Thursday, October 20, 2016


Samuel, aka Zamuel_a of Pac-Mania and Giana Sisters fame, is currently working on a third title for our beloved Atari STe. It's based upon Metroid and he's been working on it, on and off, for a number of years. A demo was posted back in 2013 but sadly nothing since (a lifetime ago!)

I first had mixed feelings when I began playing it. Although it featured silky smooth horizontal it performed like Rick Dangerous, vertically. This disappointment soon passes after the initial play area and you soon enjoy smooth 50fps in every direction. Various functions are available such as running, jumping and firing your weapon. You can also access a control screen to check weapons, a map, and more but sadly there are no sound effects or enemies to kill. But please do remember this is a Work-In-Progress and, so far, is absolutely incredible!

The potential I see here and this gets me very excited and it could potentially be one of the best games we've seen. The controls are spot on and, what limited gameplay we have, feels perfect. The enhanced hardware is being used to maximum effect with lots more colour on-screen, the Blitter coprocessor will handle the sprites and hardware scrolling is used for, well, the scrolling. I can only assume stereo samples will also be included at some point with perhaps a funky chiptune playing in the background. Oh yeah, I'm a giddy kipper just thinking how superb this release will be!

Samuel is hoping other Atari STe techies will see his work and offer to help with the music, sound effects, enemy sprites and especially the level design creation. Please, contact him direct on the Atari-Forum website (links below). Okay guys, it's time to get downloading the early beta and have a play, but remember that it is a Work-In-Progress :-)


 - A download is available via Atari-Forum with Samuel's profile for correspondence.
 - Don't forget, he has converted Pac-Mania and Giana Sisters to the Atari STe!!
 - Click the four images below for cool pictures of your new "Metroid" world!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Circus back²STage

Circus back²STage demo for the Atari STe, by BlaBLa, Cocoon & Sector One.

With such unusual style, Circus back²STage is a truly fascinating demo for the Atari STe. It features a bucket load of crazy colourful effects, all displayed in overscan with the most wonderful chip music. Some find it far too clown-freaky but it's literally one of the best demos I have ever seen. Harddrive installable and downloads available via Demozoo.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Test Drive

Accolade's Test Drive was released in 1987 and is one of the many games I got free with my first Atari STFM. I have such fond memories of this during those early days but most folks think it should be locked away, somewhere dark, forever!

The game begins with an intro of a rich dude sitting in his Porche, he then winds down the window to display the cheesiest of cheesy grins before speeding off into the sunset. Now you get to see beautiful artwork drawings of all the various cars on offer, and I personally think the Corvette is the best of the bunch. Each model is displayed with lots of unnecessary stats and information for us to examine before beginning our journey into the hills.

Test Drive is a race against the clock with points awarded for faster times along a seemingly endless mountainside highway. Driven from an in-car perspective, you will note that each car has a realistically represented dashboard with manual gearbox controls that briefly display with each shift. I found the controls a little wooden at first, but I soon got the hang of them after a couple of races. A red dot on the wheel helps to pinpoint a more precise indication of your direction and is as helpful as it is crude but it nicely makes up for the lacking analogue controls. Beware, you're not on a race track, annoying civilians are out and they love head-on collisions! There are also cops so it's a good job that your car is fitted with a radar to signal when they are nearby. You then have a choice of being good or watching them disappear in your rearview mirror and I personally treat these moments as a green light opportunity to push the pedal to the metal, but that's just me! Now refuel at the gas station checkpoint before continuing on with your bullrun.

Many do yawn when they remember Test Drive and I can understand that because it does become visually repetitive driving along that same stretch of highway. It's also a little laborious and could do with more speed thrills, after all, we are supposed to be driving powerful muscle cars. However, Test Drive has some nice characteristics which I personally think are hilarious - like the badly drawn grey fella driving his truck (see above). How about the handless steering wheel or the slo-mo effect as your windscreen breaks up after a crash? It's almost worth slamming into an oncoming vehicle just to see that! The graphics are pretty nice considering their age and the dashboards are ace, with the Corvette being my favourite. Overall, an enjoyable drive without the rush of a thrilling speedster, more like a charming Sunday drive! However, I find myself having a soft spot for this cliffside racer and I don't know why...


