Sunday, May 28, 2017

Spellfire The Sorcerer


Spellfire is a scrolling platformer set in a time long ago. A time of myth and legend when silly knights frantically patrolled the woodlands, gorillas enjoyed throwing rocks, and magicians were the cool guys. Our beef is with an evil emperor who is holding captive (wait for it) Fifi The Fairy in his castle tower and our valiant quest is to rescue her.

He begins his journey in the forest which leads to the castle where she is imprisoned and this is a great start that nicely introduces you to the gameplay mechanics. Our hero can walk, leap, climb trees, shoot fire-bolts and even mash up magic spells using a rather large cauldron. Your health status is displayed at the top of the screen and will decrease if you happen to touch the enemies or a dangerous object. Gold coins can be collected (after a kill) and these are then used as currency in a cauldron, which offers magical power-ups, extra ammo, or a health boost.

  

The only chance you have to rescue Fifi is by collecting all ten magic eyes which will allow you to fight off a guardian boss. The first is a wasp-like critter who isn't exactly intelligent and therefore makes for an easy kill. This grants us access to the castle via the dungeons which are creepy but the guardian is a bit of a bonehead. This castle takes us deeper into our quest but continuing with the same theme, with lots more tricks and traps to fool you.

Spellfire has some truly stunning visuals and I love the medieval environments with their nice touches: the colourful sky, erupting volcanos, and those awesome skeletons being raised from the dead. The sprites have such good attention to detail and complemented by smooth scrolling that never lags to keep up with the pace of the gameplay. Audio is almost as impressive and can set to chipmusic or sound effects. Whatever you decide, you'll love it.

  

I'm grateful this isn't a lazy Amiga port and one which plays every bit as good as it looks. Code Masters released what I can only describe as a hidden gem that's easy to pick up and play and is a great platformer. Go and grab yourself a copy right now: hard disk installable game is available from 8BitChip with floppies found via Stonish.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Kult


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... No, wait, wrong game!! Okay, let me start again, many moons ago a good friend of mine [Tom!] surprised me with a gift sent all the way from the land of the Vikings. Inside was a beautifully preserved -sealed- copy of Kult, something I had never played before in my life. He was adamant that this was a true 16-bit classic and I remember it receiving good reviews, with Atari ST User scoring it a perfect ten. Wow!!

You are Raven, a psionic mutant, who saw a bunch of other mutants destroy a village and now want to fight back! That's the gist of this story for what is a most confusing adventure with lots of cunning puzzles to solve. Kult is a game like no other I have ever played and has an enormous learning curve to learn, especially the user interface. Graphics are beautifully drawn in a creepy cool way and all sound effects are samples, love the speech effects!

Okay, let's play...
[updated Saturday, May 27th]
I've been getting to grips with this game today but the hard drive version fails to work for me (I think it's my SD Card) so I went for the floppy version, linked below, by Zuul and this worked perfectly. Well, after a couple of hours, I am blown away by this incredible and captivating game. The user interface might first appear confusing and quite laboured but in fact, it's actually anything but because navigation is a breeze. I also love how the rooms are titled, which certainly helps me a bunch!

I'm currently getting to grips with the locations and examining everything I see in the rooms. Objects are often tripped-out and plain silly - I've just polished the eyeballs on a fountain to get it working, why I'm not exactly sure yet but I've done it. I have also chatted to some strange looking fellas, so I followed them and used the attack function. Won this battle but then his friends ate the corpse!

I laughably love using the brain to select various instructions, such as inspect, attack, and talk. What a strange yet oddly obvious way to make decisions!! I've also learned not to trust people, I walked into a dark room and somebody told me to follow them. Stupid that I am, I did just that and promptly fell through a trap into a water-filled pit. Here, I was eaten alive by some kind of monster! Great...

This game is so different to anything I've played before. I love how its storyline is deep and involving but never overwelming. I feel that I've only just scratched the surface of what will be a unique experience!
LINKS

 - 8BitChip has created a version to be installed on your hard disk.
 - Various floppy disks feature Kult and I recommend Zuul #195 via Stonish.
 - Wasabim has recorded a brilliant youtube video.
 - Atari ST User scored Kult 10/10 - wow!! [AtariMania]
 - There are lots more of my Atari ST box art right here on AtariCrypt :*)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Guardian Angel


Freddy Hardest is our Guardian Angel for Dinamic's scrolling beat 'em up in the Big Apple, which actually ain't too dissimilar to After The War. Manhattan always seems to be the perfect setting of a grim future for crime and violent gangs and we begin our Death Wish at the docks. From here, we are assaulted by waves of 80s-styled thugs and some have brought along their toys, like baseball bats and knives. Where's Charles Bronson when you need him?

