ST Format Issue 6 – Download
The World in December 1989
The 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 closed shops. The economy continued to slide, inflation hit 7.8% during the year while growth dipped to 1.7%, with house prices in London falling 10% to an average of £86000 (what I wouldn’t give for prices to be that sane now).
Britain experienced its worst flu epidemic since the 70s with a million infections recorded by December, with hospitals forced to cancel surgery. We did not shut the country down. The estimated death count was between 19000 and 29000.
Elsewhere in the world, the entire Socualist Unity Party in East Germany resigned en-masse, part of the growing movement toward ending Communism and the cold war. In Czechoslovakia, a new non-Communist cabinet was sworn in, and in Chile the first free election in 16 years was held, and Brazil had their first in 29 years. The Romanian revolution began, this revolution would eventually lead to the overthrow of Nicolae Ceausescu, an incredibly corrupt Communist dictator.
Honestly it’s so odd – the UK’s economy was fucked, but outside of that there was so much hope, so much expectation, the world was throwing off the shackles of Communism and the light of Freedom shone brightly, a beacon of hope to all. This was the end of history, the future would be forever bright and prosperous. And now, look at us. We fucked it.
On TV the big event was Clive James On The 80s, broadcast on New Year’s Eve. In less welcome news, Doctor Who finally ended after 26 years – it would be a long wait for it to return with a fairly shit movie somewhere in the middle.
It’s two hours, it’s from a VHS recording (quality improves dramatically a few minutes in), but it’s totally worth your time. I remember staying up late to watch it – I’m sure some of the jokes flew over my head but I watched it again recently and it was amazing. It puts you right there in the moment, the 80s viewed through an 80s lens.
Elsewhere, the Simpsons premiered on Fox, and would go on to be a huge part of what defines the 90s.
The film charts are fucking GLORIOUS! Ghostbusters 2 at #1, Back To The Future 2 at #2, When Harry Met Sally at #3, honestly three of my all-time favourites, with Field Of Dreams at #4. We’ll never see a chart that good again.
The album chart sees Phil Collins at #1, and I know it’s not fashionable to like Phil, but I do so tough titties. Anyone who doesn’t like Another Day In Paradise isn’t human. Meanwhile, someone was stretching a joke far too thin with Jive Bunny at #2. Kylie was doing her thing at #3 but more importantly, Tina Turner had an absolute banger of an album, Foreign Affair, at #4 with the likes of Steamy Windows, The Best and I Don’t Wanna Lose You, songs which really take me right back there.
The singles chart has Band Aid 2 at number 1. It’s not as good as the first one. Lambada was a bit of a sensation at #5 despite being painfully mediocre – no idea why it was in the charts in December when it was the kind of song you’d hear on holiday in Spain with all the other Brits. It’s a weak top 10, but then that’s how it usually was around Christmas.
The best songs were probably Tina Turner’s I Don’t Wanna Lose You and Madonna’s Dear Jessie.
Issue 6 came out in December 1989, on the cusp of the 90s, so you would expect it to either summarise the 80s or showcase the 90s, mixed in with plenty of things to buy for Christmas, and for the most part this is what they do. The cover disk is a demo of Tower Of Babel, which so cruelly confused the shit out of me last issue, and perhaps the cover mount explains it getting format gold. There’s a big feature on musicians using the ST, though not people you’ve actually heard of which is disappointing considering the kind of people who were using the ST back then – people like Queen, Madonna, Soul II Soul, etc. It really was incredible how popular the machine actually was. We also have a review covering the Atari ST’s other area of strength, DTP. Calamus, the GOAT, is pitted against Fleet Street 3. Calamus weighs in at £399 and requires a Mega 2 ST to run well, while Fleet Street 3 costs £199 and requires 1MB RAM. To put that into modern context, £399 is about £914 in modern money. These programs typically used the ST’s high resolution monochrome mode (640 x 400 compared to the usual 16 colour 320 x 200).
Going back a bit, the news section is quite damning, describing Atari’s dismal financial results and discussing the failure of the 1040STE to hit the Christmas market with stocks running low and Atari flying in replacements, and developers not being terribly impressed by the STE (and who can blame them – it’s a pretty incremental step up from the STFM that does little to challenge the superior graphics of the Amiga).
There’s a lengthy chat with the developers of Champion Of The Raj, a Cinemaware-style game from Level 9 who made Scapeghost (which scored a lowly 35% this issue). The main preview section however contains single screenshots and a paragraph each for Resolution 101, Damocles (fantastic game), STUN Runner, P47, Wild Streets, Space Harrier 2, Lords Of The Rising Sun, Loom, Infestation, Cyberball, Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters and Dark Century (the first game to have raytracing allegedly).
