The Zzap64 Challenge

We’re going to play a shedload of Commodore 64 games, some from each issue of Zzap64. I can’t wait to see how this turns out.

So we’ve been doing the ST Format Challenge for over a year now, starting life as a forum thread before becoming this site and branching out into YouTube. The ST Format Challenge, for those unaware, is a project where I play a selection of games from every issue of ST Format. We’ve made it to issue 21 (and 13 issues of ST/Amiga Format too). The videos however are some way behind, so I’m going to focus on getting those caught up on the Atari ST side. However, we’re going to bring in a new strand for this site.

The Zzap64 Challenge. We’re going to do the exact same thing, but with Zzap64. Why? Well I’ve been playing C64 games lately and it turns out they’re awesome. We’re going to start by taking a selection of the games listed in the first issue’s top games list to give us an excuse to cover some older stuff too, then we’ll move through issue by issue covering new and awesome games.

What you’ll hopefully get is a written article here on Monday, a video on our YouTube channel on Wednesday, then the Atari ST video going up on Friday, each week. Let me know in the comments if there are any games you want to see covered and what your thoughts are on where we’re going with this.

Zzap64 Challenge Coming In August

So we have plans. Big plans. Right now I have 89 ST Format Challenge game reviews without videos attached that I plan to make videos for. That’s going to take a while, meanwhile we’ve been making videos and blog posts at the other end, and honestly it’s getting a little confusing. So, for now we’re going to pause on new Atari ST blog posts. We will however be updating old ones to new standards and adding video to them.

The other big change is that we’ll be adding the Zzap64 Challenge, covering C64 games. This will begin with a selection of the pre-Zzap games listed in Zzap Issue 1’s Zzap64 top 64 (see below).

I’ve chosen to do this due to spending more time with the C64 recently and concluding that it’s a really insanely good machine, and chose Zzap64 after downloading some issues and enjoying them. The sheer number of reviews is quite something so figuring out which games to cover will no doubt be quite a challenge, though I suspect some of them may lend themselves to shorter videos and articles and allow me to cover more than one game per week, but we’ll see how that works out.

Have a look at the list below and let me know in the comments which games you’d like to see covered.

What’s Coming Up?

So with the review of PowerMonger we’ve more or less got most of the best games from ST Format Issue 19 and so we’ll be moving into the 20s. Now issues 16-18 were pretty large, featuring a hell of a lot of reviews, but it does start to slow down a bit from here, as the failure of the STE begins to bite as well as the traditional post-Christmas slowdown.

Still, issue 20 has some interesting games, with Domark’s MiG-29 Fulcrum likely worth a look. Then there’s a bit of an oddity from Lucasfilm in the form of Night Shift (a plate-spinning platform game). Tournament Golf is better than it sounds – golf games are always more fun on a computer than to watch on TV or heaven forbid play. Turrican 2 follows hot on the heels of the first game and improves enormously, though the same can’t be said of Dragon’s Lair 2 which is more of the same. Enchanted Lands was a pretty highly-regarded platformer with impressive visuals from some demo-scene coders. Quite a decent selection I’m sure you’ll agree.

Issue 21 sees Readysoft attempt to atone for the style over substance of Space Ace and Dragon’s Lair with Wrath Of The Demon which absolutely isn’t ripping off Shadow Of The Beast. Team Suzuki gives us some 3D motorbike racing fun, while Super Monaco GP gives us a more old-fashioned 2D take on F1. We get Mighty Bombjack which is probably a bit dated at this point. Viz brings us the violence of Biffa Bacon, the flatulence of Johnny Fartpants and the massive bollocks of Buster Gonad – you can be assured I’ll be reviewing that and making a video. A weaker issue overall but still fun to be found.

Issue 22 shows the ST continuing to move away from dodgy arcade conversions and movie licenses. The Bitmap Brothers bring us Gods, while Mirrorsoft bring us Brat (think Lemmings but with a single baby instead of lots of lemmings). The Killing Cloud is an interesting take on law enforcement in 3D, while we get some driving action in Test Drive 2. Elvira gets a brief mention, unlike in Zero where she gets the cover – can’t think why. What’s more puzzling is that ST Format’s review is nearly a year after Zero’s.

Issue 23 gives fairly extensive coverage of the remarkable game creation tool 3D Construction Kit which used the Freescape engine made famous by Driller and Castle Master among others. Despite that, the star review is The Secret Of Monkey Island. Ludicrously pretty and brilliantly funny. The other standout game is Chuck Rock, a gorgeous-looking Flintstones-inspired platformer. Less brilliant but still interesting is Moonshine Racers which sees the standard 2D rolling road racer adapted to driving a beaten-up old truck.

