Title           Captive
Game Type       RPG
Players         1
Compatibility   KS 1.3, plus see below
Submission      Adam Atkinson -

Executive summary: probably one of the most underrated games ever
to appear on the Amiga. I get the impression that many people failed
to appreciate its glory because it was relatively hard to get into.

The rest of this review is going to be obsessively detailed, and contain
quite a few spoilers - most of the spoilers will be about things which,
for me, are the reasons the game deserved a better reputation than it
seemed to have.


I originally played Captive back when I had kickstart 1.3. As far as
I recall, if you play it under KS 2.04 or above, you'll find that it's
very hard to type (almost all keys you press will register twice unless
you tap them very very briefly). This makes it effectively impossible to
type passwords into computers in the game. So you'll probably need to
reboot your machine into kickstart 1.3 to play this. I would be
delighted to be told I'm wrong, though. I can't get the game to work on
my 68060/kickstart3.1 1200, I'm afraid, so this review is entirely from
memory. However, I finished galaxy 1 from scratch several times, and my
most advanced save is in the prison level of galaxy 5, so I should be
able to remember something of use.

The Game

The game screen is "really" the screen of a laptop computer that you are
using in a prison cell. The laptop gives you control over a group of
robots. Part of the screen shows you what the robots can see (in typical
Dungeon Master - style 3d view), and there are the usual buttons for
moving the robots, turning them, etc., the usual buttons representing
the objects held in the robots' hands, and the usual load/save button.
There are also 5 _far_ from usual mini-screens along the top of the
laptop, and a small cluster of buttons in one corner which control the 5
mini-screens (and do some less significant tasks I won't mention).

The game manual purports to be the manual for this laptop, so is
a _reasonably_ complete guide to how you control the robots. Though e.g.
it doesn't tell you how to spend their experience points to increase
their skills - mess about with right and left clicks in various places
until you get this to happen. It's _vital_.

The manual tells you nothing about the game world. I thought this was a
brilliant idea, though it was probably the reason so many people found
it impossible to get anywhere. (Sadly, I was such a person until someone
sent me an email explaining some of the things I'll be covering in this

So what's going on, then?

Your ultimate objective is to guide the robots to your prison cell and
get them to release you. When this happens, you have the option of
declaring the game to be over, or allowing yourself to be recaptured,
starting a new "galaxy". It is worth being recaptured at least once, as
there are two monsters you won't see in galaxy 1, and there are several
weapons and _many_ body parts you can't buy until later galaxies. To be
able to buy _and_ _use_ the most advanced body parts of all (super grade
Titaniux body parts) you'll probably need to play until galaxy 4 or 5.
That's how long it took me, IIRC. Once you've played a few levels of
galaxy 2, things don't seem to get any harder: the "empty-faced
pharaoh", the last new monster, appears about two levels into galaxy 2.

Your robots start in a spaceship in the deep space. When they're in
space, the main area of the screen where you'd expect to see a "what's
in front of the party" view is filled with a galactic map. A planet on
the galactic map is flashing. Absolutely the first thing to do is plug
your robots' brain chips into their heads. This activates them, and
gives them their initial stats and skills.

You earn experience by killing things (and perhaps for doing other
things - I never checked), and spend experience points on skill
increases. Each time you buy a skill point, one of your stats will also
increase. The rate at which you earn experience seems to depend on your
wisdom stat. So, clearly, you should spend experience as soon as you
can, since accumulating it just means you're missing out on faster
experience gains in future. In addition to spending experience as soon
as you can, you should probably buy the cheapest skill increases you can
so that you get a greater number of skill points, and thus a greater
number of wisdom increases. It might be worth restarting the game a few
times until the lowest wisdom score any of your robots get is not too
low. I never bothered with this myself - you will find that the robot
that starts with the lowest wisdom will, over time, fall fairly far
behind in skills. You might want to put low wisdom robots in the front
rank at the start of the game so they'll accumulate more experience.

Initially your robots will have level 1 skills in "robotics" and
"brawling". Robotics is the skill you need to make use of more advanced
body parts. Brawling is the first of a sequence of weapons-related
skills. When you get a weapon skill up to a certan value (I think 8 or
9), the next weapons skill becomes available. After brawling there are
swords, handguns, rifles, automatic weapons, lasers, missiles, and
so on. Within each weapon skill there are 24 levels. (Robotics goes
up to 64, I think) There are three weapons in each class. To use a
quality n weapon of the t-th type you need skill n+8(t-1). So you need
skill 24, the maximum, to use super quality weapons of the most advanced
type in that weapon class. (colt 45 handguns, hunter rifles, etc.)
Within reason, you'll probably want to use the best weapons and body
parts you are able to. However, see later comments about exceptions to

Only robots in the front rank can use fists or hand-to-hand weapons.
Well, those in the rear rank can _use_ them, but they just damage the
front rank robots if they do. This is not useful. At the very start of
the game you'll have to hit monsters with your bare hands, using robots
in the front rank.

