Saturday, June 5, 2021

Mission: Thunderbolt: Won! (with Summary and Rating)

I poured myself a tall one at this point.
Mission: Thunderbolt
United States
MegaCorp (developer); Casady & Greene (publisher)
Based on a module originally released as Doomsday 2000 on mainframes in 1987
Released in 1992 for Macintosh, 1993 for Windows 3
Date Started: 16 March 2021
Date Ended: 24 May 2021
Total Hours: 45
Difficulty: Hard-Very Hard (4.5/5)
Final Rating: 41
Ranking at Time of Posting: 349/417 (84%)
A fun, engaging roguelike with a science fiction setting, Mission: Thunderbolt sends your character into a 16-level corporation headquarters to recover an anti-matter bomb and perhaps save the world from alien invasion. The building--partly hand-designed and partly randomly-generated--is crawling with aliens and their human sympathizers. Although Thunderbolt allows you to save, it's no "roguelite." The game is consistently challenging (but fair), and has an advanced roguelike's inventory, combat, and exploration mechanics. Its interface makes excellent use of the Mac's strengths even if its graphics and sound are nothing special.

What I love about roguelikes is that their unpredictable, sandbox nature creates epic stories unique to each player. What I dislike is that those stories are completely incomprehensible to anyone who hasn't played the same game. Tell a non-NetHack player how you were steps from victory but you ate meat from a tin to cure hunger and it turned out to be cockatrice meat and you turned to stone. Or how you made it to the castle only to have a lich curse your flute at the last second, so you couldn't get the drawbridge down, but just as you were turning to leave, an elf captain showed up and zapped at you with a Wand of Cold, which missed but froze the moat behind you, allowing you to cross. You might get a "cool story, bro," but no real understanding of how tragic or awesome that moment was.
It's worse with Mission: Thunderbolt because the game only has a few fans. I'm full of stories that only Ground_Gainer will really understand--stories about how I was carefully laying mines along a corridor for the dreadnought, but he just blew open the wall next to me, detonating the mines while I was still standing in them. Or about how I spent three hours reclaiming a level from an icky lump infestation by closing off areas with holocubes. Or how I managed to clear a warren of about 20 enemies while my character was confused and stumbling around randomly the entire time. But those of you with roguelike experience will basically get it. There are roguelikes that don't allow for this kind of storytelling--that adopt some basic mechanics of Rogue or NetHack but never do anything with complex item or creature interaction or environmental randomization. I would consider them bad roguelikes.
My little storage area on Level 4, near the reclamation center. I cleaned up the level by selling absolutely every object to the center, even if it wasn't worth anything.
Mission: Thunderbolt is a good roguelike--perhaps even a great one (though I speak from somewhat limited experience). That doesn't mean I always loved it. I nearly quit about 20 times. Having won, I feel about its author the way I felt about my drill sergeant at the end of basic training: I'm grateful for the experience, but did you have to be that much of a dick? It's much harder than NetHack, except that it allows saving and NetHack doesn't. I shudder at the thought of trying to win this one with permadeath.
Despite its science fiction trappings, Thunderbolt is a lot like NetHack. Success comes from learning the strengths and weaknesses of each enemy, from learning how to explore the dungeon safely, and from fully exploiting your inventory. The manual tells you very little. You have to learn through trial and error that you can create a super-bomb by filling up a crate with grenades, activating one, and then hucking it at an enemy, that you can bash through walls with a crowbar, that "snagglepusses" steal your stuff, that you have to stand next to utility bots if you want paint or slime cleaned off you, that damage to your strength and dexterity can be cured but damage to your constitution cannot, and so on. There are web sites and FAQs to help, of course, but not nearly as comprehensively as NetHack or some of the other titans of the roguelike genre. 
I don't even know how to structure all of the notes and issues I have with the game, so let me just do it in bulleted fashion.
  • Services. Life is good when you're close to a bank, AutoDoc, library (which tells you what unknown items are), vending machine (particularly with healing pills), and reclamation center. In the reclamation center, you can drop off unneeded equipment for money, although not everything is worth something. When I was dithering around trying to avoid a dangerous area, I spent a lot of time sweeping through previously-explored areas, picking up everything of any value and taking it to the reclamation center. Sometimes these service locations are wonky and damage you when you try to use them, but I found you can repair them with the sonic screwdriver. One huge complaint: AutoDocs only work based on cash-in-hand, rather than all the money you've been putting in your account. Thus, an AutoDoc is useless without a bank (or cash source) nearby.
