Sunday, July 3, 2011

Game 60: Sentinel Worlds I: Future Magic

Okay...I get The Terminator and Star Wars. The one on the right with the two people in space suits looks familiar, but I can't place it.

You may have read about Solomon Asch's series of conformity experiments in the 1950s. Basically, he sat a bunch of people around a table and told them he was going to give them a vision test. In reality, all but one (the subject) of the participants were his confederates. Asch might show two lines, A and B, and ask the participants which one was longer. If everyone else at the table (at Asch's direction) said that Line B was longer than Line A, the subject was also very likely to say so, even if it was patently absurd. The experiment illustrated the enormous pressure to conform with prevailing opinion. However, if even one of the other participants disagreed with the group's consensus, then the subject was also much more likely to disagree and give the correct response. This same phenomenon is illustrated fictionally in Twelve Angry Men, where the dissent of a single juror causes other jurors who had been wrestling internally to voice their doubts.

What I would like, right now, is for one person who has played Sentinel Worlds I: Future Magic to post a comment opining that the game sucks.

I got into this blog for myself, and yet I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel a certain obligation to my readers. Your comments keep me going. Many of you are very funny, or knowledgeable, or insightful, or all three. I don't want to let you down. So when I get comment after comment, for weeks, telling me how great an upcoming game is, I feel particularly compelled to like it--compelled to conform. Thus, just one of you, confirming my opinion that this game blows goats, would make me feel ever so much better.

Oh, I admit that on the surface, Sentinel Worlds seems to have all the elements of a great game. First, it is a spiritual descendant of Starflight, which I loved. Both were by Electronic Arts, although Worlds is clearly set in a different universe. Many of the gameplay elements from the earlier game are here: space exploration and combat, planetside ATV landings, mining for minerals, dialogue options. The game adds a lot of new features to this mix, including Pool of Radiance-style adventurer's journal entries, ground exploration and hand-to-hand combat, and character-based statistics and inventories that make each of the PCs seem like individuals rather than (in Starflight) just parts of the ship.

My complaint isn't with the gameplay elements, but rather with the interface. I don't know how anyone stood it long enough to get through an entire game. Let's start with the space navigation screen:

You do your flying around in the upper-left-hand corner. See how narrow it is, top to bottom? When you're moving at a decent clip, you're off that screen in a half second. The other ships, which are suspiciously far more maneuverable than you, fly circles around you while you cumbersomely turn and try to see where they're going as they blip off the screen.

Ship-to-ship combat is just as bad as Starflight (it was the worst part of that game). Instead of having to face the enemy and shoot, you simply arm lasers and the computer shoots for you--from any angle. That doesn't sound so bad except that you get about three shots before the enemy has sailed off the edge of the screen and you lose the laser lock. Then you have to go hunt him down, hit SPACE to lock on, hit ENTER to arm the lasers, and--whoops! He's off the screen again!

Now, when the enemy leaves the screen, you should be able to use the little long-range navigation box to find him. Of course, you have to pick him out from a bunch of other ships that might be in the area. Fortunately, the game helpfully distinguishes enemy ships from friendly ships by color. Red ships are enemies, purple ships are other (friendly) interceptors, and maroon ships are cargo transports. That doesn't pose any problem at all for a color-blind person, especially when each ship is about one pixel in size.

Fun with color doesn't stop with ships. You also have to use it to identify the type of terrain in the orbit maps. Irene tells me there are like eight colors represented on this map, and I can see three, maybe four if I squint.

Okay, fine, so Electronic Arts couldn't anticipate the needs of colorblind people. This was before computers got all touchy-feely with accessibility. But that still doesn't excuse the indoor navigation maps, which try to combine 3D wireframes and top-down navigation on the same screen and end up making me seasick.

Nor does it excuse the hand-to-hand combat system, by which you hit ENTER and watch your crewmembers fight, unable to pause or engage in any specific tactics.

Add to this an inability to find mineral deposits on any of the planets I visit, a lack of any direction on the main quest, and a game opening that tosses you in the thick of battle with raiders before you've even had a chance to investigate the interface, and you've got a relatively unpleasant introductory posting to get out of the way. My absence over the last week has primarily been because of work, but it has also been because I was hoping that if I kept playing, I would start to like the game enough that I wouldn't write a posting like this.

