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Monday, 27 December 2010

Iron Lord - Atari ST Screenshots - Part 1

Screenshots from a great (but incredibly difficult) game which is part RPG, part strategy, part arcade...  Will post another batch of screenshots soon, hopefully when I've managed to actually win the dratted archery and got a bit further in the game!

Iron Lord Atari ST Screenshots

Associated Blogs:

CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog
Jonathon Wisnoski - Game Reviewer and Commentator

Thursday, 23 December 2010

The New Zealand Story - Atari ST

Not as fun or playable as Rainbow Islands, which came out at around the same time, but New Zealand Story was undeniably cute and the ST conversion wasn't too bad.  The graphics were relatively colourful and well animated, the chip music was... well, chip music, so fairly awful, but the game played quite smoothly and things moved at a nice speed.  Platforming fans could enjoy playing as a bow and arrow wielding kiwi.

The New Zealand Story Atari ST Screenshots:

Associated Blogs:

CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog
Jonathon Wisnoski - Game Reviewer and Commentator

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The Dig - DOS

The Dig is a 1995 2D graphical adventure game by LucasArts. It is a notable exception from other titles in their library as it is a serious title, and this is mirrored in all aspects of the game: the dialogue, story, art, music, and puzzles. The game was created by many talented and famous people; Including the well known science fiction write Orson Scott Card, creator of the Ender's Game series, and Steven Spielberg, the almost legendary film director and creator; And The Dig almost feels like a triple A film, with an amazing long and involved story, great dialogue and voice acting, attractive visuals, and atmosphere setting music.

The Dig has been criticized by fans of LucasArts adventure games because of its serious atmosphere, too challenging Myst likely puzzles, and pretty much every other aspect of the game; calling it the weakest in the developers library. Personally, I do not know what game these naysayers are playing; And I can only come to the conclusion that they are blinded by it being different from the many other wonderful LucasArts games. And it is a very different game; But no matter how great The Secret of Monkey Island's witty humour was, every game cannot use humour; And no matter how stylish The Curse of Monkey Island looked, every game cannot just copy those graphics and hope to catch some of the magic that was in the game. So yes The Dig is different and unique, but that is where the potential for greatness comes in.

The Dig is a epic science fiction tale of mortality and immortality, of aliens and humans, of technology and ruins, and ultimately of life and death. In the story a team of three astronautics are sent to save the earth from a gigantic asteroid on a collision course with earth. The team saves the earth, but gets transported to a seemingly abandoned alien world filled with mystery and danger. They must then explore the planet looking for a way home, or at least for a way to survive. They soon discover the ruins of a ancient, technologically advanced, race of aliens. With nothing showing where the aliens went of what happened to them. The team must delve deeper into the alien world to discover what happened to the long absent civilization and if they can ever get home to earth.

What really makes the game great in my opinion is how well all the parts are fit together. The story, as mentioned previously, sets the over arching tone of mystery and wonder. This feeling is compounded by the graphics, particularly the alien environment and technology. The interesting gameplay and puzzles help to draw the player into this world. The great music grows this atmosphere, with a sometime eerie, sometimes alien, sometimes mysterious, and always epic score. And it is the superb and believable dialogue and voice overs that really solidifies it. It is rare to see all of a games attributes come together and work in concert to create such a great atmosphere and ultimately incredible game.

And now to the gameplay. The gameplay is mostly divided between three main types: logic puzzles, inventory based puzzles, and exploration. The logic puzzles revolve around the alien technology; Figuring out how specific control panels and devices function, sometimes how to fix them, and then how to use them. The inventory puzzles are a pretty recognizable fair, similar to other classical adventure games, but particularly well done; Staying logical and entertaining throughout. The third and arguably the most entertaining aspect of the gameplay is the exploration. Exploring the alien landscape and discovering the alien technology and hidden chambers is just awe inspiring in its own right.

The overall feeling of mystery and wonder created by the captivating and profound story, extended by the alien and mysterious graphics and environments, nourished by the epic music, and cemented by the solid and interesting dialogue and voice overs.
The overly happy ending slightly distracted from the seriousness of the game prior to that moment.
A great classical adventure game that is almost perfect in all categories.
Release Date:
November 1, 1995
System Requirements:
  • OS: DOS, Mac OS
  • CPU: 66 MHz
  • RAM: 8 MB
  • Video: 256 colour VGA
  • Hard Drive: 1 MB
Re-release: (
  • OS: Windows XP or Vista
  • CPU: Any 2002 era PC or better
  • RAM: 32 MB
  • Video: 2 MB - PCI Graphics Card
  • Hard Drive: 650 MB
  • OS: Mac OS X 10.5
  • CPU: 1.8 GHz
  • RAM: 128 MB
  • Hard Drive: 2 GB

Associated Blogs:

CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog
Jonathon Wisnoski - Game Reviewer and Commentator

Monday, 20 December 2010

Final Fantasy IV - SNES

Cecil Battle
Cecil Portrait
Final Fantasy IV (or II in America) has been a favorite of mine since the very beginning, it was the very first RPG I had ever played and was one of earliest games I have seen to have a full great story and real fleshed out characters. It was first released back in 1991 for the SNES by Square but latter ported/remade to/for a wide range of platforms: The PlayStation in 1997, the WonderSwan Color in 2002, the Game Boy Advance in 2005, the Nintendo DS in 2007, the Wii Virtual Console in 2009 and latter that same year mobile phones, and it is slatted for a 2011 release on the PlayStation Portable.

