Monday, May 27, 2024

Plazma Line (1984)

Name:Plazma Line
Genre:Racing (sort of)
Time:30 minutes
Won:Not possible

From the people who brought you Thunder Force, Wibarm and Star Cruiser comes a weird spaceship racing game. I'm surprised there aren't more games with spaceships racing, guess developers are afraid players can't race in 3D space.

This has the dubious claim to fame as being the first home video game with 3D polygon graphics. Dubious because this claim is from a Japanese magazine, and even a brief look at their industry questions that claim. But because of it it's all over the internet. Even if it were that seems like a half-hearted complement considering this doesn't really seem like it's 3D.

This is your basic racing game with little story other than, race you fool. To control your ship, you press TAB to speed up, space speed down, and in this game, space is frictionless, don't get hit? Don't lose speed. The numpad controls you in that direction. That is, tab is forward, and numpad dodges the obstacles. This is basically the game. Dodge obstacles.

Despite having the typical Japanese computer jankiness, it controls pretty well. I never felt like I was fighting with the controls despite the game being slow. Somehow the combination of slowness and the way the controls are used comes out working against all odds. I can't explain how, it just works. Even at high speeds I don't feel like I'm fighting against things.

Let's talk about the game's big problem. I played this a bit before actually making an entry, but forgot about most of it. I think this is either my second or third playthrough, and the first in a while. I took a video.

The only reason why I lost that is because I ran out of fuel. I was going at the redline, and despite waffling around at the start, I was at sixth. Me. The guy who bitches about games requiring too fast reflexes. I was hitting the walls, but the actual objects were basically not there.
Now, that's not entirely it, at the end you have to thread the needle through a gateway, but you more or less have it. Miss the gateway, the game ends. Get hit by objects, hit the walls or get hit by missiles too many times and the game ends.

The problem is, it's a good concept, and it's fun...for all of ten minutes. It seems to loop indefinitely, but in practice you seem to see everything there is to see at the end of the first loop, everything after that is more of the same. It's basically the opposite of what I expect a 1984 game to be, there's nothing there, and it's far too easy.


Other racers you can pass who occasionally shoot missiles at you. 1/10


You've seen everything after one loop, how long it goes is beyond my patience. 1/10

Player Agency:
Somehow, despite seeming like it should control poorly, very smooth. 5/10


It's kind of zen, dodging all these things, and it has the same feeling that old Windows star screen saver had, but despite this, boredom quickly sets in. 2/10

Impressive for 1984, but in practice looks less like actual 3D and more like a poor imitation of 3D. 1/10



Crude blips and bloops. 1/10

That's 11.

AGE is proving to be troublesome and this weekend I did not have the time to do the kind of blazing gameplay session I'd need to get it out today. And I've kind of been distracted by Jagged Alliance 3.

Monday, May 20, 2024

A.G.E: Monster Hunter

With the key I found earlier, and the key I got from the alien inside the bar, I now have two keys. I don't remember which is which, Tecnos is probably the new one. It does present an interesting problem if keys don't disappear. The whole thing turns out to be moot, because the game turns out to display the symbols on the gate. It's never occurred to me, but that's better than the color system.

I explore elsewhere first, because the factory is the next location and I need to find some restorative place. Instead I find a place I can deposit my weapons. I can't imagine I'll ever need this, but okay. Then I find out there's a prison, with a guard in front of it, another combat and survival dose, and then another guard tells me about express service. Nothing I didn't figure out last time, it's fast travel, but I need a TK from the administrator. This is actually playing out a lot like Strife will a few years from now. I wonder if they played this?
More complex than Resident Evil, not that complex, but it's early days.
As I examine the express service, I back up and something talks to me. Only one triangle is the TK? So this is some weird puzzle. Guess which triangles are telling the truth and which are telling lies to figure out which one has the TK I need. I didn't think it was possible, but Coktel Vision got weirder than Inca. This also seems confusing, clicking has the triangle talk to me, how do I pick one up? I get distracted by my Formec running out of oxygen and while trying to find a station rather than using my held items, die.
The actual puzzle.

Straight down the road from the above leads to a guard who gives you an audience card, which seems to allow this to show up, which is the opposite view of the above. Thus this is the administrator? The green triangle says it has the TK, the white triangle says the TK is elsewhere, the blue says the white one is correct. Now I didn't quite figure this out at first, because the hint that only one triangle is lying just registered in my mind that some are lying and some are truthful and I got confused. That said, I really should have figured that the red one wasn't right. The correct answer of course, is the blue one.

