The apparatus with which we think that we think.
Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"
ST NEWS SOFTWARE REVIEWS IN SHORT
by Richard Karsmakers
(with guest appearances of Kev "Taffy" Davies)
There are some mysteries still left in the world: The Bermuda
Triangle; The Yeti and Loch Ness; Bigfoot; Why I always use this
article to put miscellaneous drivel in that I can't fit anywhere
else. The list is virtually endless.
But the biggest mystery of all still surrounds the previous
issue's "Software Reviews in Short" article. Somewhere during the
last week of The Finishing, it got mislaid. Vanished. Got sucked
into data nirvana. God knows what may have happened to it, but as
his existence may be quite plausibly denied that doesn't help me
much, now does it?
So that why I have taken extra care this time to make sure the
article would still be there. I have, indeed, gathered the
inclination to rewrite a few of the small reviews that I had
already done for that particular Lost Article. Not all of them,
larks no, but a few of them. Thankfully, Kev Davies also re-
submitted the material that had landed in that fateful article.
So let's cut to the chase in true Rush style, and leave a few
leaves left on that bush.
by Kev "Taffy" Davies
Many moons ago in the infancy of the microchip era a trip down
to the local video games arcade would have resulted in such
delights as "Defender" and "Battle zone". Then it came, a new
gimmick, a new depth of gameplay.
Sampled sound had arrived. "Bezerk" was here, and what a game it
was, signalling the end to all things beepy (yeah right, so why
do ST's have a "Yamaha" sound chip?).
Now, what seems like a millenium later that Maestro of the
classic conversion Dave Munsie has arrived with yet another
"GfA Basic" conversion (sigh). Okay, on with the review.
The idea behind "Bezerk" is very simple: Run around a maze
shooting robots. If you stay too long in one of the screens an
indestructable guardian turns up and offs you as quickly as
The graphics are a direct conversion of the original game, and
that's where the problems start. I have a Falcon and, although
there are options to slow and speed up the game on the bird, I
don't want to see graphics that look as if they have been drawn
on graph paper by an Atari 2600 (black box) console which has had
one too many of whatever these things drink when down the pub.
Then there is the sound, taken again from the original game.
Sampled? Yes. Good? No. The samples all sound like Daleks. Okay,
good culty type stuff, but Daleks with hemeroids? Hmmm. Let's
just say I make more entertaining sounds while cleaning between
my toes. Finally the gameplay. This is average in a big way,
worth a go but that is about it. It has the depth of a one
dimensional object where the one dimension is width.
Let's sum up (sorry, Dave). Crap Graphics. Crap sound. Average
gameplay. Not good, and not really worth the shareware fee.
Having been a fan of Dave's since the exclusive games on "ST
Review" cover disks I found this disappointing, but every artist
goes through a dry spell. I have just seen screen shots of Dave's
latest title, "Megaspace", a "Raiden 2" clone and boy do I want
it bad ("Megaspace" that is), and now you can register in the UK
and Europe via LAPD so things are looking up. Maybe Dave just
knocked up "Bezerk" in his lunch break.
Don't Worry be Happy
German programmer Dirk Hagedorn has recently released a version
of the board game "Parcheesi" for the Atari series. Completely
GEM-driven and compatible with "Geneva" and "MultiTOS", it offers
those of you addicted to the "Parcheesi" (Dutch: "Mens Erger Je
Niet") concept a change to get frustrated at their computers
instead of at real human beings.
The concept: You have four pawns that need to rotate the board
and get into a safe harbour. However, up to three other players
have the same goal and whenever one of their pawns is directed to
the same spot that you are on, your particular pawn has to start
anew (the same counts for them, of course). The trick is to get
in first and win the game. You can get points by moving as well
as by "hitting" other players' pawns.
The computer-generated players are not the brainless bastards
they seem. Is it my imagination or is at least one of them more
inclined to "hit" other players' pawns when possible, whereas
others just move forward their vanguard pawn?
This particular rendition of the game is really quite well done,
and certainly addictive. Like I said, it works on any system
including the multi-tasking ones and well at that. You'd do well
to check this out if you have some extra time on your hands.
The latest incarnation of "Don't Worry Be Happy" is version
1.01. It is shareware, of which the demo version does not allow
you to save hiscores and other settings unless you enter the key
which can be obtained by registering (which costs 15 German
"Freedom" is the best file selector ever released on the Atari
platform, and when in the future I'll be forced to work more on
Windoze machines I will most likely miss it sorely.
Be that as it may, a new version has been released, version
1.14. The most important thing is that it can now copy and move
files such as "Selectric" could, and I believe a few bugs were
fixed, too. The list of improvements and changes is a couple of
pages long so I won't bore you with it. For those of you who were
still doubting whether or not to switch to "Selectric", please
do. It's quite excellent and because it's shareware you can try
it out before you pay anything.
I am not all too sure what's so amazing about sliced bread, but
"Freedom" is most certainly the best thing since that.