Moving left or right walks us through the crime infested city and the fire button performs a punch, which is best for the weaker Sailors. Pulling down actions a kick for stomping on rats but offers little benefit against the tough dudes! Finally, pushing up will unleash the fury of your infamous high kick, your only powerful move. The difficulty is quite high and made worse because directional jumps aren't possible to get you out of any sticky situations. Interestingly, your energy will automatically replenish itself, well, if you get the chance to stand still for a few moments...

This is a game which doesn't take itself too seriously and will have you laughing at its many silly antics. I love how the baddies turn into zapped skeletons for a split second after killing them, like an old Tom And Jerry cartoon. Watch out for "Death Star", a forklift trucker called Ricky Chang who is probably the worlds worst driver. However, my favourite of all is being kicked out of your cute yellow boots when suffering that final deathblow. Classic!!

The gameplay window is quite small with much of the screen being -mostly- pointless decor but I do like the detailed backgrounds, even if they're far too colourful for a bleak city scene! Sprites are large and well-detailed but the animations aren't the best. However, there are some cool effects and the Ricky Chang scene will always make me laugh! Each in-game sound effect is made from excellent meaty samples with the chainsaw guy being my favourite. Do take a few moments to experience the theme music, which is so bad it's worth listening too.

Guardian Angel sure has some good qualities; a bucket load of humour matched by the responsive controls and superb sprites and sound effects. Sadly, it's simply too hard and only having the one powerful attack movement spoils any long term gameplay potential. However, I did enjoy playing this with a trainer enabled. That's a bad thing, right?

LINKS

 - Medway Boys #85 features Guardian Angel on their Menu CD, thanks to Stonish.
 - Old Games Finder has lots of other floppy disks available to download.
 - Freddy (and his large jaw) appear numerous times in the AtariMania ST database.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Fuzion #185


Fuzion #185 is a cool intro which gave us Ork, by Psygnosis. I love this intro because it presents itself particularly well with lots of colour and an adaptation of one of the most memorable chiptunes ever created. It also makes use of the Atari STe hardware for even better results, but happily works on either machine just fine.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Kid GP


This is the third Dave Munsie game to be featured on AtariCrypt but it's one I'd never heard of - until today. The idea is to frantically run around each screen avoiding the baddies and collecting all of the diamonds. It's pretty much a mash of ideas from numerous games with our main character shamefully ripped from the island of rainbows. Originally, aimed at the younger audience but I have found it incredibly fun so there's hope for all of us...

Collecting diamonds may sound easy but we have a variety of whacky creatures zipping about the screens. Each one will love getting in your way with some looking to give a good chase. However, bump into one and a life is lost so it's a good job we can use a hammer to smack these blighters and send 'em packing. The game rewards this vicious act with lots of bonus fruits before respawning them at the top of the screen. Magic mushroom power-ups are available for a range of cool effects that may give you a boost or alter your visibility. A bonus timer is counting down and, if you manage to finish with time remaining, then you can build up points by grabbing lots of the goodies.

   

Graphically, it's quite pretty and the sprites are gorgeous but those big-eyed blue faces will always make me smile - especially after I've clubbed them! Sound effects are great but a background tune would also have been nice. The controls are perfect and always responsive, I loved the ability to have two jumping options but the hammer only works horizontally. Interestingly, you can flip between 50/60Hz and also three game speeds, at any time.

Kid GP offers an exhilarating experience for such a humble 8bit idea. Manically running around, collecting lots of diamonds and avoiding the silly nasties is surprisingly challenging. Dave Munsie may have intended this game for kids (my 7yr appreciates that) but there is no denying the effect it had on this big kid. Fantastic game!!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

EasyAraMiNT


Aranym is a fantastic (and free) piece of software that enables us to create a powerful Atari computer capable of running our favourite GEM software - at lightning speeds. However, many find Aranym too fiddly to set up, so a chap called Philippe Noble started some interesting projects, one being EaseAraMiNT. This is a ready-to-go installation based on EasyMint 1.18 and offers an incredible multitasking environment using the power of the host computer.

