Reviews

BUGS FROM OUTER SPACE by Impulse

A preview was shown at the Fried Bits III competition and this is the finished article, winner of the NAS ’96 demo section! It opens with an animation of a meteorite crashing on earth followed by an equally impressive Impulse logo, both raytraced. We then progress through numerous screens of solid 3D objects, raytraced images, animations, real-time zoomers, fractals and more. So you could be fooled into thinking this is just another demo. Wrong, it’s not what it does but how it does it! An animated globe, pixel precise raytracings, perfectly animated pieces and a superb soundtrack. Even the credits are worth watching! You can even hook it up to your Hi-Fi and pipe music from the Hi-Fi into your Falcon in place of the supplied soundtrack. Needs 4 Mb, RGB ONLY.

— Andrew, Falcon’s NeST PDL

BUGS FROM OUTER SPACE by Impulse

It would be nice to believe that coders are not fundamentally stupid and rash people, and that they are not responsible for their sloppiness. All their errors are the result of some sort of X-Files type conspiracy.
“Bugs From Outer Space” is a demo with a checkered history. It first surfaced at the demo competition of Fried Bits 3. Here it was up against the might of EKO, Lazer and Avena and failed miserably. To be fair, it was nowhere near complete at this stage. BFOS version 1 was more of slideshow with fancy fades than a demo.
Impulse are not ones to rest on their laurels and decided to turn BFOS into a proper full length demo and inject with some real Swedish demo style.
BFOS begins with a small text screen. Here you can toggle the music and internal speaker. You can even get the demo to play music from an external source! You can also type in the secret code to access the hidden screen from here.
A sample is played and the legendary words that began Star Wars are displayed on the screen “A long time ago. A place far, far away”. Although this is a paraphrase of the original I think it still demonstrates that this text is more familiar (and holds more significance) to people of my generation than the opening lines of Genesis.
A rendered hillside appears and a flaming comet descends from the sky. This obviously is writhing with bugs which are waiting to burst out and infect innocent programmers’ code.
A rendered logo displays the name of the crew who created this masterpiece: “Impulse”. A presents logo pops up followed by the main “Bugs From Outer Space” logo. This has been redrawn since the original release and looks better for it.
We are next presented with a starfield overlayed with some one plane text. This is just a link screen for the next effect, which is probably the first screen on the Falcon to involve nuclear power and toilets.
A 3D toilet spins about the screen snapping its lid open and shut angrily whilst a Nuclear logo watches sternly from the top corner of the screen. Such nuclear/toilet antics bring a whole new meaning to the word “Windscale”.
More polygons are on there way! Next up is rotating exploding 3D cube whose six faces expand out from the centre of the object so you can see their inside faces.
The next object looks similar to one featured on Impulse’s “Angest” demo. It is a vector object with an intricate mesh of gourad shaded lines, only this time it is not spinning over a full colour background. The final shape of this sequence is a triangular prism, and then we are whisked into the next effect.
A text logo appears with the legend “Let Me Show The World In My Eyes”. The Gahan/Gore influence appears. This is the Depeche Mode screen, and fortunately it is not trying to slash its wrists whilst simultaneously overdosing on class A drugs.
At the bottom of the screen we have a fire effect that bears an uncanny resemblence to the one that appeared in “Revelations” by Psychosis. This burns unsteadily for a while before fading smoothly off. Again, this effect is put to shame a bit by the one in the Spirits demo which burnt with a power an urgency as yet unsurpassed. If we were going to use thermometers to judge these sort of effects, this one would be “cooking nicely but not blast furnace levels”.
Impulse lash out ironically at the French’s preference for design by displaying a mushrom, a plum and a decidedly unhappy banana in the corner of the screen. The world then appears. Overlayed behind this are the Sun, Moon and a massive CND revival. Perhaps the bugs have come to earth to resurrect Michael Foot’s flagging political career. Donkey Jackets out and its off to Greenham Common for some serious lentil worshipping.
