ST Format Issue 14 and the stench of corruption (Magic Fly)

ST Format Issue 14 – Download

The World in August 1990
In UK news BA had a plane stolen by the Iraqi army at Kuwait airport after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, while back home the heatwave saw temperatures hit 37.1C (98.8F). Labour had a 15 point lead over hte Tories (probably because of the poll tax) and while Iraq was taking British hostages, Lebabon was releasing them with Brian Keenan freed. BBC Radio 5 began broadcasting, covering news and sport.

The US news was pretty quiet outside of the middle east, but the Magellan landed on Venus which was pretty exciting.

Elsewhere in the world Iraq invaded Kuwait, with the UN ordering an embargo against Iraq. Meanwhile Bulgaria elected its first non-Communist president in 40 years, and the South African government and the ANC began talks to end Apartheid. Egypt, Syria and 10 other Arab states voted to send military forces to Saudi Arabia to discourage Iraq from invading.

On TV we had the debut of Channel 4’s music program The Word (a program which would epitomise the anarchic style of 90s TV), while the last episode of Miami Vice would be shown on BBC 1. Channel 4 would also debut Drop The Dead Donkey.

The film charts are absolutely killer this month with Days Of Thunder at #1 (ok so it’s Top Gun with cars but I like it), Gremlins 2 at #2 and the utterly fucking brilliant Total Recall at #3 (dropping from #1 the previous week). We also have Back To The Future 3 and Dick Tracy in there too, with Pretty Woman remaining in the chart and Spaced Invaders which sounds like something potentially fun (the whole film is on Youtube).

Yeah that looks quite something. They don’t make films like that anymore!

The album chart isn’t very exciting with Elton at #1, Madonna’s album for the Dick Tracy movie at #2, Phil Collins, Pavarotti and NKOTB still there, even MC Hammer and Craig McLachlan. Not a good chart.

The singles chart features the utterly dreadful Turtle Power by Partners In Kryme (to coincide with the release of the movie) at #1 and Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini at #3 for fuck’s sake. In more positive news there’s Tom’s Diner at #2 and Naked In The Rain at #4, plus Roxette at #9 with Listen To Your Heart. At #12 we see Together with Hardcore Uproar and Bon Jovi at #13 with Blaze Of Glory, plus Technotronic with Rockin over the Beat ft Ya Kid K at #15 so it’s not all bad.

The Magazine
Issue 14 came out in August 1990, and was my 5th issue. The theme this month is how the cost of a game is divided between publisher, retailer, developer, etc. This is illustrated by a spiv on the cover, presumably representing the shady motherfuckers who ran software houses at that time.

In terms of news, Deluxe Paint finally made it to the ST. Deluxe Paint was an absolute powerhouse in the world of 16-bit art packages though the Amiga was its more natural home. They get their art editor to discuss what is an EA release, though fail to join the dots here and mention his work on an EA game (Magic Fly – more on that later).

The STFM got an upgrade to its version of TOS, to version 1.4. In general one didn’t upgrade because TOS was in a ROM chip on the board, rather than the approach we see today of storing the OS on writable media. There’s a brief mention of a game which ST Format would never review, but which you may recognise in my avatar – Mad Professor Mariarti. A brilliant game – one you should all try – and I’ll be reviewing that when we get to roughly its time of release. In other news, Captain Sensible reviewed a Monty Python game. A mad world indeed.

There’s a report on the British Music Fair in which highlights include an amazing 1.2GB hard drive. Madness. However, beyond that the show was further evidence of the ST’s place in the music industry.

The TT was getting closer to release and we discovered that it would run at 32MHz vs the ST’s 8 and the Mega’s 16. £2530 would get you a TT with 2MB of RAM and it would be available in October. I so wanted one as a kid though looking back, outside the 68030 chip, it was underspecced.

In the feature on where your money goes, ST Format conclude that 12.5% goes to the distributor (men with vans), 15% to VAT (UK sales tax), 40% to the software house, and 32.5% to the dealer (the shop). There’s some discussion of the cost of film licenses – I suspect they’d cost a bit more than the quoted £250k today. One quite interesting thing is that they go into some detail about the cost of an advert in ST Format, as well as that of getting your game included as a cover disk demo. It’s refreshing openness and honesty about what goes on behind the scenes and is probably quite an interesting read to some here.