All right. Let me back up and cover the basics.

The plot isn't bad. Set in 2995, the back story is that a trade route between a group of merchant planets has been beset by mysterious raiders who simply destroy ships without attempting to contact or loot them. My crew of five...

...has recently completed a training program and has been sent to the troubled area to learn what we can about the raiders and destroy them.

Much like Starflight, the crew consists of a pilot, a navigator, a communications officer, an engineer, and a medic. Each has scores for srength, stamina, dexterity, comprehension, and charisma; and each starts with 3 of 12 skills: contact (blunt) weapons, edged weapons, projectile weapons, blasters, tactics, reconnaissance, gunnery, ATV repair, mining, athletics, observation, and bribery. Unlike Starflight, PCs have individual inventories, including weapons and armor. Regrettably, "budget cuts" have meant that the federation depending on the success of my mission could not afford to outfit my crew with basic weapons or anything.

I began the game, as I said, in the middle of combat with raiders. At first, I trusted the game's mercy on a new player and assumed I would be able to defeat them.

I was wrong.

After several restarts, I decided discretion was the better part of valor, and I fled the opening fight, only to return and pick off one of the raiders on the fringes of the battle. I can't emphasize enough how tedious space combat is, as you circle around the enemy, desperately trying to keep him on the screen, as the computer fires your lasers at him. Theoretically, you can target certain parts of the ship (e.g., knock out the engines) and try to board it, engaging with the crew in hand-to-hand combat, but I haven't attempted that yet.

It appears that you can get quests from the Federation--ships that need to be escorted, ships that are under attack, and so on.

I tried a few of these, but by the time I got to the coordinates, the ships were gone or the attack was over. So instead, I went to the nearby Norjaenn Spaceport (this involves flying over the planet and activating the navigation menu) and got a mission from the Science Foundation to deliver some equipment to another planet.

There are only four planets in the area of the galaxy I'm in (I'm unclear whether this is the only area of the game or not), so it didn't take long to find the planet, at which point I simply set down at the indicated coordinates, dropped off the equipment, and made a cool 700 gold pieces.

ATV navigation is from a top-down perspective, and is very much like Starflight but with better graphics. You run into animals all over the planet, although you cannot collect them as specimens. The game manual suggests that killing them is bad and healing them (assuming they need it) is good. The ATV breaks down periodically for no reason that I can see except to make you wait while one of your crewmembers fixes it.

Some of the planets have "beacons" which alert you to the presence of towns. One such planet had a sort of western theme going, with farms and a saloon. Conversation with the patrons in the saloon (you can talk to individuals on the surface as well as other ships) suggested there was some tension between farmers and ranchers.

Finding a saloon on a planet gives me a Firefly-ish tingle.

Conversations usually offer two or three dialogue options. Unlike modern games, these options aren't so much about role-playing as prioritizing the information you want to collect. The other person eventually cuts off dialogue after a few questions (the same thing happened in Starflight) so you don't want to waste time asking about the weather.

o far, most people have been yelling at me to go fight the raiders instead of asking questions about them. My conversations haven't produced any useful intelligence yet, but I've only been to one planet.

Thanks, Tasha. Is everyone here as bright as you?

I eventually made my way to the planet of Caldorre, where I found three towers of dungeon-crawling fun, each with multiple levels. I really can't see why anyone thought this interface was a good idea.

So that's about the thick of it. I took a peek at Baron's review in Dungeons and Desktops, and he says that the game has a "steep learning curve." I really hope that's all it is. I want to like the game, and I've yet to get one of the adventurer's journal entries, so I'm assuming there's a lot of stuff I've yet to explore. Perhaps by the end of my initial six hours, the game and I will have come to some kind of agreement.


  1. I wish I could be the first to tell you I share your opinion of the game, but in fact I love it. Maybe playing it first as a 12-year-old helps.

    Also, in space combat, once you get close to your target, hit "S" to Shadow their movements. It'll automatically keep you in laser range (assuming you were in range when you started shadowing).

  2. I'd never heard of this game before I saw it on your list but it doesn't look or sound very interesting. You might be able to modify the speed in DosBox using CTRL+F11 and CTRL+F12 to make the space combat more bearable.

