ST SOFTWARE NEWS by Richard Karsmakers
Quite a quiet time has it been recenty with regard to software.
But there's still enough to write an article about, so let's
start off immediately.
One of the nicest programs I stumbled into recently was an
English color monitor program called "Monopoly", which was
programmed in GfA Basic. So it has finally succeeded in
penetrating the United Kingdom, kingdom of "Fast Basic"!
"Monopoly" is the computer version of the same game, and I must
say it's a pleasure to play. It's very easy to play Monopoly
using the mouse and almost every thinkable option has been
included in the program. It has one disadvantage: Your three
computer opponents never start trading themselves - you always
have to start trading with them yourself.
The very same evening that I actually got the game, I started
playing it. In a one-and-a-half-hours 'Clash of the Titans' I
succeeded in winning the game, in which I eliminated Andy, Chip
and, last but not least, Betty. I must say I was lucky because I
only had to buy all the streets I got on to get to the possession
of e.g. the complete "Boardwalk" city. Building hotels there was
no real pain and they all were bound to go there. Eventually
both male opponents had to give all their streets to me, so I had
half of the board built with hotels. Betty, by that time, was
stinkin' rich of her hotels in the lesser cities on which the
others (including myself) has often strayed, so she had to get
onto quite a few of my hotels before she gave up: "You win,
Human." Boy, what a way to be spoken to by a girl.
No sooner than midnight could I get to sleep after this exciting
game of Monopoly.
The big problem with the program is that I do not know whether it
is actually PD or not! I would very much like to get into touch
with the guy that wrote the ST version of the program (it was
obviously converted from another machine, as could be seen by the
many numbered labels): Is it PD or not? Please let me know as
soon as possible...
The German company Kingsoft has launched a kind of sequel to the
arcade game "XTron" from RDS, called "Typhoon". Kingsoft wisely
decided to do business with the two guys that used to do the RDS
program, Christoph Sing and Rolf Wagner. The result looks very
much like its predecessor, but offers more detail, a very much
better front picture and a better piece of digitized music for
the intro (I especially like the drum-beats).
The actual setup is quite the same: A flying object has to blast
everything that moves (and that it CAN actually blast). But it
does have to watch out for a skull that appears here and there
and that must not be zapped in any case! The ship can now move up
and down as well as the usual directions left and right, but it
is still only possible to have two or three bullets in the air at
once (and no rapid fire either).
The nice surprise comes a few zones after the beginning, being a
nice scrolling background - that varies throughout the
forthcoming levels. The scrolling is very smooth and the sprite
movements are very different at each zone. For arcade freaks (in
other words, for people just like me) this game really is quite a
success. Oh yeah, while I'm at it - my hiscore is getting to zone
18 with 15650 points. Try to break that!
Since the launch of ST NEWS Volume 2 Issue 2, I have gained a few
demos from the British software company Microdeal. They are the
demos for a game called "Goldrunner", a sound sampler program
called "ST Replay" and a software drum-machine called "Digital
Let's start right off with the best demo yet to be seen of the
best shoot-'em-up game yet to be seen: The "Goldrunner" demo.
Many people - especially those who really freak out when they see
a small figure chased by other figures gaining gold coffins on
certain mind-boggling levels - thought that it was to be a kind
of "Lode Runner" for the ST. Nothing is less true. Although I
really liked "Lode Runner" on the Commodore 64 (and I still do,
but unfortunately I have to keep it to the tape version...) I am
not grieved by the fact that "Goldrunner" turned out to be 'just'
another shoot-'em-up game.
When I heard the demo for the first time I immediately went
completely bananas - freakin' out of my head so to say. It was
not even the beautifully drawn picture that made me stand stunned
to the ground, but the music - programmed by Rob Hubbard! "Who's
Rob Hubbard anyway?" will some of you (maybe most of you)
probably ask, "what's that kiddo gettin' excited about?"
Well, Rob Hubbard (in fact a professional musician as well as
computer music programmer) is the man that made - and still
makes - the best computer music on the Commodore 64. He has a
very disitinctive way of programming, and most of his musix sound
very well - some even sound un-computer like. Although he'd got
some other music programmer to 'fight' with in due time, he is
still the top of the bill on that small machine. Last year, a
friend of mine (The Mercenary Cracker, in fact) told me that Mr.
Hubbard had written a music demo for the Amiga. "Jesus H. F.ckin'
Christ", I thought, "he will now never get to join us on the ST".
Fortunately, the odds have proved that I was in the wrong - I am
not very distressed in admitting this.
