Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Fractal Engine

    

Today, I booted up ST Format cover disk #42 which features The Fractal Engine by Daniel Grace and Mike Harris. After a couple of hours tinkering, I actually began creating some rather nice images with tripped-out effects and groovy colours. This program is incredibly easy to learn and it's not long before I was producing beautiful images with little effort. Oh no, does this mean I'm turning into a hippie? Anyhow, I hope you like my creations which were all calculated on my own Atari STe - except for one which I used XaoS on my Mac. Can you guess which?

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Quartet


Only this morning did ST Survivor ask for a video recording of Quartet, a game I've never played before. At first, I didn't like it and wondered how I was gonna break the news but, after a couple of games, I was enjoying this a bunch. Based on the original, by Photonstorm, we are to place quarter pieces of four faces into four slots of four separate areas! Only place these pieces into an unused slot and you'll soon be making silly faces with extra bonuses for a complete face. Watch the video and you'll see that it's quite simple but very addictive - so whaddya waiting for?

Friday, July 28, 2017

The New Retro Show


I love finding YouTube channels that feature great Atari ST games and The New Retro Show is one such place to get your fix. Mike has been addicted since he first got to play Dungeon Master and currently owns two machines, a Mega and a 1040 ST. Now, after was watching this video I came up with the idea for a challenge and suggested a few games which have all appeared on AtariCrypt: Chubby Gristle, Cybernoid, Zynaps, and other tough nuts!

Shockingly, he actually agreed to this challenge (Muwhahaha!!) and has released a part one (of two) video recording. So clickety click right here if you wanna see just how much he suffered (and he did!!). My thanks to Mike for taking on my challenge but I'm now looking forward to part two so don't chicken out on us, dude!! :-)

Monday, July 24, 2017

Whitewater Madness


Whitewater Madness was under development in 1989 by Scott Williamson and Ed Schneider for Atari themselves and designed specifically for their new Atari STe computer. Just imagine what would happen if you took the Toobin' idea and added a whole load of violence. Whitewater Madness would be the result, a vertically scrolling shooter which has us sailing a down a bizarre river through time using a small Pod in search of green energy cells.

Collect these to raise your Warp Energy levels to maximum capacity to travel further through time. If successful, we are presented with an information screen telling you just how good (or bad) we did before warping to the next level. However, if you failed to collect the required amount then you're sent back to the start again to do it all over again. The controls are superb and I love the directional method which works well for a fast and responsive guidance along this insane river raid. Picking up green "L" pills will re-charge the Pod and stop it from going BOOM but these are few, so try and collect as many as you possibly can.

Our dinky is equipped with a rapid firing mounted-gun and it's a good job too because we are under a constant onslaught of hazards and weird creatures. Try and avoid the many dangers such as rocky rapids, mines, artillery and other crazy stuff like kamikaze dinosaurs who love to leap from the shores! There are lots more which you can try and kill during the mayhem; cavemen, something that resembles a pterodactyl, a giant turtle, and centaurs. Love it!!

Scott tells me that the Blitter was used for the brisk scrolling which smoothly whizzes by and nicely keeps up with the hectic action. The sprites are small yet nicely detailed with one exception, those massive kamikaze dinosaurs who love to leap from the shores - superb!! The DMA coprocessor is used to play the sampled effects and is super-duper but I must admit to being disappointed with the (albeit nice) title tune which sounds "STFM" in quality...

Whitewater Madness has the hallmarks of a fantastic oldskool styled game and something I'd expect to see on the Atari 5200. That's a compliment because I love the frantic action which is perfectly balanced thus it's always great fun taking a trip down this crazy river raid. It's insane Atari didn't bother to release what is essentially a brilliant arcade adventure and retro gaming gold!!

