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Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Chaos Engine

Is it time for a ripoff?

Not too dissimilar to Gauntlet, in 1993 the Bitmaps unleashed Chaos Engine which is a top-down arcade shooter where you get to choose from a selection of cool characters before running around sexy-looking levels with only one purpose - killing baddies. Okay, there is a [minor] puzzle element but this game is all about reaping death!

It's now that I can imagine the look on your faces... Why attempt to take on Gauntlet? Read on...

You can be one of six mercenaries and each has their own skillset so chose wisely.

Characters and Friends?

Each character has their own unique skills so I advise that you should play each one to find out which you prefer. Personally, I tend to prefer the Mercenary or Thug! Each of the environments is extremely interesting, both their wicked mechanics and beautiful visuals, all help to create a wonderful Victorian England theme, etc/etc.

Co-op is enabled whether you play solo or with friends and it works a treat. I love having a computer-controlled player alongside you and that extra firepower comes in handy. That helps, especially in the later levels, and is implemented well without ever taking over. However, it's embarrassing when he grabs the coins quicker than I...

Arghh, this is one of those games that demands practice before you can even think about beating it!

The first level is brilliant but things soon become much harder from the second...

Those bitmap aesthetics!

The graphics are literally outstanding. From start to end, such beautiful artworks, detailed sprites and gorgeous landscapes. I love each of the environments which have all been enhanced for the lovely Atari STe by using the hardware scrolling and extra colours. One of the best looking games on the Atari ST/e. Period!!

Audio is pretty darn cool. The chipmusic is something that stays in your head all day and the sound effects do their job. However, I must admit to being a little disappointed that this talented bunch failed to use the DMA audio for sampled sound effects. They're already using the STe so why use the DMA for samples?

I struggled with the third levels and even more with the frantic fourth. So tough!!

The CryptO'pinion?

I have always ranked the Bitmap Brothers as one of the best 16-Bit developers and the freakish charm of Chaos Engine certainly helps to prove this. I couldn't say whether it's better than Gauntlet because it's similar but also very different. This is marmite and I personally think people will be split over which game is better...

However, I can say that this is a remarkable and addictive shooter - stuffed full of action and I love it!!

Downloads and other STuff

 - 8BitChip and D-Bug have created hard drive installable versions which are both superb!!
 - If you need Chaos Engine on floppy disk then Stonish have Adrenalin #37A  #37B Menu CDs.
 - Fancy some level codes? Well of course you do, right?
          -> World Two = T6MV6J4LGLCZ (Thug + Mercenary)
          -> World Two = 73VBPXY1PZV1 (Brigand + Navvie)
          -> World Two = QLVKM4YKJQVS (my own code!)
          -> World Three = 4WQZTTRG61MZ (Navvie + Gentleman)
          -> World Three = 2#YNLN7SR94W (Navvie + Brigand)
          -> World Three = JSP99G416LY2 (I've no idea where I found this!)
          -> World Four = PK2R9J6G5W4K (Navvie + Gentleman)
          -> World Four = C8737KFPBCDB (Navvie + Preacher)
 - ST Format featured a fantastic guide and a walk-through solution (issues: #51 #52 #53 #54)
 - Bitmap Bros have a cool website with maps, guides and more!
 - Let's Play have a great page with many info.
 - I love this game so much I went "out" and bought the Apple Mac conversion!

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