Meet The New Chaos Engine, Same As The Old One

By Craig Pearson on July 6th, 2013 at 10:00 am.


I meant to stop by the Chaos Engine stand at Rezzed, but every time I scooted past I was going from one thing to another, in the manner of a very busy journalist, and never quite got around to playing it. It kept catching my eye because I honestly thought they were doing was displaying the 1993 version. I’d imagined the new version, which had only just been announced, wasn’t ready for public display. As it turned out, I was looking at the new version. The aesthetic, the action, the core game that they’re bringing back will be almost exactly the same as the game that was released 20 years ago. Video is below.

It’s less of a remake and more of a rescaling. In fact, as the video below states: “The core of it is built around the original Amiga code.” So it will be true to game that was released all those years ago, with extra features tottering atop the original’s form. Yeah, it’ll still be rock hard. It’ll be possible to switch off the modern blurry bling, removing that smoothing and returning the pixels to their right-angled glory. But there are a few modern concessions: online co-op with another player will be supported, and while there won’t be official additional levels, there’s talk of Steam Workshop support for extra levels from the community.

Adam is doing something with his face. I think it’s a smile. I wonder if he can keep it up until the release in August?

Via Eurogamer.

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69 Comments »

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  1. Aysir says:

    I was so worried they were going to ‘Flashback’ this game. This is fine. As long as it doesn’t have a ‘Baldur’s Gate’ style extortionate price, this is perfect. Online co-op and the possible addition of extra levels is more than enough. Anything else and you might as well just make a new game/IP.

    • Syra says:

      This is so not enough. It was a great game at the time, but it has aged. This is just a HD redo, they can’t call it a new chaos engine when it’s the same game! They as good as said they have no intention of adding extra levels, and only 2p coop because the screen would be too cluttered?? Lol what… so you have all these textures you’ve “remade” ie taken from the original and put into some semblance of “HD”, and they couldn’t change the aspect of the game by zooming out a bit or making the old claustraphobic maps which were limited by snes era technology a bit bigger or something? It’s a cop out and feels to me like a quick and dirty cash in…

      I’m actually dissapointed.

      • Bhazor says:

        Really it feels like its blatantly jumping on the Nostalgia Kickstarter bandwagon without the whole Kickstarter thing. I mean no new levels? Seriously?

        Speaking of Kickstarter. Where in the nine hells is the Bitmap Brothers Speedball Kickstarter?

        • Loyal_Viggo says:

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      • Richeh says:

        That isn’t what they said to me. I asked about the possibility of a level editor – they said the same thing as with other features, “we’ll have to see what the demand is”.

        In fairness, what they’re trying to do is bring a game a lot of us loved into the condition that we remember it being. In 1993, the graphics were incredibly lush, and I barely remember there being pixels. Playing the original version now is a bit of a travesty.

        This is the first time they’ve tried something like this – updating an old game to more modern standards while keeping the same game intact.

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  2. cocoleche says:

    The artstyle was great for its time. I don’t remember it for the gameplay. I’m a bit puzzled why you’d want to release something that looks like a re-packaged emulator.

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      Continuity says:

      I remember the Amiga version looking better than this, might just be rose tinted glasses…

      • Shodex says:

        I’ve always found that old things just look better when they look old, I never liked when “updated graphics” just means a fuzzy filter on the pixels and some bloom here and there. It’s the same reason I never use those mods/patches to make older games high resolution widescreen. I’ve always liked the way older games look in 800×600.

        • Emeraude says:

          As I keep saying, I somehow resent the whole HD fad for breaking what I was perfectly satisfied with, to give me what I couldn’t care less about.

          I wish someone devised a proper solution that would have both advantages of modern screens and old CRT ones.

  3. Houd1n1 says:

    So they’re making a game without making anything about the game except “some extra features”. If they at least enhanced graphics this could be called a remake, now it’s almost publishing the same for the second time and calling themselves developers.

  4. Guzzleguts says:

    What paucity of ambition. An Android release might make sense, but anyone who really cares about this on PC probably already has an emulator copy somewhere. I can’t see online co-op making a difference either.

  5. Premium User Badge

    golem09 says:

    Never having played this back in the day, I have to say that I’m a lot more excited for Mercenary Kings.

  6. Dog Pants says:

    It seems like a strange decision to simply remake the old game. I enjoyed Chaos Engine back in the day, but it was more from the Bitmap Brothers style than the actual gameplay. By the time Chaos Engine came along the Gauntlet shooter genre was pretty mature, and not a lot was added over aesthetics. You could maintain that old Bitmap Brothers style and do something more interesting with today’s technology. But then other retro comebacks have been reasonably popular, and I was never really a fan of shooters anyway, so maybe I’m not best placed to judge. I notice that he mentions using this as a gauge of popularity before moving onto something more evolved, but they might be setting themselves up for a fall by showcasing something that was played 20 years ago by anyone who cares.