The express service, which I now realize means an express service teleporter, like a train, does things somewhat cleverly and somewhat annoyingly, depending on what you have in your inventory you can select a multiple amount of destinations, in this case, to the administrator's office. The game loads here.
I didn't realize this at the time, but this is the ruler of the planet.
So this weird sphere is the governor, who knows I'm an imperial agent. I don't actually know if I'm supposed to have cover, but in a different game I would be very worried if my cover was this blown. He basically tells me everything has gone to hell, there wouldn't be a game otherwise. Interestingly, he tells me not to contact the General, he's plotting against him. He has his police looking out for my friend. I would question if I should trust him, but the last game went nowhere near where I was suspecting it would, this could go anywhere.

More importantly, this actually changes the context of the Galactic Empire duology. Before it seemed like a weird Coktel Vision game series that didn't sell as well as they hoped, and now it seems like a series they genuinely believed in and continued the same vein with Inca. With this one, it no longer feels like that oddity, it feels like an integral part of, at least Coktel Vision's adventure game history.
Now to go to that factory. The game continues to be generous, I get what I'm just going to call night vision. I'm not liking how everything has to be in the use slot though. (Shields work automatically, which is the one good thing) It just turns the screen green. After another turret, I spot this android lady. She just asks if I have a pass, I say yes and she lets me through. Guess I do. Another guy, one of the weird-looking ones, upgrades my laser. I didn't realize that Laser E referred to its grade, now it's a Laser D. I wonder if that's an indication of how long the game will last?

There's another android lady who asks the same thing. I get past her, but after her she starts shooting at me. Guess she wasn't fooled. I blast her, use my items to restore health, and then ponder how to get past the blockage. I guess I should just shoot this thing. And it works. After this, I find out my restorative efforts were wasted, there's a healing station and a teleport just past here.

Past this is the factory, guarded not by a Tecnos, he just lets me in, but by two crabs who can't be hurt. "I had to use grenades to kill a crab" is not a sentence I was expecting to say on this blog, and for all I know they do nothing, because I'm not wasting grenades on them, I can run past them. Only I can't, because I don't actually know how to open the door. Aha, I realize, I can crank up my weapon power. Now how do I get in? Just a lucky click.
It's another interior screen. Talking to the person, not robot, on the left here, tells me that the robots have taken over here, and I'm guessing I don't want to talk to them. They're making the people work like animals! So I have to play a game of which person is...a person. Or not, a screen pops down. It's Karin Gestalt, Teknopopesse. Translated from French, Teknopopess. No, I have no idea who it is, she just appeared. I wish this game had the nice dossier that the original had. She'll give me a Gravitik Bomb in exchange for fixing the robots for them. Since she has the lofty title of Teknopopess, I'm guessing fix means blast. No, just bring them the DARC (Anti-Robot weapon, I forget what that actually stands for) from Saar Soufi. As soon as I get it, I'll go to Tekno City, anyway, I now have a fusion gun.
Apparently, Imperial Agent is tattooed on my forehead.
I don't have any other location to go, so I return to the bar. That's right, it seems. Man, this setting is wasted on what this game actually is. They know I'm an imperial envoy, man, I have no cover story, everyone just knows I'm an imperial agent. He's a Teknos and doesn't actually have any information for me. The woman is Mother Lio a member of the local church, the Rachnou, I forget the exact game. She gives me a pass for her church, where the DARC is.