A "reclamation center" buys things you can't use.
  • Penalties. Even though I don't really care about my score, just about winning, the "bonus" and "penalty" statistics are oddly motivating. I probably could have won faster by saving and "saving as" a lot more, but you lose hundreds of points every time you save, and it's discouraging to see that penalty statistic racking up. Some of the other penalties are mysterious to me. You get a penalty for every "kiddie kommando"--easily the most annoying enemy in the game--that you kill. You get a penalty every time you try to use a crowbar or sonic screwdriver to disable a trap. Why?
  • Alarms. Every once in a while, usually when you arrive on a new level or force your way through a door or wall, the game rings a cacophonous clang, clang, clang accompanied by a "red alert" or "yellow alert" warning. This was so annoying that it made me want to scream. On the final level, where both you and the enemies are bashing doors open left and right, it sounds repeatedly. It's usually accompanied by CyberCops, enforcers, or sentinels bent on killing or capturing you. 
Every time this happened, it pissed me off.
  • Captured. I noted this in a previous entry. Some enemies--CyberCops, enforcers, sentinels--don't always kill you; they just knock you down to one hit point. You wake up with no equipment in a cell, tied to a chair, with a 10,000-point penalty. I did what someone recommended and played through the scenario. You can free yourself from the chair by repeatedly bashing it into a wall, and then get out of your cell by repeatedly pounding on the door. From there, you can find some basic equipment until you find a footlocker containing all your old equipment on the west side of the level. Yay. But what that commenter didn't tell me is that every time you get imprisoned, your bank account is frozen and you can no longer access any funds you've deposited. I had built up $5,000 in that account. That was a dealbreaker.
  • Traps. Worst part of the game. There are these corrosive mist traps that wipe out half your equipment, gravity traps that won't let you go until you drop everything, traps that give you diseases that sap your hit points until you die. You want to have "auto-search" on to find them, but just about everything turns off "auto-search," so constantly monitoring it is about as annoying as just manually searching. Searching even multiple times doesn't always find every trap, either. I didn't discover until late in my final session that you can disarm traps with crowbars and sonic screwdrivers, but it takes multiple attempts, and they damage you--sometimes massively--while you're making those attempts.
  • Warrens. Warrens are un-numbered areas accessible from the main levels through long tunnels. They tend to feature just one or two types of creatures and often have some kind of theme. They're usually a few levels harder than the one you access them from. I found some useful items in warrens, but generally they were recipes for death, like the all-fangwing warren (see next point) or warrens full of radioactive waste.
Falling into a biohazard in a warren. I later learned you need a special suit to survive here.
  • Poison. A lot of stuff is capable of poisoning you, particularly these awful enemies called fangwings that move too fast for you to avoid or outrun. Once you kill them, you have to spend a few minutes walking or resting to determine if the poison is going to kill you or wear off. It almost always kills you. I'd say, "Good. I killed the fangwing when I still had 100 hit points left. Surely it won't last long enough to erase 100 hit points," but of course it would. Your only hope is a pill of neutralize poison, but these are rare and go fast. I can't tell you how many characters I lost to fangwings.
  • Power. So many things depend on power, and there are so few power devices until the last couple of levels. A laser pistol fires about six shots before it has to be recharged. A light globe lasts about 20 steps. A sonic screwdriver is good for one or two uses. A "forcefield pack" might last 12-15 actions. All of these things need to be recharged. I did not find nearly enough powercells to make the regular use of even one of these devices viable, let alone all of them. And that's without the infuriating random energy drains that happen as you walk around.
