Video Game: Cortex Command

Simple instructions

Mine precious gold from the deformable pixel terrain in order to buy more and better ships, soldiers, weapons, digging tools, and deployable defenses. Use these assets to defend your disembodied brain and bankrupt your opponent! Old-school 2D sidescroller pixel graphics coupled with an extremely detailed physics simulation makes for a mix of nostalgia and surprising gameplay.
Product Description

So in the future, you're a Brain in a Jar, on a Worms-like 2D battlefield controlling Mooks. You're competing with other factions on a new, Earth-like planet to find resources and ship them back to civilization, or at least whatever you have left, since you spend pretty much all your money on weaponry. Notable for having an impressively advanced physics and destruction engine, which can allow for a variety of emergent gameplay.

The game spent the majority of its time in the public in an unfinished beta state. Created by Data Realms, the Retraux game spent several years as a demo with several test levels, some of which had a six minute time limit, making it in essence a sophisticated toy. Regardless, Data Realms encouraged players to buy the game while in its development stage, for a reduced price than that of the finished game, a model also used successfully by Mount & Blade and (On a cheaper scale) Minecraft. Cortex Command 1.0 was officially released on Steam on September 28, 2012, with a new faction and improved campaign mode.

The game features a slowly growing single player campaign with five scenarios currently available. There are several levels available for skirmish mode, and the game features splitscreen multiplayer but no online element. The creator is currently focusing on expanding the campaigns and code for the game while having additional staff work on content as the code rolls out. The game also has a very active modding community and a wide variety of mods that add or change many features in the game as well as adding campaign missions and skirmish areas.

The Steam release (and beta Build 27, released several months prior) introduced the campaign mode, which up to four teams compete for control of the planet. A slider allows for determination of the number of mining sites and brains in a game (effectively controlling the game length), with teams capturing and holding said sites to generate income so they can build elaborate defensive installations for their sites, and launch massive assaults to take a site from their foes. The winner is whoever seizes total control of all the sites on the planet and kills all the brains of the enemy.

Cortex Command Main Site LinkThe link for the fan forums which also houses the mod community: Forums & Mod Community

