ST SOFTWARE NEWS by Richard Karsmakers
It has been literally raining software in the last couple of
months, so this article will be quite big this time! Not only did
more time elapse since the last issue of ST NEWS was published,
but also did several companies start writing software for the ST
in the new year or the end of the old year. Let's have a look at
some of the many titles I have seen here and there...
Mirrorsoft finally published "Fleet Street Publisher" (which was
earlier announced as being "Fleet Street Editor", but alas!), a
desktop publishing program. It looks like desktop publishing is
going to be it for 1987; not only did Mirrorsoft "Fleet Street",
but another company (beats me which one) published "TeX" (very
good, so it seems) and Softlogik published "Publishing Partner",
about which you will be able to read more a bit furtheron. Even
on the Apple-emulator, ST users can use desktop-publishing with a
program called "Ready-Set-Go". Atari is now also launching a
laser-printer at about 7000 Dutch Guilders (which will only work
on the new 2 Meg machines), so it seems that the ST series will
finally become real professional workstations.
Let me first explain what desktop-publishing is. In the jungle of
computer lingo, this word is quite new; I hadn't heard of it
myself until half a year ago (when I heard that "1st Word Plus"
also enables desktop-publishing). This term means word processing
while it is possible to use pictures (small or large, that
doesn't matter) with your texts. You simply type your text around
the pictures or so. On the Commodore 64 a program called
"Newsroom" did something like it, but you really need the
splendid resolution of the ST and a really good monitor (like the
SM series) to publish with your desktop to its full extend.
Hardcopies on regular printers (even like the Star NL-10) do look
a bit dumb, however, since these programs mostly use high-res
dumping techniques. Since most desktop-publishing programs open
the possibility to select from a wide variety of font styles and
font sizes, not all these fonts will be equally visible when
printed. One really needs a 24-pin printer (like the NEC P6) or
maybe even a laser-printer to do the job properly. Unfortunately,
most people cannot afford these. Therefore, a program like "Fleet
Street Publisher" is not very useful for most people, though set
up very well and offering the strangest and most advanced
options. It can be ordered at Mirrorsoft, Maxwell House, 74
Worship Street, London EC2A 2EN, England, and costs £115.
A few other programs for word processing/desktop publishing that
have been launched recently are Application System's "Signum" and
SoftLogik's "Publishing Partner". "Signum" allows advanced word
processing (although I missed outlined and light options), and it
enables the user to print out his documents on a 9-or 14 needle
printer (where the quality of the 9-needle printout can easily be
mistaken with that of a 24-needle printer!!). Unfortunately, is
doesn't yet allow the use of pictures. "Publishing Partner"
does offer this possibility, and the quality of the printout is
very near to that of "Signum". Further reviews of these programs
may be expected soon in ST NEWS...
GfA Systemtechnik in Germany finally launched a compiler that
could compile this version of ST NEWS without as much as bomb-
crashing while loading! According to GfA Systemtechnik, this is
the final version although I have heard that Anthony of Commedia
succeeded in letting it crash all the same. The GfA Compiler can
be bought through Commedia, Eerste Looiersdwarsstraat 12, 1016
VM, Amsterdam, Holland, or directly at the importer for Holland
or GfA Systemtechnik (the latter if you live in Germany). At GfA,
it costs DM 169,-.
Megasoft has launched a level-game called "Wizard Royal"; in past
times, Good and Bad fought against each other and many cases have
been hidden on different continents and in different times. These
cases have to be recovered by the owls (you are one if you play
If you have a color monitor, the picture look nice but the actual
game looks simply dreadful, so I tested it with monochrome
instead (it works with both color-and monochrome monitors!). The
pictures were still very nice, and the game itself was nice to
have a look at as well now.
I suppose the game is based upon a game that I used to have on
the Commodore 64 that was called "Wizard" (published by
Progressive Computers and Peripherals in the U.S.A.). Both games
incorporate an extended editor. I liked "Wizard" on the 64 very
much, but that was because if better use of the hardware
provided. Still, "Wizard Royal" is very addictive, although I
have only succeeded in finishing a level called "Bergwerk". The
editor is unbelievable! There are really dozens of things that
can be changed - you just have to look at it yourself and you'll
know what I mean. In the German magazine "ST Computer", a review
article compared the game with "Lode Runner" (another game on the
Commodore 64, and the only computergame to be afterwards
converted to an arcade-hall version!), which I think isn't true.
"Lode Runner" is very much different although the goal is quite
the same. At a price of about DM 139,- (which is a bit too
expensive, I think) this game can be obtained from Boston
Computer GmbH, Anzinger Str. 1, 8000 München 80, West Germany.
The game further on (I almost forgot that) incorporated very well
digitized sound effects, which unfortunately only work on a Meg
computer (520 ST+, 1040 STF or upgraded ST with one Megabyte of
Well, it may sound unmodest, but I would hereby like to review
two of our own new products as well. At first, there's
"Speedwriter V1.0", a program that allows you to write
interactive communications to any of your friends (or enemies).
It simply stores all you type in a string (so cursor movements,
deletes, etc. as well) and enables re-printing of that string as
well. Just have a look at it yourself, by ordering it through our
PD service (have a look at the article called "PD Library" in
this issue of ST NEWS).
Recently, we have received many positive reactions to the new
setup of ST NEWS so I decided to make a Compendium of all issues
that were published in 1986, under the name "ST NEWS Volume 1
Compendium" (not my idea, but of Commedia), with the most
interesting articles that were published in ST NEWS Volume 1
Issues 1-6. For some people, this will be the only way to read at
least a few of the articles published in ST NEWS Volume 1 Issues
1 and 2, since these have been discontinued from our PD Library
since Januari 1st of this year! This program is also totally
menu-controlled as a part of our new setup, and can also be
ordered through our PD service.
