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Bug of the moment 2006-08-06

One of my favourite games is Epic MegaGames’s The Xargon Trilogy. Introduced to episode one by David Mills, I purchased the full game and completed it (one of the very few games I’ve completed). Dan Froelich’s soundtrack is fantastic, but Allen Pilgrim’s programming leaves a little bit to be desired, and the game has more bugs than you find under a rotting log.

For example, the save games list used to become corrupt:

Attemping to open some of the more fruity saves used to start the game inside a some non-existent level where you couldn’t walk anywhere, but I cannot reproduce this at this time. Sometimes, your score would skyrocket:

You cannot die, either, so any time you choose to exit the game with a high score, you’re prompted to enter your name:

Yes, the score table is completely corrupt too.

This time around, only the shareware episode 1 appears to have these flaws. Each episode seems to be a separately compiled, independent copy of the game. I never did understand the game, nor the collection of batch files that run it that not only make no sense, but are dynamically rewritten as you switch from one program to another. (I discovered this as I tried to add sound card mixer commands to them, and found the whole file rewritten afterwards.)

I cannot remember now whether the other two episodes ever displayed file and score corruption at any point; it may be that the second and third episodes had bugs in them fixed before release. Some of the bugs, anyway. Not including the level that crashes the computer if you make a second attempt after dying, or the level that, on retry, starts you off without even your basic weapon (which is essential!) and none of the objects of power that you have previously collected. Episode 1 also has a bug of this type: restart level 2 after dying, and take a running jump at the rapid fire power-up. The computer locks up.

I guess I can forgive a lot after bugs like these!

Again, thanks to DOSBox for these screenshots. This is what Xargon looks like under Professional Capture Systems’ DosCapture:

No idea.

Posted 6th August 2006 – Comments and questions?