    I see Ripley from Alien also makes an appearance with the Terminator.

    Happy for you to move on from this game when you're ready.

  3. I also cannot tell you this is a bad game. Though to be fair I don't remember much about it. I know I did play it quite a bit. I did not finish it, but I'm pretty sure I was in the last area, when for some reason I abandoned it.

    As far as the plot goes, I'm pretty sure there is one there. I remember in the beginning killing a lot of raiders was key.

    And the interface, I didn't have a problem with it back then. Though I'm sure I would now.

    I won't be too broken up if you move on after 6 hours. On the other hand, if you continue to the end, I would be very interested to read your posts and see the end.

    Keep in mind, this is coming from a person who liked Ultima 2 at the time. Though it was my first RPG(well it was this or Tunnels of Doom, can't remember) and I was like 6 or 7. In retrospect is was a pretty bad game. But to my young eyes back then it was world changing.

    Anyway, glad the posts are back on track.

    Thank you CRPG Addict.

  4. I tried this one (in glorious tandy no less) while waiting for your post, I had similar troubles. There's an option for game speed in the menu that ameliorates the issue with combat being too fast, but I wish I had known about (S)hadowing.

    There might be more helpful shortcuts and tricks. It seems this is one where we'll have to read the manual thoroughly.

  5. Looks like the creator really liked their Sci-Fi films.

    Dutch and Dillon from Predator, and Melina from Total Recall (although looking like Ripley...)?

    Reminds me a bit of Megatraveller more than Starflight, although my memories of Megatraveller are rather hazy apart from the awkward UI and similarly tough learning curve!

  6. Space combat gets easy at some point. Some mission upgrades your ship and it's easy from there on. Perhaps Stuart is correct and it's just a lot more fun boarding raider craft and placing science equipment when you're twelve. Is it the game or is it the power of imagination?

  7. Oh! I so got this!! the couple on the bottom right, Gotta be "Buck Rogers" and "Wilma Deering" (crosses fingers for the coveted "Name a character after me" award).

    long time fan/lurker luv ya crpg addict.

  8. I find that the game speed adjusts the overall frame rate, but not the relative differences between your ship and the others. On the other hand, maybe that's just what Level 1 feels like and I need to improve. "(S)hadow" hasn't really worked for me, but the game manual suggests I need to improve maneuverability first.

    Atom, you could very well be right, but I feel like I've seen that specific image before, and I can't find it if I search "Buck Rogers." Still, you earned a name.

    Andy, the "Predator" and "Total Recall" references were my own. I had Schwarzenegger in my head from the obvious "Terminator" image and just went with it. Probably should have named one of the women "Mildred."

  9. Someone ought to make an unofficial DOSBox build that allows color-blind people to do something like flashing or changing each of the colors while the emulation is paused. I guess it'd really only help in 16-color EGA games though.

    I've never managed to give this game a real try (despite the PC version of Starflight being one of my favorite video games of all time), so I was interested in hearing your review to know whether or not I should keep it in my backlog. So far it's not sounding like it's worth playing.

  10. I'd be interested to see if the comparisons with Megatraveller were accurate, as I loved that game. Admittedly, I spent about five times as much time in the career-mode character generator than the actual game, but still, good times. :)

  11. I'm not sure what the love of this game is all about. I played it back when it was brand new on the Commodore 64. At the time, it seemed okay, but somewhat difficult.

    I have since tried to play the PC version a couple of times, and can't get very far with it. There might be some difference between the versions or the control scheme, I can't be sure.

    So, even though, at one time I played about halfway through this game with a friend, I can now say that this game isn't that great and hasn't aged well at all. I think people are just nostalgic. Does that help?

  12. Keep in mind that people are recalling things from childhood. Memories tend to be rosy. I read a novel called Spellfire as a kid, by Ed Greenwood. Filled my mind with wonder and other such things. Reread it a few years ago, couldn't figure out what I saw in that drek ---Even the scenes that were originally good were awful.

