Console Manual Scans

I’ve added a batch of new scans to the downloads for the console versions of various Origin games, some of which were available elsewhere already but they are on here now as well. The new pdfs are manuals for Ultima 3 (NES & Famicom), Ultima 4 (NES & Famicom), Ultima 6 (NES & Super Famicom), Ultima 7 (Super Famicom), Wing Commander (Mega CD & Sega CD) & Wing Commander Secret Missions (SNES).

In addition to all of those, I’ve been kindly sent a scan of the Lands Of Lore clue book by Matt Larson. This isn’t anything to do with Origin but I love the game so I’ve added that also.

Wing Commander Secret Missions (SNES) – Part 3

A couple of hours after the last post, I’ve finished playing through Secret Missions on rookie level. The difficulty level was reduced a little too much if anything as there was no challenge whatsoever. Most ships died in one or two hits and I played straight through every mission not only without getting killed, but I never even sustained any ship damage. I assume this mode was aimed at kids but it’s a serious step up to Ace mode and a third mode somewhere inbetween might have been an idea.

Quickly blasting through the game again was entertaining enough anyway and I get to see the alternative ending which raised a smile. Since he was beaten by a rookie pilot the Grand Admiral has to live with the shame and I don’t get to see him zapped.

I’m still in the mood for more so I think I’ll carry on with the Wing Commander games and have a look at Prophecy on the Gameboy Advance next.

Wing Commander Secret Missions (SNES) – Part 2

I managed to play through the rest of Secret Missions a couple of nights back with some difficulty as it did throw a lot of enemy ships at me. There isn’t a whole lot to say about it as it remained very faithful to the PC original. I did notice that the ships where taking fewer hits than I would normally expect before blowing up. This was especially apparent as soon after I got to fly the more powerful fighters. This tweak was just as well as the game still wasn’t easy to finish. I did get occasional help such as the Gwenhyver above didn’t shoot back at me at all and I could just park up next to it and hold down fire.

I’ve been keeping an eye out for Nintendo censorship after being tipped off by Loaf. I’d noticed the odd change along the way in the dialog but nothing too obvious and I no doubt missed all sorts of little things. I did see that the pilots do seem to be eating more in the bar although they do still have drinks (if not necessarily alcoholic). They still get out their sidearms and start polishing them at regular intervals however. Nintendo’s censorship is often bizarre but there is nothing in here that affected the game.

As for the gameplay, some of the bugs from WC1 started to creep in with the penultimate mission being the worst offender again and I had to eject to get through it for the same reasons. On the whole I had less problems though. I could use the cowardly approach of afterburning away from a nav point which never seemed to work in WC1 as the opposition ships never got any further away.

Not being able to order my wingmen around was a definite problem. If I wanted to concentrate on a capship and then run away, it meant I was always taking it out single-handed. In the final mission the Sivar took no end of hits to destroy and even though I’d already taken out the fighter cover, my wingman just sat back watching me struggle.

I did eventually manage to get enough hits in to blow it up though. The ending sequence is almost straight out of the PC version showing the “apology” by the Kilrathi  – I’m told that there are two ending sequences depending on which difficulty you play the game on. This does make me wonder what the other one was.

At the end of the credits, I was told to now go and play the game on Ace, which took me by surprise. At first I thought, I must have played the game in rookie by mistake. This started me wondering just how hard the game was if that was rookie mode and if I really wanted to try to play through it all again. However, I went back and set the game in Rookie mode and the first ships I had to fight died in a single hit. This is definitely not how I played the game so the message must be a glitch.

Having tried it, the rookie mode looks so easy that I think I will go back and play the game again to see the other ending. Last night was the work Xmas do and I’m not up to moving around much today. I need something unchallenging to pass a couple of hours so it should fit the bill nicely.

Wing Commander Secret Missions (SNES) – Part 1

I had a change of plan and decided to carry on with the SNES Wing Commanders with Secret Missions. This was published in 1993 making the SNES the only system I know of other than DOS to get a separate release of the expansion pack, although in this case it is a stand-alone game.

This was the last Wing Commander game released on the SNES, but not the final Wing Commander game on Nintendo as Prophecy got an unlikely conversion to Gameboy Advance some years later. Wing Commander 2 was also developed for the SNES, but never got released due to falling demand for SNES titles by 1995. The game was more or less finished however with full reviews appearing in some games magazines. Unless they have recently found a copy, I think this is one of the holy grails for the team at much like The Lost Vale for Ultima fans. If copies were sent to reviewers, you would think one must have survived somewhere so I would hope it will turn up eventually.

I did like the SNES port of WC1 but had a few quibbles. With no branching missions to worry about + lessons learned from the first game, I expected this to iron out some of the problems and I’m pleased to say that so far it’s living up to this.

First off, the SNES gets a brand new intro which sets the scene for the games story showing the Kilrathi discussing their plans at their secret weapon base. This is a welcome addition and one up for the SNES version over the PC. According to the intro, the Kilrathi secret weapon creates a dramatic increase in gravity on the target causing vast destruction. The nature of the weapon was never revealed in the original SM1.

The start of the game also has a difficulty picker which I left at Ace. I’m hoping that my experience with WC1 will stand me in good stead here, but I remember some of these missions being the hardest in any WC games on the PC.

The graphics around the Tiger’s Claw look a little sharper and better defined than before. The dorm room has gone, since it served little purpose without savegames. The medals can now be viewed via the killboard instead and exiting the bar goes straight to the briefing. This does give the impression that the pilots must roll straight out of the bar into the briefing room but it saves precious cartridge space.

