Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Frontier - Elite II

After a worrying delay, Frontier Elite II was finally released back in early 1994 by Gametek and was unlike most other games due to its sheer size.

A whole universe of countless stars to explore which basically meant many long gaming nights are ahead (well, over the decades and through to the present day!)

Commander Jameson has sadly left this realm and you came along just in the nick time to reap the benefits of his will reading. Being his favourite grandson, he left you 100 credits with strict instructions to stay clear of Vegas. He also left you his pride and joy, an Eagle Long Range Fighter - so be careful and don't scratch it. You now have the means and opportunity to explore the heavens so jump into your shiny new spaceship and begin the journey of your lifetime!

After watching the awesome intro, various menu options are available to begin your first adventure and I advice selecting Option 1 which places you safely in the Ross 154 System. Or more precisely, at the Sirocco star port on the planet Merlin. You have 100 credits and a rather funky piece of 3D called your space ship so starting at Sirocco is a great place to learn the ropes of the GUI and basic trading skills along with brushing up on your piloting skills.

Frontier is an open world (space!) sandbox game which doesn't restrict you in any traditional sense because you are free to travel almost anywhere and do almost anything you like. However, even gaming folklore doesn't come free and this style of living costs money so use the space ship to provide yourself a good living by means of contracting and trading goods. Everyone needs something, so this is where you come in to make your hard earned cash!

Frontier's universe has two major factions, and this is the Trekkie part, for me. Firstly, we have the Federation who are based in the Sol system and then we have The Empire which are based in the Achenar system. Both offer a haven to live and trade but aren't exactly the best of friends and, outside the safety of their space, you chance a greater risk of running into pirates. Dog fights with these are probably the most difficult part of the game to master. Gone are the arcade style controls in favour of realistic Newtonian physics that effect the control of your space craft. Momentum first needs to be compensated in order for you to slow down, stop and change a direction. Perhaps now I should advice saving your game at regular intervals? Learn the physics because the pirates are tough cookies!

Ultimately, Frontier is about living a lucrative and adventurous lifestyle by means of trade across the heavens. Use your galactic map to explore a 3D perspective of creation and plan your first route, dig for information to find out what they need, buy in bulk and begin your journey (there is nothing quite like making your first hyperspace jump - very exciting!)

This will automatically end once you are within the vicinity of your destination, but the distance to your destination is still huge, so don't forget to use the Stardreamer buttons to pass the time quicker! Auto-docking is (finally) supported so once you're boarded get the goods sold and reap the profit. Before you begin looking for another trade route, remember to refuel your ship, otherwise you won't be able to make another hyper-space jump! After earning lots of money, you might want to consider checking out the Bulletin Board where you can upgrade your ship or search for extra jobs like transporting passengers, help finding a missing person, mining, military work or information. Heck, there is even a black market for those without a conscience, where you can trade slaves, weapons, narcotics or even be an assassin. However, this dark lifestyle will definitely take you into dangerous waters and will almost certainly attract the attention of the law. Are you ready for that heat, bad boy?

Frontier is one heck of a game and one with immense potential and I'm hoping this feature will regenerate your interest to restart playing? Frontier is all about progression and making the right choices to build up your own little empire. Do not expect to jump into the pilots seat and see the entire universe in one sitting, this will take time, money and commitment. Oh and several months of your life because Frontier is quite literally one of the best games, ever.

LINKS

 - AtariMania has this life-sucker within their ST database which includes scans of the manual.
 - Yikes Station have a web page of the Frontier manual.
 - Here are many YouTube videos by JimPlaysGames and they offer invaluable advice for new players!
 - Fancy a gander at the Frontier universe?
 - I've put this off for sometime but I am considering buying Elite Dangerous for my Apple Mac. Any thoughts?
 - I've been talking with Marko @AtariMania and between us we cannot decide if Frontier was released at the latter end of 1993 or the first weeks of 1994. Research is conflicting... I personally remember buying it early 1994.

AtariCrypt box art?



Over the last few months, I have been taking pictures of my own games and featuring the best box art right here on AtariCrypt however, yesterday I got quite a shock. Look at what a friend of mine as created using my Twitter avatar.
There sure are awesome people out there in Atari ST land. Thank you Luis Ortiz for this - love it!! :D

Monday, August 22, 2016

Game Vids!

You know guys, whilst supping on my morning cuppa joe, it occurred to me that there are some awesome YouTube channels out there in Atari ST land. I think everyone knows two superb guys, Kev and Marc, who are the brains behind the STaffroom and Joy Of Sticks. Well, there are even more who regularly post lots of Atari ST gaming videos. Take a gander at Wasabim, Flashback GamerTrusteft, Atari Greenlog, Atari FitnessAtari ST Arcade and Village Monk which I personally think produce some of the most fantaSTic videos. Also (if you scroll down) on the right-hand side of my website is a longer list of channels who all feature Atari ST content. All are worth checking out, folks.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Hector vs The Mutant Vampire Tomatoes From Hell


If there was ever a rival to probably the best titled Atari ST game, this is it. Hector vs The Mutant Vampire Tomatoes From Hell was released in 1993 by Pete Whitby and is a platformer with a fascinating retro gaming familiarity. It involves you, with your trusty spade, burying evil vampire tomatoes in the holes you've just dug out. Once those daft tomatoes fall in, don't panic, all you gotta do is bury the suckers and this is the fun part of any bonka bashing!

The graphics and sounds are homebrew, and so very cool, I really do love both. Like a colourful Spectrum platformer with great sound effects. What I must rave about are the controls, which are spot-on perfect and I cannot stress this highly enough. Our little spade digger has perfect controls, without ever feeling wooden or awkward.

What an absolute joy to play with these monsters in hell. Today, I personally plan to spend lots of time digging holes and squishing tomatoes. I say Hector presents a fantaSTic challenge and is tons of fun - what a brilliant game.