  7. Premium User Badge

    DrScuttles says:

    It’s a shame they haven’t done a Street Fighter 2 or Guardian Heroes type upscaling and redrawing of the artwork, but at least you can turn those filters off. While it’s not to my tastes I don’t mind the smoothing so much, but it looks like they smothered the game in some weird kind of bloom and that looks terrible.
    I’m sceptical about Steam workshop support and honestly without it, online co-op isn’t enough of a draw to make me not just play the original on WinUAE.
    Still, I’m glad they’re doing it, I just feel they could maybe have gone a little further.

  8. jon_hill987 says:

    I honestly thought it was running in an emulator, the textures looked unscaled rather than redrawn. Was not impressed at all.

  9. MeestaNob says:

    Any other game would be quite rightly pilloried for being re-released exactly like THIS…

    I find it interesting that Kickstarter projects are being criticised for indulging in nostalgia fan service yet this is fine. At least those are usually trying to improve the formula in some way. This is an Amiga emulation exercise.

    • Crosmando says:

      “I find it interesting that Kickstarter projects are being criticised for indulging in nostalgia fan service yet this is fine”
      The only people who criticize KS projects for nostalgia are hipsters retards those who didn’t back them in the first place.

    • buzzmong says:

      I reckon it’s not even an Amiga Emulation exercise.

      Amiga games were generally either written in C or in assembly. I’m going to guess that the Chaos Engine was probably written in C, hence the statements of “running off the original code”.

      Which’ll mean they’ve probably just gone off and rewrote the rendering code to use OpenGL or DirectX, rather than bothering with trying to emulate the various custom chips in code.

  10. praest76 says:

    If there is no Android release on the cards and few real enhancements to the PC version then this all seems rather pointless.

  11. Sarkhan Lol says:

    Not in my most disappointing dreams could I have seen that one coming.

  12. faelnor says:

    I’d rather have a straight up scaled-up filtered-up port of the Amiga version than a HD remake similar to what they did with Monkey Island or what they are doing with Flashback.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Chaz says:

    I’m remaking the hula hoop.

    The edges will be smoother and it will be slightly larger to enable two player co-op.

    • Premium User Badge

      SquidgyB says:

      I thought that was funny. I also thought that you should know that.

  14. Premium User Badge

    AlwaysRight says:

    Why would they not add twin-stick shooting?!

    • Taidan says:

      That was my first reaction too. Twin-stick shooting would turn the game into an instant purchase for me, as long as it wasn’t stupidly over-priced to go with it.

  15. Premium User Badge

    RobF says:

    I think this is a great idea and I’d like to see more games get a similar treatment. I don’t have much love for or care too much about The Chaos Engine -as a game-, same with most Bitmap Bros games they look absolutely stunning but the games themselves leave me a bit, well, cold.

    But remastering games? Yeah, go on. A legal, above board way to get your hands on games whilst having them properly playable on a modern machine without resorting to “sell emulator+ROM” a la so many of the retro packs, a codebase that can be tweaked to have the game preserved and running into the future if people desire and a few quid for people along the way? AND all without having to worry about what bright ideas people have to fix the game? Yeah, that seems pretty good to me.

    Yeah, it’s not a reimagining, recreation or anything else but from a preservation point of view alone, I’m fine with this. It seems pretty smart and I’m glad it’s happening. Opening up more of our game history to be playable today is good, right? And from a “things we can learn from” point of view, not tinkering too much means we’re not always trying to paper over the cracks so having these available and being able to learn what they did right and what they did wrong easily too seems smart.

    I still think The Chaos Engine is guff though.

    • Frank says:

      Yeah, in principle I agree. But I think most of these old game systems are quite well emulated right now. And, judging by the stuff showing up in the mobile market, the more time passes, the easier/cheaper it is to remake/remaster these games.

      Maybe some old games could be improved with a new interface…like M.U.L.E. or Chris Crawford’s games…I don’t really know pre-1991 games…

      • Premium User Badge

        RobF says:

        Well, it’s more that with the mobile market a lot of these things are farmed out to the same couple of people and well, the amount of love, care and attention lavished on many of them isn’t really optimal. I don’t blame the guys in the trenches for this, they’ll have time and budgets thrown at them and do their best.

        And that’s without sort of going into how uncomfortable to me it is to have our future hinging around a few thrown together collections with social features as a layer on top or controlled by an old man on the internet bringing order to the market.

