That was no typo; rather, a non-thinko....
ST SOFTWARE NEWS
by Richard Karsmakers
To keep you in touch with some of the software releases even in
this first 'undead' issue of ST NEWS, we considered it useful to
include this column still.
So let's kick off immediately, shall we?
A certainly very controversial title is a game called "Anarchy",
thrust upon the harmless ST freaks by Wayne Smithson Design
It all started with a feature in the UK magazine "ST Format"
(which is growing to be continually more crap, actually, but that
aside). It had a demo called "It can't be done" on the cover
disk, and it was supposed to feature smooth horizontal scrolling
on the ST, with FOUR parallax layers.
The demo did not work, as a vital file was missing (well, that
once again proves my point about the "ST Format" crap bit). I got
a working copy through a testplayer (hi Mark) later, and it was
But what was the trick?
The background pattern (thus, actually, the vast majority of the
screen that 'scrolls') repeats itself every 8 or 16 pixels, and
thus the whole bloody thing actually is one enormous SCAM as it
isn't scrolling but only flippin' screens (which costs virtually
NIL processor time). The 'parallax layers' are not rather thick
and are thus simply copied on top of the rest.
That's all there was to it.
It can't be done?
It was a bloody trick that every decent demo programmer by now
no longer uses because it's rather outdated. And Mr. Smithson
tries to get his face in the papers for 'doing the impossible'.
Naughty thing to do, Wayne!
The press release Psygnosis sent to me somewhat later also
contained an error, as it stated that 'up to 80 enemies could be
on the screen at the same time'. This would, of course, all
happen with 50 Hz scrolling...
Total cocks wallop, rest assure! So the packaging actually
turned out to claim that 'up to 80 aliens can be attacking
Which is hardly something staggering.
So I was slightly cross when I got the game. It was hyped to be
'the miracle that would save the ST user from the sadistic
laughing of Amiga freaks' (this is no Psygnosis quote - don't
worry), and it really didn't come near to anything like that.
"Anarchy" is actually a souped-up "Defender" clone - which is
also stated by Psygnosis so they deserve some credit there.
Gameplay is indeed rather fast and smooth, and there are indeed
lotsa enemies attacking at the same time (though only a couple of
them are on the screen at the same time, not counting all those
little pixels in the radar bit of the screen).
It's not particularly brilliant, and the graphics are just
slightly above average. I really can't see how people can be
fooled so easily. I hope I'm not too late with this little
article - maybe I will have saved some late buyers from getting
I know several "Defender" clones that are more fun, and the
first one that pops to mind is Jeff Minter's "Andes Attack". It's
half as expensive, technically better, more colourful, more
original and certainly much more fun to play (as Stefan will be
utterly happy to acknowledge to everyone).
"Anarchy" is nothing more but a quite well done "Defender" clone
- nothing to get overly excited about. A rating of 7 is therefore
already very mild. It costs twenty quid at the Psyclapse label.
Another Psygnosis game launched at the Psyclapse label is
"Stryx". Psygnosis seem to be having trouble surviving, as they
publish more and more 'midprice' titles of average or even below
"Stryx" is, I am afraid, one of these.
After Psygnosis had done "Barbarian", I was already somewhat
baffled by the fact that "Obliterator" was so much the same -
only with a different story and different graphics.
"Stryx" is a cheap and painfully colourful variation on
"Obliterator" (with some "Thrust" in it as well), and I have
therefore not even taken the trouble of testing it.
This does not mean that I didn't have time or that I was in an
arrogant mood - it simply means that the plot is simply too dull
and the graphics were too ghastly to look at.
Go and have a look before you buy this. And don't forget to take
your sunglasses with you.
I couldn't resist to write something about Thalion games again.
After all, I'm about as hot as you can get on this subject. I
will, however, again do not award any of them with a rating. I
will try to be as objective as I can - though I can't promise
anything as we do happen to be making some pretty interesting
stuff at the moment.
Gosh. Finally, many, many months after the official final
release date, all versions are now finished. These include a
German, a French and an English version (entire manual and all
program texts are translated, which is quite unique). I am
somewhat proud to say that the manual also contains a forty-page
novel written by yours truly, and that the actual game is
something not to be missed either.
If you're a Role Playing Fanatic, that is.
I am not going to tell much more about this game. All the press
has written endlessly about it in the recent three years,
including ST NEWS.
A Prehistoric Tale
Lovingly called "A Prehistoric Turd" by its developers, this
will be my first true (and 100%) spiritual child at Thalion,
which is being programmed by Lost Boys Development. Though the
title isn't definite yet, this is the game I envision to become
the Christmas hit of 1990 on Atari ST (and Amiga...sorry guys, it
wasn't my idea to do this conversion but we've got to think of
finances as well...).
