Nomad (video game)
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Papyrus Design Group
Omar H. Khudari
|Genre(s)||Space trading game|
Nomad is a 1993 computer game developed by Intense! Interactive and Papyrus Design Group, Inc. and published by GameTek. It is a cross between a simple space simulator, a trading game and an adventure. It has only been released for PC DOS operating systems. It works properly both under Windows XP and DOSBox.
The player animates a human astronaut and member of OESI (the Organization of Earth's Special Intelligences), who was sent on a single-man space exploration mission. The craft the player receives is a rebuilt spaceship, which crashed on Earth due to unknown reasons, and had all navigational data erased. After the ship's launch, it is stranded in orbit, due to damage the engine suffered. However, the player is rescued by Granger Tinker Brin O'Keef, a representative of the Alliance, which fights a highly advanced "race" of robots, the Korok, who are bent on destroying all life within the galaxy in order to secure their survival. One of the gamer's first assignments is destroying a rogue WR-4000 Korok spacecraft threatening Earth. Afterwards, (s)he is relegated to Maka Bola, the Alliance's main world, where the real game begins.
The game features eleven completely different races, ranging from the robotic Korok to arrogant, beautiful Phelonese, who are, as their designation suggests, anthropomorphic felines. Additionally, the game includes a dazzling array of trading goods, ranging from exotic goods, such as the alien Grun cattle and its derivatives (fur, milk, cheese, meat) to the mundane (car keys and a chocolate bar). The spaceship is also customizable, with different missiles (the most powerful being Phelonese Quietus missiles), loaders (Seeker Missile Loader for example), shield generators (may be an Ursor Mighty Fence Booster), engines (an ancient Warp Drive for instance) and scanners (Argus Crystal Scanner of the Chanticleer) and jamming devices (Tangle jammer). To give the player a chance to employ this equipment, the developers provided an entire galaxy with several hundred planets to explore.
The gameplay itself is primarily centered around exploration and information gathering. This is primarily done through character interaction and asking questions. The amount of text written for this game is simply astonishing, as every trade good and race is fitted with a description, which varies depending on the race, whose member is asked about the item. However, the cumbersome talking interface makes it difficult to ask many questions in a short time. Combat, while an essential part, is simple and relies heavily on reflexes, which may discourage gamers with less gaming experience. The economic element, however, is stressed heavily, but requires experience to understand and operate, especially because the trade system is based on barter, not any currency system.
The game's plot is centered around finding a way to defeat the Korok and save the universe. The game can be roughly divided into acts, basing off the player's rank in the Alliance, which in turn, is affected by the result of missions the player undertakes.
Apart from the main plot, there are also many sub-plots, such as finding and reactivating EX Korok robots, piecing together the origin of the species or each species' history.
The eleven races each possess an intricate story, different set of trading goods, ship classes and vocabulary.
- Altec Hocker
- Once members of two races, the Altec and the Hocker, these energy beings have passed the stage of mortal existence and moved to a higher plane of existence, assimilating and storing knowledge. Their numbers are limited, but they are essentially a limitless source of information.
- A race of anthropomorphic llamas, the Arden are the founders of the Alliance and masters of trade. Their homeworld is Ardania and they worship the Less Ten. The Arden are ruled by a council.
- These nomadic space raiders appear as anthropomorphic sharks. They are a violent and aggressive race, living off raids and piracy. Their homeworld was destroyed and converted into a mining planet by the Korok.
- A race of humanoid beings, looking similar to angels. The Chanticleer are an all-female species, consisting completely of clones to support their numbers. They are inherently peaceful and calm, always behaving with good manners. The Chanticleer specialize in crystal technology, which make up their ships, systems, medicine, weapons and even electronics. They operate from Second Harmony, a crystal-based space station orbiting a black hole.
- In a sense the antithesis to the Altec Hocker, the Kenelm are a species that are transitioning from energy to physical form. Their representative is The Kelm, who only expresses a concern to receive an artifact called the Eye of Kenelm, which the race needs to finish their transformation. They are a hidden race and do provide information which can help win the game once the Eye is returned.
- A race of robots, reprogrammed by the Master Control Robot. Created by an ancient race for serving. They are trying to take over the universe by killing every living thing within it.
- The Musin look similar to chipmunks and are masters of subterfuge and infiltration, operating deep within enemy territory, which includes also maintaining a colony on one of the planets. A truly important aspect about them is their lander robots, the Arch Bot and the Spy Bot, which can gather the most valuable items from the various worlds in the game. Their homeworld is Newhome III.
- These beings, with large noses, are known collectors of junk and hoarders of technology. They are of extremely ill-health and very hypochondriac. Most races consider them a nuisance rather than an asset (they are the only species that the Korok don't have slated for destruction), however they do play an important role in one of the subplots.
- A proud, beautiful and extremely arrogant race of felines. They are a matriarchal species, in which females play the dominant role, running the empire, staffing its navy, fighting etc., while males are reduced to sexual toys and procreation tools. Their empress is the Grand Phelan M'Nefer. Phelonese Navy fields the most powerful ships in the entire game, apart from Korok battleships, and possesses the mightiest weapon - Quietus missiles, which take down almost every ship down in one hit, a true "Fire-And-Forget" weapon.
- An enigmatic race of snakes. Their language is incomprehensible to outsiders, and they trade mostly in minerals, such as gold, silver or platinum.
- A kind race of farmers. They are notable for being the galactic drunks, as their favorite item of trade is their beer, Hopley Malt. Most beneficial is the fact that they possess the most powerful mass produced shield booster in the game, the Mighty Fence Booster.
- While one cannot come across this race, their influence is seen in every facet. The Losten were the creators of all the races one sees in the game. This is evidenced by religious figures touted by each race (the Arden's Less Ten, Bellicosian's Lost One, etc.), a tie that none of the races seem to have figured out. Losten technology can be found on some planets, but is most prominent in the Korok ships and devices, as the game mentions of the Korok's uprising against their masters, making them the last race created by the Losten before they were killed or fled. Meanwhile, some evidence may point to the fact that the protagonist's ship is also of Losten design.
- The Losten's homeworld was Losten, a planet protected by a swirling gateway that needs the correct combination entered to pass through. The Master Control Robot and its best troops guard this gateway, as this planet holds a vital key to the MCR's defeat.
Stating that Nomad "is well balanced between allowing freedom of choice and imparting a feeling of progression toward the conclusion", Computer Gaming World in May 1994 approved of its interface and multiple ways of solving the game. The reviewer stated that the game "came dangerously close to" imitating Starflight instead of being an homage, but "comes up short" compared to Wing Commander: Privateer and Elite 2: "It simply isn't as large, doesn't pay off in as many hours of play, and doesn't have the same detailed atmosphere and scope". He recommended Nomad to casual gamers "who actually work for a living and game 'on the side'".
- Seacat, Douglas (May 1994). "Space Operetta". Computer Gaming World. pp. 22–23.