Secret Agent Chronicles

Author
Chewy604
Released
Aug. 7, 2000
Genre
Adventure
Company
None
Size
42.2 KB
Boards
62 / 70
Rating
No rating

Closer Look: Secret Agent Chronicles (Mission Alpha)

By: Dr. Dos
Date: March 31, 2020
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Secret Agent Chronicles

By: Chewy604
Released: August 08, 2000
Download | Play Online | View Files

This month's poll winner is the patron nominated Secret Agent Chronicles, by Chewy604 and Billtcm. This game is a testament to the patron nomination system because it wasn't on my radar at all, and when flipping through the file viewer it looked too generic to be something worth going through. I am pleased to admit that I was very wrong, and this game is such an incredible trip that I'm really glad I got to play it.

Just to be clear though, this game is really bad. This isn't some hidden gem. The authors cannot even begin to try and tell a comprehensible story, and things work for the protagonist in such a cartoony way that you can't help but laugh. This is prime Mystery Science Theater material here. A "so bad it's good" game if I've ever seen one.

SAC as I'm going to shorten it, is sole release of both authors and has no reviews. By the standards of 2000, this was an incredibly forgettable game, but oh boy am I excited to show it to you.

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SAC tries its best to be this grand adventure and massive game. It offers two distinct scenarios to choose from, but BILL's is significantly longer than Dave's. The tone between the two also shifts dramatically to the point where I definitely believe that each of the authors wrote their own scenario. There's no indication what each scenario will entail (or even that they're different scenarios and not the same one with different characters like a Resident Evil title). It's a blind choice, but absolutely pick BILL whose scenario easily the more hilarious of the two. Since the authoring of this game isn't specified, I would guess that Bill's scenario was written by the author named Bill, but I have nothing more than intuition to go on. It's still very possible that Chewy wrote the Bill campaign, or that the two worked together on both scenarios despite the difference in tone between them.
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Mission Alpha opens with Bill in CIA headquarters which consists of several computers along the front wall, a very long table with several people seated at it, a large projector screen, and a super computer.

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The super computer offers some information to help the player get their bearings.

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The computer gives info on your gun, ability to summon a SWAT team, some very vague info on who you'll fight, and your mission to defeat Dr. D.

Hello Bill it's good to see you back. If
you would just step in the van to your
right Miss H. will tell you your mission

Only two people can actually be spoken to. One who just says hello, and the other who tells you to get in a van and get your mission. This opens the doors and lets the player head to the next board.

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I'm going to dig on this game a lot, but this is a perfect serviceable van and outdoor scene. It's a bit of a walk to the van, but it all looks decent enough.

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The game transitions to an internal view of the van, where Miss H. offers pretty much the exact same information the supercomputer did, but this time in a way that it can't be skipped.

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She also gives the player a few bullets. It's not a lot, but a good CIA agent doesn't miss.

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Bill is dropped off outside the target building and needs to find a way in. It's very difficult to tell what anything here is. I think the building is surrounded by water?

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The closest thing to examine is this one odd spot on these red rectangles. SAC really wants to be a puzzle game and not a mere shooter, but the puzzles are either completely obtuse or just blatantly explained. The player needs to shoot the core to get the guard to leave his post and repair it.

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If you make the mistake of talking to the man, you're instantly given a game over. This is a recurring gameplay mechanic, and it absolutely rules because of how often it's accompanied with graphic text about how you're killed.

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What I also like about SAC is that it often makes sure to code in other interactions, even when they're not what Bill should be doing. A reasonable idea might be to ambush the guard. Nobody said this mission was a sneaking one.

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I think this was the moment I fell in love with this game.

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Okay, enough fooling. The game said to shoot the generator so I did. This makes the guard walk to it to begin the repairs, completely ignoring Bill and his smoking gun that go passing by. If you take too long, the guard will finish the repairs, still not notice Bill, and return to his starting location. At this point you can't break it again making it impossible to continue.

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The access card (which the guard never notices is missing) allows the player to cross the water (that's what I'm going with) only to immediately run into a ZZT door with no key. So it's time to follow the path and explore the adjacent board.

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Sorry, not quite. Despite there being a path to the right, the only board connection is to the north. In what is this bad game's most critical flaw, the authors do an awful job of making it clear when there are board connections or not.