  13. Chiding someone about their intelligence while getting their name wrong doesn't ring too well there CRPG Lover.

  14. The Enraged Geek's comment reminded me of something: according to MobyGames, Sentinel was released for C64 after it was released for DOS. I wonder if any improvements were made to the controls, etc. for the C64 port?

  15. I simply cannot understand how this game could be bad. Your crew has the Terminator, Ripley from Alien and Lando Calrissian as members.

    When I go back to play older games, I tend to avoid anything that even remotely resembles an action RPG with realtime segments. I find that they age poorly due to their interfaces, graphics levels (or maybe colour code in this case) and the speed they move on a newer system. I wonder if maybe the ships didn't leave the space flight/battle window as quickly back in the day. Have you tried playing using a lower number of cycles on dosbox?

  16. The 2 people from the picture... could they be from Dan Dare?? (UK Sci Fi comics from the 60's?)

  17. I just loaded the Commodore 64 version to check it out. Sure enough, space combat is slow. Ships move about once a second. It's almost turn-based.

    There's a good chance the DOS version is set too fast.

  18. That's too bad this game isn't better. I was looking forward to posts on it, and have been looking forward to playing it for literally years. I guess I have to look forward to not playing it, aye? {sigh} Aye.

  19. Has anyone here actually beaten the game? (I never did, seems like I played it forever). I'm starting to think there's a good reason there was never a "Sentinel Worlds II: Future Super Magic - Electric Boogaloo!"

    1. I have, took awhile, and some manual mapping (the space-base is HUGE) I love the game, and I've learned more about linux for this game than any other reason. Hints: 1. SAVE game, then get your science officer doing an upgrade.. if she fails.. reload.
      2. use both screens to handle combat, and be ready on the slowdown key.. speed up enough to get the target on-screen, slowdown once or twice, then shadow, then activate lasers. Fast fingers help.

    2. Wait, you learned about linux playing the game or getting it to work on your linux box?

    3. Yes. I beat it. Once. The final sequence requires finding a specific point in space (x,y) and then initiating a hyperspace jump to another specific point in space (x,y). I very specifically recall that. And I did it once. A few years back I went back and tried to do it again and couldn't remember how.

      I'm also going to have to not be the second juror. Loved this game, but my today's standards it was brutally difficult.

  20. Well, I never claimed this game to be great, it just has that 'nostalgia' bonus for me and I love Sci-Fi and especially Sci-Fi themed RPGs, no matter how good or bad they are. If it's Sci-Fi it automatically has a bonus for me (except for Mass Effect, because it's not a RPG)! ;)

    The space combat is indeed difficult due to a too fast DOSBox CPU but I think it gets easier when skills improve. Hard Nova, the unrelated sequel has this somewhat improved.

    About the ground combat... I always ignored the 3D-like backdrop and concentrated only on the top-down view in the front. the 3D part never really bothered me. The rotating map takes a bit to get used to but after a short while I never had any problems with it either.

    Quest-wise the game indeed throws you into cold water. If you like to take a hint ... there's a yacht around the area where you start the game, scan for it, approach it and dock it. The raiders should best be ignored at the beginning.

    @The Enraged Geek: I finished the game twice. The story plot is quite good with a few surprises in there. There is at least an unofficial sequel named Hard Nova though it's story is completely unrelated.

    Btw the game was made by Malibu Software, aka Karl Buiter, not Electronic Arts. They only published it. So please do us fans a favor and don't credit EA for this game.

  21. Glad to see that you have some time again. I found a copy of this game but can't figure out quite how to get it running in DOSbox. Guess I will have to read the manual.

  22. I remember having trouble getting either this or Hard Nova to work as well.

    Any issues with getting reviewed games to work in DOSBox would be worth noting on the blog in case they might help others.

  23. ....So the solution is to go into dosbox.conf and fiddle with the [cpu] section?

    On that topic what scalar do you use Addict? I like advmame3x when I'm playing X-COM.

  24. I know you didn't ask me, but I use scaler=none, aspect=true, output=opengl and fullresolution=1920x1200 (native res of my monitors) on all games.

    The output=opengl will cause DOSBox's graphics to be bilinear filtered in hardware (output=openglnb disables filtering), giving them a look not unlike the warm glow of a DOS-era CRT monitor.

