ST Format Issue 17 (Nov 90)

ST Format Issue 17 – Download

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The World in November 1990
In 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 Major to become Prime Minister (defeating Douglas Herd and Michael Heseltine). If only Theresa May had proved as easy to dislodge. It would take the Tories years to properly get over Thatcher, and her legacy would taint the Tories as the nasty party for decades, but it’s worth noting that she arrived into the job in a country which could not compete industrially due to union intransigence and transformed the economy into a modern one which could take on the world, for better or worse.

The US news George Bush, having promised no new taxes, proceeded to deliver new taxes. The UN passed resolution 678 authorising use of military intervention to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

Elsewhere in the world the first World Wide Web page was written. In more positive news, the SNES was released in Japan. It would become one of the greatest gaming machines ever created.

On TV The Word was moved from 6pm to a late night timeslot allowing it to become more risque. In more serious news the Broadcasting Act 1990 deregulated British commercial broadcasting and set out terms for a 5th terrestrial TV channel. The new channel would require millions of VCRs to be re-tuned. Harry Enfield’s TV Programme made its debut on BBC2 – it would run for 8 years, being funny in 2 of them.

The film charts see Flatliners at #1 with Ghost at #2. More positively Goodfellas is at #5 and for the kids you’ve got The Little Mermaid at #6. There’s a version of The Handmaid’s Tale at #11.

The album chart has a top 3 consisting of greatest hits albums. To be fair, The Immaculate Collection is one hell of a greatest hits album, but it shows where the chart is. With the Three Tenors at #5, more greatest hits at 6 and 8, it’s a pretty moribund chart.

The singles chart isn’t much better with Unchained Melody at #1 and a god-awful version of Fog On The Tyne by Gazza at #2. There is better music in the charts with Kim Appleby at #3 with Don’t Worry (her first single since the death from cancer of sister Mel – the other half of Mel And Kim), amd The Beautiful South with A Little Time. Black Box have a more chilled song than their usual with Fantasy, while Kylie does what she does best with Step Back In Time. Paul Simon is slowly slipping out of the charts at 16 with The Obvious Child.

The Magazine

Issue 17 is another bumper issue, as we come to the run in for the Atari ST’s best Christmas. 50 games reviewed in one issue – the focus is clear, this issue is all about games. 220 pages is still some way short of Amiga Format’s 284 page monster, though there are fewer game reviews.

The news section teases something quite extroadinary – the ST Transputer. The transputer promised, for the price of a printer, to offer 15-20x the speed of an ST and a 16m colour palette. It seems that it was vapourware as the only transputer I can find mention of online is the Atari Transputer Workstation which matches up with one mentioned in the article. While the ATW is a standalone box this seems to be about a device you can plug into your ST to give it transputer-level power.

Atari’s strategy got only more confused, with the 520 STE being discontinued as the 520STFM was to become the base machine with the 1040STE the next machine up. Atari really never got the STE right, and shifting more STFMs simply ensured that no support for the STE’s limited enhancements would ever emerge.

This issue is the first of many double-disk issues – and while most would offer free productivity software, this is the first (and last) to offer a free commercial game. It seems there was an agreement later among the magazine companies to stop doing that as it both devalued the games and the written content of the magazines. Luckily in this case it did neither as Interphase is shit. The main disk was more mundane with a demo of Captive which for some reason just never grabbed me like Dungeon Master did, plus a replacement for the ST’s file selector dialog, a disk formatter and a sliding blocks puzzle with a picture of Bugs Bunny.

We get a hard drive round up, where £300 gets you a 20mb hard drive while £500 gets you 40mb. Alternatively you could have a rewritable optical drive for £3200 with the 600mb cartridges coming in at £250 each. We also get a feature on cheap 9-pin dot matrix printers (this referred to the number of pins on the print head, not on the lead). I had a dot matrix back in the day and the noise it made was quite extraordinary, it’s a wonder I didn’t add deafness to the near blindness my Atari ST induced in me.

