Sometimes you just need to bust out an old DOS action-platformer! This is another fine classic title by the legendary Apogee games and it’s no coincidence that it all looks more than a little bit similar to the original Duke Nukem. This (as well as the also very similar looking Crystal Caves) were both made by the same designer of the Duke Nukem series, though oddly enough, they both came out after Duke Nukem. I guess they didn’t expect Duke Nukem to take off the way it did!
Anyway, it’s all very similar to Duke Nukem in gameplay too. You need to search through the levels to find a bunch of key items and perform a bunch of key actions in order to open the exit. You’ll need destroy the radar dish and find the dynamite to open the exit door before you can leave, but of course it isn’t going to be that simple. You’ll need to find various colored keys to open locked doors and find a computer disk and a computer to use it on to disable deadly laser fields too.
Unlike Duke Nukem, there’s an overworld screen where you can walk around and pick different levels to go to, though the order makes no difference at all. The biggest difference though is the greater emphasis on platforming over shooting. Secret Agent isn’t quite the action hero Duke was, in fact you even have a limited supply of ammo, forcing you to be a little more careful in your combat encounters.
The levels can be pretty complicated and aside from the enemies there are a lot of traps, some instantly deadly. You also only get 3 hits and 1 life, but you have unlimited continues so it’s not so bad.
While Secret Agent may not have gotten the fame and recognition of Duke Nukem, it still serves as an example of the same fine talent that went into Duke Nukem and so many other memorable Apogee games. It’s a fun little game and still holds up quite well for its age.
Playing this again after all these years really gave me an itch for more old DOS games like this. Stuff like Dangerous Dave, Bio Menace, or Clyde’s Adventure. I’ll have to try to fit some of those in sometime soon…
I’ve been neglecting my old computer since I got that new tv…so I must rectify that with some old-timey games, starting with Highway Hunter!
There’s not a lot to say about Highway Hunter, really. It’s kind of a Super Spy Hunter clone published by Epic Megagames back in the 90s. It’s simple and fun and has a decent, if a little amateurish, 90s midi soundtrack.
I’m not entirely sure why it didn’t get any of the recognition that other similar games of the time, like Raptor or Tyrian, got.
It had good variety in its levels, enemies, and weapons. It had a lot of interesting level locations and bosses. It even had a level where it turns out that the road you’ve been driving on is actually a giant snake and the boss is the snake’s head, and somehow you blow up the snake’s head and drive off into the sunset on the body of the snake whose head you just blew up, which makes no fucking sense at all but damn is that fucking metal or what?
The only downsides are that the game has some slowdown issues even on modern systems and is pretty short, about 90 minutes to blow through all 3 episodes. Very solid, fun little 90s shooter though.
Phantasmagoria is a horror adventure by Roberta Williams, creator of the King’s Quest series. It is also one of the earliest and biggest games of the FMV craze of the 90s. It had an astounding (at the time) 7 whole discs (that’s in CDs, if you crazy kids even know what those are anymore) and was said to contain some pretty controversial and highly graphic material. I’ve always wanted to try it out to finally know once and for all, the truth about Phantasmagoria. Well…it kinda sucks.
After the success of Wing Commander III, Chris Roberts and crew apparently got a much larger budget for IV. The frequency and scope of the cutscenes increased quite a bit, with the actors even performing on actual physical sets instead of being pasted on cg backgrounds. Apparently there was a rare, special DVD version back in the day too, for the ten people who had DVD-roms on their PCs back in ’96. It was interesting to see all the ultra-90s design and effects in “high quality”.
Ah, Wing Commander 3. Back when I was a kid that was just starting to get into PC games there was stuff like Wolfenstein 3D that caused me to say “Holy shit dad, we need a Sound Blaster!”, there was stuff like Return to Zork and Wing Commander 2 that caused me to say “Holy shit dad, we need a CD-ROM!”, and then there came Wing Commander 3, which led to the first “Holy shit dad, we need a whole new PC to play this shit!”.
I think maybe I never actually played the Secret Missions expansions for Wing Commander 1, because I seem to remember always having thought I’d missed something with this Wing Commander 2 intro:
Got a new flightstick so had to play some Wing Commander.
Decided to finally start these series after all these years of meaning to get around to it. Elvira is a strange mix of genres that is part Shadowgate and part Eye of the Beholder and actually has very little to do with Elvira and more to do with a castle full of random, crazy shit that really, really wants you to die.
Ah. Another classic Origin game. This one has you trying to discover your identity and survive as you wake up in a strange place, having apparently been experimented on by a crazy future scientist.
The Star Wars bug has not quite left me yet, and so I am forced to choose between the many excellent old Star Wars games out there to play again. I could have gone for the original Battlefronts, or the old Super Nintendo trilogy, or maybe Republic Commando, but in the end I decided to go with the Dark Forces/Jedi Knight series.