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Video Game / Agent Armstrong

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Agent Armstrong is a 1997 Run-and-Gun action game created for the Play Station, modelled after classical 90s shooters like Contra and Metal Slug, but also paying tribute to old-timey adventure comics from the 1930s.

The year is 1935... nearing World War II, a criminal organization called the Syndicate, led by the dictator Spats Falconetti, threatens the world's safety with their super-weapons, and its up to the British Secret Service's best asset, Agent Armstrong, to thwart the Syndicate in levels set in jungles, cities, underwater, and a finale in their weapons factory and airborne base.

Agent Armstrong on the Move!

  • Airborne Mooks: Syndicate mooks on Jet Pack shows up in a few levels, in small amounts, where they attack Armstrong by hovering around him while dropping grenades and bombs. They can be shot before they take off, but it takes some skill and dexterity on the player's side.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Downplayed. Armstrong can collect up to 800 rounds for his Tommy Gun, but given the massive amount of enemies he needs to face, he'll be depleting those ammo within minutes of gameplay. Once the Tommy Gun's ammo reaches zero, it reloads on it's own very slowly — therefore preventing Armstrong from going More Dakka until he picks up a spare magazine.
  • Clown-Car Base: The second boss, a supply truck, showing up at the depot's exit which Armstrong must destroy to finish the level. It doesn't have any weapons on its own, but it seems to hold an ever-spawning amount of lowest-level Syndicate soldiers constantly deployed from it's back.
  • Conspicuously Light Patch: While most crates and barrels can (and should) be destroyed, occasionally there are crates which are rendered in a slightly more realistic way, which cannot be damaged in any way. Two stacks of these turns out being very helpful in the first boss battle on the Chicago rooftops, allowing Agent Armstrong to take cover while the Syndicate plane sprays gunfire all over the place.
  • Cool Airship: The game's Final Boss, an airship piloted by Spats Falconetti which attack Armstrong while the hero is atop the Syndicate's airborne base... which is about to crash.
  • Cool Plane: The first boss that shows up in the third level, a WW1-era jet plane which attacks Armstrong on the Chicago rooftops.
  • Crate Expectations: Like every classic shooting / action game of it's kind... destroying crates will yield spare ammo, grenades, and health for Armstrong.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: The mooks can be killed easily. Bosses, on the other hand, can absorb bullets and grenades like crazy and keep going... special mention to the Syndicate's ultimate weapon, a Humongous Mecha tanks north of 600 bullets in a fight that seemed to last forever.
  • Exploding Barrels: Located all over the place in the Syndicate's jungle bases, factories, and the like, blowing these up would wipe out loads of enemies all at once and save quite some ammunition.
  • Faux Action Girl: Agent Tanya, supposedly one of the "best" field agents. She appeared in two missions, alright, both which involves getting her ass kidnapped and needing Armstrong to rescue her from the Syndicate's stronghold.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: Syndicate flamethrower mooks started showing up in the first jungle-themed level, and they are among the more dangerous Elite Mook-type enemies due to their flamethrowers causing severe damage to Armstrong's life.
  • The Ghost: The Syndicate's leader is identified as a man named Spats Falconetti, but he never shows up either in cutscenes or gameplay. He's implied to be controlling the Final Boss — a Cool Airship that attacks Armstrong — which later crashes, but his fate remains unseen.
  • Gotta Kill Them All: Occasionally, level briefing will contain objectives like "kill 20 Syndicate flamethrower operators", "eliminate 40 Syndicate enforcers" and so on. The following level will contain exactly that amount of the described enemy type, which Armstrong must hunt and kill before making his exit.
  • The Goomba: The Syndicate's lowest-ranked minions are clad in green, wears goggles that doesn't serve an apparent purpose, have terrible aim and dies between three to five rounds. The first level contains only these type of enemies, while the white-clad Mafia enforcers debut from the second level onwards.
  • Guns Akimbo: Syndicate commandoes, the highest-level Elite Mooks, attack Armstrong with dual sub-machine guns.