        Best example I can think of is compare the Sega megadrive/genesis collections and their one-size-fits-all approach to emulation with how much care and attention went into Sonic CD and how much better a thing it is for that attention. Or compare one of the Code Mystics or the old Digital Eclipse stuff with the love and care the Vectrex Regen guys are putting in. Or from dedicated guys like Jonathan Needle and Spectaculator competing against the jankiness of other similar emulators on iOS.

        Emulation is fantastic and yeah, we’re at a stage where we’ve got a lot of rock solid support for a lot of games from a lot of our past and I wouldn’t want that any other way but I’d like people to have the option of putting time, love and care into restoring things for modern machines as well. And folks need to remember also that emulation is amazing but it’s still a very nerd thing that requires nerd skills, so very far from “click buy on Steam, run .exe, play game in full res”.

        • Frank says:

          Ah, I just noticed you run a blog on remakes. Cool stuff.

          I haven’t tried the rereleased Sonic CD, but new resolutions are nice, I guess. I’d bet that they haven’t gone very far towards future-proofing it, though. (It appeared on Steam in 2012 with only Win XP listed…)

          Maybe Head over Heels (which I haven’t actually tried) or nenad’s CCW, a remake of an old game I’ve never heard of, are good examples of what you’re talking about? http://www.16×16.org/games/ It introduced me to a game I wouldn’t otherwise have known, though nenad says it did “paper over” some of the earlier game’s mistakes.

          Then again, if the idea is for the game to reach a wider/new audience, papering over the cracks is the way to go. If devs really want to learn from the past, they’re more than tech-savvy enough to run an emulator or crazy enough to have the original consoles.

          Anyway, if HOMM 1 or 2 got an official remake for modern systems (higher resolution, an online platform for sharing custom maps, maybe an mod kit or editor to design custom units, backgrounds, battle arenas, etc.), I’d be ecstatic. I hope Ubisoft hires some good folks in the retro-remaking industry to get on that.

          • Premium User Badge

            RobF says:

            Yeah, I don’t think there’s one right answer so I want options, really. Counterclockwise and X-Out’s Cubes ( http://xout.blackened-interactive.com/Cubes/Cubes.html ) are fantastic examples of making an idea sing. I mean, the original is functional, a germ of an idea that’s way too advanced for the 48k it sits in. It was barely playable first time round, Nenad salvaged it. Head Over Heels is entertaining because Graham’s and Tomaz’s remake is cracking but I believe Ritman isn’t fond of it (something to do with the doors if I recall). Yet, it’s probably up there as one of the best examples of doing a remake.

            The big problem with these things, as Cas points out, we’re talking masses of effort for these things. For every one of the games we got put together in 3 months like CCW, there’s a multiyear project like HoH. Most home brew remakes have dried up in recent years, some of this is down to c&d’s becoming more of a threat but in the large part it’s down to work/expectations which for one/two people is fairly too much. It was easier when we were topping out at 800×600 with no controller support, now not so much.might as well put that effort into making your own stuff now. And uprez-ing and controller support is the bare bones of what’s needed.

            But yeah, papering over the cracks is something you need to do for a much wider audience but something like TCE is always going to have a finite reach so it’s a bit of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    • Premium User Badge

      princec says:

      I agree. The one thing we’ve discovered doing our neo-retro remakes is that the old games are basically shit and that we look at them through rose-tinted spectacles. They are largely just not fun to play. We have to do so many things to the old designs just to make them actually enjoyable in the face of all the modern competition for time and enjoyment.

    • ribobura osserotto says:

      The problem with this so-called “video games remastering” is that video games aren’t music. Having a plain, slightly improved version of a game only lasts for a relatively short period of time, until OS incompatibility kicks in, and the game suddenly needs to be updated again. This is why I tend to prefer fan-made open source engine projects, when it comes to software preservation. Not only it facilitates improving and expanding, but it also makes the game virtually immortal and platform agnostic (unless you decided to use Microsoft libraries for some stupid reason).

  16. Drake Sigar says:

    Maybe they can make sure money is shared equally between players. Me and my brother had an ‘every man for himself’ attitude when it came to the in-game cash which caused endless shouting.

  17. clippa says:

    What the heck? What’s the point? I can load up an amiga emulator and play THAT. At the very least, add mouse aiming and zoom the camera out.
    What a waste of time.

    • Crosmando says:

      Because emulation isn’t legal if you need to download disc images and roms? Because Amiga emulation is quite glitchy and eats your CPU for breakfast? Because it’s great to have a good game back on the market running in Windows natively?