Issue 24 shows the ST still has some life in it, with Wonderland a game trailed way back in the distant past, demonstrating a new windowed approach to what is fundamentally a text adventure with some pretty pictures. Of more importance is the all-time classic, Lemmings. You know it’s brilliant. Supercars 2 is another belter, maybe not Lemmings level but a game I have tremendous affection for. Hill Street Blues is a police management game I was always curious about but never got to buy, so this might be my chance. On the sports front we get some squash and a 3D future sports game, as well as Pro Tennis Tour 2. Given my persistent failings at tennis games, the latter may end badly for me.

Finally (for this preview) issue 25 features platform action with Toki, the intriguing mafia caper Crime Does Not Pay, the Cinemaware-esque Champion Of The Raj, and a remarkable number of terrible arcade conversions. In truth issue 25 is slim pickings.

The next 6 months see us get F-15 Strike Eagle 2, Midwinter 2, Life & Death, Jimmy White’s Whirlwind Snooker, Mega Lo Mania, Exile, Railroad Tycoon, Adventures Of Robin Hood, Cruise For A Corpse, Utopia, Vroom, Populous 2 and more. Hope that whets your appetite for what’s ahead.

New Release 2021 – Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge STE-Enhanced Version!

Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge – New Version!

So a couple of geniuses/nutters have gone and taken Lotus Esprit and made it better. In fact, it’s now pretty much indistinguishable from the brilliant Amiga version, which is an incredible achievement.

Visually it’s an absolute treat, running incredibly smoothly (which is why I’ve gone with a video for this post – static images won’t do it justice), and the sound has had some work with the engine sounds are improved and the dramatic intro music added.

I’m a reasonably capable dev but my ST days are sadly limited to making platformers and shooters in STOS when I was 12 so I don’t understand everything they’ve done, but it appears they’ve leveraged the Blitter especially in some wonderfully creative ways. Get it now!

The Links That Matter

Download The Game From AtariMania

What’s Coming Up (and what isn’t)

So we’ve got a few more reviews lined up from ST Format issue 18 with Chase HQ 2, Pang and Golden Axe arriving over the next couple of weeks. However, having lingered quite a long time on issue 18 I reckon it might be time to move on, after checking out some of the upcoming games.

The first game not to make the cut is Nine Lives, from Atari. The visuals are gorgeous, no doubt, but there are some pretty big issues. The scroling is done half-a-screen at a time in a jerking motion, but I could live with that. The bigger issue is that the jumping is terrible. Either a pointless vertical jump or holding the joystick in the down position while the cat tail on the right goes up to try to judge just how much energy to put into a horizontal jump, which can go enormous distances. That might be less of an issue if it were not for the tiny visible area you’re presented with – most of the time you just end up in some spikes. Difficult is fine, but this is just due to poor controls rather than any cleverness of design.

Car-Vup also missed the cut by being a reasonably competent platformer but really doing very little to excite me. The main character is clearly based on the taxi from the Roger Rabbit movie and visually it’s decent enough, reasonably smooth, but it’s not quite got enough in it that I could get a decent article out of it.

Murders In Space looks like it might be interesting but it has an absolute turd of an interface. I do intend to come back to it at some point to see what I’m missing but I’ll probably save it for a run of longer articles about deeper games rather than try to cram it into the current 3/4 day cadence of reviews.

Also missing the cut for now are Omnicron Conspiracy, Lost Patrol, Supremacy and ATF 2. Of those I reckon there’s a good chance I’ll come back for Lost Patrol at some point, but right now I need some fresh blood!

I’ll be looking at issue 19 next – it has a few notable releases among what is a bit of a post-Christmas lull. I love Damocles so I might have a look at Mission Disk 1 if there’s enough in it to be worth doing, and I don’t need asking twice to have a look at Powermonger which is one of my favourites. Ninja Remix might be an opportunity to undo the awfulness of the previous release I reviewed, while Ivan Stewart’s Super Off Road might be fun. Prince Of Persia should be known to all of us and I might have a look at Robocop 2 given it topped the chart for ages if I recall. It’s always fun to review truly awful games so I might have a look at Edd The Duck and Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. All in all, a slimmer issue will make for an easier time for me!

Amiga Addict Issue 3 Is Out

So I just want to put out a heads-up that the utterly wonderful Amiga Addict magazine have their third issue out. Post isn’t til March 7th and I presume the digital download will appear around the same time, but you can pre-order at the link below.

The first two issues were brilliant, covering the Amiga scene, talking to legends from the Amiga’s long history, and covering some of the wonderful games, new and old, on that fantastic platform. The staff are knowledgeable and passionate about games and technology, something of a throwback to that golden age, and they’re doing awesome work.

The Amiga was an absolute beast of a machine, so go get that mag, get a MiSTer box (or fire up WinUAE, or if you’re really flush with cash get an Amiga) and show it some love.