Anyway, the music that had the honour of touching my inner ear
(doesn't that sounds terribly arrogant? It reads nicely, though)
was actually made by him and sounded very 64-like (this is the
only comparison with any 8-bit computer that is not insulting to
the ST, as the Commodore 64 has THE best soundchip every
developed uptil now - except for the AMY and the new chip said to
be in the Apple II GS). Some research proved that the music came
from the Commodore 64 game "The Human Race" (tune number 4). I
could have jumped a hole in the ceiling of the computer club the
very moment I saw this "Goldrunner" demo (at a computer club in
Spaubeek, Holland). Rob Hubbard on the ST! Incredible!
But the demo offers more. Apart from some scrolling messages
explaining the setup of the game, it offers actual 'shots' from
the game, with smooth scrolling, nice explosions (much better
than the stupid explosions of e.g. "XTron", which are still
incorporated in "Typhoon" as well) and good sound effects. The
background that scrolls past is very well drawn and one'd even
start to think it's the real thing when looking at it. No doubt,
"Goldrunner" (according to the demo, launched as you read this)
will be the very best arcade game available on the ST (this would
enhance my personal list of software that really should be bought
to "Degas Elite", "GfA Basic" (and the GfA Compiler),
"Flightsimulator II", "1st Word Plus", a good assembler and
The other two demos can only 'walk in the shadow' of the
"Goldrunner" demo. The "ST Replay" demo offers half-meg
compatible digitized music (a piece of "A-Ha" and a piece of Jean
Michel Jarre's "Equinoxe"). I still think they should have at
least checked if you had a Megabyte or not (if it was there, they
should have loaded in some more samples). The whole is now a bit
short. The quality is very reasonable - though not as good as ST
Club Eindhoven's sound sampler (stereo and CD quality) that will
be launched soon).
The "Digital Drums" demo is really trash! It offers stupid
drumming sounds and is therefore not included in the ST NEWS
Public Domain library (the other two demos are included). I
sincerely hope that the final product will prove to be much more
versatile. I know that demos only offer a slight part of the real
thing, but even renaming the data file so that it was loaded into
the "ST Replay" demo didn't reveal any really terrific drumming
sounds. I'd rather have a Korg drumcomputer instead (or maybe
even the thing incorporated in Frank's synth). But again -
"Goldrunner" is terrific!!
Some latest news: Microdeal/Michtron has also launched a joystick
version of their old arcade topper "Major Motion" (the game that
looked so much like "Spy Hunter".
The Canadian "F.A.S.T.E.R." magazine has now released their issue
5. As you might already know, "F.A.S.T.E.R." is no PD magazine
(which many people thought before), but is sold at around DM 25
in Germany now (and at various other prices in 'PD' libraries
throughout the country). If one only looks at the programming
techniques and tricks that are used, they are surely better than
ST NEWS, but I must say that we offer much, much more
information. They tend to use pictures, large programs, etc.,
whereas we don't use any pictures (yet) and we only publish few
programs (and all programs are included in source only-
"F.A.S.T.E.R." tends to offer the compiled programs as well,
which is very space-consuming). Their new disk is (just like the
last two releases) maxi-formatted which significantly decreases
user-friendlyness. It is not that I can't stand it that they
offer things that we also try to offer, but I wouldn't recommend
buying it. As a PD product it would be very nice, but I think
that ST NEWS now finally has the greatest advantage it could
possibly wish - it's free of any costs!
More news now from the Public Domain software front. Through my
good friend Stefan Colombier I got the picture show "Golden
Girls" a month or so ago. Terrific programming but *&^£$ artwork!
All pictures represented certain pornographic scenes and
therefore this show definately decreased the number of
potentially interested people. Now, the makers from that show
(the German Denise Team from Stuttgart) have made a new picture
show that even offers better programming techniques, better
artwork and here and there some true animation! It is called "The
California Beach Girls" and it was brought from the Hannover
Messe by Hubert van Mil from ST Club Eindhoven. It is THE best
monochrome picture-and animation show you've ever seen!
Unfortunately it only works on double sided drives and one meg of
memory (the "Golden Girls" only needed a DS disk drive, but
worked with half meg systems anyway), but that shouldn't be a
tough nut to crack for the real fans.
The girls look terrific (some of them are digitized in a more or
less nude pose, but that should only hinder people with ultra-
feministic viewpoints or members of any "Females against sexual
abuse and women in nudistic magazines" associations). Whereas the
"Golden Girls" was only good for people at an age of 18 years or
older, the "California Beach Girls" can be regarded to be 'All
The English software company Mastertronics has finally decided to
start launching software for the ST as well. Although their first
game, "Ninja Mission", is actually only a conversion from the
Commodore 64, the game offers a really great front screen and
very good music (especially when one thinks one is listening to
an ST soundchip). I don't know if it is programmed by Rob
Hubbard, but it might very well be because I thought I heard some
specific Hubbard-like fragments in it.