Anyway... you're still floating in space. Fly to the flashing planet,
and land on the surface near the place the signal is coming from. You
will find yourself just outside a base. You can also walk around outside
and fight dinosaurs if you want to. This is a possible source of extra

The door to the base has 4 buttons outside, and you need to press them
in a certain order to get in. Helpfully, there's a note on the ground
outside the first base telling you the sequence. At later bases, you'll
need to find the code yourself. There are only 24 possibilities, so it
doesn't take too long to try them all. Make a note of the sequence for
each base, as you'll need it to get out again. And you'll be in a
hurry the second time you need the code...

"Bases" in Captive are more or less like dungeon levels in something
like Dungeon Master or EOB. Each base is a building with up to 5 floors
in it. These floors can be _very_ large. Once you enter a base, you
can't leave it until you blow its generators up. The generators are the
pulsating lightbulb things. Blow them up by clicking on them whilst
holding explosives in your "picking things up" hand. The generators will
then explode, and then an ever-widening area around them will turn into
a lake of fire. Eventually, the whole base explodes. If the party is
still inside it when this happens, the robots all die. So on your way
out of a base, you'll be wanting to have a note of the door code.

Somewhere in each base, there are one or two computers which will
provide you with planet probes. Take off from the surface of the planet,
and drop a planet probe into the galactic map. It will find another
base. If you have several planet probes, you can reveal multiple bases.
Eventually, a planet probe will locate a thing which looks like the
death star... that is your prison. You don't _need_ planet probes to
find bases - they will be there anyway. It's just that there are lots of
planets in the galaxy, and searching them all until you found bases
would be very very tedious. (In galaxy 2, I went dinosaur hunting on a
random planet, and found it had base number 8 on it.) If you try to fly
straight to the prison (it's findable on the galactic map if you look
hard enough) you'll find it's surrounded by a force field and you can't
get in. I imagine you need to blow up all the bases before you can get
into the prison. Certainly in galaxy 1 you'd be crazy NOT to do all the
bases first - you'll need the experience and equipment to have any
chance of surviving. You _don't_ want to blow the generators in your
prison, as that would kill you. You need to guide the robots to your
cell and open the door. If your screen shows someone sitting on a chair
using a laptop, don't shoot him... it's you :-)

If you've already located all the bases and the prison in your current
galaxy, you don't need to bother with planet probes - they just
disappear if you try to use them. And they weigh a lot. I don't think
you can carry them into later galaxies, and it wouldn't be worth the
trouble anyway.

As one might hope, the bases in galaxy 1 introduce new elements of the
game in a reasonably steady progression. Base 1 is very small, has only
very weak monsters, and introduces the very simplest kinds of base
architecture. And the shops sell only the simplest equipment.


Yes. Shops. All the bases, including prisons, have shops in them. And
your heavily armed military robots can blow away people in these bases,
loot the corpses, and then go and spend the money in a shop round the
corner. What sorts of things can you buy? Weapons, body parts, bolt-on
goodies, explosives, landmines, ammunition, batteries, and so on. You
can also repair equipment, including body parts. Shops charge extra for
repairing items they don't sell. On the whole, don't let this worry you
- especially as regards repairing body parts. Note that the first shop
which sells new body parts is at the end of the second base, so you'll
want to save up quite a bit of money and upgrade all your robots from
"human" and "tindron basic" to "tindron super". There are lots of
better kinds of body part than tindron, but you won't find them until
later. Upgrade body parts more or less every chance you get - they
will increase your carrying capacity, speed, hit points, and so on.
(Though sometimes a "higher" category body part has worse armour than a
lower category one.)

note that different shops in the same base may sell different items.
however, if you leave money in one shop, it will be there in every shop
in that base. so dump one of your 65k gold bags in the first shop you
come to, and top it up every time you visit a shop. remember to pick it
up before destroying the base. (I'm not sure if shops still work after
the generators have blown up. lifts do)

Many items (but not e.g. ammo) come in 8 quality levels. In most cases
this affects their cost, and presumably their effectiveness. In the
case of weapons, it determines whether you can use them or not - you
need skill 24 in handguns to use a super quality colt 45, but only skill
17 to use a basic quality colt 45.

One of the best features of the game involves items where the quality
levels actually correspond to totally different pieces of equipment.
These are the "optic" and "dev-scape" devices.

Bolt-on goodies a go-go

This is what four of the five mini-screens on your "laptop" are for.
Each robot can plug one bolt-in goodie (an "optic" or "dev-scape") into
its brain. The output from this bolt-on goodie will appear on that
robot's mini-screen. The "small cluster of buttons" I referred to
earlier turns the mini-screens on and off. The 16 different devices you
can obtain by buying level basic/2/3/4/5/6/7/super optics and devscapes
are all different from one another. Let's have a list. I can't remember
the official names, or which ones are which level of optic/devscape.

power sapper
body scan
vision fixer

Try them out if you want to find out what they all do. Note that
it's quite hard to work out what (if anything) some of them are useful
for, as some are of benefit only in fairly specific circumstances that
can't arise in the first half of galaxy 1. Note also that you can only
have four available for _immediate_ use, so choose those four carefully.
I carry about half of these devices with me at all times (including
multiple "invulneravility" devices), but quite a few I only swap in on
special occasions.

