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Video Game / Bio Menace

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Bio Menace is a 2D side-scrolling Platform Game both developed and published by Apogee Software in 1993 for DOS. It was built on a licensed version of id Software's Commander Keen Game Engine, and was known as Bio Hazard during production. Apart from the engine and Bobby Prince's musical score, all in-game content was created by the game's designer, Jim Norwood.

The player controls the protagonist, Snake Logan, a top CIA operative. Upon receiving reports of Metro City being invaded by mutants, Snake is ordered to fly recon over the city. When Snake's plane was shot down and he crash-lands in the middle of Metro City, he is forced to complete his mission on foot.

The game has three episodes, the first of which was released as shareware, the rest being available commercially. The episodes are:

  • Episode 1 - Dr. Mangle's Lab
  • Episode 2 - The Hidden Lab
  • Episode 3 - Master Cain

Sales of the game were discontinued in 2000 due to compatibility problems with modern operating systems.

3D Realms released the game as freeware on December 23, 2005 as a Christmas present, likely due to the results of an earlier poll on the 3D Realms forums, where visitors could pick a game they would like to see released as freeware from a list of discontinued Apogee games.

The game can be downloaded from 3D Realms' game page, or The Internet Archive.

This Video Game contains examples of:

  • '80s Hair: Snake's permed mullet in all its eighties glory, combined with a moustache, gives him a cheesy eighties Action Hero look.
  • Adorable Evil Minions: Many of the mutants are cuddly looking with big cartoony eyes despite being biologically engineered for the purposes of death and destruction.
  • Attack Drone: RoboPal serves as one, complementing Snake's rifle fire with a bottomless supply of medium-yield rockets. It also teleports to Snake every few seconds and normally dissipates whenever Snake takes any damage, unless it also happens to be teleporting at the point.
  • Author Avatar: Jim Norwood, George Broussard and Scott Miller can be found in a Developer's Room containing memorabilia of Apogee Software's earlier works in Episode two.
  • Big Bad: Based on Bio Menace's backstory, Dr. Mangle appears to be this, but he is actually a Disc-One Final Boss. Once you put Dr. Mangle on his death throes, he reveals that the actual Big Bad across all three episodes is Master Cain.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The organic mutants are ordinary insects that were mutated to human proportions, with a proportionate increase in their intelligence.
  • Blob Monster: Sewer levels have green amorphous blobs acting as enemies.
  • Boss-Only Level: Applies to most of the bosses, with the Enforcer, the last boss of Episode 2, being the only exception.
  • Bound and Gagged: The hostages in episodes 2 and 3, except Commander Keen.
  • Damsel in Distress: The female hostages.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Dr. Mangle at the end of episode 1. He knows that the wounds he sustained are fatal, so he reveals to Snake that the real Big Bad is Master Cain, gives Snake his escape jet, which contains the location of the lab where the mutant army is being created, and tells Snake that Master Cain has a secret fortress, just before he snuffs it.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Dr. Mangle, who is the Final Boss of episode 1—he is subordinate to the Big Bad, Master Cain.
  • Distressed Dude: The male hostages.
  • Empty Room Psych: The Specimens Lab in Episode two is designed to make first-time players think it is this, as the main area is basically a huge open space between the level entrance and level exit, with the only thing guarding the entire area being a lone mounted turret. The Enforcer also appears here, but only to goad about how the mutants being incubated on this level will wreak havoc on the world once they are released, before retreating to the final level. However, there is also a red shard located right before the exit, which fits into the shard socket at the start of the level; fitting the shard into the socket unlocks access to the platforms above the main area, which contain more turrets as well as several point bonuses and the Developer's Room.
  • Enter Solution Here: Some levels have a five-switch puzzle, where the switches must be pressed in the correct order to get bonus items. The right combination is located in another part of the level, usually as a small bar with five colors corresponding to the order that the switches must be flipped. The player has only one attempt to solve the puzzle. If the switches are flipped in the wrong order, there is usually a punishment that results in Yet Another Stupid Death.
  • Fallen Hero: Master Cain was once a secret agent, who went rogue after he believed he was abandoned.
  • Flame Spewer Obstacle: In the episode 1 level, Sewers, there are pipes that regularly shoot out flames that will damage only Snake.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Skull Man is the odd one out compared to the robots, mutants and masterminds Snake fights. It's unclear who he is or why you're fighting a blue-skinned giant sitting on a throne in a cave.
  • Greed: Dr. Mangle's motive, combined with being threatened by his employer.
  • Hit Points: Snake's health is indicated by up to 8 blue bars on the in-game HUD; most hits take away 1 bar, but a handful of enemies and obstacles can take away more bars; Bottomless Pits are instant death. Easy difficulty gives you all 8 hit points, Normal caps it at 4, and while Hard starts you off with 4 hit points, it is capped at 2; see the Power-Up Letdown example to understand why the distinction is important.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: There are locked closets and doors on most levels, and all of them can be opened with identical yellow keys that are scattered throughout the level and disappear after one use. The only aversion is the Secret Door in a handful of levels, which requires a unique key.
  • It's Up to You: Justified throughout all three episodes:
    • In Episode 1, Snake's plane is shot down deep in a city overrun by the mutants, so he has to fight his way out.
    • In Episode 2, Snake runs a solo operation to confirm the lead he received from an agent in Alaska, but in the course of his investigations, finds a way to ensure the complete destruction of his target, so he proceeds to fight his way through the mutants (again).
    • In Episode 3, Snake chooses to infiltrate Master Cain's fortress alone as a) he believes Master Cain would run away and hide somewhere else if the CIA sanctioned an air strike on his fortress; and b) Master Cain wanted Snake delivered to him anyway.
  • Karmic Nod: As he lays dying, Dr. Mangle mentions that he believes that "I have gotten what I deserve for my crimes."
  • Life Meter: Bosses have this in the bar format on the in-game HUD. Even if the bar is visually reduced to nothing, the player still needs to pump in a few more hits before the boss actually dies.
  • Lighter and Softer: Episode 2 and 3 to some degree. This is justified as Episode 1 was set in the heart of a city that had just experienced a terrorist attack, so there are many dead (and in some cases, scorched and decaying) bodies scattered throughout the levels, whereas episodes 2 and 3 are solo infiltration missions into the terrorists' bases, although the good ending to episode 2 concludes with the broadcast of an attack on another major city as retribution for Snake's interference, which is said to have killed thousands.
  • Locked Door: The standard level setup in Bio Menace requires Snake to find a crystal shard to turn off a forcefield blocking access to a hostage; said hostage gives Snake a device to turn off the forcefield blocking the level exit. Boss levels typically require Snake to kill the boss so he can collect the device from the boss needed to turn off the forcefield blocking the level exit.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: All organic objects in the game, including Snake, die this way, regardless of whether the killing blow was a plasma bolt or sting from a flying ant nymph.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Mangle was once a top scientist involved in Operation Bug Glow, an experiment to turn normal insects into Big Creepy-Crawlies, and vanished after making excellent progress on the project, but eventually reappeared as a Maker of Monsters. After he is fatally wounded, Mangle reveals that Master Cain would have killed him if he did not agree to produce an army of mutants to do Cain's bidding, ultimately making Mangle a Reluctant Mad Scientist.
  • Mood Whiplash: The first game has Snake wander among the ruins of a town attacked by terrorists and encounter bodies of dead Innocent Bystanders while shooting at rather cartoony-looking mooks and making snarky one-liners to the survivors he rescues.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: If the player completes episode 2 without planting the nuclear bomb in its designated housing just before the final level exit, the post-game narrative mentions that Snake died in a Last Stand with the mutants from the lab while waiting for The Cavalry, and the Big Bad ultimately achieves his goal of taking over the world with his mutant army.
  • No-Sell: The red walking ant mutants in episode 1 levels 2 and 4 will sometimes turn into a moving flame that renders them immune to everything except plasma bolts.
  • One-Winged Angel: Dr. Mangle and Master Cain. The former fights Snake as a large toad-like mutant, while the latter may occasionally turn into a blue phantom that performs a One-Hit Kill on Snake if he touches him
  • Power-Up Letdown: The First-Aid Kit restores Snake to full Hit Points which, on Easy and Normal difficulties, functions as intended. On Hard difficulty, however, full HP is capped at 2, but Snake starts off with 4 HP, so the first First-Aid Kit that Snake picks up will actually decrease his HP to 2, assuming he did not take any hits before picking it up.
  • Production Throwback: Bio Menace runs on the same game engine as Commander Keen in Goodbye Galaxy, which was released two years earlier, and references this link on two occasions in Episode two:
    • Commander Keen is one the hostages that Snake rescues. To Keen's chagrin, Snake mistakenly calls him "Captain" Keen.
    • A statue of a yorp, a mook from Commander Keen: Invasion of the Vorticons, can be found in one of the last few levels.
  • Revenge: Master Cain's motive. He was an agent who was not extracted, and blames the US government for leaving him behind.
  • Secret Level: There are secret levels in every episode. Access to each level requires collecting a secret level warp gem in the preceding level.
  • Selective Gravity: Items that Snake can pick up are usually found floating in mid-air.
  • Shapeshifting: Snake is able to transform into The Goomba in the second game in order to solve a specific puzzle (and then transform back once said puzzle is solved).
  • Shareware: The first episode was originally released as shareware, with episodes 2 and 3 being a commercial product. The entire game was released as freeware in 2005.
  • Simple Rescue Mechanic: Reaching the level's hostage gives a few screens of discussion, who then gives you a key before disappearing.
  • Symbol Swearing: In the ending of episode 2, the Big Bad calls Snake a "son-of-a-&*^%$".
  • Taking You with Me: Master Cain tries to do this with Snake by detonating his suit, but fails.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Dr. Mangle is clearly named after Third Reich scientist Josef Mengele.
  • Villainous Legacy: Even with the death of Dr. Mangle and destruction of his lab in episode 1, the mutants he created are still running wild thanks to them being created in far greater numbers from another location.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Dr. Mangle's lab, as it turns out, is only one out of the two labs that are creating the mutant army. As part of his Death Equals Redemption, Mangle gives Snake his escape jet, which contains the location of the second lab. However, destroying the labs alone is not enough; Master Cain also needs to be stopped, and he is holed up in a secret fortress.