Saturday, 12 May 2018

Game 96: B.A.T. II – The Koshan Conspiracy (1992)

By Ilmari

I am afraid I am in the difficult position of a vocabulary apprentice replacing two very able wordsmiths. Firstly, we usually let a single reviewer do one series so that through cumulative experience they will see whether a game has improved on its predecessors or not. Unfortunately, Aperama was so put off by what can only be described as the inherent Frenchiness of the first B.A.T., so we struck a deal that I would do the sequel, if he would do this nice fun game called Eternam… look how well that went. In any case, Aperama is spending some well-earned time off, so he isn’t even available for this game.


I guess this is far greater adventure than any Computer’s Dream could make up

My only hope was that Chester Bolingbroke, our much appraised colleague working under the alias CRPG Addict, would one day also review this game, like he did its predecessor, thus making up for my frailties. Then I happened to read Mr. Addict’s take on B.A.T. and to my great consternation I found out he wasn’t even considering doing Koshan Conspiracy, because it was categorised as an adventure/strategy -hybrid by Mobygames.


I am truly alone now

I have really nothing to add to what Aperama found out about the creators of this game. B.A.T. II was published in floppy and CD version, and since the CD version came out a year after the floppy version, I’ll be playing the floppy version. Problem is that I really haven’t found any manual for the game. Museum of Computer Adventure Games contained only a reference card for the CD version, which consisted only of basic start-up procedures, a subway map and solution of the game (how hard is a game, if even the producers knew no one could solve it without a walkthrough?). The real manual was part of the CD, while the manual of the floppy version hasn’t survived the ravages of time. This means I’ll be playing blindly, without any idea of the interface. Fun times to be expected.

(Edit: And then our commenter Bastien MARCHINA found the original French manual for me! I really cannot thank enough about this. I have added few edits to this post, if the manual revealed some essential new information.)

At least the reference card contained the basic premise of the game, although it is also described in the intro. The game takes place in XXII century, more precisely in October 2179, when the “economic universe is in crisis”. Apparently there’s this valuable mineral, echiatone 21, which can be found only on the satellite Bedhin 6 of the planet Shedishan, and the mineral is almost monopolized by Koshan trust (hence, the name of the game).

(Edit: Well, there are deposits of echiatone also on Shedhishan, but I guess all of these originate from Bedhin 6.)

Confederation of the Galaxies (that is, Earth government, shortened either as C.O.G or as C.F.G.), wants to destroy Koshan monopoly of echiatone, so they ask the help of B.A.T. (Bureau of Astral Troubleshooters or the galactic CIA). B.A.T. assigns the mission to its agent, Sylvia Hadford, who plays the role of a noblewoman near the Shedish court and claims to have enough title deeds to take over the echiatone industry in Bedhin 6.

(Edit: Firstly, the real name of the agent is Hélaïne Vertex and she is posing as Sylvia Hadford - I think I will still continue calling her Sylvia, since that's easier to write. Secondly, the plot with the title deeds is a bit more complicated. B.A.T. does have already 30 deeds, but they would still need 250 deeds to get a control of Bedhin 6 over Koshan. Sylvia was meant to bluff that she has enough deeds, so that Koshan would have had to suspend the eachiation industry, while Sylvia would have gained more time to find the missing 250 deeds.)

Before the claim is settled by the local court, some thugs try to silence Sylvia. B.A.T. assigns yet another agent to help Sylvia - and this is where I come in. I am supposed to “mascarade” as a person called Jehan Menasis, who has been currently detained on Earth on false drug charges.

Even starting the game proved to be difficult, since arrow buttons aren’t used for moving in the starting menu, which meant I at first couldn't choose the character selection. The annoying thing was that the menu screen was shown only for a couple of seconds, after which the intro started again. After a few failed attempts, I found out that the right mouse button replaced the arrow buttons and left mouse button the ENTER. I think I’ll best forget using keyboard.

Yes, there is character creation, which might be an indication that CRPG Addict’s choice of not playing this game was too hasty. Of course, there was character creation even in the first game, and both Addict and Aperama noted how the statistics seemed to have no effect on the actual gameplay.

The character creation begun with a choice of a basic character type from six possibilities.


Hulk


The Leader


Pinocchio or Cyrano de Bergerac?

After making the choice, I entered the training phase, where I had the opportunity to add or take away some points from each attribute. Finally, I got to choose a name for my agent. I at once corrected an old failing.




Now’s your chance to shine, Andy, on a solo adventure! 

I am sure hoping that the sequel to B.A.T. will be an enjoyable experience. As you should be aware by now, I am a bit vary on hybrids, since I like to enjoy my adventures as adventures and not mix them with elements from any other genre. Still, I’ll try to not let it affect my judgement on the game’s merits. The first game got 30 in PISSED-rating and 29 in GIMLET, will Koshan Conspiracy beat that?

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There's a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no CAPs will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. As this is an introduction post, it's an opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that I won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 50 CAPs in return. It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw.

14 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Let's say it will so 35 for me

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  3. Bastien MARCHINA13 May 2018 at 19:19

    I found a french version of the manual on a french abandonware site.

    https://www.abandonware-france.org/ltf_abandon/ltf_jeu.php?id=252&fic=liens

    It may help you, (with the help of an online translator maybe). I'm quite sure all those french games from the 93 have their originality and other strong points such as art direction downplayed for english players due to either too approximative or too litteral translations from french to english...

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    1. Well, this is just great, thank you very much for finding the manual! Luckily I can read French, so this will certainly be of use to me. If only I would have known about the manual a lot earlier, since I've already spent hours just to get to know the controls. Oh well, I think I'll have to make a few edits to this post, then.

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    2. You are welcome. Note that abandonware-france.org is a long standing older games community which offers quite a lot of games to download, often including their manuals and other goodies. May be useful for other games, especially for the french ones.

      I have fond memories of playing this game as a kid. I never went far into the plot, but I loved the atmosphere. I'd guess a score in the mid-fourties, around 46, with great variability between the scores.

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  4. Yay, I'm famous! ;)

    I look forward to seeing my adventures, and hopefully this will be better than the first game, so I'll say 48 for the score.

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  5. I predict pain.

    Translated in numerical form, that equals about 31.

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  6. I'll guess 32. I think it would probably score better on an adventure scale than an RPG scale, but not by much, and I don't know any reason to think the sequel will be much better than the original.

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  7. fjfjfbshghffnn

    2

    no wait that might be too high

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    1. Well, there's still two possible values below it :D Which category you think would get the only 1 (other being zeros)?

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    2. I'm thinking it gets a 2 for graphics (has them) and sound (ditto) but receives a discretionary -2 for being, you know. French.

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