ST Format Issue 21 (March 1991)

ST Format Issue 21 (Download)

Welcome to another issue of ST Format. As usual we’ll begin by placing the issue in its historical context, and note that we use the month the magazine actually came out rather than the one printed on its spine, before diving into the issue’s contents. Finally, over a few weeks we add a list of reviews to the bottom of the article, each a link to a new article.

The World In March 1991

The UK the Tories were shocked by defeat in the safe seat of Ribble Valley in a by-election. The Birmingham 6 were freed on appeal, unemployment hit 2 million and Norman Lamont predicted a 2% economic contraction in a nasty recession (not by 2020 standards obviously). John Major announced the abolition of the Poll Tax – the tax undoubtedly ended Thatcher’s run at the top, so getting rid of it was essential. The inquest into the Hillsbrough disaster recorded accidental death – this proved controversial.

The US news the Rodney King beating by Los Angeles police, beginning a chain of events which would eventually lead to the 1992 LA riots. The comparison with recent events is obvious. In less unpleasant news Dances With Wolves won 7 Oscars and 43 million people watched.

Elsewhere in the world Estonian and Latvian voters voted for independence. Albania held its first multi-party election since 1970. The collapse of communism continued at rapid pace, truly the height of Western power.

In TV news, it may surprise you to note that until 1st March 1991 TV Listings were heavily regulated, with only the Radio Times publishing BBC listings, and only the TV times publishing ITV and Channel 4 (we only had 4 channels). They could now publish all 4 channels, and newspapers could also publish 7-day listings.

The film charts see Dances With Wolves replaced with Godfather Part 3. Honestly I’ve never heard of Green Card, The Russia House, Pacific Heights or The Field so can’t comment on them. Home Alone, Kindergarten Cop and 3 Men and a Little Lady all remain in the top 10 and Duck Tales continues a steady slide from its high of #4.

You’re singing the theme tune in your head right now, aren’t you.

The album chart actually has some fairly interesting releases, having moved out of the ‘best of’ phase. At #1 we have The Farm’s debut album “Spartacus” – I’m not convinced it’s aged brilliantly outside of “All Together Now” but certainly it was a decent album for its time. The big one, for me, is the wonderful KLF album The White Room. If you’ve not heard their music, go check them out. The addition of 808 State coming in at #4 gives us a really decent chart.

The singles chart is.. well, it’s interesting. Do The Bartman at #1, cashing in on the Simpsons fame. To be fair, there are a couple of decent dance tracks with I Wanna Give You Devotion (Nomad) and 3AM Eternal by the KLF rounding out the top 3, as well as Kylie’s brilliant “What Do I Have To Do?” at 7 and a new mix of You Got The Love by The Source at 8 (one of my all time favourite dance bangers).

The Magazine

This issue marks a bit of a change in the style of covers, a trend which lasts about 6 months where the colourful busy covers are replaced by covers with more white space. I’m not wholly convinced about the change personally, but perhaps they felt it would do a better job of selling the content of the mag on a WH Smiths shelf. The big theme for this issue is animation, with features on how the professionals work, as well as a tool on the cover disk. Of most interest probably is the collection of sprites from Prince Of Persia. There’s a decent article on the basics of animation, basic to the point of more frames means more smoothness, but also explaining what animation is, using Prince Of Persia very much as its starting point. There’s also a tutorial for Animaster, a demo of which comes free on the cover disk, again using the Prince Of Persia sprites. This theme continues through the GFA Basic and Bullfrog Assembler tutorials too.

The news contains speculation that the STE is to get a price cut, though in fact the rumour looks closer to a de-bundling with the games taken out of the pack. I’m not sure that would have been a good idea and I don’t recall Atari doing that. Indeed the packs were vital system sellers, one only has to look at the success of the bundle packs for the Amiga. There’s mention of the coming Magic Pockets, of which an early demo had been used on Motormouth, one of those Saturday morning kids shows where some spotty teenager rings up and shouts left-left-up-fire and some poor sod in the studio had to interpret the commands and do something with it (probably not helped by latency of the broadcast signal meaning the commands would inevitably come in late). There’s also talk of Music Master, a program from Ubisoft, making use of the sound card/anti-piracy dongle that came with BAT.

The Mega STE was now shipping in America and Germany but not yet the UK. ST Format speculated on these markets being chosen because of the more serious uses of the ST in those countries compared to the silly gaming us Brits did.

The cover disk features, in addition to the previously-mentioned Animaster demo there is a demo of Gods which I’m sure you’ll all already be familiar with, as well as a demo of Hillbilly Moonshine Racers, an Outrun style racer with a beaten-up old pickup instead of a Ferrari, with the expectation of running away from the sheriff. I enjoyed it as a kid but when I went back to it more recently I struggled with the frame rate.

There’s a Bitmap Brothers top 10 of ST games which cheekily includes two of their own (Xenon 2 and Speedball 2) but also sensibly includes Damocles and Prince Of Persia, as well as the not-yet-released Lemmings. Space Quest 3 is probably a good include, a game I really need to get round to playing at some point. Can’t say Battle Command, The Immortal or Stormlord do massive amounts for me, and the inclusion of Dragons Lair 2 frankly makes zero sense. The Bitmaps let themselves down.

Previews

ST Format lead with a large preview of Flight Of The Intruder, a flight sim from Spectrum Holobyte. Curiously ST Format pitch it as a sequel to the Falcon games, though personally I can’t quite see why and certainly I don’t think most people would think of it in those terms. STF have made the curious decision to have a bunch of previews without screenshots, doing something of a disservice to Z-Out, Masterblazer, MUDS, Merchant Colony, Africa Korps, Blue Max (which I swear didn’t make it to the ST), Navy Seals, Billy The Kid, Pro Tennis Tour 2 and Battlebound. I know very little about any of those other than that Blue Max was a flight sim and that I am terrible at Pro Tennis Tour 1.

Returning to the traditional format of a screenshot and a couple of paragraphs there’s mention of Chuck Rock, a platformer clearly inspired by the Flintstones which I really can’t wait to play. Cybercon gets a mention but to be honest it’s very much not my bag, I’ve never really got on with these abstract 3D games in the mould of Interphase. Demoniak gets a mention but doesn’t really give much of an indication of what it is. There’s mention of Crystals Of Arborea which I’m sure is perfectly fun but I won’t be covering, and some details on Gauntlet 3 making the ill-advised switch to an isometric view. Notable in this preview is the use of bullshots for Demoniak and Crystals – static single screens that don’t really show any actual gameplay.

Of more interest is a preview of Midwinter 2 which does a cracking job of whetting the appetite for a game that ranks among my favourites of all-time. An absolutely incredible game, in many ways too ambitious for the hardware, and a game which set the template for games like the Far Cry series in some ways (though MidWinter 2 had more RPG content).

ST Game Charts

The charts are interesting – BAT going straight in at #1, with ST Format alluding to the piracy-defeating cartridge as the possible reason. F-19 sneaks back up, Powermonger and Speedball 2 continue to do well. A new entry for the mediocre Narc is disappointing, and how the hell did Emlyn Hughes International Soccer end up at 11? Good to see the dreadful Italia 1990 is no longer in the budget top 10.

Reviews

Games reviewed this month:
Wrath Of The Demon (Shadow Of The Beast-style slasher – Readysoft – £29.99 – 81%)
Team Suzuki (Vector Motorbike Racer – Gremlin – £24.99 – 69%)
Revelation (Peculiar puzzle game – Krisalis – £19.99 – 64%)
Curse Of The Azure Bonds (RPG – US Gold – £29.99 – 74%)
Super Monaco GP (Outrun-style racer with an F1 focus – US Gold – £TBA – 71%)
Codename Iceman (Adventure – Sierra – £34.99 – 77%)
Mighty Bombjack (It’s Bomb Jack – Elite – £19.99 – 48%)
Viz (Minigames in a Viz theme – Virgin [fnarr fnarr] – £19.99 – 74%)
Hard Drivin 2 (SLOOOOOOW 3D racing game – Domark – £24.99 – 81%)
Narc (Side-scrolling shooter – Ocean – £24.99 – 64%)
World Championship Soccer (Cricket game – Elite – £19.99 – 69%)
Steve Davis World Snooker (Horse racing – CDS Software – £19.99 – 78%)

Overall it’s a weak month with not a single Format Gold, and really not many games to grab my attention.

I’m curious to see what Wrath Of The Demon is like. It’s Readysoft branching out away from the Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace games to try to have some gameplay while still being very pretty. I’m also curious about Team Suzuki – another racer from Gremlin, this time using 3D vector graphics. Revelation looks like it might be an interesting game, though I suspect it’ll be one I cover at a later date in a short video. Super Monaco GP will get a go no doubt, given I’m a sucker for racing games. Mighty Bombjack interests me but unfortunately it seems the game is so sluggish as to render the controls pretty horrible. Viz speaks to me. I am not a grown-up, therefore the chance to beat shit out of people as Biffa Bacon, to blow balloons up with farts and do fart high-jumps as Johnny Fartpants, and to flatten pizzas with my unfeasably large testicles as Buster Gonad is thoroughly welcome.

I had a look at a video of Hard Drivin 2 and dear god it’s slow. Narc looks like it came out 3 years too late, it holds very little interest to me, another walk along and shoot stuff game.

If I drop any of these for simply not being interesting enough there’s a chance I may have a look at Codename Iceman. I’m a little reluctant since I’m not a big fan of the engine Sierra used at this point and worry that something more serious than Larry might not be much fun.

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

  • Wrath Of The Demon – Superior 58 A/B/C
  • Team Suzuki – Automation 446, Fuzion 37, Pompey Pirates 74, Superior 56
  • Super Monaco GP – Automation 496, Fuzion 47, Medway Boys 110, Pompey Pirates 80, Superior 65
  • Viz – Automation 453

The reviews will come out usually one per week as I’m also working on creating videos to go with many of the older reviews.

ST Format Issue 20 (Feb 1991)

ST Format Issue 20 (Download)

Welcome to another issue of ST Format. As usual we’ll begin by placing the issue in its historical context, and note that we use the month the magazine actually came out rather than the one printed on its spine, before diving into the issue’s contents. Finally, over a few weeks we add a list of reviews to the bottom of the article, each a link to a new article.

The World In February 1991

In the UK the IRA launched a mortar attack on 10 Downing Street. There were no injuries but that is probably why it’s so heavily fortified these days. It wasn’t always thus. We also got heavy snow, which was great for me as it let me build some awesome snowmen. Photos of me doing this were quite rightly destroyed. There were bombings at Paddington and Victoria Street stations (it’s quite terroristy this month – back in those days it was the Irish who did most of it). In what would prove to be history’s biggest error, Tim Berners-Lee introduced WorldWideWeb, the first web browser.

The US news was mostly dominated by the Gulf War, though there was a collision between two planes as well and an imposter at Princeton University – quite an interesting tale if you feel like googling James Hogue.