The game itself is, again, a game of fighting sports. None of the
software companies seem to have listened to the cry of my heart
for simple soccer games. Not that the game is very complex, but I
now and then really need to play soccer or tennis (now I have to
switch on the good old '64 for that).
The game consist of several 'floors' of five rooms each, in which
people like 'Thugs' and 'Evil Ninjas' are wandering around. They
sometimes guard vases that you need to get. They make use of
throwing stars, knives and swords and you'll need to beat every
one of them to collect all there is to collect (collecting stars,
etc. makes you much stronger, as you can throw these at your
enemy). When one whole floor is sweeped clean, you'll have to go
looking for a loose plank in the ceiling in which you can jump by
moving the joystick up. At every level you meet more opponents,
that are more difficult to beat. Sometimes you even get three
opponents in one room!
My hiscore with this game is 24354. Try to beat it (I'm sure it
won't be that difficult)!
Loriciels, the French company that was well known for "Infernal
Runner" on the Commodore 64 (please excuse me for refering to the
64 so many times, but I hope you'll understand that it was a main
part of my childhood and that I still have many fond memories of
it), has now launched "Magnetic Tank" (short: "M.G.T.") for the
ST. In between all those Karate-,Ninja-and Golf Games and all
those filthy adventures, this really is something that makes one
look positively at the world again.
The front picture already leaves a good impression on the player,
and the intro music is also very nice to listen to (though not as
good as the music from "Goldrunner" or "Ninja Mission"). The
player actually controls a magnetic tank (strange, but that's why
it's called "Magnetic Tank", I suppose) that has to destroy a
stone somewhere in an enormous maze of rooms. Some levels are
locked by laser-doors, that can be opened by getting a key or
shooting at it. Some other levels feature invisible walls, icy
(or glassy) tracks , doors on different levels, etc. It isn't
just a stupid game, since there are still a few puzzles to be
solved (although this impressions could in fact be faulty, since
even our own Jos Schilders has succeeded in achieving the end
goal - he is now writing "Solution to Magnetic Tank" for us).
To play, it is a very nice game. I only have the impression that
it's a bit too easy...
The company that, a few months ago, launched the game "Macadam
Bumper", has now also arranged the guys from "Magnetic Tank" to
write a program for them (these guys are Remi Herbulot, Michel
Rho and Jean-Louis Valero). The product is called "Crafton &
Xunk" and looks a bit like "Magnetic Tank" when one looks at the
setup - you also have to gather keys that fit on certain locks on
certain doors. This time, you're not controlling a tank but a guy
called Crafton and his little pet Xunk. You visit many rooms
which are all filled with very well presented furniture, other
people, mechanic animals, and much more. It is possible to move
the furniture in order to get on cupboards, etc. Each room is a
puzzle of its own, and the game can be called even nicer than
"Magnetic Tank". This game also features 3D graphics which are
very well drawn - the roughness of the graphics has also vanished
so I was able to see. Quite a relief.
I consider this game to be one of the nicest games currently
available for the ST series. The sound effects are quite good,
the graphics are impressive, the programming techniques used are
very good and the overall rating is, let's say, about 9.
Have you ever heard life-like audiences applauding on your simple
ST? No? Well, in that case you should immediately buy "10th
Frame" from Access (who remembers "Leaderboard"? That was
Access!). The whole is, as you might have derived from the name,
a bowling game. It starts with a very well digitised picture,
together with a digitised intro tune. Not bad, not bad at all!
After quite some additional loading, the game start with a small
option screen. You can play with several players in several teams
on three different difficulty levels. When you're playing, you'll
notice that every one single sound is digitized: The rolling of
the ball, the bowling installations, the falling of the skittles,
and (yes!) the applause of the audience if you throw a strike or
flatten all the skittles within two throws. Quite impressive, but
I suppose this keeps the game from working properly on half meg
machines (although I didn't actually test that).
The graphics are very well taken care of (although the good old
Destroyer - remember him? - thought the whole damn thing a heap
of trash when I recently discussed ST software with him at Mr.
