|Engine||"Commander Keen engine"|
|Release date(s)||August 3, 1993|
|Genre(s)||Run and gun/platformer|
|Distribution||3½ floppy disk|
Bio Menace is a 2D, side-scrolling, platform game both developed and published by Apogee Software in 1993 for MS-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, 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. However, after crash landing in Metro City, Snake 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 problems with more modern operating systems.
Apogee released the game as freeware on December 23, 2005 as a "Christmas present" and the full game can be downloaded from the Apogee website. It is likely that this decision was made 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 object of the game is to control the main character Snake Logan through the levels of each episode killing monsters, avoiding traps, picking up powerups and bonus items and obtaining key items. Before he gets to the exit he is required to find a crystal shard or keycard. To obtain one he must either rescue a hostage, or kill a boss monster. There are exceptions in episode 2, levels 1 and 10 where he can exit without any key, hostage or boss encounter.
Snake Logan's default weapon is a M16 gun that shoots regular bullets, but this can be upgraded with powerups for a full automatic, stronger bullets and plasma shots. Logan can also collect and use two sorts of hand grenades and mines that can be set up on floors. He also has access to secret maneuvers that require the player to do a unique keyboard sequence to activate one. Snake can fire a super plasma shot (sacrificing one of his health units in the process), fire six fireballs, form an electron shield and use an invicibility burst. Monsters can take varying amounts of damage, so some require more hits than others in order to kill. Some monsters cannot be killed with certain weapons.
Logan only has a limited amount of health (8 units on easy mode, or 4 on medium or hard mode) that decreases as Logan takes damage from monsters or traps. He dies if this health bar reaches zero. When Logan dies he is returned to the beginning of the level, or any beacons he touched in the level before dying. Snake has only a limited number of lives, and if he runs out the game is over. Logan can collect health kits to restore his full health, and can gain extra lives by collecting 50 red gems or a miniature Logan or 20,000 points (doubling with each additional life). The player can save the game at any time and place. Logan can also get hold of an invincibility potion which makes him invincible to attacks and hazards for 30 seconds, but bottomless pits and giant enemies can still kill him.
An interesting feature added in Episode 2 is the transformer beam, which allows Snake to turn into a small mutant creature. In this form Snake is small enough to fit in tunnels he otherwise cannot access. When transformed, Snake can't use his weapons, and can only defend against monsters by biting them, making combat much harder.
Other items that Logan can collect in the game include several different types of keys to open doors; bonus items that are usually hidden and are worth a varying number of points and "RoboPal", a robotic ally that flies near Logan and fires at enemies whenever Logan does. There is also one plot related item, a nuclear device, needed in episode 2 to get the good ending.
All three episodes contain secret levels that can be accessed by collecting the secret level gems, which are usually well hidden in the levels. These levels allow Snake to collect large amounts of bonus items, gems, and lives. Snake can still die in these levels, because some of them contain monsters and/or hazards.
Though not a secret level, there is an Easter egg in episode two. In the 10th level, "Specimens Lab", it is possible to enter a "Secret Door" and meet the programmers running the game "Behind the scenes". In exchange for not telling anyone, they let the player grab some goodies from their storeroom, which is filled with various items from Apogee's Bio Menace, Duke Nukem and Commander Keen as well as a portrait of Duke Nukem on the wall. The programmer team can be attacked, but they are invulnerable and they retaliate.
- Petersen, Sandy (February 1994). "Eye of the Monitor". Dragon (202): 61–65.