The Chaos Engine

From Sega Retro


  • PAL
  • NTSC-U
TheChaosEngine MDTitleScreen.png
SoldiersOfFortune MDTitleScreen.png
The Chaos Engine/Soldiers of Fortune
System(s): Sega Mega Drive
Publisher: Renegade Software (US), Spectrum HoloByte (US), MicroProse (Europe)
Distributor: Metro Games (AU)
Sound driver: Graftgold custom
Genre: Action

Number of players: 1-2
Release Date RRP Code
Sega Mega Drive
Videogame Rating Council: GA
Sega Mega Drive
Sega Mega Drive

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 (a romanticized, now obsolete term for "mercenary") and a character name and background changed slightly.


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.


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 (Bust)
  • skill (hand): increases maximum life and gives access to weapon power ups and character specific special weapons
  • restore health (Heart): Increasing health will also unlock new items
  • intelligence (brain): only for CPU characters, characters with higher wisdom will act more smart in combat like evading enemy bullets etc.
  • weapon power up (gold colored device with a hole): based on skill, increases firepower
  • special weapons: based on skill, all characters have different special weapons to use

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.

Power Ups

Weapon Power Up: Looks like golden square sized object with a hole. Permamently increases firepower.

Special Weapon Charge: Looks like a triangular object. Give one special weapon charge. Maximum 6 for each character.

Silver Keys: Opens up new areas to continue the level

Golden Keys: Opens up secret areas filled with power ups. Not necessary for completing the level.

Coins: Variously shaped. Necessary for purchasing new items from the shop. Silver ones give 5 credits while gold one give 10 credits.

Food: Silver colored can. Gives a small health boost. Ones with small golden can recover more health.

Extra Life: Golden bust.

Telephone: Opens up new areas and teleports other character to your location.

Death Zone Token: Yin-Yang symbol. Checkpoint. If players are killed they will start from this location. These tokens will also revive CPU or player controlled character if they are picked up. (Lost lives will not be returned)

Special Weapons

Air Burst: Fires a mine that will float and explode overhead, damaging all enemies in the higher ground with a shot burst.

Bomb: Typical black gunpowder bomb. Thrown towards the location character is facing. Fires 8 shrapnels around. Can be thrown upper or lower floors.

Distract Monster: Drops a device on the floor which will draw all enemies towards it for 5 seconds, allowing player to kill them together. Useful.

Dynamite: Thrown towards the location character is facing. If hits an enemy, it causes heavy damage. If thrown to the ground it detonates after a few seconds, damaing all enemies in the screen.

First Aid: If used as a special weapon, it will recover some health. If picked up from the floor as a power up, it will recover both soldiers' health fully.

Freeze: Freezes all enemies in the level for 5 seconds.

Map: Gives a top down map of the entire level.

Mine: Destroy any enemy that steps over it.

Molotov: Throws a flammable bottle of liquid towards the direction character is facing. Bursts into a circle of fireballs that will keep travelling towards the edge of the screen. Can be thrown upper of lower floors.

Party Power: When activated, both players will gain full firepower for 5 seconds.

Repel Monster: All enemies will run away from players for 3 seconds.

Shield: Completely negates any damage for 5 seconds. All enemies that player touches while shield is active will be destroyed.

Shot Burst: Fires bullets in a 360 degree angle around the player.


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



Hire Cost: 2750

Max Health: Average

Speed: Average

Wisdom: Average

Max Firepower: 14 pieces

Weapon: Machinegun. Average Firepower. When upgraded fully, spreads bullets rapidly in a 45 degree small cone shaped area.

Special Weapons: Bomb, Mine, First Aid

Balanced character with average stats. He gets First Aid but much later compared to the Scientist.


Hire Cost: 2750

Max Health: Average

Speed: Average

Wisdom: Average

Max Firepower: 14 pieces

Weapon: Gold Plated (of course) Assault Rifle. Average Firepower. When upgraded fully, fires 4 bullets towards the front.

Special Weapons: Shot Burst, Molotov, Distract Monster

Same as Mercenary, except he focuses his firepower towards the front.


Hire Cost: 2500

Max Health: Low

Speed: High

Wisdom: High

Max Firepower: 12 pieces

Weapon: Laser Pistol. Low Firepower. Projectlies pass through enemies. When upgraded fully, fires two beams at the same time towards front.

Special Weapons: Map, Distract Monster, Repel Monster, Party Power

Low health and firepower but very fast and has nice collection of support weapons.


Hire Cost: 3000

Max Health: High

Speed: Low

Wisdom: Low

Max Firepower: 16 pieces

Weapon: Tank cannon modified for carrying by hand. Heavy Firepower. When upgraded fully, fires powerful 4 shell towards front.

Special Weapons: Dynamite, Shot Burst

Most powerful character in the game in terms of sheer firepower.


Hire Cost: 3000

Max Health: High

Speed: Low

Wisdom: Low

Max Firepower: 16 pieces

Weapon: Sawed-off double (and possibly quadruple) barrel shotgun. Heavy Firepower. When upgraded fully, spreads buckshots in a large 90 degree angle.

Special Weapons: Molotov, Air Burst

Same as Navvie, except his weapon affects a larger area in return of slower fire rate and less accuracy.

Scientist (Preacher in the original version)

Hire Cost: 2500

Max Health: Lowest

Speed: High

Wisdom: High

Max Firepower: 12 pieces

Weapon: Laser Rifle. Low Firepower. Projectiles pass through enemies. When upgraded fully, fires a powerful beam.

Special Weapons: First Aid, Map, Shield, Freeze

Since he starts with First Aid, he is generally chosen as CPU controlled character. Very fragile though


Sequels and re-releases

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.

And 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.


  • The Mega Drive/Genesis EU Version has a difficulty option, but the US version doesn't.
  • The Preacher was changed into a scientist in both PAL and NTSC version. (Religious themes were often censored in US or European console games.)
  • 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.

Localised names

Also known as
Language Localised Name English Translation
English The Chaos Engine The Chaos Engine
English (US) Soldiers of Fortune Soldiers of Fortune

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

SoldiersofFortune MD US PrintAdvert.jpg
US print advert
Print advert in Electronic Gaming Monthly (US) #52: "November 1993" (1993-xx-xx)
also published in:
Print advert in GamePro (US) #57: "April 1994" (1994-xx-xx)
Print advert in Mega (UK) #23: "August 1994" (1994-07-21)
Print advert in Velikiy Drakon (RU) #34 (1997-09-01)

Physical scans

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
88 [5]
86 [6]
83 [7]
78 №16, p38/39
87 №33, p144
90 [8]
91 №28, p68-72
86 [9]
91 №44, p98/99
90 №52, p42/43
54 №36, p54/55
Sega Mega Drive
Based on
14 reviews
Mega Drive, US
SoldiersofFortune MD US Box.jpg
Soldiersoffortune md us cart.jpg
Soldiers Of Fortune MD US Manual.pdf
SoldiersofFortune MD US Poster Back.jpgSoldiersofFortune MD US Poster Front.jpg
Mega Drive, EU
TCE MD EU Box.jpg
ChaosEngine MD EU Cart.jpeg
Mega Drive, AU
ChaosEngine MD AU cover.jpg

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)


The Chaos Engine
TheChaosEngine MDTitleScreen.png

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