ST SOFTWARE NEWS by Richard Karsmakers
I thought I had offered you to biggest possible list of future
software projects in the previous issue of ST NEWS, but it seems
that I have made a bigger one in this issue of ST NEWS again. I
have therefore put it in a seperate article, so that there's
enough space in this one to go through a lot of all the new
Finally, "Arkanoid" met is equal: "Impact". But I am afraid that
one of the other Top 10 games will also meet its equal quite
soon: "Goldrunner" will, in Januari, meet Mebourne House's
"Kelly-X", a game of which I have seen some impressive preview
stuff with fantastic graphics, smooth animation (perhaps a bit
too slow for the fast arcade freaks) and great music by the new
number one in the music programmer's pop poll: David Whittaker.
It's a vertical scroller with a great variety both in backgrounds
and opponents, digitized speech and a finishing touch that I
would call 'excellent'.
Even when not taking into account that "Kelly-X" is Melbourne
House's first program for the ST, I would't be surprised for a
minute when "Kelly-X" would eventually beat "Goldrunner" in the
pop-poll. Rating: 9.
After the biggest miss of previous months, "Indiana Jones", U.S.
Gold has succeeded in earning back some respect by bringing out a
game called "Solomon's Key". It's a game that was programmed by
Probe, the people that did e.g. "Metro Cross". Good graphics,
good music (!) and nice gameplay make "Solomon's Key" a game that
stands out in the midst of all other U.S. Gold products. In spite
of rumours stating that it was to be an "Arkanoid"-clone, it is a
platform game with good sound effects, good animation and
puzzling gameplay. I did miss a pause option when I played it for
a while. Not much to get excited about, but it's nice. I'd rate
it at 7.5.
Two new submarine simulators have recently been added to the list
containing "Sub Battle Simulator", "Silent Service" and "Gato":
"Blue War" and "Hunt for Red October". And I must admit that they
both beat the first three with respect to graphics as well as
"Blue War" comes on two disks and features excellent graphics
(that, unfortunately enough, have no link with real submarine
colors). Although clumsy programmed (a dozen uncrunched pictures
reside on the disks - waste of space!), it is a submarine
simulator that nice to play. Everything's quite realistic as
well. It's a Go!-job for U.S. Gold. Personally, I don't like
submarine simulators because I think they're a bore. But this one
surely stands out amongst other submarine programs. Rating: 7. It
costs 59.50 Dutch guilders at Homesoft. One hint for the people
that bought it: Do not hit any key until you are PROMPTED to jit
one (after inserting the second disk). If you hit a key, the
program will crash (nasty programming bug).
I already mentioned "Hunt for Red October", the second submarine
simulation program to appear in recent weeks. Red October is the
latest Soviet Nuclear ballistic missile submarine. Armed with 26
SS-N-20 Seahawk missiles it is capable of destroying 200 cities.
It is also the first Soviet Submarine equipped with the unique
Caterpillar propulsion system making detection nearly impossible.
In this simulation you are Captain First Rank Marko Ramius,
Commander of Red October. Your mission is to reach the United
States of America - TO DEFECT!
Your first challenge is to negotiate the Reykjanes Ridge, off the
Icelandic coast, evading the Soviet Red Banner fleet pursuing
you. Once into the Atlantic you must succesfully rendezvous with
the US Navy and feign the destruction of Red October. Your crew
is not aware of the defection but the Soviet Navy is. To succeed
requires all the skill and cunning of the greatest mariner in the
Soviet Navy. You have full control on screen of sonar, the unique
Caterpillar drive system, attack and search periscopes,
torpedoes, and more...
Discovery results in confrontation with the most powerful fleet
in the world. When to attack? When to hide? When to run? The
judgement is yours!
Argus Press Software has launched the best submarine simulation
yet, based on the best seller by Tom Clancy. The package is well
designed (including extensive manual, ship recognition card and
A2 color poster) and the game is well designed, too. The graphics
are good (some even quite excellent) and the sound are quite
realistic as well. The setup is the most original in any
submarine simulation program, and therefore I'd give it an 8.5
(Claus Brod would probably strangle me if he knew I did this).
The game costs 79.50 Dutch guilders at Homesoft, Haarlem.
It seems that all parents want to give their kids games for
Christmas, but it also seems that they do not want to spend much
money. That's where the trash-games come in, games like "Karting
Grand Prix" and "Las Vegas". Harry van Horen from Homesoft told
me these two are best-selling games for the ST at the moment. God
knows why. It must be their prices: 39.95 and 49.50 Dutch
guilders respectively. Both games offer lousy gameplay (of which
"Karting" has the worst) and trashy graphics. Really, Anco (the
company that launched these games) should keep this trash off the
ST market. It only denegrates the software market and all we end
up with are a lot of frustrated kids at Christmas... These two
games can battle for the 'trashcan of the month' award. Which
wins? I honestly couldn't tell. Perhaps both. Rating is
impossible in both cases, as I refuse to use negative figures.