Elsewhere in the world Haiti got their first democratically-elected president. He lasted until September before being ousted. Lithuania declared independence, while the Visegrad Agreement pushed Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland towards free-market capitalism. In the Gulf War, Iraq accepted a ceasefire agreement proposed by the Russians, but the US rejected hte agreement, giving Iraq 24 hours to leave Kuwait. They did indeed leave, setting fire to the Kuwaiti oil fields as they left, the fire lasting several months. In Thailand they had yet another coup. Having lived there during one, I can confirm they’re quite regular occurrances.

On TV not much happened. A very quiet month, unless you like news reports showing missile-eye views of raids on Iraq.

The film charts are actually quite interesting, with some films I’ve heard of. You’ve got Dances With Wolves at #1, the mediocre Three Men & A Little Lady (sequel to 3 Men And A Baby) at #2, and Kindergarten Cop at #3. I had no idea that there was a Ducktales movie, but it turns out it was a thing, and it hit #4. Rocky V was sufficiently bad as to put the franchise on ice, while Home Alone is still there hanging on.

I had to pick this – weirdly controversial these days because we’ve all gone completely mad

The album chart is starting to show some signs of recovery from Christmas with a new Queen album at #1, admittedly not their finest work but still at least not a greatest hits album. Wicked Game from Chris Isaak is the latest of those greatest hits albums, with 4 of the top 10 still occupied by greatest hits collections. Belinda Carlisle’s Runaway Horses was still there having been released in 1989, and Gloria Estefan had one of her weaker albums Into The Light at #2.

Not Queen’s finest work…

The singles chart is a little healthier, with Queen at #1, but more interestingly KLF at #2 with 3AM Eternal. Seal at #4 with Crazy is a decent tune. Gonna Make You Sweat by C&C Music Factory is good clean pop fun, though the less said about Wiggle It by 2 In A Room the better. We do at least get the absolute classic mega-banger, I’ve Had The Time Of My Life by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warner.

Gotta love a bit of KLF
Turn the speakers up and dance around the room
I don’t care if it’s cheesy as hell, I love it

The Magazine

This issue is a bit of a tips issue, telling you how to use AUTO programs and how to plug stuff into your computer. The cover is… well they’ve made it more interesting with a bit of colour but really it’s not one of their better efforts. A big advert for Gauntlet 3 graces the inside cover, alas the game was a massive disappointment.

The cover disk is a pretty good one – I remember playing the Turrican 2 demo to death, and look forward to playing the full game for the first time. There’s also a sampler progeam called MasterSound 2, which while more or less a full version isn’t much use without some sampling hardware. Of the serious programs, probably the most useful is the cocktail database, something which would have been immensely useful in the pre-Google days.

The news covered the impressive sales of the ST, 2.5 million shifted globally at a time when computers weren’t as ubiquitous as today. Weirdly further into the magazine we have Atari US confessing that they’d have been sunk without Europe, perhaps a harbinger of things to come. In that interview there’s talk of CD but in reality Atari never really got to grips with the format and in truth it was too early with most games at most occupying two disks and even serious applications doing the same. Lots of hope seemed to be pinned on the Mega STE but it was never priced competitively enough to be worthwhile, nor given capable-enough graphics hardware to be worthwhile, and the TT and Falcon left it no obvious place to go. We also had confirmation that there was a sequel to Populous on the way, taking some lessons learned from Powermonger apparently. I look forward to reviewing it.

In slightly teaching-granny-to-suck-eggs news we get a summary of what the ports on an ST are for, including those god-awful under-the-machine ports for the joystick and mouse (soldered directly to the motherboard and an absolute bastard to push in and pull out). For each of those ports we get a bit of a round-up of things you can plug into them. It’s interesting enough I guess, trying to encourage ST users into the wider ecosystem (in truth I don’t think we tended to do that as much as Amiga owners did, in part because as the cheapest 16-bit machine it didn’t tend to attract those with deep pockets).

Previews

There’s some talk of the CES show in the news section, which means we get mention of a few games and screenshots clearly not from ST versions. I’m not sure Bill Elliot’s NASCAR Challenge made it to the ST (it did get an Amiga release) while the screenshot for Secret Weapons Of The Luftwaffe was quite clearly from the PC which is where it was released. Castles and Ancient Art Of War In The Skies did indeed make it, and they don’t seem to have noticed that Hoverforce is actually Resolution 101 which they’d already reviewed. Eye Of The Beholder did not make it to the ST. All in all, quite an impressive hit rate there from ST Format showing perhaps some naivity and not quite enough research.

In the main preview section, we get another dodgy Impressions strategy game in the form of Cohort – Fighting For Rome. Feudal Lords is another, though not one I know anything about. Gremlin’s Hero Quest gets a mention, probably one I should check out at some point. I know bugger all about Nam 1965-1975 from Domark so can’t offer much there. Of far more interest to me is the legendary Midwinter 2 – one of the greatest games ever made – not much said but good to know it’s coming soon.

We get a fairly in-depth look at the Bitmap Brother’s platform slasher Gods. It very much continues the Bitmaps theme of taking well-worn genres and adding a shedload of polish to make them a bit more exciting. There’s a lot of talk of AI dodging your bullets and of morale where shooting the lead attacker might make the others run away. I’m not convinced that much of this made its way into the final game but it’s the kind of thing developers would talk about in those days, Peter Molyneux of Bullfrog being most famous for that kind of thing of course. In a way it’s interesting that the focus back then was on what you could do with AI while these days it’s either how many teraflops the console has or representation issues. I miss the days when game design innovation was front and centre.

We get an interview with Will Wright discussing his coming Sim Earth game. It was to be his most disappointing work, but thankfully one he would bounce back from with the incredible success of The Sims. It’s clear that Will Wright was an incredibly ambitious chap but this is one of those games that just didn’t quite work. Still, it’s a fascinating read and I heartily recommend having a look.

ST Game Charts

Tutles at #1 – what the buggery bollocks is wrong with people?

The charts are.. well I suppose at least F-19 finally got knocked off the top spot, I love it but it had been there a good while. However, it’s a shame that it was something as dire as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles that replaced it. On the plus side, the brilliant Powermonger and Speedball at #2 and #3 make things look better, as well as Kick Off 2 and Golden Axe. Lotus slides down to 8 sadly. Toyota Celica GT Rally made its debut at 12, a low position for such a brilliant game. Pang deserved better than 24 but perhaps didn’t get marketed that well, and it’s not a game which is easy to sell in a review. In positive news, Italia 1990 is finally dropping down the budget chart at #9. Yes I’m still bitter about just how awful it is.

Reviews

Games reviewed this month:
Mig-29 (Flight Sim – Domark – £34.99 – 92% Format Gold)
Gazza 2 (Football – Empire – £24.99 – 86%)
Total Recall (Movie Tie-In – Ocean [of course] – £24.99 – 66%)
Metal Masters (Robot fighting – Infogrames – £24.99 – 88%)
Night Shift (Plate-spinning platformer – Lucasfilm – £24.99 – 86%)
Tournament Golf (Shoot em up – Ultimate – £19.99 – 73%)
Turrican 2 (Golf game – Rainbow Arts – £24.99 – 89%)
Dragons Lair 2 (‘Interactive’ Cartoon – Readysoft – £44.95 [wtf?] – 58%)
Enchanted Land (Platformer – Thalion – £24.99 – 92% Format Gold)
Jupiter’s Masterdrive (Top-Down Racer – Ubisoft – £19.99 – 76%)
Advanced Destroyer Simulator (Boat Driving Game – Futura – £19.99 – 79%)
Crime Wave (Side-scrolling shoot-em-up – US Gold – £24.99 – 38%)
Bug Bash (Side-scrolling shooter that looks like it was made in GFA Basic – Big Bug Software – £19.95 – 58%)
Dick Tracy (Film tie-in sidescroller – Titus – £24.95 – 25%)
Multi Player Soccer Manager (Beat em up – D&H Games – £24.99 – 81%)

So just looking at these clearly we’re heading into leaner times post-Christmas, as well as releases in general starting to dry up as the Amiga begins to overtake the ST in the market. I’d say that the big release, for me, is Turrican 2, so I’ll definitely be reviewing that. I hate golf but loved Tournament Golf growing up, so there’s a good chance I’ll give that a crack. Enchanted Lands is generally highly regarded so I should probably have a proper look, though I remember having a little look at it a while back and not being blown away by it – possibly one of those cases where at the time the technical merit impresses people but that technical merit is secondary to gameplay in longer-term appraisal.

I always love a football game so Gazza 2 and Multi Player Soccer Manager might get some time, though the latter is a bit uncertain due to the fact that there’s not a good cracked version around as far as I can tell. I might have a crack at Night Shift too. Still, these aren’t certainties.

I had a look at Metal Masters and Total Recall as I thought there might be some potential there but honestly I absolutely hated both – the former for poor controls and sluggish frame rate and the latter for being entirely devoid of quality – it seems you can just run and run and ignore the enemies and jump over the gaps.

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

  • Turrican 2 – Automation 449, Pompey Pirates 75, Superior 57, SuperGAU 403/469/769/808/844, Vectronix 566
  • Tournament Golf – Automation 433, Medway Boys 103, SuperGAU 381/2
  • Gazza 2 – Automation 404, Fuzion 39, Pompey Pirates 69
  • Multi Player Soccer Manager – AtariMania – given it requires a dongle and no cracked versions seem to be available this might not work
  • Night Shift – Automation 454
  • Enchanted Lands – D-Bug 148, Superior 55

Reviews This Month

Review: Tournament Golf (Atari ST)

ST Format Review (Issue 20) 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. Automation 433, Medway Boys 103, SuperGAU 381/2 Speedlink USB Joystick My Review I absolutely hate golf. It’s a horrendously boring sport to watch, and on…More

Review: Enchanted Land (Atari ST)

ST Format Review (Issue 20) 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. D-Bug 148, Superior 55 Speedlink USB Joystick My Review Enchanted Land is a particularly interesting game in that it marks the entry of demo group…More

Review: Turrican 2 (Atari ST)

ST Format Review (Issue 20) 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 449, Pompey Pirates 75, Superior 57, SuperGAU 403/469/769/808/844, Vectronix 566 Speedlink USB Joystick My Review So you’d be forgiven for feeling a…More

Review: Gazza 2 (Atari ST)

ST Format Review (Issue 20) 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 404, Fuzion 39, Pompey Pirates 69 Speedlink USB Joystick My Review Time for another football game review. The magazine screenshots make it…More

ST Format Issue 19 (Jan 1991)

ST Format Issue 19 (Download)

Welcome to another issue of ST Format. As usual we’ll begin by placing the issue in its historical context, and note that we use the month the magazine actually came out rather than the one printed on its spine, before diving into the issue’s contents. Finally, over a few weeks we add a list of reviews to the bottom of the article, each a link to a new article.

The World In January 1991

The UK was heading for some tricky times – the Gulf war began and the RAF was involved pretty heavily alongside the US. The recession continued, and there was a train crash in London.

The US news Pan Am filed for bankruptcy protection, the US began operation Desert Storm, and tens of thousands protested in Washington against the war. In many ways the Gulf War was the last successful US military intervention in pure military terms, though their failure to topple Saddam Hussein’s regime likely led to the later choices of Bush Jr.

