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The ST Format Challenge

hariseldon

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So while doing the review above I was thinking of platform games and realised I hadn't seen Rick Dangerous yet but I had a sneaking suspicion I should have. It turns out that it was reviewed in Amiga Format issue 2 but not ST Format issue 2 (or any other issue for that matter). It appeared in The One in June, Games Machine in September and at some point also in CVG, so it really should have appeared in ST Format, especially when they're reviewing the likes of Verminator. True, Rick Dangerous doesn't look that pretty in stills, and it's somewhat traditional, but it has a real charm and was a wonderful (if really fucking difficult) platformer. I'll get on that.
 

hariseldon

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Rick Dangerous




ST Format Review
There isn't one. Bastards.

My Review



For this review I'm running Steem with a 1MB STFM on TOS 1.0, using Automation disk 120.



I'll begin the review with a little story in images, as I think that best tells the tale of this game.











If you don't already know, Rick Dangerous is fucking hard. Like bastard hard. Dark Souls hard. I did get further than those screenshots by the way but it was funnier that way. Its flip-screen nature means that you don't always know what you're leaping into, which means that its levels become a test of memory as much as reflexes and skill. The game itself is simple enough, in that you wander around like Indiana Jones, in what appears to be an ancient tomb. Enemies tend to patrol fixed paths and you use that knowledge to kill them either with a bullet or some dynamite. The trick is not to waste too much of either, and to make sure you use the correct resource in each case.

The smaller sprite compared to Verminator allows a better connection with the flow of the level, though the sprites still manage to be nicely detailed. Rick moves at quite a decent pace through the levels, which helps to disguise the limited frames of animation. This game is not exactly a technical achievement, instead it's more a refinement of existing formulae but one that's done really well. Perhaps on that basis it was too boring to be reviewed in ST Format but it became something of a cult hit, and thankfully they rectified their mistake by giving Rick Dangerous 2 86% in issue 15, and yes I would quite like to cover that too (though it's up against stiff competition that month with Cadaver, Leisure Suit Larry 3 and Operation Stealth).

Sound consists of awful chip music mostly, crappy chip noises for jumping, that kind of thing, but there's a nice scream sample when you die. For the most part though sound doesn't matter too much in this game.

Overall this may not be the most technically exciting game, nor the most glamorous, but it does what it needs to do and does it well. It's a cracking little game and for that reason I award it the Hari Seldon Gold.

 
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hariseldon

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So a few posts back we were discussing Kick Off and Dino Dini buggering off to Virgin to make the brilliant Goal while Anco returned to making shit (their previous games being universally terrible including shit strip poker games). I was reading a PC Zone from 2000 this morning and the review for Player Manager 2000 mentioned that the author had spoken to someone at Anco asking why the previous version would crash when people watched the match in 3D and the chap from Anco said they didn't expect anyone to use it. Extraordinary, and I think that reflects the nature of the company. They rode their good fortune in having Dino Dini make the amazing kick off but they never really became a quality outfit, content instead to revel in shitness. Just thought I'd share that.
 

hariseldon

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Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (Action game)



ST Format Review






My Review
In some ways it's appropriate to go from Rick Dangerous to the man who inspired him (that the first level sees the player running from a rolling boulder is no coincidence). Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the action game of the movie, with an adventure game to follow. The adventure is of course much-loved as one of Lucasarts greats, while this action game is a little closer to the typical movie tie-ins of the era, a platformer mostly. It looks like this isn't the one I had as a kid as I remember that one having a mine-cart section among other things (click here if you want to see it in all its shite glory, where this is more or less a straight platformer. ST Format make the comparison with Navy Moves but talk themselves out of it, but in truth that's probably about right.

For this review I've used the usual STFM with TOS 1.0 and 1MB of RAM running in Steem, and I've used an Automation disk (menu 124 in this case). The menu is nicely presented, with an animated disk sliding into the ST's drive when you select your game.