The previews are pretty good this month. Toylota Celica GT Rally was a brilliant game, I look forward to playing it. Nightshift is a fun little platformer that looked fun at the time, I’ll try to get some time with that. Robocop 2 and Teenage Mutant Hero/Ninja Turtles add to the pile of terrible film tie-ins and Chase HQ 2 is there to show us how bad the ST is at arcade conversions. More film conversion capers with Total Recall and Dick Tracy – by the way all four film tie-ins mentioned so far include some element of side scrolling shoot/beat-em-up. What a surprise. There is one game offering something different – Killing Cloud. I never played it so I’m looking forward to giving it a look. Finally, Gazza gets his own football game. Again.

We get a large preview for Deuteros, a game of remarkable prettiness but which had next to no appeal to me personally – if anyone fancies reviewing it I’d be delighted to hear from you when we get there.

ST Game Charts

F-19 Stealth Fighter remains at #1, simply refusing to budge from the top of the chart and quite rightly so – it’s a fantastic game that I spent an obscene amount of time playing as a kid. Honestly it’s the best flight sim ever made. The top 3 is identical to last month with the mediocre Shadow Warriors at #2 and the brilliant Kick Off 2 at 3. While Battle of Britain is a welcome new entry at 4, along with the brilliant Operation Stealth at 6, sadly the god-awful bilge Battlemaster occupies 5 and appalling film tie-in Back To The Future 2 sits at 6. Cadaver and Days Of Thunder make low key entries into the charts at 23 and 24. That Codemasters awful Italia 1990 sits at #3 in the budget charts suggests an awful lot of kids had a truly appalling Christmas in 1990. Genuinely the worst football game ever created. One should not be able to win every match by double-figures without even trying.

Games reviewed this month:
Spindizzy (Isometric exploration – Activision – £19.99 – 91% Format Gold)
James Pond (Fishy platformer – Millennium – £24.99 – 81%)
Paradroid 90 (Shooter – Hewson – £24.99 – 78%)
Shadow Of The Beast (Side-scrolling exploring beat em up with gorgeous graphics – Psygnosis – £24.99 – 83%)
Gettysburg (Turcan Strategy – Arc – £24.99 – 93% Format Gold)
Voodoo Nightmare (Isometric explorer – Palace – £24.99 – 76%)
Turrican (Side-scrolling platform shooter – Rainbow Arts – £19.99 – 82%)
Dragon Breed (Side-scrolling shooter – Activision – £24.99 – 68%)
Spiderman (Puzzle game [serious] – Empire – £19.99 – 74%)
Strider 2 (Side-scrolling platform shooter – US Gold – £19.99 – 79%)
Ranx (Beat em up – Ubisoft – £24.99 – 70%)
Flip-It & Magnose – Platformer – Imageworks – £24.99 – 72%)
The Spy Who Loved Me (Movie Tie-In Minigame Collection – Domark – £19.99 – 80%)
Chuck Yeager’s AFT (Flight Sim – Electronic Arts – £24.99 – 34%)
Torvak The Warrior (Side-scrolling slasher – Core – £24.99 – 70%)
UN Squadron (Shooter – US Gold – £19.99 – 46%) – Notable for the reviewer moaning about it being problematic
Pick N Pile (Puzzler – Ubisoft – £19.99 – 46%)
Spellbound (Platformer – Psygnosis – £19.99 – 79%)
Atomic Robokid (Shooter – Activision – £24.99 – 82%)
BAT (Adventure – Ubisoft – £34.99 with free sound card – 92% Format Gold)
Legend Of Faerghail (RPG – Rainbow Arts – £29.99 – 90%)
M1 Tank Platoon (Tanks shooting each other – Microprose – £29.99 – 84%)
The Light Corridor (3D pong – Infogrames – £24.99 – 82%)
Blitzkrieg (Strategy – Impressions – £19.95 – 57%)
Fire And Forget 2 (Racing Game With Weapons And Flying – Titus – £19.99 – 48%)
Back To The Gold Age (Side-scrolling slasher – Ubisoft – £24.95 – 57%)
Lost Soul (Text Adventure – MPH Software – £9.95 – 68%)
Badlands Pete (Shooter – Arc – £19.99 – 32%)
Subbuteo (Weird football game – Electronic Zoo – £24.99 – 70%)
Cricket Captain (Cricket strategy – D&H Games – £24.99 – 73%)
Legend Of The Lost (Turd – Impressions – £24.99 – 22%)
Prosoccer 2190 (Future football – Vulture Publishing – £19.99 – 12%)
The Final Conflict (Strategy – Impressions – £24.99 – 75%)
Zombi (Dungeon Game with zombies – Ubisoft – £19.95 – 40%)
Blinky’s Scary School (Platformer – Zeppelin – £9.95 – 70%)
Treasure Island Dizzy (Platformer – Codemasters – £4.99 – 82%)
Rock Star Ate My Hamster (Business Sim – Codemasters – £4.99 – 68%)
Ranarama (Frog exploration – Players – £4.99 – 75%)
World Soccer (Football – Zeppelin – £9.99 – 66%)