  • Icky lumps. These goddamned things are like slimes in Ultima except they divide all on their own, not just when you hit them. Once you see one of them, you'd better kill it fast, because if you let them spread, they can easily take over an entire level or more. They're so horrible that you could be forgiven for thinking that clearing them is the point of the game. If the level is one with a lot of doors, you can clear them by closing most of the doors and killing one room at a time faster than they can replenish. But if the level is more open, with multiple ways to expand, it's hopeless. I had to abandon entire levels, some with useful stuff, to icky lumps. Two nights in a row, I had nightmares about them. The only good thing is that they drop a lot of cash.
I'm slowly reclaiming this level from icky lumps (little yellow blobs) by compartmentalizing them.
What gets me most about the game is how quickly everything can turn to complete chaos. You might arrive on a new level perfectly healthy, feeling well-equipped and ready for anything. You've got your light globe going so you can see more than one square away and react appropriately to approaching enemies. Your laser pistol is in hand. Suddenly, a mysterious power drain puts out your light globe, so you're only able to see one square away. "Splat!" A kiddie kommando hits you in the face with a paintball, and everything goes blank. You try to wait out the effects of the blindness. In the meantime, a prickly orb comes up, hits you, and makes you clumsy. You drop both your main weapon and your reserve. You try to make it back to the stairs, but you fall down a hole, dropping more stuff. You manage to recover your laser pistol and your vision clears just in time to see a snagglepuss coming down the hallway. You fire your laser pistol, but it explodes in your hand, causing you to drop your crowbar. The snagglepuss rips your Kevlar suit off your body, leaving you with no armor, and runs off. Suddenly, an invisible CyberCop is attacking you from some direction, but you don't know which. Trying to get away from him, you step into an electrical trap and die. All of this can take literally 20 seconds, during which the messages are flying by so fast that it's easy to overlook something.
My winning character was named PFC Chang. As I played him, I allowed myself to save every 20 minutes. I literally set a timer. I nearly gave up on Level 12 when for four straight hours, I was unable to get to the 20-minute mark so that I could save again. That is, I kept reloading from the same save point and dying before I could make it 20 minutes past that. 
There are few online resources, none comprehensive, about Thunderbolt, but on some message board that I looked at, I got the impression that late in the game there would be a need for a large amount of money, like $20,000. So I had Chang spend a lot of time running around collecting items and taking them to the salvage depot. I established a little safe area on Levels 4-6, where collectively I had all of the services including a Transmat Booth (teleports you to any other level that also has such a booth). I cleared out a space to dump items that I wasn't sure I needed, or excesses of munitions. I returned regularly when I needed some device or pill identified. 
The level that nearly made me quit was Level 12, which had a lot of enforcers. I could only beat them by activating a forcefield pack, but it was constantly running out of power. More important was a unique enemy called a "terrorist collaborator" who was capable of just detonating any wall in between him and his goal. I spent hours trying to set traps for him before I got lucky and managed to kill him with a couple shots from a laser rifle.
It was around this level that I started encountering "shimmering hazes," one of two non-corporeal enemies--the other is vampire mists--that permanently damage your statistics and cannot be hit with melee or laser weapons, only blasters. I had to abandon levels when I encountered them, but ultimately I found a blaster and everything was fine.
I lost Levels 13 and 14 to icky lumps, but fortunately there were Transmat Booths on both Levels 14 and 15, so I could still get around. Level 15 was the penultimate level and I figured I should explore it comprehensively. It offered a plethora of Zytts (the alien enemy), enforcers, and sentinels, plus this incredibly difficult unique enemy called a dreadnought. Like the terrorist collaborator, he was capable of just blasting his way wherever he wanted to go, so all my attempts to lay mines or use grenades were for naught. I eventually led him to the Transmat Booth--risky, because the booths can be destroyed--and settled into a pattern of fighting him until I was nearly dead, then warping back to an earlier level for healing, then returning. After about 10 rounds of this, I started to question whether the game even remembers damage done to enemies after you leave their levels. I had to change my strategy.
