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The ST Format Challenge

For the ST Format Challenge, every Wednesday and Saturday we review a game from ST Format – working from ST/Amiga Format issue 1 to the final issue of ST Format.

Hardware Reviews

As I acquire new bits of Hardware I’ll let you know what I think of it.

Month By Month

A chronological overview of the times around all these reviews, putting them into context.

Welcome to the Bitmaps.co.uk. I hope you enjoy your time here – it’s slowly but surely becoming a little home for all things retro. I’m currently focusing mostly on the ST Format Challenge, where I work through the entire catalog of ST/Amiga Format and ST Format magazines. I intend to add more challenges later on, likely taking in the Commodore 64 and the Amiga. Typically I aim to have something out at 9:00 UK time on Saturday and Wednesday mornings, and will do my best to stick to that predictable schedule, with out-of-band posts for other articles, news, etc. We also have hardware reviews and more in-depth discussions. For games that don’t fit any of the challenges, we have the Monday Specials which give us a bit more variety.

Random Review

  • Review: Exterminator (Atari ST)
    ST Format Review (Issue 19) Equipment Used/Recommended MiSTer box running the Atari ST core – a 1MB STE running TOS 1.62 – you can replicate this with the Steem emulator.Any of Automation 500I, Fuzion 28, SuperGAU 487/541, Vectronix 525Speedlink USB Joystick My Review So I was going to have a …


1988 (7) 1989 (12) 1990 (11) 1991 (4) December (3) February (4) hardware (3) January (4) July (3) June (3) magazine (33) March (3) Monday Specials (5) no stf review (6) November (3) October (3) power pack (13) review (145) Reviews (33) ST-Amiga Format (13) staf02 (4) staf03 (4) staf04 (4) staf05 (4) staf07 (4) staf10 (5) stf02 (6) stf03 (4) stf05 (4) stf06 (12) stf07 (7) stf08 (5) stf09 (5) stf10 (4) stf11 (5) stf12 (5) stf13 (4) stf14 (9) stf15 (7) stf17 (6) stf18 (10) stf19 (6) stf20 (5) stf21 (5) stformat (21)

Recent Articles

Review: Boulder Dash (C64)

Equipment Used/Recommended MiSTer box running the C64 Core Speedlink USB Joystick or a mouse (recommend mouse) My Review Games have over time come in many shapes and sizes. The early days of gaming were consumed by action, by creating that addictive one-more-go thrill, that need to beat the high score or see the next screen. More recently designers have shied away from this, seeing it as perhaps toxic in some way, or as being less of an artform, and yet by discarding these things we lose some of what makes gaming great. I’m sure we all remember those days, when…More

Review: Bruce Lee (C64)

Equipment Used/Recommended MiSTer box running the C64 Core Speedlink USB Joystick or a mouse (recommend mouse) My Review So here we are at the first game in the Zzap64 Challenge – starting first from the Top 64 that was published in the first issue to get a few of the pre-Zzap classics, games which belonged to a different era. I sought suggestions at https://www.reddit.com/r/c64/comments/nnlbvr/which_prezzap64_games_are_worth_covering/ and on Twitter and as helpful as people were it didn’t narrow my list down much. So I set about poking and prodding a few games to see which ones to cover, as I can’t cover…More

Review: Viz (Atari ST)

ST Format Review (Issue 21) Equipment Used/Recommended MiSTer box running the Atari ST core – a 1MB STE running TOS 1.62 – you can replicate this with the Steem emulator. Automation 453 Speedlink USB Joystick or a mouse (recommend mouse) My Review Moving on from racing games we now find ourselves engaged in more athletic pursuits – this time racing on foot. The game is split into multiple events, mirroring the format of a typical olympics game in many ways, with races on foot interspersed with events like trying to jet-propel yourself as high as possible using only the power…More

Review: Super Monaco GP (Atari ST)

ST Format Review (Issue 21) Equipment Used/Recommended MiSTer box running the Atari ST core – a 1MB STE running TOS 1.62 – you can replicate this with the Steem emulator. Automation 496, Fuzion 47, Medway Boys 110, Pompey Pirates 80, Superior 65. Speedlink USB Joystick or a mouse (recommend mouse) My Review Continuing with our racing game theme, we arrive at Super Monaco GP. For those unfamiliar, it’s a racing game, very much in the Outrun mould, but with F1 cars. It reviewed pretty well, scoring 89% in The One, 85% in Zero, 72% in ST Action and 71% in…More