I do not know if it will succeed to get there with all those
damn licenses on the market at that time, but we will surely try
(at the moment that I write, the program in development).
The game's a platform concept where you basically find yourself
collecting egg and dinosaur hatchling, saving them from disaster
because of extensive earthquakes that are drawing nigher and
nigher. If you don't save them, the dinosaur race might die out
before they actually get a chance to supply some decent kind of
offspring (meaning that mankind will actually never have evolved
if the don't).
Littered with loadsa bonuses, hidden screens, between-level-
chunk-games (very nice ones, actually) and all stuff you need in
a real good game, I hope it will beat the shit out of many of the
platform romps that now top the charts (though I will refrain
myself from mentioning any names here). It will have a two-player
option as well, of course.
We'll just have to see how the press people and the consumers
react to it. I can't wait for it to be finished...
If you like ST NEWS (and if you think you would like to do me a
favour), please get this game as soon as you can - preferably at
Christmas, so that we can teach the major license companies a
lesson or two!
Wings of Death
If there is any Thalion game that can possibly beat the shit out
of "A Prehistoric Tale", it will surely be "Wings of Death". It's
a vertical shoot-'em-up with graphics that are so good that you
will have to see it to believe it. The further you get, the
better the graphics will be - and, of course, the more dangerous
the total of over one thousand enemy attacks will become.
There are seven levels which scroll smoothly and have up to 90
shapes on the screen simultaneously (this is actually no lie nor
an exaggeration like the one I mentioned above when describing
The game has five totally different weapon systems (we're not
talking about simple bolting on some different extra lasers
here!), additional bolt-on weaponry, chunky animated endmonsters,
over fifteen bonus types, over 1 megabyte of graphics and another
megabyte of digitized music and sound effects, optimal use of any
ST configuration (meaning that the game will improve when you
have a blitter or 4 megabyte of memory or STE sound...), support
of low-cost centronics port DA converters (like "ST Replay", for
example), up to 512 colours on the screen, digital speech during
the game, and a hiscore table that can be saved to disk.
If you add to this that it is immensely playable and that the
infamous learning curve is very steep but not too steep, you get
what may enter history as the best shoot'-em-up ever.
And I have not forgotten about "Xenon II" if you may think this.
A hit this will have to be, otherwise something's wrong with me.
It's out on the ST already.
"Enchanted Land", of which you may already have heard something
under its working title "Jambala II", is another game that will
surely become a tremendous seller.
Its most striking feature is the fact that it makes the ST do
what only consoles and arcades can: Scroll the WHOLE screen at 50
Hz in all possible directions. No blocky scroller, that is. True
arcade quality scrolling on the ST has never before been seen to
such extend in any ST games - it has so far only been seen in
several ST demos.
This scrolling, which is called 'hardware scrolling' or 'sync
scrolling' (but which doesn't need any additional hardware!) has
been developed by the game's author, Niclas Thisell from Sweden.
It's a platform game playing in the land of Damiran where some
kind of Evil Sorcerer called Plogthor had destroyed something
called the Heart of Gold. In the old days, this relic used to
contain all magic of the land which is now spread literally all
over the place since its destruction.
Kurghan, the main character in this game, will have to scavenge
the five breathtaking levels on the search for all these magical
items. There's 600 Kb of graphics and about 500 screens to
This may jolly well turn into another hit for Thalion!
No Second Prize
The already incredibly famous 3D vector game "No Second Prize"
won't take long any more, either. Actually, the concept has been
changed so it will now be a kind of motorcycle simulator. Since I
am barely involved in this project, there is not much more I can
tell you about it.
Apart from the fact that it's extremely fast and will beat the
living daylight out of all other 3D games currently on the market
(probably including quite a substantial amount that will be on
the market at the time of its release), it should also be very
You will have to see it yourself to be able to judge about it.
Now for some 'ordinary' software again - not made by Thalion and
actually not even a game.
"Super Boot" is quite a popular program in the shareware
circuit, written by a chap from the United States called Gordon
Moore. Before I say anything about it, I will quote a part of the
'Introduction' of the manual:
"Super Boot" is an "all-in-one" type program that does just
about everything you could ever want to do each time you boot
It allows you to:
O Choose which Accessories to load in
O Choose which AUTO programs to run
O Choose from a number of DESKTOP.INF files, allowing you to
change your resolution, color scheme, etc. on each boot
O Choose from a number of ASSIGN.SYS files for GDOS
O Choose other data files used by up to 8 different programs
O Display a welcome screen from any picture in Degas, Neochrome,
or Tinystuffed format, even on systems with both color and
mono monitors, and it can rotate colors on color systems
O Set the date if you so choose
O Set the time if you so choose
O Choose whether or not Super Boot will run by holding down a
"hot-key", by a time delay feature, or by both
O Restrict access to your system by use of a password (mainly
useful for hard drive owners)
O Set the floppy disk seek rate
O Have Write Verify turned off if desired
O Select the most used file configurations by simply pressing a
function key, with up to 30 function keys supported
O Customize Super Boot the way you want it using The Super Boot
Construction Set -- a separate, easy to use GEM program.
