When I was a kid, one of my favorite games was Flightmare, a game of airborne combat. Or, as the title screen called it, "Just When You Thought It Was Safe. Flightmare: The Ultimate Adventure Into Horror, Starring Peter Adams." It was a game full of mysteries, most of which were due to the too-clever-for-its-own-good gameplay. In a time before 3D graphics, your plane's motion in three dimensions was shown by simultaneously-running top-down and side views, each of which had eight separate directional controls. (MobyGames has some good screenshots if that description is too abstract for you.)
But what really got me was the writing. Though it mostly consisted of single lines of text, the writing was full of obscure jokes, stupid puns, and an unhinged kind of humor that I wouldn't discover was enjoyably common until much later. Even in the introduction you were provided with gems like "The controls are many, and the survivors few." Not to mention that it was probably the first video game to endorse a candidate for political office ("VOTE FOR REAGAN IN 84").
Over the years I've seen short appreciations of this game online, but none that discussed what I consider the extreme quotability of Peter Adams's writing. I've taken the liberty of putting on this webpage all the interesting text from Flightmare, in an easily readable form.
Apart from the interminable instructions (reproduced at the end of this page), the following table contains most of the game's text. The game took place in a series of 24 waves, named after the letters of the Greek alphabet. Each wave had a weird or punny description, and when you beat the wave you got some silly message. Eventually all your planes would be destroyed and you'd get a ranking based on how far you'd gotten. As the instructions curtly informed you, "this is the only achievement you get credit for." So here's the text for all 24 waves. I don't think I ever got past Nu Wave.
|Wave||Description||Complete this wave and you get this message:||If the game ends on this wave, your rank is:|
|ALPHA WAVE||FIRST ASSAULT||CONGRATULATIONS||ALPHA TURKEY|
|BETA WAVE||SKY BATTLES||GOOD JOB||BETA BEGINER|
|GAMMA WAVE||TRUCKS APPEAR||OFF TO A GOOD START||GAMMA GREENHORNE|
|DELTA WAVE||HUMPHREY LIVES||DONT GET TOO CONFIDENT||DELTA APPRENTICE|
|WAVE EPSILON||ANGUISH||BUY THE COW||EPSILON ROOKIE|
|ZETA WAVE||POP CORN||NOT BAD HOT SHOT||ZETA EXPLORER|
|ETA WAVE||BORN LOSERS||IT GETS TOUGHER||ETA ENSIGN|
|THETA WAVE||AVENGERS||GOOD JOB MAYNARD||THETA SHUFFLER|
|IOTA WAVE||NOT MUCH||SO YOU THINK YOU ARE GOOD||IOTA SCOUT|
|WAVE KAPPA||WILD ONES||MAYBE YOU ARE GOOD||KAPPA ADVENTURER|
|LAMBDA WAVE||LEG OF||KEEP IT GOING||LAMBDA FIGHTER|
|MU WAVE||COW||A DOZEN DONE||MU MARAUDER|
|NU WAVE||PUNKS||WILL THEY CONTINUE THEIR SLAUGHTER||NU FLYING TIGER|
|XI WAVE||TURKS||SO YOU LIKE TO WIN GAMES||XI SPEARHEAD|
|WAVE OMICRON||NEAR||SEND YOUR DOLLARS TO||OMICRON HUNTER|
|PI WAVE||ARE SQUARE||ONLY EIGHT MORE WAVES||PI PILOT|
|RHO WAVE||YOUR BOAT||IF YOU THINK THAT WAS HARD||RHO CONDOR|
|SIGMA WAVE||SICK PA||THAT WAS CHEESCAKE||SIGMA KNIGHT|
|TAU WAVE||HIS AND HERS||WEIRDISH PURPLE GASEOUS CLOUDS||TAU AIRSHARK|
|WAVE UPSILON||BYE BYE||WOULD YOU RATHER BE IN UTAH||UPSILON DEFENDER|
|PHI WAVE||BLOODY BATTLE||VISIT ME IN HAWAII SOME TIME||PHI EAGLE|
