Cruising highways are gone and now forgotten as we wave goodbye to Highway Encounter; with our next entry in the Your Sinclair Top 100 our world has become somewhat hollow, somewhat wireframe, and now we sell our cut throat services for cash. At No.#39 is the 3D game of technical wizardry – it’s time to hire the services of Mercenary from Novagen Software.
Mercenary crash-landed (quite literally) back in 1987, created originally by Paul Woakes on the 8-bit Atari series and the ZX Spectrum conversion being handled by David Aubrey-Jones. You play a 21st Century Space Cowboy (not related to Steve Miller or Jamiroquai) and you’ve parked yourself on to the planet Targ, with only Benson your highly advanced computer as company. Shortly after you landing, in a not so subtle way, you purchase a new craft with your dwindling credits and you’re contacted by the Palyar Resistance who have a job for a person of your ilk.
When Mercenary was released upon the ZX Spectrum it was truly ground-breaking and you can see why – here was a 3D wire framed game where you can freely, walk, move and fly around. With bridges, buildings and vehicles all masterfully built by both David and Paul; still today you can’t help but to feel impressed by what you’re wandering around in. However, time hasn’t been kind to Mercenary and you can feel it as you play, from the drunken movement – your character has – as you wander down another non-descript, empty corridor; the lack of NPC’s and just instructions given in a room and other such minor issues that scratch at your brain.
There was a sequel to Mercenary called Damocles, along with an aborted third sequel and in all honesty it’s easy to see why it never came to fruition. I think the ZX Spectrum was lucky enough to run the rather impressive, at the time, Mercenary.