The space transport ship「SOPHIA」is en route to an important planetary colonization assignment when all of a sudden two of her crew members「LOUIS」and「DICK」are awakened from their cold sleep by the sound of the ship's alarm.
「Multiple unidentified alien forms have been detected inside the ship.」
With the rest of the crew nowhere in sight. LOUIS and DICK have no other choice but to try to shoot their way through the hellishly alien infestation and search for a way to get out of the ship.
1988 was a major breakthrough year for the game company TECNO SOFT. Although the company had a small break a few years back with their game THUNDER FORCE. It wasn't until 1988 and with games like D', HERZOG, and THUNDER FORCE II, that TECNO SOFT were finally able to establish themselves as a respected software house.
And TECNO SOFT started 1988 with「D'」(pronounced D・DASH). A surprisingly high quality and original shooting game with an action role-playing overtone that was clearly inspired by both the movie「ALIENS」and by the SEGA arcade hit「ALIEN SYNDROME」which had just been released the previous year.
Basically TECNO SOFT took the proven shooting game formula of ALIEN SYNDROME and combined it with the also proven gameplay design used by the best action role-playing games of the time. And while this gameplay mix might not sound that special now. Back in 1988 the game certainly felt as novel and original as maybe BIO HAZARD did 8 years later.
Personally, I think D' should be on everyone's must-play list of legacy PC games. The game has aged remarkably well and should be familiar ground for anyone who has played an action RPG before (i.e. everyone).
Best of all, the game has *SHOCK* 2-Player Simultaneous Support !
There's not enough quality 8-bit PC games out there with that feature, even less quality shooting games.
■8-BIT SURVIVAL HORROR
Nowadays it can very easy to dismiss a lot of the original game concepts that the 8-bit PC gaming era brought along simply because of the highly limited technical aspects of its games. Still, whether most people are aware it or not, the PC gaming scene played a key role in shaping up and defining modern gaming in the 80's.
In this case for example, we have a game that takes place inside a big space ship in outer space. Players are required to explore around looking for clues that will guide them to their next destination, and gather items that will let them gain access to previously inaccessible or hazardous areas. Players can also equip various weapons that will have different effects on the many enemy aliens that infect the ship.
The enemy aliens are relentless in their attacks, and so players cannot stay in the same place for too long. The enemies will also become more powerful and aggressive and the game progresses.
The eerie BGM also becomes even more eerie as it lets players know they are reaching the climax.
So basically what we have here is a clear 8-bit precursor to games like DEAD SPACE and BIO HAZARD.
Of course it is unfortunate that the limited technology of the period still wasn't ready to let programmers implement the「scary factor」that characterizes the survival horror genre (at least not in a satisfying manner in action games). But you can certainly appreciate that many of the other gameplay concepts behind the genre haven't changed that much over the years.
■SURVIVING THE ALIEN OUTBREAK
Our heroes LOUIS and DICK wake up from their cold sleep to find their ship has been overrun by grotesque hostile aliens... Certainly not the most pleasant of scenarios...
If you're playing the game in single player mode you can select which character to play with although the difference between the two is only cosmetic.
Both characters initially come equipped with just a couple of weak handguns but you will be able to pick a better weapon almost immediately. There's a total of 7 different weapons in the game and most of them will perform better against a certain type of alien.
It should be noted though that in general fighting the aliens is a big waste of time (and HP). The aliens move too fast and erratically and will just continue to respawn indefinitely. Plus they won't give you EXP points and don't drop any items.
Thus the best thing to do in most cases is to move fast and just try to avoid them as best as you can.
By accessing the inventory screen ( [ B ] button by default) you will be able to save and load the game at any time except during boss fights. This of course is always a nice feature to have, and more specially if you're playing the game on an actual PC-88 system.
Healing items will always reappear when you enter the room, however they are not infinite and will eventually stop coming at one point. Still, as long as you don't use them recklessly, you should get more than enough food rations and first aid kits to clear the game.
The alien「SCORPION KING」boss is a pushover so you shouldn't have any problem beating it. Just remember that you won't be able to heal or save during boss fights.
Emulation Warning : Normally after collecting the「HANDHELD PC」you're supposed to be able to read the messages from the data terminals scattered around the ship. However, attempting to use the data terminals while playing the game on an emulator in most cases will cause the game to hang up (you will be asked to insert Disk B even if it's already inside).
It's probable that the ROM files are missing the text data, or it could be an emulation bug. Regardless, it's better to avoid using the data terminals altogether since they are not needed to complete the game.
You will need to equip the Flamethrower to dispose of the annoying aliens in this area. Your goal here is to find the Keycard 2 which can be found hidden in a bush near the small pond in the park section.
The「SUPER ALIEN」boss will be a though opponent, specially since your HP still won't be high enough. You need to shoot at the yellow spots on his palms to hurt him. I recommend using the Laser Gun, and just try to remain as far from him as you can shooting diagonally.