|CHI WAVE||VICIOUS ATTACK||NOW FOR A BREATHER||CHI COMMANDER|
|PSI WAVE||THE SPY||ONLY ONE MORE ROUND||PSI CONQUERER|
|OMEGA WAVE||FINAL BATTLE||YOU HAVE DONE IT||OMEGA FLYING LEATHERNECK|
There were also a number of encouraging messages that showed up randomly in the margin between the two 2D views of the battlefield:
Ways to die:
FEEL FREE TO COPY AND DISTRIBUTE THIS GAME TO FRIENDS, USER GROUPS, HACKERS, OR YOUR DOG. THE PROGRAMMER SPENT FIVE MONTHS ON FLIGHTMARE. IF YOU FIND IT TO BE ENTERTAINING AND WORTH THE DISK ITS ON, THEN IT WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED IF YOU SENT A MONETARY THANK YOU CARD OF FIVE TO FIFTY DOLLARS. PETER ADAMS 882 HAGEMANN DR LIVERMORE, CA 94550
Finally, the multi-screen instructional guide shown at the beginning of each game:
WELCOME TO FLIGHTMARE THE YEAR IS 2345. THE ONLY SURVIVORS OF THE HUMAN RACE ARE DESERT WARRIORS, FIGHTING FOR CONTROL OF THE LAND. YOU ARE A PILOT FOR THE LAST CIVILIZED PEOPLE, THE OMEGANS. THE OMEGANS FIGHTING POWER IS IN THE AIR. THE DESERT VANDALS ARE LAUNCHING ATTACKS ON THE OMEGAN FACTORIES. YOUR MISSION IS TO PROTECT THEM. THE VANDALS HAVE FOUR DIFFERENT ATTACK FORCES. THE MOTORCYCLES ARE SMALL GANGS OF MARAUDERING BEATNICKS WHO REVEL IN THE DESTRUCTION OF OMEGAN FACTORIES. THE TRUCKS HAVE THE SAME SICK DESIRE FOR DESTRUCTION, BUT CAN ONLY BE STOPPED BY A DIRECT HIT IN THE TIRES. THE SQUADS OF PLANES MAINLY ESCORT THE TRUCKS AND BIKES, BUT OFTEN ATTACK YOU OR WAIT IN AMBUSH AT YOUR BLIMP. LASTLY, THE VANDALS MAY OPT TO FIRE THE HEAT SEEKING ROCKET. THE OMEGAN FORCE CONSISTS OF PLANES, FACTORIES, A BLIMP, AND AN AIRFIELD. IF THE VANDALS REACH A FACTORY THEY WILL DESTROY IT. THIS ALSO APPLIES TO THE AIRFIELD, WHICH YOU SHOULD PROTECT WITH YOUR LIFE. AT THE END OF EVERY ATTACK, EACH FACTORY WILL PRODUCE ONE ADDITIONAL PLANE FOR YOUR AIRFIELD AND ANOTHER FACTORY WILL BE BUILT. TO GET MORE AMMO YOU MUST DOCK WITH THE BLIMP, WHICH CAN CAN NEVER BE DESTROYED BY THE VANDALS. GAME PLAY FLIGHTMARE IS DIVIDED INTO TWO GAME PHASES. THE FIRST IS THE MAP PHASE. HERE, THE PLAYER CAN SEE THE LAYOUT OF HIS FORCES AND THE VANDAL FORCES. WHEN A CONFRONTATION OCCURS, THE COMBAT PHASE BEGINS. THE COMBAT PHASE IS DIVIDED INTO TWO SCREENS, A SIDE VIEW AND A TOP VIEW. ALL COMBAT ACTION OCCURS IN 3D WHICH IS DISPLAYED IN TWO FLAT VIEW ANGLES. PLANE CONTROL IN THE MAP SEQUENCE THE NUMBER KEYS ARE USED FOR CONTROLLING DIRECTIONS. LT UP UP RT UP 7 8 9 LT 4 5 6 RT 1 2 3 LT DN DN RT DN WHEN YOUR PLANE IS NEAR ANOTHER OBJECT, USE THE SPACE BAR TO ENGAGE COMBAT. CONTROL OF TOP VIEW SCREEN LT N NORTH RT S Q W E LT A S D RT Z X C LT S SOUTH RT S ALTITUDE IS CONTROLLED BY THE NUMBER KEYS. THE SPACE BAR FIRES A ROUND OF AMMO. THE CONTROLS ARE MANY, AND THE SURVIORS FEW. IN ORDER TO KILL SOMETHING YOU MUST BE LINED UP IN BOTH THE SIDE VIEW SCREEN AND THE TOP VIEW SCREEN. IT TAKES A WHILE TO GET THE HANG OF THIS, SO DONT GIVE UP TOO EARLY. AT THE END OF THE GAME YOU ARE GIVEN A RANKING BASED UPON THE LEVEL YOU ATTAIN. THIS IS THE ONLY ACHIEVEMENT YOU GET CREDIT FOR.
This document (source) is part of Crummy, the webspace of Leonard Richardson (contact information). It was last modified on Tuesday, December 30 2008, 00:22:21 Nowhere Standard Time and last built on Friday, March 07 2014, 07:00:09 Nowhere Standard Time.