Review: Team Suzuki (Atari ST)

ST Format Review (Issue 21) Equipment Used/Recommended MiSTer box running the Atari ST core – a 1MB STE running TOS 1.62 – you can replicate this with the Steem emulator. Automation 446, Fuzion 37, Pompey Pirates 74, Superior 56. Speedlink USB Joystick or a mouse (recommend mouse) My Review I think most people who know me will be aware that I love a good racing game. As much as my man-cave is a haven of retro goodness with the lovely MiSTer box and variety of old-school joysticks and 8bitdo console controllers, it’s also home to a triple-monitor and VR racing…More


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Month By Month

March 1991

The World In March 1991 The UK the Tories were shocked by defeat in the safe seat of Ribble Valley in a by-election. The Birmingham 6 were freed on appeal, unemployment hit 2 million and Norman Lamont predicted a 2% economic contraction in a nasty recession (not by 2020 standards obviously). John Major announced the abolition of the Poll Tax – the tax undoubtedly ended Thatcher’s run at the top, so getting rid of it was essential. The inquest into the Hillsbrough disaster recorded accidental death – this proved controversial. The US news the Rodney King beating by Los Angeles…More

February 1991

The World In February 1991 In the UK the IRA launched a mortar attack on 10 Downing Street. There were no injuries but that is probably why it’s so heavily fortified these days. It wasn’t always thus. We also got heavy snow, which was great for me as it let me build some awesome snowmen. Photos of me doing this were quite rightly destroyed. There were bombings at Paddington and Victoria Street stations (it’s quite terroristy this month – back in those days it was the Irish who did most of it). In what would prove to be history’s biggest…More

January 1991

The World In January 1991 The UK was heading for some tricky times – the Gulf war began and the RAF was involved pretty heavily alongside the US. The recession continued, and there was a train crash in London. The US news Pan Am filed for bankruptcy protection, the US began operation Desert Storm, and tens of thousands protested in Washington against the war. In many ways the Gulf War was the last successful US military intervention in pure military terms, though their failure to topple Saddam Hussein’s regime likely led to the later choices of Bush Jr. Elsewhere in…More

December 1990

The World in December 1990The UK had a remarkable event as workers from the English and French sides of the Channel Tunnel met for the first time, a project which had run way over budget and way over time, but has since proven to be pretty useful. The first British hostages were released by Saddam Hussein. Poundland opened its first shop (honestly I had no idea it was that old). Tony Adams (Arsenal central defender) was sentenced to 4 months in prison for drink driving. The last coalmine was closed in South Wales. The US news unemployment hit 6.3%, and…More

November 1990

The World in November 1990In UK news Geoffrey Howe resigned from the government over its European policy. Nobody noticed, even after a resignation speech which was like being savaged by a wet lettuce. Sky and BSB merged, but was still known as Sky – I’m pretty sure that’s usually called a take-over. Arsenal and Man Utd were docked points for a mass brawl. Michael Heseltine announced his intention to stand against Margaret Thatcher, the beginning of the end of her decade-long misrule. After failing to win an outright majority in the first round, she resigns paving the way for John…More

October 1990

The World in October 1990In UK news the pound joined the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, the precursor to the Euro. This would prove to be a mistake. Women finally got to serve on warships. There was wide acceptance that we would have a recession, though predictions were that it would be short. Tim Berners-Lee began working on creating the World Wide Web – this would prove to be a dreadful mistake. The US news David Souter joined hte Supreme Court. The Ulysses probe was sent to study the sun. President Bush vetoed a civil rights bill that would have enhanced…More

September 1990

The World in September 1990In UK news York City’s David Longhurst collapsed on the pitch during a 4th Division (now known as League 2) match and died. Meanwhile the CBI predicted a recession as Chancellor John Major and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher denied one was on its way. It was very much on its way. The US news Pete Sampras won the US Open at the age of 19. While never the most interesting chap he would go on to be a huge force within his generation of tennis players, winning multiple Wimbledon titles among other honours. The 1996 Olympics…More

August 1990

The World in August 1990In UK news BA had a plane stolen by the Iraqi army at Kuwait airport after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, while back home the heatwave saw temperatures hit 37.1C (98.8F). Labour had a 15 point lead over hte Tories (probably because of the poll tax) and while Iraq was taking British hostages, Lebabon was releasing them with Brian Keenan freed. BBC Radio 5 began broadcasting, covering news and sport. The US news was pretty quiet outside of the middle east, but the Magellan landed on Venus which was pretty exciting. Elsewhere in the world Iraq…More