Many rumours have reached me about a company called Prism Leisure
Corporation in England, said to be an offshoot of Capitol Records
(a record company). Their first product is "Turbo ST", programmed
by Martin Backschat (familiar name?!) with graphics by Musarath
J. Patel. Martin should stick to writing copy programs, since
"Turbo ST" really isn't worth buying either (just like the two
games I mentioned before). Though "Turbo ST" doesn't display such
a lack of everything as both the other programs do, it has one
BIG (BIG!!!!) disadvantage: The steering controls are simply
awful! A second (not so major) disadvantage is the intro music,
which is badly digitized and remixed even worse. Ough! Martin
should just have asked TEX to the music instead....
Anyway, honesty requires me to say that the setup, intro picture
and game graphics are quite good. Animation is also good, but I
fear that "Turbo ST" has made itself the typical example of a
good game with such bad steering controls that it becomes a game
of much too low a standard. I'd give it a 5.5. Homesoft sells it
at 39.95, so that might be a reason to buy it anyway (this is a
hint for parents that want to buy their kids of nephews a cheap
computer game, just like the ones I mentioned earlier). Pity.
Let's stick to racing programs for a while. The two best racing
programs that have appeared on the ST uptil now have finally
reached the ST users: "Test Drive" and "Supersprint" (now, only
"Outrun" has to be waited for). "Supersprint" is published by
Electric Dreams, part of Activision, and looks like a better
version of "Turbo GT" (the old game) and "Karting Grand Prix"
("Supersprint" is MUCH better in this case). It is a strict 2D
racing program, but with a great many additions (hurricanes,
extra bonuses - traction, speed, etc. - better animation, better
sound, better graphics) and an alltogether compelling gameplay.
"Supersprint" is the typical example of what "Karting Grand Prix"
could have been like. It's great. An 8.
"Test Drive" is even better than "Supersprint" - maybe because it
offers 3D rather than 2D gameplay. In this game, you have to
drive a car through the mountains (all 3D!), avoiding oncoming
traffic, overtaking slow traffic and outrunning the coppers. The
graphics are superb (especially the cars - including Ferrari
'Crockett' Testarossa, Porsche, Lotus, etc.), animation is fairly
good, intro music is dull, sound effects are quite dull and when
a car crashes your ears are crashed, too (by the sheer lack of
ANY sound). It could have been better, but is still very good. A
Let's leave the games for a while and shat a little bit about our
colleagues in Canada that produce the disk based magazine
"F.A.S.T.E.R.". Two of their most recent issues were recently
added to my collection (one of which was sent by their Dutch
distributor, Panatco - thanks!) and I must admit that I was once
again stunned by their efforts. Everybody knows that I wasn't
exactly enthusiastic with regard to "F.A.S.T.E.R.", and you may
know that I still ain't. Though they beat all disk magazines
existing anywhere with regard to user-friendlyness and the
general impression of the programming environment, they still
offer articles that lack every sign of actuality (except for the
"Word Perfect" review). I was glad to find out, though, that they
they got rid of that ridiculous music they had included several
Something I was VERY enthusiastic about, however, was their
"Illusion" game (an "Arkanoid"-clone) that they published in
Volume 2 Issue 3 (a Construction Kit was supplied in Volume 2
Issue 4 - showing MORE than striking resemblance to the "Tonic
Tile" construction kit). That's one of the other fields that
"F.A.S.T.E.R." will always beat us with: Programs. Whereas ST
NEWS now and then offers a handy utility, "F.A.S.T.E.R." offers
quite high quality games and utilities. Concluding: Everybody
should get his hands on "F.A.S.T.E.R.", in spite of the things
that I (and perhaps more people) dislike. They are the most
perfect (and cheap) way to get in touch with what's going on on
the other side of the pond. I'd like to use this occasion to
apologize for the fact that I used to spread "F.A.S.T.E.R."
through the PD over half a year ago (EVERYBODY used to spread it,
so it was no strange thing that I thought it was PD). Dear
"F.A.S.T.E.R." producers: I have heard that you were quite pissed
(sorry for the word) when you found out that I used to do that.
And I have also heard that you like ST NEWS but that you think I
talk too negatively about your mag. I started writing more
positively (but still with honesty towards my readers) about
three or four months ago, and a have stopped spreading your
magazine a long, long time ago. Is this perhaps an occasion to
start working together some more (hint: We're still seeking for
an official distributor in Canada)?
Recently, I was bored stiff. I just couldn't get myself to
studying for my upcoming physics test, Willeke was far away and I
didn't feel much like actually writng for ST NEWS either.
