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Tuesday, 3 February 2009

The Chaos Engine (Amiga)

You can tell from this that I've got some pretty big gaps in my gaming knowledge.

My mate Stephen owned an Amiga back in the day. I could never afford one, but I used to go to his house regularly for next-gen gaming sessions (I had a Commodore 64). But for some reason I never played this game, which is odd, given that it's ideal for two players. I can only think I wasn't going there as much when he bought this.

He gave me all his gaming stuff a couple of years ago, but it's all sat in the spare room until today when, at last, I dug out the Amiga 1200, and after an age spent trying to tune the telly in, I had it up and running. I figured a renowned classic like The Chaos Engine would be a very good place to start.

And I was right. The Chaos Engine is still a really good game. It makes me think of a cross between Gauntlet and Mercs, with more depth and less volume of enemies. That's not to say it isn't a challenge, though. It's all too easy to get carried away and go charging up the screen, only to blunder into a couple of enemies and find yourself dead. Better to rein yourself in, take your time, make steady progress.

Even going slowly, though, there's plenty of hot fire button action. I played for about an hour and, not having used a proper joystick in donkeys' years, I've got a bit of a claw thing going on with my right hand now, and I've only scratched the surface so far. Games are going to last a lot longer, the more I play. That could be a problem!

The Chaos Engine is typical Bitmap Bros shmupping. Shoot stuff, collect the Cheerios (oh alright, coins), get to the end of the level, upgrade your skills and weapons. There's nothing wrong with that predictability... the system works, which is all you want.

Something else that works is the AI of your partner. If you're being attacked by two enemies and you attack one, your partner will generally attack the other one. Why do programmers have such a hard time implementing that today? It helps to make the game just that bit more enjoyable.

I'm very happy with my Amiga haul, and although I know that many of the games won't have aged well, I'm looking forward to working through them, whether they're games I've played and loved or otherwise. The Chaos Engine has been a great start, and I'm definitely going back to it... sometime tonight, in fact.


  1. Haha - you unpacked the Amiga, awesome! Do you have a list of the games you've got? As a few random suggestions, I imagine Xenon 2: Megablast, Hired Guns, Speedball 2,Prince of Persia, It Came From The Desert and Wings will all have aged pretty well.

  2. I haven't got an actual list of the games I've got... I do need to unpack them and catalogue them. I've got some pictures somewhere of my entire haul, from when I unpacked them at the old house just to see what I had. I'll see if I can dig a couple of those out.

    It's fantastic to have the Amiga up and running, particularly as I never owned one myself. The trouble is, there's a real danger I could get deeply absorbed in some of those games... as an example, I've always wanted to play Starflight, and numbers 1 and 2 are both sitting there...

  3. I never played the Starflight games, but I sank an unhealthy number of hours in First Encounters (the Elite sequel). I always keep an eye on the Elite remakes, and by jove, I'd sign a contract for my first born for Elite 4.

  4. I know I've got Elite and Frontier in my pile of Amiga games. I've never played either of them, although I had some unsuccessful dabblings with C64 Elite, so they may well make it in here at some point.