      Lol at all the casuals who can’t appreciate good pixel art and instead want the game to be ruined with soulless 3D graphics.

      What is wrong with brining back old games as they were instead of pissing off fans of the original by remaking the wheel? I bet you morons even preferred Team 17’s Alien Breed remakes to the originals.

      • sPOONz says:

        Haha. Funny Angry Internet Man. Where’s my virtual stick to prod you with.

      • Cim says:

        You can quite easily dump the roms from an Amiga yourself or buy them legally from Cloanto’s Amiga Forever package for example. It’s not an all that difficult thing to do if you’re savy enough to use an Amiga in the first place.

        Same thing with getting the game over the Amiga, easily done with a null-modem cable or through dedicated hardware (if you want to make it really easy).

        As for Amiga emulation requiring a high-powered CPU? It runs perfectly on everything from an original Xbox to smartphones. It’s not exactly what I’d call high-end hardware.

        The game itself looks good but if they are going to call this a remake, it wouldn’t hurt to have a 3D high-resolution mode you could swap back and forth from. That would be the ultimate version of the game. Something along the lines of how it worked with the re-releases of the Monkey Island games.

        • Premium User Badge

          RobF says:

          ” It’s not an all that difficult thing to do if you’re savy enough to use an Amiga in the first place.”

          Right. Most people aren’t. That’s where things like this come in.

          • Cim says:

            This is very much meant for the people who played it in the first case though. If they wanted to appeal to people who hadn’t played the original, they really need to step it up. Just re-releasing the original, basically unchanged, doesn’t cut it.

            Fun for “game historians” but not enough to appeal to the newer generation players.

            … and that’s coming from someone who absolutely adores the original game and all the rest of The Bitmap Brothers titles.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Ah, “Pixel Art”, a term used by halcyon-addicted gamers who wear their rose-colored glasses from sunup to sundown.

  18. jmtd says:

    Gameplay-wise it won’t hold a candle to something like Teleglitch. I wonder if the retro obsession will be enough to keep this floating.

  19. tranchera says:

    This is the kind of thing you add as an easter egg in the real remake.

    • Bagpuss says:

      This. Bang on.

      Something you find in a corner of the real game.

  20. wodin says:

    erm…pointless…

  21. neolith says:

    I’ve got to say, I am rather disappointed.

    As much as I cherish The Chaos Engine and old Amiga games in general, this doesn’t cut it for me.
    The old game with pimped up graphics? I would’ve bought that in an instant.
    A new game imitating the old one’s style and gameplay but with todays possibilities graphics- and gameplaywise? Made for twinsticks and with proper coop? Hell yes! Where do I have to throw my money at to make that happen?

    But when I take a look at the video above I only have one question. Why?

  22. Urthman says:

    So it’s SmashTV without the 80s humor?

  23. Imbecile says:

    I’m kinda surprised by the negativity. It very much depends on the price point, but as I really enjoyed the chaos engine on the Amiga I’m looking forward to it. As I dont have an easy facility to play this at the moment, any kind of faithful version is fine by me.

  24. Premium User Badge

    differenceengine says:

    I played this at Ressed, sorry, Rezzed (resolution? resurrection? Whatever, it was anything but sleepworthy) and I will buy it anyway. I’ve vented my creative spleen at GetGamesGo to the effect of “it’d be really really nice if Steam Workshop opened up graphics and tile sets as well as maps and campaigns.” and I’d suggest anyone of a like mind does the same.

    So, at least if a creatively deficient monkey like me can’t manage to do much to improve it, perhaps the internet masses can.

    No monkeys were intentionally offended by this assertion. Probably.

  25. Scumbag says:

    I saw the screen, realized what was going on with the port and then thought “You Thugs!”

  26. Ergates_Antius says:

    How come this keeps being described as “Hardcore”? I completed it, it can’t have been that hard!

  27. ribobura osserotto says:

    I’m a huge fan of the original game so I gues I should give my two cents:

    While I am slightly disappointed that so far they’re not coming with anything new by default other then dynamic light effects (no map editor, no rebalanced classes, etc) I don’t think a hi-res remake would’ve been a good idea either, chiefly because hi-res remakes look generally horrible when compared with original pixelart, and boy did Chaos Engine have some amazing pixelart.

    I mean, did anyone ever checked the Speedball 2 iOS remake? It adds a cool amount of gameplay features but the upscaled HD graphics are so ugly I’d rather play the original version instead. So I say keep the original pixelart, or rather make something with 3D graphics. Better than that, screw the ugly recoloured AGA/PC-DOS version graphics they’re using here, and use the old ECS graphics as defaults instead, which look tons better despite having less colours.

