Iron Helix

aka: Iron Helix: A deadly war game gone awry...
Moby ID: 679
Macintosh Specs

Description official description

A rogue navy ship, Jeremiah Obrian, threatens to start a war. A virus has wiped out its crew, but the threat of it firing its Iron Helix doomsday weapon is still there. You must remotely pilot an unarmed science robot to explore the ship and work out how to shut the weapon down.

The game uses interactive quarter-screen footage to display the ship's interiors. The main challenge is that an automated security device is chasing you down, and must be avoided and ultimately destroyed. A delay between your commands and the robot's receipt of them forces you to pay close attention to the security drone and plan several steps ahead.

As you explore the ship, you will find data ports, which can be jacked into to gain information or to open doorways. To access most of these, you will need to find and collect a DNA sample from a member of staff whose role gave him/her access.

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Screenshots

Promos

Credits (Windows 3.x version)

101 People (43 developers, 58 thanks) · View all

Story and Concept
Interface Design
Assistant Producer
Interactive Programming (Windows Version)
Digital Microscopy
Live-Action Video
Creative Director
Art Direction
3D Modelling and Industrial Design
Color and Lighting, 3D Rendering
Interface Graphics
Animation
Photoshop Mentor
Director of Engineering
Marketing/Public Relations
Business Administration
Manual Writing
Producer/Director
Script Writing / Story
Playtesting
Original Music and Sound Design
3D Rendering, Image Compositing and Animation
Special Visual Effects and Pyrotechnics
Ship's Computer Screens and Microscopy Animation Processing
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 71% (based on 21 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 49 ratings with 4 reviews)

A great game in its time. More important for what it foreshadowed than for what it was.

The Good
For its time, Iron Helix was technologically spectacular. Great graphics, great sound. Even now, it's not bad, though it does look dated.

What really makes Iron Helix worth the play is the gameplay. Particularly, the desperate race to evade the security bot which chases you throughout the game. This cat and mouse game is actually very thrilling. Your heart pounds as you dash frantically down corridors to try to find some temporary haven from the ever-searching security bot. You hold your breath as you lay in hiding while the bot scans the area nearby. Every moment you stand still, something inside of you bags at you to move on before it catches up. It does not reach the levelof terror one experiences in a game like System Shock 2, perhaps, but it certainly gets the blood moving.

But more than the actual game itself. This was one of the precursors to today's first-person sneakers, as well to such later adventure games like the Journeyman Project series.

The Bad
There is very little replay value.

The Bottom Line
A fun adventure that keeps you occupied long enough to be well worth your money. With moments of pulse-pounding tension, this is one of the better games of its era.

Windows 3.x · by Steelysama (82) · 2000

CD Games Begin

The Good
When I first saw the video bits in this game, I was blown away. I would hate to think how it would look today, but in 1992 on an old 486 system, it was a sight to behold.

The cat-and-mouse gameplay was simple but exciting; in fact, there were times I wish the rouge hunter character (the cat, if you will) would relent for a bit so I could pause.



The Bad
The lack of variety in some of the location designs made getting around a little difficult. The game sometimes felt like a maze -- and nothing bothers me more in games the running around a maze.

The Bottom Line
Simplicity ushers in a new world of gaming.

Windows 3.x · by Game22 (35) · 2004

Great idea, but zero replay value

The Good
When Iron Helix came out the whole idea of a CD-based game was very new. I think this might have been the second or third I remember on the Mac, and the Mac CD games generally predated the PC side. So as you might imagine, the game is heavy on the loaded visuals, and they did a pretty great job of it. There's also voice recordings from the crew and some animations as well. All in all a very worthy first effort.

The Bad
The utterly ridiculous story, for one. Ok so the crew of a ship is infected and dies. Gotcha. Then it flies to an enemy planet with the intent of destroying it? Huh? And is Iron Helix the virus that attacked the crew, or the virus that eats planets, or both? And the opening movie shows the O'Brien in the middle of a fleet, why didn't they just shoot her? How did I become the closest ship? Ok whatever.

Actually the only serious problem with this game is that is has zero replay value. I won't go into describing it, it has to be experienced. That said, the first play-through is fun enough to make this a worthwhile experience overall.

The Bottom Line
Iron Helix is basically a graphical adventure game, but rendered in 3D and including animations and other flourishes. The basic conceit of the game is that the different areas of the ship are locked off by scanners that examine the genetic material of the person before allowing them to pass. When the virus attacked the crew it mutated their DNA and they were unable to operate the ship. Eventually the ship's defensive robot started attacking them.

You are called in as the closest ship that can reach the O'Brien and stop her. There are a couple of different ways to do this, from simply pressing a button on a command console, to causing her engines to explode. However, you'll have to get to these controls first, and you'll need to find unmutated DNA to do this.

After the game starts and shows you sending in your robot probe, you start the game in an access area. By scanning the walls you can find the original DNA, pre-mutations, of some of the low-level workers. That will get you into the first few areas of the ship, where you'll have to find the haunts of the higher ranking members of the crew, collect their DNA, and continue. You'll also find crew recordings which can be helpful in telling you ways to find other DNA or solutions to the game.

Eventually you'll find DNA that will allow you to access critical areas of the ship, ones that will allow you to take control of her and stop it from attacking the planet.

While your robot is moving about the ship, the defensive robot is still active. At the lowest level of the game it is visible on your map, and is thus fairly easy to avoid. It does respond to you opening doors or using the inter-deck elevator, which means you have to keep moving to avoid it. At higher levels it responds to more events, moves more quickly, and is no longer visible on you map. This makes an encounter extremely likely, and they're always deadly.

The idea of moving around and pressing buttons to unlock areas might not sound like much fun, but the graphics really added to the immersion. The defensive robot was also a feature that has to be experienced, there were many moments of heart-pounding fear when I just scrapped past it and didn't know if it had seen me yet.

Macintosh · by Maury Markowitz (266) · 2009

[ View all 4 player reviews ]

Trivia

Installation

Iron Helix had one of the slowest install procedures known to the modern world. It took well over an hour to install the game, for no apparent reason except that the decompression library was not optimized at all. The machine in question was a 486/66 running Windows 3.1 with a double-speed (2X) CDROM drive and 32MB RAM -- well beyond the minimum requirements of the game.

To be fair, the game ran perfectly after it was installed.

Music

The song played at the game's main menu (samples of which are also heard in various other parts of the game) is a real song. It's appropriately called Iron Helix, performed by a band called Xorcist. The relationship between the game and the song is symbiotic: The game uses the song in its soundtrack, and the song uses some sound samples from the game.

Xorcist went on to contribute music to two other CD-ROM games: Bad Mojo and Space Bunnies Must Die!.

Information also contributed by Adam Luoranen

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  • MobyGames ID: 679
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Accatone.

Macintosh, SEGA CD added by Terok Nor.

Additional contributors: Trixter, formercontrib, Patrick Bregger.

Game added January 6, 2000. Last modified February 13, 2024.