The world appears on the screen. Protuding from the north pole is a seriously large flower, a piece of flora larger than Europe that would happily cast a shadow across half the globe. We suspect that the influence of “Bobby the hippy ghost” on this demo is quite strong.
Gandalf’s Worldclaw picture is now displayed. Another globe forms and the world is mapped onto it. This sphere mapping object bounces about the screen before disappearing off the left hand side. The screen fades out neatly with the red, green and blue being separated.
The world then becomes part of the pattern on a rotating zoomer. Double line mode is used to keep the framerate smooth. This rotates and zooms pleasantly enough, but there are no shearing distorting effects or perspective thrown in. The world changes to an eye, a piece of graphics quite unsuited to this effect as it looks quite ungainly when zoomed.
Another nice rendered picture appear, this time it is supposed to be of a wheel but it reminds me more of the cover of Bob Mould’s recent solo album. A familar 3D object spins onto the screen. Yes its a Falcon with a monitor! Even though it is in an ST-style box, it is instantly recognisable by its dark grey keys.
The monitor flickers to life and a mini version of the gem desktop appears. “Is this art imitating life?” we ask in our best Guardian critic voice. A demoscreen then appears on the mini Falcon. This is a rotating mass colour. It expands from the small Falcon’s screen to fill the real screen, slowing down in the process. Still this is well designed and amusing screen, one that all Atari people seem to enjoy immensely.
Continuing the Star Wars theme a polygon Tie Fighter bursts on to the screen. This is pursued to a larger than life 3D Pacman, gobbling his way through space. This is another amusing and bizarre scene that could only have come from the twisted minds of Impulse!
The Swedish Flag that provoked such loud cheers in Bremen in 1995 is now displayed. A smaller replica flag sprite moves up the screen over its larger brother. This then spins round revealing itself to be a translucent 3D polygon which cheerfully rotates off the screen. This is neat little effect that isn’t really on for long enough.
There now appears my favourite part of the demo – the greetings section. Greetings list used to be long, pompous and for the most part tedious affairs, usually contained in the obligatory scrollers that accompanied every demo. Now though people put much more effort into greetings screen – Witness the lovingly hand crafted 3D object logos used in EKO-System.
Impulse have also gone to great lengths to make a great greetings screen. “Into the blue” is one of the classic greets screens of our generation. The screen has a blue background, it is obviously supposed to be the sky. Across this fly various crafts representing different crews. Each crew has an individually painted logo which has some symbolism relevant to that crew. We have a Coke can for Dead Hacker’s Society (see “Demolition”), an air ballon for EKO and even a little dog on the Reservoir Gods logo. Cool. And the gang.
After this breath of fresh air we are presented with an old screen – the fractals screen from the original BFOS. A rendered sphere with a mandlebrot on it hardware scrolls onto the screen. A sierspirski fractal appears over this. We then have a very small realtime Julia. I think we have to come to the conclusion that whilst fractals are mathematically interesting, they are less than exciting as demo screens.
The demo concludes with a line vector object that leaves a trail as it moves.
A sample of Robert Miles’ “Children” accompanies the end of demo credits. A picture of each screen is displayed with the credits being printed underneath. This is a lot better than the now cliched scrolling text which seems to end every other demo we see.
The demo ends with the music fading out smoothly and you are dropped back to the desktop in the right resolution! Astounding!
“Bugs From Outer Space” is not an earth shattering demo. It presents a lot of effects that we have seen before. However it is a massive leap forward from the original Fried Bits release. It is good to see a demo crew with a sense of humour and also some originality. The greets screen is especially good.
BFOS shows that Impulse are a crew with a lot of potential, and their next demo should really be something special. Before that we have the very promising game “Corsair” to look forward to. Bugs From Outer Space? It’s tre-moon-dous! Simply Mars-vellous!