Games reviewed this month:
Ninja Warriors (Run And Stab – Virgin Games – £19.99 – 69%)
Pictionary (It’s fucking pictionary – Domark – £24.95 – 72%)
Stormlord (Fantasy run and gun – Hewson – £19.99 – 80%)
Day Of The Viper (Sci-Fi Future First person shooter in Dungeon Master Style – Accolade – £19.95 – 80%)
Snoopy (gorgeous-looking Snoopy game with huge sprites – The Edge – £19.95)
Toobin (rafting sim – Domark – £19.95 – 74%)
Axel’s Magic Hammer (Platformer – Gremlin – £19.99 – 76%)
Hawaiian Odyssey (flight sim data disk – Sublogic – £19.99 – 73%)
Batman (multi-part minigame movie tie-in – Ocean – £24.99 – 91% Format Gold)
Hard Drivin (3D Racer – Domark – £2495 – 84%)
Turbo Outrun (Racer – US Gold – £19.99 – 70%)
Powerdrift (Racer – Activision – £24.95 – 83%)
Galaxy Force (into-the-screen shooter – Activision – 68%)
Jumping Jackson (Musical puzzler – Infogrames – £19.95 – 56% – morons!)
Safari Guns (Utter turd – Infrogrames – £19.95)
Ghouls N Ghosts (run and stab – US Gold – £19.99 – 84%)
Super Wonder Boy In Monster Land (Platformer – Activision – £24.99 – 82%)
Super League Soccer (Management game – Impressions – £19.95 – 62%)
Scapeghost (Adventure – Level 9 – £19.95 – 35%)
Quite an impressive selection this month, as we head into the ST’s golden 18 months. Next year issues 17 and 18 are absolutely huge, stuffed to the gills with games, but this one’s pretty full, and we’re starting to see some properly 16-bit stuff appear. Of those, there are quite a few I’d like to have a crack at. Ninja Warriors could be worth a punt, as could Stormlord. My love of the Peanuts cartoons means I’ll have to play Snoopy. Batman and Ghouls n Ghosts are essentials, given their reputations, and Hard Drivin and Turbo Outrun are essential with my love of racing games. Jumping Jackson was awesome so I’ll be doing a brief run through of that too. I’m going to be busy. 12 games are ready in my ST Games folder – locked and loaded. Might not necessarily cover all of them if some turn out a bit dull, but either way we’ll get a decent selection.
I’m also planning to do a bit more with the cover disks in future as quite a few of them were pretty interesting. Might kick off with this one if it’s interesting enough, might not, but it’ll likely be an occasional thing.
Reviews This Month
Batman ST Format Review My ReviewFor this review I’m running Steem with my usual 1MB STFM. I’m using Automation 224, in which we get a digitised image, some wibbly text and some scrolly text. The chiptune isn’t bad. So this is Issue 6’s big ticket item, with a million adverts everywhere for the game. Review…
Ghouls and Ghosts ST Format Review My ReviewFor this review I’m running Steem with my usual 1MB STFM. I’m using Automation 199, another basic one with a simple image, scrolling text and chip tune. Not their most exciting work. So Ghouls and Ghosts is regarded as something of a classic overall, but what of the…
Snoopy ST Format Review My ReviewFor this review I’m running Steem with my usual 1MB STFM. I’m using Automation 173, a fairly simple menu with a cool picture, some chip music and some scrolling text. The game kicks off with a simple animated intro with some reasonable chip music. That said, it fails to move…
Wonderboy In Monsterland ST Format Review My ReviewBefore starting my review, I must deal with the fact that I can’t hear Wonderboy without thinking of this song. For this review I’m running Steem with my usual 1MB STFM. I’m using Automation 214, this one’s quite a simple one with the chip tune and scrolling text…
Stormlord ST Format Review My ReviewFor this review I’m running Steem with my usual 1MB STFM. I’m using Automation 225, which gives me a nice bit of chip music and the usual array of scrolly text, in this case with wibbly bars highlighting the text for the application list. We get an interesting explainer from…
Super League SoccerNo box-art available ST Format Review My ReviewFor this review I’m running Steem with my usual 1MB STFM. After my previous fail I hunted high and low but in the end had to settle for http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-st-super-league-soccer_11454.html which had a dump that appears to be from a more standard (non-scene) release. So graphics are rudimenatary, and…
Super League Soccer aka a tale of Hariseldon’s idiocy ST Format Review My ReviewFor this review I’m running Steem with my usual 1MB STFM. The crack disk of choice today was Automation 451. This one is a fairly simple cracktro – scrolling colour bars behind static text with some nice chip music.It feels like a…
Power Drift ST Format Review My ReviewFor this review I’m running Steem with my usual 1MB STFM. The crack disk of choice today was Automation 311. Not a bad cracktro – a possibly-digitised image of a young lady in her underwear as text flies around, plus the usual scrolly text at the bottom border and…
Hard Drivin ST Format Review My Review For this review I’m running Steem with my usual 1MB STFM. The crack disk of choice today was Automation 188. The intro has a pretty decent chiptune accompanying a weird monster, and scrolly text with a graphic equaliser overlaid. It’s not a bad intro, perhaps not anything special…
Ninja Warriors ST Format Review My ReviewFor this review I’m running Steem with my usual 1MB STFM. The crack disk of choice today was going to be Automation 319 which comes on 3 disks. The intro was a suitably jolly chip tune with a real emphasis on wibbly scrolling text. I can’t fucking read most…
Jumping Jackson ST Format Review My ReviewFor this review I’m running Steem with my usual 1MB STFM. The crack disk of choice today was going to be Automation 239 but it decided not to work. In the end I went with SuperGAU 325 which has proven more helpful. It’s not got the most exciting intro…