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Title: Bio Menace 1-3
Author:Apogee (now 3D Realms)
Rom Player: PC
Reviewer: FatSatan

Synopsis: After creating such wholesome family-oriented platform games as Commander Keen and Secret Agent, the productive minds at Apogee apparently had time to catch some movies - it was the early 90s, and pulpy sci-fi and horror was all the rage. I can't think of a better reason why they suddenly chose to make Bio Menace - a violent, gory sci-fi gunfest.

In this game, you take on the role of Snake Logan, a mustached muscleman with a mullet, with a machinegun and a mighty mean attitude. Sorry, I couldn't think of a synonym for attitude that started with an M. Snake is the type of action hero that'll ring a bell; prefers to work alone and by his own methods, works for the government and always gets the job done. One day Snake is called up to the office because a major city has been attacked by strange mutants. Snake gears up and heads for the city, and the game starts.

Let's hope your parents aren't watching, because the first sight you catch is a ruined, burning street littered with corpses. Snake's plane has crashed, so the only way out is shooting his way out. There's colorful mutants crawling around among the dead bodies, each with their own attacks and weaknesses. Purple blobs crawl along the ground and snap at your heels if you get too near, mammal-like green guys with red mohawks punch at you, blue snakes puke bouncing projectiles at you. When you shoot any of them, they explode in a rain of guts and eyeballs. Yum. There's also robotic enemies, some pretty huge, that give satisfying explosions when they kick it. Aside from your machine gun, you can pick up extra powerful bullets and plasma bolts, that pack a mighty wallop. Even if you run out of picked-up bullets you have an infinite supply, but you can't hold down the fire button - you have to tap it. You can pick up and hurl regular grenades and fire grenades, the latter type spewing fire along the ground for a short period of time. Then there's mines, that you can lay in the path of approaching foes. Other than that there's the regular key gems and medikits. In nearly every stage you have to save a hostage before you can exit the level.

Like most of Apogee's games, this is a trilogy. The first episode is shareware and can be released freely, the others you're supposed to buy. There's a hefty increase in difficulty in the later episodes, where you're a lot shorter on lives, medikits and ammo, while the enemies increase in numbers. Episode 1 is just good all-round fun. The characters are memorable, particularly the boss character Skullman: a giant blue freak sitting on a throne, with an enormous exterior brain and two flying hands. Episode 2 has some disappointing enemies, like a group of cartoony ants with spears, but it has some other fun surprises: at one point you can turn into a green version of the purple blobs, and have to bite back in order to complete the level. Episode 3 is very tough, riddled with enemies and scarce in bonuses.

Unfortunately, Bio Menace carries some serious bugs. Though many complain of frequent lock-ups and graphics becoming garbled, that's not my main problem - the problem is that Snake has a real problem grabbing onto platforms. Sometimes the jump button will just refuse when you're jumping from one platform to another, sometimes you just fall through the platform, and often you're suddenly placed on the middle of a platform while you actually jumped onto the edge of it. Very disorienting. Aside from that, there's some annoying programmer's choices - when you load a saved game, you always start from the beginning of the level. You can't bring grenades and bullet charges into the next level, and some of the bonus levels are so tough you're apt to lose more lives than you gain.

Bio Menace is probably not the best of Apogee's games, but it's still a lot of fun. The setting and enemies are fairly original, and the stages provide ample diversity.

Best Cheats: Simultaneously press C, A and T to get filled up with machine gun ammo and grenades.

Game Play: 7
Graphics: 7
Music/Sound: 5
Originality: 6
Overall Rating: 7



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