July 1990

The World in July 1990In UK news, England went out of the World Cup, losing the semi-final to Germany on penalties in what would become a national tradition. UEFA lifted the ban on English clubs which had been in place since the Heysel disaster. Nigel Mansell announced his coming retirement from F1, and Graham Taylor was appointed England manager. It would not go well. Most importantly of all, my wife was born. The US entered recession, while George Bush signed legislation to protect disabled workers from discrimination. Elsewhere in the world East and West Germany officially merged their economies. Martina…More

June 1990

The World in June 1990In the UK the bans on British beef were lifted after the BSE crisis, while the planned high-speed link between London and the Channel Tunnel was shelved. John Major proposed an alternative to the EU’s proposed single currency, a currency which would circulate alongside existing currencies. In hindsight it would have saved the EU a lot of headaches as it would have left member states freer to fix economic woes. JK Rowling began writing the first Harry Potter book. In US news Ohio had 88 tornadoes. Why the fuck would anyone want to live anywhere that…More

May 1990

The World in May 1990In the UK the new version of the Rover Metro came out. It was a shitbox. In almost-as-bad news, inflation hit an insane 9.4%, compared to the more typical 2% of the last decade. Bobby Robson announced the coming World Cup would be his last. It would be glorious and he would go from a figure of tabloid hate to a national hero. France, always the pricks, banned British beef due to BSE fears, while John Gummer (agriculture minister) fed a hamburger to his 5-year-old daughter for a photo opportunity. In US news the US and…More

April 1990

The World in April 1990In the UK we had the Strangeways Prison riot, and an earthquake (unusual for Britain). It was only 5.1 so not much to write home about but quite exciting for Britain. Aldi opened in the UK – they didn’t make much impact at the time but these days they’re quite popular. Customs seized parts of an Iraqi supergun. Labour were 23 points ahead of the Tories, piling pressure on the government. Steven Hendry at 21 became the youngest ever world snooker champion. He would go on to bore us all to death for many years. Liverpool…More

March 1990

The World in March 1990In the UK 37 people were arrested in Brixton rioting against the poll tax. In Trafalgar Square 113 people were injured and 340 arrested in further poll tax riots. The riots were because instead of being charged on the basis of the value of your property, you were charged a flat rate based on the number of people. This would lead to the absurd situation of a single person in a mansion paying 1/2 of what a couple living in a tiny flat would pay. It went against all notions of a progressive tax system and inevitably…More

February 1990

The World in February 1990In the UK Ayotollah Khomeini renewed his fatwa on Salman Rushdie, a move which turned out to be the tip of a large iceberg we’re facing today. A bomb exploded in Leicester. Other than that, not much. In US news there was a pay dispute in MLB and Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson. Voyager 1 sent back the famous Pale Blue Dot photo. US flights stopped allowing smoking on flights under 6 hours long. Elsewhere in the world in the USSR the communist party voted to end its monopoly of power, opening the way for…More

January 1990

The World in January 1990In the UK Labour had amassed a 12-point lead over the Tories which put mounting pressure on Thatcher’s government. In many ways Labour blew their wad a bit too early as the Tories would retain power for a further 7 years, but I’ll save the spoilers – suffice to say the year would get quite interesting politically in the UK. We also had a hurricane, not quite on the level of the great storm of 1987. Overall January was a quiet month in the UK though, with not much happening. In US news, Manuel Noriega surrendered…More

December 1989

The World in December 1989The biggest news would have to be on the 3rd of December, when Margaret Thatcher, George Bush (Sr) and Mikhail Gorbachev declared the Cold War over. This was back when Britain was still relevant, in large part due to sheer force of will from Maggie. 2 days later she would defeat Anthony Meyer (who?) in a leadership challenge. In the UK, aside from Maggie’s leadership challenge, we had the privatised water companies going on the stock market, making some people a LOT of money. Labour began its path towards Blairite sanity by abandoning its policy on…More

November 1989

The World in November 1989The big event was the fall of the Berlin wall. It was such a huge moment, signalling what some thought was the end of history. Following on, Bulgaria ended its communist rule and Czechoslovakia saw massive protests which would end the rule of their Communist Party and usher in elections. It was one of the most momentous times in history but at 9 I didn’t really fully understand its significance. That is a source of some regret, as it now seems that I lived through the peak of Western civilisation without realising it. In the UK…More