Mirrorsoft has not only launched "Fleet Street Publisher"
recently, but also their long awaited "Strike Force Harrier". It
is actually a flight simulating game, that offers very fast and
smooth solid-model graphics. It can be regarded as being kind of
"F15 Strike Eagle" (a popular game in the mid days of the
Commodore 64) with several aspects of "Sky Fox" (a game that was
launched on the Commodore 64, but that also has appeared on the
Amiga and the ST of course). A friend of mine told me that
"Strike Force Harrier" was 'Sky Fox as it should have been in the
first place'. It is possible to fly over a 3D landscape with
mountains (mountain-like pyramids anyway), to beat the hell out
of tanks and to engage into air-to-air combat.
Missiles, bombs and machine guns are the only means you have to
achieve your target.
As I already said, the graphics are impressive (faster than those
of Flightsimulator II) but this game again proves that working on
a machine with many colours doesn't necessarily mean the
production of decent colour shades in a game like this. Not bad
at all, and definately better than that downer "Harrier Strike
Missions", but I'd rather fly "World War One Ace" of
"Flightsimulator II". I hope "Spitfire '40" of Mirrorsoft will
turn out to be better!
Level 9, a famous British software house on the level of
adventures, has (so I've heard in close cooperation with the
people of Rainbird - the people behind "The Pawn" and
"Starglider") published an adventure pack called "Jewels of
Darkness" recently. Our adventure specialist, Math Claessens, is
not particularly thrilled about them, nor am I (but I wasn't much
of an adventure freak anyway). "Jewels of Darkness" contains
three all-time classics from Level 9 computing, which are
"Colossal Adventure", "Dungeon" and "Quest". I remember these
titles well, as I read advertisements of these games for BBC and
Commodore 64 in a very old computer magazine (about winter 1984)
just when I was thinking about buying my first computer (as a
matter of fact, I was then deciding whether it would be a
Sinclair QL or the Commodore 64). I don't think it's much good to
convert these adventures to computers of the standard of the ST
(or even the Amiga, for that matter). Although all locations, as
far as I've seen, are supplied with a picture, these pictures are
very roughly drawn-'n'-filled and aren't liable to smell the ass
of "The Pawn" (or even Activision's adventures - "Borrowed Time"
or "Mindshadow"). For dedicated adventure freaks I suppose they
might be worth buying, but never even think about it when you
aren't one of those!
Kingsoft of Western Germany has been publishing quite some games
for the ST: "Quiwi", "Space Pilot" and "Fist of Fury" are only of
few of these, wherease they also seem to have published a game
called "Typhoon" which looks really great from screenshots.
Because I still haven't received "Typhoon" from them and because
I haven't seen "Quiwi" at all (it seems to be rather dull,
anyway), I hereby want to tell something about "Space Pilot",
adapted for the ST by Oliver Joppich. It is a 2D space-blast-'em-
up-game, which unfortunately doesn't offer "Time Bandit"-like
smooth scrolling (but something rather more like character block
scrolling). That's the only disadvantage of this game, so it
seems, because I think it's much fun playing, and the sound
effects (especially between two levels) are very good indeed! One
has to get used to the way in which all is directed with help of
the joystick, but when you have managed to do so, it is a very
addicting game to play. "Space Pilot" is, except for the scroll,
a winner among arcade classics!
I also mentioned "Fist of Fury", the prototype of a karate game
as it shouldn't be. It only works on a 1 Meg machine, and it
offers dull graphics, shitty joystick movements, etc. Even a
price of DM 10 for this program would be too expensive (but it
costs even more...)
"Eden Blues" is another game to be launched recently. It is an
interactive adventure in which you are to escape from a maximum
security prison. You must kick doors and find your way around a
kind of maze to find the way to the outside world. The graphics
are reasonable and the sound was so impressive that I don't even
remember if the game had any. It works partly with the keyboard,
and it really isn't a really good game (quite unlike the only
other maze-like game "Time Bandit" - if comparison is allowed in
Another quite lousy game to be launched recently is Artworx'
"Thai Boxing". I can remember being all excited when I heard this
game was to be launched on the ST, but I already got my
suspicions when I saw the game at a friend of mine on his
Commodore 64. When I eventually saw the ST version, I immediately
recognized the dullness and stupidness of the 64 version. It is
simply a game in which you must beat up your opponent (or the
computer-opponent). On the top of the screen, your head and that
of your opponent are displayed during the contest, in which they
get bruises, bumps, bloody noses, etc. The principle is simple
and the graphics are not only dull but never seem to change
either. A real downer, unlike Artworx' "Strip Poker"!
The last game in this months ST NEWS ST Software News column is
"Macadam Bumper", a pinball machine + construction set. The
graphics are very impressive and the user-friendlyness is
ginormous! But the top of the biscuit was the sound. When the
first sound FXs started to buzz through my ear tunnels, I
immediately looked under my poor ST's keyboard to see of a rascal
might have put one of those Amiga soundchips under it - to say
the least, the sound FX are very well done. Almost real. This
game is definately a lot (yes, a lot) better than Microdeal's
"Pinball Factory", and I consider it to be a hit!
Next time in ST Software News, I hope to publish (p)reviews of
"Defender of the Crown", "Summer Games", "Star Trek", and many
other interesting software titles - it is almost sure that we'll
publish a full review of "Signum" then.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.