As you’d expect when there are 50 games being reviewed (though quite a few of those reviews are compilations) there’s a decent number of interesting games being reviewed. I bit off a little more than I could chew last month, not being able to find enough time to give Mean Streets or Loom a proper go (I’ll come back to them, I promise), but hopefully I’ll do better this month. James Pond is one I had as a kid, a brilliant little platformer with gorgeous graphics and boatloads of charm. Then there’s Shadow Of The Beast – I had the sequel if I recall, so it’ll be fun to look at the original to see if it’s any good – the screenshots look gorgeous. Rock Star Ate My Hamster interests me as it’s an older release being re-released on budget where the original fell outside the ST/Amiga Format and ST Format releases. Turrican I have only played in the form of an ST Format cover disk demo, but I’m aware that its legend has grown over time, while enthusiasts tell me that Paradroid 90 is a must-play. I suspect BAT is one I really should play though I’m not sure how the sound card situation is handled – I suspect it may prove difficult to play properly.

For those playing along at home, I’ll be sourcing pirated releases from the TOSEC collection on Here’s a list of releases, likely you’ll also find decent releases at AtariMania.

For those playing along at home, I’ll be sourcing pirated releases from the TOSEC collection on Here’s a list of releases, likely you’ll also find decent releases at AtariMania.

  • Rock Star Ate My Hamster – Automation 242, Flame Of Finland 7, SUperGAU 473, Medway Boys 65
  • Paradroid 90 – Automation 390, SuperGAU 333/371, Medway Boys 91, Superior 149
  • James Pond – Automation 321, DBug 95B, Fuzion 25, Medway Boys 98
  • Shadow Of The Beast – Automation 356, Flame Of Finland 36A/B, Medway Boys 87, SuperGAU 383/4, SuperGAU 785/6, SuperGAU 858
  • Turrican – Automation 448, Flame Of Finalnd 41, Medway Boys 90, Pompey Pirates 53, SuperGAU 791, Vectronix 757
  • BAT – – not sure if this one will work

Reviews This Month

Review: Turrican 1 (Atari ST)

ST Format Review (Issue 17) 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 448, Flame Of Finalnd 41, Medway Boys 90, Pompey Pirates 53, SuperGAU 791, Vectronix 757 Speedlink USB Joystick – MiSTer box running…More

Review: Shadow Of The Beast (Atari ST)

ST Format Review (issue 17) My Review Equipment MiSTer box running the Atari ST core – a 1MB STE running TOS 1.62 Automation Menu Disk 356 / Flame Of Finland 26A/B, Medway Boys 87 Speedlink USB Joystick If you’re reading this website then it’s very likely you already know about Shadow Of The Beast –…More

Review: Paradroid ’90 (Atari ST)

ST Format Review (issue 17) My Review Equipment MiSTer box running the Atari ST core – a 1MB STE running TOS 1.62 Automation Menu Disk 390 / Medway Boys 91 Speedlink USB Joystick In 1985 Hewson (of Nebulus fame – one of my all-time favourites) released Paradroid on the Commodore 64 to massive acclaim. It…More

Review: James Pond (Atari ST)

ST Format Review My Review Welcome to another games review in the ST Format challenge. Today we’re taking a review from ST Format Issue 17. Equipment MiSTer box running the Atari ST Core – 1MB STE running TOS 1.62 Automation Menu Disk 321 Speedlink USB Joystick We now find ourselves in the territory of games…More

Review: Rock Star Ate My Hamster (Atari ST)

ST Format Review My Review Equipment:– MiSTer box running the Atari ST core – a 1MB STE running TOS 1.62– Automation Menu Disk 242– Keyboard Rock Star Ate My Hamster is a very simple management game, about managing a band with the goal of making a shedload of cash. Strictly speaking including it here is…More

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