So I go back to the various express stations. There isn't anything that corresponds to the church in any. Then I spot a garage for formecs, where I can change formecs for some reason. There's no sign I'll need it yet. Past that, however, is a tunnel that the new key I got opens. I meet a church member, who tells me to watch out for the mine, Konrad, the local despot put it there. I'm thinking that it's a safe bet that I'm not going to be friends with Konrad at the end of this. Fortunately, I can shoot that, unfortunately the flying octopi after it are less killable, and the path back has been removed. I have also run out of inventory space, in the sense that the game won't let me pick up anything more, not that I'm out of spaces.
Another interior scene. We get a nice animation before we see a priest through a long range communication device. They're willing to give me the DARC, but the priest who had it, Saar is missing. Instead, I have to find a hermit, on his island in the desert where he and his pet octopi live. (That must be a language quirk that didn't translate properly) I foresee this is going to end poorly.
I'm brought to the island via a map...
And now I'm here. This is an extremely dangerous situation to be in, because I have practically no way of restoring my meters here. I'm just running off supplies, which is a dangerous game to play. The game has a grenade dispenser nearby, which I take advantage of, because I don't have the firepower to deal with anything else. I meet a person who tells me to find the hermit in the desert with a tracer he's given me.
This guy's a hunchback who immediately attacks me.
The area is far more open than the endless pathways that made up Shade, but it's not that much more open. You get a big central area with one pathway leading into the smaller central area. Once you talk to a priest you get the pathway to another big area that works the same way. There's no service station, so I'm fearful of running out of something.

This fear, while not unwarranted, is not entirely correct, soon enough I start finding restorative items and now the game becomes a question of juggling this all. I haven't dropped anything outside of empty restoratives just yet, a major problem. And it's at this point that I accidentally drive into a river and die. Because I spotted the hermit on the radar. Well, I can fix this...sort of. The weapon I can drop off, items that aren't important right now I can place where they are important. It turns out I don't even need the cards for travel, they're just for some doors.
The second time around I notice that my oxygen sure is dropping fast. I reach the hermit and find out why, the damn aliens are draining my oxygen with their attacks, and there are no visible sources. Worse, the hermit is as foretold, surrounded by octopi, and grenades don't seem to work. Nor does the stunner or the laser C I somehow acquired. Apparently Jeremy Clarkson had a hand in this game, because the answer is always more power. At least when I finally get rid of the hostiles, Monh the hermit is friendly, but doesn't have the DARC. He does tell me that Konrad, the despot, probably kidnapped Saar and I already met him, he's the governor. When I go back, the priests tell me that I should break him out of prison.

Before I end, I just want to note that just past the church I found another service station, curse my luck and another thing that seems to require a decompressor. Still, at least I'll be able to kill those octopi floating around, but it looks like I'll actually need to grab some of those floating oxygen items, since I used my last one surviving the desert island. Gah...

Further observations, I should really be paying more attention to names, because I didn't realize that despot/governor/ruler Konrad were all referring to the same person.

This Session: 2 hours

Total Time: 3 hours 40 minutes

Monday, May 13, 2024

Commander Keen: Episode 5 (1991)

Name:Commander Keen in Goodbye Galaxy: Episode V - The Armageddoon Machine
Publisher:Apogee Software
Developer:Id Software
Time:4 hours 00 minutes
Won:Yes (87W/69L)

It feels like forever since I last continued the saga of Billy Blaze, but it's only been a few months and several games. Two of which were very long and wore on my patience. It's nice to play something that's more enjoyable for once. I hope it's nice to play at least.

Last time, we discovered that the Shikadi are planning on destroying the galaxy and only Commander Keen can stop them by destroying their galaxy destroying machine, called The Armageddon Machine. Interestingly, I note that the intro crawl has Keen hide himself from the enemy by taking advantage of a planet between him and their space station. It's just a throwaway line, but I dig it.

The game is, of course, much the same as the last entry. Keen moves smoothly in all directions; has a slight delay before jumping or shooting his gun; has an in-game menu and a bigger menu; Poles and pogo sticks; and in Commander Genius, the ability to run. In addition to other game-breaking things, like extended resolution. There's also still the "get 100 to get an extra life" item, this time called Vitalin.

I hope you like space stations, because this game consists almost entirely of levels on space stations. We're not talking like System Shock where there's variation in the design of these, it's all just space stations, no crew quarters, no mess, no gardens.

An oddity of this game, in order to leave any level you need to find a keycard, which is different than the gem keys, or destroy a machine guarding the elevator shaft. The entire layout of the overworld goes something like, guard tunnel, objective, then four guard tunnels with their own objective, and then another guard tunnel and the final level.

