ST Format Issue 8 – Download
The World in February 1990
In 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 elections. Nelson Mandela was released. German reunification was agreed. Big news, all happening at once. I miss the days when news was so good.
On TV Sky Movies was encrypted and became Sky’s first pay channel. Quantum Leap made its debut on BBC2. The Mitchell brothers arrived in Eastenders.
The film charts have Honey I Shrunk The Kids at #1, a good, honest fun while I know less about Sea Of Love and Internal Affairs. Overall though it seems a fairly weak chart.
The album chart sees Phil Collins remain at number one, but the rest of the chart isn’t great. Tanita Tikaram is in at #3 off the back of World In Union for the rugby, Cat Stevens is at #6, I suppose we do at least have Technotronic at #8 with Pump Up The Jam so it’s not all shit.
The singles chart has some absolute ABSOLUTE MEGA-BANGERS. Sinead with Nothing Compares 2 U (written by Prince) is an all-time classic, while I’ll always enjoy a bit of Technotronic and can do the whole rap to Get Up at #2, Dub Be Good To me at #3 is fantastic, what a top 3!
Issue 8 came out in February 1990, which means I probably got it for my birthday, my first issue of ST Format. For that reason it’s a big deal for me. This is where it all started, on my 10th birthday, I started to find out a bit about life beyond the Power Pack.
So the cover feature is about upgrading your Atari ST – in truth I don’t think most people did more than perhaps upgrade from 0.5MB to 1MB RAM, maybe the single-sided disk drives got upgraded, but that’s about it. The coverdisk features a full copy of GFA Raytrace. Where now ray-tracing is done in real-time, in those days I would write out some code to define a scene and then leave my ST on overnight crunching the image to produce some reflective balls on a checkerboard floor, as was compulsory at that time. There was also a program called Ani ST which was a fantastic little animation package which tweened your animations for you – another full program though this one had started off commercial before migrating to PD.
In the news, the STE’s compatibility troubles continued, though Atari were beginning to get a handle on things, putting out fixes to public domain libraries for distribution. ST Format actually ran a feature on the STE fiasco (it was so bad that in the letters page they even advised someone to stick with their STFM and not bother upgrading) and I’m going to include it here because it is pretty damning stuff.
That’s a big old list of incompatible games, and Atari blaming programmers isn’t the brightest move, especially when it seems Atari didn’t give the software houses enough time with the machine to get fixes ready to go. Atari were not a well-run company. On a positive note, the Lynx was finally shown at the British Toy Fair, though we all know how that machine went.
In hilarious news which frankly sums up the state of the industry at that time, a 17-year-old was running a mail order company (Xenon Technologies) and.. well I’ll link to the page for the full story, but according to police he “cocked up his business” and his dad was sending letters to people awaiting goods and making sure cheques weren’t cashed. Oh dear.
We get a review of Sequencer One, which would be given away on a coverdisk in a couple of years and would bring me into the world of Midi music as I plugged it into a Yamaha PSS-480. Very kind of STF to save me £79! The C tutorial continues, there’s a DTP tutorial, there’s Magnetic Scrolls bitching about how Sierra had deals with Tandy to help shift units and how Level 9 were pointless because they just copied other people’s shit (meow)
Previews this month we have Cloud Kingdoms which looks fabulous, Kid Gloves which is a basic platformer, Never Mind which looks like it has a hint of Cadaver about it and the extraordinary Dragon’s Breath which I desperately wanted as a kid but for some reason utterly unknown to me never got in my collection. We also have Psygnosis’ Infestation (3d vector game about gassing aliens), Stryx which I know nothing about, the mediocre Emlyn Hughes International Soccer and Conqueror (Virus with tanks). More importantly we’ll get the magnificent Midwinter in next month’s issue. Which I didn’t buy. Because I’m an asshole.