 - 8BitChip have a hard drive installable version which I highly recommend!
 - Old Games Finder has the floppy disk images.
 - Test Drive is featured within the AtariMania ST database with cool scans too!
 - There have since been a few Test Drive games, I loved no.5 on my old Playstation...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Pole Position [updated]

Forgive me, I'm more than a few days late with this exciting news!

Jonathan Thomas has recently applied updates to his Work In Progress Atari STe game, Pole Position. With help from Peter Petera, he's managed to stabilise the flickering, then he added new graphics, and included DMA samples which have been ripped from the arcade machine. Stop what you're doing - go grab the latest version now! :-)

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Giana Sisters

The Great Giana Sisters was released in 1987 by Rainbow Arts and is a platformer with more than a hint of a famous game starring that silly Italian plumber.

The ST version played well but sadly suffered flip-screen scrolling which soon became tiresome and ultimately spoiled what should have been an excellent platformer. A lazy port, and I know the STFM could have done far better, evident when you play games like Viking Child, Ghosts 'N Goblins, and so many others.

Samuel, aka Zamuel_a of Pac-Mania fame, decided to take on the challenge and program a homebrew conversion and one which would take advantage of the Atari STe. It's more or less the same game but with major technical improvements, like the graphics that now slide along your monitor at a silky smooth framerate. Hardware scrolling is used for maximum effect to displays at 50fps with the Blitter coprocessor handling the sprites and to say the results are absolutely beautiful would be an extreme understatement!

If his hard work wasn't enough, we are spoiled further thanks to Peter Petera over at 8BitChip who has waved a magic wand to lower the RAM requirements so even 1Mb STe's can now play. He has also created two HAGA versions that can be installed to hard drive and feature streamed music using the DMA coprocessor. Incredible!

The only thing I'm left wondering is why it took me so long to feature Giana Sisters here at AtariCrypt because, yet again, he has created an improved game for the Atari STe which totally and utterly trounces over the original commercial release. Samuel has the commitment, immense talent and I hope he doesn't stop and continues on to develop many more enhanced conversions. Waste no more time and play the enhanced version right now!


 - Samuel's awesome handiwork is downloadable from off Atari-Forum.
 - Peter then took the project further with three new versions based upon Samuel's work.
 - What! You still don't believe how great Samuel's Atari STe version is? Then watch this [HD] video :-)

Friday, October 07, 2016

Anarcho Ride

I first featured Anarcho Ride about a year ago and a lot has changed since then to this homebrew smash n' crash racer. There has been expansion packs (BREXIT!!), bug fixes, lots of cool extras, DMA samples, and more. Today, we have another brand-new update (v1.04) that features bug fixes and eye candy enhancements like a new horizon. It sure is wonderful to see the Atari ST/e scene so alive and this is the best version yet - enjoy the road rage!!


 - A download of the new update is available from Thomas Ilg's website. Grab it now!
 - A video was recently released showing off Anarcho Ride v1.04
 - Thomas has his Atari portfolio listed on Demozoo.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

The Annihilator!

All the way back in early January, I featured a mini-review of Annihilator. This is a familiar retro shooter from Robert HC Leong, a much-respected name from the Atari ST homebrew scene. He has actually developed four games which were all released under the Budgie UK label and each title was a hit. All I have thoroughly enjoyed playing (links below).

To say I was surprised to find out Robert read my article -and- also follows AtariCrypt is an understatement! We often chat and it wasn't long before I threw a few questions his way...
I hope you guys enjoy this little interview and my thanks to Robert for being a great sport.

Hello Robert, please tell us a bit about the guy behind Annihilator.

I am originally from Malaysia. I moved to Ireland in 1980 to further my studies. I bought an Atari 520STFM in 1988 while in Ireland, after graduating. At that time, I had already owned a BBC Micro model A for a few years and was looking for a new home computer to upgrade to. I was impressed by the plethora of colours that the ST could produce, and the increase in speed and memory. I tried to program the ST in Fast BASIC initially, but that was way too slow, so it was a natural progression for me to move on to 68000 assembly language using HiSoft Devpac, especially since I was already familiar with 6502 assembly language from my time with the BBC Micro.