LINKS

 - Watch the YouTube video by Wasabim which shows just how the game progresses through several levels and it also has an amazing intro - both the game itself (beautiful chiptune) and also the video intro. Which is incredible!
 - Stonish is literally the best website for Menu CDs and Hector appears on Adrenalin #12
 - Old Games Finder also has a list of downloads and its worth noting that Hector can be installed onto hard drive :-)
 - Pete Whitby is featured on Demozoo and has made another game which might be familiar to the older gamer!
 - Update: Hector is now listed within the AtariMania database and includes the documentation!
 - Did you get my very subtle retro game references above? ;-)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Knight Lore


AtariCrypt is all about the Atari ST/e computers but today I'm going to make an exception and instead concentrate on Atari's 32-bit wonder, the mighty Falcon. As you can see in the picture above, the classic ZX Spectrum game KNIGHT LORE is available for Atari's flagship computer and appears to be fully playable and also pretty darn ace!

I find it rather depressing that I didn't know about this, prior to a message from Janez Valant (Swe of YesCREW) who kindly sent me a copy. Sadly, there are no docs but Knight Lore seems to play great but I'm gutted it isn't for the ST...
The screenshot was taken from within Hatari. Of course, I would love a real Atari Falcon computer so if someone is willing to donate to AtariCrypt then please let me know. (come on, I gotta try!)

LINKS

 - I'm sure all you lucky Falcon owners wanna download Knight Lore right now? Enjoy!! :-)
 - Issue #02 of Alive magazine has a feature (download and web link) (credit: Peter Petera for this info)
 - AtariMania are the best and now have this listed within their awesome database.
 - Wikipedia has a Knight Lore webpage for those that weren't here back in 1984!
 - The World of Spectrum website has lots of juicy content and more.
 - Swe's portfolio of talent is listed and downloadable from off the awesome Demozoo website.
 - Of course, YesCREW also have a piece of the Demozoo pie (GemPLAY is just awesome!!)
 - If, like me, you have no Atari Falcon then take a gander at the Hatari emulator.

Friday, August 19, 2016

What's wrong with this picture?


Okay, don't loose too much sleep over this screenshot because it only happened in emulation and my real Atari computer wasn't so easily fooled by this technique of using overscan to grab extra desktop pixels.

I've been playing with various GEM desktop expanders and soon realised there are a number of interesting programs out there. This often involved interlace, virtual resolutions and even overscan. As for interlace, I would first advice flipping into 60Hz but it's hardly ever an ideal experience. Virtual resolutions work great and are best on the Atari STe due to the hardware scrolling. However, it was the option of using overscan which sparked my curiosity and this involved removing the lower border. I had some issues on my 16MHz Mega STE (minor flicker during disk accessing) but the standard 8Mhz Atari STe performed perfectly and was very stable (sorry, I've not tested on the STfm).

I've bundled together all of the programs I have found into a single download for y'all. I figured this topic may be of interest to some of you ST nutters out their? (BigScreen, DBL2STE, DBL2ST, Remove, MonSTEr, NoBorder, Big-Y).

Give 'em all a try and please let me know how you get on... Feedback, folks! Come on :p

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Magic Boy

You are little Hewlett, a young boy with a magic wand who accidentally turned the animals into monsters! So its your job to restore everything back to normal which means travelling four extremely beautiful levels to tag and bag all the little nasties before its too late!

Magic Boy is a platformer released late in 1993 by Empire and, in some ways, has always reminded me of Rainbow Island with its colourful and cutesy theme.

Gorgeous bright, radiant graphics with so many comical characters and ultra smooth vertical scrolling which is accompanied by perfect, fun-themed high quality music with some sweet sound effects (all of which are best experienced when played on an Atari STe). Magic Boy is most definitely one of the sexiest Atari ST games ever!

There are four massive worlds to explore (Sand Land, Wet World, Plastic Place, Future Zone) with each offering eight levels. These start off relatively easy before introducing you to lots of cunning tricks and traps to keep you on your toes and coming back for more. You know folks, this game is so easy to pick up and play - shoot the critters to send 'em packing whilst collecting the usual power ups along the way and that's about it. The concept isn't exactly bewildering but instead, we have a fun and entertaining platformer with such glamorous aesthetics to boot. If you enjoy platformers then make time to play Magic Boy - it's one of my favourite Atari ST games and I absolutely love it.

LINKS

 - It's that time of your day to witness some awesome gaming skills and to watch me play Magic Boy!
 - AtariMania have almost every Atari ST game in their database and here is Hewlett's entry.
 - 8BitChip never fail to impress and once again have adapted this game for hard drive installation.
 - The mighty D-Bug have also patched Magic Boy to run from hard drive.
 - If you instead need a floppy disk image then Old Games Finder is for you!
 - Fancy a few sneaky cheats to get you onto those later levels? Yeah, of course you do so when you are about to start a new game, first simply press and hold down one of these combinations to choose your level:
     -> Sand Land (part 1) -     S + 1
     -> Sand Land (part 2) -     S + 2
     -> Future Zone (part 1) -   F + 1
     -> Future Zone (part 2) -   F + 2
     -> Plastic Place (part 1) - P + 1
     -> Plastic Place (part 2) - P + 2
     -> Wet World (part 1) -     W + 1
     -> Wet World (part 2) -     W + 2

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

[VERY] Happy STE coding


Back in May I written about a new game engine in development by none other than Douglas Little and it has been a real eye opener to see just how far his work has progressed since then. Today I got to watch a video he recently made and to say it's a jaw dropper is an understatement. It certainly demonstrates just how far he's come with his project, so watch this video and then treat yourself to this download of the current latest release.

Try not to drool too much over the mighty power of the Atari STe!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Chariots Of Wrath

Retro Video Gamer continue to expand their Atari ST gaming section today with Chariots Of Wrath! <read more>

Saturday, August 13, 2016

MIG-29 Fulcrum

I'm not the biggest fan of flight sim games but I do own a couple which I enjoyed playing back in my long lost youth. Mig-29 Fulcrum was developed by Myomantic for Domark in 1991 and has excellent (and fast) vector graphics with lots of exciting missions. However, if I'm honest, I think I just enjoyed the experience of flying!

The Soviet box art is superbly designed and the contents are also quite outstanding, incredible value for money. I really wanted to hang the poster on the bedroom wall above my monitor, sadly the wife won't allow me...

LINKS

 - AtariMania has Miggy listed in their ST database.
 - 8BitChip have adapted this for hard drive installation, which is just cool!
 - Floppy disk images are listed on Old Games Finder.
 - ST Format reviewed it back in issue #20 and gave it a cracking 92%
 - There was a sequel called "Super Fulcrum" but I never played this. Perhaps a cash-in?


