I’m feeling much more rested today than the last few days. I must finally be shrugging off that Pacific jet lag.
I also brought something else back from North Korea with me because I didn’t bundle up enough one of the nights that they took everyone out to see fireworks. That was a cold, cold night and I was wishing that I had brought my jacket with me.
On top of that, the next hammer came from something we ate. I heard back from another friend that traveled that they had gotten what everyone else did digestive-wise. Stomach feels much, much better today, though. The sight of solid food doesn’t turn it over quite as much as it did before.
But Jimbo Baby McGibbits never had to worry about sour stomach while traveling into highly secretive nations to do what he needed to do for country, pride, and a new endorsement. No sir. Hot off the rotor blades of the last game, the sequel packs in more toys, mission variety, and slightly tweaked graphics to help players everywhere get another shot at saving the Free World (TM) from the Mad Leader.
The Infiltrator games were put out by Mindscape and can be considered part of the “stealth” family tree, or at least a cousin from the “covert ops” part, both of which are straddled by games such as Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid series. Before those came along, however, Infiltrator tried to do the same thing in the eighties. The sequel, out in ’87 for the Apple, featured more of the same built on a whole new batch of solo missions.
The game was set up in two major parts – the helicopter “sim” and the main part that consisted of an isometric map with indoor, side-view rooms arranged in a sort of maze.
Flying a chopper required you to set the coordinates in the dash and then just fly in that direction. It wasn’t so much flying as it was punching in digits, making the helicopter go up, flying forward, and watching the limited scenery go by. If you were challenged by another pilot, you had to guess their affiliation based on their name and pick the right name to respond with (Overlord for bad guys, as an example). If you failed, you had to fight them off using an extremely rough arcade sim that felt mostly like guesswork.
Once you got to the enemy hideout, the real fun began. Roaming guards may challenge you for your papers as you poked through rooms to fulfill mission objectives such as recovering secret documents. Suspicious ones had to be put down with a handy spurt of sleeping gas which was limited in supply.
Missions were also timed and even with an automap that indicated important rooms, it wasn’t unusual to keep restarting the game to figure things out. In Infiltrator II, new objectives could require you to revisit certain areas or find radiation suits to protect you as you defused the Mad Leader’s arsenal of death. But the game also also featured a few neat things such as being able to deactivate alarms if you had the key or donning a new uniform to fool the guards and keep them from asking you for your papers.
There were only three big missions, but the huge bases and the lack of any save feature while in them meant that failure put you back at the beginning. These were tough games, no thanks to the awkward and horrible performance of the helicopter part of the sim. Still, on an Apple, it was an amazingly fun game despite its shortcomings.
Humor was also a big part of the game. At least within its documentation, something started with the first Infiltrator, which cast the hero as someone who might have come from the same hospital that Buckaroo Banzai did. Jimbo Baby McGibbits, when he’s not performing brain surgery or showing off his bullet-proof jeans, is the Infiltrator straight from the eighties though we never really see who he is…just get a whiff of his personality from the praise the manual lavishes.
Surviving the chopper part was the worst. I hated that section of the game, but there was no way around it to get to the much more entertaining covert stuff at the enemy base. Yet this was as close to a “Bond” like game that there was out there, even with its tongue-in-cheek comedy. Exploring each base, searching through everything in the hopes of weedling out the secrets of a Mad Leader (who looked like he was wearing a black lucha libre mask), and making a quick getaway never got old. Also, took a lot of hours to figure out everything. Remember, there were no saves. You either played through your chosen mission, or you started from the beginning.
The ad below is largely similar to the first one, though the grey border is new (the old box was all black with “Infiltrator” painted as a red neon bulb). Chris Gray, the game’s designer, also had the good fortune to have his name on the box. Even back in the eighties, recognition for individual designers on a box cover was still something of a rarity. The two screenshots show off the major modes of the game from the cockpit on the left to the inside view of one of the rooms in a base on the right. A decent covert ops ancestor.