- [Another guest post, and the first in a raggedy series of 'Alex Handy Sez' missives, in which the former Game Developer editor and current Computer Games Magazine/Massive/otherstuff contributor riffs on something or other - cos we like his crazy hair! This time, he delightedly pokes at Psygnosis' Brataccas for the Atari ST.]

"Long ago, and far away, upon the Atari ST 520 I did play. And upon this merry machine I did play Brataccas.

You are Kyne. You have been accused of a crime you did not commit. On the asteroid mining colony known as Brataccas, you have come to clear your name. You've hidden your face, and assumed a new identity to unravel the strands that conspire against you.

Miners, Cops, and Ne'er-do-wells

The colony is populated with off-duty miners, tyrannical cops, and an organized crime gang, headed by a fat man in green. The asteroid is a living entity--as you play, all of the inhabitants of the colony move freely from place to place. A simple side-view gave you a 3D map of rooms to navigate, one door at a time. And it was those doors drawn lengthwise across the background that presented a real challenge to walk through.

You see, Brataccas was controlled entirely with the 2-button mouse. In those days, (1985), the mouse was still a newcomer to the personal computer, and the Atari ST and the Amiga were equipped with them. To walk left, hold the left mouse button and slide the mouse left. To walk right, hold the left mouse button and slide it right. Simple enough, right?

Well, then you have combat, which is entirely swordplay. Right mouse button, sweeping up with the mouse draws the blade. That same button in concert with sweeps to the left and right were your swings and stabs. Both buttons could force blocks, overhead slices, and defensive ducking. Everyone was armed, and drawing your sword in a room full of otherwise innocuous bystanders could spark a fight with which ever one of them felt toughest.

- Exit... Or Kill?

The single hardest manuver to execute. however, was walking away from the player, into the background. The second room in the game offered a direct left exit, and one background exit, through which the rest of the game was located. In order to see all of this, you have to press both mouse buttons and push up while Kyne stood in front of the door. In the days of imprecise mouses, this task was actually quite difficult, since anything less than a straight line up resulted in Kyne drawing his sword and starting all sorts of trouble.

The police left you alone, provided you weren't wandering through their control rooms. Even sword fights in one of Brataccas' many bars were acceptable, as long as you didn't drop anyone worth a damn. The locals were worth a damn, and they were all red. One of them, however, wore a skull mask, and he was not. He was your window into the underworld of Brataccas. As he wandered along with the other locals from bar to bar, chit chatting along the way, you could follow him and study his habits. Eventually, the cartoon speech bubbles would be populated with enticing clues.

Eventually, the skull fellow will address you by your real name, even though you are in disguise. Follow him for longer, and you'll see that this skull fellow has dealings with a lizard-headed green man. Ssssssslash is his name, and crime is his game. Strike up a conversation with Sssssssslash and he'll take you off-base and into the literal underworld of Brataccas, where you can meet his boss. Said boss, however, had no interest in your quest whatsoever. He's a red herring, as is the entire large underworld.

To End Is Simple...

To win Brataccas, you must simply wander into the police headquarters near the start of the game. A few rooms in, the police-boss--who floats around on a Yoda-sized levitating disc sled-- has an office. In there, the papers that prove you were set-up are located. Take those papers back to the starting point transporter, and you win.

Easier said than done. The police attack on sight if you're in their base, killin' all their d00ds.

The initial setting of Brataccas is intentionally confusing. As is the manual. Whenever a plot point is revealed in the manual, a hole is left open. While the manual is nowhere to be found online, an example of these holes is: "Kyne has been framed. To learn what crime he has been accused of, turn to page 27."

Page 27 was always the location of these secrets, and when you finally turned to this mythical missive, "This page intentionally left blank." Rats!

A rare Psygnosis gem."

[Alex Handy can put bricks to sleep just by looking at them. He always votes Silly Party, knows where his towel is, and loves to go to the zoo and watch the monkeys make a'more. When he's sober, he blogs at Gism Dot Net. When he's not sober, he wanders around downtown San Francisco dancing for nickels.]