Games reviewed this month:
Black Tiger (Run and gun/stab – US Gold – £19.95 – 70%)
Dark Century (Tanks in Raytraced Space – Titus – £24.95 – 52%)
Beverley Hills Cop (Movie Tie-In Multi-Game – Tynesoft – £19.99 – 49%)
Rings Of Medusa (Strategy? RPG? – Starbyte – £24.99 – 69%)
Gravity (Very peculiar space game – Imageworks – £24.95 – 93% Format Gold)
Dr Doom’s Revenge (Spiderman/Captain America in 1v1 fighting and jerky scrolling minigames – 29%)
Austerlitz (War Strategy with typed commands in 3D – Mirrorsoft – £24.95 – 92% Format Gold)
Wild Streets (Scrolling beat-em-up – Titus – £19.99 – 71%)
Aquanaut (Dolphin fucking simulator – Addictive – £24.99 – 41%)
Kick Off Extra Time (Football – Anco – £9.99 – 49%)
Black Tiger looks like fairly typical fare for that time and yet I remember as a kid wanting to give it a shot, swayed as I was by pretty graphics. Thankfully I didn’t. Dark Century is an interesting one in that it made the bold claim to be raytraced. The first raytraced game in fact. Now that claim comes in an issue distributing GFA Raytrace which would take several hours at best to render a scene, which would rather demand that I call bullshit on it, and yet ST Format were undoubtedly fooled.
Beverley Hills Cop looks like one that could be fun or could be shit – it’s the traditional movie tie-in consisting of mini-games representing key scenes, though given the stand-out feature of Beverley Hills Cop is Eddie Murphy being awesome I’m not sure how well that would translate to a game. Rings Of Medusa is one I remember seeing as a kid and being wowed by the screenshots which really did look like something from another world. Being older I can appreciate they’re probably mostly static but at the time they offered so much possibility and intrigue. I will probably have to give it a go, though I suspect finding a decent manual will be key to getting anywhere with it.
Gravity is such a peculiar-looking game, from the bloke who made Bomb Uzal – it’s one I’ll need to have a closer look at before deciding whether or not to review as youtube didn’t exactly give much away other than that it has the worst intro music ever. Dr Doom’s Revenge looks nice in stills but I had a look on Youtube and dear god it’s awful. I reckon I’ll take a look at Austerlitz – I have a vague recollection that I had one of these games as a kid and was shit at it but the concept always intrigued me, this idea that as a commander you’re stuck in place and have to send orders to your captains via messengers who might get intercepted en route, those messages being text typed for the parser.
Wild Streets might be my quick and easy review, it looks lovely and got my attention as a kid. Aquanaut less so. I loved kick off (or more accurately Player Manager) but it looks like Extra Time is a dodgy cash-in. I vaguely recall Anco doing a lot of that kind of thing back in the day – this ‘data disk’ seems like nothing more than a basic patch tbh, charging a tenner for it is a bit rude.
So, there’s a few there I’d like to take a look at, we’ll see what time allows.
Reviews This Month
Beverly Hills Cop ST Format Review My Review For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STFM, running TOS 1.04. There are a couple of scene releases, one from Fuzion and one from Automation, I’ve gone with Fuzion here as I’ve not featured them before. This one has a really good bit of chip…
Wild Streets ST Format Review My Review For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STFM, running TOS 1.04. There doesn’t seem to be a warez release for this but thankfully Atarimania had my back. We start with a nicely drawn loading/logo screen, as we patiently wait for the disk to chug. Sampled sounds…
Black Tiger ST Format Review My Review For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STFM, running TOS 1.04. This is Automation disk 240. The intro has some ok music, some wibbly text with a palette-shifting text giving the impression of scrolling, bouncy balls, etc. The user of overscan here is pretty clever stuff.…
Rings Of Medusa ST Format Review My Review For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STFM, running TOS 1.04. This is Pompey Pirates #37, quite a simple menu with a cool picture of a knight, some sscrolly text and a graphic equaliser in the border, along with a decent chip tune. It comes…