The game goes straight into a Lucasfilm logo with a sound-chip version beeping the theme tune (doing a far better job than the later adventure game which suffers from the same problems as the Zak McKracken port in that it seems to have been ported straight from the C64 in sharp contrast to Monkey Island when that came along). Eventually we get the Indy logo and he cracks his whip to switch between credits, high score and an image which might have been captured from the movie. Press fire to start.









So we arrive at the first level and the sprite is pretty large, while the status bar takes about the bottom third of the screen, leaving nowhere near enough room to see what's going on. I'm on a ledge and it looks like I'll be taking a leap of faith. Not a great start. The framerate is actually pretty smooth, though the jumping is poor, suffering in from some similar problems to Verminator in that once in the air you don't really have much control (and yes I know that's not the most realistic thing to ask for but it does make for better gameplay and makes it easier to jump variable distances). Controls are left and right to walk, down to crouch and up to jump (which is surprisingly common in these older games where now we expect a separate button to jump) while fire takes care of punching (and later whipping).




Indy loses energy from some quite short drops which really makes playing him quite a chore, especially when he's so bad at grabbing ropes. Then there's his whip, one of his trademark items. Even the crappy old Temple Of Doom game understood this and allowed you to make regular use of it. Here you get to use it 5 times, then you have to wait for a power up. Why restrict a fun mechanic like the whip? Admittedly it doesn't seem to offer much over the other move, the punch.




All in all, this is a lazy cashgrab and as the developers don't seem to have put much effort into make it, I don't feel compelled to make a huge effort playing it. Instead, here's a video of someone eles playing it. In case you wondered, no I don't recommend this game.

 
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hariseldon

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Blood Money



ST Format Review






My Review
So, my final game for issue 2 - Blood Money. I couldn't find an Automation menu for this one so had to use a Superior cracked version instead. This is all running on my trusty Steem 1MB STE. Two other versions didn't work - it seems to be a hard game to get running.



The game begins with some fancy sampled sounds as it flips through some screens before reacing a menu to choose music, 1/2 player, etc while playing some decent chip music.




The game starts - and well it's a bit of a yawn. Animation is reasonably smooth though the scrolling is achingly slow, lots of things move around the screen and you do what you can to avoid them (I picked the helicopter) and shoot back at some of them - I'm picking up some Defender vibes from some of what's going on. The trouble is it's all a bit so-what, and the action doesn't feel very connected. You fire bullets and things take a few bullets to explode but it never really feels like anything is connecting, there's no feeling of kinetic energy - a product both of the lack of visual response and the lack of any audio register of a hit.




In a way this is a game that carries some of the hallmarks of a psygnosis game in that it's well-presented but seems to lack substance. That DMA design would later go on to create Lemmings and GTA is a bit of a surprise when you see how poor this game is, but I guess everyone starts somewhere and perhaps they needed to learn their craft with something less ambitious first.

In the end, this game isn't interesting enough for me to put the effort into a full review as honestly I'd struggle to find enough interesting to say to justify it. It may well get more interesting later but I've got a lot of ST games to get through and maybe I burned myself out a bit on Issue 2!

Onwards, issue 3 awaits!
 
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Nitty_Grimes

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Got Blood Money for 50p when I signed up for the Home Computer Club - remember that?

Also, where are you getting your Automation disks from? Usual Google search or some other way?
 
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hariseldon

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Got Blood Money for 50p when I signed up for the Home Computer Club - remember that?

Also, where are you getting your Automation disks from? Usual Google search or some other way?
I grabbed the TOSEC collection from archive.org - it has everything.


I don’t remember home computer club but maybe it wasn’t a thing in the UK. Tbh I wasn’t terribly well connected when I was young so I’d probably not have known about it either way.

A bonus for any Amiga users here:

 
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Nitty_Grimes

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There used to be a leaflet in nearly every games mag. You chose 3 games at a dirt cheap price as long as you agreed to buy one full price game every 2 months kinda thing. No worries if you don’t remember.

Thanks for links, I’ll check them out. Oh and I’m in UK too FWIW :)
 

Stiflers Mom

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Oh, Blood Money.
That game where everything was amazing about it except playing it... :D

Which could be said about almost any Psygnosis games up to when Lemmings happened.
 