This game provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: For starters, the Ronin Rocket-Propelled Chainsaw launcher. There are a few mods out there. One of the most abnormal is the rocket gun. it doesn't fire explosives, it fires landing craft.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The RPC can dig through what every other weapon can't,even bunkers.Its actually the most destructive weapon in the game,if you aim it right.
  • Action Bomb: Aside from equipping troops with dropship bombs and having them run up to people, it's also possible to kill enemies by gaining momentum with the jetpack and ramming into the ground so hard you explode. The force of the giblets can often be enough to blow the limbs off of any enemies nearby. Caution is strongly advised when removing limbs or liquefying mooks at close range- there is a chance that their jawbone will smash into your face at a high speed and decapitate you.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The A.I. of the game will continue to drop its mooks into your kill zones, crash drop ships, and generally have horrible accidents. They also frequently forget to leave any units near their brainbot to protect it.
  • Artificial Brilliance: Despite frequent accidents and a lack of strategic planning, given the physics-driven and unpredictable nature of the game, the AI does fairly well. They do a great job navigating underground tunnels and damaged bunkers, and can deploy and command units with frightening speeds. They are also masters at improvisation, and will frequently drop bombs and soldiers right on your head unless you place AA guns or sturdy roofing and they frequently scavenge for fallen weapons when theirs has been destroyed.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Pretty much every single sprite in the game.
  • Awesome but Impractical: While the Rocket Propelled Chainsaw is the most powerful weapon in the game, it's also expensive, inaccurate, extremely heavy and has a painfully long reload time. It can be handy for tearing down a wall and it's tons of fun to see it tear through someone, but you're generally way better off using just a standard rocket launcher or assault rifle.
  • BFG: Several in the core game, including the aptly named Uber Cannon.
    • Another contender is the Coalition Auto Cannon, which weighs thirty kilograms and fires grenades full auto.
  • Bifurcated Weapon: Cluster mine bomb and cluster grenade.
  • Big Bad: The fluff-only Remnants of Mu-Ilaak. They have since been added as a mod, though they function as a re-skin of the Coalition tech and are just a standard tech.
  • Bio-Augmentation: Organic soldiers have been grown to be stronger, faster, brainless and incapable of feeling pain or flinching. They even have a thin layer of muscle-goop stuff on their bones that allows them to keep moving even after all their muscles have been removed.
  • Bloody Hilarious: Blowing off a unit's head will often cause them to spew blood everywhere and flop all over the place while making absurd death sounds (HURK HUEGH BLARGH). This frequently bears an uncanny resemblance to a chicken with it's head cut off and a rocket booster strapped to its ass.
  • Brain in a Jar
  • Brain Uploading
  • Bullethole Door: A possible tactic for entering enemy forts, or for tunneling through dirt when one forgot a digger.
    • Often difficult to pull off, though, as very few tools can penetrate the steel-reinforced concrete of the bunkers.
      • The Coalition Gatling Gun does a good job of getting through bunker-steel though.
  • Chainsaw Good: The Ronin have access to a Rocket Propelled Chainsaw, which happens to be one of the strongest weapons in the game.
    • They now have access to a non-rocket propelled chainsaw, which functions as a melee weapon. It inherits all the traits of its projectile brother, excluding the exploding and physics defying cutting abilities
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: If a unit doesn't have a head, then they will die instantly. Even creating a unit that doesn't spawn with one will cause a corpse to be deployed from your dropship instead of a soldier.
  • Clone Army: What most battles are fought with.
  • Critical Existence Failure: You can end up bleeding and legless but assuming you still have arms, work perfectly fine in combat until the fatal shot. Heck, even totally limbless people can still "help" by flying around and headbutting people.
  • Colony Drop: The delivery vehicles that your stuff comes in make remarkably good disposable weapons. It's possible to simply order an empty dropship or rocket and smash it into the enemy.
    • Or better, order one full of crab bodies and bombs. Then drop it on the enemy base.
  • Death from Above: The above mentioned crates make a very cheap delivery system for high explosive ordnance, and with the self destruct option can be easily detonated above groups to rain shrapnel on their heads.
    • Also, dropships can be used to drop bombs on your enemies, which come in Standard (frag) and Napalm variants. For a cheaper option, you can also load them up with stick grenades or molotovs, since they have an impact fuse.
    • For added fun, combine the two! Load a dropship with bombs and self-destruct it above a crowd of enemies. Cue a shower of bombs and general destruction of anything and everything that can be destroyed.