  • Humongous Mecha: The Syndicate's "ultimate" weapon turns out to be a scaled-up, Giant Mook version of their usual robotic mooks, serving as the second-to-lass boss of the game.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Armstrong, being based on the archetypal 1930s comic hero, have some impressive jowls.
  • The Mafia: Several of the Syndicate's henchmen are affiliated with the Chicago Mafia, showing up in urban-themed levels and in the airship base, and are the second-most frequently encountered enemies. They're slightly better shots than the Syndicate's usual, green-clad low-level mooks and can absorb more bullets, but they're still not much of a challenge to kill.
  • Mecha-Mook: The Syndicate's robotic soldiers, debuting in the war factory scene. Due to being made of metal, they can absorb a lot of damage... Armstrong needs to sabotage the factory and destroy the processing equipment for manufacturing these type of enemies, and near the end of the game face a King Mook version of them, a Humongous Mecha labelled as "the Syndicate's Ultimate Weapon".
  • More Dakka: Armstrong starts each mission with 400 rounds in his Tommy-Gun, and will frequently pick up spare ammunition which boosts his ammo by between 40 to 100. Which he will need, because every level is filled to the brim with the Syndicate's goons.
  • Non-Standard Game Over:
    • Running out of time in Timed Mission segments.
    • Failing to prevent ICBMs from being launched, resulting in London being nuked.
    • Having oxygen tank levels depleted to zero in underwater missions.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Played straight in the Syndicate's weapons factory, filled with catwalks without railings, lava dispensers everywhere, moving platforms, and the like.
  • One-Man Army: Armstrong's kill-tally easily reaches three digits after half an hour of gameplay. And he's not even near halfway through the end!
  • Outside Ride:
    • In the opening cinematic, Armstrong, in his own plane, gets pursued by three Syndicate jets, which he retaliates by standing on his plane's wings and gunning down two of his pursuers before purposely crashing his plane into the third and then floating away on a parachute.
    • For the game itself, Armstrong does this in the final level when he battles the Final Boss — a heavily-armed Syndicate airship — while standing on the back of of the Syndicate's airborne headquarters.
  • Jungle Warfare: There are several levels set in the Syndicate's jungle bases that Armstrong must infiltrate and blow up. The flamethrower mooks debut in the first of them.
  • Protagonist Title: Agent Armstrong, the top operative of the M16.
  • Retraux: The game's aesthetics is deliberately designed to look like old-timey adventure comic strips from the 1930s and 1940s, fitting the game's setting.
  • Sea Mine: The underwater levels are filled with these, surrounding the Syndicate's naval outposts. They explode instantly on contact and are usually gathered in entire clusters, though Armstrong can destroy them from a distance and trigger a chain reaction of explosions (easier said than done, given he'll be dealing with the Syndicate's divers and underwater turrets attacking him simultaneously).
  • Sentry Gun: Syndicate outposts are frequently fitted with turrets which fires automatically at Armstrong every time he approaches. They can be taken out instantly by a well-placed grenade, or by shooting while dodging.
  • The Syndicate: That's what the game call the evil organization Armstrong needs to thwart, at least.
  • Timed Mission: Most missions comes with a timer that leads to an instant failure for Armstrong if he fail to defeat a boss or reach a checkpoint in time. The rocket base level is a notable instance — Armstrong needs to destroy radar towers in the level before the Syndicate's ICBM can be launched, and failing to blow up the towers will lead to an instant Non-Standard Game Over.
  • Under the Sea: There's four missions set underwater, where Armstrong need to infiltrate the Syndicate's naval stronghold in order to destroy their supply ships, bathyspheres, and various facilities; more often than not Armstrong will end up Almost Out of Oxygen until he managed to pick up spare oxygen canisters, otherwise it's a quick Game Over once he's out of air.
  • Villain in a White Suit: The Syndicate's enforcers are modelled after the classical 30s Chicago gangster, wearing white suits, ties and fedoras while wielding Tommy Guns.
  • Zerg Rush: The Syndicate seems to have an endless supply of mooks to throw at Armstrong, particularly their lowest-tier mooks (those guys in green) who shows up by the dozens in later levels.