28
May
13

Secret Agent for DOS

This week I was keen on writing about one of my favourite games, Mech warrior 2 Mercenaries. Unfortunately whilst it works beautifully on my old DOS machine, I could not get it working properly under Dosbox. So I thought I might have another bash at getting the Battle for Wesnoth game running on my macbook. (the macports version) That to did not work.

Secret Agent Man!

Secret Agent Man!

So this brings me to today’s game Secret Agent released by Apogee back in 1992. It’s a platform puzzle game very much like Crystal Caves, it appears to even use the same game engine! Whilst the two games have a lot in common there are some subtle differences.

The Island map

The Island map

Graphics wise they support the same hardware, but Secret agent looks a bit nicer than crystal caves. Using the same engine means that you still require a 286 for decent speed of gameplay. I’d say that by using the same game engine they were also able to spend more time on the artwork and levels. The game still lacks VGA support which is not surprising, but a bit of an omission by 1992.

Sound is again limited to the PC speaker. Much like the graphics you can tell that they had more time to spend on the sound. The sounds are still not the best the PC speaker has to offer, but they are certainly an improvement.

Water!

Water!

Game play wise, many features of crystal caves have returned such as moving platforms, stationary guns and water based hazards, but there are some new features and improvements. As you’re not in a space environment there is no air supply that you can accidentally shoot. There are some extra items and objects in levels such as a computer terminal that requires a floppy disk to disable laser beams. Enemies are also different, taking many shots to kill and shooting back at you depending on the type. There are also some moveable blocks you will need to push around to reach higher places, you can lose them down a hole if you’re not careful.

Some jumping required

Some jumping required

I found that the levels were a little easier to complete, but still challenging enough that you’ll be retrying them frequently. It’s lucky that you have infinite lives! I found that the instructions didn’t explain what I had to do with some of the items I picked up such as the dynamite. Reading online now I know what it is for, but you didn’t have those resources available back then. Reading the instructions (online or otherwise) is important as there are some things you need to do in order to complete the level. Firstly you need to destroy the radar dish in the game, and then you have to have the dynamite in order to blast the exit level door open.

Looks easy!

Looks easy!

Secret Agent has much of the same classic game play as it’s predecessor, but came out at a time when people were starting to be more interested in having VGA graphics. It’s a fun platform game, and the good game play makes up for the lack of technical prowess, but it is certainly lacking in the hardware support it offers. I’m sure that this affected its popularity in the long run, but at least it offered something new for people with old machines to play.

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