"Imagecopy", the ST Club's definite picture format conversion
and printing utility, has been overhauled and improved once more.
Now at version 4.0, it even includes a few very interesting
additional options that I don't think any of you will find
useless (for neither did I).
As far as I am concerned the two most useful major options that
have been added are the "interactive catalogue" and the fact that
"Imagecopy" can now be used by other programs to print pictures.
There is also the addition of the "page layout" option, which is
the major featured added and detailed in just about every other
review of version 4. This options allows you to print out a
picture exactly on a specific segment of a page, so that you can
print out a text with a gap and let "Imagecopy" print out the
picture in that gap later on.
Anyway, I would like to point out those other two. The second
(other programs using "Imagecopy" to print out pics, which is
done by using a small AUTO folder program) is straightforward.
The first one may not be.
There is a new option called "Catalogue". You can specify a path
and tell the program to make one page with thumbnails, i.e. small
versions of all the pictures in that directory in one larger
picture. You can then save that picture and its corresponding
.CAT file, later to load it. You can then pick to load any of the
thumbnails by clicking on it. When file names no longer tell you
what a picture looks like (such as "AWS05951.JPG" and
"AWS04682.JPG", two typical examples of Christina Applegate shots
from the "Bundyland Archives" on the World Wide Web; now which
one is the one where she smiled divinely?!), this is your helper
in need. The difference with version 3.5 is that you can now add
and remove thumbnails from the Interactive Catalogue on screen.
It also allows the actual files connected with the thumbnails to
be removed from disk. Of course, these catalogues can also be
printed (usually allowing you to have about 40 pictures on one A4
Some of the other changes in "Imagecopy" are the following:
o .GIF files can be saved "interlaced". This is handy for
World Wibe Web applications, as you will quickly see the
complete picture with the details later being filled in (as
opposed to regular, when the picture slowly builds up in
all detail from the top).
o Existing file types (such as .GIF and .TIF) are loaded
faster than in 3.5; new file types (such as .RAW/.MTV and
.ESM) have been added.
o A lot of operation speeds have been enhanced (such as random
dithering and colour mapping) and some others improved.
"Imagecopy" was already the most perfect picture viewer utility
I can think of (I never quite got the hang of "GEMview", which is
probably the only serious competition), but with version 4 it has
just become better and better.
Please contact FaST Club (see the "English Distributor" in the
ST NEWS Colophon article) for information about updates or
initial purchases of this program.
Thanks to Paul Glover for supplying the review copy of this
excellent program which, incidentally, exists in a slightly
different version (a bit more expensive) that also includes the
Kodak CD ROM image format among the importable pictures formats.
The price of this version is more expensive, by the way, because
they need to pay a certain amount of money to Kodak for every
Not too long ago - maybe a month, maybe two - a new version of
"Kobold" was released. As we all know, "Kobold" is the fastest
file copier/mover either side of the Sahara, which bypasses the
Atari's operating system and really does things a lot smarter.
Speed increases of up to 10 times are more a rule than an
So what's new about "Kobold" version 3?
First, it is evident that the user interface has been
overhauled. On the Falcon, at any rate, all user interface parts
now have this really neat "3D" look (in 16 colours or more). I've
only worked with "Kobold III" for a while and didn't have the
manual at my disposal, so that was basically the only change I
could see. The copy speed is just as fast as that of version 2.5,
possibly even a slight tad slower. A large amount of utilities
have been added to the disk (backup program, ED drive cookie
installer, etc.), and that seems to be about it. The other
changes (20 function key macro definitions instead of 10;
preferences saved automatically upon exit instead of via a menu
entry; "Kobold" window can be enhanced) don't really warrant such
a drastic version number increase.
If you're satisfied with version 2.5, stick with it. If you have
no fast file copier, get "Kobold III" as soon as possible. If I
tell you that 19 Mb of data is copied in under 45 seconds, would
that impress you? Sure does me...
by Kevin Davies
Aaaaggggh! Yet another "Tetris" clone, yet another twist, and
this time it is on the Falcon.
The first and most obvious of many twists here, is that the
blocks come from all four directions and can be bounced off the
walls of the playing area (these programmers are nothing if not
imaginative). Also the construction of blocks is in the center of
the playing area, rather than at the bottom, and can be rotated
in the same way as the falling blocks in the original game.
As "Tetris" clones go, this is pretty good. It tries to make use
of the Falcon's rather nifty hardware, with sampled sound
accompanying the block actions. Although the in game graphics are
functional (for functional read boring) the other graphics are of
good quality - watch out for the Donald Duck graphic at the end
of a game!
The only major critisism I could make about this game, is that
it is Falcon specific as it looks as if it could have been done,
to just as good an effect on an STe. However, it is still okay,
but lacks that little something which makes this type of game a
classic. It is still worth a look, but my money is still on
"Blat!" for recipiant of the award for 'best-"Tetris"-type-game-
You would not believe what MTV called the weekend of August 5th
and 6th 1995. Well, MTV Europe did, anyway.