O Auto boot any GEM program
O Set a default configuration if Super Boot is bypassed
As you may conclude from this rather impressive little list,
"Super Boot" is a rather impressive little program, though I
really doubt its use when one only has a floppy drive.
When I first started using it, it was a slight bit of a hassle
to get to grips with it, but after a bit less than an hour I had
completed the editing with the user-friendly Construction Set and
my system had become very flexible and easy to use.
Now, I really would not know what to do without this program. It
is very easy to use, very fast (well, on harddisk anyway) and
seems to be quite bug-free (I haven't found any of them, anyway).
A very good program altogether, and I suggest you try to get it
as fast as possible. Though we might be tempted to put it in a
future issue's PROGRAMS folder (as it is shareware and may thus
be freely copied), I suggest for now that you try to get it from
the author. If you send him $20 (cash, and in US currency, which
will also cover postage and all that stuff) he will be happy to
send you the current version - and you will be registered as
His address: Gordon W. Moore, 2300 Beech St., Ashland, KY 41101,
United States of America.
Leisure Suit Larry III - Passionate Patty in Pursuit of the
Now, finally, this game is available on the Atari ST. I
previewed it in ST NEWS Volume 5 Issue 1, but it happened to be
the PC version. The only different thing of the ST version seems
to be the fact that it is also controllable by mouse, which makes
There is not much to say about this, other than that it is quite
a bit more 'sexy' than its predecessors (quite a lot, actually).
It really deserves a rating of 9. It is a very nice game, and
comes on four disks each containing about 500 Kb of graphics. It
is installable on harddisk and runs on monochrome-as well as
color monitors (a very good quality of games like this, I think).
It's very good. Very good (but that may be because I am a
Behind this somewhat occult name hides a somewhat good game that
has somewhat good graphics and somewhat good sound that was
somehow programmed by Dinamic. Technically the game ain't all
that brill. The scrolling is almost stomach wrenchingly slow and
yet the game is still immensely playable, this is probably due to
the slightly(!) above average graphics and the pretty neat ideas
which have been used in the game. At the end of each level there
is an 'end monster'. The first of these is a rather well drawn
and animated dinosaur skeleton. The neck and head lash out at you
and when you finally kill it all of the bones drop to the ground
simultaneously as if some force that was holding them together
has suddenly been removed. If they had only employed a better
programmer the game would possibly have been one of the very best
on the ST alas this was not to be and so instead it is just a
pretty nice game. 9 for the graphics man; 5 for the programmer!
A very nice product indeed, coming from the British company
Gremlin, is the jump'n'run game "Venus - The Flytrap". Or,
rather, it should be called a jump'n'gravity game.
In "Venus", you are some kind of metallic fly that has to
negotiate several levels of action. The new thing about this game
is that you can not only walk and jump like in all platform
games, but that you can also walk and jump off the 'ceiling' as
it were. This adds a new thing in the playability field, and it
needs thorough getting used to to be able to use this to your
Although the game is technically far from brilliant (which is
e.g. evident when seeing the scrolling), the graphics are very
good and the sounds are well above average. A nicely playable
game with some new elements. It doesn't beat "Flood", but it's
very nice nonetheless. As a rating, I consider a 7.5 to be fair.
Back to the Future II
It is hard to admit that I was actually pleasantly surprised
when I had a look at this game: A rather expertly programmed
license if I ever saw one.
In "Back to the Future II", you are Marty (Michael Fox) and you
have to 'skateboard' through a road scrolling by (almost smooth,
but you can't expect much better for the amount of action going
on). There are cars that do not particularly seem to care whether
you're in their way or not, there's various chaps on skateboards
that try to mug you, and more.
Graphics are good, and so is the intro. Imageworks this time
hired proper people, so it seems. The music is fairly standard
Whittaker-style stuff - nothing to get excited about nowadays.
Gameplay, however, is very hard. There are plenty of extras, but
it's still very hard.
Concluding: If you're a parent seeking a game for the kids to
give 'em at Christmas and is has to have a fancy name attached to
it, think of "Back to the Future II". A rating for this game
would be a 7.
Fire & Forget II
God knows what now endangers the earth, but you are once again
called upon to drive this mega-super-duper turbo car in an
"Outrun"-style game. Shooting and driving, driving and shooting.