One of the items demonstrates what seems an odd choice on the part of
the designers: "antigrav" makes you walk on the ceiling instead of the
floor, which is fine. However, if you did this in real life you'd notice
that a turning which was originally on your left was now on
your right. In Captive the turning is still on your left. I, at least,
found this rather unsettling.

The fifth mini-screen

So what does the fifth mini-screen do? Well, it shows you what one of
your remote cameras can see. You can plonk a remote-controlled camera on
the floor, and move it around via the 5th mini-screen. if you have
multiple remote-controlled cameras, you can switch between them. they
only show you whether or not there are monsters in the few squares in
front of them, not what those monsters are. you can tell cameras to
explode, which will damage or kill neighbouring beasties. more usefully,
you can wait at the bottom of a ladder, with a camera on the floor above
pointing at the top of the ladder. if a monster occupies the top of the
ladder, go up the ladder and the monster will die. this is quite a good
way to deal with some parts of the game which could otherwise be total
deathtraps. I will admit that I didn't make _much_ use of this feature.
randomly hopping up and down ladders is almost as good, if you know the
other end of the ladder is in an area with a lot of monsters.

free weapons

as well as money, you sometimes find weapons lying around. these can
never be repaired or reloaded. you might as well use them until they
wear out, unless they're much worse than the stuff you're currently


You can buy landmines in shops, and leave them around for monsters to
walk on. of course, this doesn't work on flying monsters. You might want
to buy some landmines just before blowing up the final base in galaxy 1.
the early stages of the first prison are lethal. see the huge monster on
the box cover? you'll meet several of those in a large room. dashing up
the ladder into this room, mining it, and dashing back down again, is
probably the way to go. the first shop in the galaxy 1 prison is, IIRC,
a LONG way in. and the huge robot guards are lethal - the usual
square-dancing trick works if you meet just one of them in an area
that's at least 2x2, but meet several at once, or one in a corridor, and
you're in REAL trouble. If you need to clear an area of landmines, you
can throw objects onto them. clipboards are useful for this.

flying devil robots

First appear in the final non-prison base in galaxy 1. Lethal. Extremely
fast. You can't square-dance with them unless your reactions are a lot
faster than mine. Use invulnerability.


If a wall has lots of circles along the bottom, it's pushable. don't
push it too far, or you might block off something on the other side

Some doors/walls are controlled by panels of three switches. obviously,
you try all possible combinations.

Some are controlled by numbered panels of 8 switches. the game will
provide you with the combinations for these panels, somewhere, but I'd
suggest you learn to count in gray code very fast - you can try open one
of these panels in 1-2 minutes with a bit of practice.

Some are controlled by numbered panels with 16 segments. the game will
provide you with the combinations to open these. (except for galaxy 2,
planet "Phoopel". see aminet /game/hint for a missing clipboard). trying
to crack one of these using gray code strikes me as a waste of time.

There are barriers which have passwords. you'll need to find these on
clipboards in the game, of course.

bouncing weapons

cannon balls bounce off walls and doors. bullets bounce off some special
kinds of doors. this means some kinds of monster will destroy themselves
trying to shoot you through closed doors. it also means you need to be
careful if you shoot dual cannons (which fire at both heights) at small
monsters - one of your shots will probably come back and hit you a few
seconds later.

ultra-advanced weapons

don't bother with acid and fire weapons. you won't be able to buy or use
them until galaxy 2 anyway. and almost no shops sell ammo for them, so
they're a waste of money. if you find fire/acid weapons lying around on
the ground, you might as well use them until they run out. otherwise,
stick with cannons, missiles and laser/sonic weapons once you can use


you occasionally find dice in the game. keep one. if you stand in front
of a four-button door (like the entrance to a base) and roll a die (i.e.
place it in a robot hand and use it as though it were a weapon) it will
tell you which button to press next. this only works on doors inside
bases, not the entrance/exit to a base. it also doesn't work on the
doors to prison cells. so if you are in a prison, and find a four-button
door where a die doesn't work, you know you're on the other side of it.


you will find plug sockets in the wall from time to time. stick your
hand in one of these and it will glow. if you then pick up a robot's
chest, or a battery, that item will be (partially) recharged. any other
item would disintegrate. if your hand is glowing, you can "throw"
electricity - this is a good ranged weapon in the early stages of the
game. just make sure you get rid of all the electricity before trying to
pick up treasure. you can recharge a robot by picking up a battery and
clicking it on the robot's chest. higher grade batteries are _much_
better than lower grade ones, but cost a lot more. a super grade battery
costs about 40 thousand gold, which is a lot of money. of course, as one
might expect, in the long term you have more money than you know what to
do with - my robots have about 3 65k bags of gold each. they dump them
by the entrance on their way into a base, and pick them up again on the
way out. (on prison levels, you can't do this, of course).

Category list.

Alphabetical list.