Format reviewed: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive
Publisher: Renegade Software
Developer: Bitmap Brothers
Submitted by: Gary Reynolds
The Chaos Engine is a top down shooter in a similar fashion to the great Gauntlet game,set in a steampunk alternative universe of victorian England.the Chaos engine is a machine thats gone mad releasing all sorts of nastys that need to be taught a lesson.Chaos engine just about appeared on every computer n console in the 16-bit era im not sure about the others but on the Mega Drive it has a few issues,most notably the slow down that seems to just happen at random,strangely when there is nothing on screen.Also the incredibly annoying A.I character that follows you around is as dumb as your best mates new girlfriend! these issues aside its a real fun and challenging game,it comes into its own when played co-op with a friend.all in all well worth getting,a good brutal challenge.
Format reviewed: Amiga CD32
Developer: The Bitmap Brothers
Submitted by: Clarance Frank
To describe The Chaos Engine as a top down shooter in the style of Gauntlet is all very well, but its not nearly good enough to dismiss this landmark of gaming in these oh so simple terms.
The basic structure of the game isn't in itself groundbreaking and the gameplay isn't extraordinary by any stretch of the joystick. What's been achieved here has been done many times before – lots of good Gauntlet clones out there I believe. So why does this game in particular deserve such coming-out-to-play-now joy and eulogizing? Well lets see… To define what makes this Bitmap Brothers smash so good would be to define the very process of 'cool' – This game is The Fonz to Gauntlet's Richie Cunningham.
Now the outward signs of coolness are mostly self evident – The Bitmap's trademark metallic sheen is manifest here, although not as subtlety executed in the CD32 version as it was in the A500 original (a case of too many colours spoiling the broth maybe?).The game art has a steam driven sheen of it's own, from the menacing undertones that discharge from the Preacher's pout on the box art (and these are the good guys don't forget) to the Orson Welles-esque animated intro-sequence (the one feature that sets this version apart from the rest).
As we enter further into our quest for Chaos-cool, little things tend to point themselves out – the stereo soundtrack becomes increasingly excitable as the player does, and somehow knows when to chill-out its vibrato as well, and the six playable characters each exude discrete individual qualities as play progresses. The Victorian tactility of the game can be felt all around, right down to the polished brass on the Gentleman's coat tail buttons and the faded relief of aged stone statues – Gothic-meets-Sci-Fi overlaps all around the edges.
As hinted already, this CD32 version adds little to the original A500 version – the enhanced AGA palette does little for the steam-punk driven atmosphere. However the animated intro adds somewhat to the soul of the game, and the improved loading time from the CD is, well, pretty cool.
Format reviewed: SNES
Publisher: Spectrum Holobyte
Developer: Bitmap Brothers
Submitted by: Gareth Chappell
The year is 1887 and a number of very strange things have begun to occur. First of all a dinosaur is found trapped in rock just south of Berkshire, At the same time a theatre in Paris disappears into the earth, the Statue of Liberty crashes into New York destroying everything and half the population of Bavaria are turned into wolves. The source of the disturbances is coming from the south of Cornwall where Baron Fortesque has built a massive steam-driven engine with the power to transform matter.
Stepping forward for the task of saving the world are the Mercenary, Brigand, Gentleman, Navvie, Thug and the Scientist. Picking the right two men is essential as each character has different statistics covering speed, skill, intelligence, strength, health and weaponry. It really does matter who you choose as poor combinations can make an already difficult game near impossible.
Action consists of going around blasting anything and everything that moves and trying to solve tricky puzzles. Solving puzzles leads you to secret areas or even to a different exit from the level.
Surrounding the game is an incredibly intense atmosphere built in equal measure by the bleak graphical style and the outstanding industrial-tinged techno soundtrack. Graphics are fairly simple but contain subtle elements that make you believe you're making your way through a disturbing place. This coupled with a dark and menacing colour palette is incredibly effective in creating a chaos-themed world.
Far from the breakneck speed of other top-down shooters such as Smash T.V., The Chaos Engine makes you think more carefully. Wading in with all guns blazing simply doesn’t work. Instead, players need to stand back and think how best to deal with a situation.
The Chaos Engine is one of the most original and inventive shooting games out there. With a difficulty setting that starts at hard and goes to ridiculous, it's very rare to meet someone who has made it all the way to the end. Regardless, it’s a genuinely exciting experience and any true fan of either retro gaming or shooters should have this in their collection.
Format reviewed: Amiga 500
Developer: The Bitmap Brothers
Submitted by: Kai Lunkeit
This brilliant run'n'gun game from the renowned "Bitmap Brothers" offers loads and loads of fun, especially in the great two-player co-op mode.
You can choose from six different characters which have all their strenghts and weaknesses: some are faster than others and some have better weapons or special abilities.
The enemies range from the usual monsters to mutant frogs and even some weird things like oversized hands which attack you.
The four different worlds are subdivided into stages which all offer nice level design and some secrets which you may discover.
From time to time you are allowed to upgrade the skills and abilities of your characters or buy some special weapons.
The awesome audio-visual presentation is the topping of the cake and make THE CHAOS ENGINE an action game masterpiece!