By this time, I started to get the sense that I wasn't going to need $20,000 for anything, so I allowed myself to splurge at the vending machine. If I'd done this earlier in the game, it would have gone a lot easier (although the endgame might have been harder), because the vending machine sells both healing pills and power cells. When you purchase healing pills, you usually get a regular healing pill that has a chance of restoring anywhere from 1 hit point to maximum health. But there's a small chance you'll get a rare pill like one that boosts your attributes, or one that boosts maximum health. So after about an hour of trading my money for pills, I not only had a few dozen healing pills but also near-maxed attributes.
However, at some point, the vending machine ran out, and it was the only one I found. I ended up needing all those pills on the last couple of levels, so perhaps it's a good thing I didn't allow myself to use it earlier.
Anyway, with about three dozen pills at the ready, I just beat on the dreadnought until it was dead and I was down to about eight pills. Icky lumps had taken over the level while we were fighting, and clearing them was hard because the dreadnought had blasted open a bunch of walls and doors. Nonetheless, I forced myself to do it and got a decent supply of late-game equipment.
I trade blows with the dreadnought while icky lumps slowly take over the level around us.
Level 16 was the last level. It consisted of three sections, each with a set of concentric square hallways, and these were full to the brim with Zytts and "giant tentacular horrors." I basically needed to keep my power shield going and use my blaster constantly, but the level was also generous with power cells, and if necessary, I could go back to the vending machine for more. Alarms went off constantly, bringing invisible CyberCops with them. Still, the area was more methodical than actively difficult. I died only about 12 times, mostly because I was hesitant to eat my limited supply of pills unless it was truly necessary.
At the center of the first set of corridors was a "Giant Zytt." I couldn't find any secret door; I had to pound my way into his little room with a crowbar. He was about as hard to kill as the dreadnought. I expected he would have the L.A.M.B. (large anti-matter bomb, the object of the game), so I was frustrated and disappointed when I couldn't find it. That's when I realized that what I had originally taken as one small level in fact had the same configuration replicated three times, side-by-side. None of the three areas had connecting doors, so I had to bash my way between them.
Fighting one of three big bosses. I don't know if I'm accidentally fighting with my crowbar, or if I just took this shot before I swapped it out for my main weapon.
After a few hours, I had finally killed all three Giant Zytts, but I still hadn't found the L.A.M.B. At that point, I realized that the L.A.M.B. was probably one of the two "strange devices" that I had with me, and that it would have to be identified like the others. I might have even found it after the first Giant Zytt. I'm not sure.
The game had one last annoyance for me: I couldn't get back up to Level 15 because the icky lump infestation had returned, and they were blocking the stairs. For a while, I wasn't sure what to do. You can't hack holes in the floors or ceilings of Level 16. There were no Transmat Booths. You can't fire upwards in the stairwell, killing the enemy above. But eventually the lumps cleared that one space and allowed me upward. I had to cleave my way through hundreds of them to get to the Transmat Booth, but they weren't hard, just annoying. From there, I warped back to Level 5 and identified the L.A.M.B. It turned out the other strange device I had was a "Jaunt Box," which I think allows you to teleport around at will, so maybe I could have used that to get out of Level 16. I was out of power, though.
Standing amidst the detritus of the final level, trying to get back up to the previous one.
The game is like Rogue, where the levels get easier as you go up and there are no special enemies trying to kill you with the Amulet of Yendor. (NetHack, of course, famously gets harder after you have the Amulet, even on the upper levels.) It was thus relatively easy to return to the entrance and get out for the winning message. It was probably the greatest sense of relief I've felt since winning NetHack eight years ago.
You gain three levels when you win the game.
Like I said, Mission: Thunderbolt is a good roguelike, and it improves with experience. I didn't really learn how to use most of my equipment effectively until the last couple of levels. I didn't use flares at all until Level 14, and then kicked myself because I could have been buying them cheaply from the vending machine all along. (You throw them ahead of you to see what's there.) I didn't learn that I could disarm traps or fix service machines until the last quarter of the game. And there were plenty of things I never explored, such as feeding food items to monsters to make friends (the game has no hunger system, so that's all food is good for). I never learned what a radometer, gravbelt, or stimmer was for. I never ate a corpse; I assume there must be some benefit to some of them, but I didn't learn it. Ultimately, Thunderbolt is probably fairer than I'm making it out to be. You just have to develop the expertise.