— Leon O’Reilly, Maggie 21 (September 1996)

CORSAIR by Impulse

One of the oddest games around! It’s a two player game where both players have the same aim, to destroy the aliens. Aliens takes different forms and guises and take on a different appearance on the different levels. Each player controls a cannon which is attached to the bottom or right hand edge of the player area respectively. The cannon on the right moves vertically, the one on the bottom horizontally. The aliens descend from above and try to gain a foothold on these two sides. You must play cooperatively, not competitively. Kill your opponent and you lose a life! Sounds complicated, but it’s quite the opposite, young and old will love this game. Nice big colourful aliens, humorous (even hilarious!) sound samples and fast action make this a simple yet addictive game. Control by keyboard, joystick or joypad. Just one thing, don’t press Fire to start (it takes you back to the Desktop), press Space instead. Needs 4Mb.

— Andrew, Falcon’s NeST PDL

CORSAIR by Impulse

This very new game is the work of the group Impulse, well-known demo crew. Corsair is a rather odd game. It is played by two: first player controls the gun which moves horizontally on a rail in the bottom of screen, while the second controls another gun which moves vertically on another rail on the right of the screen. The action is placed on the Moon. The goal for each player is to blast the species of aliens which fall at you from above, as in Space Invaders. Except that there are two players and that it is to better explode the other because that brings back more points than these dirty aliens. This is where it is brilliant, because to survive you need to help each other. E.g., if an alien touches the ground, the gun of the other player can then remove the first player’s adversar, thus saving the life to him, just like it can shhot him in the face and gain a max of points!
Graphics are pleasant and funny, just like the audio samples. It is felt that the gameplay was made just for having fun. Without any technical innovation in the programming, it is at the same time simple and effective. Most significant is to have a friend to play with… which will not be your friend any more during the part, of course! Ah, I forgot: the two players share the same number of lives… good luck!!!

— Toxic Mag 15 (freely translated from French)

CORSAIR by Impulse

Older Maggie readers will remember us previewing a game called ‘Corsair’ by an up and coming Swedish group some two years ago. As usual Maggie was first with the news, and as is usual for Falcon games ‘Corsair’ disappeared, presumed dead.
But a H.P. Lovecraft style spirit of re-animation has hit the Falcon scene. Not only has ‘Crown Of Creation’ appeared, but finally ‘Corsair’ has been completed. Not since the days of Lazarus have we seen such resurrection of the dead! Next thing you know, Willies Adventures will be released! ( Now you are being silly – ED).
Like a lot a Falcon games, ‘Corsair’ is a conversion of an 8-bit classic, this time originating from the Commodore 64. Not having owned the machine, I can’t say how the game relates to the original, but can say it has a distinctly old school flavour. The game that this can be most likened to is Jeff Minter’s GridRunner. But the difference with Corsair is that it is a two player game.
Let me explain a bit further. One player lives at the bottom of the screen with only the ability to move horizontally, whilst the other lives at the right hand side of the screen only able to move vertically. Aliens appear that naturally have to be shot. So in essence what we have is space invaders with aliens moving right as well as down. The cannons that the players control have the nifty ability to shoot diagonally as well as straight, but this can lead to you shooting your friend and thus losing a life.
Full marks to the comedy plot in the doc file which nods at the Double Bobble story. Nice to see another crew not taking itself too seriously.
The game begins with a main menu which features a nicely drawn Corsair logo. For people like me, this is also where the game ends due to a bug in their keyboard routines. They interpret a joystick up as an ‘Escape’ press (both have the scancode of one) and consequently the game quits immediately after loading. Here is a plea to games coders – please use F10 as quit because if your keyboard routines are not 100% accurate you can easily confuse joystick or mouse events and the Escape key. On some machines this will be no problem, but on my unstable old Falcon this is a source of constant teeth gnashing.
So after hacking about with the keyboard routine (basically making sure it wasn’t even installed) I get the game to work. The menu is functional – you press function keys to access each option – without having that extra level of presentation to make it really outstanding. From here you can toggle the sound, but not the internal speaker and there is no volume control. You can choose your control method – either pad or keys, joystick is not supported. There is no facility to define keys so you have to be happy with the layout that Impulse have kindly chosen for you. The game has also been ‘trained’ – you can select your start level, so even if you are completely hopeless at it you can get to see the later levels. In truth the only variation in levels comes in the aliens and waveforms, but this is a nice touch.
The info screen nods towards their demo coding roots. A translucent 3D cube spins over the text. You can actually control this with some hidden keys, but be careful! This effect is a good addition, but it would be handy if the info screen did actually contain some information, such as how to play, what the keyboard layout is etc. It just credits the coder and graphics artist (but strangely not the musician or tracker player coder!). Members of the musicians union have been heard to grumble about this, they already complain enough about being last in all the credits! The music is actually rather good, but unfortunately lives only on the title screens. The game is a music free zone – a shame as a lively tune could have really complemented the game play. We do get some rather good sound effects during the game however. They are crystal clear and will be a joy to anyone who has suffered with the muffled shouts on Static! The Double Bobble style pops are cool, and the death sample is amusing at first but rapidly becomes annoying, but surely this is the point of a death sample! You can also switch on overscan mode – a nice widescreen cinemascope mode for owners of RGB monitors or TVs.
The game itself plays well with a good difficulty curve. The aliens start off moving in a linear manner giving you a chance to familiarise yourself with the controls before the more vicious bouncing and bombing baddies appear. The graphics are nice and cute and perfectly complement the style of the game.
So we have good graphics and sound, demo effects, a conversion of a golden oldie, this should be another classic game that every Falcon owner should own? Unfortunately there is one large drawback with Corsair. It is a multi player game. That is not multiplayer as in “you can play alone or with a friend”, that is multiplayer as in “you MUST have someone else to play it with”. I am all for multiplayer games – all Reservoir Gods games have multiplayer modes and must be said that games like Tautology II and Static are much more fun when battling against a friend. In my opinion all games should have a multiplayer facility – but this shouldn’t be to the exclusion of a single player mode. You cannot play Corsair in single mode. Well you can try, just controlling one cannon but as the lives are shared, when the other cannon dies you also lose a life. Therefore you can embark on a desperate yet futile struggle to kill all the aliens threatening you and also those attacking the other cannon. This will probably last a couple of seconds before you die, an alien lands on the other cannon or you accidentally shoot your friend. The problem with Corsair is so glaringly obvious it is amazing its creators didn’t notice it. And what is more, there are a variety of pretty simple solutions. They could have had a one player mode with just one cannon. They could have allocated lives separately instead of pooling them together. You could have been able to move the cannon both vertically and horizontally – when the cannon got to the corner it moved onto the opposite plane. You could have been able to control both cannons at once – left and right to move bottom cannon and up and down to move right cannon. One of the cannons could have been computer controlled. It’s a shame that Impulse didn’t abopt one of this features. Corsair has the potential to be a brilliant game. Admittedly Corsair is a great two player game, but otherwise it is just an interesting curiosity.

