|Title: Secret Agent (2nd Review)
Author:Apogee (now 3D Realms)
Rom Player: PC
Synopsis: One of Apogee's first undertakings is a puzzle-like platform trilogy called Secret Agent. In it, you of course take on the role of secret agent 006 on a mission to save the world from the plans of an evil syndicate. To that end, you have to steal blueprints to a great weapon. The blueprints are hidden in great castles on three islands, but first you have to knock out all the radar dishes in the surrounding forts to be able to get in.
In each episode, you are dropped on an island full of little forts. You have to beat each one to be allowed into the castle. Beating a fort means locating and destroying the radar dish, finding dynamite, getting to the exit and then blowing yourself a way out. Simple, and yet... not.
The sprites are pretty small, and the forts are fairly packed. This means you'll be dealing with a bit more cramped quarters than you're probably used to. Throughout the forts are colored doors and keys, and your job is to properly combine them to get ahead. You pick all sorts of objects for points (spyglasses, teddybears, computer cards). Each level also has a laser field which instantly kills you, so you have to find a floppydisk and put it in the right computer to turn it off. There's pushable barrels to help you get ahead, and some neat little items like a shoe that lets you run fast and glasses that allow you to see invisible platforms (and thus stand on them). Movement is limited to walking, jumping and firing.
Of course, you need a place to put the bullets. Aside from the regular stuff to hurt you, such as water, sharks, spikes, mounted guns and electric fields, there's a select few enemies. Robots that run back and forth and shoot, some of which you need to hit specifically in the face, robotic dogs and guns that trail around the ceiling. And then there's the human enemies... where it gets weird.
These cute little guys come in several ranks, and when you shoot one, they go down one rank. Yes. If this works for criminal organizations, maybe the army should consider it too. Imagine a Nam veteran saying "yeah, war is hell... I started out that day a general... a few sniper rounds later, I'm a friggin' corporal." The lowest rank is Sentry - slow, white suit, brandishing a knife. Just above that is the Guard, in red, with a stick of sorts. Then there's the fastest of them all, the gray Ninja, who runs around twirling a nunchuku. Their superior is the dark blue Ninja Master, who is slower, but for some reason is able to shoot bullets. Lastly, there's the Thug. Yes, thugs rank higher than ninja masters. They look mostly like you, and can fire bullets as well. Once you've demoted the guy's rank down to Sentry, a single shot will turn him into a little gravestone you can collect for points.
Gameplay is both fun, challenging and old-fashioned frustrating. You get three hitpoints and on the third hit, you're dead. It's unfortunate that there's often only one way to beat a level, and if you push a barrel too far or use a key wrongly, you can get stuck. And the cramped quarters take some getting used too. The graphics and sounds are hopelessly cute, though. The only thing that bugs me is that most of the stages in Episode 3 appear to be recolored versions of those in Episode 2. Still, an addictive series.
Best Cheats: Nothing Entered
Game Play: 8
Overall Rating: 8
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