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hariseldon

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Ah seeing the leaflet is jogging some vague memories - I think I avoided stuff like that because my income was never high enough to commit to a spend I might not be able to match. I did however pick up games cheaper via mail order as I had sussed fairly early on that they were a lot cheaper than the shops (like a £30 game would be £18 in most of the mail order ads in the mag).

Re psygnosis - yeah they were very style-over-substance. It's mad to think that DMA went from Blood Money (utter shite) to Lemmings and GTA really - Lemmings was such an un-psygnosis game in that while the art direction was exemplary it wasn't in keeping with their usual style, or was it technically that impressive. I fucking adore lemmings though, even to this day it's an absolutely amazing game that holds up brilliantly. Shame the sequels were universally shit though.
 

hariseldon

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Seeing (and hearing) Blood Money on the Amiga was what made me abandon the good ship Atari ST...

Boo hiss.

Yeah I can see quite a big difference there. Tbh still a shallow game but the improvements in audio make a huge difference, it's like a different game. I will say that later ST games narrowed the gap I think, as developers figured out new techniques.
 

Stiflers Mom

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That DMA design would later go on to create Lemmings and GTA is a bit of a surprise when you see how poor this game is, but I guess everyone starts somewhere and perhaps they needed to learn their craft with something less ambitious first.
It's even more crazy if you have played "Menace" a year before, which was utter shite apart from the David Whittaker music and some of the colourful levels, imo.

I have to say that me as an Amiga guy really have a warm spot for the ST in my heart.

Most of the games I was interested in back then played as good or even better on the ST and the machine itself looked quite better (apart from the Amiga 1000, which was beautiful) designed.

The ST was simply not made for scrolling action games with lots of objects.
But if you code and design a game with its strengths in mind, you can have a beautiful outcome.

(I code 68K asm on the Amiga as a hobby, so I know a bit about that architecture... ;) )
 
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hariseldon

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It's even more crazy if you have played "Menace" a year before, which was utter shite apart from the David Whittaker music and some of the colourful levels, imo.

I have to say that me as an Amiga guy really have a warm spot for the ST in my heart.

Most of the games I was interested in back then played as good or even better on the ST and the machine itself looked quite better (apart from the Amiga 1000, which was beautiful) designed.

The ST was simply not made for scrolling action games with lots of objects.
But if you code and design a game with its strengths in mind, you can have a beautiful outcome.

(I code 68K asm on the Amiga as a hobby, so I know a bit about that architecture... ;) )
I have a feeling the ability to display 32 colours vs the ST's 16 made quite a difference in the case of Blood Money (and yes you could palette swap as you moved down the page but that came with a considerable performance cost). Looking at the video the colours were a lot better on the Amiga - the coins for instance looked a lot better on the Amiga than the ST The audio side could totally be done on an STFM, but at that time devs weren't really pushing that, where later releases would.

The STE obviously improved the scrolling and sprites situation a fair bit by adding hardware scrolling and a blitter. In some ways the ST was closer to the old 8-bit machines than I cared to admit, certainly outside of the CPU and shedload of RAM. Those extra chips really helped the Amiga.

I will just say that the STFM could do smooth scrolling - I was 12 and managed it with STOS - but you have to manage sprite size and count properly and have a decent tiling system for your backdrop (my first ever game in GFA basic made the platforms out of sprites which was retarded - it was so fucking slow - no idea why I remember that). I picked up an A600 in 95 I think after a RAM upgrade soldering incident killed my ST so I got to sample the latter end of the Amiga's life - it was a decent little machine, though I don't think I'd have learned as much about code had I had one.
 

Stiflers Mom

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I have a feeling the ability to display 32 colours vs the ST's 16 made quite a difference in the case of Blood Money (and yes you could palette swap as you moved down the page but that came with a considerable performance cost). Looking at the video the colours were a lot better on the Amiga - the coins for instance looked a lot better on the Amiga than the ST The audio side could totally be done on an STFM, but at that time devs weren't really pushing that, where later releases would.
But wasn't the STFM just an ST with a built in (fl)loppy and a TV (m)odulator?