Tell us about the days when you made your 4 awesome games.

I have always enjoyed playing shoot-em-up games, so the first game I programmed was Space Invaders in 1989. I tried to keep the game as close to its original playability as possible, to include the sprites and even its logo colours. It made the cover of the December 1989 issue of Atari ST User magazine.

I then moved on to do a simplified, 2-player version of Missile Command just for the fun of it – it wasn’t anything spectacular. After that, I challenged myself to do a playable version of Pacman. Many home computer versions of Pacman at that time had very small sprites. I decided that, for the cuteness factor alone, the sprites needed to be larger, and the way to implement this was to do a vertically-scrolling screen to increase the size of the maze. I tried again to keep to the original version and came quite close. I was not good at producing music so Gary Wheaton, a fellow programmer and musician, was kind enough to provide the music for version 2 and it sold quite well.

Annihilator was my final game for the public domain / licenceware label. It was a Galaxians clone, but this time, I drew my own sprites and provided power-ups and end-of-level guardians to spruce up the game as it was the trend in shoot-em-up games at that time. After this, I started programming a horizontal scrolling shoot-em-up but I did not progress much further because of a lack of time; I was spending many weekends and nights on-call while pursuing my medical career. This was the simple reason why I did not have a chance to release any new games for the Atari ST after that. In addition, the Budgie UK Licenceware scheme ended in December 1994.

Which of your games is your favourite and why?

I had no clear favourites but, looking back, I thoroughly enjoyed programming and play-testing Pacman ST because in my mind it was a step above the other Pacman clones at that time with a gameplay approaching that of the original arcade version, and cute to boot!

All of your games were released through Budgie UK.
Did you rake in enough cash to buy a sports car!

Budgie UK Licenceware was a public domain label started by Camy Maertens in 1987, where a group of software programmers shared joint royalties on all the games sold. It was a fun concept, gave us some camaraderie, and made us some pocket change, but certainly not enough to buy an inexpensive car, let alone a sports car!

Will you boot up Devpac and get coding again?

Unfortunately, when I left Ireland for the US, where I am now based, I sold off and gave away all my Atari ST stuff! Hence, it is unlikely that I will ever code anything new for the ST again.

Do you retro game?

From time to time, I still reminisce about the good old days of the Atari ST, when I’ll try running an ST game or two on Steem, an excellent emulator on the PC. Of course, I still check Atari ST websites like AtariCrypt and Facebook.

What do you think of the ST world today?

I am frankly amazed, but pleasantly surprised, that the Atari ST scene is still so resilient, considering that the machine was discontinued in 1993, some 23 years ago! For me, the ST had always been an integral and fun bit of my life, so I hope the community lives on! However, the ST presence appears much greater in Europe, compared to the US, though there is still an active Atari club near me in Davis, California, but it tends to cater more to the 8-bit Atari consoles than to the ST. Check out: (I hope they change! -AtariCrypt)

What are your future plans?

I’m now based in the San Francisco bay area where I work as a consultant in the biotechnology industry. I remain interested in IT and programming, especially since Silicon Valley is just a short drive down the road for me. Facebook, eBay, LinkedIn, Google, Apple, Cisco, and Oracle are all around me. IT executives of all ages are driving their Teslas here. When driving around in Mountain View, I give a wide berth to the autonomous vehicles that Google is testing out here. Even Atari had its corporate headquarters here on Borregas Ave, Sunnyvale, but that closed down in 1996 ( I have visited the location once or twice to reminisce, and to imagine how it would have been here during Atari’s heydey…

- - - LINKS - - -
  1. Here is my Annihilator article which also features a cool video recording of extreme gaming talent! (Hmm)
  2. Take a look at this picture of Robert's Atari ST, yes the one he used for his coding magic back in the 90s!
  3. Robert's website which has an Atari ST section to compliment the PC (boo) stuff he's working on.
  4. He is also featured on the mighty Demozoo website.
  5. AtariMania lists his four games within their awesome ST database website.
  6. 8BitChip has adapted some of Robert's games for hard drive installation. Very handy!