Elsewhere in the world the UN Security Council condemned Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, though as is usual with the UN it had no effect. Haiti had its coup attempt. Latvia had its Singing Revolution. Iraq fired scud missiles into Israel to provoke the into fighting, which would have drawn the rest of the middle east into the war – looking back Israel’s restraint here likely prevented a lot of bloodshed.

On TV probably the biggest event was the Gulf War. Viewers were treated to missile’s eye views of attacks on targets in Iraq and Kuwait, showcasing the devastating power and accuracy of American firepower – this was in some ways America’s last hurrah as a confident superpower, and they went to town on it. Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air made its UK tv debut. The other notable debut was The Brittas Empire.

The film charts are pretty unfamiliar to me – I know virtually nothing about Reversal Of Fortune, and while I’ve heard of Arachnophobia I’ve never seen it. Indeed of the top 10 the only one I’ve seen is Home Alone – apologies, but I’ve really got nothing useful to say about this month’s chart.

The album chart is dreadful. Ok Madonna’s Immaculate Collection at #1 is a fantastic greatest hits album, but you’ve got Enigma at 3, the 3 Tenors still hanging around, 2 more greatest hits album and a live album. It’s a really weak chart.

The singles chart has Seal at #2 with Crazy which is pretty decent, and KLF are at #5 (they were brilliant). Vanilla Ice at #6 is cheesy stuff but the best cheese is Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes with Time Of My Life at #10. A couple of awesome indie hits at 7 and 8 for Jesus Jones (International Bright Young Thing) and The Farm (All Together Now). Madonna’s dire Justify My Love makes a rapid exit from the chart. Appearing at 27 is A Tribe Called Quest with Can I Kick It.

The Magazine

ST Format Issue 19

So this one is the traditional “hey you just got an ST – let’s show you how to use it” that you expect after Christmas. We get pages covering things like how to use a mouse, the fact that a file ending PRG or TOS is a program, how to work with windows, dialogs and menus, and so on. We also get a guide to what serious software is most useful with Protext getting the gong for word processing, Superbase Personal 2 for database, K-Spread for spreadsheet, Deluxe Paint (obviously) for art, Timeworks for DTP (not Calamus?), and Personal Finance Manager for accounts. We also get a rundown of classic games you need to own – a sensible selection:

  1. Xenon 2
  2. Midwinter
  3. Sim City
  4. Operation Stealth
  5. Kick Off 2
  6. F-19 Stealth Fighter
  7. Rainbow Islands
  8. Populous
  9. Dungeon Master
  10. Damocles
    .. followed by Armada, Austerlitz, Battle Of Britain, Blood Money, Bloodwych, Captive, Castle Master, Conqueror, Dragon’s Breath, Flood, Gettysburg, Gravity, Hound Of Shadow, Interphase, Iron Lord, Indy Jones and the Last Crusade, Legend Of Faerghail, Magic Fly, Onslaught and Player Manager. The top 10 is bang on but the rest is bang average.

News is interesting – it seems there was a dodgy copy of TOS 2.2 on the loose, though I never saw any evidence of it at the time. That said, I wasn’t lucky enough to own a modem to find these on the BBS services where such things were known to lurk. More exciting was the news that we’d soon be getting the 3D Construction Kit. For those who don’t know, it’s based on Freescape, which drove Driller, Castle Master, etc. Clearly Incentive didn’t feel their 3D games could keep up with commercial releases anymore so they decided to let others try it themselves – as far as I know after 3D Construction Kit came out they never released another game using the Freescape engine. The Mega STE was revealed at Comdex, offering 16MHz from its 68000 CPU.

The cover disk has Champion Of The Raj as it’s main feature – a very Cinemaware game but like those games it’s insanely pretty but utterly lacking in decent gameplay. Even at 11 I saw this and noped the hell out of it. It ran like a slug on valium too. Not sure you’d get away with it these days given it does rather glorify colonialism. More positively you get the McAipof reader. It’s pretty cool – it reads text files out to you using a computer voice. For me, the big star was a full version of GFA Basic 2. If I recall this was the beginning of my journey into programming – I dabbled on the Amstrad CPC 464 but I was too young really – I was now old enough to properly understand what I was doing. The feature on getting started with GFA Basic may even be the very start for me – stop I’m getting all emotional!

A bit later we get some discussion of the ST in music with some recommendations of software you might want to use – Henry Cosh Sequencer comes out top from the PD libraries, while TCB Tracker is the main tracker choice while Cubase and C-Lab are at the expensive end of the market (Cubase is £550 which is £1207.56 in 2020 money).

We get a deliberate error in this issue – have a look at pages 135 and 137 and see if you can spot the mistake… (not ragging on the ST Format guys – they were cool and did an awesome job, it’s just sometimes fun to spot these things)

Previews

The previews have the usual mix. There’s the deeply uninteresting looking Predator 2 and Insects In Space but also a few interesting looking titles. The big one, for me, is Delphine’s Cruise For A Corpse which I completed on the Amiga a couple of years ago for the first time – an absolutely incredible game even if the plot does break down a bit towards the end (which to be fair is something that also afflicted Operation Stealth). Less highbrow is the Viz game – using Johnny Fartpants wind power to rocket into the air and lugging Buster Gonad’s giant bollocks around and using them to flatten pizza is my idea of a good time. More wholesome is Mighty Bombjack – the original came in the Power Pack with my ST and I’m sure it’ll be just as good. Slightly politically-incorrect discussion of the IRA’s love of bombing the shit out of everything in the preview – not sure they’d get away with that with our newer class of terrorists these days. Blue Max is one I don’t remember – it seems not to have got any magazine coverage whatsoever while the Amiga version made it into Amiga Power and others – it did not score well. Finally we have Hillbilly Moonshine Racers – a game I remember playing the demo of quite extensively but on more recent attempts I found out it was incredibly slow and jerky. The visuals are lovely with some great pixel art and I quite like the idea of driving an old truck instead of a sports car, evading the sheriff, etc, but the execution was, in hindsight, not quite there.

We also get a bit of a developer diary around creation of the coming game Stormball. It’s actually a pretty interesting read even if the game itself proved to be hopelessly mediocre (I had fun with the demo back in the day but going back to it since it really doesn’t hold up). The article itself is interesting in how different it all is to modern development, with the dev having to video himself running in his pants to create a temporary sprite but having to do top and bottom halves separately due to not having enough room.

ST Game Charts

F-19 remains on top, with Kick Off 2 holding on in 4th, but the big mover is Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge coming in at #2. There’s a compilation which has rocketed in at 3 while M1 Tank Platoon, Supermacy and Golden Axe make their marks on the top 10. Captive makes an appearance after only being at 21 last month. There’s a peculiar re-entry for Microprose’s Gunship at 15, apparently at full price despite its age. Disappointing to see Turrican do so badly as to end up down at 22 having only got in at 15 the previous month. Perhaps the upcoming sequel will do better. Italy 1990 is STILL at #3 in the budget charts. What the hell were people thinking?

Reviews

Games reviewed this month:
Powermonger (Strategy – EA – £29.99 – 93% Format Gold)
Exterminator (Bug splatting – Audiogenic – £24.99 – 87%)
Robocop 2 (Side scrolling shooter – Ocean – £24.99 – 84%)
STUN Runner (3D Future Racer – Domark – £24.99 – 42%)
Matrix Marauders (3D shooter – Psygnosis – £19.99 – 73%)
Horror Zombies From The Crypt (Hack And Slash – Millennium – £24.99 – 74%)
Battle Command (3D Tank Sim – Ocean – £24.99 – 93% Format Gold)
Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (Shit movie game – Mirrorsoft – £24.99 – 38%)
Line Of Fire (First Person Shooter – US Gold – £24.99 – 39%)
Mystical (Abysmal shooter – Infogrames – £24.99 – 76%)
Welltris (Tetris in a well – Infogrames – £24.99 – 71%)
Prince Of Persia (Rotoscoped platformer – they forgot the price and publisher – 90% Format Gold)
ESWAT (Scrolling shoot em up – US Gold – £24.99 – 31%)
Judge Dredd (Scrolling shooter – Virgin – £19.99 – 41%)
Damocles Mission Disk (More Damocles, yes please – Novagen – £9.99 – 85%)
Edd The Duck (Platformer – Impulze – £24.99 – 73%)
Ivan “Ironman” Stewart’s Super Off Road (Top-down racer – Virgin – £24.99 – 68%)
Finale Compilation (Paperboy, Overlander, Ghosts N Goblins, Space Harrier, Frank Bruno’s Boxing – Elite – £24.99 – 65%)
Ninja Remix (Beat em up – System 3 – £24.99 – 81%)

So just looking at these, Powermonger I know well, having enjoyed it immensely as a kid. I can tell you now that it still holds up as one of Bullfrog’s finest. Exterminator interests me, it’s a little out of the ordinary after all. Robocop 2 is likely awful but I’ll probably have a look to see if it was any good – I have a vague recollection of it being top of the charts for ages. Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles is terrible, which means I need to play it for comedy value. I had a look at Mystical after seeing some rather cool screenshots in the review – it’s slow and really quite a shit game as far as I can tell so won’t be covering it. I’ve never played Prince Of Persia but it’s regarded as a classic so I’ll be covering it – given its animation is considered one of its main features that’ll require a video to go with it. Damocles mission disk is a tricky one – I love Damocles but reading the list of missions it does look a bit limited* with two of them concerned with getting as much money as possible, one being Damocles but with a harder start with no money, and so on. I’m curious to see if Last Ninja Remix meaningfully improves on Last Ninja 2 so I’ll have a look to see if it’s worth covering. The rest don’t particularly grab me but if anyone wants to make a suggestion in the comments I’d be glad to hear it.

  • Paul Woakes was a brilliant man who did a hell of a lot – I suspect this mission pack was a bit limited due to simply not having the time to get everything he wanted done, and the limits of the tooling available at the time.

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

  • Powermonger – Automation 495, Pompey Pirates 91, SuperGAU 380/706, Vectronix 269/788
  • Prince Of Persia – Automation 389, Vectronix 222/3, Vectronix 781/2
  • Exterminator – Automation 500I, Fuzion 28, SuperGAU 487/541, Vectronix 525
  • Robocop 2 – Automation 396, Flame Of Finland 54, Fuzion 26, Pompey Pirates 62, Vectronix 787
  • Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles – Automation 392, Flame Of Finland 49
  • Super Off Road – Automation 423, Fuzion 21, Medway Boys 100, SuperGAU 418/740
  • Last Ninja Remix – Vectronix 596-8

Reviews This Month

Review: PowerMonger (Bullfrog – Atari ST)

ST Format Review (Issue 19) 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 495, Pompey Pirates 91, SuperGAU 380/706, Vectronix 269/788 A mouse My Review There’s a decent chance you’ve never heard of Powermonger, and…More

Review: Prince Of Persia (Atari ST)

ST Format Review (Issue 19) 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 398, Vectronix 222/3 / 781/2 Speedlink USB Joystick My Review So here you are, in the fortunate position of having just pulled…More

Review: Exterminator (Atari ST)

ST Format Review (Issue 19) 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 500I, Fuzion 28, SuperGAU 487/541, Vectronix 525 Speedlink USB Joystick My Review So I was going to have a look at Robocop…More

ST Format Issue 18 (Dec 90)

ST Format Issue 18 – Download

The World in December 1990
The UK had a remarkable event as workers from the English and French sides of the Channel Tunnel met for the first time, a project which had run way over budget and way over time, but has since proven to be pretty useful. The first British hostages were released by Saddam Hussein. Poundland opened its first shop (honestly I had no idea it was that old). Tony Adams (Arsenal central defender) was sentenced to 4 months in prison for drink driving. The last coalmine was closed in South Wales.

