Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Chaos Engine 2 (Amiga)

Super Adventures in Bitmap Brothers Games - Game 9

That's way more low-key than the first game, plus there's no intro and no catchy theme music. Not a good sign. Also the '2' isn't spiky at the top like the other letters, and it's bothering me.

To be honest, until recently I'd always assumed this game had been cancelled before release. I still see people talking about the first Chaos Engine, but I don't often see people mentioning the sequel. I guess that's what happens when you release a 2D Amiga game the same year as Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, Super Mario 64, and Duke Nukem 3D.

Those portraits look familiar somehow... though they've dropped Thug, Preacher and half the stat bars.

The character select screen has the same steampunk style as Chaos Engine, but it seems off somehow. I think it's because the metal panels are different colours for no good reason, and are floating in a void instead of bolted to some device.

AGA version
The game only came out for Amiga computers, and never got a console release. Though a more colourful version was released for higher spec Amigas with the hardware to handle it. And yeah, this screen does look at least... 18% prettier than the last one.

I decide to play as the Brigand, and bring the Mercenary along as player two.

I'm sure that background started life as a decent piece of pixel work, but as it is now it's just making this wait even more miserable. They probably should have just reused the loading screen art from the first game, like they reused the portraits.

I don't remember the original game taking anywhere near this long to load.

A mission briefing? Well I appreciate the thought (and the animation), but I'm pretty sure I could have figured out 'get key, open door' by myself.

Wait, "Get out first"? Surely I have to find the key first? Oh whatever, I've spent enough time waiting. I just wanna shoot some mutants.

Oh for fuck's sake...


Wow, that looks... different from the first game. I guess the artist got bored with muted colours. Plus they've added split screen for some reason, even though I'm playing single player with an AI sidekick.

At first I thought the characters was smaller, but it's actually the screen that's bigger. It's almost 50% taller than Chaos Engine's screen, minus the hud.

Hey, I found something to push! Though the Mercenary seems to have lost interest in what I'm up to and has wandered off somewhere else. I never needed him anyway.

This music is really laid back compared to the first game's soundtrack. It's not exactly motivating me to race around kicking ass.

There only seems to be a handful of enemies on the map, but they've made the guns fire much slower, and given me limited ammo, so killing them is more of a pain.

Also 50's toy robots are a weird choice for an enemy. They don't fit the late 1800's steampunk horror theme the first game had at all.

Hey I just jumped off a walkway! Couldn't do that in Chaos Engine 1. Though it's got me wondering about the sloping walls. At first I thought they were going for a Zelda perspective, where the sides of the room appear to lean outwards, but the wall to my right isn't angled. So I guess this level really does just have lots of sloping walls.

The music just got more dramatic, so I guess the Mercenary found the key while I was messing around. Now I just need to figure out where the middle of the level is so I can exit.

Crap, this door won't open! Not that I'm even sure I'm headed the right way. I should have paid more attention to the radar on the left of the screen.

And then the Mercenary exits the level, and wins. Because it turns out that we're competing now, and that son of a bitch just escaped without me.

AGA version
Just in case anyone was wondering what the level looks like with more colours (and with me winning), here's your chance.

I'm not sure purple's much of an improvement over peach to be honest. Even with the extra colours the level art looks like it's taken a step back closer to Speedball 1 graphics. It's functional but I can't say I'm impressed.

For your convenience I put the winning and losing results into a gif, so the difference in colours is more obvious. Also so it would annoy you when you try to make out what the text in the middle says.


AGA version
Holy shit, we've moved on a bit from 'collect key, open door'. I'm never going to remember all of this.


Damn, the loading took so long that all I can remember now is 'flick three levers'. I flicked this one up and it turned on a light.

Uh, sorry mate but I think that's my lever you're flicking there.

It seems that all three switches need to be either up or down at the same time to get the door open, and the AI character is determined to flick them all down.


Okay this is just dumb. I flick the levers one way, he flicks them back. I shoot him then flick them up, he immediately respawns, shoots me, then flicks them down. I respawn, beat the shit out of him with my bare fists, and flick them up... and so on.

I'm starting to think I should just let him get his three lights lit so we can move on.


I finally got all my lights on, and went to flick the final switch to open the door. But then I accidentally wasted time by leaning against the wall instead. I don't even know why I'd ever want to lean against a wall in a competitive run and gun puzzle game.


Okay, I'm through the damn door, and now I have to push a battery. Finally, all that battery pushing practice in level one is going to pay off. For once the poor Mercenary doesn't stand a chance.

That son of a bitch is a poor loser.

Step 3:  Push the buttons to change the conveyor belts.

I lost my patience here and I just ran past this bit. I'll leave the Merc pressing his buttons, and get a head start on the next section. Man, this is like some kind of game show.

Step 4: Collect all the circuits.

It was going so well until the Merc caught up and shot me in the back, and all the circuits I collected spilled out on to the floor. But then he just walked away without even stealing any for himself!

I picked my circuits back up, ran after the Merc, knocked him out, and robbed him to show him how it's done.

Getting enough circuits let me open the exit door, and I just managed to slip through before he did. Level complete!


"Press the pads to teleport your enemy"? What does that even mean? What does any of this mean?


Well I'm pressing the floor pads, and it's definitely teleporting the enemy, but all it's doing is making him mad. I have no idea what I'm meant to do here.

The corridor with the teleporter panels circled around this inner room with a naked alien hiding in it, so I suppose I was racing to get here first. Not sure what we're meant to do here though, and for once the Merc seems as clueless as I am.


I wandered around for a bit more, and the problem eventually resolved itself. And now I'm in the lead! Well I'm behind on points, but I'm physically standing ahead of the other guy, so I am technically in the lead.

I really need to grab some extra points here.

Another set of levers. The first one teleports the box one square to the left each time it's flicked, and the second teleports it over to the right. Unfortunately the Merc realised that I'd be flicking my switch a lot less often if I was bleeding out on the floor.

Getting killed doesn't seem to cost a life though. It just puts a player out of action for a short time. Though if I don't earn 850 points fast, I actually will end up losing a life.


Dammit! I was so close to making it to the exit with the key as well. Sure, I was still 1200 points behind, but opening up the exit door and getting through first might have put me ahead!

Well, okay probably not.

"The level must be replayed"? Actually mate, I think the game must be turned off. Even if I was actually enjoying it, I wouldn't have the patience left to sit through another pair of loading screens.

It's hard to judge this one, because it's a competitive multiplayer game, and I was playing it single player against a bot. Maybe it comes alive with two players who both know the levels, running around trying to press all the switches first and sabotaging each other. Either way the first game still has better sound and graphics, and personally I'd have preferred it if they'd stayed with cooperative gameplay. Or maybe even both!

Bitmap Brothers games:
Part 1: Xenon (Atari ST)
Part 2: Speedball (Atari ST)
Part 3: Xenon 2 - Megablast (Amiga)
Part 4: Cadaver (Amiga)
Part 5: Speedball 2 - Brutal Deluxe (Amiga)
Part 6: Gods (Amiga)
Part 7: Magic Pockets (Amiga)
Part 8: The Chaos Engine (Amiga)
Part 9: The Chaos Engine 2 (Amiga)
Part 10: Z (MS-DOS)

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