LINKS

 - This download contains the official disk images kindly supplied by Scott himself (w/ source code)
 - I've recorded a silly video and only on the last part did I play it properly and then died lol typical...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Street Fighter II


The ST world constantly amazes me. Just when you think you've seen it all Street Fighter pops up and slaps you in the face!! Yep, I've never seen this before and no, I don't mean those terrible commercial games because this was developed for the Atari STe by none other than Patrice Mandin, a guy whom I'm grateful to for his Doom engine.

It features two-player support as Chun-Li and its engine makes use of the hardware scrolling, Blitter chip, and DMA for stereo sound effects. As you can see, it's playable but unfinished and will probably remain so, sadly. However, great progress has already been achieved and it sure makes you realise just what the Atari STe is capable of... but now I hate most commercial gaming companies even more for ignoring this amazing computer!

Even unfinished, it technically hammers the original conversions but that wasn't hard, right? I am shocked just how playable it is with smooth action and responsive controls, using both the joystick and keyboard. The source code is available and I'm shocked our community hasn't picked this up in over 20 years. The potential here is huge!!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Wowy by Tomchi


I have just listened to this amazing tune called Wowy, by Tomchi (played using JAM) and simply had to record it.
Kick off your weekend in style and Download this gorgeous chiptune right now for your Atari STe!! 🎧

Friday, July 21, 2017

Mystical


Being the Grand Wizard's novice magician, we are eager to learn the ropes but quick to make silly mistakes, like losing his precious scrolls and phials! Now we must travel parallel worlds and retrieve as many as possible, so have your trusty magic wand at the ready because this is going to be a unique adventure you're unlikely to forget.

In Mystical, everyone is out to get us and we will battle hoards of the strangest creatures - Buzzards, Sheppard's who throw sheep, faithless Monks, reptiles, farmers, annoying little girls, Vikings, walking trees, and so much more. These amazing characters are the best part of this tripped-out silly game and there is such a stunning variety too. However, the first boss is a disappointment and bit of a freak who rapidly throws cute babies, which is just pure evil.

The big man has granted permission to use the magic we find and the ability to cast the spells which provide a variety of unique ways to dispose of our foes. The ring of fire scorches anyone who dares to get too close. Another opens up the ground to swallow our victims, cages that trap those nearby, and there are so many more. Possibly the best of all is shouting "Boo" to shoo them off. Each spell activates straight away but, if you are quick, slap that Spacebar to stockpile it for later and use in combination with the Return key, quite a cumbersome design but it works. The level ends when you reach the pentagram where you must wait for the sphere to whisk you away onto the next level.

The visuals are gorgeous with smooth scrolling across detailed landscapes using a pleasing palette, I might add. However, it's the tremendous quality of all the characters which steal the limelight, never have I seen such beautiful sprites. Audio is a mixed bag with each sound effect made from individual samples to suit their visual counterparts when casting spells. I adore the "Bla Bla Bla", this reminds me of the speech in Donkey Island. Sadly, the title music isn't as good and I cannot see the point of low-quality sampled music over the option of a crisp chiptune...

As much as it may try to hide behind the storyline, this is simply a generic shoot 'em up albeit with lots of cool power-ups and fun humour. It's obvious a lot of time and effort went into Mystical's production as it oozes so much artistic quality. I really enjoy playing this and I'm sure everyone will love its unique personality, at least for a couple of hours.

LINKS

 - Mystical can be installed onto hard drive thanks to 8BitChip.
 - Stonish has a superb floppy disk by Zuul #177.
 - I was going to record a video but what's the point when Gears Of Games recorded this belter!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hard 'n' Heavy


Hard 'n' Heavy follows on from Great Giana Sisters in true sequel fashion to offer more Mario-like levels to run and jump through. However, the official release was a poor conversion with awful flip-scrolling so it was a rubbish game that is probably best forgotten. Please, a scrolling platformer needs to SCROLL!!

But that's where the bad history lesson ends and good news begins! Peter Putnik has developed an improved version that features smooth as silk scrolling because it has been designed to take advantage of each model of Atari ST. Hardware scrolling is used on the Atari STe and the Blitter within Mega STs (incl later STFMs). Even those really old STs without an empty Blitter socket are supported with a smooth scrolling, albeit with a 4MB Ram requirement.