The US news unemployment hit 6.3%, and the Space Shuttle Columbia had a short mission that really didn’t go brilliantly. Otherwise not much going on in America it seems.

Elsewhere in the world Helmut Kohl won the first federal election since German reunification. Slobodan Milosovic was elected as president of Serbia. This would not go well. In Albania the communists announced free elections with other parties allowed to stand, signalling the end of communism there. Slovenia voted for independence. All in all, a bad time for communism continued, but also seeds were sewn for future conflicts and atrocities.

On TV Britain got its first foreign language channel – it was Greek, surprisingly. Channel 4 premiered Wallace & Gromit’s A Grand Day Out. Otherwise not much to write home about – December is traditionally a quiet month.

The film charts saw Teenage Mutant Ninja (Hero in the UK) Turtles at #1, but it would soon be replaced by Home Alone. The chart is absolutely dreadful.


The album chart is entirely populated by greatest hits collections, reflecting people buying shit albums for their parents. Christmas is a dark time for albums.

The singles chart is a mixed bag. Vanilla Ice tops the chart with Ice Ice Baby, Cliff ‘Not a pedo’ Richard is at #2 with some absolute drek, and Madonna is at #3 with one of her weakest singles, one that signals her trying-too-hard-to-be-shocking phase which would be a feature of her early-90s output. Weirdly The Righteous Brothers have two songs in the top 10 (and it wasn’t a common occurrence in those days) while Emmerdale (British soap opera) star Malandra Burrows had a terrible song in at #11. On a more positive note there’s the excellent All Together Now by The Farm and Unbelievable by EMF. There’s also Wicked Game by Chris Isaak at #12 which peaked a week earlier at #10, far below where it deserves to be.

The Magazine

Issue 18 proclaims itself the biggest ever issue, and weighing in at 220 pages it is indeed the biggest ever issue of ST Format. No bigger issue would be produced as by next Christmas the ST would be in a slightly less healthy state giving us 180 pages and another year later while weighing in at 140 pages the machine is clearly heading for its grave. Still, the cover is having none of that, proclaiming the reasons to be cheerful including how Atari are going to transform your ST. This refers to a news story about the forthcoming Mega STE – a machine with a 68000 processor running at 16MHz vs the usual 8, 2/4MB RAM, but otherwise the same as an STE. Borrowing the form-factor of the Mega ST and intended as its replacment. Probably the biggest feature is actually TOS 2.0 promising keyboard shortcuts for menu items, a new control panel, select all in the file selector, cursor-key window scrolling, and the ability to change the background colour. Unfortunately the new machine is pretty expensive, and in truth it does little to address the weaknesses of the ST against the Amiga – it’s a perfectly fine DTP machine but not much more, and the failure to address the ST’s weaknesses vs the Amiga graphically make even that point questionable.

Another announcement from Atari concerns an STE variant of the Stacy laptop. Atari claimed battery life of 35 hours, which seems unlikely with the technology of the era. In really exciting news, we have the first mention I’ve seen in ST Format of an optical mouse. £39.95 gets you a wired optical mouse from Golden Image.

There’s a bit of evisceration of Atari, with an article titled “Atari: back on the right tracks?” which highlights the many screw-ups from Atari in 1990 (in hindsight the big screw-up, the STE, was what killed them by preventing the ST line from having a longer lifespan and failing to provide the platform for a more impressive Falcon down the line). Worse however is the open letter to Atari addressing a number of issues including the botched STE launch and Atari’s tendency to simply deny problems exist, which was proven correct by a petulant response from Bob Gleadow of Atari. In many ways these letters place the problems at the heart of Atari’s management in full public glare and offer remarkable insight into precisely why Atari failed. I highly recommend either downloading issue 18 to have a look, or finding the specific pages at the ST Format Shrine’s page for this issue.

This is a double-disk issue, with the demo disk containing a level from the excellent Golden Axe and the less excellent Puzznic, while the 2nd disk is a full game, but sadly it’s the utterly terrible Interphase. Believe me when I say Interphase is not a good game. Technically it’s not bad, with reasonably smooth 3D graphics, but that’s achieved by being so abstract as to render that smoothness worthless. In the end it’s just a 3D shooter. While we’re on cover disks, ST Format gloat a bit about ST User’s cover disk virus as well as the death of Stampede. Frankly not ST Format’s finest hour.

We get a top 10 for 5 categories of game of which I’d say 3 no longer get the attention they once did. Shooters, platformers, sims, adventures and puzzles. The shooters are headed by Xenon 2 with Turrican in at 5 plus some odd choices at other positions. Platformers do better with Rainbow Islands and Rick 2 fairly solid choices for the top 2 spots, though Flood at #3 seems an odd choice until you see the poor quality of the rest of the list. Sims do well, the top 3 of F-19, Kick Off 2 and Sim City being 3 of my all-time favourite games, and the rest are solid enough. The adventure list has Operation Stealth correctly at #1, and a scattering of decent games beyond that. Puzzles places Pipe Mania in a mere #4 while the likes of Klax and E-Motion sit undeservedly above it. Two of the best games of the preceding 12 months (Damocles and Midwinter) fail to get a mention, though perhaps this is because it’s hard to find a category for them.

Previews

We have an interesting mix of previews this month. There’s Welltris attempting to bring Tetris into 3D – something nobody really got right until the recent VR take on the concept. More interesting is Domark’s Mig 29, I’m hoping that’ll turn out to be the first non-Microprose modern sim to hook its claws into me. Continuing the 3D theme we have a promise of some Damocles mission disks (we only got 1 – it’s possible that the second became Mercenary 3) while ARC (Atari’s own label) had Cyber Assault though this would prove to be vapourware. On a more arcadey note there’s Rod-Land, which turned out to be a decent conversion of a fairly typical cutesy arcade platformer, and for those craving something a little more macho we have previews for SWIV and Z-Out (shooters) and Turrican 2.

We get a fairly extended piece on plans to run with the success of Sim City with architecture disks and Sim Earth (the latter was hugely ambitious but ultimately a terrible game). In many ways Sim Earth was a precursor to the likes of Spore (no coincidence that both came from Maxis). Sim City 2 is teased but the description sounds a lot like Sim City 2000 which never made it to the ST owing to being a bit too big and ambitious.

There’s an interesting article on the Bitmap Brothers going independent to form Renegade – it’s somewhat uncritical as tends to be the case when ST Format are talking about the Bitmaps, Bullfrog, etc. Still, it’s worth a read and you get a little bit about Magic Pockets and Gods with the latter getting some screenshots. Interesting to see their love of Paradroid 90 and clearly they like the hacking sequence a lot more than I do.

Of most interest to me is the chunky preview given for the masterpiece Midwinter 2 (aka Flames Of Freedom). Visually it looks like a lot is already there at this point, the art is a huge upgrade from the first game, though apparently it was still pretty buggy at this point. It’s interesting then that when I played it back in the day I don’t remember encountering any significant bugs.

The public domain section is much of a muchness but does feature one fairly interesting demo from Radical Systemz. No doubt it’s pretty, and the reviewer is pretty excited by it, but I think he may miss how it’s easier to do something like this than it is to make a full game.

Other reviews of note include NeoDesk 3, showing Atari what a desktop environment could look like. Remarkable features like not having a puke-green background, customisable icons, a faster disk formatter, being able to keep items selected while you scroll the window, keyboard shortcuts, all fairly revolutionary stuff. Atari really rested on their laurels on the software side of things, in a way it’s a shame hard disks weren’t more popular on the ST as we’d have seen Neodesk have more success, and maybe that might have pushed Atari to get their act together.

ST Game Charts

F-19 continues to dominate, with Kick Off 2 close behind. Shadow Of The Beast makes its appearance at #3, a victory for graphics over gameplay. Good to see some quality in there with Cadaver a new entry at 5 and the brilliant Operation Stealth at #6. Turrican only gets in at #15, while Midwinter is still hanging in there at #19. In the budget charts, a lot of kids are going to be cursing santa for getting them Codemaster’s turd Italia 90. What on earth is wrong with people?

Reviews

Games reviewed this month:
Supremacy (Strategy – Melbourne House – £29.99 – 90% Format Gold)
Lost Patrol (Very pretty Vietnam war game – Ocean – £24.99 – 88%)
Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge (Outrun-style racer – Gremlin – £19.99 -86%)
Puzznic (Puzzle – Ocean – £24.99 – 86%)
ATF 2 (Arcade flight sim shooter – Digital Integration – £24.99 – 74%)
Ultimate Ride (3D Motorbike Racer – Mindscape – £24.99 – 67%)
9 Lives (Insanely pretty flip-screen platformer – Arc – £24.99 – 74%)
Brain Blasters (Puzzle – Ubisoft – £19.99 – 88%)
Speedball 2 (If you don’t know this game you shouldn’t be here – Mirrorsoft – £24.99 – 88%) – Criminally underrated
Golden Axe (Side-scrolling arcade slasher – Virgin – £24.99 – 82%)
Toyota Celica GT Rally (3D Rallying – Gremlin – £24.99 – 79%)
The Curse Of Ra (Puzzler – Rainbow Arts – £19.99 – 83%)
Car-Vup (Car-themed cutesy platformer – Core Design – £19.99 – 79%)
Gremlins 2 (Side-scrolling movie tie-in – Elite – £19.99 – 70%)
Badlands (Top-down-ish racer – Domark – £24.99 – 72%)
Alpha Waves (Pretentious 3D Twaddle – Infogrames – £24.99 – 83%)
Murders In Space (Point and click adventure crime solver – Infogrames – £24.99 – 83%)
Narco Police (Into-the-screen shooter – Dinamic – £24.99 – 46%)
Chip’s Challenge (Puzzler – US Gold – £19.99 – 82%)
Pang (Arcade bubble-splatter – Ocean – £24.99 – 88%)
Chess Simulator (Beat em up – Infogrames – £24.99 – 62%)
The Final Battle (Adventure – PSS – £24.99 – 52%)
Corporation (SLOOOOOOW filled-vector FPS – Core Design – £24.99 – 87%)
Chase HQ 2 (Arcade racer with weapons – Ocean – £24.99 – 78%)
Street Hockey (3d hockey – Gonzo Games – £24.99 – 64%)
USS John Young (3D naval battle sim with terrible graphics – Magic Bytes – £24.99 – 34%)
Nitro (Top-down racer – Psygnosis – £19.99 – 41%)
Omnicron Conspiracy (Adventure/Whodunnit – Mirrorsoft – £24.99 – 42%)
Vector Championship Run (3D Racer – Impulze – £24.99 – 40%)
Shadow Warriors (Beat Em Up – Ocean – £24.95 – 58%)
Helter Skelter (Terrible platformer – Audiogenic – £19.99 – 75%)
Mig 29 Soviet Fighter (Awful Afterburner clone – Codemasters – £6.99 – 30%)
Defender 2 (Jeff Minter defender clone collection – Arc – £19.99 – 88%)
Conflict (Strategy – Mastertronic – £4.99 – 60%)
A bunch of Infocom text adventures at £9.99 each – 75-89% with Hitchhiker’s Guide the highlight

So again there’s a fair number of games there which interest me. Supremacy is one I always wanted to have a crack at but I suspect will take a good bit of time to figure out and may be difficult to fit into a 3/4 day cadence between reviews. Similar could be said of Lost Patrol – a game with screenshots I’m sure we all drooled over back in the day. The scanned photos promised naive young minds a rather more graphical experience though as an old man knowing more of the capabilities of the machine I suspect they were merely stills for atmosphere.

