Hired Guns is somewhat like an RPG, or “adventure” game, where you have a party of “adventurers”, and you go on a quest of some sort, solving puzzles and fighting bad guys along the way. You usually have a “window” that shows what the party sees. Hired Guns is like that, plus a whole lot more. Up to 4 players control 4 computer characters at the same time. The players can use up to two mice, the keyboard, or joysticks to control the computer players. Each input device can control one or more computer players. The program supports a parallel port joystick adapter. Other games, such as Gauntlet, use this same device. When there are only one or two players, they have to use a mouse. That means that for a two player game, you need two mice. Three or 4 players have the option to select the input device. Each computer character can also be told to “follow the leader”, so you can move up to 4 characters at once. This “Auto Leader” mode will cause the computer characters that have the mode enabled to follow the currently moving character. Each computer character has its own view window, so each can be in a different place at the same time. If player 1 is standing in front of player 2, then player 2 sees player 1 in front of him. You have your choice of 12 different computer characters. You cannot edit their “stats” nor add your own characters. However, you can edit the graphics for each character using any Amiga paint program. Each character has an ILBM IFF file containing the different views of that character. You can edit the pictures, perhaps replacing them with your own picture, and use that in the game.

The view windows are in “3D” style, so you get the illusion of depth. The graphics are relatively detailed, but they do not blow you away. The purpose of the game is for the players to eradicate the area of the various mutants that happen to be there. You are provided various weapons, and more are found that allow you to do this. You move your computer characters around the a landscape consisting of grass, trees, multi-level buildings, tunnels, and rocks. There are also water channels, sometimes multi-leveled, that you can (or have) to wander around in. There are devices available (you hope) that will allow humans to breathe, and keep robots sealed for a few minutes. There are stairs and elevators that move you up and down. There are big blocks that you push and pull around to allow you or another computer character to get across a chasm or water channel. There are force fields, teleport fields, and doors that need to be removed, accessed, or opened. Many of the puzzles require cooperation between computer characters to complete. And, of course, there are the “Bad Guys.” There are many different ones, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. It is up to you to figure out the best defense and the appropriate weapons that are necessary to deal with each creature. Each character has an inventory of items, called a “store”. Items can be picked up, dropped, and equipped, using each computer character’s store window. If a computer player has the appropriate device, a map of where he or she has been is automatically kept, and is displayable. The game has several modes. There are “Training” missions, “Short Campaign” games, and the “Full Campaign” game. The training missions start out easy and get progressively harder. The “short campaign” games can usually be completed in one sitting. When there are more that one “human” playing the game, they can compete with each other to see which one completes the level first. The “Full Campaign” has about 20 different sites you have to visit, each with different puzzles and varying degrees of difficulty. Fortunately, you can save your “Full Campaign” game between playings on floppy, Hard Drive, or in RAM.

More news: Generation Amiga magazine