09
Sep
13

Overkill for DOS

This must have taken ages to draw!

This must have taken ages to draw!

Overkill is a shoot ’em up game made by Ste Cork back in 1992. It was the first vertical shooter released by Epic Megagames at a time when they were at the height of competition with Apogee. Like many other PC games of the time the game supports older technology in the form of CGA and EGA graphics, even though VGA was very common at the time. I originally played the shareware version of the game from a magazine cover disk shortly after it came out. I thoroughly enjoyed the game, and unfortunately because of being a kid and poor wasn’t able to get the registered version.

Six Levels

Six Levels

Fortunately the author was kind enough to make the registered version freeware quite some time ago. I don’t know why more authors of DOS software don’t do the same thing, but I guess they must have their reasons. It would be nice if they’d port the games to modern devices, but that’s a rant that’s completely off topic.

Starting wave

Starting wave

As I said before the game has EGA and CGA graphics available, which are both very impressive in terms of both speed and artistry. Dithering is used very effectively to draw complicated parts of the user interface and the sprites. There are few EGA games that look this nice. Another contemporary game called Major Stryker whilst it has better technical graphical features, it doesn’t make effective use of dithering as much as this game. I’ve also noted whilst playing that the animation is quite well done, it’s smooth and plays well on the kind of machine I had at the time.

In level 1

In level 1

The sound mostly comes from the PC speaker, and sounds quite good. This was quite handy for us on our old machine as we didn’t have a nice sound card. It also has the option for Adlib music which is good, but there is only a few songs from what I can tell. They aren’t intrusive so they are unlikely to get annoying if you hear them repeatedly.

Weird spikiness

Weird spikiness

The game play is pretty much your standard shoot ’em up style, but with a few small differences. Firstly you can choose which weapon power ups you want to use. You do this by pressing the choose key once the power up you want is currently available. Each time you pick up the weapon power up the game cycles between four different types of improvements, you just have to wait until you’ve got the one you want then press the button to use it.

Upgraded!

Upgraded!

There are a few weapons that seem to help me out more than others. I’ve found for the guns, simply having the first power up, the double shot, is one of the most effective weapons you can have. The contour missiles are another must as they take out enemies nearby that you couldn’t otherwise get. I also like the yo-yo missile which is pretty unique. It is a seeking missile that goes out attacks a enemy destroying it, then returning to your ship so it can make another run at another enemy. This is extremely useful and is sensibly time limited as this could be over powered if you had it permanently.

Done!

Done!

Like many other shooters you can get side arms, a fire nose and drones to add more fire power to your ship. Unlike other games these extra parts can be destroyed if they are hit by enemies or the surrounding terrain. You can also upgrade you ship to a fighter or eventually a battle cruiser. This affects how well the ship handles as well as how strong it’s shields are. This can make some of the tighter areas on some levels more difficult.

High Scores

High Scores

The Wikipedia page for Overkill says that it was quickly overshadowed by some other games such as Raptor, Tyrian, and Major Stryker. Two of these were released several years later, so I don’t personally consider them to be in the same generation as Overkill, so that statement is a bit sketchy. Still Overkill is not a well known DOS game, but it is certainly one of the hidden gems of its era.

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