Speedball 2 is a given – any excuse to play that is fine by me. I plan to have a crack at both the Gremlin racers – I never played Lotus 1 but it has an excellent reputation, but Toyota Celica GT Rally interests me more. It’s a game I had a blast with as a kid and for me is a vital part of my racing game history. Continuing the racing theme I’m curious to see if Badlands and Nitro are any good – ST Format didn’t generally like those kinds of top-down racers so it’ll be interesting to see if they’re actually any good and whether there’s enough meat on the bones to get an article out of them. I might even have a crack at Chase HQ 2 to see if that’s any better than the first.

9 Lives is one I wanted as a kid but never managed to acquire so I’ll be giving that a shot. Continuing the arcade theme I’d like to have a crack at Pang and Golden Axe – the latter I’ll probably do some comparisons with other ports. Car-vup might also be worth a look. For more serioius stuff I’m tempted by Murders In Space and Omnicron Conspiracy though I’ll need to spend some time with those to see if they control sanely and offer enough to get an article out of them.

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

  • Speedball 2 – Automation 400, Fuzion 30, SuperGAU 374/541, Vectronix 593/785
  • Lotus 1 – Automation 383A, Fuzion 20, Medway Boys 98, Pompey Pirates 60, Vectronix 219/904
  • Toyota Celica GT Rally – Automation 419, Fuzion 39, Vectronix 703
  • Nitro – Automation 377, Flame Of Finland 45, Pompey Pirates 61, SuperGAU 476/809, Vectronix 192/342/814
  • Badlands – Automation 392, Flame Of Finland 48, Medway Boys 102, Pompey Pirates 69, Vectronix 417/667
  • Chase HQ 2 – Automation 473, Pompey Pirates 66, Vectronix 518
  • Pang – Automation 427B, Flame Of Finland 48, Pompey Pirates 65, SuperGAU 473/805, Vectonix 35/112/801
  • Golden Axe – Automation 399, Fuzion 23, Pompey Pirates 64, SuperGAU 402, Vectronix 281/828
  • 9 Lives – Automation 376, Fuzion 57
  • Car vup – Automation 419, Fuzion 38, Pompey Pirates 70, SuperGAU 385
  • Murders In Space – Automation 383A/B, Vectronix 818/9
  • Omnicron Conspiracy – Automation 461
  • Lost Patrol – Vectronix 369-371
  • Supremacy – Automation 425A/B
  • ATF 2 – Automation 390, Flame Of Finland 44, Fuzion 22, Medway Boys 101, Pompey Pirates 61, SuperGAU 460/812

Reviews This Month

Review: Golden Axe (Atari ST)

ST Format Review (Issue 18) 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 399, Fuzion 23, Pompey Pirates 64, SuperGAU 402, Vectronix 281/828 Speedlink USB Joystick My Review So we’re bringing out the big guns.…More

Review: Pang (Atari ST)

ST Format Review (Issue 18) 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 427B, Flame Of Finland 48, Pompey Pirates 65, SuperGAU 473/805, Vectonix 35/112/801 Speedlink USB Joystick My Review I’ll start with a confession…More

Review: Badlands (Atari ST)

ST Format Review (Issue 18) 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 392, Flame Of Finland 48, Medway Boys 102, Pompey Pirates 69, Vectronix 417/667 Speedlink USB Joystick My Review Continuing our run of…More

Review: Toyota Celica GT Rally (Atari ST)

ST Format Review (Issue 18) 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. The usual suspects didn’t work, getting stuck with joystick controls not working, but there’s a Pompey Pirates crack available within the TOSEC collection found on…More

Review: Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge (Atari ST)

ST Format Review (Issue 18) 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 383A, Fuzion 20, Medway Boys 98, Pompey Pirates 60, Vectronix 219/904 Speedlink USB Joystick My Review Making our way through the wonderful…More

Not-Quite-Review: Nitro (Atari ST)

ST Format Review (Issue 18) 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 377, Flame Of Finland 45, Pompey Pirates 61, SuperGAU 476/809, Vectronix 192/342/814 Speedlink USB Joystick My Review This game did not score…More

Review: Speedball 2 (Atari ST)

ST Format Review (Issue 18) 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 400, Fuzion 30, SuperGAU 374/541, Vectronix 593/785 Speedlink USB Joystick My Review In many ways there’s really bugger all point in me…More

ST Format Issue 17 (Nov 90)

ST Format Issue 17 – Download

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is stf17_001.jpg

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.


Previews
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.


Reviews
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 archive.org. 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 archive.org. 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 – http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-st-bat-bureau-of-astral-troubleshooters_23556.html – 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

ST Format Issue 16 (Oct 90)

ST Format Issue 16 – Download

The World in October 1990

The World in October 1990
In UK news the pound joined the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, the precursor to the Euro. This would prove to be a mistake. Women finally got to serve on warships. There was wide acceptance that we would have a recession, though predictions were that it would be short. Tim Berners-Lee began working on creating the World Wide Web – this would prove to be a dreadful mistake.

The US news David Souter joined hte Supreme Court. The Ulysses probe was sent to study the sun. President Bush vetoed a civil rights bill that would have enhanced protection against job discrimination, arguing that it would lead to race and gender quotas – as the Netherlands steps closer to enforcing quotas we see that he was right. Evander Holyfield beat Buster Douglas.

Elsewhere in the world Rwanda entered civil war. East and West Germany officially reunified into a single country, and Mikhail Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, two events which signalled the end of the dark days of the cold war. In South Africa segregation was eased with transport and public facilities opened to all races.

On TV we saw the debut of the Mary Whitehouse Experience. It was very 90s. Twin Peaks also made its UK TV debut, as did Keeping Up Appearances.

The film charts saw Ghost at #1 for the adults and The Little Mermaid at #2 for the kids, back when gingers were allowed in Disney films. Robocop 2 is a classic at #3.

The album chart sees the Charlatans debut at #1 though it was in the mid-90s during the Britpop movement that they truly shined. Still, The Only One I Know was an awesome song. The rest of the chart.. Status Quo, Michael Bolton and The Shadows. Old people were buying too many fucking albums.

The singles chart saw Maria McKee at #1 with Show Me Heaven which we can blame on Ghost. Status Quo were at #2 with the Anniversary Walktz, oh for fuck’s sake. Bobby Vinton at #3 with Blue Velvet for some reason – I have no idea. More positively at #4 we have The Beautiful South with A Little Time, at #5 we have LondonBeat with I’ve Been Thinking About You and at #6 there’s the Technotronic Megamix. The Pet Shop Boys at #9 with So Hard are also awesome.

The Magazine
Issue 16 came out in October 1990, and is proclaimed as the fattest issue ever, and it’s pretty damn chunky at 180 pages – that said, while this is the ST at the peak of its powers, the same issue of Amiga Format is 244 pages, a sign perhaps that the Amiga was already pulling ahead. The cover isn’t one of their more inspiring ones, focusing on ST productivity. The coverdisk carried a demo of Atomic Robokid, and more interestingly a demo of TCB Tracker (a music program using samples).

The news carried yet another example of Atari’s incompetence – the DMA chip in the new fancy STEs had a fault which could cause the data on a connected hard drive to be wiped. Atari as usual insisted only a small batch of STEs were affected and that it was only third party drives but this blase approach was just typical Atari with the likes of Gasteiner saying it was closer to half of all STEs and affected even Atari drives. The STE was far from an attractive proposition offering a miniscule upgrade over the STFM, incompatibility with many games, and another nail in the coffin, hard drives going kaput. In typical Atari fashion they didn’t provide specification sheets for the DMA interface.

Rumours began to surface of the Atari Panther, a machine with a Motorola 68000 CPU running at 12MHz, a 4096 colour screen from a 16 million palette, with 8-bit 4 channel stereo sound. This may sound interesting in theory, as vapourware as it was, but in reality a faster 68000 CPU would do little to compete with the likes of the Mega Drive, even with more colours, because Atari at no point in their post-ST history managed to come up with a decent chipset to go with the motorola CPU. There’s also a rumour about a machine between the ST and TT codenamed Jaguar – this looks like someone mixing up internal projects – it looks like maybe the Falcon leaked but they ended up getting the Jaguar name which would of course be the console that came out.

We had features on how to run a bulletin board and a shareware library, though some previous issues news reports suggested that perhaps we shouldn’t be letting kids run these kinds of businesses. There’s also a guide to DTP for anyone who wants to write their own newsletter or fanzine. There’s a little guide on how to become a programmer, though I can tell you it’s very very basic and includes no specifics on how to learn any language. We also get a feature on how the ST is used at the BBC in creation of Have I Got News For You.

In software reviews we have the Carebear’s TCB Tracker which gets a 93% Format Gold.


Previews
The preview section has a few mysteries for me – I know very little about Voodoo Nightmare, Mud Sports and Vietnam. Lost Patrol continued to be very exciting for those watching previews due to its digitised stills, promising my young and stupid brain something far beyond what the ST was actually capable of. Dragon Breed looked a dark and brooding shooter (so dark the screenshot was barely visible, while Spiderman looked like another shit film-license platformer. Outlands looks like an isometric adventure but I’d struggle to offer more than that as I know little about it. There’s some French fun with the quirky and insanely pretty adventure BAT and the similarly quirky Ranx from Ubisoft (from when their games weren’t just chasing icons in an open world) while Millennium were offering the brilliant platformer James Pond. We get a big detailed preview for Strider 2, which looks deeply uninteresting.


ST Game Charts

F-19 Stealth Fighter was at #1, that game sold absolutely shitloads of copies, probably because it was fucking brilliant. It’s good to see Rainbow Islands doing so well, as well as Battle Of Britain and Midwinter. However, seeing the utterly wonderful Damocles at #40 in the chart stings.

