Thursday, October 15, 2015

Damocles - Mercenary II

Today I bring you a resource that I recently came upon for the mind-blowing Damocles, which is Mercenary II by Novagen. This is a game that I personally cannot recommend highly enough and it should be experienced by any self-respecting Atari ST player out there. But for those that don't know, Damocles is an open-world game with non-linear gameplay. Ignoring your ever fruitful ticker-guide (Benson!) you're on your own and free to do pretty much whatever you choose (that sound familiar?). However, ultimately you have been paid to save the doomed planet Eris - as it's about to be hit by a comet! It's your job to save the day but how you go about that is literally your own choice and there are many paths that lead to a successful end.

I actually got the idea to play Damocles whilst spending so much time in the world of Hunter recently. That game gave me the idea one morning to play Damocles, which isn't too surprising as they're quite similar in some respects. So I found a copy and booted it up wondering if it was as good as I remembered. Damn, this is still an adventure oozing with class and with a high level of intriguing gameplay which is so absorbing. I then went on a ramble across the virtual wastelands that is the internet and found a great site by 'Symoon' that's completely dedicated to the Mercenary series. Everything you could ever require is there, and it should help both the novice and expert player alike. I simply had to contact the man himself to say thank you and you can read his response below :-)


 - Symoon's excellent The Mercenary Site website.
 - 8BitChip have created a hard drive installable version which is a must!
 - ST Action featured a cool solution guide.
 - ST Format featured a solution in issue #20 and a cockpit guide in issue #13.

...The site is horribly old but, to me, the content is more important than its look - and spare time is a rare thing these days ;) .... (OOPS.. we started to talk about Hunter!) ... I also have fond memories of Hunter, except that the life was dropping way too fast! I cheated to block that and finished all the missions a long time ago. Real fun using helicopters or hovercrafts!

There isn't much to say about me - I can't call myself an active Atari ST owner. But my brother bought an Atari ST and we mainly played games with it, and I remain attached to it, but not as much as I am to my very first computer (an Oric!). You'll find a few occasional posts from me on some Atari forums under the nickname Symoon, but nothing worth talking about really ;)

I actually began the website around 1996, learning HTML to make a solution page for Mercenary III while I was doing the compulsory military service in France (I'm French, you guessed! ;)  I had struggled so much to get my copy of Mercenary III (I guess it hasn't been imported at all in France then) that I played it so much and found a way to complete it with all the solutions. There was almost no information about Mercenary III on the Internet at the time, and I had discovered the great Mark Sachs' guide to Damocles which inspired me. So it all began as "the Mercenary III solution page", designed in the same way…
Then the site grew little by little, as I added content very quickly thanks to many, many contributors. I recently read back old mails and was puzzled at how many people wrote me about it, and how interesting many of the messages were. I got in touch with many people from Novagen (first was Mo Warden), all very kind, and even met some of them. I'm so sad that Bruce Jordan, who lead the Novagen company with Paul Woakes, passed away 9 years go. First and before all because he really was a friendly man, and of course on more Mercenary-driven motivations, because he was a great source of information. The MDDClone, that appeared around 2002, also was a source of real motivation. Its author hadn't been here, I might not have kept updating the site so long - and certainly not with so much detailed content.

What I loved about the games?  I can't tell you really, I'd say the freedom feeling, and the first-person 3D which put YOU in the world (it wasn't that common at this time). The fact that a whole world was created for the player to simply walk around and the mix between adventure and some kind of flight simulation too. Also, it's humour. As a French young man though, I didn't always notice or understand the fun there was in Benson's words!

I was visiting each and every location hoping to find something significant at any corner. I found (and still find) it amazing that a whole universe was there on a disk. Well, pick anything you want from this ;) But a simple link to the site will suit me as well - without credit - feel free to make it the way you like ;) Thanks again, I hope you spend many pleasant hours in the Gamma system soon!