The enemies:

  • Little Ampton, a small purple robot these guys slide up and down poles in addition to sideways. Which makes them very tricky to deal with...assuming you need to go where they are and don't have the ammo for them.
  • Sparky, a flat grey robot with lightning on top. Deceptively deadly, moves slowly until he spots you, then dashs towards you.
    Robo Red and a stunned robot.
  • Robo Red, big fellows with nasty weapons. Sure, you can't stun them, but that's not as troublesome as the rapid fire weapon they have and their tendancy to stick around so you can't get past them.
  • Shikadi, electro beings that look like a water elemental. They eat a good amount of blaster shots, but they'll die. Not actually that impressive.
  • Shikadi Mines, invulnerable explosive devices that go in semi-random directions until they spot you, then chase after you. The strategy here is not to shoot them, but to get somewhat close, then run away once they start exploding.
    A slicestar, which I mention in the levels, and a Volte-face.
  • Volte-face, eyes surrounded by electricity. They don't die, but you can stun them with the blaster. Less difficult than they sound. If you ever played Jazz Jackrabbit, no, they're not like the Sparks outside of visually, these move in a set pattern.
  • Shelley, I'm pretty sure I've seen the behavior this creature exhibits before in this series, just not like this specifically. Once within a certain distance, it jumps up, hits the ground and explodes, four pieces of shrapnel come out.
  • Shockshund, electro dogs. It jumps and shoots at you. Kind of less impressively than it sounds, it has a long wind-up, so even on ramps you can shoot at it somewhat risk free.
  • Spirogrip, another enemy that's effectively just a moving obstacle. It spins around, then flies towards you if it's at a 90-degree angle, otherwise it flies off. Invulnerable, lame.
  • Sphereful, I spent the first level I saw one, slowly watching it in the distance. When I met it, I managed to shoot it in one hit. Unfortunately this was a glitch, since the Keen wiki mentions its immortal. There's only one in this game so I never got to truly face it.
The levels:
  • Ion Vent System, I hope you didn't think this game would give you any rest or relaxation, because we're straight into it. It's a long climb up full of deadly robots on most of the solid ground, and there's not that much ammo here if you miss.
  • Security Center, I hope you didn't plan on tackling these levels in any order you wish anytime soon. This introduces snowflake-like mines. Slowly they move up and down. Not much of a problem then. The Keen Wiki says they're Slicestars and describes them as weapons, but they seem more like hazards to me. Speaking of hazards, so far that's what this game is trying to do. Just kill you with hazards, as regular enemies aren't very difficult here. Just an observation, as this is quite the nice little level. At least after this it opens up.
  • Defense Tunnel Burrh, still basically just traps, Amptons and Sparkys. It's getting somewhat samey. Then Robo Red shows up for the first time. Seems easier though, despite ramping up the traps. I do like how I feel far more rewarded searching for secrets here than in earlier games, since there are actually multiple ones per level instead of being a rare occurence.
  • Regulation Control Center, ammo at this point is not a concern. That this happened so quickly makes me suspect it was only included out of inertia. Difficulty, on the other hand, isn't, because not only do we get to "see" the Shikadi, but everything else on this level is an endurance test. In particular there's one section near the middle where you have seemingly multiple ways of getting past a Robo Red, but you can really only get a lucky jump over him. And then we get the Shikadi and the mines!
  • Defense Tunnel Sorra. "Keen regrets entering Defense Tunnel Sorra"? It isn't that bad, why is this considered so hard? Sure, there are traps, but it's all surprisingly managable...until you reach an area where there's a Robo Red. No cover, no way out and you need to enter an area right in his threat range, which has a Volte-face, and take the keycard. Yeugh. You get poles to jump over him, at least.
  • Neutrino Burst Injector, now this is where things get tricky. This level was my introduction to the Shelley and Shockshund. It's really hard to dodge the first Shelley, since it's right next to where you start with no way of baiting it. I dig this level, because once you get past the initial difficulty with Shelley, you not only have an understanding of how to deal with them, but the level is a nice little maze of corridors full of goodies. Points aren't important, of course, but nice.
  • Defense Tunnel Teln, what kind of name is that? It seems easy at first. Then I see I need a key to advance. Then I realize I have to jump over a Robo Red with no cover and no way to jump over them. Can I touch them? No. Oh, there are just strangely colored poles protecting it. I have no complaints in general, honestly, these levels are pretty well-designed, non-linear, but subtly designed so you'll probably get it the right way the first time around.
  • Brownian Motion Inducer, the hardest part of this level is a section where you have to jump on a moving platform and then jump off to get a gem. It's placement makes it an odd cakewalk here, though the game in general feels easier than past titles. Which is odd.
  • Defense Tunnel Vlook, mostly just an obstacle course. This introduced me to the spindred, mines that bounce up and down in a different way than more smoother objects and they're tricky to dodge. Especially since in a lot of places you just don't get that much room to move. You're basically just going through a series of obstacles that will kill you, but are more tedious than anything else.
  • Energy Flow Systems, just a very well-made level. The central theme is a series or moving platforms which allow travel through most of the level. Despite Keen being a bit loose, I can't say I ever missed one. I also discover, by weird quirk, that Keen is one tile higher if you look up and one tile lower if you look down.
  • Gravitational Damping Hub, the game introduces you to a Spirogirp here. Things are starting to turn into a serious obstacle course, enemies are almost a joke at this point, it's all about avoiding obstacles. In particular, there's a very annoying section where you have to jump between two moving platforms. It's mostly simple after this, assuming you don't go after the secret level.
  • Korath III Base, weird music plays, then again, this is the only level not on a spaceship. It's like some weird bagpipe military march. This is again, mostly a matter of moving around, but with a lot more treasure involved. You could farm lives here if that was important. Enjoy going up and down a long shaft full of vitalin, I wonder if that joke was intentional, and being glad that Keen has switched to non-lethal weaponry, as you have to hurt the inhabitants of Korath III in order to not fall down the shaft again, or possibly just to not get hit by something. The most annoying part isn't this, it's just riding a platform to the top of the shaft. Hope you don't miss the exit! More of a test than a reward, this secret.