— Leon O’Reilly, Maggie 25 (March 1998)

CORSAIR preview

Swedish group Impulse – responsible for the “Bugs From Outer Space” Fried Bits 3 Demo – are busy working on a game for the Falcon030.
The game is called “Corsair” and is based on an old game from the Commodore 64, but as has become traditional, it has be polished up a lot, with the addition of true colour graphics and stereo sound.
The game itself it a two player shoot-em-up set in a space environment. In can be played in solo mode, but main coder Longshot doesn’t advise this. He tells Maggie “One single player can of course try to survive the first attack wave on his/her own… But I wouldn’t bet a single fish on the odds…” I didn’t know that Ladbrokes accepted fish as currency these days, but I think we know what he means.
This seems to be a team game, where the spirit of co-operation is essential. Even though you must help each other if you really want to get a long way into the game, you can shoot the other player for extra score! (But don’t expect to him to be happy about this!). As well as the standard weapons, there will be a set of bonus weapons.
Each level is distinct from the previous one, and has its own theme. Longshot explains. “We have a Sokoban (Impulse/ICE game. See Maggie 19 -Ed) level, where you are attacked by Bobby the Hippie Ghost! Also, a classics level with old style flying saucers (like in Plan 9 from Outer Space).” It sounds a lot of fun. This is no straightforward, boring, regimented shooter, it has a lot more surreal elements to it. In essence it sounds a lot like a Jeff Minter release, which can’t be a bad thing. As Longshot puts it: “The game is supposed to be humorous, with silly samples and odd enemies. Perhaps some certain fishes will do a guest appearance?” Ah yes, but will they say NIIIIIII???!!!!

Corsair Tech Spex:

  • Falcon030, 4Mb RAM
  • RGB / VGA /TV
  • 50 fps screen update in main play
  • True Colour at 320 * 240
  • Advanced sound system + great number of samples
  • 100% assembly code (68030)

Creators:

  • Reine Larsson (Longshot) : Main game code, menus, design
  • Mandus Skon (Mandus) : Graphics, design
  • Also involved are Hattrick & Pluto.

A demo version will be released at the Nordic Atari Show, with the full game being released in the summer. If you want more info about Corsair or other Impulse productions, you can catch then on the internet:
Impulse Homepage: http://www.reine.se/impulse
Impulse FTP site: ftp.dd.chalmers.se (dir: pub/lars/impulse/)

— Leon O’Reilly, Maggie 20 (July 1996)

Corsair

The Impulse demo crew have gone and done the decent thing and released a great 2 player co-operative shoot-em-up called Corsair. With 4 channel music and sound effects and all in glorious 16 bit colour.

— Matt’s Atari Shack

Corsair

A simple shoot’em up game for 2 player. Colourful graphics, crystal clear sound FX and quite funny for a while, but not very long-lasting.

