ST Format Issue 1 – Download
The World in July 1989
In 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 of kit it was) and Robert Tappan Morris Jr became the first person to be prosecuted for releasing a virus. Oh and the Game Boy came out. This machine was incredibly underpowered compared to most of the hardware of the day but its portability combined with an impressive library of games which focused on gameplay over technical matters led it to be a massive success.
Elsewhere in the world, South African president P W Botha met Nelson Mandela face to face for the first time – an early step toward ending the cruelty of apartheid. In Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest – she would be released in 2010 to much fanfare, only to prove to be every bit as bad as the old regime.
The film charts feature Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Burbs and the absolute classic They Live. What a fucking chart!
The album chart is a mixed bag, with Soul II Soul’s debut featuring a couple of excellent tracks, Appetite For Destruction still there along with Transvision Vamp’s Velveteen, but there’s also Simply fucking Red and Jason Donovan. Oh, and fucking Clannad. Who the fuck was buying that shit?
The singles chart had the brilliant Back To Life from Soul II Soul, but it also had Sonia, one of Stock Aitken and Waterman’s many talentless drones. The Pet Shop Boys were there at 5 with a song (It’s Alright) which was sadly a bit preachy but it was still fundamentally an absolute banger. The rest.. not a great time for music. The late 80s and early 90s were frankly a bad time for music in the UK.
On TV we had the first episode of Interceptor on Channel 4. It’s brilliantly bonkers.
Finally we’re here, we made it to the first issue of ST Format, which when you think about it is a tad ridiculous considering the title of the thread. Of course I’m also largely to blame for slacking off for a few months. Anyway, we’re here now, but should we have come? The cover is.. well it’s interessting I guess, though I’m buggered if I can tell what’s going on. The disk features a demo of Bloodwych and a full version of GFA Basic 2 (a later version of which is what I started my ST programming career on, having dabbled on the Amstrad CPC as an 8-year-old).
There’s a feature on how a punk group uses a 1040ST to power MIDI instruments, though it now transpires that basically the whole music industry was using them, brilliant little machines that they were. In the news section, we have the revelation that the STE would arrive by Christmas, though no mention of the compatibility issues which would plague it. The STE was of course an enhancement (and indeed the E stood for enhanced) but it wasn’t a big enough step up for existing ST owners and most developers would continue targetting the lesser STFM machine because it had a larger install base. This of course meant there was little reason to buy the STE.
We have a brief history of Atari, including their involvement with the Amiga, which I’m sure some of you would find fascinating. In software reviews we have Hisoft’s C interpreter and the wonderful STOS Compiler. STOS was my 2nd Atari ST programming language and it was fucking brilliant. While a little too slow for commercial games (Baby Jo was made in STOS – its lack of speed clearly a product of that heritage) it was wonderful for simple public domain games and would go on to power a whole industry.
The big features here are Blood Money and the new Indiana Jones game coming out for The Last Crusade. I recall playing an Indiana Jones game on the ST as a kid and I wonder if that’s the one – if so it was utter shit. Palace’s Castle Warrior gets a mention, though I have no idea what it is, and Ooze from Dragonware gets a dark screen that you can hardly see. A feature on Microprose is welcome, with Verminator coming from Firebird (one of their labels) and Microstyle getting Rainbow Warrior (yuck) and Xenophobe, while Microstatus gets Midwinter, Survivor and Tower Of Babel. Midwinter was of course awesome.
Games reviewed this month:
Phobia (Shooter – Mirrorsoft – £19.95 – 65%)
Kult (Fuck Knows – Exxos – £24.95 – 73%) – more weirdness from the people behind Purple Saturn Day
Bloodwych (Dungeon Master Clone – Mirrorsoft – £24.99 – 95%)
King Of Chicago (A Cinemaware Game – Mirrorsoft – £19.95 – 61%)
License To Kill (Minigames – Domark – £19.99 – 76%)
Garfield – A Winter’s Tail (Minigames – Softek – £19.95 – 70%)
Let Sleeping Gods Lie (Freescape Clone With Shit Graphics – Entertainment International – £24.99 – 72%)
Astoroth (Side-scrolling platform shooter – Hewson – £24.99 – 72%)
Waterloo (3D war strategy game* – Mirrorsoft – £24.99 – 91%)
Sky Fox 2 (Shooter – EA – £9.99 – 58%)
Red Lightning (Hex-based strategy wargame – No publisher or price listed – 64%)
Navy Moves (Utter shit** side-scrolling shooter – EA – £19.95 – 69%)
* So Waterloo is a game in 3D where you can only view from the position your general would actually be in, and where you issue commands to your troops through a text parser. Those commands are then taken to the appropriate unit by messenger, but the messenger might be intercepted en route. Very detailed stuff, with incredible depth, insanely slow, and probably a bit too hard for me!
** So I got stuck with Army Moves as a kid. It was fucking terrible. The shittest side-scrolling shit of a game known to man. Utter utter shit.
In terms of reviews, I reckon it would be rude of me to not cover Bloodwych, especially as I’ve long wanted to give it a go, though it’ll take a while to get a good solid take on that (though if you’re still reading this thread you’re used to long waits). I might have a brief go on Waterloo to demonstrate my utter incompetence and see if Navy Moves is really as bad as I expect.
Reviews This Month
Navy Moves ST Format Review My ReviewThe kit for this was latest version of Steem SSE, selecting a 1MB STFM with TOS 1.00 (the release which ran in all of the gaming machines until the STE came out later in 1989). My first attempt used Automation’s menu 180. Other releases are available, such as that…
Bloodwych ST Format Review My ReviewSo to get this up and running I fired up the latest version of Steem SSE and chose a 1MB STFM with TOS 1.00 (the release which ran in all of the gaming machines until the STE came out later in 1989). My first attempt used Automation’s menu 122, which…