On the colours issue with Blood Money, I think the Amiga version runs with a 4 bitplane (16 colours) setup as well. It's just, with the much higher blitter power of the Amiga, they were able to bring this 16 colours on screen, while on the ST my guess is they are blitting only 2 or 3 bitplanes, which results in those less colours for moving objects, while the background themselves have a similar graphical fidelity.

The STE obviously improved the scrolling and sprites situation a fair bit by adding hardware scrolling and a blitter. In some ways the ST was closer to the old 8-bit machines than I cared to admit, certainly outside of the CPU and shedload of RAM. Those extra chips really helped the Amiga.
Yep, the ST was for that reason very popular among the british coders who used to work on the Spectrum and to a less extend on the CPC.
Similar graphics architecture with similar solutions like preshifting.

I will just say that the STFM could do smooth scrolling - I was 12 and managed it with STOS - but you have to manage sprite size and count properly and have a decent tiling system for your backdrop (my first ever game in GFA basic made the platforms out of sprites which was retarded - it was so fucking slow - no idea why I remember that).
No idea about STOS.
I have studied the ST bitplane setup a bit, and it's very rigid compared to the Amiga. You need a lot of tricks to get a smooth horizontal scrolling going, since you cannot make the screen bigger than what is shown, so you need to mask the edges.

But anyway, there are some games showing nice horizontal and vertical scrolling, like Return to Genesis or Megablast.
 

Nitty_Grimes

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3D games were always that little bit faster on the ST than the Amiga. At least that was one thing it had over the Amiga.

But of course we all know the story - the chips in the Amiga were intended for the ST at one point - who knows how it would have played out if that happened.
 

hariseldon

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Stiflers Mom Stiflers Mom so the STFM is indeed the base model, where the STE came in with a blitter, hardware scrolling, chips for sound samples (can't remember precise details) and 16 colours from a 4096 palette vs the 16 from 512 of the STFM (frankly they should have bumped this to 32/64 if they wanted to compete with the Amiga - it was far to incremental to ever get any take-up). The Amiga could do 32 colours on screen with earlier versions and 64 with later (non-AGA) ones. Obviously HAM was a thing too but that wasn't really much use in games.

I fiddled with the CPC 464 as a kid but I was 8 so wasn't doing the advanced stuff, indeed even on the ST I never pushed Assembler (I had a bit of a play with it but tbh it was a bit hardcore for me). STOS was a BASIC variant built for gaming with some really nice addons available that allowed one to get reasonably close to the metal - a lot of PD/Shareware stuff was made in STOS. Tbh I never really dug into the deep technical aspects but whatever I was doing was getting a reasonably solid scroll out of it.

Nitty_Grimes Nitty_Grimes That'll be the ST's 8MHz vs the Amiga's 7MHz for the 68000 chip - the co-processors weren't much help for the Amiga in the world of 3D.
 
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Stiflers Mom

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Stiflers Mom Stiflers Mom so the STFM is indeed the base model, where the STE came in with a blitter, hardware scrolling, chips for sound samples (can't remember precise details) and 16 colours from a 4096 palette vs the 16 from 512 of the STFM (frankly they should have bumped this to 32/64 if they wanted to compete with the Amiga - it was far to incremental to ever get any take-up).
The one thing that the STE has over the OCS Amiga is that it has unified RAM space, where as the Amiga has that stupid chip and fast RAM divide.

The Amiga could do 32 colours on screen with earlier versions and 64 with later (non-AGA) ones. Obviously HAM was a thing too but that wasn't really much use in games.
Only the very first Amiga 1000s were not able to do EHB mode with 64 colours. Later revisions of the Denise chip had that built in already.
That mode isn't so useful though. It's not a true 64 colours mode. Colours 32 to 64 are just darker versions of the first 32 colours.
Also, the Amiga DMA has less time for blitter access the more bitplanes/colours you use, which results in less objects.