  • Quantum Explosion Dynamo, And here I thought the last level would be the biggest challenge. There are two problem sections and one interesting section. Firstly, there is just a massive group of dogs on a platform you can jump through. It's basically luck when you can eventually get through. Secondly, one of the keys on this level is guarded by a wall gun, which has been placed in a very troublesome place. Then you end up against an unnamed teleporting Shikadi Lord of sorts. The interesting bit is the end, the final machine can't be destroyed by Keen, instead he needs to get a mine towards it, then blow it up next to the machine.
After this, the Shikadi flee, Keen retrieves a note written in Galactic Standard, missing the helmet of his rival, Mortimer, and brings his parents back to health after having accidentally left them in the rain. To be continued at Christmas 1992.

Simple blaster. 1/10

There kind of aren't that many and those that are here are mostly simple. Feels like a step down from previous games. 3/10


I really didn't remember these levels being that good. Every level was nice, sometimes veering into the cruel, sometimes veering into the merciful. Unlike Keen 4, I never felt like the game was being unfair in its cruelty, which is odd for the commercial half of a game. 9/10

Player Agency:
Pretty much unchanged from Keen 4. Oh, he surfs on moving platforms. 7/10

A few simple things. 1/10

Oddly, this feels the most like it succeeded in being that kids show that's still mildly amusing to adults that the Keen series seems to have accidentally aimed at. The music, not being really short helps, but outside of the secret level there's just no fluff whatsoever. 7/10

It looks very nice for EGA. Even though I can tell, it still looks amazing. Not that much animation though, with most enemies being robots which barely move. 7/10

Basically just a bit at the beginning and the end. 1/10

I liked one track, but we're still talking about a game with not a lot of music over a considerable length of time. That said, I never hated what this game had going on, just occasionally wished I was listening to something else. Sounds are very Adlib. 4/10

That's an even 40.

The only really bad thing I can say about this game is that the secret level is a gimmick that doesn't work. It's plays pretty flawlessly to me, with most of the lows in these categories being do to it not really being something this game set out to do. I wonder if Keen 6 is going to live up to this, or if this is as high as the series will get.

Monday, May 6, 2024

Advanced Galactic Empire (A.G.E.): Introduction

The existence of the game perplexes me. While I liked the original Galactic Empire, it was unique in such a way that didn't really get that much popularity at the time or now. Following that up with a perplexingly named sequel seems odd. While I'm sure that there are bits of it that are more advanced than the original, it seems to be just another game like the original.

This time, the player is a top member of Sersec (the Imperial Secret Service, no doubt the same as in the last game) who is sent to Kaiser, in the Methik system. Methik is independent, but very corrupt. The despot, Konrad Lanasi skims everything for himself. His enemies are all divided. The Techno Lodge has internal problems; The Rachnouist Church is the main religion here, and is currently being persecuted; Allegedly the general of the army, Massadeh, is planning a coup.

