Monday, 9 May 2011

The Machines (MS-DOS) - Guest Post


Hello, I'm mecha-neko. You better watch your back, because here come...

That will be the last time I work the title of the game into a sentence.

Get a load of this robot!

Yeah! He's BANG BANG DAKKA DAKKA! Beams all over the damn place!

This game simply HAS to be awesome.

This Super Adventure in Gaming is brought you in part by RADCORP.

Oh heck, what's going on here?

Let's step into the hangar for a moment away from this screen so I can tell you what the deal is.

In this game, you make robots. Your robot fights in a series of arenas of death and destruction in order to earn you money, prestige and, of course, deadlier robots.

As you can see, my starting robot isn't perhaps as fearsome as the one we saw in the intro sequence. His eyes are those of a world-weary assassin forced to kill to make ends meet, rather than the bloodthirsty leer of a rabid dog. He also looks somewhat top-heavy. With no way to right itself, it could easily be defeated if some kid snuck up on it and pushed it over.

From the city screen, you can buy brand new robot parts, second hand robot parts, black market robot parts, repair robot parts and sell your old robot parts. This city is all about robot parts. You want pizza? Tough. We only got robot parts. We can cover them in cheese if you like, but it's gotta be robot parts.

Sadly, the cool alien shopkeeper from Xenon 2 is nowhere to be found.

I don't think I can fully communicate how awful these menus are. The default keys are AZ for up/down, XC for left/right and Space to select. I had to hammer the F-keys to find the key redefine menu. The next challenge is figuring out what all the options mean.

And do the controls stick when you exit the game? Hell no.

You can bet your NuYen at the bookies if you're feeling gutsy. They're offering 5-4 on me surviving Level 1 ... is that good or bad?

You don't lose if you go over the level time limit, you just get extra money for finishing in time. (As well as any money you get from your bet.)

Enough of this nonsense. It's time to send my dauntless RADCORP-sponsored battle droid into action.

This is probably not what you were expecting given the Epic Fighting Robot from the intro sequence and the Less Epic Fighting Robot from the Hangar screen.

This game is Alien Breed! Except it's Mission Omega! Actually, it's more like Cytron! If your memory is particularly good, it's also Quick Money.

Urgh. Let's trundle around and shoot these guys. Bang.

The absurd recoil from my laser sends me flying around the map. For some reason, my robot is sliding about the place like a mad thing. I'm supposed to have the tank tracks equipped. You saw them! Maybe they waxed the floor before I sent in my robot.

I find the exit marker, and so I win.

I get a Cool Bonus for being Cool, which I think is cool.

My weapon took quite a beating in that encounter. I know it says 'PRISTINE'. It's lying!

I've got a choice: Automatic Repair for 30,000 NuYen, or 60 seconds of Manual Repair time for 15,000 NuYen. Sounds like a bargain, right? I mean, how hard could it be?

...

You can put the repairs off, but it's a bad idea. Damaged weapons fire slower and do less damage, damaged drives move you slower, etc.

You'll end up having to repair after every mission, and you're going to have to use the manual option a lot. You'd better get used to seeing that wiring minigame. Ideally you'd want to never get hit by an enemy but that's easier said than done because you can't shoot in a different direction to the way you're moving.

If your communications array becomes damaged and you head too close to a jamming device, the screen fills with static and you get an ear splitting noise. I wear headphones while playing these games. I was not amused.

You have to find little tiny 'GOAL' markers dotted around the level and then head towards the large 'GOAL' marker to leave the level. You have no map or any other indicator showing you how many markers you have left to pick up or where they may be.

So you could, totally hypothetically, spend five minutes navigating a maze of passages filled with one-way arrows to be led to an inescapable instant death hole. Five times in a row. Hypothetically.

Tell me how I'm supposed to do this level without taking a hit and you win a prize.

As you progress further into the game, the weapons become more and more expensive. In turn, repairing the weapons becomes more and more expensive. By level 12, there's simply not enough money lying around to continue playing unless you never make a single mistake.

I would really like to like The Machines. Upgrading robots, shooting other robots, exploring levels, collecting money... these are a few of my favourite things! But the game goes out of its way to not let me like it...

The city menus are a pain in the arse. The weapon shops don't let you compare between what you have and what they sell. Instant death holes everywhere. Most of the time the 'GOAL' markers are on the other side of pits that open and close automatically. You're supposed to dart across the pit without getting knocked to one side by enemy fire or your own recoil.

Every fifth level has pipes on it, and you can't see what your doing when you're inside the pipe. Sometimes, the pipe leads into blackness which I think looks like just another part of the pipe. Nope, it's a bloody instant death trap. I fell for it every single damn time.

To hell with The Machines.

3 comments:

  1. Thats a game i spent lots of days with, and sure thats a cool game. Its no excuse if u r not able to handle what it asks. :)

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  2. I can remember playing that in my childhood. :) How can I get that game? I can't find any place to buy it :( .

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    Replies
    1. I don't think it is for sale anywhere (aside from ebay if you're lucky), but then it's hard to tell as it's got a difficult name to search for. I'd suggest searching for it on abandonware sites instead by its other name 'Universal Warrior'.

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