Geukens' club in Veldhoven. No need to heed his nonsense - he is
an Amiga owner and all ST stuff is trash in his rotten eyes) and
the whole game further leaves quite a good impression on me as
well as most other people that have seen it. I now only continue
hoping that some of the true Access best-sellers (these were
"Beach Head" and "Beach Head II", as well as "The Scrolls of
Abaddon" - hi Venom fans!) will also be re-written for the ST -
that would really satisfy many ex-Commodore 64 users as well as
Electronic Arts (the famous American corporation that used to
write software for the Amiga only because the ST was so bad) has
now launched another product: "Arcticfox". The setup of the
program is good fun to play - you drive a tank on the Northpole
that has to destroy an enemy fort. You are thereby hindered by
the strangest vehicles and aircrafts that you'll have to blast
out of your way. At times you get into a serious snowstorm and
sometimes the radar is jammed by thunderish weather. All graphics
are three-dimensional, and all objects are filled (with hidden
line removal as well). The only disadvantage is that the graphics
are further not very stunning (quite clumsy animation), and that
the sound is simply awful - especially thunder, which sounds like
someone hitting his ass on a lamp hanging down from too low a
ceiling. Electronic Arts' previous product, "Sky Fox", wasn't
alltogether that good, but "Arcticfox" is worse. Though not as
bad as "Super Huey" and "Fire Blaster", I wouldn't recommend
anyone to buy (or even copy) this program. I think the people at
Electronic Arts should keep their trash programs confided to that
equally trashy Amiga - if they feel they should torture normal
people (ST users) they should be learned a lesson that they never
forget! I still hope that "Marble Madness" will come, but I
sincerely hope that it will be as good as (or better as) the
Amiga version. Everybody knows the musical capabilities of the ST
are less than those of the Amiga, but why do those darned people
make it that bad? And the graphics can easily be done better as
Gremlin (Graphics?) recently launched their first ST game (again,
a conversion from the Commodore 64). It is called "Trailblazer"
and Frank is quite insane since he got it. The game is very
addicting and the graphics and sounds are very well done. The
intro even features some digitized 'speech'.
The object of the game is to guide a bouncing football over a
long road that scrolls towards you in full 3D. In that road,
their are black parts (holes), green parts (that slow you down),
white parts (that make you jump), yellow parts, green parts and
blue parts (that reverse all joystick movements). Finally, there
also are pink parts, which take care that your current moving
direction turns around 180 degrees.
This program offers the quite unique possibility to play with two
players at one time (one on the top half of the screen, the other
on the lower half). The sounds are incredibly real, although the
background music can easily be called nerve-wrecking. I hope that
the company in question, Gremlin, really is Gremlin Graphics -
this would mean that another Amiga comapny has joined us on the
"Trailblazer" is quite a nice game to play, and very addictive.
It's one of those games that care care that you dream of bouncing
balls after playing it for more than a couple of hours...
"To eat or to be eaten" - thus sounds the motto from Strike-a-
Light's first software product called "Strikey". This is the
first program of a series of Low Price Software that will be sold
at huge quantities through ST Club Eindhoven. "Strikey" actually
is a kind of Pac Man game, but it offers much more variety than
usual Pac Man games do. The graphics are reasonable (the front
picture is even very good), but the sound effects are very
irritating if you don't keep your volume a bit down. The joystick
movements could have been better but it's still possible to
finish a reasonable amount of levels with the current joystick
routines. In spite of these disadvantages, the game features
humour and addiction to all ST users (yes, ALL, since it works on
all known ST configurations - color and monochrome monitors - and
doesn't need a whole megabyte of memory).
Especially if one looks at the price and the addictability of the
game (and the humour - just have a look at the front screen and
you'll be kept busy for about a quarter of an hour), nobody
should be kept without this game. I am not only saying this
because the authors (Roland and Robert Heessels; Eerk Hofmeester
did the graphics) happen to be good pals of mine, but also
because an initiative like this should be pushed all over the
world. To support this initiative, I hereby offer all readers of
ST NEWS the possibility to order the program through the ACC -
just pay 29,95 Dutch guilders to giro account number 5060326
(t.n.v. Richard Karsmakers, Helmond, The Netherlands) and you'll
have it mailed to your home. In the near future we also hope to
launch all other Cheapware products through this service: "The
Artist Plus", "PicWorks V2.0" and "Strike Address".
The American company First Byte has recently launched some
educational software. I have had a brief look at their "Kidtalk"
and "Speller Bee", and I have included the "Smoothtalker" demo in
our PD (please refer to our article about the PD Library for more
information about that). Both program are written for children of
young age, and are extremely clear to work with. Even very young
children will be able to work with these programs; very extensive
help options are offered, and all messages that appear on the
screen are also spoken in quite a clear voice (of high quality, I
might add). "Speller Bee" even allows pitch change, speed change,
male/female voices, etc. The graphics are very clear, although
they are all presented in medium res only. I have not yet seen
any other, better, educational programs. Unfortunately, they can
only be used in countries that speak English - the programs are
in English. Just order the PD demo soon and you'll see what I
mean with good speech!
That was it for this time's ST NEWS "ST Software News". Although
I had hoped to offer previews of some new stunning games this
month, I think I'll have to wait another month ot so for these.
In spite of that, I expect to review the following software in
the next issue of ST NEWS: Defender of the Crown, Gauntlet, Star
Trek, Dizzy Wizard and the Boulder Dash contruction set. May be
even the real Goldrunner. See ya!
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.