Sunday, August 11, 2019

Game 6: Inca

Adventure games and shooting games are essentially at odds with each other. People who play adventure games do not enjoy engaging their reflexes. People who play shooters do not enjoy thinking. I may seem well-written in text, but in person I do nothing but drool, primarily at woman with large mammaries. Sure, there's the odd puzzle in a shooter and sometimes there are weird crossovers like Nitemare 3D, but games like Inca are rare. They require you to use your entire brain. Which makes it an excellent distraction for life. Inca was created by Coktel Vision, a company primarily known for adventure games. I like them. I never thought them weird until much later, when I read something calling Coktel Vision weird and citing this game in particular. I never thought them weird. Mind you, I think I've only ever gotten to Goblins and Ween, both of which are normal, and as for Inca? Eh, I watched a lot of Stargate SG-1 as a kid, I need more than Incans in spaceships to call something weird.

I never played this game for a long time due some kind of problem running this directly off the disc. I don't know why, but in both Windows and Ubuntu nothing ever worked. I suggest ripping the disc to a multi-track image file of some kind. You'll also need to increase extended memory for this game.
But there are some other problems with this game. Most of the functions are tied to Ctrl+F1, etc.. Specifically 1-3 and 9-10. The load button is Ctrl+F9. You'll have to change DOSbox's functions around, which might screw around with you in another game.

The game starts off with a gorgeous intro. Really sets a nice tone for the upcoming game. An actual song plays over the intro, something of a pop song extoling the virtues of the Incas. We hear the backstory, as told by Huayna Capac. The Spanish are invading the Incan lands searching for gold, but the real treasure of the Incas is their knowledge. OF SPACE TRAVEL. Five centuries after this the game starts. Which places this at 1933. During the Spanish Civil War if I am not mistaken.
Before I continue, I want to point out this game uses a save code system, similar to a few other Coktel Vision games. Presumably these are where your weapons and lives are tied in, excluding the point in the game. Mostly this isn't a problem. Mostly.
Mission control, so to speak, Huayna Capac

The game proper starts off weirdly, our hero El Dorado, which we, the player, is actually supposed to be, waking up to a man in a mirrory ball. This reminds me of the communication orbs in Stargate SG-1. He tells us of our quest to find Jewels of Matter, Time and another thing I didn't catch. There's a helpful little menu off to the side at the start that makes the game slightly educational. A music menu off to the other side.

Something I want to impart with the utmost concern is that this game is freaking gorgeous. The combination of the music and quite frankly amazing pixel art at the start gives the most wonderful atmosphere.
I don't wish to mention what my first words upon seeing the space combat was, but I think you can understand them. Space combat does not control like a normal game. You have a cursor in addition to your normal screen. Now, this is fine in a normal shooter where I'm playing a human and my gun is pointed other than exactly my point of view. This is a spaceship. Guns do not work like that on a spaceship. Slowly, but surely asteroids approach. Another muttering under my breath as I desperately gun down asteroids. The only real weapon is a slow-moving blaster that doesn't seem to shoot at the crosshairs. I feel like I'm underwater trying not to drown. Thumping sounds constantly occur, but nothing happens to me. Am I dying? Am I going in the right direction? Its never a good sign when you've just started, read the manual and don't understand what is going on. The mouse randomly jerks around making this nightmare even worse.
Further, its worth pointing out that all the good space sims tend to mimic reality somewhat. Like little rockets that control which direction you're spinning in. You usually only control your rotation on the Y and Z-axis. This isn't how it'd work in real space combat, you'd probably stick little rockets wherever you could so you could go sideways, up, down, on the X-axis even. This is because gravity doesn't have any real pull on a little fighter in space unless you're in orbit.
I didn't capture any pictures of the canyon combat, so take my word for it
Then the canyon combat starts. They're like the trench run in Star Wars. More random jerking around, but at least I get full health again. This game wouldn't be bad if it weren't for that. These canyon combats are races, by the way. Bad races. Bad combats. You had to ruin a good thing, Coktel Vision. Effectively you have to hit the enemy bullets and the enemies ships. While you and your targets are swerving like mad. While trying to beat them
A puzzle happens in-between the canyon combat and the ground combat. Its clever. I'd like a game of nothing but that. I won't get it here.
to the end of the canyon.