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Thee only thing at the gas station's exterior is a piece of paper explaining that it's going out of business. In reality, it's already closed as there's nobody inside.

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Inside are some bare shelves, a broken freezer, and a few torches.

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This is also one of those games like Keesh's Quest that just has the player find "health". Not pills or first aid kits or food or any abstraction, just plain old health.

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The basement is dark and immediately there's a switch that gets flipped, rather pointlessly since there's no idea what down here changes because of it. But I'm still stunned by this game's reinvention of the rules of English. Here the narration is in quotes, and the dialog is not. This isn't some weird grammatical mistake here. This happens numerous times throughout the entire game. It feels otherworldly to read. It's incredible.

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The basement has little more than some random rectangles to walk around and plenty of ammo to collect. You can also see what looks like a place where there was a door or gate or something that I imagine was opened by hitting the switch.

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Finally, at the end is a purple key and a box containing 10 bullets. This will get Bill inside the base.

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Outside however, the pathing lies once more as I decide to make sure there's not something else down the road. Yet this board does have some invisible objects that block the player and explicitly say there's nothing beyond. I wish I knew why the first board for the mission didn't have these.

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With the key obtained, Bill can make his way inside the base. A literal secret agent just walks on in casually. Nobody moves or reacts. Brace yourself.

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There's an alarm on the wall which is so obviously a trap that I just have to pull it.

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A group of guards rush in. Again nobody reacts to Bill, who just pulled the alarm in clear sight of five people and who nobody would have any reason to recognize as somebody who should be there.

Alright everyone freeze. There is a threat
in this room and were going to stop it.
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Suddenly, somebody walks in behind the guards, shoots, and kills one.

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They are then promptly shot by another guard.

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The remaining guards then walk away. This was the correct solution to get the door forward to open. Everybody else in the room continues doing their own thing, which means standing around doing nothing. If you talk to them, they just say "Hello."

troops





  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
Hey you I told you to get down. "To bad
you didn't get down. He got so mad he shot
you right in the head. You instantly die."
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

Oh, and if you happen to interact with any of the guards during this little scene, you are instantly killed.

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On the next board, before I can even get my bearings in the room, some automated turrets kill another enemy.

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I had to reload a save to get a screenshot of this exciting dialog.

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The enemies die in one hit, but the turrets keep going. They don't move though so it's easy to clear out the enemies first, and then check out this white object which reveals part one of the CodeLock. This is crucial information. Write it down.

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In a rare instance of this game doing something decently, the next section is a hangar with several planes parked. It looks... like airplanes which is more than I can ask of this game.

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The cyan object walks into one of the planes leaving the player to fight some ruffians. It's far less silly than all the guards we've seen so far. And again, despite a large open path to the north, there's no board there. The only new exit is to the west.

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HQ relays in some important info. I appreciate that the game gives instructions in its own universe like this.

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Bill needs to steer this gun and shoot up the... thing up top. It's like a really bad Space Invaders. Destroying it is made difficult by the blue objects that pace back and forth as a barrier, but there's infinite ammo and time.

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Once the, uh, I'm guessing computer system is destroyed, another document lowers revealing the next part of the CodeLock. This also opens up the path forward where you need to brace yourself for some more brilliant espionage by agent Bill.

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This is the smoothest play I have ever seen.

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I love Bill's disbelief that there already was an inspection at this site. This sequence was just incredible to witness.

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Every time Secret Agent Chronicles falls back on ZZT's enemies, the combat works much better. The switch to enemies that won't just destroy each other is an improvement to the game's combat, but it's not nearly as interesting with how goofy all the objects in this game are.

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This game just keeps one-upping itself. The door goes flying and I'm half surprised it's not possible to stand in the way and have it kill you.

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With his cover blown as the inspector, Bill's superiors suggest trying a different approach of not being detected.

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Alas, it's too late A small group of guards walks in and spots him. His sarcastic defense doesn't phase them one bit and they begin shooting.

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Which means one of them is immediately shot in the back by his buddy.

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Bill doesn't have time for this, and steals a plane.

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Mission accomplished? I mean, I guess Bill picked up some secret codes, but I have no idea what this evil group is planning at all. At least the next part of Bill's mission is only a short 33 mile long flight away.

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