What the player is supposed to do is a mystery, but we know that the imperial embassy is about to open on the capital, Shade, and our colleague and friend, Dale, is going to meet us there. That's the backstory. The game is much the same as most Coktel Vision games around this time, various languages to select, sound card, and their code system, assuming it wasn't cracked. Also, a demo function I didn't test out.

The game itself opens up with a weird cutscene featuring a bunch of computer stuff flying through the air before a Tomahawk hits the screen. Ah, yes, Tomahawk, Coktel Vision's label for dividing their games up. I forget if Tomahawk is supposed to be the family friendly games or not. Then there's a real intro showing two groups of ships, seemingly about to fight, only to just be movement and then the title screen and a remix of the original's music.

Frankly, a DM-styled game would be a lot cooler and mean these awesome pixel artists wouldn't be wasted.

There's a menu before dropping yourself in the game. Guided tour, which I would have assumed would show me a demo, but instead explains everything. This is actually very helpful, if you didn't play the original. It even shows you most of the weapons, which is nicely done, well-animated. I question the reason why these were made, since frankly it just makes me wish this was done Dungeon Master-style. In addition you get nice but useless maps of towns and the nearby areas, as well as space. After doing all this, the game automatically starts.

Where the game differs from the original is a mystery to me, because it's nearly exactly the same as the original game as far as controls go so far, and basically everything seems to be the same. As far as technological advancement is concerned, it looks nicer and it runs smoother, but nothing else. I daresay Beginner's Galactic Empire is the better word for it, since there's a tutorial here. When I was searching for the intro, someone apparently gave up on it, so that clearly worked in Nedelec's favor. (But again, you try searching for Galactic Empire anywhere without getting a bunch of unrelated crap)

As usual for science fiction, this game predicted the future, because the tutorial brings to mind the very annoying trend of making computers do cutesy, "funny", information or error messages to ensure normies don't think their iPhone is going to kill them in the middle of the night or whatever it is that made people soil themselves in terror before AI suddenly reared its head. (Or whatever made people make error messages cutesy, all I know is I find it annoying) My AI companion helpfully informs me that this is the city of Shade, capital of Kaiser. There are many enemies and friends here!
What the game doesn't mention is that you have to right click to activate mouse mode, then left click on the item. Two lines of text.

Okay, not that helpful a tutorial, because it just says "pick up the weapon" as if that was obvious. I forgot the method of switching to the semi-decent controls, right click, which frees up the mouse to act like a mouse while the keyboard can do things like move and look. It's not quite traditional, 4 and 6 on the numpad to turn, - & + to move. It's a laser, which gives me slight pause. There are sprites in the game world, which shouldn't be a source of praise, but come on, a good sprite beats out most early 3D models any day.

It's a good thing the game told me, for all I know he could be a valuable member of the Galactic Empire.
Ah, I see I'm using it right away. To shoot, as I hope you either remember or went back and checked, you click on the object, then on the target. The ugly beast, as my AI companion says, dies quickly, but explodes, causing almost no damage. Two very interesting things, exploding enemies, which is early for that sort of thing, and screen effects, always nice. Always.

I wonder if game developers were in a competition around this time to get players to associate good things with stranger and stranger objects.
Next up is a medibloc, which my little buddy helpfully tells me about and heals my minor damage, but doesn't seem to recharge energy. Guess that's a different device...or I just don't have any perceptible change in this regard, because I'm told it healed everything. "For express service use a TK". Checking the manual tells me nothing, except that I might actually fly for once. Incidentally, the radar, which is much improved, has sentients in blue, animals in green.