Hard 'n' Heavy obviously looks and certainly feels like Giana Sisters revisited so if you didn't like that then you may as well look elsewhere right now. Walk and hop your way through 25 levels, shooting baddies and destroying blocks searching for the bonuses and access to hidden levels. Special weapons are activated using the spacebar and we even have an optional flamethrower, which I hate no matter how much I try to like it!! Also available is a two-player feature, with various game types, but I cannot comment more because I've no friends [sob].

Overall, this is superb and I'm sure any Giana fan will love what is basically more of the same with a few bells and whistles. Peter has done incredibly well and this is how the commercial game should have been - just make sure you play it on a real Atari. Now, I still prefer Giana Sisters but this is really enjoyable and highly recommended.

LINKS

 - The latest download is now available for all Atari ST/STe computers. Grab this cracker right now!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Things Not To Do


Electronic Images released one of the most hilarious Atari ST demos I have ever seen. I did try and record a video but my emulator missed some graphics and also the sine scroller (which is beautiful) was jerking like it had a nervous twitch. So I burned the image to a floppy disk and it was perfect - because nothing beats the real hardware!!

Download this utterly stupid demo from AtariMania then turn up the volume and enjoy the show.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sabre Team


I couldn't wait to add another into our new PixelArt group and today I have picked what I personally think is a corker. Sabre Team has such an awesome title screen that depicts a sinister SAS soldier emerging out of the darkness - ready to assassinate. I love its post-apocalyptic/Who Dares Wins feel and I think Phil Hackney did a superb job. However, the creepiest artwork belongs to the half-naked soldier statistics screen. I shall say no more... 🤣

Sabre Team is pure turn-based strategy and is an absolute GEM so a review is to follow very soon!

  
  

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Menace


Menace is a great shoot 'em up and one of the few Psygnosis games I like but what's up with that YELLOW ship? I've always hated it so began to wonder if it was possible to change it white... I contacted Atari ST wizard Peter Putnik and he later came back with a solution. As you can see, our spaceship has a brand new paint job! The caveat is the effect on the status panel which is due to their 16-colour palette layout... try not to lose sleep over that! Of course, the game itself remains exactly the same - but with a white ship. I must thank Peter for being gracious to take on this request and this version of Menace is the only one I will play.

LINKS

 - White Menace can be downloaded from 8BitChip and is also hard drive installable.
 - Menace first appeared on AtariCrypt back in early 2015 and you'll see the original yellow ship here.
 - Stonish has floppy disks of the original on various Menu CDs and Old Games Finder has Automation #46.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Reanimators #6


Reanimators #6 features a few simple effects with a superb chiptune (hmm, it sounds familiar). You know me, I love sine scrollers and this one is a belter and displayed using the full range of lovely rainbow colours. On the disk is Thunderstrike is an incredible 3D shoot 'em up with outstanding graphics - it feels like an early Cybermorph ;-)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

wave upon wave

There are so many amazing artists out there and I've always had a soft spot for the guys that make up the incredible YM Rockerz. So here is the wonderful compilation called "wave upon wave" which they released 17 years ago and features several tracks by their awesome musicians: 505, D-Force, Dma-Sc, Tao, Lotek Style and Milhouse.

It's impossible to pick a favourite, but I do love Shifter by Tao which you can listen to by clicking on the GEM green arrow. Check out the YM Rockerz website ... I think that I'm going to listen to "Seven" (again) later tonight :-)

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Atari ST demos


I've just been going through the latest uploads on Demozoo and there have been many incredible releases of demos, artwork and music from both the Outline and Sommarhack parties. I'm constantly blown away by what the DHS boys can produce: the video above is of Midnight Sun for the Atari STe which runs in complete overscan. WOW!!

