Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Project Firestart

Go To
Developed by Dynamix and published by Electronic Arts for the Commodore 64 in 1989, Project Firestart is one of the earliest examples of the Survival Horror genre.

On September 12, 2061, the System Science Foundation loses contact with the research vessel Prometheus, which is in orbit near Saturn's moon Titan. The SSF sends agent Jon Hawking to investigate, warning him of the genetic experiment that has been taking place on the ship. Almost immediately after docking at the Prometheus, Jon finds his first hint at the nature of the incident: a dismembered crew member next to the word "DANGER" scrawled in blood.

Jon's primary objectives are to recover the science log for the experiment (the eponymous "Project Firestart") and set the Prometheus to self-destruct, in order to curb whatever disaster the experiment has caused. However, occasional cutscenes interspersed through gameplay clue the player in to other happenings on the ship, all of which serve to complicate the situation in one way or another.

Project Firestart demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Ambiguously Brown: Every single character, living or dead, who appears in the flesh. Word of God is that this is the most realistic human skin tone they could achieve with the C64's limited color palette.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The science log details the initial conception of the genetically-engineered organisms all the way to when they become too aggressive to control.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Even if you get to the cryogenic chamber as fast as possible, it's still Just in Time to see one of the creatures breaking through the door on the other side. On the other hand, you can also be too slow (see You Are Too Late below).
  • Blackout Basement: At one point the main power goes down in the Prometheus, though environments and characters are still somewhat visible through grey outlines. Jon has to engage the backup generator to get things in order again. Annar is the one who turns off the power. This is also when the second-generation creature appears.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: The science log notes a few environmental vulnerabilities of the creatures which Jon can take advantage of, though a laser rifle also takes them out with a few shots. Then he meets the second-generation creature and needs to exploit those weaknesses to kill it.
  • Collision Damage: There's no attack animation for the enemies; they just slowly drain health when they're next to Jon. Running through an enemy automatically takes out a chunk of the life meter.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Jon can pump laser after laser into a creature until it finally breaks apart. Fortunately for the player, Jon also continues functioning at normal capacity until his health is completely gone.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: If Mary dies while following Jon, the player gets a short cutscene of her last moments while cradled in Jon's arms.
  • Drone of Dread: Plays occasionally to add tension to the otherwise still ambiance, such as when Jon first arrives on the Prometheus.
  • Dying Clue: One of the first things Jon sees on the Prometheus is a dead crew member lying next to the word "DANGER" written on the wall in blood.
  • Energy Weapon: The fan remake has weapons firing slower-than-light glowing spheres. In the original game, the player doesn't see the projectiles, only what looks to be some kind of muzzle flash on the guns.
  • Escape Pod: Fortunately the Prometheus has these, even if some are unconventional. Jon has to escape in a shuttle when his own ship is destroyed. Mary has to make do with a waste pod.
  • Escort Mission: After rescuing Mary in the cryogenic chamber, Jon must protect her from harm while leading her to a safer hiding place.
  • Explosion Propulsion: Shooting the explosives in the armory is typically a poor idea. Stand near the doorway, though, and the blast shoves Jon out.
  • Fan Remake: Simply called Firestart and reimagining the game as a First-Person Shooter.
  • First-Name Basis: Everyone who calls Jon Hawking by name calls him "Jon".
  • Heal Thyself: The Prometheus has single-use first aid kits on the walls next to certain elevators. The medical lab also has a walk-in regeneration machine.
  • Immune to Bullets: The creatures appear to be this as they lumber towards Jon without recoiling from laser fire, but they do die eventually. The second-generation creature won't go down from guns alone.
  • Kill It with Ice: One room of the ship is a walk-in freezer. Staying in there is as bad for Jon's health as it is for the enemies'.
  • LEGO Genetics: The genetic makeup of the creatures includes oxen DNA for physical strength and fungal chromosomes for environmental endurance.
  • Life Meter: Represented as a row of triangle brackets, with each icon changing color and then finally disappearing as Jon takes damage.