Friday, August 12, 2016

Days Of Thunder

I'm a big NASCAR fan and today I finally got around to playing Mindscape's Days Of Thunder which, I think, is also the only stock car game out on the Atari ST. (?)

I must first thank Peter Petera of 8BitChip who adapted this game for hard drive installation, at my request. Sadly, I wish I'd never have mithered him because I feel I've discovered the worst Atari ST game, ever!

It actually started off well with a cracking Dave Whittaker title tune but soon went downhill, very fast! Upon my first game, I was shocked (to say the least) at just how badly it looked, sounded and played. I couldn't stand more than a few laps before wondering if I was missing something glaringly obvious. So off I went to the ST Format website and read their almost glowing review. Their only minor grumbles where the sound effects (I get that) and an "unexciting" title tune. Incredible chiptune ignorance!

They gave it 88% overall score and I cannot understand why. I've since played several times and suffered every minute in utter agony!  I don't think I shall be keeping a copy on my hard drive somehow (sorry Peter!).

Whilst they might not be stock car racers, I shall be sticking with VroomLotus Turbo ... Boogity, boogity, boogity!

LINKS

 - AtariMania list this classic game within their ST database (yes, sarcasm)
 - Visit 8BitChip right now if you feel brave enough to take a spin around Daytona!
 - Or be safe and watch a video recording instead. I couldn't bring myself to making my own...
 - The floppy disk images are available from Old Games Finder.
 - ST Format #16. Were they right or simply insane? Let me know!
 - Fancy a big fat juicy tip?
          -> When in the qualifying race, press pause (P key).
          -> Type in COMEFLYWITHME
          -> Now press keys F1 - F8 for some silly views!
          -> However, it won't make the game any better! (and untested by me)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

stats

Today I thought I would check my current web stats to see if anyone had surfed their way over here and, to my surprise, quite a few of you fuji nutters seemed to visit on a daily basis! It was interesting to discover which pages got the most views over a day, a week and "all time". Shockingly, America was top of the list! Although I suspect that's probably due to a google bot trolling the site? Today alone has seen 431 visitors. Wow!

However, most of the globe seem to know nothing of AtariCrypt (or rather the Atari ST) so I must work on a way to fix their shortcoming and enlighten them all! Thank you everyone for stopping by :-)  <clickety click>

Monday, August 08, 2016

Elf

You are little Cornelius, a cool looking dude who's girlfriend, Elisa, has been kidnapped by the evil Necriliousr. Armed with his magic ring (stop it) you must travel eight gorgeous landscapes, avoiding wacky creatures and solving simple puzzles in order to rescue the love of your life.

Elf was released in 1991 by the mighty Ocean Software and is a gorgeous platformer with a simple adventure element spread over several massive levels. Gameplay is stuffed full of relentless action with an onslaught of baddies constantly popping up to cause you grief and slow you down as you search for pieces of the puzzles. And its these puzzles which remind my of the David Jones games on my old ZX Spectrum as they involve trading items with the silly characters, which is an interesting aspect to Elf. There are other items, even animals, to collate as "pets" which is essentially your currency used to purchase an assortment of power-ups including firepower, extra lives, the ability to fly (click on the image) and many more. Each are superb and certainly help to increase longevity.

Elf is jammed packed with humorous touches. Some animals have cute expressions and there are also many integrated novelties, like rock eyes that watch your every move. I like how one of the baddies followed me, by using a ladder, a simple but impressive mechanic. Also, in true Atic Atac style, a tombstone is erected when you loose a life and it is rumoured to be haunted! If Elf has a weakness, it's the number of allotted lives which is too few and should have been greater considering the task at hand. I also found it a little annoying when some critters would walk onto the screen just as I was about to walk off, thus zapping valuable energy but this is minor.

The graphics are tremendous with such an outstanding attention to detail for both the scenery and characters. The baddies are some of the most detailed sprites I have ever seen, killing them almost makes me feel bad (almost). Sound effects are excellent but it's the music I love, by Matthew Cannon who also worked on Navy Seals. Awesome chip-tunes throughout, which are quite bewitching and (for once) I prefer playing a game with the music on!

Elf is a game to be experienced and it's not one to pick up and play game for a few minutes. Shoot and kill everything that moves, trade with people, and hopefully you shall discover how to bribe your way onto the next level. I feel this is one of the best platform adventure games I have ever played and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Play it now!

LINKS

 - AtariMania have Elf listed within their ST database.
 - Here is a walkthrough but I advice using it only when absolutely necessary!
 - Fancy a some hints?
          -> Tweet Tweet, that cute little bird is hungry.
          -> Red indian's love feathers.
          -> Toilet paper... ahem.. surely too easy?
          -> That big guy just loves roast chicken. Yum!

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

1632 ATARI podcaST

It's always awesome to see someone doing something creative for the ST scene and here is Atari 8-bit legend, Wade with his new podcaST. Obviously, this is about the Atari ST and by a guy that didn't originally care for it...

Check it out fellow ST nutters and follow his re-discovery of the best 16-bit retro computer! <clickety click>

Monday, August 01, 2016

Ork

Retro Video Gamer has featured yet another Atari ST game review of mine and this time it's Ork, by Psygnosis.
A good shooter, I enjoy it, but I also felt it was a little sluggish and needed an extra nip of speed. <read more>
To follow-up on this review, Peter Petera from over at 8BitChip has adapted Ork for hard drive installation that also supports faster Atari computers. So the above mentioned "extra nip of speed" has been solved, even my own Mega STE runs Ork at a better framerate.  To finish off, here are a couple of Ork extras - a mod file of the title theme and a cool image which makes a rather nice wallpaper! :^)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Big Nose The Caveman


Big Nose is a fella from prehistoric times when it was perfectly normal to live in cave squalor. However, once a year he and his family strangely celebrate Thanksgiving and that means only one thing, a yummy Pterodactyl roast dinner. Fortunately, one is spotted flying by, so your jurassic journey will take you through dangerous dinosaur-infested lands looking for that tasty bird to kill, cook and eat with your fellow big nosed family.