YouTube is nice but nothing beats the experience of a real Atari computer... #JustSaying

  
  

Saturday, July 08, 2017

P-47 Thunderbolt


P-47 was released in 1988 by Firebird and is based on the popular Jaleco arcade game. There are several levels through a wide variety of landscapes so put on your Biggles outfit because you're about to reach for the skies.

Any great shoot 'em up needs decent scrolling, awesome controls and lots of enemies to kill which P-47 has by the bucket load. It's immediately obvious the teamwork that went into development has certainly paid off with a quality product: choose either a 50/60Hz display with smooth parallax scrolling, great graphics throughout and fast sprites that honour the original. Funky chipmusic plays alongside the pizazz sound effects, both of which are great.

The action is hectic as the planes whizz onto the screen with tanks blasting their artillery - they're just asking for a MOAB!! Other levels have us flying through sunset clouds, pyramids, and over the seas - I love the missiles which emerge from underwater. Strangely, the bosses are often easy to defeat by simply positioning yourself in a safe place and repeatedly dropping a payload of bombs. Each level varies but the concept always remains the same: fly, avoid, panic, and kill everything you can. Yes, this game is one incredibly fun arcade blast 'em up!!

Where P-47 fails is the frustratingly high difficulty because your screen will always be cluttered with many baddies and a collision is inevitable. Stick with it; collect the power-ups, learn the enemy's attack pattern and keep on firing - practice makes perfect!! Sure, this is imperfect but it's also one I really enjoy and a darn fine shoot 'em up.

LINKS

 - Stonish has the game on floppy disk and I recommend New Order #20 Menu CD.
 - Hard drive installable versions are available by both 8BitChip and D-Bug.
 - Enter "ZEBEDEE" into the high score. Press F1 for a level skip and press F2 for infinite lives. Have fun!!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Bold / Wiliness III

I recently came upon an unreleased shoot 'em up called Bold, by Laurent Kermel. I instantly loved it but then did something most guys don't normally do - I read the documentation!! This listed his website - which still worked - and that also linked through to an Atari ST section which detailed lots of other unfinished games. Just look at these pictures of Slug, Dragoon Twins, Tenesis, and Empire. Wow, impressive STuff I'm sure you will agree? O_o

     

     

So I contacted Laurent to thank him for Bold and another game which I've just nabbed off his website - a Dungeon Master clone called Wiliness 3. I've only just started to playtest this but boy is it a cracker. Laurent is a really nice guy who I enjoyed talking with and I urgently suggest you play Bold and Wiliness 3 today!!

LINKS

 - Take a look at the Atari ST section of his current website along with his superb YouTube video.


- B O L D -


Bold is a fantastic, albeit unfinished, shoot 'em up for the Atari ST/e which is influenced by a number of games. I personally see a cross between Zynaps or R-Type with very fast and frantic gameplay. Every enemy zooms onto the screen like they're on steroids so quick reactions are the order of the day. I love the graphics but it's a shame there's a large part of the screen unused - probably meant for a logo/status panel. Bold isn't controlled using a joystick but instead the mouse and, I admit that the thought of this failed to impress me, but I soon changed my mind after the first game because it's actually the perfect method necessary for sharp manoeuvrability.

Any model of ST is compatible but Bold runs better (and smoother) if you have a Blitter chip. Of course, all Atari STe computers are fine but others may need to shop with exxos to fill that empty socket inside their STFM. Sadly, those really old pre-1987 STs might not even have a socket to fill so I imagine an extra cost?

Although unfinished, this is furiously good fun with precise control via the mouse. Overall, a thrilling shooter!!

LINKS

 - The Bold web page has the download and a nifty walkthrough of each level.
 - I made a video but I hate YouTube so advise you don't watch and instead PLAY the game :-)
 - A cheat code is mentioned in the interview with Laurent within Alive Magazine #09.
 - Chris Swinson, aka Exxos, sells Blitter chips but I've now exhausted my hardware knowledge...