  25. I'm a fan of using advmame2x myself- it makes all the older DOS games look like they are being played with a Super Nintendo :) More soft and rounded, not hard and jaggy. Y'oughta give it a try!

  26. On that topic what scalar do you use Addict? I like advmame3x when I'm playing X-COM.

    Please, no filters on pixel art, some of us enjoy looking at the original artwork as it was created, if not as it was at the period enjoyed. It's sad enough that old games didn't have 1:1 pixel aspect ratio (which we can emulate in dosbox but not perfectly without some amount of filtering), it's also a problem that CRT monitors had additive glow and made pixel clusters bleed together (very complicated to emulate at all) that LCD monitors in their (ortherwise beautiful and prefferable for new-school pixel graphics) crispness lack, if you filter everything it just pushes me to tears.

  27. Some of us prefer not to play our games in windows the size of postage stamps.

  28. I appreciate that. I personally see sharply upscaled pixel art (x2 and x3 size) as something pleasing to look at. There's other weirdos like me that prefer jagged steps in pixel art than blurry overcompensation with filters.

  29. Part of the point of these type of filters is to leave the edges on without blurring while making it look a bit more like it would have on the original CRT: If you upscale things by nearest neighbour then you are making things look much more blocky then they would have originally on a low resolution monitor.

  30. I'm not sure how much we should debate this here. If you'll allow me a final comment: if you uprez a 320x200 screen at x3 you have the same pixels-to-inch ratio pretty much that you did in your CRT monitors in the 80s or 90s. And although the pixels are crisper on LCD, they're not as blurry as composite TV signals you might remember from that era. I have yet seen no filters that approximate 90's computer monitor bleed, and I'm talking as a very informed individual on this matter.

  31. I do have a solution for you that avoids the whole issue:
    I have several C64s with a couple original monitors in my basement, as well as a 800x600 CRT from my old P3. I don't think I have the one off my Dad's 386 down there still, but I might have the one off the 486. Would that solve the problem? :D

  32. I appreciate your offer to ship a cranky old monitor to Greece, Canageek :)

  33. For anyone who may be interested, I've started a "Let's Play" series on Sentinel Worlds I.

    Click Here.

    CRPG Addict, I hope you don't mind my unabashed plug on your blog. I did plug your blog in the first video's description. :)

  34. Regarding ship combat being too fast in DOSBox I can think of several settings to change.

    First, CPU core. I think Auto tends to try and use Dynamic, which is faster, so maybe setting it to Simple would help.

    Second, cycles, obviously.

    Third, CPU type. DOSBox by default emulates a 486 that supports Pentium commands. Setting this to a 286 for SW might make things slower even without changing the number of cycles.

    Good luck!

  35. core=auto will only use the dynamic core if a 32-bit DOS extender is loaded, which is something that didn't even exist when Sentinel Worlds was released.

    Amy's let's-play videos show that you can pick an in-game FPS value that should make the game speed independent of the DOSBox cycles= setting. It might be worth trying to set a smaller FPS value and seeing what happens.

  36. Surely those two characters are some kind of reference to Tron:


    The laser blasters, though, throw me off.

  37. Actually, I am starting to agree with Atom: that it's Buck Rogers and Wilma Deering:

    Maybe, just with Tron helmets...

  38. I have never played this game, but it looks cool!

  39. Its been about 25 years since I played this, but if I recall correctly, there is a guy on his rich yacht who you can visit from the beginning of the game who will upgrade your ship for free. That should help you with shadowing and killing the raiders.

    I think you can follow his beacon in space to find his ship and then doc with it, and find him on the bridge and talk to him?

  40. I'm more looking forward to the next game on the list; Star Command was one of the first PC games I ever tried playing.

    And since its another space RPG that lets you build a team of characters, the comparisons to Sentinel Worlds should be interesting. Nostalgia and familiarity makes me think it should be less painful than his descriptions so far.

