ST SOFTWARE NEWS by Richard Karsmakers
All the software that was too late to be launched at Christmas
and all software that was finished too soon to be launched in the
upcoming summer period seems to have been published in the latest
months. That's why there's quite a lot of software to be reviewed
in this issue's "ST Software News" column. So let's cut the crap
and start on right away.
When wandering about at a user group recently, I saw what must
have been a preview version of "Goldrunner II", present on two
disks (one program disk and one background scenery data disk).
Unlike "Goldrunner", "Goldrunner II" was not made by Steve Bak,
neither was the music made by Rob Hubbard. Even the graphics
were done by someone else. The first question that arises: Is it
better than is pre-decessor? I'd say yes as well as no. The
music, for instance, cannot match the "Goldrunner" soundtrack by
Robb. The sprite movement (especially when turning the ship) is
inferior as well. But the scrolling is again fast and smooth and
the graphics are very good. The definate "Goldrunner II" should
be available at the UK Atari Show at the end of April, as would
have to be "Leatherneck". If I'd have to rate this preview, I'd
give it an 8-.
One of the hottest new Loriciels releases is "Space Racer" - a
game that could be called "Outrun in space". The intro picture is
already pretty mind-busting, together with some well digitized
music. The graphics in the actual game, the movements, the sounds
and the playability are excellent. "Space Racer" is definately
one of the best games that became available in the last months.
High quality software keeps coming from France, and I hope that
this trend will be continued. A 9.
The next Melbourne House for the ST after their fabulous "Xenon"
shoot-'em-up is "Rockford", a game that could be called a clone
of the "Boulder Dash" games. Though definately better taken care
of then the original "Boulder Dash Construction Kit" that reached
us a year or so ago, it features crash-course-headbangin'-scroll
and the graphics and sounds aren't really breathtaking either.
Selling at just under 70 Dutch guilders, this is one of the
lousiest games that have been published recently. Maybe, one
would be inclined to like it when it would cost 40 guilders or
so, but now I'd consider it to be worth hardly more than a 5.
Reasonably satisfying is U.S. Gold's most recent Atari ST
release, "Rolling Thunder". An undercover Police organisation is
assigned to expose a conspiracy to conquer the world. Playing the
game, one is sent to the enemy headquarters to complete this
mission and the free the allies held hostage. The graphics are
moderate, game control is like that as well. The music is below
average, but worst is the horizontal scrolling: BAD! Selling at
the same price as "Rockford", this product is also grotesquely
overpriced. A 6 would be enough.
LEVEL 16 DEMO
No commercial release is a demo program called "Level 16 Demo",
made by a hachin' group calling themselves "Level 16". This demo
is very nice to look at, because it appears to use graphics in
ALL the borders!! When I saw this demo for the first time, it
took several hours to regain my breath, but it was soon explained
to me that is was 'just' a clever piece of programming. While
looking at a piccy, a blocky figure scrolls diagonally over the
screen, using all parts of the screen as well as the border. It
appears to be done by cleverly switching the background color at
given parameters, thus creating a 'graphic' effect. Hence the bad
resolution of the moving graphics (the x-resolution corresponds
with the processor time needed to switch the background color
once). It only works on color monitors and is said to use all
memory, so I am not sure whether it works on half meg systems.
A new software label called "Players" have made their first ST
program now: "Joe Blade". Its plot is largely coherent to
Pandora's "Into the Eagle's Nest" that I spoke about in an
earlier issue of ST NEWS, though now one looks at the scenery
from a lateral view. Scrolling is good, graphics are good, sounds
are good, playability is good. It is just one of those no-
nonsense, well programmed products. A 7.5.
Another game that I consider to be overpriced is Elite's current
release, "Battleships", selling at just under 60 Dutch guilders.
You won't hear me saying that it's bad; NO! The graphics and
animation are excellent, and so are the sounds. The Whittaker-
like music (though very short and ever repeating) somehow seems
to fit well in the concept, and the Pete Lyon-style graphics are
simply staggering (especially the fantastic title picture!). In
spite of all these positive remarks and the fact that it is again
very thoroughly programmed, I consider it overpriced because the
game fails to capture the player's attention for longer than a
couple of times playing. You know the plot....putting a
submarine and other ships alike on a sea and having to find those
of the other player's by firing shots. A dead-simple plot that I
can hardly call addictive. For 30-40 Guilders, this game would
surely have become a best-seller. A 7.5 is all I can give because
of that dull plot.