October 1989

The World in October 1989In the UK we had our first World Wrestling Federation event. Rover launched the 200 series, and England qualified for Italia 90 by drawing with Poland. The stock market fell dramatically fuelling fears of a recession, while the party formed from the merger of the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party renamed itself to the Liberal Democrats. They were irrelevant then, had a brief spell in coalition in the 2010s but then faded back to irrelevance. The Guildford Four, wrongly convicted of terrorist activity in 1975. Labour had a 10 point lead over the Tories,…More

September 1989

The World in September 1989In the UK our ambulance crews went on strike. Meanwhile, the IRA were bombing and murdering as was their way. Nigel Lawson resigned as chancellor, paving the way for John Major to replace him (and of course he would eventually become PM). The recession gathered pace in the meantime, it was expected to be the worst in a decade. In America George Bush (Sr) proposed to spend $7.9bn on the War On Drugs in his first televised speech – later in the month 21 tons of cocaine and $12m in cash was seized in Los Angeles.…More

August 1989

The World in August 1989In the UK the West Midlands Police Serious Crime Squad was disbanded after years of fabricated confessions – the police were not defunded in general, just the rotten department disbanded and replaced with a less corrupt unit. Electronic tagging was introduced, allowing some offenders to be placed back in the community with minimal risk to the public. In America, for the first time, a privately-owned rocket put a payload in space, a TV satellite. Elsewhere Gazprom (Russian energy production) became a state-run enterprise, and would many years later be used to hold Europe hostage by threatening…More

July 1989

The World in July 1989In the UK we started to see the first signs of a forthcoming recession as house prices dipped, falling for the second successive quarter, having doubled over the previous 3 years. Labour continued to increase its lead over the Tories in the polls, in many ways mirroring current events with the media hating Thatcher and Tories proving shy – we would have another 8 years of Tory government. In America Seinfeld debuted while Oliver North was fined $150k for his involvement in Iran-Contra. The B2 Stealth Bomber made its maiden flight (and what a sexy bit…More

June 1989

The World in June 1989In some ways June 1989 was the beginning of the end of Thatcher’s government as Labour won its first national election in 15 years (winning most of the votes in the European elections). In China the Tianemen Square protests reached their finale, with the military set against civilians in a fight the civilians could never win. Tank Man would prove himself a legend. News is otherwise quiet though China’s news is seismic enough all on its own. The film charts feature Road House at #1, Beaches at #3, Childs Play at #4, the rest of the chart is…More

May 1989

The World in May 1989In the UK, Margaret Thatcher hit the 10 year milestone as Prime Minister, she would not be in the job for much longer. A divisive but hugely important figure in British politics, she reshaped the nation and battled the unions to restore order to British society and modernised a country that had previously been the sick man of Europe. Among the left however she was mostly known as the milk snatcher, due to taking away free school milk. In football Liverpool beat Everton in the FA Cup final while Arsenal won the first division (which is…More

April 1989

The World in April 1989Probably the biggest event of April 1989 was the Hillsborough disaster, in which 95 people were killed at an FA Cup Semi Final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. The Sun would go on to make itself unwelcome forever on Merseyside by blaming the fans with support from the South Yorkshire police. That Liverpool fans were also involved in the Heysel disaster in 1985 seems to go unnoticed, and my own experience of Liverpool fans is that they tend towards drunken violence and arseholery. The month was plagued with strikes as the London Underground was paralysed and…More

March 1989

The World in March 1989News for March 1989 is somewhat sparse. Time merged with Warner to become Time Warner, George H W Bush banned import of certain assault rifles, and the Exxon Valdes spilled 240000 barrels of oil into the sea. At the oscars, Rain Man won best picture, with Dustin Hoffman picking up best actor and for best actress Jodie Foster won for The Accused. The quality of the competition was poor. The 12 nations of the EC (as it was then) agreed to ban production of CFCs by the end of the century to solve the big environmental scare…More

February 1989

The World in February 1989In Britain, with its most recent addition of a 4th channel on terrestrial TV back in 1982, Sky TV broadcast its first satellite TV service in Britain, eventually introducing the nation to WWF, The Simpsons and MTV and fundamentally changing the way we watch TV – now instead of only 4 channels of crap we had hundreds. Meanwhile, ITV got its rival to Aussie soap Neighbours, airing Home and Away for the first time and on the BBC Eastenders killed off Den Watts.. or did they? Following last month’s protests by British Muslims over Salman Rushdie’s…More


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