Usually this is not a good trade off.
The Amiga DMA sequencer is balanced to be using 4 bitplanes / 16 colours to function perfectly.
 
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hariseldon

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The one thing that the STE has over the OCS Amiga is that it has unified RAM space, where as the Amiga has that stupid chip and fast RAM divide.


Only the very first Amiga 1000s were not able to do EHB mode with 64 colours. Later revisions of the Denise chip had that built in already.
That mode isn't so useful though. It's not a true 64 colours mode. Colours 32 to 64 are just darker versions of the first 32 colours.
Also, the Amiga DMA has less time for blitter access the more bitplanes/colours you use, which results in less objects.

Usually this is not a good trade off.
The Amiga DMA sequencer is balanced to be using 4 bitplanes / 16 colours to function perfectly.
Interesting. I think PCs back in the day had that issue with RAM too, unless I'm mistaken. Re the EHB mode I wasn't sure of the timeline, but the 64 colours are useful. Consider that for most cases you have a certain number of basic colours you'll want, and likely some variants for shadow or gradient. The problem with 16 colours is that you either have to have a limited number of hues or a really limited number of variants - now obviously you can get around some of this with stippling but it's still a bit of a headache, and I would wager that even 32 colours would be a significant improvement, with the extra 32 offering some nice shading options - is the hit to the blitter that bad? I'm pretty sure a lot of Amiga games use the enhanced palette - Dragon's Lair for instance looks so much better on the Amiga.
 

Stiflers Mom

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is the hit to the blitter that bad?
This is the Amiga DMA per scanline in a nutshell:



For every bitplane you add you have less time for the blitter DMA to work.
With 6 bitplanes activated the amount of slots you get for the blitter to work with is much less than with 4 accumulated over all lines of the screen.

That's the reason why EHB was usually only used for either games with not a lot of objects, or just static game art (like the images shown in between levels in Agony).

In dual playfield mode, which uses 6 bitplanes, but split into 3/3, you usually only blit 3 bitplanes instead of 6, so the amount of stuff the blitter needs to work is halved, which makes this work a bit better.

Shadow of the Beast, Agony and Lionheart do this, for instance.
 
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hariseldon

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Yep! I cut my teeth on AMOS when I learned to program, then moved onto Blitz Basic. I learned Java next, then C.

Assembler? Hell no! Scares the living daylights out of me.
I had a brief play with AMOS when I got my Amiga but tbh I think that came along at a time when I was perhaps a little too focused on other matters (girls) - AMOS was the Amiga equivalent of STOS (though they'd moved things along a bit - AMOS was quite considerably more advanced than STOS). Blitz I think I played with briefly and that was fun. Java is a good crack, it forms a large part of my day job but I never really got into C. I probably should have a poke around it at some point but I've got a lot on my dev plate these days! Assembler though.. it's an absolute beast. Not so much the language itself, in that the limited range of things you can do makes it relatively simple in some ways, but any task requires a shitload of code (all of this is from my limited understanding largely from the Bitmap Brothers assembler tutorials in ST Format). In hindsight I probably should have put more effort into it as I might have become a better coder, but it is what it is.
 
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hariseldon

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ST Format Issue 3 - Download


The World in September 1989
In the UK our ambulance crews went on strike. Meanwhile, the IRA were bombing and murdering as was their way. Nigel Lawson resigned as chancellor, paving the way for John Major to replace him (and of course he would eventually become PM). The recession gathered pace in the meantime, it was expected to be the worst in a decade.

In America George Bush (Sr) proposed to spend $7.9bn on the War On Drugs in his first televised speech - later in the month 21 tons of cocaine and $12m in cash was seized in Los Angeles. Former president Reagan had fluid removed from his brain. Hurrican Hugo hit South Carolina.

South Africa held the last election before leaving apartheid, confirming FW De Klerk's leadership. In Asia Nintendo celebrated their 100th anniversary, and Vietnam pulled its last troops from Cambodia.