Reviews
Games reviewed this month:
Team Yankee (Shoot Things With A Tank – Empire – £29.99 – 84%)
BSS Jane Seymour (Dungeon Crawler In Space – Gremlin – £29.99 – 87%)
Fireball (Future sports in 3D – Microprose – £TBA – 70%)
Mean Streets (Detective Game – US Gold – £19.99 – 84%)
Captive (Dungeon Master Sci-Fi – Mindscape – £24.99 – 93%)
Plotting (Puzzle – Ocean – £19.99 – 72%)
Nightbreed – The Interactive Movie (Adventure – Ocean – £24.99 58%)
Loopz (Puzzle – Audiogenic – £19.99 – 58%)
International 3D Tennis (Tennis in 3D – Palace – £24.99 – 88%)
Loom (Adventure – Lucasfilm – £29.99 – 81%)
Ancient Battles (War game – Cases Computers Simulations – £24.95 – 54%)
Gold Of The Aztecs (Run and gun – US Gold – £19.99 – 71%)
Skate Wars (Future sports – Ubisoft – £24.99 – 63%)
Days Of Thunder (Full 3D Nascar Sim – Mindscape – £24.99 – 88%)
Space Rogue (Space Sim – Mindscape – £29.99 – 30%)
Future Basketball (Future Sports Again – Hewson – £24.99 – 81%)
Saint Dragon (Shooter – Sales Curve – £24.99 – 78%)
The Immortal (Isometric action adventure – EA – £24.99 – 87%)
Time Machine (Adventure – Activision – £24.99 – 83%)
Wings Of Death (Shooter – Thalion – £24.99 – 81%)
Hoyle’s Book Of Games (Card Games – Sierra – £34.99 – 73%)
Web Of Terror (Shit game – Impressions – £19.99 – 35%)
Mike Read’s Computer Pop Quiz (Golf Sim – £9.99 – Encore)
A Question Of Sport (Shoot-em-up – £9.99 – Encore)

There are some legitimate stinkers there but the games I can see myself looking at are Mean Streets, International 3D Tennis, Loom and Days Of Thunder. I remember hating the demo of Team Yankee back in the day, and the same goes for Captive, though I recognise that others see them more positively. It might be a review for me to hand over to someone else if there are any volunteers. I played International 3D Tennis on an Amiga 600 and enjoyed it – likely it’ll be faster on the ST. Mean Streets was the first Tex Murphy game and I always wanted to have a crack at it as the film noir thing appealed to me immensely and the art style shown in the review looked pretty cool. Loom is a game I know nothing about other than that a bloke in Monkey Island wants you to ask him about it, and Days Of Thunder (the game) was my first experience of oval racing, something which I’ve taken more of an interest in due to my time spent in iRacing.

For those playing along at home, I’ll be sourcing pirated releases from the TOSEC collection on archive.org. Here’s a list of releases, likely you’ll also find decent releases at AtariMania.
– Mean Streets – Automation 393A/B, SuperGAU 492/2, SuperGAU 810/1, Medway Boys 99A/B
– Loom – Automation 463A/B, SuperGAU 349/50, SuperGAU 821/2, Vecrtronix 738-740
– International 3D Tennis – no menu-disk release known – might be a challenge to get. There’s a version at http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-st-international-3d-tennis_10958.html but that requires pasti which is Steem-only.
– Days Of Thunder – Automation 344, Flame of Finland 36A, SuperGAU 858, Vectronix 813

Reviews This Month

Review: International 3D Tennis (Sensible Software)

ST Format Review My Review International 3D Tennis is an intensely ugly game. It is absurdly ugly. The players are literally stick figured with triangular bodies and triangles for heads. I shit you not. It’s also very slow, as many 3D polygon games were at that time. In general 3D games were fine for things…More

Review: Days Of Thunder

ST Format Review My Review Days Of Thunder is a brilliant fun film, pure 80s (yeah I know it came out in 1990, but it’s 80s). It’s basically Top Gun with fast cars. What’s not to like? Sadly I never watched it growing up, but I got to watch it later in life and loved…More

ST Format Issue 15 – It’s ‘King Brilliant

ST Format Issue 15 – Download

ST Format Issue 15

The World in September 1990
In UK news York City’s David Longhurst collapsed on the pitch during a 4th Division (now known as League 2) match and died. Meanwhile the CBI predicted a recession as Chancellor John Major and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher denied one was on its way. It was very much on its way.

The US news Pete Sampras won the US Open at the age of 19. While never the most interesting chap he would go on to be a huge force within his generation of tennis players, winning multiple Wimbledon titles among other honours. The 1996 Olympics were awarded to Atlanta (Georgia), George Bush threatened to use force to remove Iraq’s forces from Kuwait and later met FW De Klerk at the White House in recognition of the changes happening in South Africa re Apartheid.

Elsewhere in the world, in Myanmar (aka Burma) orders were put out to arrest Aung San Suu Kyi among other political dissidents. She would be prisoner for 15 years, winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, and would then go on to become every bit as ruthless as those she campaigned against. The first Pizza Hut opened in China, the poor bastards didn’t deserve such horrors (seriously, who wants a pizza that’s 90% grease?).

On TV we saw the first UK broadcast of The Simpsons, debuting on Sky One (which most people didn’t have as satellite TV wasn’t very popular due to being so expensive – we mostly stuck to the standard 4 terrestrial channels in the UK). Thundercats returned to the BBC but all scenes where Panthro used nunchukus were cut out. The 1000th episode of Neighbours was aired in the UK, and it’s worth noting that Neighbours was hugely popular in the UK at the time. BBC 2 had the debut of Star Trek The Next Generation. BBC 2 also saw the debut of Rab C Nesbitt, in which an incomprehensible Glaswegian in a string vest confused the English. Oh and Have I Got News For You also made its debut on BBC2, a satirical news quiz still running today, though it’s lost much of its spark. Heil Honey I’m Home, a comedy featuring Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun managed one episode before being cancelled. More episodes were filmed but never broadcast.

The film charts had rather contrasting films at the top, with Memphis Belle (a fictionalised account of a B-17 Bomber Crew’s final mission in WW2) arriving at #1 to displace Die Hard 2. At #4 we have Crazy People, a fun film with Dudley Moore and Daryl Hannah in which Dudley is declared mad, goes to a nuthouse and the inmates develop advertising campaigns. Other highlights include Total Recall hanging on at #8 with Gremlins 2 at #9.

The album chart sees George Michael at #1 with one of his weaker albums Listen Without Prejudice. The Three Tenors were at #2 still riding the World Cup fever, and we had the likes of Elton John, Michael Bolton (retch) and Phil Collins in the top 10. Mariah Carey’s debut album also made an appearance, though I don’t know any of the tracks on it.

The singles chart saw The Joker by the Steve Miller Band hit number 1 16 years after its initial release due to appearing in a Levi jeans advert. In more interesting news, KLF got to #5 with What Time Is Love and Dee-Lite were at #2 with Groove Is In The Heart. Betty Boo was at 6 with Where Are You Baby which wasn’t quite as good as Doin The Do.

The Magazine
Issue 15 came out in September 1990, and has a striking cover featuring the mask of Tutankhamun due to DPaint getting a review and a cover disk demo (alongside the game of the Days Of Thunder movie). Issue 15 can be considered part of the ST’s golden age in which games and software were plentiful. This issue is notable for the spine text “It’s ‘king brilliant” which amused me but attracted some complaints.

In addition to DPaint and Days Of Thunder demos, the cover disk also has a demo of mediocre puzzler Manix, a tool to figure out the new London area code (London was switching from 01 to 0207 and 0208 depending on where in London you were) plus a program to play some god-awful chip music in the background.

In terms of ST news, the ST’s greatest DTP package Calamus had a massive price drop for its black and white version, while Neodesk had a new version of its alternative ST desktop (Neodesk 3 for those keeping count). High street retailer John Menzies dumped the Amiga to focus on selling the ST in further evidence that the ST was kicking ass and chewing gum. One of the Carebears demo group released TCB Tracker, giving the ST a tracker program to rival those on the Amiga.

The Deluxe Paint review is predictably glowing, and to be fair I had a good crack with the cover disk demo back in the day, though spending £50 on an art package was never an option for me. The interface was well-designed and overall the package reeked of quality, so it’s a fair review. For transparency it’s worth noting that EA will have paid to have their demo on the cover disk, as acknowledged in ST Format 14’s “Who gets your money?” feature. Other software reviews include Fun School 3, probably the most commercially-successful STOS-developed software.

There’s an article on basic ST skills called Back To Basics to get newbies acquainted with the ST (odd timing really, you’d expect that in the January/February issues for the people who just got their STs)

We get the debut of the Kandy Koloured Picture Show in which ST Format readers submit their artwork…

Public Domain and Demos
There’s a public domain release for Bilog, a cycling training log tool which helps manage your exercise regime. Alternatively you can change your desktop from green to blue and use 1k of memory to do so.. no I can’t figure out why either. There’s Galaxia from Budgie UK whic is a clone of.. I’m sure you can guess. In the demo scene we have THe Cuddly Demos from the Carebears, plus we have a couple of STE-themed demos which are mostly focused on audio.

Previews
There are some previews of games I’ve not encountered with Fireball leading the way, a 3D violent future sports game, while Mirrorsoft had a crop dusting flight sim set in the future. More recognisable fare came in the form of Loom (one of the few Lucasarts games I’ve never played – I plan to correct that) and the cutesy platformer Flip It N Magnose. Empire’s tank sim Team Yankee gets a mention, as does Domark’s top-down racer Badlands, while Titus mediocre Outrun with guns game Fire And Forget 2 also gets a paragraph. Crime Wave is one I don’t know much about, nor Rogue Trooper (which doesn’t get a screenshot, just a shot of comic book art). More recognisable is the brilliant Speedball 2 from the Bitmap Brothers, while Readysoft threw off the shackles of laserdisk conversions with Wrath Of The Demon which absolutely didn’t rip off Shadow Of The Beast at all.

ST Game Charts

Honestly a pretty awesome chart, with Kick Off 2 on top followed by the magnificent F-19 Stealth Fighter, while Midwinter sits at 7. Disappointing to see Damocles at a mere 15, a true classic of a game, while Sim City was only at 17 (though that’s a game that more than made its money back over the years so it’s not so bad). The budget chart.. dear god how the fuck was the utterly abysmal Codemasters Italia 90 at #1? Honestly it’s the worst football game ever fucking made.

Reviews
Games reviewed this month:
Vaxine (3D abstract shooty thing – US Gold – £19.99 – 84%)
Soccer Challenge (Football – Microprose – £24.99 – 85%) – I think this is the one NOT made by Sensible Software
Rick Dangerous 2 (Platformer – Microprose – £24.99 – 86%) – Criminally underrated
Venus The Flytrap (Platform Shooter – Gremlin – £19.99 – 77%)
Their Finest Hour – The Battle Of Britain (WW2 Flight Sim – Lucasfilm Games – £29.95 – 91%)
UMS 2 (War Strategy [hardcore] – Microprose – 87%) – The developer looks like Borat
Manix (Mediocre puzzler – Millenium – £24.99 – 71%)
Simulcra (3D shooter – Microstyle – £24.99 – 81%)
Championship Tie Break (Tennis – Ocean – £19.99 – 83%)
Cadaver (Isometric adventure – Bitmap Brothers/Mirrorsoft – £24.99 – 81%)
Operation Stealth (Adventure – Delphine – £24.99 – 93% Format Gold)
Dragonflight (RPG – Thalion – £34.99 [OUCH!] – 71%)
Satan (Platform Shooter – Dinamic – £19.99 – 39%)
Universe 3 (Sci-fi RPG – Impressions – £24.99 – 48%)
Magic Lines (Pipe Mania with electricity – Thalion – £19.99 – 47%)
Leisure Suit Larry 3 (Adventure with tits – Sierra – £39.99 – 61%)
Dead End (Text Adventure – Interactive Technology – £9.95 – 65%)
Tusker (Hack and Slash – SYstem 3 – 51%)
Weird Tales (Text adventure – Interactive Technology – £14.95 – 72%)
Falcon Mission Disk 2 (Flight sim missions – Mirrorsoft – £19.99 – 70%)

There’s actually quite a decent number of games here that really interest me. The obvious candidates are Rick Dangerous 2, Their Finest Hour, Cadaver, Operation Stealth and Leisure Suit Larry 3, but Simulcra looks interesting, while Tie Break could finally be my first decent ST tennis game, and Universe 3 is weirdly ugly but pretty. Even Venus The Flytrap holds some interest due to being so pretty.

