Power Without the Price: Atari ST and STe Computing on the Raspberry Pi with RetroPie’s Hatari Emulator

The extremely inexpensive Raspberry Pi allows faithful emulation of Atari ST and STe machines, splendidly affirming Atari’s mid-1980’s slogan Power Without the Price; in this guide I cover the configuration and utilisation of RetroPie‘s Hatari emulator.

Atari Logo - Atari ST Text - Machine

I have a great fondness for Atari‘s computers, having owned a 130XE before moving on to the 16-bit ST range; it was many years later that I discovered that the latter machines were largely the product of Commodore engineers, the true technological successor to the Atari 8-bit range being, through quirks of business and fate, the Amiga.

My stalwart 520STfm machine dutifully provided years of service in a broad array of roles, including: code development, primarily using Action! and GFA Basic; word-processing in 1st Word Plus; running inspiring demoscene productions; driving MIDI keyboards; and of course the inevitable core function as a gaming platform.

This guide has been written primarily for the Raspberry Pi implementation of Hatari, which for RetroPie 3.6 is the latest version, 1.9.0, released in September 2015. As the emulator has been compiled from the original source code virtually all of the following information will be equally applicable to the Windows, OSX, and other Linux platforms besides Raspbian.

Topics Covered

Atari ST with Monitor
Atari ST with Monitor – Modified from Original Image: Wikipeida

Emulation Without a Safety Net

RetroPie‘s emulators for classic computer systems do not implement the common functionality found in the RetroArch Core systems. For further details, please see the What is RetroArch? section in the post RetroPie system overview – software and hardware components, and the related article: RetroPie Emulation: RetroArch, Libretro, and the Power of the Options Menu

Hatari implements a native options menu which is accessed via a preset function key, F12, and navigated only via mouse (thus requiring both a USB or Bluetooth keyboard, and a mouse).

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Dungeon Master – Tales from a Dungeon Master Hack

Retro Resolution Guest Essay

Guest Insanity courtesy of SweetMrGibs

Dungeon Master - Atari ST - Title
Dungeon Master - Atari ST - Dragon

Right, here we go, I’m in the dungeon. OK first step – how do I move? Ah, ok, click on the arrows. Bit annoying- should be able to use the cursor keys. Doesn’t seem to be anything aroun. . . oh, wait. . . is that a picture on the wall over there? Yes, yes it is. . . oh, and another. Am I in a medieval version of the Tate Gallery? I wonder what happens if I click on this girl’s pictu. . . ‘Resurrect’ or ‘Reincarnate’? Huh, com esta? What’s the difference? Sod it, resurrect. Ooo, she’s in my party. No wait. . . it’s a ‘he’ apparently. “Boris. . . Wizard of Baldor”. Hmmm. . . Wish I’d chosen someone who looked more like a proper wizard. He looks more like Justin Bieber. Right, must be more careful with my next choice. “Daroou”. Not sure. . . he looks like a gormless Chewbacca. Next. “Halk The Barbarian”. Yep, he’ll do. Always need a bit of brawn in these games.

Ok, so that’s a wizard and a warrior. . . what next? “Syra Child of Nature”? What’s she? A healer. Yep, probably need one of those at some point. Right. . . last one. . . let’s go a little left-field here. . . “Elija Lion Of Yaitopya”?. . . nah, he looks like a tramp version of Morgan Freeman. “Wuuf the Bika”? Yeah, ok, he’ll do. Resurrect. Crap, should have checked his class. . . Ninja? But he’s a man-dog. Since when did Ninja man-dogs ever exist? Bloody weird. Ah well, never mind, party’s full. . . let’s get to it boppers!

*BAMPF*

Dungeon Master - Atari ST - Entrance
Dungeon Master – Atari ST – Entrance

Syra: “Hi all.”
Halk: “Hi.”
Boris: “Hi.”
Wuuf: “Woof.”
Syra: “Oh, hey Wuuf. How ya doing mate?”
Wuuf: “Oh, Hi Syra. Yeah, I’m not too bad thanks, just been ‘hanging around’ if you know what I mean”.

[Winks]

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Xenon 2: Megablast – Atari ST – Guest Review

Retro Resolution Guest Retro Review
 

System: Atari ST
Developer: The Bitmap Brothers
Publisher: Image Works
Year: 1989

Xenon 2 - Boss Fight
Xenon 2 – Boss Fight

Guest review courtesy of SweetMrGibs

For those of you who were too busy burning off your eyebrows with Bunsen burners to pay attention during science class, Xenon is an element within the Noble gas group of the periodic table.  For a while it was considered to be chemically inert… Unlike the explosive Bitmap Brothers shoot‘em up which shares its name. 

Chemistry lessons and tenuous links aside, if you’re as old as me, dear reader, you’ll remember that in 1988 mankind came under attack from a violent alien species known as Xenites.  Unfortunately, at this point in history Apple had yet to develop the “Upload Virus to Alien Mothership” app and Jeff Goldblum was busy morphing into a fly. However, we came up with the ingenious plan to use the enemy’s strengths against them. You see, the first excimer laser design used a Xenon molecule. Xenon also happens to be the propellant for ion thrusters in – that’s right, spacecraft.  And what does Lasers + Spacecraft equal? Why it’s the formula for turning Xenites into Ar-goners.

However, a year later the tenacious Xenites came up with a new, more cunning plan – a plan which involved wiping you – yes, you – from the very history of time!  If you never existed, dear reader, you could never defeat them, right?  I have no idea which Xenite came up with such an original idea, but hats off to them, they deserve a medal. Based on the above, I have either good news or bad news for you; if you completed Xenon 2:Megablast then congratulations, you beat one of the toughest shoot ’em ups of the era. However, if you gave up, well, I’m afraid it means that the Xenites succeeded in terminat* …killing you, and you were deleted from existence.  I appreciate that this isn’t the sort of revelation you’d expect to find whilst reading a retro games review, but, well… there it is.  Still,whilst you no longer actually exist, for the rest of us the Kardashians are a distinct reality, so – you know – swings and roundabouts.

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Speedball 2 – Atari ST – Guest Review

Retro Resolution Retro Review
 

System: Atari ST
Developer: The Bitmap Brothers
Year: 1987

Guest Review courtesy of SweetMrGibs

Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe - Atari ST - Title Screen
Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe – Atari ST – Title Screen

[ Image – mobygames.com ]

Psychopaths in stadiums, bloodied steel struts for goalposts

If you wanted to sum up Speedball 2 in one sentence “Imagine playing a futuristic, ultra-violent Kick Off, or – even better, Sensi Soccer… on a pinball table” would be pretty accurate.

Released on the Atari ST and Amiga in 1987, The Bitmap Brother’s sequel to Speedball improved on every aspect of the smaller-scale original. The stadium was bigger, the action faster and more ferocious – even the soundtrack was catchier.

Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe - Atari ST - Game On
Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe – Atari ST – Game On

[ Image – ribouleau.net ]

A rudimentary transfer system allowed you to improve your squad and, most importantly, there were more ways to score points; bumpers! multipliers! and, perhaps the most satisfying of all, injuring the opposition. Bring on the robo-medics! And whilst modern football games require you to memorise a dozen button combinations in order to perform a back-heel, all of the player actions in Speedball 2 could be achieved at the press of one. single. button. “PUNCH!” Press button 1. “THROW!” Press button 1. “BIGGER PUNCH!” Press button 1. Take note, PES developers.

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