On TV Peter Sissons took over as presenter of Question Time, and there were a number of really important shows that made their debuts that month. We had Challenge Anneka which would run for 6 years and become something of an institution in the UK, while Bodger and Badger would become a kids TV classic, and finally, one of the greatest comedy series in the world would have its fourth series - Blackadder Goess Forth. It finished with something you wouldn't expect of a comedy show, a proper tear-jerker, as characters we've come to know, love and despise, go over the top of the trenches to certain death.


The film charts see Lethal Weapon 2 on top, and a few decent films from the previous month remain in the charts, but there's not much fresh quality there.

The album chart features Eurythmics at #1 with their last album for 10 years. While it did get to number one, the singles didn't perform brilliantly suggesting perhaps it wasn't a classic. The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith made up the rest of the top 3 while the rest of the charts offered little. Max fucking Bygraves at 12 - that tells you something about the British public's taste.

The singles chart were led by Black Box with Ride On Time at #1, but we also had Richard Marx with the classic power ballad Right Here Waiting and Tears For Fears with the brilliant Sowing The Seeds Of Love. We also had Starlight with Numero Uno which was very much of it's time but I guarantee it would fill a dance floor now (if we were allowed to go near them anymore). House Music could also be found at #11 with The Beatmasters and Betty Boo. There are some good songs coming up through the charts with the wonderful Pump Up The Jam from Technotronic, Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode, If Only I Could by Sydney Youngblood and Cherish from Madonna (back when she was awesome), while Aerosmith were steadily climbing with Love In An Elevator (songs took a bit longer to work their way up the charts back then).



The Magazine
Issue 3's theme is violence. At the time the press was in a bit of a moral panic about violent video games, so ST format gave it a bit of coverage. The disk featured Xenon 2 in which you blew up a bunch of aliens so it's likely they didn't give any actual fucks about violence.

The news section discusses the new STs appearing at the PC show, with the STE featuring an upgraded 4096 colour palette (vs the STFM's 512 - though still only 16 on screen at once), a stereo 8-bit DMA sound chip to improve on the STFM's horrible chip warbles, horizontal and vertical hardware scrolling, a blitter chip and additional game controller ports (which would be on the side of the machine rather than under it - the underside placement meant that one had a hard time getting the plugs into and out of the ports while the idiotic decision to solder them directly to the motherboard meant they were prone to just not working after a while).

More exciting in some ways was the TT, which featured the super-powerful 68030 chip, clocked at 16MHz and packing 2MB of RAM and a 30MB hard drive. The TT had better graphics modes, able to display 256 colours at 320x480 vs the ST's 16 colours at 320x200, or 640x480 at 16 colours, plus a 1280x960 monochrome option. The STE was intended to be the Amiga-buster while the TT was aimed at business users, but the STE didn't really have fancy enough graphics modes to threaten the Amiga. The Lynx was expected to hit shops for Christmas.

Microtext offered ST users a gadget to store teletext pages on their Atari STs - surely the most retro thing I've said in this entire thread.

We have a review for GFA Raytrace - the ST had raytracing before it was fashionable, though I remember having to leave my machine on overnight to process a single 320x200 image (I recall using something that came with I think issue 8 as a freebie). We also have a review for the Hypercache accelerator board, allowing you to clock your ST to 16MHz by replacing your old 8MHz 68000 with a new fancy 16MHz one. This involves soldering. To be fair, £150 for that probably isn't bad.

The violence article amusingly predicts the FPS, musing that Operation Wolf is the perfect violent game as "you can see your enemy as you blast him.. to make this type of game better, the display would have to simulate the view taken fromt he eyes of the hero. Then as the gun was drawn level to fire, you could get a full-screen view of the victim's face. In a perfect world you'd see it crincle with pain and the eyes bulge with fear just before being treated to a liberal spurting of blood." I'd say the author has some issues.


Previews
Ocean had Untouchables and Chase HQ awaiting release, while Hewson had Onslaught, Steel and 5th gear. Of those only Chase HQ seems terribly interesting.

