The Chaos Engine

From Sega Retro

n/a

  • 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)
Developer:
Supporting companies:
Distributor: Metro Games (AU)
Sound driver: Graftgold custom
Genre: Action

















Number of players: 1-2
Release Date RRP Code
Sega Mega Drive
US
T-124016
Videogame Rating Council: GA
Sega Mega Drive
EU
T-104066-50
Sega Mega Drive
AU
Non-Sega versions

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 Super NES 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.

Story

In a steampunk Victorian-era England, Baron Fortesque, a brilliant scientist, invents the Chaos Engine, a primitive computer that goes mad and overtakes its creator to take over the world by altering humans and animals into beasts, among other terrors. Six mercenaries are lured on a potentially-rewarding quest to infiltrate the quarantined Britain, find the root of the problem, and bring a full stop to it.

Gameplay

Soldiers of Fortune, Node.png

Node

The game is a top-down run-and-gun. Players choose two mercenaries from a group of six as they try to get through the wasteland Earth has become and destroy the Chaos Engine. The game consists of four worlds with four levels each. The playable characters have various qualities that affect gameplay, such as speed and combat ability. The players are provided with a certain amount of money to start the game and must hire the chosen characters at their set prices. The game can be played with one player or with two players simultaneously. In single-player games, the computer controls the second player. The players must traverse through each level, picking up power-ups, gold, and keys to pass through the various puzzles and mazes. A number of nodes, which appear as white towers, must be activated (by shooting at them) to open the final doors at the end of each level.

Characters are moved in any direction with the D-Pad. They fire their primary weapons with A, which can be aimed in eight directions with the D-Pad. Characters cannot fire and move at the same time. Their primary weapons have unlimited ammunition. Pushing A rapidly gives a higher firing rate than holding the button. Each character starts with a special weapon that is fired with B. These weapons have limited charges. Characters can obtain multiple special weapons over the course of the game, which are switched with C.

At the end of every second level, players have a chance to spend their collected gold to upgrade their weapons, increase the number of hit points of their character, purchase new items and improve other character attributes. The available upgrades are:

  • Extra Life: Gives the player an extra life.
  • Skill: Increases maximum life and gives access to weapon power ups and character specific special weapons.
  • Health: Increasing health also unlocks new items.
  • Intelligence: Only for CPU-controlled characters. Characters with higher wisdom act smarter in combat (for example, evading enemy fire).
  • Weapon Power-Up: 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 level. Hidden exits generally lead to starting points that net more gold. Various secret passages exist, similar to previous Bitmap Brothers game Gods. At the end of the level, detailed statistics show how many items, gold, and so forth were collected, giving the player an idea of the remaining secrets per level, although it is often not possible to collect all items due to branching paths.

A password system is in place to record the player's progress. All purchased items and power-ups are converted to gold when using a password, allowing the player to respec their characters, but the score is reset.

Characters

Soldiers of Fortune, Characters, Mercenary.png

Mercenary
Balanced character with average stats. He gets First Aid but much later compared to the Scientist.
  • Hire Cost: 2,750
  • Max Health: Average
  • Speed: Average
  • Wisdom: Average
  • Max Firepower: 14 pieces
  • Weapon: Machine gun. Average firepower. When upgraded fully, spreads bullets rapidly in a 45-degree small cone shaped area.
  • Special Weapons: Bomb, Mine, First Aid

Soldiers of Fortune, Characters, Brigand.png

Brigand
Same as Mercenary, except he focuses his firepower towards the front.
  • Hire Cost: 2,750
  • Max Health: Average
  • Speed: Average
  • Wisdom: Average
  • Max Firepower: 14 pieces
  • Weapon: Gold-plated assault rifle. Average firepower. When upgraded fully, fires 4 bullets towards the front.
  • Special Weapons: Shot Burst, Molotov, Distract Monster

Soldiers of Fortune, Characters, Gentleman.png

Gentleman
Low health and firepower but very fast and has nice collection of support weapons.
  • Hire Cost: 2,500
  • Max Health: Low
  • Speed: High
  • Wisdom: High
  • Max Firepower: 12 pieces
  • Weapon: Laser pistol. Low firepower. Projectiles pass through enemies. When upgraded fully, fires two beams at the same time towards front.
  • Special Weapons: Map, Distract Monster, Repel Monster, Party Power

Soldiers of Fortune, Characters, Navvie.png

Navvie
Most powerful character in the game in terms of sheer firepower.
  • Hire Cost: 3,000
  • 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

Soldiers of Fortune, Characters, Thug.png

Thug
Same as Navvie, except his weapon affects a larger area in return of slower fire rate and less accuracy.
  • Hire Cost: 3,000
  • 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

Soldiers of Fortune, Characters, Scientist.png

Scientist
Since he starts with First Aid, he is generally chosen as CPU controlled character. Very fragile. Called Preacher in the original version.
  • Hire Cost: 2,500
  • 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

Items

Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Weapon Power-Up
Permanently increases the character's firepower.
Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Special Weapon Charge
Gives one special weapon charge. Maximum 6 for each character.
Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Silver Keys
Opens up new areas to continue the level.
Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Golden Keys
Opens up secret areas filled with power ups. Not necessary for completing the level.
Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Coins
Used for purchasing new items from the shop. Silver coins give 5 credits, and gold coins give 10 credits.
Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Food
Gives a health boost. The pick-ups with a golden can recover more health.
Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Extra Life
Gives the player an extra life.
Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Telephone
Opens up new areas and teleports the other character to the same location.
Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Death Zone Token
Checkpoint where players are revived after losing a life. These tokens also revive CPU or player-controlled characters.

