Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Scavengers of the Mutant World: Flying Fish and Laser Vision

Nice outfit, gimp.

Scavengers of the Mutant World is not a good game--I know this without question--but somehow it's got me in its vise. God help me, I want to win this one. It feels like it shouldn't take that long, either. It's just hard. I've restarted three new games since I last posted (and no more naming my own characters or swapping portraits--it takes too long).

My understanding of the "quest" is that I need to bring various items and parts back to Lau and to assemble the parts, using sets of blueprints, into working machines. I don't know how many items, parts, and machines I need to collect, but I've barely gotten started.

Note the wheels and the drive axle in the storeroom.

In two of the scenarios, I found some blueprints early on that listed the parts needed for a car:

An anchor?

The parts are scattered about the different ruins, and I don't know if they're randomized or fixed in the game world. I also don't know if there's just one of each or more, but I've only found one of each so far. In my last scenario, I had the shaft, oil, axle, and exhaust system, but my main party died in a radiation storm--a bolt of lightning killed them instantly--and my relief party was slaughtered by junkyard dogs while trying to retrieve their stuff. I could have continued, but I had lost 8 out of 20 scavengers, and since I was still mostly just exploring the game, I decided to start anew.

Frermynd gets her hands on a shaft.

In addition to weapons, armor, parts, and food, you find several usable items scattered about the world. One, a "teaching machine," increased attributes for my characters the two times that it worked. Another, a "decontamination unit," was helpful for restoring my radiation points.

I'm not sure how a "teaching machine" increases strength. Perhaps it's a shake-weight.

The manual had warned about radiation storms. Generally, they're dangerous and cause loss of attribute points, or death. But in one memorable storm, one of my characters mutated to shoot laser beams out of her eyes. It was useful in the next few combats. If The Day After had featured such plot points, I'm not sure I would have feared a nuclear holocaust so much.

Knowing the exact distance and direction to the nearest ruin is important for when radiation storms come along.

The monsters turned out to be the type you would expect in a post-apocalyptic nightmare: mutants, scavengers from rival tribes, giant spiders, insect abominations. They seem to start off easy and get a lot tougher as the game progresses. I'm not sure if this is because I'm getting farther from Lau, or because the game senses you're approaching the completion of a goal and ramps up the difficulty.

I took video of a brief bit of gameplay below. Despite its brevity, you see a lot of gameplay here: wandering around Lau, engaging some mutant fish, finding some food, weathering a radiation storm and getting laser vision, using a decontamination unit, and starting to explore a new ruin called Ceniste.

The game, I should also mention, automatically saves every couple of turns. There's no quitting and reloading if something unpleasant happens.

I'm determined to keep at it until I can at least put together a car. I've also noted, in my quest for original reviews and ads for the game (mentioned yesterday), that there are few sites that have any detail about Scavengers. No matter how much I write, other sites will probably always have more information about Ultima IV and Pool of Radiance, but I can still be the authoritative source on obscure games like Scavengers.


  1. Our local theater is showing the post-apocalyptic 80s "classic" Robot Holocaust next week. I don't know about the laser-beams-out-of-eyes but the preview showed a robot that looked like a C-3PO crossed with A Clockwork Orange shooting out electricity.

  2. It seems in post-apocalyptic games "radiation" takes the place of magic in the fantasy titles. One person once suggested to me that most fantasy stories were "post-apocalytic" since you were usually playing in a age following the downfall of the golden age and so on.

    I never saw "The Day After". I had already seen "Planet of the Apes" and "Beneath the Planet of the Apes". "Almighty bomb and the holy fallout...." I did not need any other reminders.

  3. Regarding radiation storms, these are used to great effect in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games. It wouldn't surprise me if there were mods that enabled laser-emitting mutations, too. ;)

  4. Indeed, that's a great service this blog is providing. I've often gone through mobygames imagining how some obscure games play, and that you're giving them a fair shake is invigorating.