- W I L I N E S S  III -



Laurent also developed a Dungeon Master clone called Wiliness 3 which is shockingly professional and certainly on par with the FTL classic and another favourite of mine, Walls Of Illusion. The RPG experience is amazing with a familiar user interface as we crawl through another creepy dungeon. It's unfinished but 6 levels are playable and I really enjoyed the control system and those eerie sound effects. Wiliness had the potential to be a winner...

LINKS

 - The Wiliness web page has the download and a BUCKET load of help and information!!
 - Finally, check out Walls Of Illusion and the newly updated Dungeon Master games for the Atari STe.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Bootblock


There are so many different boot sector programs that add cool fx onto floppy disks. This helps prevent virus infections and many are technically amazing! Here is one I absolutely love: Bootblock by The Fingerbobs which offers a number of different programs. What you see above is the Bladerunners and you can Clickety click here to see another called Parallax Stars. Oh, how I love finding awesome programs like this!!

Monday, July 03, 2017

Flappy Bird


I always said I wouldn't... but today I have... Yes, I've loaded up FLAPPY BIRD, probably the most annoying game ever released!!! Well, I played this for about 30+ mins and got nowhere so I'm confused and don't understand why people like this frustrating game. Although I must admit, the Atari ST has a superb conversion that runs at an ultra smooth 50/60fps. If this is your cuppa tea, then clickety click to download but I advise either SuperFly or SantaFly.

The animation is just a clipping of the hell I went through - I hope y'all have a giggle ;)

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Mudpies


The circus came to town but it was boring and not nearly as good as Arnold thought so he threw a mud pie at one of the clowns. Unfortunately, clowns aren't known for having a good sense of humour and started chasing him so there is only one thing left to do... No, we aren't running off to tell Mum, we're gonna throw even more mud pies!!

Each screen represents a tent from the circus with an invading army of clowns who look more like jelly monsters dressed up as Ronald McDonald! They're insane and wander frantically waving their arms and chucking juggling pins. This invasion will last forever but the pies won't so look for the open door to another tent full of a fresh stock - and many more clowns. Throwing a mud pie will see them flying off the screen and multiple hits score you extra points. Try not to get yourself trapped in a corner otherwise, you might receive a juggling pin knockout blow!

Challenge rooms are a little different to the standard tents because they have no mud pies but lots of clowns to avoid whilst you try to pick up a prize worth 1000 points. Also, every 20,000 points, a secret door will magically appear for the chance to enter into a Mudslinging Round where you have 30 seconds to slap mud pies into wandering clowns.

Don't clown about too much and get yourself hit. If you do, two medics appear with a stretcher and carry you off to the first aid tent. Only three times can this happen before it's game over but a freebie visit is awarded for every 10,000 points scored. A health meter is displayed top/left of the screen and is split into three segments with the middle one enabling you to run very fast. However, this speed is reduced if you become too hungry or if you've over-faced on burgers and fries. So try to keep your health a nice happy medium throughout for maximum agility.

Graphically, this isn't exactly stressing our Atari ST in the slightest. But remember that is was developed and released back in 1985 before programmers and artists knew how to push the best 16-Bit computer. Having said that, it's got a certain Charley Chuck charm to it and, being a gamer since the early 1980s, I kinda love its retro look if I'm brutally honest. Spot sound effects are okay but it is best to leave the music on. Again, this isn't anything near the quality we would expect but it's surprisingly enjoyable. I swear, I love how this game sounds and looks.

Mudpies is terribly good fun with a simple yet frantic gameplay which takes me back to my 8Bit days. There isn't a lot to this but I've had so much fun slinging mud pies at clowns. An incredibly entertaining old skool game and I love it!

LINKS

 - The Biker #14 is a great floppy disk thanks to Stonish.
 - Mudpies can be installed to hard drive and even comes with a trainer from 8BitChip.
 - AtariMania lists this in their ST database with a fantastic video to watch.
 - I've recorded what is almost a "longplay" video and achieved my highest score!! :-)