It all started on Sunday, December 6th, when Jos Schilders
(familiar name again! He's now known by the name 'Amiga Software
Syndicate' (ASS) on the Amiga) dropped in with a couple of disks
filled with Amiga pix on the original .IFF format. I had already
collected a great many Amiga pictures and stored them in "Degas
Elite" format, but they were all reduced to 16 colors...Alas!
Several months earlier, I had been caught in the act of dripping
from my mouth behind an Amiga showing a slideshow called "The
Samantha Fox Slideshow". Jos saw me and told me (with a smile, so
it seemed) that this picture show used the Amiga "HAM" (Hold And
Modify) mode, thus enabling the use of 4096 colors at once on the
screen. Reducing that to 16 colors on the ST might make Samantha
unrecognisable...I then decided that I would do just about
anything to make this slideshow for the ST - with reasonable
quality, that is.
When Antic/The Catalog published the "Spectrum" drawing program,
enabling the use of 512 colors at once, I took my chances and
called Jos, asking him to deliver me some IFF Samantha pix, that
could be loaded in "Spectrum" without being reduced to 16 colors.
He came as fast as he could (about five weeks after my call) and
I started loading the picture files in "Spectrum". The results
were impressive, and I thus made the "Samantha Fox slideshow" on
December 6th and December 7th. On the last day, I also made the
"Garfield slideshow" with some more of Jos' pictures. Whereas
"Sammy" has been double-sided, "Garfield" was single-sided. Both
slideshows have been launched into the PD, and should be
available through your local PD library (please don't order them
through ST NEWS!).
After finishing two slideshow demos in two days, I considered
this to be enough with regard to ACC products for at least
another year. Alas! Fate wouldn't let me stop, as I received a
package from New Zealand a little more than a week later. It was
sent to me by Harvey Kong Tin, and the disks were filled with
Amiga pix. I decided not to wait any longer and to finish the
"Amiga slideshow" as well (that I had promised several months
ago). I did that on December 15th, and it was again double-sided.
It features some of the old Amiga artwork ("King Tuth", "Venus",
"Red Porsche") and some more recent artwork. It also includes
some artwork that was left over from Jos' disks. It's also PD.
Note: These three slideshows only work with 60Hz switched on,
which is not possible on all monitors/TVs!
So much for my own proceedings in recent times. Let's get back to
About a month ago, I received a program from Frank Schoof from
Germany. It's a GEM-driven drawing program that works on all ST
systems (also the ones with 512 Kb), but only in medium res (high
res version is being made). It's called "MIGrafik 2.0". I haven't
thoroughly tested the program, but is appears to be OK although
it lacks sufficient userfriendlyness and one more thing: Who the
hell wants to draw in medium res unless you use 512 colors at
once? The program doesn't use rubber bands (which are always
handy in drawing programs), has a very slow zoom mode and there
are still quite a few minor bugs in the program. Personally, I
think there are more than enough drawing programs for the ST -
much better ones as well. I think Frank should quit working on
the monochrome version of "MIGraphik", and continue on the multi-
tasking project he is working on. There will probably be a lot
more interest in that than in just another drawing program...
One of the last programs I'd like to talk about in this issue's
"ST Software News" is "Star Wars" from Domark. It's a 3D shoot-
'em-up game that combines terrifying speed with vector graphics,
digitized speech and awesome action in stunning realism. I've
heard that the ST version is just like the original arcade
version, and I immediately believe that - as would anyone once
having played this thrilling game. I really didn't consider this
possible on the ST - I always though "Starglider" took the ST to
its limits already. I really like it when games like "Star Wars"
appear - they keep reminding me all the time that the limits of
the ST's capacities are not yet reached. "Star Wars" combines
terrific programming skill with an addictive gameplay, and the
intro music even shows of some programming skill on the field of
music....what's more to wish? This one deserves a 9.5 - it sells
at 69.50 Dutch guilders at Homesoft.
Some of the programs that I could see briefly just before the
launch of this issue of ST NEWS are "Skyrider", "Screaming Wings"
and "Mission". "Skyrider" is a horizontally scrolling shoot-'em-
up game with reasonably well programmed scrolling, good sound
effects and much better qualities than "Uridium". It's launched
by Creation Software and offers a nice intro (nice rasters!) and
good graphics. Many sounds smell like digitizing processes, and
if you play the game too long you'll get headaches (the scroll is
not smooth enough). "Screaming Wings" is a cross between
"Xevious" and "1942", brought out by Red Rat Software. It shoots
nicely, scrolls very well (vertically) and shows some very nify
programming tricks. The explosions are a bit daft. The last one,
"Mission", was done by Loriciels (France). It's a kind of
"Magnetik Tank" with some added features and a person walking
around instead of the tank. I missed the ST'c color abundance a
bit, but the actual graphics are quite good.
I have only been able to glance at these three programs very
briefly, so I don't think it's fair to give a rating for them.
Hope to see you in 1988 again!
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.