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Final Countdown (Amiga)

Final Countdown Amiga
Genre: Action
Perspective: Side view
Visual: 2D scrolling
Gameplay: Arcade, Platform
Setting: Sci-fi / futuristic
Published by: Demonware Softwarehaus GmbH
Developed by: Demonware Softwarehaus GmbH
Released: 1990
Platform: Amiga

Final Countdown is one of the pearls hiding at the bottom of Amiga history, those games that went unnoticed because they were not released on other platforms, and did not become hits on the Amiga, although they contained unique ideas and under other circumstances could be of interest to many. So it happened with this creation of the German comrades from the Demonware company: the difficulty with understanding what needs to be done at all, the abundance of fantastic terms of an alien civilization and the CLI (command line interface) completely unexpected for a platform arcade game, in which you will have to spend a lot of time - all this scared away potential players. What can I say - to this day this game has no walkthroughs, no intelligible gameplay videos, with the exception of two or three, where people could not go further than a few steps ... All available information can only be gleaned from a meager user manual .

Despite the fact that the manual does not contain too much information on the gameplay, there was a place in it for the backstory of the game, and its scale is impressive. It tells the events of several decades of the 24th-25th centuries, when mankind was able to find a way to transmit information, and then matter at superluminal speeds. At the periphery of the solar system, two special stations were built to carry out this transmission, since gravitational waves could disrupt the transmitters. At one of these stations, our heroine, Laira Tyrek, was appointed commander. Despite the general euphoria of success and the establishment of contacts and trade with other civilizations, skeptics warned of a potential threat from hostile races, although no trace of them was found except for a small percentage of losses in transmitted information packets, which they quickly learned to bypass by sending one and the same the same signal several times. Everything was in order until an asteroid appeared at a small distance from the solar system, heading towards it at an unusually high speed. By a strange coincidence, at the same time, unusual phenomena began in the solar system itself - the temperature of the Sun began to increase, and it itself began to expand. Natural disasters on Earth and other planets inhabited at that time were not long in coming. Under these conditions, the base staff were actually left alone with their problems, since no one on Earth paid attention to them. Then Lyra Tyrek decided to teleport herself to an asteroid and sort things out personally. In addition to herself, she also directed the transfer device to the weapons warehouse, where energy capsules and mines were stored. In the game, they will be scattered throughout the asteroid, which in fact turned out to be a multi-deck spaceship inhabited by robots.

The gameplay in Final Countdown resembles a platformer, but only at first glance: the fact is that the heroine moves not only on the surface, but also through the air with the help of a rocket pack: it is for him that the fuel is needed, which lies in special capsules with the letter " E". Levels (decks) are relatively small, consisting of three floors, between which there can be teleporter elevators; the same teleporters can also transfer between decks (there are 8 decks in the game). Mines are also scattered around the level - activated ones that need to be flown around on a backpack, and non-activated ones - which can be collected and then put in the way of hostile robots. It would seem that it could be easier and more relaxed? But here the most interesting begins - a hostile asteroid is downright crammed with electronics and unknown systems that need to be turned off by Laira - otherwise the entire solar system will end. All systems of the asteroid are controlled using terminals, which are available in abundance on every deck. Laira can connect to them using the Amiga 9000 portable computer. It not only provides a convenient interface that translates the alien language into understandable commands, but also often tries to figure out how things work on its own and gives hints. After connecting to the terminal, about a dozen commands become available, which can be viewed by typing the HELP command. For example, there are DIR and LIST commands that list the files and devices connected to the terminal, respectively. Files can be of several types - text, which can be displayed with the TYPE command, pictures, which can be displayed with the SHOW command, and programs that can simply be run. As for devices, they can be turned on or off. For example, turn on the elevator. Let's say elevator number 10 is connected to the terminal - then you need to type ENABLE LIFT 10. And that's not all: there are a lot of all kinds of interesting things here! For example, in addition to terminals, there are also floppy disks that can also be viewed and used ... I probably don’t remember such a fancy CLI in a game that is not related to Interactive Fiction.

Text files stored in computers and on diskettes describe alien technologies and devices that will have to be understood in order to complete the task of saving humanity. This aspect of the game is woven into the usual arcade, but at the same time it is paramount, because without uncovering the mysteries of this asteroid it is impossible to go any far: death from robots only teleports you to the beginning of the current deck, but triggering an alarm or misusing a teleport means the end of the game and the need to start everything from the very beginning.

Not much can be said about the graphics and music: the levels are designed very nicely for the 1990s, although they are made monotonously - it feels like the palette has been replaced, and that's it ... But what is there is drawn quite nicely, the illusion of "depth" is used screen", in some niches you can even hide from robots. There are few types of enemies, but they are really very different: some do not cause any harm, others kill, and others cause an alarm. It is worth noting the animation of the main character - both flying and running are very nicely animated. As for the soundtrack, even less can be said here: there is a good title track, and in the game itself only the whistle of the wind and the creak of terminals and other devices will be heard...

Conclusion - the game, despite all the incomprehensibility, is worth trying to figure it out, because there were few such unique experiments.