    Just some quick info for Star Command:
    - You'll want to sit for a while rolling up characters; especially to pick up someone with 50+ ESP stat who can go into the Esper class. You are limited to one per party, they get special abilities, and the best hand to hand weapon. They are also the only non-pilot class who can train in Astro-Gunner for ship to ship combat. They can't train in heavy weapons though.
    - Running out of fuel is most likely a game over- only rarely will someone not starve to death. If you keep getting attacked while trying to get back to safety, expect to run out of fuel repeatedly. For this reason I normally avoid energy weapons(that take a unit of fuel per shot). Try never to use half your available fuel, or you never make it back to base.
    - It can be helpful to not immediately turn in a completed mission- you get 'monthly' pay based on rank; but there is no visible calender or time tracker. As long as you don't dock, you can go blow up ships, explore, trade, etc.
    - Keep notes of coordinates of useful planets; especially ones that sell fuel that are outside of the safe triangle. With those you can explore further away without having to immediately buy a bigger ship.
    - If you start over on an install of the game, it will 'remember' your progress/exploration in the outdoor environments/bases/etc. The good side is traps/doors you opened will be open; the downside is optional items you took will be gone. It can get a little weird on the places you are supposed to blow up.
    - Strength, for carrying capacity is very important. The best equipment weighs the most, especially armor. Your weapons can be blown up as well, so you want some sort of backup- I recommend grenades(they don't weigh much, and don't need a lot of skill to be effective).

  41. Hey, everyone. I got way behind on comments and probably won't catch up on them individually, so let me just say thanks for all the tips about this game. Slowing down the DOSBox CPU rate and messing with the in-game FPS do make the battles slower, but the navigation window is still inexcusably small.

    Canageek, HunterZ, and william, I have no idea what y'all are talking about (and no time to fiddle with it right now), so I suppose my answer is "the defaults."

    Amy, thanks for positing your videos! I'll watch them until they start to offer spoilers (or if I decide tos top playing).

    Bleaghhh, I didn't get her name wrong. I was making a joke that she looked like Tasha Yar.

  42. I have also beaten this game and I did enjoy it despite its klutzy interface. I was willing to forgive its many faults because the game was groundbreaking for its time.

    I would love to see another company attempt to make a sci-fi themed RPG with the same level of scope and ambition that this game had (but with the flaws fixed) PC games these days tend to be rather...shallow.

    1. Amen to this. I'd give large amounts of money for a game of this depth and pure exploration fun!

  43. Maaaan. I remember this game. Ok. Here's the deal.

    If you want to min/max the characters max out Con and Int as they contribute to HP and skills when you level. You can raise the other stats up as you level. The downside to this is you may need to grind a bit to level up and invest in Athletics (allows you to raise stats over +3), gain cash (to pay for raising stats)., to get far. I recall your comm officer needing a high something to talk to people but I can't recall if it was a CHA stat (which would suck) or a communications skill (which would be awesome and easy to raise with a high INT and a few levels).

    In space combat - its all about the move/fire/evade skills of your ships computer. You ship is PAINFULLY slow and under gunned until you have your com specialist hack on the software and get it to higher levels. Luckily this only takes time. Success means the skills go up. Failure means they go down. Without resorting to save/reload tricks you should be able to get them up pretty high. There is also a single luxury yacht run by some rich guy who will give you a +1 in all computer skills if you board and talk to him. Do this once you've hacked your computer skills as high as you can otherwise its a waste. Once the skills are up you can easily outmaneuver and outgun any enemy ship. For optimal cash per raider knock out their engines, board them, head to the armory, take the Tesselator (sells for 600 credits if I recall) and repeat. You should be able to do this (once you're good at it in about 2 mins) making for fast efficient xp and cash grinding if you're into that. Optionally you could just focus on the hull and get (I think) 200 credits for killing each raider and miss out on the XP.

    For skills weapons. Do ONLY guns. Beam weapons are too rare. Melee weapons don't allow your whole party to get in on the action. Only downside is you need to pack LOTS of ammo. Also allows you to focus on a single weapon skill and ignore STR as a stat. Head straight to that farming planet and buy Shotguns and ammo for all.

    Also invest in the Recon skill. It allows you to see where loot is on your map. Very nice.

    Anyhow - explore, level up, kill some raiders. I don't know what the trigger is but at some point a distress beacon appears on the ice planet. Follow it and you'll get breadcrumbs through the plot till the end of the game. The mid game is excellent but it tries to get all epic toward the end and just ends up kinda silly.

    All in all, a fun game.