This is simple platformer released in 1993 by Code Masters and is very easy to pickup and play. Club anything that looks likely to cause you harm, make lots of jumps and then fight lame end of level bosses. Controls are excellent, very responsive and with precise movement. I love the cartoon-like graphics but what I don't like are the bland backgrounds which desperately need a splash of rasters! Sound effects are beyond sparse, unless you jump or hit something and should have been far better. Thankfully, the title music is fantastic and I wish it played in-game!

Big Nose is okay but it's certainly no blockbuster. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong per se but I'm sure most people will finish it quite easily. Even the end of level guardians are defeated quickly and the hardest part of Big Nose is probably a few tricky jumps. However its still an enjoyable platformer, if too easy.

LINKS

- Here is a video recording I made. Yes, I deliberately ignored the cheats!
- Big Nose makes his appearance within the Atarimania database.
- 8BitChip have adapted Big Nose for hard drive installation and also supports faster computers!
- If you need a floppy disk image then Old Games Finder is the website for you.
- Spoiler Alert! Here is how to zip through the first two levels real quick: Level ONE and Level TWO
- Like clubbing cute dinosaurs then give Prehistorik a try?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Chicago 90

Everyone played cops and robbers as a kid! Now we are all grown ups (aka BIG kids) we can do the same all over again using our favourite retro computer which is all thanks to Microïds and their 1989 hit, Chicago 90.

You are offered the option to play as the Police or a Gangster. As a cop, it's your job to do the chasing however I always prefer to be a bad guy with a car full of swag fleeing for my freedom beyond the city limits!

Initially, the in-game user interface is rather complex, especially if you chose to be the police. Down the left are many icons of which, I have no idea what most are used for! Along the bottom of the screen are two very interesting windows, the first being an overhead city map which also displays the location of the fuzz. The other window is a first-person view, from inside your car, which should help avoid crashing into the law abiding citizens!

Controls feel a little flaky at first but you will soon be rip-roaring around Chicago in your cool red car. There is some silly collision detection and going too fast can strangely make the car bounce high into the air! The cops are a little simple with naive AI that isn't exactly at an Einstein level but certainly good enough to give you a good chase and, if caught, you're presented with a rather dodgy looking image of the scene!

Chicago 90's downfall is its weak Police role which I found cumbersome and rather boring, if I'm brutally honest. So that left me with the gangster role (which is what I would have chosen anyhow) and thankfully this is damn good fun. Driving through the city, avoiding cars and running from the cops is an early glimpse into a 16-bit GTA experience. The concept works well and I loved the isometric view of the city, complimented by a fantastic windscreen view of the world. Chicago 90 is also like an early Driver and would certainly have benefited with similar mission tasks as such, longevity suffers.

Visually, I really love the humble retro graphics of the city which are varied, interesting and very well detailed. Sadly the bland sound effects are the mirror opposite and I'm sure our YM chip could easily have produced better.

With a little more thought into gameplay objectives, therefore giving the player more to do, this would easily have been a fantastic venture into a life of crime. So it's far from perfect, but Chicago 90 definitely entertained me today because running from the cops is always going to be a thrill. I highly recommend you take this vehicle for a spin.

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.
 - Atari Greenlog has a cool gameplay video to watch!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Dungeon Master

I've had a folder sitting on my desktop for many months and today, for some reason, I finally decided it would be a great idea to share it. Why its taken me so long, I do not know! Within the archive are lots of help files and pictures which I thought it would be useful to new comers of this true Atari ST classic. Clickety click and download :-)
It's worth taking a peep at issue six of ST Action (I loved that magazine!!) because they featured a fantastic five-page Dungeon Master guide. This can be viewed over on AtariMania.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Chronicles Of Omega

Chronicles Of Omega was released by ARC/Atari in 1990 and is probably one of the first commercial games to feature support for the enhanced Atari STe, with stereo sounds and super smooth hardware scrolling.

The lands of Omega have always been peaceful until the day a demon came and captured the children of the village. Playing as either Alwin or Irma, you must battle your way through five evil infested lands, killing all in your wake, defeating Demon Champions (aka end of level bosses) and ultimately saving the day.

Chronicles Of Omega is a stereotypical platformer in looks and gameplay however it has quite a steep learning curve because of fiddly control mechanics. This is mainly due to your magic wand which fires only two shots at a time, therefore leaving you defenceless in certain situations. Power-ups are available from a Good Witch who pops up halfway through each level to make a profit out of you and your noble crusade. Her prices aren't cheap so it's lucky that slain monsters leave behind pennies for you to use, however all power-ups are lost after loosing a life!

The levels are interesting and well designed but aren't too big and would probably be completed very quickly if I had a better weapon to defend myself. Each end of level guardian is rather lame, easy to defeat and they also somehow had an annoying ability to materialise right where I was usually standing. Not very fair at all really!

Visually, this is such a treat with lovely detailed characters and scenery which is both rich in colour and scrolls smooth as butter (on the Atari STe). Audio is played using the DMA hardware but sadly sounds low in quality and I actually preferred the chip sounds of the STFM version! Having said that, I am a chiptune junkie so perhaps it's just me and my bleep blop addiction?

I love platformers but even I must admit to being disappointed by this gaming enigma. It looks great and also makes fantastic use of the Atari STe enhanced hardware but all that glitz and glamour doesn't automatically make for a great game. I must admit to pushing myself through the fluffy controls pain barrier and, eventually, I enjoyed it. Chronicles Of Omega isn't terrible but it certainly isn't great and there are far better titles in our library to pick from.

LINKS

 - I've kindly recorded a video which shows the game with music and sound effects.
 - AtariMania feature this game within their ST database.
 - 8bitchip have adapted this game for hard drive installation.
 - Old Games Finder have all the floppy disk images you could ever need.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Monday, July 25, 2016

alive & kicking

We all look back to the golden era and fondly remember our favourite demo screens but we've seen so many great productions over the last few years and 2016 has seen lots of new releases thanks to events like Sommarhack and Outline. Looking through Demozoo last night, I was shocked to see just how many were released this year alone!