On a GIMLET, I give the game:
  • 2 points for the game world. The sci-fi framing story is okay, but the game is too goofy most of the time and doesn't take its own story seriously enough.
  • 3 points for character creation and development. You have limited options during creation. Development occurs via leveling (which mostly increases your max hit points) and finding pills to improve attributes. There is no sense of character class or role-playing, however.
  • 1 point for NPC Interaction. I'll give that point to a couple of friendly robots and the ability to "tame" some of the creatures.
These bots may be blocking me in, but at least they killed a giant ant for me.
  • 4 points for encounters and foes. There are no puzzles in the game, but the list of monsters is original and memorable in the variety of their attacks and defenses.
  • 6 points for combat. It doesn't offer quite as many options as NetHack, but it otherwise has a roguelike's complexity. Mastering the use of terrain, positioning, different types of weapons and devices, munitions, and other creatures is crucial. Sometimes, you have to know when an area or foe is hopeless and just avoid it. 
  • 7 points for equipment. The game really shines in this area, not only with a large variety of weapons, wearables, and digestibles, but some creative ways that the items work in concert. It does not rise quite to NetHack's level of interactivity, but it's better than most RPGs on the market in 1992.
I never did learn what the scanner scans for. Traps?
  • 5 points for the economy. You need money for healing, equipment, and use of the Transmat booths, and while money is plentiful, it's also work to earn it. I didn't really cover this, but coins have weight, so with your other equipment, you can maybe carry 50 of them at a time. Even on levels with plentiful coin, you have to spend hours shuffling it bit by bit to the bank.
  • 3 points for a main quest with no alternatives and choices. It also has no side-quests, but it has some side areas that are almost as good.
  • 5 points for graphics, sound, and interface. The graphics are a little small, although the game allows you to zoom in with the "Detail" window. Sound effects were fine but a bit sparse. Where the game really shines is its interface. Not only are the windows user-definable and arrangeable, you have multiple ways to execute commands, including the menus, the keyboard, a command list window, and a button window. You can also click on the screen to move and do obvious things like searching, picking up items, and attacking enemies. I mostly did everything with key commands, and I generally found them easy to master.
  • 5 points for gameplay. It has a bit of nonlinearity in the warrens and Transmat Booths and just the overall size of the levels. It's definitely replayable. Every time you start a new character, you're going to get a slightly different experience. As for difficulty and length, I'm giving it half-credit, but I suspect those figures would grow with experience and push the game towards a 7 or 8 in this category.
That gives a final score of 41, well into "recommended" territory, and definitely quite high for a Mac game. But as with Dungeon Master-type games, my GIMLET doesn't serve roguelikes that well. Roguelike fans generally aren't in it for the story or NPCs, and thus Thunderbolt would be closer to a 50 for roguelikes specifically. If I'd known about this game in 1992, in my only Mac-owning period, it would have certainly affected my college performance.
Amusing aside: the current Wikipedia article for the game has an image supposedly of the game's cover. It is in fact a poster for the 1983 Hong Kong action film of the same name. The actual cover, for which I have not been able to find a good image, has a female protagonist surrounded by aliens on it. (It's the same as the game's main title screen.) It just now occurs to me that you cannot set your sex during character creation, but all of the robots call you "Ma'am," so I guess the hero of the game is canonically female.
I covered the history of the game in my first entry. Suffice to say here that it didn't sell well despite positive reviews from Mac magazines, possibly because Casady & Greene didn't really specialize in games, possibly because you don't purchase a Mac if you're into hard things. A few years later, author Dave Scheifler re-released it as shareware with upgraded graphics, a JauntTrooper master title, and a sequel: Mission: Firestorm (1995). That's on my list and I look forward to it--but I'm not sorry that it's a few years away.


