Project Firestart [C64]

project_firestart_coverThe year is 2061. Earth recently lost contact with the Prometheus, a research vessel orbiting Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. They send you in to find out what’s going on.

 

After successfully docking your shuttle and entering the Prometheus, a crew member informs you their communication system simply broke down. You relay this information to Earth, undock your shuttle and return home. And that’s about it… not! Oh no… I mean, wouldn’t that be the most boring survival action-adventure you ever played? So here’s what really happens after you entered the Prometheus: Everyone seems to be dead and, worse, badly mutilated. Nkay, now we’re talking!

project_firestart_07See, that ship is a research vessel, and their scientists did research, indeed. What they tried was to create a life form that can mine on Titan, withstanding its rough conditions. But as we should expect, every time humans create a new species, something goes horribly wrong. The whole ship seems to be overrun by those creatures, killing everything in their sight. Your job now is to find a science log, destroy the whole damn ship and return to Earth. But that’s easier said than done, with those creatures lurking around every corner and surprise you when you least expect it.

Screenshots (click to enlarge)

 

Scattered throughout the Prometheus are weapons, of which you can only carry two at a time and much needed health kits. And dead bodies. A lot of dead bodies… or what’s left of them. In fact, this game reminds me of Event Horizon at times, not only because of the location and setting (space ship with dead crew), but also because of the amount of gore you’ll encounter in this game.

pfstart_animOne example is this short animation. Throughout the game you’ll get to see short cut-scenes, suggesting there’s at least one female survivor on board. Thing is, if you’re like me and too late, because you have absolutely no clue where to find her, she’s doomed.

I last played that game ages ago, so forgot a lot of things like, you know, how to actually win this game. Here’s what happened in the last few minutes of playing it again after all those years: Upon reaching the bridge I contacted HQ to tell them I’ve found that science log. HQ’s reply was simple: Activate self-destruction and get the hell outta there! I somehow did manage to reach my shuttle, while fighting off several creatures, and already thought the game being rather short. Well, upon entering the last room between me and the shuttle, something bad happened and the thing simply exploded. Great. At the same time I got attacked by two creatures in front of me. Awesome. I mean, seriously, just have a look at my situation: I’m down to 10% health, both of my weapons are almost out of ammo, all what’s left of my shuttle is some debris and the whole station goes down the shitter in about 20 minutes. I think I’m screwed and might just start over again.

 

 

The atmosphere in this game is fantastic. There’s this uneasy feeling when you roam through the station, always in constant fear of encountering one or, worse, a group of those creatures. Project Firestart must truly be one of the earliest survival-horror games. Couple that with the cut-scenes and you’ve got a pretty cool game experience.

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12 thoughts on “Project Firestart [C64]

  1. Hmmm, I must say I most definitely like the sound of this one! Also, any time someone drops Event Horizon into their description of a game, my interest shoots up about 200%. Quite effectively gory, too, considering the system. Goes to show you don’t exactly need a fancy new system or console to render fear. Like you said, this is where ‘survival horror’ got its start. Nice find.

    • The game did make me jump a bit on a couple of occasions, with creatures popping up out of nowhere and me swearing at them. 😀 Forgot to mention that you’re able to access computer terminals in certain rooms where you can read the crew’s journal entries, to find out what went wrong.

    • Sounds like an Alien: Isolation before there was Alien: Isolation, minus the swearing at the damn alien to either pop out of the vent or not, and if not, leave me the hell alone so I can finish this damn sequence and move on to the next ‘will it or won’t it’ pop-out moment! 😀

      • Now Alien: Isolation is one of the few AAA titles I’m actually interested in. Watched a couple of videos on YouTube and damn, that game must be pretty good. Not your typical shooter, seems to be more like a First Person Hider. 😀

      • It’s pretty tense, albeit sometimes for the wrong reasons. The feeling of helplessness is a plus, but not when you’re navigating corridors, avoiding synthetics (more creepy than the alien, IMO) and humans… with a very limited arsenal / margin for error. That’s minor, though, as you’re not the type to get frustrated easily. Incredibly atmospheric game, and well worth the look if you’re curious.

        • I’m indeed curious. And it got released on the 360, too (still don’t own a next (current?) gen console).

          Btw, ever heard of AliensRL? The RL stands for ‘Roguelike’, your favourite genre and, as you might’ve guessed it, is based on the Aliens franchise. It might not have the graphics of Aliens: Isolation (well, it’s in ASCII to be precise), but has an incredibly tense atmosphere and it’s by the same guy who made DoomRL.

        • ASCII? Flippin’ ASCII? Arrrgh. …I just can’t do it. Hell, I don’t know how you guys do it. Now, should you transcribe the events in short story form as you did with Grim Days Ahead, maybe. 🙂

          • Haven’t played Cataclysm: DDA for three months now, but just thought about it the other day. Would like to resume Grim Days Ahead but don’t have the time. And I revisited Pirates! a couple of days ago. I mean, damn, it’s Pirates!, man. 😎

  2. Brilliant game. Shame it was pretty overlooked on release because it wasn’t a shooting/driving/movie license game. It’s stood the test of time well though and is still a pretty tense experience.

    • Can’t remember if it was overlooked, but this game was well ahead of its time.

      What I do remember when playing it on a real C64 was the disk swapping. But thankfully it wasn’t too annoying and didn’t hamper the experience in any way. For this article I played the Easyflash version, which basically cuts out loading times and disk swapping.

  3. What an amazing game, the scariest experience available on the C64. I still remember putting down the joystick after dying on my C-128, and realizing how stressed I was – palms were sweaty and hands were shaking.

    The Easyflash version really makes it a better gaming experience.

    Turn off the lights, put on headphones, don’t activate any of the cheats, and enjoy.

    • Latest. Reply. Ever.
      Yeah, sorry ’bout that, haven’t checked my site in ages. And agreed, the Easyflash version does make a huge difference. No more long loading times, which is always a good thing, especially on the C64. Oh and the atmosphere in this game was brilliant at times. Being chased by a couple of those creatures without any ammo left? Quite tense, man. 😎

      And thanks for stopping by… back in May. Seriously, I should visit my site more frequently again.

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