Throughout, the graphics are generally excellent with nicely detailed invaders and I especially liked the huge insects and End Of Level bosses - brilliant examples of cool pixel art. Audio is great, from that incredible intro video to the game itself. However, I was a little disappointed not to hear the famous cannon sound effect... Musically, very interesting because I was immediately reminded me of Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters.

I think purists will probably turn up their nose in disgust at this abomination of stolen ideas. However, this is indeed a great game in its own right and is far more addictive than I first imagined. In fact, I liked this game so much that I went "out" (aka eBay) and bought myself a copy. What does that tell you? Don't answer that but know I love this game!

LINKS

 - I recorded a quick youtube video for y'all to laugh at. Erm, I mean to enjoy...
 - 8BitChip have a hard drive installable download with floppies found via Old Games Finder.
 - I stumbled upon this interesting thread on Atari-Forum about a long-lost hack (credit: dlfrsilver)
 - Update: here is a fantastic video recording by Kev @ Atari STaffroom.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

a real wallpaper!

Look at what came in the post today from Chris Swinson (aka Exxos). Designed by Darren Doyle for the release of AtariCrypt Magazine and today it's in print and on my bedroom wall like I'm 15 again! There are some ace ST folk in our community - thank you so much Chris. I'm wondering how long the wife will allow this to remain up...

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Collaboration One

The Atari ST/e demoscene has entertained us with some incredible demos over the decades and, predictably, these are often by the same incredibly talented people which made our jaws drop back in the 80s or 90s. Collaboration One is different, this is a new slideshow of fantastic pixel art created by a brand new demogroup, STatariART.

In fact, they only got together a few weeks ago with the notion to create a series of disks which will also be accompanied by chipmusic and a must-read lamer's scroller. That's right, it's been 30+ years since the Atari ST was launched and yet it still manages to inspire people and bring them together. Enjoy the STart of something great!

LINKS

 - Clickety click to download STatariART's first release, Collaboration One!
 - STatariART are on Demozoo which lists their members and lots more.
 - Would you like this on a real floppy disk? Then contact head honcho Forgotten Grove (free + p&p)
 - Press the green button below for the awesome Collaboration One theme tune, by JOSE.ANT

      

      

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

AtariCrypt Magazine!



Today, I am extremely proud to announce the availability of AtariCrypt Magazine. That's right folks, a brand new magazine STuffed to the brim full of 16-bit gaming goodness. It has been designed by none other than Darren Doyle and I'm sure you will appreciate his awesome, creative talent which promotes our reviews, interviews, etc.

So the joy of Christmas has come early for the Atari ST gamer! Best of all, this magazine is a free download to simply say a Mega ST thank you for supporting my humble website over recent years. I hope you all enjoy flicking through the world's newest Atari ST magazine and here's to more retro gaming in 2017 and beyond - Merry Christmas!

LINKS

 - Although the magazine is completely free there is the voluntary option to buy it via PayPal so just click & ask me :-)
 - Clickety Click and download AtariCrypt Magazine. Feel free to comment here and leave your feedback!
 - What? This isn't enough and you still want more?
          > How about a massive A1-sized poster for your bedroom!!
          > Power Without The Price.
          > View Darren Doyle's Atari ST magazines.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Zool


Zool was released in 1993 by one of the most acclaimed gaming companies, Gremlin Graphics and it's even one of the few titles to support the enhanced hardware lurking inside the Atari STe. It first appears like a Sonic clone and does indeed have many similarities but, Sonic it ain't. This disappointed some back in the day (like me) but I figured enough time had passed and I really should give this zippy insect another second chance...

Our little protagonist is a rather odd critter. A badly-disguised ninja ant (well, I think it is!) who is from the "Nth Dimension" and he can run, climb, leap and even perform a silly airborne pirouette. He's on a mission to travel six worlds and prove himself worthy of earning the black belt accolade he so richly desires. Each world is split into three segments of progressive difficulty and, of course, are littered with traps and countless baddies to constantly contend with. The first is "Sweet World" and could be a child's best-ever dream: an entire planet made of candy but is also stocked full of killer sweets, like wobbly jelly and a cute rapid-firing dolly mixture! The second is musically themed and features killer instruments like bongo drums and even some nice ones that play helpful musical notes. However, this is about as far as I've managed to get so I'm extremely grateful for a handy cheat mode which allows me to play on the later levels (and I must admit to being laughably impressed by the Meccano styles in tool world)

Collecting the items is the name of the game and, in Sweet World, that means candy. Look at the bottom/left of your screen which displays how many are still required with an arrow pointing you in the right direction. Thankfully, there are restart points from which to continue your adventure but it will never be easy when each level has such a cruel layout of traps and a huge number of baddies. Controls are absolutely superb - intuitive and very responsive with the option to use inertia, which I personally leave disabled. Keep banging on that fire button for a rapid firepower onslaught and if you tap it again (during a jump) then a pirouette manoeuvre is actioned which rapidly kills anything dumb enough to get in your way. Power-ups are also frequently available to help ease your hectic adventure like Two Zool - your very own doppelganger. Like all ninjas, Zool has an energy shield which can be replenished during play but it can survive only three hits before you're as dead as a dodo.

Don't forget to wear your sunglasses - this is one of the gaudiest games I have ever played and almost feels like they have utilised each and every colour. But, it works, and it works ever so beautifully with some of the most creative landscapes and sprites. In fact, the sprites are downright gorgeous and I love that purple dolly mixture. Atari STe users will be thrilled to witness more colours and everything scrolling along at an alarming 50fps. However, backgrounds are a boring compared to similar titles and there is a little slowdown during some busier scenes. Audio is bang on superb and they've done a great job with both the sound effects and optional chiptunes. It would have been nice to hear DMA effects, especially noticeable in world two with the oddly silent musical instruments.

Zool is sadly far from perfect with some frustrating mechanics that ultimately spoil what could have been a cracking game. For example, don't expect to whizz through, like our spiky hedgehog friend, because each world appears designed to contradict our Ninja's spritely abilities and it won't be long before you slam into something nasty, which is weird really...

There are too many deadly objects which are often offscreen and too easy to bump into but, ultimately, the constantly respawning baddies frustrated me the most. Whilst these definitely make for a busy adventurer they soon become a tiresome overkill. However, having said all this, I'm shocked to admit that I'm actually enjoying this imperfect platformer. It is certainly stuffed full of action but if you're hoping Zool is our Sonic, you will be disappointed.

Overall, a good platformer which is actually better than I remember. It should entertain you for several hours but I cannot recommend it unless you have an Atari STe. Now, for some peculiar reason, I feel an urge for Chupa Chups!!

LINKS

 - 8BitChip always has the best download for those with the storage hardware.
 - The guys from D-Bug are another than never disappoint and offer a great download.
 - For those stuck using floppy disks then Old Games Finder will ease your pain!
 - AtariMania not only feature Zool within their ST database website but also have the manual and code wheel!
 - My own video recording but Wasabim has an even better video showing off several levels.
 - To cheat simply type in PANDA on the main menu and you will see a flicker. During a game press:
          -> Spacebar 1 - will make you invincible.
          -> Spacebar 2 - to skip forward onto the next stage.
          -> Spacebar 3 - to skip forward onto the next world.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Wolfenstein 3D


I had an hour to spare before the boss was due home and I fancied a quick game of Wolfenstein 3D. Sadly, it didn't go as well as I'd hoped but, I must admit, it made for a funny video recording which made me laugh! ;^)