  1. The score of 41 is absurd. Not deserved at all.

    1. Which categories do you take issue with?

    2. It's an awesome roguelike that stands up today, especially when combined with it's sequel (characters import).

    3. I mean I'm not big into roguelikes and not a single one of them could ever compete with a proper hand-designed RPG for me, but as far as the genre goes, this is a good entry of it.

    4. Well, that was definitely "telling" instead of "showing" or "explaining." Is this the CRPG Addict's first novelty account?

    5. You know you've made it as a reviewer when you get folks who just complain about the score number value without context or frame of reference.

    6. He didn't even say if he thought it was too high or too low.

    7. Yes, 38 have been better

    8. You brought up an interesting philosophical question, Ground_Gainer - a sequel that rewards the dedication of the previous game's players.can be truly, well, rewarding. But shouldn't a game be able to stand on its own merits without requiring you to buy or beat the previous game? It's not like that was a trivial task, as we've seen here.

  2. I'm guessing the penalty points for killing kiddie kommandos are because they're, well, kiddies.

    1. It does seem a little insulting for the game to tell you that you have to do anything to stop the alien invasion (one where they're using THEIR OWN KIDS as soldiers) and then penalize you for self-defense. As seen below, the game does have a clever non-lethal solution for getting rid of kiddie kommandos, but I can see leaving the kiddie kommandos alive, trying to find certain weapons, and reserving their ammo for kiddie kommandos being inconvenient at best, and deadly at worst. It's a laudable moral stance to not kill kids even if they're shooting you, of course, but both the framing story and gameplay (really everything but the penalty itself) incentivize you to do it.

      ...I almost find this to be a better moral question than the type that Undertale raises. At what point does a particular player give up on being kind and go "fuck it, nobody on my planet is gonna miss those kids"? There really isn't anything to punish you for taking the easy way out except for the point penalty and your own conscience, and I find that better, in a sense, than Undertale's tangible punishments.

  3. Chet, congratulations on getting it done! Save that character for firestorm here in a few years.

    A few comments: "You get a penalty for every "kiddie kommando"--easily the most annoying enemy in the game--that you kill... Why?"

    You actually get a bonus for shooting a Kiddie Kommando with an air gun/paintball. I assume the game wants to encourage you to take them out this way.

    "I never learned what a radometer, gravbelt, or stimmer was for."

    Stimmers allow you to make friends. They work great on the tentacular horrors/snagglepuss and can even turn a zytt in a pinch. Also, those annoying bug eyed monster guys that all you to "Taykk meet tu he leedur" can be turned and taken to General Claiborne (just walk out like you're trying to win the game while one is with you) for permanent allies against the zytts. It took me years to find this and it's super cool.

    The gravbelt helps you fly over holes so you don't fall and can easily go up and down level.

    Radiometer largely works but I think it can identify those "flushed skin" traps. Most of the lame strange devices sell well at the reclamation center.

    Did you ever find the megacorp factory outlet? That's the awesome building you can spend all those coins on. It debits straight from your bank account.

    1. Thank you for helping to fill in the gaps! It's possible that with a certain level of expertise, I'd find it only "Hard" on a replay.

    2. And no, I never found the "factory outlet." Either it was on a level taken over by icky lumps, or it got destroyed somehow. More than once, a service location was blasted out of existence as I approached it by someone firing at me from the other direction.

  4. The best way to clear out the icky lump infestation is to befriend a Giant Tentacular Horror or two. You can use the stimmer to do this. They will quickly clear out levels, this will even work for open-ended levels.

    1. I got a rather *interesting* mental image of the female protagonist of this game befriending a Giant Tentacular Horror. I must be watching too much anime.

    2. A particular kind of anime, I presume :p

    3. You mean there is more than one type of anime?? ;)

    4. Anime was a mistake.

  5. As a Mac owner, I felt like writing a lengthy rebuttal to your claim that, "because you don't purchase a Mac if you're into hard things," but then I decided that would be too much work.