For those playing along at home, I’ll be sourcing pirated releases from the TOSEC collection on archive.org. Here’s a list of releases, likely you’ll also find decent releases at AtariMania.
– Rick Dangerous 2 – Automation 365, Flame Of Finland 49, SuperGU 378, Medway Boys 93, Pompey Pirates 57, Vectronix 289/525
– Their Finest Hour – Automation 369, SuperGAU 389/390, Pompey Pirates 52, Vectronix 694/695
– Cadaver – Automation 415A/B, SuperGAU 591, Medway Boys 88A/B, Vectronix 809/810
– Operation Stealth – SuperGAU 691-693, Vectronix 836-838
– Leisure Suit Larry 3 – Automation 337A/B, SUperGau 654-7, Vectronix 829-31
– Simulcra – Automation 386, Pompey Pirates 63, SuperGAU 423, 535, 816, Vectronix 780
– Tie Break – Flame Of Finland 17
– Universe 3 – no known release so have to use Atarimania’s version at http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-st-universe-iii_10750.html
– Venus The Flytrap – Automation 332, Flame Of Finland 32, Pompey Pirates 46


Reviews This Month

Review: Cadaver (Bitmap Brothers)

ST Format Review My Review The Bitmap Brothers were absolute megastars of the 16-bit era, a team of developers known for taking established genres and polishing them to perfection to create masterpieces. Their first, Xenon, was a simple but technically fairly accomplished shooter, and they followed that with Speedball, their first effort at future sports.…More

Review: Rick Dangerous 2

ST Format Review My Review So the first Rick Dangerous was a bit of a surprise. ST Format didn’t even bother to review it until its later budget re-release, while ST Action waited til over a year after the budget. The One gave it 88% at the time, CVG gave it 87%, and Amiga Format…More

Review: Leisure Suit Larry 3

ST Format Review My Review Leisure Suit Larry 3 – Passionate Patty In Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals is the third game in the Leisure Suit Larry series and the last one to be primarily keyboard-driven. For those unaware, Al Lowe’s creation is a slightly desperate man approaching middle-age, a balding virgin in the first…More

Review: Simulcra (Craftgold)

ST Format Review My Review For this review I’m running a MiSTer FPGA box with a 1MB STE, running TOS 1.62. I’ve chosen Automation 386, and I’ve been rewarded with this lovely frog. There’s a nice loading screen with some reasonably decent chip music – the image chosen almost harks back to an earlier ST…More

Review: Venus The Flytrap

ST Format Review My Review For this review I’m running a MiSTer FPGA box with a 1MB STFM, running TOS 1.02 as the STE seemed not to go down too well. This is my first review using this setup, so apologies for any issues. For this one I used Automation disk 332, a low-key affair…More

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.

Previews
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.

Reviews
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 https://www.prestel.org.uk/ 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. https://www.mobygames.com/game/amiga/magic-fly and https://www.mobygames.com/game/atari-st/magic-fly 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 archive.org. 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 http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-st-antago_11073.html
– 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

ST Format Issue 13

ST Format Issue 13 – Download

The World in July 1990
In UK news, England went out of the World Cup, losing the semi-final to Germany on penalties in what would become a national tradition. UEFA lifted the ban on English clubs which had been in place since the Heysel disaster. Nigel Mansell announced his coming retirement from F1, and Graham Taylor was appointed England manager. It would not go well. Most importantly of all, my wife was born.

The US entered recession, while George Bush signed legislation to protect disabled workers from discrimination.

Elsewhere in the world East and West Germany officially merged their economies. Martina Navratilova and Stefan Edberg won Wimbledon. Belarus declared sovereignty in its quest to escape the USSR.

On TV the big event was the World Cup final, with the three tenors singing together for the first time – Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma would be the highlight. Oh and some football happened too. MPs voted to make televised coverage of the commons a permanent thing. Stars In Their Eyes (in which people would try to sound like famous singers) made its debut on ITV. Masterchef made its debut on BBC1.

The film charts had the weakest of the Back To The Future Trilogy at #1, after Tremors had a couple of weeks in the top 10 before exiting rapidly. Dick Tracy was the big budget feature, while Tom Hanks did his thing in Joe Vs The Volcano. I’m genuinely curious as to what the buggering hell “I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle” is like. I’m also curious as to whether Lord Of The Flies is any good – the book is of course magnificent but I don’t know much about the film.

The album chart had Pavarotti at #1 due to the world cup, while Elton John occupied #2 with an album that contained only 1 decent track. With too many greatest hits albums, the chart is pretty miserable.

The singles chart is mixed. Elton at #1 with Sacrifice is decent enough, Pavarotti at #2, Craig McLachlan continued the wave of Neighbours stars releasing singles but while it was catchy enough it wasn’t anything special. Roxette’s It Must Have Been Love is a banger, and everyone loves MC Hammer’s You Can’t Touch This, while One Love by Stone Roses is ok, but overall it’s a weak chart with a novelty single at #7 (Thunderbirds Are Go).


The Magazine
Issue 13 came out in July 1990, and was my 4th issue. It’s actually a pretty decent read, even if the cover is pretty lame. The theme, it appears, is a helpdesk of sorts, a newbies guide, that might be expected more in January’s issue than July’s. Still, it gets better inside.

The cover disk’s headline item is a demo of Battlemaster. As a kid I really couldn’t find a good game in there, due to muddy graphics, poor controls and there just not being much to it. The disk page cites Gauntlet as inspiration but I’d be much happier playing Gauntlet as it does something this game has forgotten about – readability. In Gauntlet it’s really easy to figure out what’s going on, every object’s purpose is clear and you know which bits of screen are trying to kill you. Not so in Battlemaster. It’s one of the things Nintendo is pretty unique in these days.

In the news, we have Atari’s CD-ST. Quite why anyone thought a machine with 0.5MB RAM would be of any use running software from 650MB media is beyond me – it was simply too early for the tech to be usefully applied to the computers of the era, especially given they didn’t have the processing grunt to push data around at that rate. Obviously there was some hype around FMV and with 20/20 hindsight we can see that it’s shit, but surely the clues were there with how awful Space Ace and Dragon’s Lair (which were effectively FMV games) were. Not much else going on in a quiet month.

Here’s a video of someone showing off an Atari ST CD unit.


Suffice to say it didn’t achieve any level of commercial success. I reckon it might have worked if they’d bundled the Falcon with one, but then again the prohibitive cost might have made the Falcon even more of a failure.

We get an interesting discussion around cheap synthesizers you can plug into your ST and the one I had as a kid gets a mention, the legendary Yamaha PSS-480. While the keys weren’t touch-sentitive (ie no variation of velocity) it did do polyphony well and it was well-specced for MIDI and allowed you to generate your own sounds (albeit they were shit). It’s where I learned a lot about making music, as I used the free copy of Sequencer One from a later issue of ST Format.

Previews
There’s a mix of gold and shit this month. You’ve got Metal Masters which I think is a mech fighting game, Gold Of The Aztecs looks like a shit fantasy scrolly stabby game, and there’s Satan from the muppets who brought us the excorable Army Moves and Navy Moves. In more positive news there’s a shot of “Murder!” (the ! is required) which I always liked the look of though I suspect it might end up not living up to my idea of what it would be. Another rather interesting title is the Monty Python game. I love all things Python, as any good Brit should, so that’s relevant to my interests. Meanwhile Core (of Tomb Raider fame) had Corporation in the works – looks like a futuristic dungeon master game. The cream of the crop though is Life And Death, where you get to be a surgeon and operate on people. Screenshots always looked super-exciting.

ST Format has been shifting in these last few issues to give broader coverage to gaming, perhaps realising that games were a larger part of the target market than they originally thought, and the previews section has shifted a little from the 2 pages with a screen for each game to having additional segments that you’d recognise in modern games magazine previews.

In this issue for instance we have a lengthy preview of Magnetic Scrolls game based on Alice in Wonderland, and the windowed system it uses. It’s actually quite an interesting evolutionary dead-end, and evolutionary dead-ends are always fascinating in that they offer a bit of insight into how games evolve. In this case, where Zak McKracken took adventures in a different route in escaping the bounds of text adventures by using a point and click interface with verbs and inventory supplementing a full graphical environment, Magnetic Scrolls had roots in text adventures and so their approach is in many ways more traditional. While the graphical image is clickable and interactable, they’ve also got windows with text descriptions in the traditional text adventure style, and have icons for movement, and listing items in the room and so on, with menus to interact with those objects. In a way the visuals are simply shortcuts to push parsed messages to the parser and to present the available options to the user to avoid the hassle of typing (while still allowing them to do so). It’s a layer that sits atop the standard text-parsed adventure, instead of being a direct replacement for it. It’s clever, but you can see they were bound my thinking around text adventures rather than consideration of graphic adventures. One suspects they went down that path because they knew they could no longer charge full price for text adventures and wanted graphics that would look nice in a review, but didn’t quite go far enough in ditching text because that was what they were used to.

The second preview is a little bit naughty. Their graphics editor was working on a game for EA, and we have a 3 page preview for that game which frankly looks ugly as sin. Next issue it will get a Format Gold.

The third preview centres on Bullfrog, and thus it’s pretty interesting. I’ve posted it in full below for you guys to enjoy, but I’ll also just talk about it for a bit as I can obviously look at it with a bit of hindsight. Their humble beginnings as makers of serious software and then the mediocre Fusion certainly don’t hint at greatness, and you can clearly see that Populous made them. Without Populous we’d never have heard of Peter Molyneux, we wouldn’t have Theme Park/Hospital, we wouldn’t have Black & White, and the world would be a less fun place.

The story around the naming of Powermonger is interesting, showing that even in 1990 software publishers were using focus groups, something I didn’t think was the case. As it is I do wonder if the game might have been more successful as Warmonger (the original title) or one of the suggested titles Megalomania, which Sensible Software would later use for their magnificent game.

The focus is clearly on Powermonger and one gets the impression that Flood was knocked out as a quick project to keep the books balanced and possibly to train up some of the newbies. There wasn’t much hype pre-release and it barely gets a mention here, though it did get a Format Gold (possibly because the magazine writers were a little too friendly with the devs – who knows, I guess we’ll find out when I play it).