I really liked this "new" demo by NoExtra called Project A / Temptation. Very stylish with cool fx/sfx!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Enchanted Land

RVG feature my Atari ST game review of Enchanted Land, by those cuddly Carebear legends! <read more>

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Winglord

Victor Bruhn recently wrote on Atari-Forum to say that a full version of his 1994 Atari STe shareware game was now freely up for grabs. So I did just that and I have been enjoying Winglord for the last couple of days.

This is basically joust with extras thrown in, like a nifty little missile mayhem which is a great idea! As you can imagine, the player needs to poke his way to victory through a number of levels either in co-op or on your lonesome. Gameplay is pretty much as you'd expect as you frantically flap your way around a Jetpac-like screen that contains ledges and lots of enemies to slice into oblivion. The jousting dudes enter the arena using sliding doors at the top of the screen so stay high and use Mister Ed the best you can and kill every opponent!

Victor programmed Winglord using his Atari STe and as such it uses the Blitter and also the audio hardware for the more interesting sound effects. Thankfully, it will still work on the older pre-STe models but only with minimalistic sounds and a chance of possible visual oddities, so YMMV! I advice that y'all read the documentation because handy tips are included along with other instructions like how to adjust your flap power of which, I prefer the lower setting.

Winglord might not look quite as pretty as Joust but I'm sure fans will still love this. It feels far more frantic and comes with a few nice STe bells and whistles to set it aside, whilst still remaining faithful to one of the oldest Atari ST games. It's hard to believe it was once shareware and not commercial because Winglord is downright awesome!

LINKS

 - Download directly from Victor off the Atari-Forum website.
 - I have a backup copy which I've stored on my dropbox. I take no chances!
 - IF you're somehow curious to play the pre-registered demo version then clickety click here!
 - I couldn't honestly say I'm the best jouster but 28,600 is my current high-score. Beat that! ;^)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Fernandez Must Die

This is a game I featured on AtariCrypt a while back and I absolutely loved it. In fact, I loved it that much I went out and bought myself a near-mint copy of the game. I personally class Fernandez Must Die as one of the best commando clones out there because its fun and doesn't take itself too seriously. A fantastic kill 'em all game!

LINKS

 - Yes, of course it's on AtariMania!
 - If you have the hardware, then I advice you chose Peter's adapted version
 - Otherwise grab a floppy disk image from Old Games Finder


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Sokoban


I love hearing about something new in development for the Atari ST and today I (finally) got to hear of a Sokoban game written by Peter Lane. It's a GEM-based program which should work on every model of Atari computer from the ST to a Firebee and features 50 levels, a scale adjustable display and the ability to load extra levels. Interestingly, Peter coded Sokoban on a real computer rather than under emulation and I think that is so geeky and just splendid!

I now know what I'm doing this dull and rainy Saturday afternoon! (good ol' British summer)

LINKS

- A download is available from Peter's website and is also hard drive installable.
- So you're now a Sokoban junkie? Well, here are almost 40,000 to play with!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bod

It is with great sadness that I have to inform you all of the death of Stephen Jones, aka Bod of demo groups STAX and Effect. More recently he was the gentleman behind the Atari STE game R-Type Deluxe, an eagerly anticipated game which was highly regarded to be the biggest thing for years. This demonstrated to the entire retro gaming world just what the Atari STe was capable of when programmed by somebody with talent and the dedication of Stephen.

I remember talking to him last year and he kindly supplied several screenshots of his progress for R-Type Deluxe. I was excited to feature them on the little known AtariCrypt, it was so nice of him and I'll never forget that.

His commitment to the Atari ST scene is featured on Demozoo where you can view his entire Fuji portfolio. It's extremely impressive, to say the least. A great loss. Prayers and best wishes to his family at this time †

Update July 24th -
I know this file is already on Atari-Forum but here is my backup of Stephen's precious R-Type Deluxe source code. Keeping it safe until another programmer takes on the task of completing it. <download>

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Budgie uk

How many of us spent our "hard earned" pocket money buying Budgie UK games back in the day? They sure did a great job of bridging the gap between PD and expensive commercial games nicely. I recently re-discovered Overscan Invaders and, whilst there are many clones, this one hit home because of its graphical features. Yes, I'm shallow like that, but it's great to see this effect outside of the demoscene and it plays brilliantly too, which is very nice :^)

I now need to find other titles which I once enjoyed, like Douglas Rockmoor, Mr Dig, Clod Hopper and I'm sure there are many more. Of course, I cannot end this without mentioning the awesome Annihilator, by Robert HC Leong!

Right then, I now need to have myself a Budgie UK gaming night (with beer!)

LINKS

 - Read my humble review of Overscan Invaders on Retro Video Gamer
 - Heck, I even recorded a video for the above review! Ain't I nice?
 - AtariMania feature a ton of Budgie UK's games (if not all?)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Atari ST demos

People often ask which demos can be run from hard drive because most are obviously designed for floppy disks. Thankfully there are lots and some of the ones that couldn't have been kindly patched by D-Bug. So I've added a "HDD" tag on Demozoo, for the demos that are able to be installed and happily run from your hard drive device.

Of course, this is a work in progress because there are still many more entries to amend but fans should take a look and use your ultrasatan instead of those dreaded old floppy disks. Most of mine now fail me! <read more>

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Frogger



I've been fortunate to get a chance at beta testing a new homebrew version of Frogger in development by none other than Black - aka Scott Clifford. His main objective is to clone the original arcade game to keep it as authentic as is possible, which means no unnecessary bloatware. He originally started with STOS (last year) but thankfully he soon came to his senses and completely reprogrammed it in assembly language!

Frogger has matured into a polished product over the last few weeks with substantially better gameplay compared to other amphibian efforts. It's been tons of fun and I've enjoyed reporting problems, giving suggestions and come up with some rather exotic ideas! It is fantastic to see a new homebrew game for the Atari ST but your patience is need for a little longer as Frogger is due in early August and I cannot wait! :-)

LINKS

- AtariMania already list the older (STOS) Frogger game in their ST database.
- Scott is also developing Raiden for the Atari ST - check this out!!
- Scott's portfolio is featured on the Demozoo website.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Ranarama

Retro Video Gamer feature my Atari ST game review of the legendary Ranarama by Hewson! <read more>

Friday, July 08, 2016

Z-Out


Today I had an hour after work and decided to entertain myself with Z-Out by Rainbow Arts.