Reviews
Games reviewed this month:
Eye Of Horus (Weird Egyptian-themed shooter - Logotron - £24.95 - 84%)
Slayer (Shooter - Hewson - £19.95 - 54%)
Games Summer Edition (late Olympics game - US Gold - 82%)
Passing Shot (Tennis - Mirrorsoft - £19.95 - 71%)
Conflict Europe (Strategy - Mirrorsoft - £24.99 - 84%)
Strider (Sidescrolling platform shooter - US Gold - £19.99 - 92% Format Gold)
Rocket Ranger (Cinemaware weirdness - Cinemaware - £24.95 - 73%)
Xenon 2 (Bitmap Brothers Shooter - Mirrorsoft - £24.99 - 90% Format Gold)
Castle Warrior (very weird 3rd-person game - Delphine/Palace - £19.99 - 43%)
New Zealand Story (Something.. - Ocean - £19.99 - 78%)

Also-rans: Gemini Wing, California Games, Paperboy.

So Castle Warrior looks quite odd - I couldn't find an Atari ST video but there's an Amiga one...


The 3D effect is quite odd but you can see what they're going for. While it only got 43% I'd quite like to have a look at it - it's quite a weak month overall but I'll likely have a look at Summer Games and Xenon 2, possibly Passing Shot too. The good news is that while issue 4 is a bit bare, 5 and 6 see things start to heat up again.
 
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hariseldon

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Castle Warrior




ST Format Review




My Review
So for this review I'm running Steem with my usual 1MB STFM. This is from Automation Menu 124, which also features issue 2's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.




Castle Warrior opens with a well-drawn loading screen making effective use of the limited ST palette, overlaid with a fairly average chip tune. The thing that stands out to me is the copyright Delphine Software. For those who don't know, Delphine would go on to create Future Wars (their first big hit), Operation Stealth, Cruise For A Corpse, Another World and Flashback, so they have quite a pedigree, but this was their first game. In many ways it exhibits the strangeness common in French games back in those less homogenised days.




Gameplay consists of slowly walking into the screen in a faux-3d effect which renders better than I expected, in that it's pretty similar to the Amiga version. Obviously it is flawed, but it's still cool in a strangely uncanny-valley kind of way. That said, visuals are about the only thing this game has going for it. ST Format were wise to only give it 43% as the gameplay is excerable, with it mostly consisting of moving lanes to avoid objects coming towards you and occasional encounters with large enemies where you must time the swing of your sword to bounce the balls back to kill your opponent. The poor control response makes this quite tricky.




Overall this is more a historical curio than an interesting game, made interesting by what Delphine would go on to do rather than by anything in the game itself.
 
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hariseldon

Gold Member
Aug 22, 2018
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Summer Games




ST Format Review




My Review
For this review I'm running Steem with my usual 1MB STFM. This is from Automation Menu 148 which consists of two disks (A and B). The menu has some fancy music, and a typical scrolling text which is weirdly polite and helpful.





The game itself is somewhat delayed, having missed the Seoul Olympics by about 15 months. We begin with a selection of somewhat racially-stereotyped images of Korea (though some are more Japanese or Chinese frankly) before being treated to a vector 3D flight down to the track from an overhead shot - this took me by surprise. We then arrive at a menu with icons representing the sporting events available to us. An eclectic mix of archery, 2 gymnastics events, cycling, diving, pole vault and hurdles.





I decided to kick off with a bit of archery. I used to be quite good as a kid, let's see if the skills transfer (they won't). I actually did OK, hitting the bullseye a couple of times. Controls are fairly standard with you choosing how much power then moving the traditional wobbly cursor to hit the target. The other events were reasonably solid, offering stronger controls than Summer Olympiad for instance. Graphics are well-drawn but the colour palette feels a bit 8-bit. That said, it's a solid little olympics game and I guess in 2020 it matters a little less that it's late (indeed it fits with how Japan is having its real olympics late).




I notice in the review they discuss late versions of this and California Games from the same company - I wonder if perhaps they had issues working with the Atari ST. Who knows. Either way it's a solid enough game if you like this kind of thing, though for me the best olympics game is probably still Winter Olympiad. Note that I wasn't able to try everything as I had some issues with the crack.