I don't know why they did, but I do know I wasn't chuffed about
it at all. I just saw it while zapping a bit, and they apparently
used this label to cover a certain theme of music over that
weekend. They were playing a Bob Marley song.
I wasn't chuffed. Not chuffed at all.
Hence the reason why, at the end of the Cronos Warchild story to
be found elsewhere in this issue, you will find him dying. Or
disappearing, or whatever. For this will definitely be the last
of the Cronos Warchild stories. It seems only fitting that, with
this 32nd occurrence of him in writing (of which 3 by Stefan and
me, 2 by Stefan, 2 by Martijn "Lucifer" Wiedijk and 1 by Alex
"Nutty Snake" Crouzen), he joins that which is represented by
that decimal number's ASCII code.
Indeed, it is the final frontier.
Just before the deadline of this issue of ST NEWS, Floppyshop's
Steve Delaney sent me via email the demo version of the
forthcoming image processing package, "Positive Image". I think
it's superb that Steve and the Floppyshop still do good things
for the Atari market, and the release of a niche utility such as
"Positive Image" is actually close to amazing.
What is it, then? If you don't know, please refer to the "press
release" containing elsewhere in this issue of ST NEWS. As far as
I've experimented with it, it is a package that can read a lot of
picture formats and then allows certain actions to be inflicted
upon those pictures. The demo version, however, is dead slow and
crashes regularly. These might all be things that the document
file says will be fixed or sped up in the final version, but fact
is that this hardly leaves a good impression. Disabling the save
option is one thing, but this total lack of speed is not the kind
of thing I would have built into a demo. Nor would I have left
out the "Help" option, which is a thing needed especially in a
fairly untransparent program like this.
I hate to say this, because Steve is one of the far too few
people who still puts efforts into keeping the Atari market
alive, but unfortunately "Positive Image" seems to me too big
(almost 400 Kb) and totally unintuitive. Half of the time I
didn't have a clue at all what was happening (no busy bee or
other "busy" indicator) and when it has finally happened nothing
much has changed. I have worked with quite a few picture
utilities but I couldn't get any of the tools to work in sheer
intuition. The masks worked (showing nice effects on pictures,
sortof overlaying the picture data with a specific mask, like the
name implies), but this can hardly be all that the program has to
I hope the real version will be released soon, and that it comes
with a clear and extensive manual including a "how to get some
quick results" section.
Lots of things are still being changed with regard to "Positive
Image", though it should be available within a couple of weeks
after the release of this issue of ST NEWS. It wouldn't be fair
to judge the program on this demo, so I won't.
Thanks for sending the demo, Steve. Sorry I couldn't put it on
the ST NEWS disk, but there wasn't enough space for the large ZIP
file any more...
Tautology II (release 3 of June 1995)
It must have been well over a year ago when I first saw Leon
"Reservoir Gods" O'Reilly's "Tautology" game. Not too long ago I
saw "Tautology II", which now works flawlessly on VGA monitors as
well and is generally just as much fun to play as its
There is really not much to say about it, other than that it is
a kind of "Match-It" game, fully customisable, supporting a
simultaneous twin-player mode. It's just new and improved, and I
surely thank the heavens that people such as Leon are supporting
the Falcon like they do. Leon did the new "Maggie" shell, "Double
Bubble 2000" (full review elsewhere in this issue of ST NEWS),
and "Godpaint" (a drawing program). He's quickly building up a
great reputation, and "Tautology II" is just another impressive
notch on his credit stick as it were.
by Kevin Davies
Splat!! Yet another simple game idea gets a new lick of paint,
and is promptly slapped in your unsuspecting Falcon's disk drive.
The idea behind "UFO War" is simple (if not psychotic), you must
kill your friend (if you've got one). Each of you control a war
craft, which looks remarkably like a flying saucer taken straight
from a cheap sixties sci-fi, you then must shoot missles at each
other until one of you explodes which results in that hated of
all screen messages, "GAME OVER".
From the moment you boot this game up (it must be booted in
overscan with 256 colours) you know your seeing a game which
demands things from your Falcons hardware. The intro screen is a
256 colour graphic, and is one of the best loading screens I've
ever seen, then without warning the single most impressive thing
about this game kicked in. From the speakers a piece of tracker
music began, in all it's 50KHz glory. The document says that it
was inspired by "Falling" (the theme to "Twin Peaks"), and it
shows; moody is an understatement. Then to my amazement it
continued during the game (promptly followed by me falling
backward out of my chair).
This game has great potential although I do have a two major
critisisms. Firstly Mike Noyce keeps beating me at it, and
secondly it is far to repetitive. The raw gameplay is there but
needs variety to bring it bubbling to the surface (computer
controlled UFOs would be nice). If you come across this then give
it a go purely so you can hear what your Falcon is capable of,
but if you are looking for depth of gameplay, forget it.
More short reviews to be expected in the next issue of ST NEWS
(and probably a whole lot of other disk magazines' next issues,
too, but never mind those of course :-).
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.