Essentially Z-Out is a bog-standard shoot 'em up which looks and sounds really nice and comes with more than a hint of R-Type. Apart from a nifty 2-player feature, it sadly doesn't really bring anything new to the genre but I do prefer this to its predecessor. However, I still have a soft spot for it and I also love the ripped off Turrican sound effects!

I enjoyed playing Z-Out today but boy is it a tough nut. Are any of you guys any better? (please say, no!)

LINKS

 - AtariMania have Z-Out listed in their ST database
 - Peter Petera has adapted this for hard drive installation (level skip feature too!)

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Sliders

Retro Video Gamer feature my latest Atari ST game review and this time its Sliders by Microids. A sports game which ain't really worth playing, unless you have the enhanced Atari STe... <read more>

Monday, July 04, 2016

Substation

Even batman doesn't stand a chance against a chain gun!
The year is 1996 and Mitushi Industries have developed a new type of energy that is extracted from under the seas. All seemed well for a few years, until communication was lost with their underwater substation base. So they contracted in the help of a Multi-Environment Marine from the American government. In case you are wondering, this is you!

Upon starting, ditch the knife and hit key "2" which switches to a rather effective pistol. Now collect all the goodies here and exit. Opposite is another room with more goodies however there are a couple of ghouls hiding within. So will you risk it or will you run away scared, down that seemingly empty corridor? Hmm

If you are old (like me) and have lived through the early years of first person shooting then you will immediately feel at home. Its certainly got a familiar theme, user interface and a playability style very reminiscent of those golden years. Substation is a typical old skool first person shooter that feels more like Wolfenstein than Doom. Similar gameplay centred on frantic gun fun with also a sneaky slab of role playing thrown in for good measure and I love it!

Useful items just lying around for me?
The baddies are an intelligent bunch who won't simply home in on your location. Expect some to use evasive tactics as they shoot a few rounds and then run and take cover! Use that pistol to protect yourself, remembering to sidestep oncoming fire and don't forget to keep searching for better weapons which have carelessly been left waiting for you.

I love the various weapons, I only wish it didn't take so long to find them. The chain gun is absolutely superb and one Arnold Schwarzenegger would be proud of. However, I was left deflated by an underwhelming shotgun.

Movement is actioned with the keyboard using the arrow keys to walk and also Insert and Clr Home keys for sidestepping. Control key fires your weapon, the Space Bar opens doors and TAB drops a timed bomb. Don't forget to make use of the level map which is conveniently located at the bottom of the screen. It automatically maps wherever you walk and the keypad can be used to examine already explored areas.

Take a hit to see blinding colours!
Graphically, I'm both impressed and unimpressed in equal measure. I love the eerie atmosphere and the use of light sourced sprites with great visual effects and all within a minimum framerate of 25fps on an 8MHz Atari STe.

However, the walls have no texture mapping because UDS opted for faster gouraud shading to maintain the framerate. This is a little disappointing because games like Destruction Imminent and Wolfenstein 3D both prove an ST is more than capable. I feel they also missed an opportunity to have textures as an option, especially for those with faster computers.

Audio is spot on perfect because Substation uses the enhanced hardware so we're able to hear distance and directional sound effects which help to identify just where those baddies are lurking. Equally impressive are the tunes with a 25Khz playback for superb quality so crank up the volume!

Technically speaking this is one of the most impressive games ever released on ye olde humble Atari STe. A 3D engine capable of maintaining a brisk 25fps, distance & directional stereo sounds, light source sprites, networking, intelligent AI, over 30 on-screen colours and the faster your computer the higher your framerate. However, if you're expecting this to be our version of Doom then you might be disappointed. Don't misunderstand me, Substation is damn excellent in its own right and it should be treated as such. Pick up that gun and go have yourself some fun!

LINKS

 - AtariMania list Substation within their ST database.
 - I would recommend downloading the D-Bug version which is hard drive installable.
 - Do you need even more Substation action?
          -> A new and playable preview level was featured on ST Format cover disk #72.
          -> ST Format held a competition and the winning game is on cover disk #75.
          -> UDS released a Substation Trainer which is on ST Format cover disk #76.
          -> Download these 3 nifty cover disks from Exxos who has the lot!
 - Flick through ST Format issues #74 #75 #76 #77 for tips and excellent maps of every level.
 - Substation YouTube video recording right here folks (credit : Wasabim)
 - Fancy a few cheats? Of course you do so type these codes during a game :
          -> PUNK - weapons
          -> NIRVANA - health
          -> PFLOYD - door keys
          -> FALUKORV - extra time
          -> SKRAPAN - more bombs

Sunday, July 03, 2016

PowerDOS

I was recently reading through Atari ST Review #32 and I came upon an interesting tidbit for a public domain tool called PowerDOS. I had never previously heard of this but it sounded interesting and potentially very useful.

PowerDOS is for GEMDOS what NVDI / QuickST / Warp9 are for the VDI components of TOS. This means all those inefficient bits 'n bobs which go together to make up the disk operating system are replaced by "newer" routines. This will improve overall system performance (TOS) and also adds a few new features within a multitasking environment.

The slowest part of any computer is the hard drive and, whilst this might not matter quite as much for Ultrasatan, there is still a benefit to using this. Installation is as simple as copying the program into your AUTO folder and rebooting. I'm using TOS 2.06 and had issues with NVDI (so use Warp9) and ParCp-USB but everything else worked fine and my speed improvements are most welcome! For example, try CAB or JAM (with all their plugins).

I do love to tinker with my Atari ST and utilities like PowerDOS I find to be pretty darn amazing. Give it a try and see how you get on - let me know! Download links available from Atari-Forum (credit to Mark_G and bj)

Friday, July 01, 2016

Free the OIDS!

Oids is written by Dan Hewitt and was unleashed unto our populous in 1987 by FTL. For years it remained an Atari ST exclusive title until 2002 when the Apple Mac received a conversion. (PowerPC Macs - I am not so sure that the current Intel Macs are compatible?)

Little Oids are being mistreated in a terrible way by their evil creators, the Biocretes. They are now being held prisoner on various remote planets located in the deepest parts of space without any noticeable atmosphere (yet strangely trees still manage to grow!)