Tellah Battle
Tellah Portrait
As its name implies it is the forth title in the prestigious Final Fantasy series, a series that currently holds fourteen main titles and a whopping twenty eight games in total including all spin-offs and sequels, and that is not even including the two great movies, two anime series, and a handful of OVAs. The series is the second best selling RPG series of all time, and even the sixth best selling series of all time. In particular Final Fantasy IV holds a particularity prestigious place in the series, it is one of the few main titles to have a direct sequel, Final Fantasy IV: the After Years, and the first game to use the Active Time Battle system, a system used in many subsequent titles. Set seventeen years after the events of the first game, The After Years follows the the original cast and their descendants in a episodic adventure spanning eleven chapters and utilizing mostly the same game mechanics.

Kain Portrait
Kain Battle
There are many reason that I think Final Fantasy IV excels. For one it has a great expansive storyline, and top-notch graphics. Additionally, it had simpler and easier gameplay then many other Final Fantasy titles, with little to no grinding being needed and the leveling system and character development being completely automated. And while customization can be very good in its own right, it can get in the way of the story and character development; And this is where Final Fantasy IV really shines. This game has the biggest most dense group of great characters and easily has over half of my favorite characters of all time. Their is Cecil the dark night turned repentant hero, Cid the genius mechanic, Edge the dual sword wielding, weapon throwing, and wise cracking ninja, Edward the cowardly prince who has lost his love interest to the enemy, Palom and Porom the young but extremely talented black and white mages, Tellah the wise sage past his prime, and Kain the dragoon, to name a few.

Associated Blogs:

CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog 
Jonathon Wisnoski - Game Reviewer and Commentator

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Circus Attractions - Atari ST

This game features five game segments based on circus attractions (I bet that was a surprise to you, huh?) - Trampolining, Tightrope Walking, Juggling, Knife Throwing and Clown Jumping.  You can train in any of the events as much as you like, or go for playing each one and seeing what total score you can reach.  There is some functionality for multi-player and team play.

Developed by Golden Goblins and released by Rainbow Arts back in 1989, this is effectively five simple games tagged together.  The games themselves are relatively fun, with controls that were a bit fiddly but essentially relied on you having good timing more than anything else.  The graphics were reasonably good; the chip music was something of an unwelcome assault on the ears!  It's a reasonable game, the different sections are fun for a while and it would work much better as a multi-player game - I think you'd get bored of it pretty quickly without any human competition.

Circus Attractions has a particular fascination for me because I created a game along very similar lines (I called mine "Big Top", it was coded in STOS and was Atari STE specific, but sadly never got released [even as public domain] - as far as I can remember it featured tightrope walking, knife throwing, human cannonball - not sure if any other disciplines - and a rudimentary circus management section).  Was it better than this?  Probably not to be honest (though my sound effects were definitely better! :-D), but I wish I'd managed to send it to a few PD libraries so that at least the old game might still be knocking around the internet somewhere so that I could download it, play it on STEEM and tell people "I did that!  Isn't it awful?!"... or something.

Forgive my indulgence, but Big Top was about the only proper game I ever actually finished coding!  Anyway, enough reminiscing.  Here are some screenshots of the game: 

Circus Attractions - Atari ST Screenshots

Monday, 13 December 2010

Winter Olympiad - Atari ST

Winter Olympiad was one of the very first Atari ST games I owned, and back then when young relatives came round quite often, this sort of multi-event sports game was hugely popular at our house.  Featuring five events - downhill, ski jump, biathlon, slalom and bobsleigh - it was great fun and required a fairly wide variety of skills to master.  The graphics were okay and the chip music, while not exactly great, at least featured a different tune for each event.  You could save your world records and have multi-player games with medal tables, all good stuff.    Released by Tynesoft in 1988 and sometimes called "Winter Olympiad '88", it still plays surprisingly well today.

Winter Olympiad '88 Atari ST Screenshots (run under STEEM emulation)

Starting off the downhill
What kind of idiot plants trees on the downhill track?!?!

Admiring the scenery during the biathlon
You have to be able to ski as well as shoot...
Hmm... that jump looks pretty long, actually.

But managed with aplomb, if I might say so.

Starting off the slalom...
Er... which way round the flags do you go again?

Ha!  The bobsleigh looks easy...

But isn't.  Crashed... again...

For even more retro winter sporting fun, see Digital Integration's Bobsleigh for the ZX Spectrum.

Peter Beardsley's International Football - Atari ST

I remember playing this way back in1988 when it was first released by Grandslam Entertainment.  Hitching onto the popularity of the Liverpool and England footballer, it was a game with some nice graphical touches but terribly stodgy gameplay.  (As a devoted fan of both Liverpool FC and footie games on the computer I kept trying to win the world cup on it despite everything though!) It wasn't until the following year that Kick Off came along and blew everyone's socks off with its frantic speed and abandoning of the "magnetic feet" approach.

Swift passing moves were impossible in this game, but for a while the attractive visuals kept it interesting.  At least until Kick Off was released...