I know it was 1992, but why?
The ground combat is a essentially a light gun section with a maze. A light gun game where everything is a bullet sponge. I don't like light gun games. There are your basic enemies that pop out, like every light gun game ever. You also have swordsmen who guard until you point your gun away. These are more interesting. There are a set number of enemies, as shown by your pop-up display at the top. After you've inevitably killed them all the enemies it just becomes a boring to navigate 3-D maze.

Now, the puzzle sections are average. I feel like either the adventure or the shooting sections were added on when they realized the game would be too short otherwise. Its not a hard game in any respect, except due to a bunch of people who make adventure games not understanding how shooters are supposed to work. I'd talk about them, but I feel like talking about them would probably give them away. Its definitely a better adventure game than a shooter. Which is not a hard task.
Later space combats are harder, but not really in a way you can counteract. Dodging enemies is a matter of chance and the gun kinda aims at the enemy. Kinda. It doesn't hit unless you're right up next to them, a daunting task in this game. Further, by the last space combat, they bring out the big Galleons, which is, uh, you know, would've been a challenge in a good game. Here it is just painful to play. So, I decide to cheat. Inca offers to cheat codes, one that is SHIFT+ESC which advances you to the next save point, one that is CTRL+SHIFT+ALT and I N C A. I'm sure that'll screw up someone's computer. Sure won't hit it accidently. You could shorten that to holding any of those keys and I N C A and it wouldn't be found out by normal play.
The final battle was actually challenging. The antagonist who's been harassing you throughout the game is actually worthy of the label antagonist. Of course, due to the way the game is set up, he only throws a bunch of projectiles across the screen, but its just the right amount of projectiles.
With that, I thought I'd check the hint book to see if I missed anything interest. They really thought this combat was the greatest thing ever. Fast and smooth. Not adjectives I'd use to describe this. It also says someone said that aliens visited the Incas and taught them how to build and gave them tools. Someone also didn't tell the guy who made the hint book that there are only three weapons. Apparently there was going to be a missile that is guided by the mouse. Like many other things in this game, this would've been another waste of time.

You have three weapons, two of which are exclusive to space combat. A generic gun that is terrible to shoot. A homing missile, and a dumbfire missile. In practice you're really only going to be using the generic gun, which doesn't aim properly. 0/10

Effectively, there are two enemies with many reskins of these two enemies. In a good light gun game of this type, the live-action characters would die in amusing ways, but here you just shoot things until they disappear. The two bosses of each section of the game are indeed bosses, but the Galleons were utter trash to fight so I just cheated. 1/10

There aren't really any as such, since they're in the adventure segments. 0/10

The three times of levels previously mentioned, are essentially the same throughout the entire game. There's nothing ever interesting done with them. 1/10

Player Agency:
You know, it now occurs to me that this technically doesn't fall under my guidelines for FPS. Most of the time you're shooting you're unable to move. The only times you can move you wish you couldn't. 1/10
At least there's a map
You can shoot and that's it. Even the adventure segments are a bit disappointing in this regard, but it does grant you the advantage that you always know what you're supposed to do. 2/10

There's something very unique about blasting the Spanish while Incan pan-pipes play in the background. Despite being quite terrible for the most part, you can't help but feel something positive about it, thanks to the tone set in the beginning by the music and the consistent visual theme. 9/10
On one hand, there's the pixel art segments. These are gorgeous, the kind of thing that makes almost every single modern pixel art game look like a baby caveman's scrawlings. Then there's the rest of it, early 3D. Its slightly better than you'd expect for the ships, given the age, but it doesn't do anything for the walls, making it difficult to navigate without using the compass and map. 8/10

On the whole, it doesn't really make any sense. It kinda makes sense that I can travel through space, some kind of mystical mumbo-jumbo, fine. Why are the Spanish running around? Is this game supposed to be a metaphor for the Spanish Empire? That the very thing that drove them to the new world would be their undoing? From what I know of Spanish history, that seems like a bad metaphor. 3/10

I want to rip this music and stuff it in an Incan-themed Doom wad or something. The music is top-notch. Pan-flutes are underutilized in music, and this proves that point. As for the sound...well. You get some space noises. Low-quality space noises we let people get away with because who knows what space sounds like? There are also two different kinds of voices, the dialog voices, which are nice and clear, and the ship's voice, which is just noise. 8/10

And if I've done my math correctly, that brings the total up to 33. Very high for a game that completely fails as a shooter. In fact, you could probably get an adventure game as high as 60 if you've got a great game. But, I should correct this slightly, so let's call this a 30.

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