Another very nice game to appear from France is "Bobo", also
known as "Prisoner" (based on a comic-book character that's
called "Jaap" in Holland). You are sentenced to remain a time in
prison, and the game covers all kinds of events that you might
have to participate in there. Peeling the jackets from potatoes,
making sure that no-one snores in the sleeping hall, feeding your
fellow-convicts, etc. The music is very entertaining (as usual
with all Infogrammes products), graphics are highly functional,
animation is quite well done and the plots are very original.
Though not one of those history-writing mega-games, "Bobo" is
surely worth playing! An 8.
After "Arkanoid", Ocean came with a bit of a let-down: "Tai
Pan". After that, they launched another very good program called
"Wizball", but now they have once again launched a bummer: "Slap
Fight". It's just one of those plain vertical shoot-'em-up games
in the neverending row that started with "Xevious". Moderate
animation, lousy music, difficult playability and graphics that
are even below average. All this fuzz about this game? Let's
hope that the next Ocean release will again be of high quality,
so that the average quality of Ocean software will again increase
a little. Why don't they just keep themselves to launching games
like "Arkanoid" and "Wizball"? Or is Peter Johnson the only
capable ST programmer there? "Slapfight" sells at 69.50 Dutch
guilders, and I'd give at a 6.5.
A very long time have we had to wait for "Spitfire '40" to
appear on the ST, and now it appears to be ready at last. I have
had the possibility of playing it for a while, and my overall
impression was that is has been very well done. The only other
machine I had ever seen this package on was the Commodore 64, and
it speaks for itself that the graphics are better on the ST
version (it can hardly be the other way around, can it?). Sounds
are somewhat moderate, however, but that's probably due to the
bad ST soundchip. Horizon movements in this combat flight
simulator are quite fast, and so is the movement of enemy planes
(fighters or bombers). Air combat is brought to the player with
exciting realism, and I am sure that this game will turn out to
sell very well. An 8.
WORD PERFECT UPDATE
I know you can hardly call this is a review, but you ought to
know that there is a new version of "Word Perfect" V4.1: The
January 29th 1988 update. Although WP Europe would send me a list
of actual improvals in this version, I have not yet had the
pleasure of receiving it. In an upcoming issue of ST NEWS, I hope
to tell you more about it. Anyway, "Word Perfect V5.0" will not
be launched until the end of the year.
The first boxing game on the ST has been published by UK company
Tynesoft, known for their excellent "Winter Olympiad '88" that
Frank reviewed in the previous issue of ST NEWS. But Tynesoft's
average software quality rating has also gone down with this
release, that tries to look like the arcade hall's "Frank Bruno's
Boxing". Graphics are not quite human (at least, humans don't
look like humans), movement is just a bit above average and the
whole setup isn't exactly thrilling. A 7.
STRIPPOKER II +
Anco, recently being pushed back in the row of good software
houses by publishing "Karting Grand Prix" (the game that,
according to many people, has the dubious honour of being the
worst game ever launched on the ST), has now made quite a good
game for the ST: "Strippoker II +". Featuring two girls, Donna
and Samantha, this is a game that will keep the males among us
clutched to their systems as long as it takes to undress these
girls. It's a pity for these people that both girls know how to
play poker quite well (one only misses the humour present in the
Artworx' "Strippoker" versions). Actually this was the first game
of this kind that I find qualitively good enough to play it like
it should be played: Soon I sat behind my system having lost
everything except my virginity...
The girls are very well shaped and reasonably well digitized,
too (pity that the package contains screenshots of the Amiga
version, so that all ST users will probably end up with an acute
inferiority complex). This is the only game that could keep me
from working on ST NEWS on the day if its launch. An 8.
That's it for this ST NEWS' "ST Software News" column. See you
next time, when I will write it for ST NEWS in the capable hands
of Stefan Posthuma...
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.