One interesting thing is that even here Peter is bullshitting a little. He talks about designing your ranks (presumably the uniform your soldiers wear) and that absolutely isn’t in the game. Similarly there’s mention of neighbouring fishing villages playing a game of baseball which I’m pretty sure is fictitious. The killer feature is named villagers going about their business – my suspicion however is that it generates the names and tasks as they appear on screen and forgets them as they disappear, but it does a decent enough job of creating the illusion so I’ll let him keep that one. Powermonger is a VERY good game by the way.

Reviews
Games reviewed this month:
Damocles (Explore a solar system, save a planet from a comet – Novagen – £24.95 – 94% Format Gold)
Wipe Out (Tron Light Cycles on water – Gonzo Games – £19.99 – 64%)
Flood (Platformer [from Bullfrog] – EA – £19.99 – 91%)
AMC (Run and gun from Army Moves devs – Dinamic – £19.99 – 69%)
F29 Retaliator (Flight Sim – Ocean – £24.99 – 76%)
Midnight Resistance (Run and gun – Ocean – £24.99 – 41%)
Khalaan (strategy – Rainbow Arts – £24.99 – 59%)
Thunderstrike (Abstract 3D shooter – Millenium – £24.99 – 88%)
Treasure Trap (Isometric adventure – Electronic Zoo – £24.99 – 81%)
Atomix (Puzzler – Thalion – £19.95 – 79%)
Rourke’s Drift (Strategy – Impressions – £24.99 – 46%)
Skidz (Shit skateboarding game – Gremlin – £19.95 – 71%)
Prophecy 1 (Platformer – Wired – £19.99 – 67%)

Of those, the ones that interest me most are the Treasure Trap and the legendary Damocles. The latter was one of my favourite games growing up, while Treasure Trap was a game that interested me but I never got round to. I want to take a look at Flood because it’s a Bullfrog game I’ve not played, though honestly it doesn’t look like anything special. Finally I think it would be useful to have a look at F29 Retaliator to compare it with F-19 Stealth Fighter.

For those playing along at home, I’ll be sourcing pirated releases from the TOSEC collection on archive.org. Here’s a list of releases, likely you’ll also find decent releases at AtariMania.
– Flood – Automation 313, Fuzion 9, SuperGAU 346, Medway Boys 76, Pompey Pirates 43, Vectronix 517
– Treasure Trap – Superior 74A
– F29 Retaliator – Automation 377, Pompey Pirates 38, Superior 75, Vectronix 480
– Damocles – Automation 294B, Fuzion 13, SuperGAU 488/955, Medway Boys 73, Pompey Pirates 41, Vectronix 803

Reviews This Month

Review: Damocles

Damocles ST Format Review My Review PART ONE For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STE, running TOS 1.62. I’ve picked Automation 294B, which has a pretty simple intro. Scrolly text, music, a nice picture, simple enough. Before I go any further it’s worth giving a bit of back-story to this game. So…More

Review: Treasure Trap

Treasure Trap ST Format Review My ReviewFor this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STE, running TOS 1.62. I initially went with Superior as nobody else bothered cracking this one. Superior were previously known as Flame Of Finland and their menus are a bit bare bones. In this case however the menu simply didn’t…More

Review: Flood

Flood ST Format Review My ReviewSPOILER: NOT 100% WORK SAFE SCREENSHOTFor this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STE, running TOS 1.62. I’ve gone with Fuzion 9, in part because I’ve not used many Fuzion disks, but also because the menu has some hilariously bad artwork (I’ve had to spoiler-tag it). Scrolling text is the…More

ST Format Issue 12

ST Format Issue 12 – Download

The World in June 1990
In the UK the bans on British beef were lifted after the BSE crisis, while the planned high-speed link between London and the Channel Tunnel was shelved. John Major proposed an alternative to the EU’s proposed single currency, a currency which would circulate alongside existing currencies. In hindsight it would have saved the EU a lot of headaches as it would have left member states freer to fix economic woes. JK Rowling began writing the first Harry Potter book.

In US news Ohio had 88 tornadoes. Why the fuck would anyone want to live anywhere that has that kind of shit going on? Universal Studios opened in Florida.

Elsewhere in the world the World Cup began in Italy. England would go on to the semi finals, their greatest performance since winning the tournament in 1966, and a feat not repeated until 2018. West Germany would win, though before long they would just be Germany.

On TV Art Attack made its debut with Neil Buchanan doing outsized art projects. Not much else went on as most people were busy watching the World Cup.

The film charts had Pretty Woman at #1, and The Witches at #7. The rest isn’t of much interest.

The album chart was poor, with Soul II Soul at #1, Jason Donovan at #2 and a best of album by Talk Talk at #3. Pavarotti got #8 due to the World Cup where Nessun Dorma was the official tune.

The singles chart featured the greatest football song ever, World In Motion by New Order and some England players. The John Barnes rap would become the stuff of legend. At #3 we had Chad Jackson with Hear The Drummer Get Wicked (choooon!) while Elton was at #5 with Sacerifayce. Roxette with it Must Have Been Love and Betty Boo Doin The Doo, plus the Charlatans with The Only One I Know and Wilson Phillips Hold On make for a VERY strong top 10. Hell, even further down the chart you had Snap with Oops Up, Black Box with Everybody Everybody which only got to 16 ffs.


The Magazine
Issue 12 came out in June 1990, and was my third issue, and probably one of my favourites. The theme for this issue was music, and as a result it came with a tape of some music made on an Atari ST, and it was really catchy. See http://fading-twilight.atari.org/br…twilight_dual_layer_dvd/TUNEZ/DEMOS/ST/STF12/ if you want to have a listen. I just found it and my god it tickled my nostalgia bone.

The cover is probably one of the slickest looking covers yet, reflecting perhaps an increase in budget. The coverdisk leads with Starblade which was immensely pretty but shallow, and honestly it was never entirely clear what was going on. Visually it’s an absolute treat, no doubt, but as a kid I couldn’t find any gameplay in there. More fun (with 2 players at least) is a little PD game called Deeplair. You each control a submarine and your objective is to shoot your opponent. Simple.

News is interesting, with rival distributors of Calamus (hugely expensive DTP package) at war – the official importers charging £458 while NNS were importing grey imports for £343 and packaging it with ROM chips to change your TOS version to allow it to run what was presumably the US version. All very shady.

There’s a decent little feature on the general composition of a piece of music, not particularly specific to any one software package, so there’s explanation of basic song structure and what MIDI is and how it works, and so on.

Previews
This month we have two pages of previews, with International 3D tennis getting a big feature, a tennis game using vector graphics. It was insanely ugly, but I remember having a good time with it on the Amiga back in the day. Saint Dragon also features, a shooter about which I know little. Prophecy gets a mention (a platformer), while Ocean’s F29 Retaliator gets a screenshot. I never played it, as F-19 Stealth Fighter covered my flight sim needs so well. AMC gets a screenshot, from the makers of Army Moves so it can fuck right off. A Bomber Mission Disk features, as does Battlemaster which still makes no sense. Tetris in a well, Welltris, gets a brief snippet, and we get a first look at Flood from the Bullfrogs (not one of their more celebrated titles).

Reviews
Games reviewed this month:
Sim City (Violent Golf Game – Infogrames/Maxis – £29.99 – 92% Format Gold)
Dragon’s Lair (Interactive Cartoon – Readysoft – £44.95 – 43%)
F-19 Stealth Fighter (Flight Sim – Microprose – £29.99 – 96% Format Gold)
Projectyle (Future Sports – EA – £24.99 – 86%)
Dynasty Wars (Beat-em-up – US Gold – £19.95 – 68%)
Rotox (Rotating shooter – US Gold – £19.99 – 81%)
Cyberball (Violent future sport set in 2022 – Domark – £19.99 – 80%)
Imperium (Strategy – EA – £24.95 – 87%)
Final Command (Adventure – Ubisoft – £19.99 – 82%)
Ghosts N Goblins (Hack And Slash – Elite – £19.99 – 69%)
Starblade (Space trading adventure – Silmarils – £19.99 – 51%)
Dan Dare 3 (Shooter – Virgin Mastertronic – £19.99 – 63%)
Photon Storm (Jeff Minter Shooter – Atari – £19.99 – 51%)
Bubble+ (Bubble Bobble with extra levels – Infogrames – £19.99 – 38%)
Toyottes (cute platformer – Infogrames – £19.99 – 81%)
Chronoquest 2 (Adventure – Psynosis – £29.99 – 88%)
Dungeons, Amethysts, Alchemists & Everything (Text Adventure – Atlantis – £4.99 – 69%)

Of those, the ones that interest me most are Sim City, F-19 Stealth Fighter, Toyottes, Bubble+ and Projectyle. Obviously nobody needs me to review Sim City but I’d like an excuse to play it again so tough titties – I played it to death as a kid and I still maintain that it’s the best Sim City. F-19 you may be less familiar with, but along with Sim City, Player Manager and Midwinter 2 it was one of the formative games of my childhood where I spent countless hours bombing shit out of the enemy and blowing up migs. Toyottes is one I liked the look of as a kid and the art style still looks really cool judging from the ST Format screenshots so I’m finally going to give it a go. Finally Projectyle always looked fun to me as a kid so I’ll give that a quick look. Sadly I was unable to find Bubble+ anywhere.

For those playing along at home, I’ll be sourcing pirated releases from the TOSEC collection on archive.org. Here’s a list of releases, likely you’ll also find decent releases at AtariMania.
– Projectyle – Debug 65, SuperGAU 364/495, Superior 73
– Toyottes – Automation 260, Flames Of Finland 5
– Sim City – Automation 292, Fuzion 8, SuperGAU 457/780, Medway Boys 72, Vectronix 631/774
– F19 Stealth Fighter – Automation 424 (patch/fix), Flames Of Finland 34, Pompey Pirates 45/52, Vectronix 318

Reviews This Month

Review: F-19 Stealth Fighter

ST Format Review My Review For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STE, running TOS 1.62. I’ve gone with Automation 424, not one of their more exciting menus (fairly mediocre chip tune and some scrolly text) but it gets the job done. Into the game. A cool intro with the stealth fighter fading…More

Review: Sim City

Sim City ST Format Review My Review For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STE, running TOS 1.62. I’ve gone with Medway Boys 72 which features a cool graphic, the usual text bouncing and scrolling and some chip music which for some reason makes me think of Lady Gaga. Sim City isn’t exactly…More

Review: The Toyottes

Toyottes ST Format Review My Review For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STE, running TOS 1.62. I’ve gone with Automation 260, primarily because the Flame Of Finland releases tend to be a bit samey. This one isn’t anything special technically but it does give us a glimpse into the future with the…More

Review: Projectyle

Projectyle ST Format Review My Review For this review I’m running Steem with a 1MB STE, running TOS 1.62. I’ve gone with DBug menu disk 65, my first DBug release of this series. The intro menu isn’t visually that exciting, but it does have a fantastic chiptune version of the old Formula 1 theme. It’s…More