As far as I know, this follows the MegaTraveller tabletop rules to the letter. You roll random stats for your base stats: Strength, Dexterity, Endurance, Intelligence, Education and Social Standing.
After that, you play a sort of mini-game where you simulate the past exploits of your characters before they came to be in your party of freelance space adventurers. You choose an occupation and then you select from a number of Skill Tables containing sets of skills. The computer randomly picks a skill from the table and adds it to your characters skill list. The orange skills award you a skill level directly while the white lines let you choose your own skill from a set of related ones. You can also disable the random rolls entirely and manually pick from all the skills available to your occupation if you want.
The demonic tour guide explained that there were Ancient sites like this all over the galaxy, but nobody knows what they're for. Inside the structure, a vast network of cracked pipes extends for miles beneath the surface.
In seven years, the slime will reach the Rhylanor Startown. Shortly after, the entire planet will become uninhabitable. The planetary government offer a half a billion credit reward for any party capable of defeating the slime. Even slowing the spread of the slime, or saving part of the planet, will be compensated generously.
Who are these magnificent space heroes?
First, the party leader, mecha-neko. He was a Belter, making a living mining asteroids and salvaging derelict ships. He was pretty awesome at it too, until an injury meant he had to quit his steady job and become an adventurer. He's a born leader, an ace pilot, and he's never seen without his submachine gun.
When he left, he stole a scout ship and a massive stack of credits. You have to randomly roll for this stuff. It was pure luck that the game granted me a ship, what seems to be a significant amount of money and a choice of any weapon I wanted. Some characters get no money and no weapons whatsoever. It's possible to start the game as an 18-year office temp with no combat, survival or personal skills whatsoever.
Next, Max, the Vargr (space dog). He's mecha-neko's best friend. Master swordsdog. He's brought his formidable engineering skills, together with his own trading ship full of weapons and equipment for the rest of the party.
Third, Dr. Elizabath, squad medic. An expert in all sciences. Loves to gamble. Not too shabby with a laser rifle.
Fourth, Agatha Knight. Over the course of thirty-five years, she's used her iron will to force her way up to the directorship of a major interplanetary corporation. Throughout her position, the company doctor warned her constantly that if she didn't retire soon, she'd die of stress. She responded by calmly throwing the doctor through the reinforced glass windows of the hundredth floor. She's skilled in multiple languages, weapons, vehicles, computers, tactics, spaceship functions and she's a giant scary alien space dog woman with an automatic pistol.
You can't start the game unless you've got a full party of five so finally we have Reid. Team idiot. Used to be a Belter until they kicked him out, then joined the Navy. He knows how to read a star chart and how to fire a gun.
There's only those two races in the game, even though there's plenty more in the MegaTraveller universe. There's space cats (space LIONS!) in the books, but you can't play as them here. Booo. For some reason, only the Vargr are allowed to pursue a second career if random chance forces them out of their first. Humans get a Social Standing stat, while Vargr get a Charisma stat.
We've got two solid leads. We need to find Trow Backett, Ancient artifact expert and, luckily, Rhylanor resident. We also need to trace two unknown trespassers who were captured on video running from the site.
I say solid leads... but I have no idea where Trow could be. I don't even know how to tell which building is which. I hold the mouse down and drag my cluster of coloured splats around the map, looking for fun. The white splats appear to be NPCs. I can't talk to them and they keep running around the place randomly and getting in my partners' way. (Just like Burntime!)
This aggravated fellow sells weapons, ammo and equipment. There doesn't seem to be any indication of how powerful the weapons are or whether they're compatible with the skills of my team. I shuffle around my team's items, sell the useless stuff, and buy Dr. Elizabeth a Medical Kit and Hand Computer.
I figured I might as well sell mecha-neko's spare space ship, but this guy won't take it.
I like how every talk-able NPC looks identical. That way, I have to run up to and stop every green splat in the city, hoping that they're Trow Backett.
DO YOU KNOW WHERE TROW BACKETT IS.
I don't get any conversation options at all. Oh well. Back to wandering.
(He's the green dot just above the arrow pointing to the right on the right hand side of the city.)
"Possible sites on I, P, E, L, G, F, K, M, J, and A"
I don't even want to know how many planets in the universe have names starting with one of those letters.
What planets can I go to anyway? Now that I've found Trow, I'm going to see what condition my spaceships are in. Knowing my luck, they'll all be beat up buckets of crap and it'll be quicker to walk to I, P, E, L, G, F, K, M, J and A.
Next to the shop is a man selling a pass for the starport on the planet Fulacin. Hey, 'Fulacin' begins with an F! What are we waiting for?! Plot a course for Fulacin!
One problem. This ship, regardless of how cool it looks, simply doesn't have the range to get to Fulacin.
This one's Max's Far Trader, the other one is mecha-neko's Scout Ship. We still can't get to Fulacin, though!
How did I work all this out? Pure fluke.
Fulacin itself, on the other hand, looks exactly the damn same as Rhylanor. I've worked out how to tell the buildings apart: there's 8 pixel by 8 pixel icons next to them showing what they do. I do the usual tromp around the city, looking for green splats to squelch for information. Plenty of people recommend seeing the cube, but nobody seems to want to tell me where it is. It can't be in the city: time for me to get some wheels.