  44. I appreciate the tips. I'll give them a try when I return to the game.

  45. Interesting how that mining thing from two EA game of the '80s, return in a contemporary game like Mass Effect 2.

  46. Man, I got to the distress beacon on the ice planet, and the game always locked up on me. I tried over and over, but that was the end of the line.

    Seeing as how the game to that point wasn't particularly cool, I always considered Sentinel Worlds to be lame. Kinda wish I'd been able to see the good parts.

    Karl Buiter's next game -- Hard Nova -- was pretty damn cool.

  47. Hopefully you are still going to give this game a try.

  48. I finished it when it was new, on PC and as some have said the start and lack of direction is the biggest problem. I restarted several times before the pacing clicked and once the main plot is underway the rave reviews make more sense.

    I certainly remember the priority stat was INT - but went for a more balanced set of weapon skills than just guns. There was something very satisfying about the sound effects for some of the later weapons for one and I remember there being good reason to use them but am vague as to details after all this time.

    The game offers new mechanics and reasons to do certain actions intervals which is one of those reasons it works so well once you realise what these are, but if you don;t make that connection it can be a really bad grind. Not great design but early days of the art :)

    1. Anon, I'm glad you commented here, because it made me remember how many gameplay tips people had offered in the comments the first time. As I get started playing this one again, these hints really help.

  49. I remember finishing this game on the pc when it first came out. I really enjoyed it back then as well as Wasteland. I remember grabbing a hint book for it because they were selling it cheap. I don't remember too much from the game, but I do remember placing my medic guy in the 3rd spot when on away missions because then he could heal everyone.

    1. Yep, the middle of the party is the best choice. :)

    2. Yes, I learned that the hard way after my lead characters died a few times.

  50. Ill be honest...this was one of the best games I have ever played. Only The Bards Tale and Star Flight and The Gold Box D&D series were better. Yes, there is a learning curve...but wow totally awesome game.

  51. This is one of the best Sci-Fi RPGs I have ever played. In fact, I beat it multiple times back in 1988/1989 on my Tandy 1000 TX (the 3-voice audio is incredibly good and blows away the awful PC speaker). It also is greatly enhanced on an RGB monitor which you can't seen on a modern PC. Actually, most RPGs from the sub-1989 EGA/TGA 16-color era are extraordinarily enhanced by a true RGB monitor. It is worth getting a Tandy and a CM-5 Color Monitor just to play them on it.

    Sentinel Worlds is a true jewel in gaming. The interface took getting used to but the plot/gameplay/action/depth--all of this really contributed to making it so great.

    1. I'm glad to hear that you feel so positively about the game. As you'll see from my eventual final rating, I didn't end the experience feeling that way, but of course that's only my opinion.

  52. Well, it "looks" amazing - a missing link between Starflight and Star Control II. That interface...maybe the idea was that you are looking at this from behind your helmet front window, so you see a top-down display inside your helmet...I don't know... but thank you again, Addict, here's another game I have to add to my soon-to-play list.

  53. looks like an old link here , but I will comment anyway. This game took my breath away when I first played it. Finally a game where you attack ships and also board them , a game where you don't have to follow the store line , build your team up with different weapons and people, upgrade your ship and repair the damage while still in space, go explore any planet you want , go where ever you want, land on planets, meet people , check out any room of any building . This is one of those games that you will spend hours and hours playing ,but as you ship gets stronger , faster and with a lot better weapons , now the game starts to take on a whole new storyline, because with a stronger ship you can now protect others and take out whole groups of ships with ease , even further down the game as your people get stronger and better at there skills (all upgradeable) your now able to go into hostile areas with no problems. Starts out a little tough and sucks when you have crew member die, but once you get going , man this game is awesome.

    1. Replicating an original player's experience is something that I can't really do, so I greatly appreciate comments like this. I can see why it would have been appealing at the time.

  54. Having the box spoils the game, the picture on the back shows coordinates on the ice planet for a killer weapon eventually run across it dropping beacons/satellites or whatever, but that sped up the killing.

    My friend and I bought the hint guide, as we spent DAYS wandering around the raider camp, unable to figure out the way to finish it. Beat it within an hour of having the guide. Crazy stuff, great memories.


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