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Alive 14
ST to Falcon!
                  Games that could do with the D-Bug touch!

D-Bug  started a new venture in September,  the updating of classic ST games
to  run  on  the Mega STe and Falcon.  These are also coming with  the  very
useful bonus of being hard-disk installable.

There have been a few releases so far, and I've no quarrel with any of their
choices.  Starglider II was a good one to start off with,  and the update to
allow  Virus/Zarch to  run  off  hard disk  was  most  welcome.  You  might
incidentally  remember  that  this latter game bootloads  straight  off  the
original  disk  onto the Falcon.  It was the first thing that I found  which
worked  on  that  machine,  when I first got it in 1993,  and served as  the
'demo'  software at the first Wellingborough Computer Club  meeting,  before
anything else turned up.

As I said,  I've no argument with the games that they have done so far,  but
what I'm going to suggest in this article,  is a shopping list of games that
I feel would really benefit from the D-Bug treatment.  So it would be a sort
of  shopping  list  reflecting my own personal preferences,  but  with  some
hopefully good reasons why...

My  top  candidate would be a game which really over-stressed  the  base  ST
hardware.  This is Midwinter II,  a three disk epic which sort of pushed the
state  of things too hard.  I wrote a review for Maggie 8 which pointed  out
its weaknesses and frustrations. Midwinter II was really a game needing more
CPU  mhz and a hard disk install option,  but the brainless approach of  the
time  must  have  been that a hard disk option either  wasn't  economic,  or
somehow encouraged piracy, so we suffered endless disk-swapping, They didn't
even bother to use extended memory where it was available,  which would have
been in quite a lot of cases! Idiots! Also, the 3D was just about manageable
on  an  8 mhz machine,  but chugged when it got to the  more  poly-intensive
parts.  I might even suggest on a 'pretty please' basis that as well as a 16
mhz option, could it also be made to run on still higher powered machines. I
have  a 50 mhz CT2,  and a 90 mhz CT60 which would be interesting candidates
to try it on! Therefore, I think Midwinter II should be on the D-Bug list of
things to do.

Why  not  throw in Midwinter 1 whilst we are about it?  This game  was  more
manageable on the base ST, but would run sweetly on a faster machine.

My  second from top candidate would be the awesome Team  17/Aggression  game
'Stardust', aka Asteroids with attitude, which was  probably one of the most
nicely done STe games ever made.  Like Midwinter II, it remains oldschool in
how  it is presented to the host machine,  frustratingly lacking a Hard disk
install facility, just at the time when people were getting Falcons and hard
disk  based games were becoming more popular.  At least this one was  bright
enough to recognise things like extended memory, but ANY disk swapping where
there isn't really a need for it still pisses me off ;-)

My  third  place  (and fourth and fifth) would be a trio  of  Digital  Image
Designs games,  namely 'Epic', 'Robocop III', and 'F29 Retaliator'. DID were
one of the small number of decent developers that Ocean Software signed  up,
making  some  of the best looking 3-D games on the ST.  Apart  from  looking
good,  the 3-D was generally smooth,  even on a standard ST. in my view, all
these  games  would really fly with a  16 mhz option.  Also,  and bearing in
mind that two of these were three-disk wonders,  a HD install would be great
as well.

Those  three  are the ones which are on my own wishlist.  I might  pause  to
consider  the  case  for  the  Readysoft games,  which  is  taken  from  one
suggestion  on the DHS forum.  'Dragons Lair' was one of the games that  the
local  Amiga  fanclub tended to use for their pose value when we  had  joint
meetings  with  them,  but this was spoiled by endless disk swap after  disk
swap for each new scene!

Now back to pleading for personal favourites, with 'Legends of Valour'. This
is  another 'big' multi-disk game,  so do you detect a common theme here?  I
remember  there was a Falcon-fixed version out there previously,  which also
installed to the hard drive.  I know,  because I played it back in the early
days! I'm not sure where my copy is now?.

Here's  one  which I have already got,  and seems to run on Falcon okay  (in
various unofficial versions!) This is 'Hunter',  a game which invites you to
run,  swim,  shoot at people, and use all sorts of transportation, and shoot
at people again. More pretty 3-D!

Okay,  we're moving onto some 2-D games at last.  Out of the early classics,
how  about 'Gauntlet',  another game which might have tried too hard for the
standard  ST,  as it got a tad sluggish in places when there was a lot going
on. I'm sure it would benefit from a 16mhz option.

I'm sure these are on the list, as other 'Bitmap Brothers games like Xenon 2
and  Speedball  2 have been done,  but the platformers 'Magic  Pockets' and
'Gods' are great looking games, and would not disgrace the Falcon at all.

(Magic Pockets is now DONE!!)

I've  stuck  down  Nebulus on my preliminary list,  which is  another  good
looking game, not really needing an enhanced machine, but why not ask?

Another one which qualifies as a 'mega-game' would be the god-sim 'Populous'
(with Populous 2).  I'm not sure if I'd personally spend the time on it, but
others might want to.

Personal  list,  can  we  have the Firebird conversion  of  Rainbow  Islands
please!!  (No special enhancement needed for 16 mhz, just "Because I'm worth

To  go with Starglider II,  how about the original Star Glider,  as an early
game,  the first I got with my 1987-vintage new STFM,  I've got lots of fond
memories,  and  the  fact  that it is wireframe means it will run  like  the
clappers on a 16 mhz machine.

The  Thalion  games  such  as  'No Second  Prize' and  'Trex  Warrior',  an
underrated  and undersold Thalion 3-D combat game,  were noted for  offering
fast  and fluid flat shaded 3-D on the ST.  Curiosity asks what would  these
games run like on 16mhz? (I think 'No Second Prize' already runs on Falcy.)

Here's another personal favourite, 'Flood', a quirky platformer, a minor hit
from the people who made Populous. The only argument here being 'cos I loved
that little game! (Ditto for Pipemania.)

I've  found another 3-D special called 'Simulcra'.  This was a 'ghost inside
the machine' themed 3-D shooter.  In this case,  the extra speed jolt from a
16  mhz pick-me-up would be nice,  as it tended to slow down a little bit in
the more heated moments.

And whilst we're on the cyber-warrior theme,  there's 'Interphase',  an even
more  abstract  3-D flyaround.  This was very quick on the ST,  would it  be
stupidly fast on 16 mhz?!

Another good one which was already good enough on the ST was Stunt Car Racer!

And rummaging in my brain,  how about another personal favourite,  Spindizzy
Worlds, because that was such a cool game.

And I'd like to mention some that they shouldn't do!

There  was an excrable version of the popular  when-adults-try-to-socialise-
with-kids board game Scrabble made by US Gold. If D-Bug do touch this, there
are an awful lot of bugs to fix, mainly to do with the game crashing when it
feels like it!  At which point, US Gold are owing them some money for fixing
a product which was flawed on release!

I am curiously unmoved by the general run of Ocean and US Gold film  licence
tie-in games as well....

The  only other truly cack game that springs to mind right now,  is the game
called "Lancaster" made by CRL,  (referring to the WWII bomber,  rather than
the  city  of that name,  but it might as well not bothered to tell the  two
apart. It flew like a pile of bricks anyway!

Ok, deadlines are getting short, so time to leave this one!

Do  you,  the  readers of Alive have any personal favourites which you  want
D-Bug to port to the Falcon?
CiH, for Alive Mag, Nov/Dec 2006
Alive 14