"I couldn't hit a barn door if I was holding the handle."
ST SOFTWARE NEWS
by Stefan Posthuma
("Atomino" bit by Richard Karsmakers)
As software seems to find it harder and harder to get to our
(i.e. ST NEWS') plane of existence, we really don't have a lot to
offer in this column. Fortunately, however, we did find some
titles that were quite OK enough to be mentioned here but that we
didn't want to write full reviews of.
So here they come.
Oh yeah. Before I forget: This time most of it was written by me
(i.e. your master editor) instead of the usual ultra-special
correspondent whom we all know and love (ahem).
Just so that you know.
Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker
Sometimes, when I zap to BBC one or two, I get a program that is
possibly one of the most boring things on Earth to watch. It's a
room with a large table in the middle, and there are a few people
moving balls around it by hitting these balls with long sticks.
The rules of this game are totally obscure, the table is
cluttered with red and coloured balls, and the people playing the
game seem to stick to some kind of system while trying to get the
balls into the pockets that line the table.
So most of the time I quickly press one of the channel switching
buttons on my remote to prevent instant brain-imploding.
Needless to say when I got the game, I wasn't particularly
Three hours later I was still playing.
I have always admired Archer Maclean for his programming
talents. It started with one of the most played games on the C64,
International Karate, and the version on the ST that he did also,
is one of the best martial arts games around. His style is
immediately recognizable, colorful, lots of animation and a
general touch of class and finesse.
Jimmy White's Snooker is all this and a lot more. It starts at
the opening screen, with loads of little animations and stuff,
and when the snooker table spins into view, you get an idea what
it is all about. The table is displayed in full, fast and smooth
3D. He has devised a 3D system that is very easy to handle, you
can view the table plus all the balls at almost any angle you
want. Many a games (and demo) programmer should have a good look
at these routines, they're top class if you ask me.
When you have selected your ball and shooting angle, (and even
chalked the cue) you shoot and follow the white ball as it races
across the table and impacts other balls. The kinetic mathematics
that are behind the movements of the balls are impressive to say
the least. I mean it is very realistic the way the balls hit each
other and roll away at different angles. Add to this that you can
have trick shots, like side and under spinning of the cue ball
and it gets even more complex. I salute Archer for this
programming accomplishment, surely something that has caused him
quite a few brain meltdowns.
I am sure the game follows the official snooker rules, shoot a
red ball, nominate a colored ball, etc. Now I don't know anybody
who can actually play the game and who could really test it, but
I did my best and actually managed to shoot a few balls into the
appropriate pockets. If you are good at this game, it must be a
delight to play. You can select a computer opponent, from simple
to professional, Mr. Jimmy White himself.
I think that when you want a snooker game on your computer, this
is surely the best one. I mean it has superb game play and
totally awesome 3D representation of the playing area. Right
Psygnosis recently baffled the entire industry with the
magnificent game "Lemmings", possibly the most original game
concept of the nineties. After this mega-game, it must have been
difficult for them to continue on such a high level. Two
Psygnosis releases after "Lemmings" were "Armour Geddon" and
"Atomino", the latter of which I'd like to take a look at here.
"Atomino" is a game programmed by German company Blue Byte, and
it's obviously trying to get more mileage out of the 'atom
building' type of games. I liked Thalion's "Atomix" a great deal,
even though it had far too few levels. I would right now like to
say that "Atomino" is not as good as "Atomix".
The goal of "Atomino" is to build molecules. They are not pre-
determined; you just get atoms you can put down that have to be
made into molecules. There are atoms that allow one, to, three or
four other atoms to be connected to it, and the trick is to make
sure that all the atoms you put on the screen are used to their
full effect (i.e. ones to which you can attack four atoms to
should also have four atoms attached, etc.). Once a molecule is
built where all atoms are 'satisfied', it disappears and points
are added to your score. Difficulty is increased by setting
certain limits, like 'having to make x molecules consisting of y
atoms', etc. New atoms are added in a 'pit', and if the pit fills
up to the top (because you haven't put the atoms on the playfield
quickly enough, for example), your game is over.
