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The Chaos Engine

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TheChaosEngine MDTitleScreen.png
The Chaos Engine/Soldiers of Fortune
Publisher: Renegade Software, Spectrum HoloByte (US), Microprose (EU)
Developer:
System(s): Sega Mega Drive
Sound driver: Graftgold custom
Genre: Action































Release Date RRP Code
Sega Mega Drive
US
$? T-124016
Sega Mega Drive
UK
£? T-104066-50
Sega Mega Drive
FR
?F T-104066-50
Sega Mega Drive
DE
DM ? T-104066-50
Sega Mega Drive
ES
?Ptas T-104066-50
Sega Mega Drive
AU
$? ?



The Chaos Engine is a 1993 top-down run-and-gun game developed by The Bitmap Brothers for the Commodore Amiga and subsequently ported to a variety of platforms, including the SNES and Sega Mega Drive. It was published by Microprose in Europe and Spectrum HoloByte in the US, where the game was renamed Soldiers of Fortune and a character changed slightly.

Its sequel was originally planned to receive a Mega Drive port but was cancelled during development. In an interview with Sega-16, Mike Montgomery of the Bitmap Brothers stated that they couldn't find a publisher for the sequel. At some point a demo version was leaked. The demo version has very limited content.

Story

Baron Fortesque, a brilliant scientist, invents The Chaos Engine, a primitive computer which goes mad and overtakes its creator to take over the world by altering humans and animals into beasts, among other terrors. Six mercenaries — heroes who are paid to fight — appear to save the day. You control two of the six heroes (who have to be hired by paying for them beforehand from a character select screen) as they try to get through the wasteland Earth has become and destroy The Chaos Engine. The game can be played either with one player and a CPU or two players simultaneously; in either case you must choose characters for both players.

The US version's title screen.

Gameplay

Hold A to fire. You cannot move as you fire; instead you use the D-pad to aim your shots, allowing you to hit targets in eight directions. Pushing A rapidly gives a higher firing rate than the default setting provided by the game.There are four worlds, each with four levels. To get through each level, you must activate Nodes by shooting at them several times. A Node appears as a white tower with an orange blob on it; shooting it will turn into an electrified golden tower, activating it. You will also find gold, special weapons (fired with B), keys to activate passageways, and yin-yang signs which act as checkpoints, among other items; walk into them to take them. Once all the Nodes have been activated, an exit will be activated, allowing you to leave the level. After every two levels, you are taken to a shop where you can spend gold to upgrade your characters.

Available upgrades are:

  • extra life
  • skill (gives access to weapon power ups and character specific special weapons)
  • restore health
  • intelligence (only for CPU characters)
  • weapon power up (based on skill)
  • special weapons (based on skill)

Some levels have multiple exits, which affect the starting points of the next stage. As a rule of the thumb, hidden exits lead to starting points that net more gold. Various secret passages exist, similar to another The Bitmap Brothers game, Gods. At the end of the stage, detailed statistics show how many items, gold etc. were collect, giving the player an idea of the remaining secrets per stage, although it's often not possible to collect all itmes due to branching paths.

A password system is in place to record the player's progress. All purches items and power ups are converted into gold when using a password, practically allowing the player to respec his characters. Score however is lost when using a password. A total playthrough takes between 1:00 and 1:30 hours.

Stages

  • The Forest
  • The Workshops
  • Fortesque Mansion
  • The Cellars

Trivia

According to Mike Montgomery (interviewed by gaming site Sega-16) from the Bitmap Brothers, a 32X or Mega CD port was considered, but no publisher could be found.

Versions

  • The Mega Drive/Genesis EU Version has a difficulty option, but the US version doesn't.
  • The cleric was changed into a scientist in both PAL and NTSC version.
  • The original Amiga release was a PAL region game, thus the PAL version runs at the correct speed, both in terms of music and gameplay. Forcing the game into 60Hz mode makes the game play too fast. The NTSC version actually plays too fast compared to the Amiga original, although the music speed was ajusted. All versions have a bit of slowdown, likely due to the CPU controlled partner. Scrolling is also is a bit choppy in both version, but less noticeable in the faster NTSC version.
  • Compared to the Amiga version, the contrast has been increased and all stages have a color scheme neither found in the original Amiga version nor the Amiga AGA version and the ports to SNES, Amiga CD 32.

Production credits

  • Design: Simon Knight, Eric Matthews
  • Graphic Design: Daniel Malone
  • Graphic Conversion: Herman Seranno
  • Original Code: Stephen Cargill
  • Code Conversion: Glyn Kendall
  • Additional Code: Mike Montgomery
  • Original Game Music: Richard Joseph
  • SFX: Richard Joseph
  • Sound Conversion: Jason Page (at Graftgold)
  • Title Music: Farook Joi, Haroon Joi
  • Project Management: Graeme Boxall

Magazine articles

Main article: The Chaos Engine/Magazine articles.

Promotional material

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<div style="width:Expression error: Unexpected < operator.px; padding-left:2px; padding-top:9px; padding-right:2px;">Print advert in
Electronic Gaming Monthly (US) #52: "November 1993" (1993-xx-xx)
also published in:
  • Game Players (US) Vol. 6 No. 12 "December 1993" (1993-xx-xx)[3]
  • GamePro (US) #54: "January 1994" (199x-xx-xx)[4]
</div>
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<div style="width:Expression error: Unexpected < operator.px; padding-left:2px; padding-top:9px; padding-right:2px;">Print advert in
GamePro (US) #57: "April 1994" (1994-xx-xx)
</div>
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<div style="width:Expression error: Unexpected < operator.px; padding-left:2px; padding-top:9px; padding-right:2px;">Print advert in
Mega (UK) #23: "August 1994" (1994-07-21)
</div>

Physical scans

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
88 №34, p122/123
86 №150, p102[5]
64
83 №53, p64/65[1]
78 №16, p38/39
87 №33, p144
90 №19, p28/29/30/31
85
91 №28, p68/69/70/71/72
86 №18, p50-52[6]
91 №44, p98/99
88
90 №52, p42/43
54 №36, p54/55
Sega Mega Drive
83
Based on
14 reviews

Mega Drive, US
SoldiersofFortune MD US Box.jpg
Cover
Soldiersoffortune md us cart.jpg
Cart
Soldiers Of Fortune MD US Manual.pdf
Manual
Mega Drive, EU
TCE MD EU Box.jpg
Cover
ChaosEngine MD EU Cart.jpeg
Cart

Technical information

ROM dump status

System Hash Size Build Date Source Comments
Sega Mega Drive
CRC32 a84d28a1
MD5 b90ff517cba6492377e02d23fcda4b80
SHA-1 619faee3d78532478aad405db335d00fb93e6850
1.5MB 1993-09 Cartridge (US)
Sega Mega Drive
CRC32 bd9eecf4
MD5 4227f1e8568dbb8582f91d90517fda8d
SHA-1 b72d36565e13ab04dc20c547e0dcee1f67bcdb42
1.5MB 1994-01 Cartridge (EU)

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 File:GamePro US 053.pdf, page 65
  2. File:Mega UK 19.pdf, page 31
  3. File:GamePlayers US 0612.pdf, page 86
  4. File:GamePro US 054.pdf, page 226
  5. File:CVG UK 150.pdf, page 102
  6. File:MeanMachinesSega18UK.pdf, page 50