  • Difficult but Awesome: The Ronin. Their units are extremely weak, but they have the cheapest equipment in the game and hands down some of the best weaponry. Used correctly, they can wreck any other faction in the game, no problem.
  • Disability Superpower: A character's jetpack power is directly correlated with how much it weighs. Losing both legs can actually improve your mobility.
  • Drop Ship: In the game, two are available, and they are fairly important in terms of gameplay. Crates are cheap but total-loss delivery vehicles, and rockets are so very hard to fly that they might as well qualify as total-loss too (as the AI so efficiently demonstrates). The dropships are the only delivery vehicles that can be reasonably expected to make it back to orbit and give the player their purchase price back. They're also easier to use as disposable impact weapons than rockets.
  • Dug Too Deep: If you set some troops to mine for gold and ignore them, it's entirely possible that they'll mine down so far they'll fall off the map and die — or end up joining their tunnels to an enemy faction's.
  • Dummied Out: Many of the more powerful Coalition weapons, such as the Mauler shotgun and flak cannon, were removed in later builds. 1.0 reintroduced them as part of the Imperatus faction.
  • Epic Fail: Dropship accidents and explosives backfiring can make your failure so spectacular it becomes hilarious.
  • Everything Breaks: As a matter of fact, this is the only way to dig up more resources.
  • Excuse Plot: The pretty cool plot, which gives room for modding and more potential story, is currently a justification for having a crash-test dummy blow a super-soldier's legs off with a blunderbuss. It ended up being largely ignored and the lead dev decided to instead focus on a board-game styled campaign.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: The game used to include a laser rifle, though it was since removed. There are many mods to add laser weapons, however, though due to how the game's engine works, even the more realistic ones are technically a clever arrangements of bullets and particle effects.
  • Game Mods: One of the main selling points is the game's mod community, which has produced many different armies (including the SPESS MEHREENS). Mods can cause Loads and Loads of Loading and, if poorly coded, error messages.
  • Gatling Good: The Coalition faction seems to like them—they have sentry gun and drone varieties, as well as a handheld version. Both suitably reduce everything to itty bitty chunks after a few seconds of direct fire.
    • The Ronin used to have the YAK700, which has since been removed.
    • The Imperatus Bulldog is slower, but more powerful than the Coalition Gatling Gun.
    • The Techion have the Giga Pulsar, which is the Coalition Gatling Gun but with Frickin' Laser Beams.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: You'll fight one of these as your first boss.
  • Global Currency: Oz, a notation for ounces often used to measure an amount of gold.
  • Goomba Stomp: Entirely possible, often accidentally. In earlier builds it wasn't uncommon for one or two of your troops to accidentally stomp each other into oblivion as they hopped out of a dropship, although now your troops can freely walk past each other. Doesn't stop you from body-slamming enemies into the terrain, however.
  • Gorn: You can blow off arms, legs, heads, or splatter entire characters into a spray of blood and gibs.
  • Guns Akimbo: The Ronin MAC-10 submachine gun. Wield together with an Uzi for More Dakka. Additionally, several Game Mods have 'offhand' variants of weapons they add (usually only SMGs or Pistols), designed to be used with their non-offhand variant.
  • Improvised Weapon: Almost anything. Shovels, Digging Tools, Dropships, Automatic Doors (Which you can time to crush enemies, though it requires some skill), Jetpacks, Corpses...
  • Implacable Man: Heavy units can take a massive beating, but troops in general seem to have no ability to feel pain and will stop at nothing to kill the enemy. Seeing a limbless torso attempting to kill a foe by ramming into him with their jetpack (And usually winning) is a common sight.
  • Infinite Supplies: Your troops have to reload, but they always have more magazines.
    • Averted for throwable items.
  • Instant Death Radius: If you find yourself a foot or so away from a drone you are screwed.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune
  • Jack of All Stats: The Coalition faction is extremely well rounded and are capable in any situation. They are great for learning the ropes, but are less powerful than some of the other factions.
  • Jet Pack: Most characters have one, and they're both a.) vital for getting around and b.) comically difficult to steer.
  • Kill It with Fire: Molotov Cocktails, incendiary bombs from drop ships, incendiary grenades, flame throwers.
    • The Browncoats specialize in this. Among their weapons are flaming shotguns, flaming assault rifles, flaming artillery cannons, and a very special grenade launcher that can either shoot explosive fireballs or coat the ground in a flammable layer of fuel.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Though energy weapons do exist, the most common and powerful guns in the game are ones that where invented in the 1900's or are similar to modern-day weaponry.