The cover disk features demos of the mediocre Yolanda and the excellent Rick Dangerous (presumably the publishers trying to get some publicity given ST Format failed to review it). There’s reference to a new version that’s not quite as tough, so maybe that’s a reason for the demo too. You also get a cool Graffiti tool to graffiti your desktop. I was going to do a screenshot but then embarassingly realised I’d forgotten how to run desktop accessories. There’s also a funky speech synthesizer which sounds like Stephen Hawking. Needless to say I just made it swear.

We get a pretty full and detailed discussion of all the ST error codes and what they mean plus some guidance on where to start with BASIC, discussion of daisy-wheel vs laser printers, ant other techie bits.

Public Domain and Demos
I thought it might be nice to cover some of these especially as once we get out of the golden age that’s pretty much all there is! There’s some discussion of Budgie’s licensware concept where Budgie receive royalties for PD libraries distributing their games. Among them is Safe As Houses which looks like a decent version of Monopoly. Beyond Budgie there’s a fun little desktop accessory which melts your screen, a free spreadsheet program called Opus which looks surprisingly good, and Quizmaster for making your own quizzes (handy for exam revision).

In the world of Demos we have a Dragon’s Lair demo which takes scenes straight from the laser disk, EDEM11 playing 28 bits of music, STE Demos which show off the STE’s sound chip and blitter, plus some sound samples with graphics showing 400 colours on screen.

The first preview is for Betrayal – a strategy game about which I know very little. There’s a brief mention of a James Bond game – The Spy Who Loved Me. I suspect it’s one of those 4-games-in-one jobbies. Snow Strike gets a mention, the adverts always looked pretty good but I had a look at a YouTube of someone playing it and it’s utter shite. Chuck Yeager lends his name to another flight sim, though I’ve not played it. There’s some RPG action in Legends Of Faerghail but the stupid name puts me off. Alcatraz has a pretty screenshot but it’s not quite clear what it is. Murders In Space looks interesting, there’s not been much in the way of Murder Mystery games on the ST, though this month we have Murder! under review.

We get a longer preview and developer interview for Core Design (of Tomb Raider fame) on the topic of their coming games Rick Dangerous 2, where we’re told we must refer to it as Rick Dick instead of Rick Dangerous but never told why. There’s a focus on more between-level cinematics, and a camera that tracks the player in vertical scrolling and an improved trap system with more detection points and triggering by dynamite, bullets, etc rather than just the player. These changes bring the game closer to its modern descendent Spelunky.

Games reviewed this month:
Magic Fly (Wireframe-3D space game – EA – £24.95 – 91% Format Gold)
Monty Python (Insanity – Virgin – £19.99 – 84% – Reviewed by Captain Sensible)
Debut (Planet Simulator – Pandora – £24.99 – 77%)
Breach 2 (Strategy – Impressions – £24.99 – 82%)
Yolanda (Single-screen hardcore platformer – Millenium – £19.99 – 58%)
Last Ninja 2 (Flower arranging simulator – Activision – £24.99 – 86%)
Kick Off 2 (Accountancy Rhythm Game – Anco – £19.99 – 92% Format Gold)
Blockout (3D Tetris – Rainbow Arts – £19.99 – 72%)
Battlemaster (Shit – Mirrorsoft – £24.99 – 82%)
Sly Spy (Didn’t get a Bond license – Ocean – £19.99 – 59%)
Back To The Future 2 (Multi-game film license – Mirrorsoft – £19.95 – 62%)
Antago (Super-charming puzzle/board game – Art Of Dreams – £19.95 – 84%)
Murder (Murder mystery – US Gold – £19.99 – 72%)
Harley Davidson (Motorbike game with minigames and sexism [YAY] – Mindscape – £29.99 – 76%)
Astate (Hidden object – New Deal Productions – £19.95 – 38%)
Wildlife (Safari Guns with cameras – New Deal Productions – £19.99 – 21%)
Treble Champions (Shit football management game – Challenge Software – £19.95 – 19%)
Official Everton FC Intelligensia – Amfas – £19.99 – 57%)
Shades (Online chatroom/game – Micronet – 8p/min [peak] / 2p/min [cheap] + Micronet subscription – 80%) – see for more about Prestel
Trash (Online chatroom/game – Micronet – 8p/min [peak] / 2p/min [cheap] + Micronet subscription – 92%)