As you can see in my expertly recorded video, I am using an old Mac Mini which was recently given to me (thanks Mum!). I used SCP to transfer a file from my Mac onto this spanky new virtual Atari. Next, I opened a few pictures, a PDF, and then played some tunes before finally finishing off with a little Doom before browsing the web!

This system can be installed in minutes and comes stacked with a raft of Atari software with the potential to put your own stamp on an already excellent setup. Philippe has done an outstanding job and created a platform which is simply wonderful to work with and I highly recommend you should take EasyAraMiNT for a test drive.

INSTALLATION

 1) Firstly grab yourself a copy of Aranym (which also links to alternative options like AFROS and Xa-My-AES)
 2) Now download EasyAraMint and - STOP - because it's time to read the docs!
 3) Optionally, you can take a look at EasyAraMint's config file and can edit to allow network access and other options, such as running fullscreen rather than windowed, networking, and lots more.
 4) Philipp's other projects include a TOS 4.04 setup and the newest kid on the block - BeeKey!

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Jug


Jug is a scrolling shoot 'em up released by one of my favourite companies, Microdeal. Set in the distant future, we are tasked to save Spiraeus, a living planet, suffering a nasty tumour, which we urgently need to eliminate. However, the autoimmune system sees you as a threat and decides to unleash its defences intent on your demise! Great...

Programmed by Paul Hunter, of Armour-Geddon fame, it's obvious this isn't a lazy conversion and certainly pushes our old STFM to the limit. Playing Jug is a strange and frantic affair, it combines elements from various other games: Blood Money, Custodian, Droid, and Return To Genesis.Your ship moves left or right but also has the ability to fly. However, this is affected by gravity, similar to Alien World, and also requires fuel top-ups. The controls work well but movements are a little slow thus making it difficult avoiding the nasties without losing precious energy.

The action is relentless with lots of baddies constantly zipping across your screen in various attack waves. However, they aren't the brightest characters and seem to blindly move and shoot with little AI to offer us a legit challenge - it's almost like they aren't even aware of our presence... Weaponry is an upgradeable mixed-bag with the plasma gun mounted far too low to be fully effective but temporarily replacing this with a laser cannon is lots of fun.

The best thing about Jug isn't its humorous name (based on our barrel-chested assets) but the visuals which are utterly gorgeous boasting ultra smooth parallax scrolling, a cool metallic palette, and lots of sprites. Martin Kenwright has done another amazing job and you should use a real Atari ST to fully appreciate the graphics breeze across your screen. Theme music is a masterpiece, by Paul Shields. So leave the main menu be to enjoy the incredible chiptune! In comparison, the in-game sound effects are totally overshadowed, but they do their job good enough.

Jug has the ingredients to be a brilliant shoot 'em up but incorporates some weird mechanics that hogged my desire to continue playing. I would recommend any of the above-mentioned games along with Uridium, Cybernoid, or Sideways!! Hmm, I'm still on the fence with this one, it's quality but has also left me with mixed feelings...

LINKS

 - The video recording above is of my 7-year old daughter playing. She wasn't impressed and found it boring!
 - 8BitChip have a version that can be installed to your hard drive!
 - Flame Of Finland #67 features a floppy disk available via the Stonish website.
 - The World's Picture Collection #53 (!) also has Jug on floppy, again thanks to Stonish.
 - Untested by me, but here is an infinite energy / extra lives cheat: press and hold down the ESC key on the title screen and use the mouse to click on the right-hand edge of the picture. This should help the game - enjoy!!

Friday, May 05, 2017

Chicago 90

It's been a while since I posted one of my games for our Box Art group so let's remedy that with Chicago 90. Released by Microids back in 1988, it has superb cover art which portrays an exaggerated car chase scene so perfectly. I originally reviewed this last summer and, although I found it far from perfect, I still had tremendous fun and enjoyed playing it (still do). This is a fantastic example of cool Atari ST box art (even though the loading screen has a different car!). I feel it's like an early version of Driver and I highly recommended you play Chicago 90!!

LINKS

 - 8bitchip have a fantastic hard drive installable version to download.
 - If you instead require the floppy disk image then take a look at Old Games Finder.