— Oliver Heun

Sokoban

Sokoban is a puzzle game originating from Sweden. If you don’t recognised the name, you will still certainly recognise the game. You have to push blocks around a small maze to a certain location. Once blocks become trapped in corners you can’t move them any more. It a basically a game of logical thinking, but one that can be both very frustrating and very addictive.
Sokoban is not new to the Atari, perhaps the most famous version was featured on the Syntax Terror demo by Delta Force and I hear that German coding team Absence have released a commercial version for the Falcon.
This particular version was coded by Johan Sprang (of Inner Circuit Explorers) with graphics by Mandus Skon (Impulse). There is no real front end to the game – you are presented with a Gem dialogue box followed by some text, then a file selector is called every time you want to load a new level. There is perhaps a level of polish missing from the presentation.
The plot is quite amusing – you are Bobbie The Hippie Ghost and have to hide your peace signs before you get raided. Makes perfect sense!
The game itself is fine – the graphics are nicely defined and it plays just as well as any other version of Sokoban. It runs on STE and Falcon, so the graphics are only 16 colour. There is no sound.
The good point about having the file selector is that you can create your own levels and load them in. There are instructions given on how to make Sokoban levels and it seems straightforward enough (even for me!)
Like Ishido, it would be nice if the creators of the game had forgotten about the ST and plunged entirely into the Falcon world with true colour graphics, some nice sound and some nice effects. But forgive them this as they have a great little game on their hands. If you haven’t played this before, get hold of it. Even if you have, give it another go – it is nice to be acquainted again with old friend, and a very entertaining one at that.

— Leon O’Reilly, Maggie 19 (February -96)

Sokoban – the Bobby the Hippie Ghost edition

Oh, poor Bobby the hippie ghost. The Tellus Ghost Investigation Agency is going to pay him a visit, and he who has all those peace signs all over his place. He might lose his ghost licence because of those. You must help Bobby to cover all his peace signs with the stones that lies around his place. You can only move one stone at a time so you have to plan ahead and not work yourself “into a corner.” You may have seen this game in the past (as an ASCII only version), but it was nothing like this. This version has improved graphics (colorful, attractive, and pleasing) and gameplay. All of the 42 classic levels are included along with a few new ones. A level editor is included so you can create as many great levels as you wish. Designed for the STE but you may play it on the Falcon too (color monitor, RGB or VGA, required). Johan has gotten tired of coding great demos and he wanted to do something else. This was his first attempt and first success (both at the same time!). I look forward to finding more PD games from him. This is excellent! Online docs. Geneva and NeoDesk compatible. I found this on UNI-KL.

— Atari Explorer Online (January 1996)

SOKOBAN by Johan Sprang

A re-write of the old classic puzzle type game where you have to push blocks around the screen and avoid boxing yourself in. In this version you play a hippie ghost who is frantically trying to disguise all his CND signs (by hiding them behind stones) in advance of an inspection by the local ghost licensing agency! Graphics are superb, hiding the game’s 8-bit roots whilst maintaining the addictive playability of the original. 45 levels are supplied along with easy instructions on how to create your own. STE Only.

— Andrew, Falcon’s NeST PDL

THE NI DEMO by FISKKOMPANIET

The Senior Dads have some real competition. Sweden’s Fiskkompaniet bring surrealism back to the demo scene in a big way. Fans of Monty Python will remember “the Knights that go Niiiii!”, but here we have more NIs then you can shake a fish at.
The presentation screen informs us that the code, ni, and realtime bugs are by Longfisk (who is in no way related to Longshot of Impulse). The graphics, fishworld and additional ni are by Hatfisk (who bears no resemblance to Hattrick of Impulse). “We are the fishes that say NI!” screams the opening screen. And who are we to disagree?
We then enter “fishworld” – a full screen starfield with in the centre a house on a piece of grass. This rotates about as various wacky samples are played (“NI!” being a particular favourite). The tension mounts. The door creaks open and a fish swims out and William Shatner croaks “To boldy go, where no fish has gone before”. [Hey, that was my voice you heard! I didn’t know my 8 kHz sampler was that bad. – Longshot]
We are then deafened by a cacophony of NIs and the demo ends. Perfect. You are then presented with a menu of comedy exit options such as switch to vga hirez, change vbr, and mess up non volatile ram. Most demo exit seem to mess everything up anyway, so I don’t know why I went to all this trouble.
My only gripe with this demo is a somewhat personal one, I once had a girlfriend called Ni – and yes everybody saw the comedy potential in her name. Needless to say it didn’t last long.
This demo is a must for all fish lovers everywhere. NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!

— Leon O’Reilly, Maggie 19 (February -96)