Titus didn't change much on the game principle apart from the
game setting (and, thus, the graphics) and the car controls.
Car controls haven't actually changed to their benefit. The car
seems to float over the street, and joystick response it too
quick. It's very hard to play, and somewhat unrealistic, too.
Instead of other cars, aliens will now come to harass you. And
they do this is a very convincing way (sometimes they appear a
bit too quick to my liking, but I guess that's a matter of
"Fire & Forget II", though probably better than the original
game, is hardly the thing that we're all waiting for. So a 6.5 is
all it deserves.
An arcade role playing game by PSS this is. It takes the
'arcade' bit of the role playing game principle to there where it
should always be: Joystick controlled opponents that walk through
a detailed landscape, and fighting sequences that are real time.
So none of the 'move forward', 'parry', 'slash' and that sort of
stuff. Plain real-time action here.
The first thing that strikes you when loading the game is the
title picture, a piece of Alan Tomkins artwork that is 'rather
astounding'. Ever seen the "Battle Master" twin-page add? Well,
he succeeded in getting that on the ST fairly well.
After selecting a person to play with, you can go ahead and
start the game. I haven't actually had a further in-depth look at
this (and I only played it for a minute or so), so I will refrain
from a rating.
Although I am not into these kind of games, I think it is a good
one (a gut feeling says this to me). Try it out and see.
At £24.99, Electronic Arts sells a rather impressive RPG-
lookalike by the name of "The Immortal". In it, you play a
wizard's apprentice (haven't we heard that about a dozen times
before?) that has to save his tutor, Mordamir the magician.
Originally, this job wasn't meant to be yours. It was meant to
be that of a brave knight called Dunric. The fact that the spirit
of the magician addresses you in the first room, and the
additional fact that Dunric lies dead in the second, makes
everything slightly confusing.
So now it's your job to negotiate 8 levels and 50 chambers of
puzzles and non-too-friendly beats (the likes of caterpillars,
goblins, trolls and dragons).
"The Immortal" is an isometric 3D game, which means that you
look at the scenery from above, and with that entire scenery
turned 45 degrees from what one could consider to be the 'normal'
angle. This viewpoint has been used before by games like "Get
Dexter" (= "Crafton & Xunc") and, most recently, the Bitmap
You find yourself walking through rooms and corridors, connected
with doors that you can open (and some that you can't). Apart
from the monsters and puzzles mentioned before, these chambers
are also filled with miscellaneous traps, corpses and chests -
which can be examined. Plain keys and maps can also be found.
Battle sequences are all real time, and the animation is of
staggering quality. All the graphics are actually very good,
except for the grey 'stony' graphics that envelop the playing
area and status line. Really well done, it has to be said.
Especially when changing rooms, the scrolling is extremely
blocks - but, some way or another, this isn't really disturbing.
Some of the puzzles are really good, by the way. One of them
involves the bending of some kind of mysterious beam of light so
that it gets to shine on some kind of gem - probably revealing
something once this has been done.
"The Immortal" is a really nice game. The hacking and slashing
is brilliantly drawn, and difficulty seems to be tuned just
right for people who are into these kind of games. The music is
average, but seems to adapt itself to the game (faster or
slower). There are some really nice touches to the rooms. For
example, there is one in which you suddenly fall through the
floor; you find yourself hanging on your magic stick and have to
swing out of the hole again.
Well done, Electronic Arts. A very nice game. Therefore, an 8-.
And yet another Electronic Arts game!
They have surely released many titles over the past half year,
and I was thrilled at the fact that they sent them all to me -
even including the "Deluxe Paint" utility package (sorry Claus! I
found out I had already promised to give it to someone else, who
helped me with the review).
Anyway. We're talking about "Magic Fly" here. Like quite a lot
of games to appear recently, it is based around 3D vector
graphics. This time, you have to take your craft (called "Magic
Fly"...coincidence or what?!) into an underground maze complex in
a vast asteroid where you have to locate several vital parts,
blast objects, use the 'Atomic Sledgehammer' (a bomb) and then
escape before the hole thing explodes.
There are over 30 different enemy craft to scan and destroy (the
scanning is necessary for intelligence reports, as you're a bit
of a spy, too). You can select different weaponry and use it to
blast hell out of anything that deserves it (which is actually
most of what you're likely to encounter).
The 3D graphics are not stunningly fast; as a matter of fact
they are just above average to today's standards. The game is OK,
but it doesn't have any qualities that make it stand out among
the other 3D vector graphics games. At £24.99, it may also be
slightly too expensive. A rating of 7 would suffice, I guess.
That was just about it for now. See you in the next issue of ST
NEWS - which will probably not contain this column but, then
again, it may anyway.
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.