    Don't forget to post a little video of the gameplay of this one, perhaps.

  5. This sounds all kinds of awesome to me. Just extremely difficult and almost roguelike. I hope you soldier on to the finish, good Addict, and I salute your efforts from a safe distance away. Please don't come closer, you're highly radioactive.

  6. Your character mutated the ability to shoot lasers from their eyes? Maybe you can get one that mutates the ability to teleport and another one that can coat themselves in ice? You could be the X-men!

  7. xyzzysqrl, "almost roguelike" is an appropriate description. Death is permanent, levels random, monsters constant, combat fairly limited.

    Helm, buddy, there's a video in this very posting.

  8. Oh wow, who thought turning your guys around turn by turn would be a good idea for combat? I appreciate the tactical considerations of facing, but Pool of Radiance had the right idea, just consider where the character is attacking towards to figure out where their back is, no need for tank controls. Though PoR could be bettered by actually having different sprites for different facings. Was it Demon's Winter that had a little arrow at the corner of the sprite to denote facing? That's an inelegant solution graphically, but the right idea in theory.

    Switching from CGA palette 0 to palette 1 for day and night circles is ingenious, though! Have you noticed this in any other games before it? It might be a small innovation, if not. Anyway, by 1989, this might be one of the few last CGA games you'll have to play (discounting budget titles that will continue to shoot for lowest common graphics card for a few years more). You're officially in EGA land as far as the big league goes, and palette tricks are pretty much out. Wasteland, Mines of Titan, Bard's Tale, everything until Dark Heart of Uukrul (which you will adore, I am making this prediction and staking alcohol on it) is in EGA.

  9. I need to learn more about graphics and color to understand what you're saying there, but the facing issue is definitely a pain in the neck. I think it was Wizard's Crown that had the little arrows.

    Pool of Radiance had different sprites for right and left facing but not all the other ones. But you weren't seeing the icons from the top down (like you are here) so it wouldn't have mattered all that much anyway.

  10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_Graphics_Adapter#Standard_graphics_modes

    The article offers a comprehensive overview of CGA, and the specific sublink deals with the basic modes. As you see, CGA is an odd adapter for videogames, the colors are contrasted and do not work well together in any mode. I don't think it was ever intended for gaming, but instead text editors and other professional applications where you need good contrast between paper colors and text colors.

    EGA is also super-contrasted, but it offers full 16 colors on screen, and some artists (especially Westwood Associates artists, whose work you'll be enjoying soon enough) did amazing things with it.

    This game alternates between CGA palette 0 and 1 in real-time to give the impression of a day-night cycle. It's a neat trick.

    I realize this is awfully nerdy, but hey, I'm a pixel artist and I enjoy studying the history of the medium.

  11. I really like the idea of scavenging parts to build machines. That's kind of unique, isn't it? Obviously, I don't know if the results will be disappointing, but it's a neat idea.

    And I like the post-apocalyptic setting, since I get really tired of fantasy. (The gaming world desperately needs more SF games.)

    Finding a decontamination unit was kind of neat, too. Really, this game seems to show some imagination. Too bad the combat isn't up to par (and that permanent death isn't just an option).

  12. Jason, I remember seeing Robot Holocaust on MST3K. Now that was a terrible movie! I just watched another bad post-apocalyptic movie called She-Wolves Of The Wasteland (aka Phoenix, The Warrior). I am of the same generation as most of you so perhaps it was the ridiculousness of Z-grade movies like these that saved me from Cold War paranoia. Some others that I've enjoyed include Roller Blade Warriors and Hell Comes to Frogtown. Boy, the end of the world sure looks a lot like a California desert!

  13. Helm, I appreciate the education. If a developer did something clever that enhances the game, I'd hate to miss it. The graphics still blow and it wasn't worth an extra point, but it's nice to know!

    WCG, the quest is definitely a bit unusual. I'm sorry I didn't make it through the game to see the results.


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