In a similar fashion to Grav, Thrust and Utopos you will need to navigate your spaceship through the caverns looking for our metal friends. Using your weapons, destroy the buildings holding them captive and find a place to land.

Taking a pic & trying not to die!
Then sit back and watch as these (superbly animated) stick men get onboard. Once all are found, your mothership appears high in the sky to whisk everyone to safety. A satisfying moment!

However, those pesky Biocretes are pretty darn evil and have armed each planet with numerous hazards and artillery defences. Expect rocket launchers, gun turrets, repulsers, gravity bases and lots more. Everything can be destroyed but don't expect their mothership or a ground base to be easy. In fact it might be better to simply fly away, like a cowardly chicken!

Awesome level design, controls and physics all compliment each other perfectly. Although there are several other similar games (which are all excellent) this remains my favourite of the bunch by a very long margin to become one of the most enjoyable games ever. Quite simply, Oids is epic!

LINKS

 - AtariMania have Oids within their excellent ST database
 - Read the Oids manual, forget that its for the Apple Mac and take a peep!
 - Oids for older Apple Macs
 - Hard drive adapted download by Peter Petera
 - Klaz Hideaway download for floppy and hard drive version

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The STe Vault

New website alert! A good friend of mine has recently started to write his own blog which is dedicated to the Atari ST/e range of computers. He is an avid fuji fan and an enthusiastic guy who hopes to entertain you all with his take on scene. Some articles are written in his native tongue, French but we won't hold that against him (this time) :^)

Its excellent to see a new site in development & I wish him well with The Atari STe Vault.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

megahertz war

I had to "laugh" when I read an article in Atari ST Review magazine #24, by Andrew Wright. How right he was about the times back then, I wonder if he had a crystal ball? (if so, it was probably an app running under MagiC OS)

By the mid 1990s, the PC industry was taking over and claiming its crown for winner of the computer wars. Our days were numbered, partly due to poor management and Atari's lack of involvement in the megahertz wars. Yes, our beloved Atari TOS computers began fading away into the darkness and by the late 90s every ST was stored away in an attic... Okay, I jest (a little) but the millennium days where sure gloomy times but cheer up because it also happened to those Commies computer too! Anyhow, I thought his insight made for an interesting read <click here>

I'm happy that I've never owned a Windows PC.  I never will.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Space Invaders!

Who doesn't love a quick blast of Space Invaders now and then? It doesn't matter how old I get, I'm always transformed back into that 10 year old kid (and one without any gaming skill whatsoever - only my age changes!)

Today I came across Atari ST Review cover disk #11 which contains the imaginatively titled ST Review Invaders, exclusively released for the magazine back in 1993 by Dave Munsie. So let's boot it up and play through a few levels (video below)

First impressions, I love the (almost) traditional look and feel with its added bells and whistles. Now your cannon moves over a rocky landscape to reform the expected aiming style. Also, those pesky aliens no longer shoot in a predictably straight line and their attack wave is nothing like in the arcades. In fact, level two sees them bopping along in a humorous fashion with a Mexican wave following later, which is crazy but it works so well.

I really did enjoy myself playing ST Invaders and those nice added touches don't ruin the originality too much. So if you fancy a game with that "just one more go" appeal then this is definitely for you!

LINKS

 - Watch this gameplay video where I display my skills and expertise!
 - Atari ST Review magazine can be download from the Chillichai archive
 - Cover disks downloads are also on their website ^ ^ :-)
 - AtariMania has ST Review Invaders within their ST database.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Atari ST games

Menu CDs where the cool kids on the block with their flashy visuals, funky music and questionable contents. So many people today still point a finger of blame at them for the ST's premature demise from the commercial gaming scene, back in the mid-1990s.

However, Menu CDs also played a role in our history by helping most people play games they wouldn't ever have bought and that actually had a knock-on effect by keeping the scene alive. Whatever you think, it's too late now, but nobody can deny they contained some of the most creative examples of what the ST could knock out!

If you don't know, a Menu CD is a floppy disk which generally contained a number of hacked commercial games. After booting up, a menu would appear flaunting the hackers creative talents with flashy visuals, ripped musics and a fascinating scroller to read through. Most people remember the infamous Automation but there where so many others: Dream Weavers, Fusion, Elite, FOF, FOFT, Zulu, Mad Vision, Bad Brew Crew and the list goes on (and on!)

Thankfully, there is a website called Stonish which is dedicated to the preservation of those rare Menu CD's. I featured it here on AtariCrypt last year and I'm pleased to see just how much it has grown since that time. Please remember, this isn't about piracy but instead cataloging and preserving a part of our history.

Sadly, many disks are still missing and the hope is somebody will look within their dusty attic and find them... Until then, they are presumed lost forever which is really disappointing as time machines haven't been invented yet. So please support the Stonish project and dig out your old floppies, you never know what you might find!

LINKS

 - Visit the STONISH website ( clickety click )
 - I've started a YouTube playlist for Menu CDs!
 - What are your favourite Menu CD memories?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Moon Patrol

Apparently, the moon is under attack from a legion of aliens and it's my job to stop them. Me and my cool (Space 1999) Moon Buggy that is! Unfortunately the wheels aren't too great at going over potholes and the slightest gap causes my buggy to violently explode!

Hmm, I vaguely remember Moon Patrol in the arcades and I did later play Ocean's ZX Spectrum conversion, which is pretty cool, but I cannot ever remember playing the Atari ST game. Today I wanted to end that spell of ignorance and therefore I dusted off my spacesuit in anticipation of the Atari ST version of Moon Patrol.

After you jump inside your buggy, the landscape begins to scroll by which is sectioned off into alphabetical segments, these are handy checkpoints. With your foot always on the gas, you have control over the level of acceleration as alien invaders and obstacles appear. Pushing up on the joystick allows you to leap over potholes and often requires precise timing. The aliens can be defeated by hitting the fire button and this simultaneously release two weapons - on top is a machine gun blasting upwards and the other is a front-mounted rocket launcher for oncoming problems.

Wow I've impressed myself here!
There are two difficult modes, a beginners and a champions. The latter is great fun and certainly more interesting to play with its extra enemies /etc...