  • Limited Loadout: Jon can carry two laser rifles at a time, and there's no way to recharge or swap ammo. If you want to pick up a brand new rifle from the armory, Jon has to empty out one of the ones he's already carrying.
  • Limited Sound Effects: There aren't many, even in dramatic situations like when Jon's blasting away at enemies. Though the musical cue for nearby enemies does sound like an alarm and lumbering footsteps.
  • Meaningful Name: The ship being called the Prometheus — as well as the name "Firestart" — evokes the Greek myth of bringing knowledge to mankind. Furthermore, the developers originally planned to title the game The Prometheus Encounter.
  • Meanwhile Scene: The game occasionally interrupts with a cutscene of something happening elsewhere on the ship.
  • Mook Debut Cutscene: You're introduced to the enemy after collecting the ID card and attempting to return to Jon's ship. However, you can encounter enemies before the debut cutscene, whether by heading to the kitchen, the oxygen room, the plasma rifle, or Corridor K.
  • Monster Delay: The game's opening does show a glimpse of a creature as it begins to rampage. Jon spots another of the creatures in a hibernation tank while retrieving the science log early in his mission. Several moments later, he starts fighting off the creatures for real.
  • Multiple Endings: The Prometheus presumably self-destructs regardless of what happens onboard, but the player’s actions determine who survives the ordeal.
  • Musical Spoiler: There's a specific musical cue whenever a creature is in the same room as you. Also carries over to the fan remake where it's based on proximity, so you can get a warning through walls too.
  • Non Standard Game Over: Open the door in Corridor F (where enemies infinitely spawn). A large group of creatures ambushes Jon in a cutscene.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: The creatures were modeled after an action figure of Tendril from Inhumanoids.
  • Plasma Cannon: Find the right room in the ship and Jon can acquire a "plasma laser" which is more powerful than his standard guns.
  • Press X to Not Die: In endings where Annar confronts Jon aboard the shuttle, Annar will kill Jon unless you do something about it. Fortunately, you have several seconds, and any input will work.
  • Ray Gun: Laser rifles are Jon's weapon of choice aboard the Prometheus. The introductory scene indicates that he normally carries something with more punch, but it's liable to cause too much environmental damage for this mission.
  • Refusal of the Call: Your first action at the start of the game can be to turn Jon around and make him leave the Prometheus. He gets chewed out for his cowardice.
  • Respawning Enemies: Corridor F produces an endless stream of the creatures. Better find another route.
  • Roaming Enemy: There are a few specific places you're guaranteed to run into one of the creatures, but otherwise you can never be sure when one will show up. They even follow Jon from room to room.
  • Rotoscoping: This is how the characters were animated.
  • Scare Chord: One used several times for any shocking encounter, such as Jon finding mutilated bodies or running into a new creature.
  • Scenery Gorn: The Prometheus is very liberally smeared with the bloody remains of the crew.
  • Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: Since enemies don't recoil from damage, it's hard to tell whether there's a range limit or the lasers deal less damage over distance. Either way Jon has a tough time killing a creature before it gets close enough to scratch him.
  • Subspace Ansible: The SSF advises Jon to use the radio on the Prometheus and pass on status updates.
  • Tactical Door Use: Jon can close doors behind him to stop mutants from following. This won't stop the second-generation mutant, who can open the door after a few seconds.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: There's no harm in accessing a terminal to read logs or chat with a supervisor even with a genetic abomination breathing down your neck.
  • Thwarted Escape: The SSF Exis suffers a catastrophic explosion after some time, or if you try leaving with the science log. If you check the computer messages, it says that the cause of the explosion is unknown. Fast players may trigger the explosion before the cryo chamber unlocks and Annar starts moving around the ship.
  • Timed Mission: Jon has two hours to accomplish his objectives before his superiors are forced to detonate the Prometheus by remote control. Once Jon sets the self-destruct manually, he has 25 minutes to evacuate.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The science logs show one of the specimens died due to an overabundance of oxygen. The logs also state other weaknesses, such as radiation (harmful to humans but lethal to the specimen), and cold temperatures.
  • You Are Too Late: If you take too long to get to the cryogenic chamber, you discover that the creatures have already broken in and killed Mary. The back of the game box shows a gruesome spoiler.
    The tragic results if you fail!