I am going to take a break from NES games and redirect to another of my passions…specifically Battletech. My dad loved computers. Growing up, there was always one in our house. I remember specifically my dad owning a VIC-28, Commodore-68, an Amiga, and then something running Windows 3.1 (probably a Packard Bell…but can’t be certain). When ever my dad bought a new one, I was given the hand me down.
My dad loved playing video games. It seemed every week he was down at the computer store at the Base Exchange seeing what new video games were available. He was big into Strategic Simulations (SSI), specifically the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons games and Lord Brittish’s Ultima series, but that’s for another days discussion.
One game he did buy, that eventually came to me was Batttletech – The Crescent Hawk’s Inception. I think I remember playing this game when I was 10 or 11. The appeal of this game to me, was actually the instruction books. They were like field manuals and gave you the feel that you were training to become a Mech Pilot.
Battletech, I later came to find was actually a combat board game and I will return this subject on a later date. It became one of my favorite and most played.
In this game though, you play as Jason Youngblood a new recruit into the Army under House Steiner. At the start of the game you go through the trials and errors of being a new recruit. You go through training as a mech pilot going on various “missions” to learn the combat style of piloting a Wasp, Locust, Stinger, or the infamous Chameleon mech.
There is a story line that goes along with this, your father Jeremiah Youngblood is a famous mechwarrior and has gone missing mysteriously. While a cadet in school, and during a training mission House Kurita invades the planet and attacks your school. I played this game many times, the odds of winning this battle is impossible regardless of what Mech you are piloting…but if you are lucky, you can out run it…and take the Chameleon mech with you. The only mech in the game with a Large Laser.
When I first played this game, and discovered the Chameleon loop hole (by accident), I wandered around the world for days. Honestly, I had no clue what to do…I was Jason Youngblood piloting around an experimental mech…by the time I found the next plot point in the game, a capital city under Kurita’s rule…I had accumulated a HUGE amount of Credits. Something, I have never been able to glitch since.
If you haven’t played this game before…or know anything about the Battletech franchise a lot of this probably doesn’t make any sense. Essentially, the purpose of the game is to find members of the Crescent Hawk, a rogue squadron working for House Steiner. As you find members, they can become pilots or gunners in your mechs (giant robots built for battle). As you explore the world you engage in battle with other mechs. As you finish combat you have the ability to salvage and add additional mechs into your party.
One of the cool aspects of this game was that in the random cities you find, there is a mech hanger where you go to repair your mechs or upgrade them. Upgrades and repairs are expensive. As I made mention, some how the game glitched and my “ingame bank account” maxed out so I always had enough money to completely overhaul and upgrade all of my mechs. Which more or less made me invincible.
Eventually, you stumble upon a hidden cave in the game…which happens to be the secret location of a forgotten location of a Steiner armory…and the location of Jason’s fathers mech (A Phoenix Hawk LAM (Land Air Mech)). There is a great story line in this game and there is a great combination of needing to interact with the game and the manuals in order to advance through (I suspect the programers of this game did this as a method to prevent pirating). The animation in the game was pretty cool for the time that it came out and it was pretty cool to find the Phoenix Hawk. As a reward for beating the game, you could mail something back to Infocom for a reward, a metal Phoenix Hawk Battletech game piece.
All in all, this was again, one of those games that had a huge impact on me and there was an aspect of the game that made me wanting more, which eventually lead to my discovery of the Battletech Board Game..and an addiction that has lasted to this day for this franchise.