    1. I hit reply just to say: "LOL 😂".

    2. As a former Mac owner, I'll say the only thing easy about owning a Mac was making choices - Apple always made sure I never had many.

    3. Candidate for "funniest comment of the year". :D

  6. Well done!
    Yes, not many people can imagine your adventures in a roguelike, but we do, yes, we do...
    I wonder what it must feel like, to be a game designer, put so much effort into a game, and only very few, and now you!, actually get to appreciate, or even only recognize, the work and thought that went into these games.

    1. Yes, it must be a little depressing. I supposed I'd take solace in how well the game was received by the few people who played it. Remembrances online are universally positive.

    2. I assume that by the time this game was made, the designer knew that roguelikes don't have a large target audience. In that case, I would think that the few positive reviews outweigh the lack of general response.

  7. You can also use the gravbelt to float over the biohazard in the warrens. This works much better than the suit. If you are wearing the suit, you can only carry half of your weight. Also, the suit is easily damaged by the radioactive monsters, and then it doesn't provide proection.

  8. Thank you for reviewing my game ...

    For new players, it is wise to very carefully study the Tips and Strategies section of the Guide text file that comes with the game. And to select a difficulty setting that is less than Expert.

    Once upon a time there was also a detailed Hint/Cheat document, but I apparently lost track of it across the years -- perhaps it can be discovered somewhere on the net.

    By the way, it IS possible to win the game in Expert mode without ever having the winning character die. Honest!!!

    The game can be found at this link, thanks to an online friend / long-time player:


    Dave S. [ the author of this game ]
    (email is checked VERY infrequently)

    1. This is cool

    2. Sometimes my dad would take me to work, and there in one of the computer rooms (amidst the mainframes and scary yellow halon buttons) plop me down in front of a VT340 and I'd play Doomsday 2000. It left a lasting impression on me, and was really one of the more unique games at the time, for its humor and open worldness.

      My heartfelt gratitude to Dave Scheifler for so many hours of enjoyment and the memories ... as well as the pleasant awkwardness later in life when I've tried making friends by tossing bones at them.

    3. Indeed always cool to see a game's author show up in the comments.

      This looks like it could be the detailed Hint/Cheat document mentioned ('Cheater's Guide', originally from 1991, based on 'DoomsDay 2000', but apparently prefaced for the 'JauntTrooper' re-release):

      For the 1992 version, you can find a shorter document with some tips e.g. here:
      ("contains spoilers from a board discussion with the author")

      This appears to be the same in another format:

  9. And of course someone's already gone and taken the movie poster off the Wikipedia page. Which one of you was it?

    1. Just Google the title of the movie, it'll come up.

  10. You mean this?

    1. That was the 1995 re-release that I discussed in my first entry.

  11. I've tried installing the sequel, Mission Firestorm. I repeatedly get fatal errors, especially when changing maps. Has anyone been able to get it to work?

    I've tried multiple emulators, both OS7 and OS9, and a bunch of other settings. Nothing makes a difference.

  12. Or how you made it to the castle only to have a lich curse your flute at the last second, so you couldn't get the drawbridge down, but just as you were turning to leave, an elf captain showed up and zapped at you with a Wand of Cold, which missed but froze the moat behind you, allowing you to cross.

    Did this one actually happen? It's legit impressive.

    1. Can you get into the castle after this happens? Maybe you can blast the closed drawbridge with a wand of striking?

      (I never got hit with a wand of striking on a drawbridge but I understand it's one of the more annoying instadeaths.)

    2. No, I was making up a scenario. I'm not even sure if it's realistic. The point is that in roguelikes, things often combine in unexpected ways and create amazing story moments.

  13. Just wanted to say that this entry was a pleasure to read. Sometimes it makes for a good entry when you're not having fun, but in this case, your enjoyment buoyed the narrative for sure!

  14. Sounds like you'd really love the latest 'Divinity' game.

  15. "possibly because you don't purchase a Mac if you're into hard things"

    Perceptive as usual, Chester. You'd purchase a PC-98 for those.


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