I'm going to paste something here from the MegaTraveller 2 manual about the skill system, for the curious.
"Although there are 135 total skills in the character generator, not all of them are necessary for this computer game. The non-essential skills have been left in the character generator for three reasons. First, the skill system in the character generator is the basis for the pen-and-pencil role-playing version of MegaTraveller. Some skills are not necessary to solve the computer adventure, but they were left in for completeness. Second, the non-essential skills were also kept for those who wish to develop characters for Traveller role-playing adventures. This compatibility would not exist if skills were eliminated for the sake of the computer game. Third, some skills that are not necessary in the MegaTraveller 2 computer game may come in handy for future Mega Traveller computer adventures. This is useful if you are planning to use the same characters in future MegaTraveller computer games."
And then it goes on to give a list of 64 unique skills that have little to no practical use in the game. There are 135 named skills in the game according to the manual, so if you simply go through the character generator and pick things that sound cool, you've got a 50/50 chance of picking something useless.
If I picked 'aircraft', 'helicopter', 'hovercraft', 'prop-driven aircraft', 'jet-propelled aircraft', 'large watercraft', 'lighter-than-air craft', 'small watercraft', 'tracked vehicle' or 'wheeled vehicle' (none of which appear in this game, according to the manual) instead of 'grav vehicle' or 'atv' when I was making up Knight, would I be completely stuck?
Even worse, Knight enjoyed such a long life in the character creator that I had to start erasing skills to learn new ones.
Would it have killed them to make a distinction between 'useful in MT2' and 'useless in MT2' in the character generator? They could have made a separate 'complete pen-and-paper MegaTraveller universe character generator' program and probably made money from it!
Keep an eye out, guys.
On the eve of the sixty-second day, we've finally found a green square. Not quite a yellow cube, but it'll have to do.
I keep my eyes peeled for any evil Ancient baddies. There's no saving of games within the cube. I really hope this place isn't a spiral. The only reason why this room would be a spiral would be to make walking to the centre more laborious for its own sake.
It was a spiral, and there were no baddies.
In the middle of the spiral were ten Ancient batteries for the Ancient-thing-I-have-but-I-don't-know-what-it-does. On the outside of the spiral on the opposite side of the cube were two 'coyns'. According to the item description, if you collect all 36 of them you can tell the future. My RPG senses tell me that collecting all of them and putting them into a metaphysical vending machine will reward me with the carbonated caramel-coloured goodness of a happy ending.
Even better, Trow Backett gave me six coyns to start with: that means I'm 25% done!
The green square was exactly one screen above the Fulacin city. Well, there's a waste of two months. Did I mention that you've got a finite number of years to save Rhylanor?
With a sampled "Noooo, aaaaargh.", the would-be assailant turns into a large sack. Inside the sack was a Gauss Pistol.
After that, he starts to walk off. We shoot him in the back. I've had enough of this planet.
You get the same choice even when you meet friendly captains, which is odd. When you succeed in a dialogue check, mecha-neko says 'I got us out of that. There they go.'. You don't even get to find out what he said!
This time, I choose combat. Nobody threatens us! We're 25% through saving the world! This Far Trader's got the best weapons money can buy!
I ended up losing the fight. mecha-neko automatically ordered a retreat after the pirates blasted one of my 300,000 credit turrets to pieces. The ship itself is fine and our all-important stash of Ancient knick-knacks are okay.
I tried going to the casino and using Dr. Elizabeth's crack gambling skill to win back enough money to replace the turret. We walked in through the door as if we owned the place and headed straight for the blackjack tables. They asked us how much we wanted to bet. We said 700,000 credits. The house limit was 1,000 credits. We left.
I felt like I had no control over the combat, not that I got into much of it. I had no idea how much health anybody had, what weapon they were using, how much damage they were doing or when and if I needed to reload their weapons. Hell, I couldn't even tell if I was shooting the enemies or vice versa.
Imagine if I'd have lost the fight on Fulacin. How would I be able to tell what I did wrong? What could I possibly have done differently?
The game doesn't make use of the strengths of a computer adaptation. All the game seems to be asking me to do is exhaustively seek out every green splat on each planet in sequence. I haven't been asked any questions allowing me to express my characters' motivation, and I haven't had any combat sequences where my ability to devise a strategy is tested. I can't do anything but walk onwards, trading laser lines with any red splats I see until I come across a red splat too powerful and the game abruptly stops.
There wasn't any music in the game whatsoever after the character creation screen. There was some kind of theme playing when the game showed the illustration of the cube but that's it. Rubbish.
I played the Amiga version as well. It's exactly the same, except all the graphics are in less colours and there's disk accessing between every action, even changing between character sheets. And the character creation music isn't an upbeat Casio-keyboard jazzy tune (YouTube link) like in DOS. Instead it's a evil, slow track with synth voice sounds.
They should have just stopped this game at the drawing board and instead spent the money on writing a novel that comes with some nicely illustrated prints.