The take-off sequence is entirely new and while less impressive than the old one, is perhaps a little better suited to the SNES using Mode 7 to nice effect for the second half of the sequence when launching down the length of the Tiger’s Claw.

Once in space everything initially looks the same as WC1 but there are a few changes. The communications system has been largely dropped and there is now no way to order my wingman around. This is a bit of a loss if you ask me and he/she still asks to be let loose as if I even get a choice. The wingmen soon take things into their own hands so it’s not like I have to fight single-handed at least. This simpler system does make taunting the enemy practical although it’s not a tactic I’ve ever gone in for all that much.

Another obvious difference is the number of enemy I face on my first mission. This is right up there with the PC version and probably identical, although I can’t claim to know the missions well enough to say for sure. The enemies are still a little easier and seem to be particularly vulnerable to being tailed but there is going to be a real challenge here if the first 3 missions are anything to go by. If I’d tried to play this before WC1, I would have seriously struggled.

Something I managed not to mention in my WC1 posts (another piece of quality blogging!) was that the missile locking system doesn’t exist on either SNES game. I can fire any missile instantly and it’s always locked on my target. This takes away a little of the fun of the game trying to get a heat seeker lock but it does make missiles extremely lethal when you can always fire them exactly when you like.

Finally, Secret Missions has been behaving itself more than WC1, and I’ve had no trouble with ships not getting any nearer when I fly towards them. This little fix makes a huge difference and combat here is much closer to the PC.

Secret Missions even has the Goddard colony scene left intact, which has to be better than a slow zoom on a planet which is all we ever saw in WC1.

I’m only 3 missions in but as console-phobic as I usually am, it’s fair to say that I’m impressed with Secret Missions and I can’t say I’m enjoying it less than I would another replay of the PC version. The lack of analog controls isn’t even bothering me any more which comes as a surprise. Without changing a lot, I always thought Secret Missions significantly improved on the Wing Commander formula with more taxing missions and a better structured storyline. I’m very much enjoying this chance to play it again with a different slant.

Day 57 – Wing Commander Secret Missions 1

 When Origin first made Wing Commander they also released a limited special edition which came with a baseball cap but also some extra missions. They decided to release these extra missions as an add-on sold directly by Origin and then eventually retail at Chris Roberts request. Its the first add-on pack Origin released although they had obviously thought about it before with Knights of Legend.

Whereas Wing Commander had a branching mission structure with lose paths this pretty much just had one set of missions + a couple you would go to if you ever lost. Most people would just play the winning route anyway – the other missions were kind of wasted effort in my view although I guess they added a bit of longevity if you deliberately lose to get to them.

You can import your charcter over – this doesn’t make much difference. It just has the full number of kills (minus the final mission).

The intro is unchanged but I get a new option at the start menu.

And the game starts straight in the bar as usual. Apparently, the tigers claw has been making a lot of jumps but no one knows why.

I also hear some rumours about a captured human cap ship the Kilrathi have been using in ambushes.

Apparently the Kilrathi are attacking the Goddard colony.

The first mission puts me back in the games most underpowered ship. The enemy count isn’t that low though – this starts out pretty tough right from the beginning. There is nothing new to speak of however.

I get another promotion on my first mission. I’m guessing this rank was added to SM1.

When we get to Goddard we find the whole place has been wiped out.

Apparently the Kilrathi used some new super weapon.

The premise is that we must follow this ship into Kilrathi space and destroy it.

The missions are seriously difficult with overwhelming numbers every time. This is reflected in the between mission cutscenes where the pilots are all on edge and Maniac is apparently losing it.

In one mission you have to escort a captured Dralthi back to the Tigers Claw. This is a bit different but nothing is made of it and you never hear anything once the mission is completed.

Some good news is that the weapon used on Goddard is apparently useless on anything that moves.

In another mission, I’m sent to help out a ship that has wandered into enemy space.

This turns out to be the captured cap ship and when I get to the nav point, I’m attacked by a wing of rapiers. These can blow you up in about 2 hits and I have to face about 5 or 6 at once. This is fairly typical of the difficulty level – I often end up just taking out the mission critical cap ships and afterburning out to get through.

Another mission has me taking out a supply depot (the equivalent of the final mission in Wing Commander) only this time I’m only in a Scimitar + I have a couple of other cap ships to take out on the way. This one takes a few attempts.

but I get there in the end.

Eventually we track down the Kilrathi secret weapon which is code-named the Sivar. There follows a string of missions in which we have to take out one supply capship after another in an attempt to strand it.

A lot of blown up capships later we find the Sivar. This final mission of the game is not exactly easy again. On the way in you have to take out a Fralthi with a couple of waves of ships, there are 3 waves of 6 ships guarding the Sivar. I take them all out and then the claw is under attack by another 4 ships on the way back. I take all but one out and the claw crashed into me and I have to try again.

Second time round I use different tactics. I just take out the Fralthi and burn out at Nav 1. I then take out 5 of the 6 ships in the first wave and then take on the Sivar. It takes a lot of hits to take out but I’m not in too much danger with just the one fighter.

When I get back theres a brief congratulations, then the end cutscene kicks in.

Thats the second Wing Commander in a row I’ve finished in one session. This had fewer missions but definitely took longer due to the greater difficulty. The storyline actually came across better in this game than the original – you had a definite aim in tracking down the Sivar and the missions lead up to that. The missions in Wing Commander just felt tacked together with an arbitrary cutscene every now and then, that didn’t really relate to what I’d been doing.

The difficulty level was probably pitched better also. I’d say Wing Commander was a bit too easy on the whole although by the end of this it was getting a bit silly. I really hope that Secret Missions 2 doesn’t carry on getting harder or its going to be verging on impossible.

Next: The Savage Empire