ST Format Review
See previous post
For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STE, running TOS 1.62. This game got a release on an Automation disk – menu #285. This menu features lots of wibbly text, and it takes some doing to figure out the buttons to get each game, but I eventually figure out it’s 1 for Warp, 2 for Italy 1990 (football game for the Italian World Cup). I gave the footie game a quick go for shits and giggles and it was awful – 2 frames per second, terrible controls, and it looked like it belonged on a Commodore 64. Clearly this disk was something of a dumping ground.
So let’s remind ourselves of what Warp is for those who can’t be arsed to read the ST Format review above (I have no idea how many people do – I just figure it’s a nice thing to have and it runs alongside the central concept of the thread that I’m playing games from ST Format issues). So it’s a shooter. The review complains that the ship is too small to see, and it’s on a one-colour background – they describe it as more of a tech demo than anything else. Perhaps the devs came from the demo/pirate scene?
So the intro has the Grandslam logo flying into the screen followed by some wibbly text effects, then we get some cool chip sound effects as rain drops down the screen to give us the Thalion logo – so far so demo scene.
The game loading screen proper finally comes up, with some fairly catchy chip music.
Dear god how many preliminaries must we go through to get to the fucking game?
Great.. a spinning world animation and a spaceship flying out… Can I play a fucking game yet?
Ok cool we’re on Mars.. can I play a fucking game yet?
Well that wasn’t worth it. To summarize.. the ship rotates, that’s wonderful, and it does so very very smoothly. It’s not as small as ST Format indicated, but it’s not very interesting to look at. Backgrounds are indeed pretty dull, and enemies appear to be mostly geometric shapes. The scrolling is super-smooth but it’s worth noting it takes up a tiny amount of screen. Nope, it wasn’t very inspiring, not worth the effort. I will say though that I’ve seen ST Format give worse games 60+%.
I thought I recognised the name, and it turns out Thalion are indeed ex demo scene, though no known links to the pirate scene. They would later create games like Enchanted Lands and No Second Prize, so they did get better. This was their 2nd game, so perhaps at this stage they were still learning the ropes. In a way the ST market was better than the modern market in that there was a place for developers to learn this way, where that’s harder to do now.