Special Weapons

Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Air Burst
Fires a mine that floats and explodes overhead, damaging all enemies in the higher ground with a shot burst.
Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Bomb
Black gunpowder bomb. Thrown towards the location that the character is facing. Fires 8 shrapnels around. Can be thrown at upper or lower floors.
Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Distract Monster
Drops a device on the floor that draws all enemies towards it for 5 seconds, allowing player to kill them together.
Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Dynamite
Thrown towards the location the character is facing. If hits an enemy, it causes heavy damage. If thrown to the ground it detonates after a few seconds, damaging all enemies on the screen.
Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
First Aid
If used as a special weapon, it recovers some health. If picked up from the floor as a power-up, it recovers both soldiers' health fully.
Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Freeze
Freezes all enemies in the level for 5 seconds.
Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Map
Shows a top-down map of the entire level.
Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Mine
Destroys any enemy that steps over it.
Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Molotov
Throws a flammable bottle of liquid towards the direction character is facing. Bursts into a circle of fireballs that travels towards the edge of the screen. Can be thrown at upper or lower floors.
Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Party Power
When activated, both characters gain full firepower for 5 seconds.
Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Repel Monster
All enemies run away from the characters for 3 seconds.
Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Shield
Completely negates any damage for 5 seconds. All enemies that the characters touch while shield is active are destroyed.
Soldiers of Fortune, Items.png
Shot Burst
Fires bullets in a 360-degree ring around the character.

Worlds

Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 1-1.png

Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 1-2.png

Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 1-3.png

Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 1-4.png

  • Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 1-1.png

  • Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 1-2.png

  • Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 1-3.png

  • Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 1-4.png

The Forest

Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 2-1.png

Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 2-2.png

Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 2-3.png

Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 2-4.png

  • Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 2-1.png

  • Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 2-2.png

  • Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 2-3.png

  • Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 2-4.png

The Workshops

Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 3-1.png

Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 3-2.png

Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 3-3.png

Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 3-4.png

  • Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 3-1.png

  • Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 3-2.png

  • Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 3-3.png

  • Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 3-4.png

Fortesque Mansion

Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 4-1.png

Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 4-2.png

Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 4-3.png

Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 4-4.png

Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 4-4 Boss.png

  • Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 4-1.png

  • Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 4-2.png

  • Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 4-3.png

  • Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 4-4.png

  • Soldiers of Fortune, Stage 4-4 Boss.png

The Cellars

History

Sequels and re-releases

According to Mike Montgomery from the Bitmap Brothers, 32X and Mega-CD ports were considered, but no publisher could be found.

The Chaos Engine 2 was originally planned to receive a Mega Drive port but was canceled during development. Mike Montgomery of the Bitmap Brothers stated that they could not find a publisher for the sequel. At some point, a demo version with very limited content was leaked.


We did work on a version, and it has been leaked. I am told there is a demo version on the Internet somewhere. We could not get a publishing deal at the time for it, so we didn’t have the money to do any more work on it.

Mike Montgomery[3]


Versions

  • 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 since 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 adjusted. 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 and Amiga CD32.

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: Joi
  • Project Management: Graeme Boxall
Source:
In-game credits
Soldiers of Fortune MD credits.pdf
[4]

Magazine articles

Main article: The Chaos Engine/Magazine articles.

Promotional material

SoldiersofFortune MD US PrintAdvert.jpg
US print advert
Logo-pdf.svg
Print advert in Electronic Gaming Monthly (US) #52: "November 1993" (1993-xx-xx)
also published in:
Logo-pdf.svg
Print advert in GamePro (US) #57: "April 1994" (1994-xx-xx)
Logo-pdf.svg
Print advert in Mega (UK) #23: "August 1994" (1994-07-21)
Logo-pdf.svg
Print advert in Velikiy Drakon (RU) #34 (1997-09-01)
also published in:
  • Velikiy Drakon (RU) #35 (1997-10-18)[7]
  • Velikiy Drakon (RU) #36 (1997-12-07)[8]