Keep one eye on the road ahead and another on those aliens above - tricky but doable. If there was ever an unforgiving game, this is it, the slightest mistimed jump and it's KABOOM as your fragile vehicle explodes into moon junk! That is about all there is to Moon Patrol, it may sound easy but its certainly one tough cookie.

Graphics and sound effects are heavily dated and exactly what you would expect from an old arcade game from 1982. Scrolling is very smooth and in 3-layer parallax which is pretty amazing for such an early ST release. I do love the little details, such as how your buggy moves over the bumpy terrain, a really neat animation. Interestingly, it works in ST High (640x400) so I'll have to play this on my "new" SM125 monitor tonight!

A funky chiptune bops away in the background, accompanied by vintage bleep and blop sound effects. It did it for me but our 6yr old didn't care for either. Pah, kids today!

This is as retro as retro gaming gets. We know that the Atari ST is technically capable of far better so just ignore its shockingly bland appearance because Moon Patrol delivers great entertainment with an enjoyable and rock solid gameplay. That is what matters!

Overall, once you get over its learning curve (and stop swearing at the monitor in frustration) I'm sure old and new gamers alike will love the enjoyable simplicity of Moon Patrol. Its unassuming yet hides cruel and brutally addictive gameplay elements which strangely keep you coming back for more. Moon Patrol is a groovy step back in time!

LINKS

 - Here is my YouTube video recording to drool over!
 - AtariMania obviously has Moon Patrol within their ST database
 - Old Games Finder for all the floppy disk downloads
 - Peter Petera has the adapted version for hard drives (I use this)
 - Strategy Wiki lists the many versions of Moon Patrol (guess which is best!)
 - Here is their walkthrough which I thought was pretty funny.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

a prehistoric tale (...continued)

Following on from my previous post, I figured that I would not only let you all know what I thought about A Prehistoric Tale but also share a tidbit of news.

RVG / Retro Video Gamer have asked if I would be willing to write Atari ST game reviews for them! (believe it or not)

This is one of the best retro gaming websites covering just about every system but sadly their Atari ST section was rather void. So I have been asked to fill that gap and write some of my ramblings on their site, along with my own. Yes, this does not mean the death of AtariCrypt but I am gobsmacked to have been asked to write for such an acclaimed website!

So, if you wanna find out what I thought of A Prehistoric Tale then you'll have to take a peep at Retro Video Gamer!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

worth the gamble?

I came upon an eBay auction for an Atari ST plus SM125 monitor. Both looked in real bad condition, extremely dirty and advertised as not working. Covered in the battle scars of heavy usage, I could see a burn on the case near the power supply unit (PSU). Thankfully, I took a chance and shockingly ended up winning the lot for 99 pence.

Today I collected both from a friendly fella that told me all about its history and the years he spent using Cubase. Once home, I opened it up and began the cleaning. I expected it to be hard work but this machine was a wreck, extremely filthy both inside and out. At some point it looked like the original PSU had exploded in flames plus I also noticed various company logo stickers on the front, sides and underbelly of the beast. Cleaning took a while and I'm sure a new vaxine was growing underneath its fluffy spacebar!

Once I had removed the case and keyboard, things started to get better and I could see both PSU and motherboard where in a great condition. Strangely, the floppy drive had a soot-like grime over it and the cables where covered in a mass of spider webs! Everything is now clean and the keyboard restored from its previously toxic state. The cover took some graft to get it back to an acceptable level but there is only so much I can do with that. Yes, I'll be trying out a peroxide treatment once Summer returns!

Well, my baby is a 1040 STF and SysInfo confirms TOS 1.00 with 1mb Ram. The postman delivered my midi cables this morning (what a great day!) so can you guess which game we will be playing here today?

...and all for 99 pence. Woop Woop!


filthy but working
Yuk!
The insides where worse with
spiders webs all around the floppy
drive cables. Creepy!
(click on all pics to view large)
All spanky and clean now
Midi Maze time!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

marmite?


Here is A Prehistoric Tale, a game which I never did "click with" back in the 1990s. I remember a lot of people in the ST world raving on about this Thalion masterpiece by The Lost Boys. But many also felt a little meh about it, like me!

A quick look at the box and I thought of a Lode Runner clone yet upon my first play I figured it for a sad version of Chuckie Egg! Even with all its beautiful artwork and those gorgeous chip-music tunes, I still didn't care for its gameplay... Do you? Tell me why!  So... lets try this once again. Cover me, I am about to go in and play what many regard as a wonderful Atari ST game. Lets see what all the fuss was about . . .

LINKS

 - Atarimania has a page for this within their ST database
 - Thalion Shrine has an excellent feature and a most fascinating website!
 - Bleep Blop alternative chiptune goodness by Craig Morris.
 - What! A hidden message on the floppy disk?
 - The Lost Boys are fully catalogued on demozoo

Monday, June 13, 2016

Storm 94

Folks, check out this STOS game which was written in 1994 by Fugitive Freelancers for the Atari STe. (and only the Atari STE)

It's based upon the typical alien theme with a style reminiscent of Alien Blast, Alien Thing and Alien Syndrome (I think I've noticed a bit of a theme there!). Originally released by LAPD, this is one of those games which I missed back in da' day and now I feel a hidden gem has been discovered!

Like any decent Aliens-inspired game you must explore the space ship whilst suffering a constant onslaught of baddies. They are relentless, so shoot first and ask questions never whilst you look for your key card to operate the airlock and escape. Ammo, health and security keys are littered throughout every level but if you find yourself needing extra then these can all be purchased from the computer terminals. It's here where you can also view a nifty level map to help navigate a route to both the key and your exit.

I love Storm 94 because of the fast and furious gameplay mixed in with a bundle of strategic thinking. Having said that, there is a rather harsh time limit per level and, if you notice the screen turning red, then you're almost outta luck - so run! Overall, not perfect but a fun and very challenging game. Loved it.

LINKS

 - The only download I found is by my good mate, Chris. Who is STOS mad btw! :p
 - Wanna see Storm '94 in action? Of course you do so click here!
 - I've contact ST coding magician Peter Petera for an adapted version and with possible bug fixing that prevents Storm 94 from running on my Mega STe and other computers!