■ACT 4 : THE FATE OF THE SOPHIA CREW
● Objectives :
・F Block ・Use the computer terminal (disables electrified floor in E Block).
The floor in the E Block is electrified so you need to use the computer terminal in the F Block to disable it. You can use the Flamethrower to remove the alien infection that covers the F Block, this will allow you to reach the computer.
It's advisable to not explore the F Block further at this point. There's a green room that can trap you permanently unless you have the Keycard 4 in your possession.
■ACT 5 : THE SECRET COMPUTER ROOM
● Objectives :
・D Block ・Use the ship's master computer (activates the previously sealed「Archive Room」door in the E Block). ・Collect the「OXYGEN SUIT」.
・E Block ・Talk with LLOYD in the Archive Room(activates secret door in the「Master Computer Room」) ・Collect「BEAM RIFLE」.
・D Block ・Use the computer terminal on the「Secret Computer Room」(opens sealed door in the「Hull Breach」section).
This step can be completed at any time before going to the「Hull Breach」section in the F Block and will require a bit of backtracking. Just make sure not to miss any of the objectives here or you most likely will get stuck later on.
The master computer room access is located in the container area in the D Block. It's the door above the「→ A」sign.
The secret computer room can be accessed from a secret door located on the top-right wall inside the master computer room. Refer to this screen capture if you have trouble finding it.
■ACT 6 : THE MYSTERIOUS G BLOCK
Now that you have the Oxygen Suit you can traverse the small B Block that serves only as a gateway to the G Block.
● Objectives :
・G Block ・Collect the「FIRST AID KIT」. ・Defeat the「SPACE SLIME」boss to obtain the「KEYCARD 5」. ・Collect the「SPACE SUIT」.
You will need to equip the Hazmat Suit to survive in the big contaminated area. Also, try to grab as much first aid kits as you can from the medical bay to avoid having to come back later.
The「SPACE SLIME」boss is actually pretty easy to beat. You need to use the Coolant Gun as it is the only weapon that can hurt it. Once it gets damaged enough, the boss will split into two smaller but faster slimes. They have very low HP though, so you should be able to take them down quickly.
Before leaving the G Block don't forget to pick up the Space Suit from the galaxy map room located in the western section. The Space Suit has all the properties of your two other suits, so from now on it will be the only suit you will need.
■ACT 7 : THE GIANT SPACE CRAB APPEARS !
● Objectives :
・F Block ・Collect the「LAND MINES」. ・Defeat the「GIANT SPACE CRAB」boss to obtain the「KEYCARD 6」.
The Space Suit will allow you to enter the hull breach section in the F Block. Also, if you want you can stop by the flooded section to collect the Land Mines, although this is completely optional.
The「GIANT SPACE CRAB」is another though boss, but your high HP should give you the edge this time around. Equip the Laser Gun and use the same strategy than with the SUPER ALIEN boss.
■ACT 8 : THE LAST STRETCH
● Objectives :
・B Block Engine Room ・Collect the「KEYCARD 7」. ・Activate the 4 computer terminals (unlocks the final section in the H Block).
・A Block ・Collect the「KEYCARD 8」.
・H Block ・Talk with KEITH.
From the hull breach section (and granted that you've used the hidden computer terminal as advised) you will be able to access the ship's engine room. Your goal here is to find the Keycard 8 and activate the 4 computer terminals that will unlock the last section of the game.
Once you've found the 4 computers (the order doesn't matter), head back to the mess hall in the A Block and into the previously locked section. This section will lead you to an apparent dead end but the odd collision detection will reveal a weak spot on the wall. Go inside the room and you will find the final Keycard 8.
Now all that's left to explore is the H Block. The aliens here are very powerful so don't even bother trying to fight back.
Talking with KEITH will send you into the final boss fight and THERE WON'T BE NO TURNING BACK ! Make sure you're prepared for the fight.
■ACT 9 : D FOR D・E・V・I・L
This is it, the final battle. The boss has two forms and the second one is unbelievable cheap !
Seriously, you will need an ungodly amount of luck to beat the final boss legitly (i.e. without save-stating like crazy). For this reason I highly recommend you to watch the provided YouTube video that will explain better how to beat the boss.
Thank you for writing about this. Your blog entry seems to be... possibly the only online resource for this game in English! I've always wanted to write about it myself, but lack the motivation. I think part of the problem is that it has such a bizarre name, very few even know about it. Heck, do a search for D and horror game, and WARP's game comes up. These are the variations: ディーダッシュ D' Dixdaef Dixdeaf D' [diːdæʃ] "SF Violence RPG" and it's Tecno Soft or Tecnosoft depending on how you spell it. I had to copy and paste these characters because they use non-conventional type: diːdæʃ
Apparently it was also available for the PC-98, Sharp X1, and MSX2 computers.