    So IMO, here’s what a perfect Chaos Engine remake should have:

    * Both original ECS and AGA graphics
    * Map editor + event editor
    * Balanced classes (every fan of this game knows the Preacher is blatantly overpowered)
    * New sprite animations (flicking switches, improved gun stances, pushing objects, etc)
    * Online multiplayer + new multiplayer modes (Chaos Engine has the gameplay and the classes to make up for a great team vs team 2D shooter. Think something like Team Fortress played top down)
    * New levels by default
    * Bossfights
    * Remastered music

    • Crosmando says:

      Why does it need to have all those things?

      What is wrong with re-releasing old games for modern systems (made to work on those systems)? Why do re-releases have to “justify” themselves?

      If anyone has a problem with this re-release, I suggest they go to GOG.com and inform them that they must immediately stop selling all games bundled with DOSBox.

      • Ricochet64 says:

        There’s a difference between remake and re-release. These people were claiming to make a remake, not a re-release.

      • ribobura osserotto says:

        There’s nothing wrong with it, but it makes little sense even as an investment from the developers part, since packing an emulated version and selling it on GoG could be equally as profitable. If it’s for the sake of software preservation and portability, then a fan-made open source engine project can handle that better.

        As for all the features I listed I think the game could use those in order to keep itself fresh and with added replay value. For this purpose, a map editor and balanced classes are at mandatory.

      • Bagpuss says:

        As has been said, they made out it was a remake/sequel.. this is a re-release, and that’s simply not necessary when we have such a thing as emulators.

    • Bagpuss says:

      If I hear one more person call for ‘balance’ in a game I’ll puke, not everything has to be designed for PvP.. Jeez!

      The fact is, if you want an easier game you play the Preacher, if you want a harder game then you choose someone else. This is how they used to manage game difficulty before the norm became just the same ol’ generic ramping up/down damage.

      • ribobura osserotto says:

        Who’s talking about PvP balance? You seem to be forgetting the original game included a hotseat coop mode, and the most particular characteristic about it, is that money is divided according to the player who catches and kills the most. This effectively pits the two players against each other in a greedy struggle for getting the most resources to improve their character and increase their chances of survival. Of course that if your character is overpowered, like the Preacher is, he has a lot more chances of doing well, especially when one consider the game doesn’t allow you to pick two characters of the same kind. So here’s a good example on why balance matters in this game, and I could go on. The Thug is horrible to play with, and his secondary skill sucks, the Mercenary’s last weapon powerup makes his gun worst than on previous stages, the gentleman’s skills are downright awful, save for Repel Monster and, like I said before, the Preacher just rapes everything, thanks to being able to heal himself and become virtually indestructible for 5 seconds.

  28. Premium User Badge

    Continuity says:

    Needs graphics overhaul, and I don’t mean just AA and shaders. Need new art assets. At the moment I see zero reason to go back to this and I was quite a fan of the original.

  29. Cpt.Average says:

    I would have bought this version of the game with the new game oh wait they’re the same.

  30. Premium User Badge

    Jackablade says:

    Bizarre. I guess maybe they’re just doing a cheap-ish upres to try to get some revenue in before they attempt something a little more interesting. Right?

    • Bagpuss says:

      Unless you have proof of this you are just muddying the waters…This is where garbage rumours come from.

  31. Bagpuss says:

    I was expecting same perspective but up to date graphics (not cutting edge but at least a bit better), with a whole different campaign and ‘maybe’ an additional character class to two with new abilities.

    This is just a cash grab… Not interested, I’ll just re-play the original instead, after all, that looks exactly what we’re getting, the old game re-packaged… and No, the dev doesn’t get a pass because Beamdog did it with BG, cos they fucked it up too.

    Disappointed, what a missed opportunity.

    But in case the devs happen to read this… Yes, I know it’s difficult to please everyone, and sometimes even when you give them what they want they aren’t happy, but you have to use your brains, there’s a time to repackage and a time not to… unfortunately this is the time not to.. should have been a true sequel. This isn’t a sequel, it’s an HD’ify.. and frankly the original game, whilst being a good one.. isn’t good enough just to re-release it and hold your hand out.

    I hate feeling that the dev is trying to take advantage of me and/or my nostalgia, and this is EXACTLY how I feel about this.

    I’m already moving on.

    @Craig Pearson.. will you please stop trying to make out that no-work cash grabs like this are good for the consumer.. Surely with your ‘experience’ you had to see that something as poor as this is not worth the effort. You sound like their salesman or something. :<

  32. Eclipse says:

    so they just ruined the pixel art adding bloom? oh ok.