At this point, the game tells me that oxygen has popped up because I can now activate missile mode to get it. From the manual, you press F2 to activate it. This is some sort of exploratory missile you control remotely. It's sort of like flying, except you're on an entirely level playing field, just in the air. I guess I'm supposed to crash into the oxygen, except it's faster than me and I can't quite predict the path they're going on, and I can't stop to do so. I hope that doesn't turn out to be of vital importance.
Oh, animal gas, guess I won't have to worry about skunks. ;)
Next up, shopping. The game tells me to pick up an object next to the merchant before talking to him. It's an anti-gaz screen, anti-gas. Not sure what weapons in this game will be gas, possibly animals. Okay, now to talk to the merchant's not the clever dialog system, it's just automatic. I understand that in theory, it was really easy to end up with a merchant who told you to go stuff yourself with the robots and then open fire, but man, that was cool. In fact, the item I picked up was what he sold, and my account was automatically credited. No item bartering or anything. That does make things easier for me when I inevitably go shooting everything.
The blue and red bars at the bottom determine the power towards weapons/shields. Up top, blue, oxygen, red, ammo, green, shield.
As I go forward, I notice the surprisingly dark sun is lowering in the sky. Interesting. Sleeping Gods Lie had day and night cycles, but unlike that game, this works in all versions. More shooting, seems like there's no way to avoid exploding enemies, which makes it less clever and more annoying. Then an automatic laser turret, at which point the game tells me to reinforce my armor. In this game you have the ability to increase power to your weapons at expense of armor and vice versa. Even without enemies exploding, my range is so short that going to far in offense is pointless.
Despite the nice sprites, they function no differently than decorative ones, I.E., no turnaround sprites.
I cross a weird bridge. Now there's a Tecnos, who gives me a decompressor. Why? No idea, but since this is Coktel Vision, it will probably be important later. He also warns me about the shark-lions. They're more wildlife, nice-looking but not a threat if I spot them ahead of time. Quite a few in fact.
Then there's this thing. It's an animal, apparently, and it takes a considerable amount of shots, so much that I'm out. Guess I better...

...die. That's an unfortunate situation. That's also a change, because I don't remember that happening in the original. Did I do something wrong? No idea, because that guy is actually sentient and always attacks. Running out of ammo definitely causes you to die which is, again, unfortunate. Wait, I picked up a grenade somewhere. Well, that kills him, but there's not much point since I managed to run past him anyway.

Here I find a combat dose, read, ammo recharge. I'm guessing that's a French turn of phrase that doesn't translate into English. There's a guard after this, hostile, hope that isn't a bad sign, and then...

The weird faces seem intentional, possibly to make up for the loss of the dialog system.
...Why, who's this? How intriguing. He gives me a Stunner. Aw, yeah! Now we're cooking. This is a more accurate representation of a less-than-lethal weapon, it hurts, but it requires more shots, only in this game that doesn't matter. Curiously, it's another "I'll debit your account" thing, so the game has just completely removed the barter system. Behind him is an oxygen module or whatever the name is. It gives me oxygen. After killing another sentient guard, I find a survival dose. No longer does the shield drain when moving and regenerate automatically, this restores it. It is curious that the systems I kind of liked are being removed and I still have to rely on items to restore my health.
After this is an inflatable barrier. I shoot it, expecting it to pop, but no dice. I go back, thinking I missed something until I remember, hey, I have a decompressor. So it's a puzzle. A more proper puzzle compared to the last game. Then after this is a simple key and lock puzzle, with the key being held by another robot guard. Guess I was mistaken about everything outside of dialog. At least the robots are easier than in the original.

The Centurions Bar, as I approach I can enter. This isn't like the original, for there are interior scenes. Makes me wish they just made it into an adventure game to begin with. It's very indicative of the direction Coktel's adventure games had, except you can only interact with people and it's all about what they say. Okay, you can turn the TV on and off.

Dale isn't here, in her place is a man. She's been taken and the alien in the middle knows more. Not the alien to his left, my right, the one looking at me. He'll tell me where she is, but I need to bring him a Gravatik grenade. At this point I try to leave. Nothing happens. There are a couple of unnecessary aliens, and the lady is a reference to another Coktel Vision game, but I can't do anything until I try the man again. He gives me a pass to a factory, which is where I'll go next time.

So far the game has been interesting. I don't know where this is going, because by all rights someone replacing my contact is such a big red flag I should be on the first starship back to the core empire. It's been improved in nearly every way except the controls being the same and the removal of the dialog system, but despite that I think the changes have been for the better. Combat is actually fun now if simple.

Side note, there's (more) limited inventory space now, but in general this system works a lot better. You get three on-screen items and a bunch of inventory space. You can only use one at a time, from weapons to shields, with the other two being quick change. Picking up an item requires you to place it in one of the two quick change slots, as you can't open the inventory with an item in your hand.

This Session: 1 hour 40 minutes