The concept is original all right, and I admire Psygnosis for
having done it. After all, Psygnosis usually tends to go for the
obvious lots-of-fancy-graphics games with legendary status
(whether this status is deserved or not). Unfortunately, that's
the only good thing about this game. The music is the usual
Hippel beat (not one of his most inspired tunes), the concept is
original but not continuously appealing. After a couple of
levels, difficulty suddenly goes sky-high and interest is quickly
This is another game that should have cost £20 or less at the
Psyclapse label. Alas, it costs £25 at the Psygnosis label. This
is much too expensive, even if the game had been appealing for a
A rating? Well, design is OK, concept average, playability not
even moderate. I guess a 6.5 would do just nicely.
Midwinter II, Flames of Freedom
Every once in a while, something vast, something massive,
something titanicly complex comes along. It assumes different
shapes and names, but it is always a challenge to the ones that
have to conquer it, the ones that will have to Master the Giant.
This time it has chosen to manifest itself as a computer game, a
set of instructions that make computers what they are, the
perfect means of entertainment...
So far the bullshit, let's get down to business.
Like I tried to emphasize above, Midwinter II is not something
to be taken lightly.
This program simulates a world comprised of (surprise!
surprise!) 42 islands. Forty-one of these are in the hands of the
enemy and you have to get serious and do something about this.
So what you do is, you pick a vehicle, and travel by land, air
and water to the island where your mission is to take place and
you do your voodoo and scramble back to base. Missions cover
things like assasinating key figures, blowing up buildings or
retrieving certain items of importance.
First, you have to choose an agent. Now don't expect to just
pick one from a list, no way, you have to go and select from a
list of personal attribute like strength, intelligence, even sex
appeal. Then you enter the facemaker and actually compose a face
by choosing eyes, hairstyle, mouth, etc. etc. (fortunately, after
spending lots of time composing the perfect you, it can be saved
After this, you train you agent by flying around a bit, taking a
tank for a ride and run around, trying the different weapons and
moves you have.
When you have sufficient experience, you go out and try to
accomplish your mission. You have to avoid getting caught,
because the prisons are waiting for you, and getting out isn't
always that easy. You can however, bribe, molest or even seduce a
guard to taste the sweet freedom once again.
The world is displayed in full-vector 3D, with animations, tonsa
shapes and other goodies. Brilliant, brilliant. The maps are all
in fractal-landscape fashion, with zooming and panning
factilities of course. I can't start to imagine the amount of
programming that has gone into this program.
I have a problem with this game.
Maybe it is my limited intelligence or scope of understanding,
but I can't get to grips with it. I just wander around the
immense world, gaze for hours at wonderfully detailed fractal
maps and get shot to bits by the first enemy that comes around.
Also, the game is apparently bigger that 2Megs, because whatever
I do, the bloody thing has to access the disk. After a while this
gets so frustrating that I switch off the computer, reboot with
my Yak disk and play Llamatron instead.
Now I hate to slag this off, it looks like a great game, with
millions of options and stuff, but you need the right kind of
devotion to play this game (or even read the epic 184 page
manual) and I just don't have the patience. But I can imagine
that there are people that love this kind of thing and can spend
hours trying to find ways to solve the problems or who
desperately want to seduce that nice blonde guard.
Anyways, not my cup of tea (or rather: glass of whisky) but I
have to compliment the programming on this one.
Update on this one:
After a few days of frantic playing I managed (with lots of help
from Tim) to complete a few missions. We actually got a bit
hooked on it until the excessive disk access bored us too much.
(and we got our hands on a copy of the totally wicked 'Revenge of
the Mutant Camels') It is actually a very good game. I mean the
3D is excellent, with light shading and some nice effects like
water lapping on the sea shore etc. Also, there is a great
vareity of vehicles, flying, driving and floating, and they all
have different characteristics. Also, gameplay is very complex
but still playable for those that play carefully and have a lot
And I mean a LOT of patience. Like I said before, the thing that
spoils this game is the disk access. For example, if you destroy
an enemy squadron, you are informed about it by means of a screen
that takes at least half a minute to load and after this screen,
it takes another twenty seconds to reload the 3D stuff. All in
all, this is about a minute and it gets extremely annoying when
you are in the middle of a high-pitched battle and you are doing
some serious damage, it's great fun to eliminate tank and truck
squadrons from a fast flying helicopter, but you get a bit pissed
off when it has to load a bloody 'you have eliminated captain
Mgubu's tank squadron' message. The same applies to loading of
maps and other screens, you need a LOT of patience to play this
game. It's too bad, I am sure I would be playing it right now if
it wasn't for the long delays...
Rating: I have to give two ratings, one for the actual game: 6
and one for the hypothetical version with severely optimized disk
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.