Physical scans

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
78 №16, p38/39
Sega Mega Drive
78
Based on
1 review
Sega Retro Average 
Publication Version Score
1700 igr dlya Sega (RU)
70
[9]
Consoles + (FR)
88
[10]
Cool Gamer (RU)
60
[11]
Computer & Video Games (UK)
86
[12]
Electronic Gaming Monthly (US) NTSC-U
64
[13]
Entsiklopediya luchshikh igr Sega. Vypusk 1 (RU)
70
[14]
Entsiklopediya luchshikh igr Sega. Vypusk 9 (RU)
70
[15]
GameFan (US) NTSC-U
82
[16]
GamePro (US) NTSC-U
83
[1]
Hyper (AU)
87
[17]
Joypad (FR) PAL
87
[18]
MAN!AC (DE) PAL
71
[19]
Sega Mega Drive Advanced Gaming (UK) NTSC-U
83
[20]
Mega (UK) PAL
90
[21]
Mega Force (FR) PAL
85
[22]
Mega Fun (DE) PAL
79
[23]
MegaTech (UK) NTSC-U
91
[24]
Mean Machines Sega (UK) PAL
86
[25]
Player One (FR)
91
[26]
Play Time (DE)
79
[27]
Sega Magazine (UK) PAL
87
[28]
Sega Magazine (UK) PAL
80
[29]
Sega News (CZ)
85
[30]
Sega Power (UK) NTSC-U
90
[31]
Sega Pro (UK) PAL
54
[32]
Sega Megazone (AU)
89
[33]
Todo Sega (ES)
82
[34]
Tricks (RU)
85
[35]
Tricks 16 bit (RU)
78
[36]
VideoGames (US) NTSC-U
70
[37]
Sega Mega Drive
80
Based on
30 reviews

The Chaos Engine

Mega Drive, US
SoldiersofFortune MD US Box.jpg
Cover
Soldiersoffortune md us cart.jpg
Cart
Soldiers Of Fortune MD US Manual.pdf
Manual
SoldiersofFortune MD US Poster Back.jpgSoldiersofFortune MD US Poster Front.jpg
Poster
Mega Drive, EU
TCE MD EU Box.jpg
Cover
ChaosEngine MD EU Cart.jpeg
Cart
TheChaosEngine MD EU Manual.jpg
Manual
Mega Drive, AU
ChaosEngine MD AU cover.jpg
Cover

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)

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 GamePro, "December 1993" (US; 1993-xx-xx), page 65
  2. Mega, "April 1994" (UK; 1994-03-17), page 31
  3. Interview: Mike Montgomery (2006-03-14) by Sega-16
  4. File:Soldiers of Fortune MD credits.pdf
  5. Game Players, "Vol. 6 No. 12 December 1993" (US; 1993-1x-xx), page 86
  6. GamePro, "January 1994" (US; 199x-xx-xx), page 226
  7. Velikiy Drakon, "" (RU; 1997-10-18), page 78
  8. Velikiy Drakon, "" (RU; 1997-12-07), page 89
  9. 1700 igr dlya Sega, "" (RU; 2003-03-10), page 212
  10. Consoles +, "Juillet/Août 1994" (FR; 1994-0x-xx), page 122
  11. Cool Gamer, "9" (RU; 2002-10-13), page 192
  12. Computer & Video Games, "May 1994" (UK; 1994-04-15), page 102
  13. Electronic Gaming Monthly, "February 1994" (US; 199x-xx-xx), page 40
  14. Entsiklopediya luchshikh igr Sega. Vypusk 1, "" (RU; 1999-xx-xx), page 359
  15. Entsiklopediya luchshikh igr Sega. Vypusk 9, "" (RU; 2002-xx-xx), page 48
  16. GameFan, "Volume 2, Issue 1: December 1993" (US; 1993-xx-xx), page 28
  17. Hyper, "July 1994" (AU; 1994-xx-xx), page 36
  18. Joypad, "Juillet/Août 1994" (FR; 1994-0x-xx), page 144
  19. MAN!AC, "07/94" (DE; 1994-06-08), page 70
  20. Sega Mega Drive Advanced Gaming, "May 1994" (UK; 1994-xx-xx), page 44
  21. Mega, "April 1994" (UK; 1994-03-17), page 28
  22. Mega Force, "Juillet/Août 1994" (FR; 1994-07-04), page 82
  23. Mega Fun, "12/94" (DE; 1994-11-23), page 124
  24. MegaTech, "April 1994" (UK; 1994-03-18), page 68
  25. Mean Machines Sega, "April 1994" (UK; 1994-02-28), page 50
  26. Player One, "Juillet/Août 1994" (FR; 1994-0x-xx), page 98
  27. Play Time, "8/94" (DE; 1994-07-16), page 138
  28. Sega Magazine, "June 1994" (UK; 1994-05-15), page 94
  29. Sega Magazine, "August 1994" (UK; 1994-07-15), page 95
  30. Sega News, "Prosinec 1996" (CZ; 1996-1x-xx), page 26
  31. Sega Power, "March 1994" (UK; 1994-02-03), page 42
  32. Sega Pro, "September 1994" (UK; 1994-08-11), page 54
  33. Sega Megazone, "September 1994" (AU; 1994-0x-xx), page 34
  34. Todo Sega, "Julio 1994" (ES; 1994-0x-xx), page 40
  35. Tricks, "2/95" (RU; 1995-xx-xx), page 17
  36. Tricks 16 bit, "Tricks Sega Gold 800 igr" (RU; 1998-03-20), page 10
  37. VideoGames, "December 1993" (US; 1993-1x-xx), page 102
The Chaos Engine

TheChaosEngine MDTitleScreen.png

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