  • Lethal Joke Item: The crab body is tiny, defenseless, and can't do anything but crawl around. However, they're also free—if you pack several dozen of them into a single rocket or crate, you have yourself a very cheap Big Bulky Bomb that will kill everything on the map in a holocaust of flying crabmeat. Especially notable in that the only reason this works is because you have to use so many crabs (Not actually that many) that the explosion overrides the game's entity limit, causing everything on screen to insta-gib
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Six playable factions with distinct units and tech.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: A minor case. When a brain is destroyed, its minions — and even the doors inside its base — may fall to bits, although not explosively so.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: This is not a game for the squeamish. Legs, heads, organs, torsos, arms and many, many unidentifiable bits will be sent flying, either by a high speed Dropship collision, explosion, or sometimes even just a pistol shot.
    • It's possible, although difficult, to gib an actor in such a way that you literally liquidize them, with a laggy spray of hundreds of blood particles being all that remains of them. Usually requires so much force that whatever caused it probably broke the physics engine in some way.
  • Mind-Control Device: You.
  • More Dakka: Plenty of automatic weapons with high rates of fire.
    • Suitably, there's also an Ork mod that adds in a number of ridiculously powerful automatic weapons.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The Avenger (which has, alas, been Dummied Out) and Mauler shotguns, the Destroyer and Annihilator energy weapons, the Banshee sniper rifle and the Devastator flak cannon.
  • Nanomachines: The Techion faction specialize in nanotechnology. Their Nanolyzer is a digging tool that turns anything it shoots into Grey Goo: as a result it's useless for mining gold, but invaluable for breaking into enemy bunkers. Their Nanorifle is a sniper rifle that disintegrates targets' limbs. And their Nanoswarm grenades explode into vicious clouds of enemy-seeking nanites.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Fanmade content includes RoboLichLer, aka Cyber-Lich Hitler.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Even if all but one of their limbs have been blown off and they're slowly bleeding to death, if a clone still has a gun in his hand, he'll keep on fighting as best he can. And when even that has been torn off, they can always be flown at high speed across the map until a dropship flies low enough and gets an engine shredded by the mad flying clone torso.
  • Pinball Projectile: The Techion Nucleo is made for deadly bank-shots.
  • Retraux
  • Roboteching: The Techion Nucleo Swarm shoots seven plasma projectiles which home in on a target. While they don't turn sharply enough to make them useful in enclosed spaces, out in the open they're a real menace.
  • Rule of Cool: Zombies and Skeletons are buyable units, and one of the weapons available is a Blunderbuss. Why? Why not!
  • Sawed-Off Shotgun: The Ronin Shortgun.
  • Sentry Gun: Comes in armored dummy variety and Gatling Coalition variety.
  • Simple Yet Awesome: In a universe with laser Gatling Guns, normal Gatling Guns, Autocannons and Missile Launchers, the Ronin use now ancient 20th century weapons including the AK-47, M60, M1 Garand and Kar-98. Despite being hundreds of years old in-universe, they are some of the most effective guns in the game, being extremely powerful and cheap at the same time.
  • Shareware: The free version has a 6 minute cutoff per session.
  • Shields Are Useless: The base game includes a riot shield, and while it can save a unit's life in a pinch, it falls apart very easily (Approximately 8 bullets/bits of shrapnel makes it disintegrate) and prevents the user from firing anything other than one handed weapons.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Mostly averted, played straight by the Blunderbuss.
  • Shout-Out: Spathi
    • In addition, there are many easter eggs hidden on the maps, such as Metroids in zombie cave, and the Pac-Man-shaped rock in one of the background images, amoung many other things.
  • Space Station: The TradeStar
  • SpaceX: Though they don't appear in the game, the backstory tells of a war against giant Space Amoebas. Yes, Amoebas as in the unicellular organism. Giant ones. In space.
  • Spider Tank: The dummy Dreadnought and the Coalition Drones.
  • 2-D Space: The entire game is 2D, space as well, evidenced by the TradeStar that orbits the planet exactly perpendicular to your eye.
  • Weaponized Exhaust: the dropships are unarmed, but can be used to quite deadly effect by flying them on top of enemy units and hitting the throttle. The rockets, on the other hand, must be used with extreme care, because their exhaust has the tendency to kill the units they just delivered.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You/Decapitated Army: If your brain is destroyed, you will automatically lose. Justified, as the units that you order are literally brainless and have to be controlled by you. What isn't justified is why they all simultaneously explode