The interesting bit here is Magic Fly. and show the magazine scores for each version of the game, with nobody going over 70% and yet ST Format bizarrely gave the game 91% – a game that one of their staff had worked on. Amiga Power’s rating for the game is particularly scathing. To their credit they don’t hide the relationship, with the preview in the previous issue going fairly in-depth, but it’s still pretty egregious, certainly I’d like to see more of a mention in the review.

Of the games reviewed, the ones that interest me most are Monty Python for sheer silliness, Last Ninja 2 as it looks like an interesting take on the beat em up, Kick Off 2 because I want to see what changed from 1 to 2 and because Dino Dini is god, Back To The Future 2 because the film was amazing and I remember dicking about with a cover disk demo back in the day, Antago because it looks so charming, Murder because I always wanted to give it a shot and Harley Davidson because it looks like a cool take on motorbikes. I’m going to be busy!

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.
– Monty Python – Automation 508, Medway Boys 94, Pompey Pirates 56
– Last Ninja 2 – Automation 363, Flame Of Finland 29, SuperGAU 956, Pompey Pirates 42, Vectronix 169
– Kick Off 2 – Automation 69E (doesn’t sound right), SuperGAU 343, Medway Boys 75, Vectronix 9/204
– Back To The Future 2 – Automation 342, Flame of Finland 36A, SuperGAU 365/848/858, Medway Boys 84, Vectronix 626 — the first game is only on Vectronix 805, I might give it a quick go just for a crack
– Antago – No warez version – can only find at
– Murder! – Automation 377, Medway Boys 99A, Pompey Pirates 58
– Harley Davidson – Automation 510, Flame Of Finland 33

Reviews This Month

Review: Murder

Murder! ST Format Review My Review For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STE, running TOS 1.6. I’ve picked Pompey Pirates 58. That’s one hell of a picture! The music is pretty good by chip tune standards, technically this isn’t anything special, scrolling text, etc, but for me that picture just makes it.…More

Review: Monty Python

Monty Python ST Format Review My Review For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STE, running TOS 1.6. I’ve picked Pompey Pirates 56. The Medway Boys intro was a bit dull, and the Automation menu didn’t even bother featuring music. There’s some music on this one, but most important of all is a…More

Review: Harley Davidson – The Road To Sturgis

Harley Davidson – Road To Sturgis ST Format Review My Review For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STE, running TOS 1.6. The release of choice is Automation 510, and we get a fairly plain intro – funky text, some fairly decent music. There is actually one quite impressive effect of lights spelling…More

Review: Kick Off 2

Kick Off 2 ST Format Review My Review For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STE, running TOS 1.6. I’ve gone with Medway Boys 75 because it was one of the first pirated disks I ever encountered, as a download from Tik’s Atari Palace in the very early days of the internet, to…More

Review: Last Ninja 2

Last Ninja 2 ST Format Review My Review For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STE, running TOS 1.6. I’ve gone with Pompey Pirates 42. The menu is fairly plain with the artwork you see above and scrolly text moving far too quickly for me to be able to read it. The music…More

Review: Back To The Future 2

Back To The Future 2 ST Format Review My Review For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STE, running TOS 1.6. I’ve gone with Medway boys 84, in part because I don’t want to always use Automation. It’s not a very exciting menu – the word Medway Boys floats around, there’s some scrolly…More

Review: Antago

Antago ST Format Review My Review For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STE, running TOS 1.6. There’s not a proper menu disk with it on but there’s an Atari Legend crack so we’ll see if it works. This one gives us a chiptune but not much else, just some chiptune music and…More

ST Format 14 Cover Disk – Robotz and Mike Yocum

From the cover disk application listings.. anyone else seeing some dodginess with the developer’s name? Or do I just have a filthy mind? Robotz ST Format ReviewNope My Review For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STE, running TOS 1.6. Just for fun I’m going to review a little freebie on the ST…More