[Retro Monday] Corridor 7: Alien Invasion
[Retro Monday] is a series that takes a look at games of the past. Expect articles chock full of interesting information; how the game ties into the political, economical, and cultural situation of its time; and most importantly, pretty pictures.
After a lovely one week vacation, [Retro Monday] is back. Two weeks ago we covered Lunar Lander. Today, we’ll be taking a look at Corridor 7: Alien Invasion, a game I watched my dad play since I was in preschool. Probably not the best idea due to the amount of alien gore in the game, and definitely a contributor to my extremely dramatic and irrational fear of the dark.
Without further ado, I present to you Corridor 7.
Corridor 7 was developed by Capstone Software and published by IntraCorp Entertainment and Gametek. Released in March of 1994 for PC, it utilized a modified version of the Wolf 3D engine. It featured single-player and multiplayer modes. IntraCorp distributed the game on 3 1/2 inch floppy disks, and Gametek later distributed the game on CD-ROMs. Unless otherwise noted, screenshots are taken from the floppy disk version of the game.
The premise of the game is fairly simple and straightforward. I’ll let the manual explain the unnamed hero’s impetus in the game:
As a result a dimensional gate (the Vortex) is opened in the midst of Corridor 7, allowing an army of alien invaders to reach Earth. The aliens quickly overrun the military base and took its control killing everyone. While the creatures are busy modifying the surroundings to better suit their needs, but before they can effectively cut off Delta Base from the rest of the world, a lone Special Forces soldier is able to penetrate their perimeter: his objective will be to stop the invasion and destroy the artifact.
There you have it.
Upon booting up the game, players would be taken to the above menu screen. By choosing New Mission, players were then tasked with choosing what difficulty they’d like to attempt Corridor 7 on. They are, from easiest to toughest:
- Corporal: the levels contain few aliens and only 10% kills are required to gain access of the elevator.
- Lieutenant: the aliens increase in number and 75% kills are required.
- Captain: this is the standard difficulty setting and requires that 100% of the aliens are killed.
- Major: like Captain, but with a higher number of enemies.
- President: like Major, but features a randomization factor which scatters around the level all the objects present. This setting is only available in the CD version, however through a specific dos command it can be played on the floppy version.
The controls were fairly straightforward. Players used their mouse to aim and shoot, and the space bar was used for activating objects. One thing I remember my dad doing was walking against the walls, constantly pressing the space bar to find hidden rooms. Once a trap wall was found, they would disappear and reveal the room to the player. Inside could be a secret path, more supplies, or enemies. There were several hidden throughout a level, and the trap walls looked the same as the ones that surrounded it. They could only be found through the space key and knowledge–or luck.
There were ammo health packs, health packs, and visor fillers strewn across the levels. They were often multiple use, and the amount remaining would be displayed next to the pack. For example, the ammo packs (pictured above) would show how many uses were left via a column of bullets on the right. A chunk would delete upon use and find its way into your ammo bar. These were typically three-use deals. There were also health chambers placed in levels for the player to use, which restored a far greater chunk of health for the player.
I mentioned a visor in the paragraph above, so let me cover that–as well as the HUD elements–quickly. The visor was capable of displaying infrared and night vision, enabling the player to see force fields and other deadly items. Displayed on the HUD was the amount of life, armor, ammo, visor, and mines left. These could all be replenished. Items, such as key cards needed to access certain areas, could be found throughout the level, carried by monsters or lying in wait for an intrepid player. The alien face in the middle of the HUD, behind the visor gauge, would become invisible if no aliens were in the immediate vicinity of the player. The closer player and enemy tread, the more visible the alien would become.
Corridor 7 is very true to its name–it features several corridors that can often look too similar to each other. Luckily, there was a handy map that players could use. They could utilize it in order to find the aforementioned secret rooms and, more importantly, their way around the level. The map also featured yellow dots representing enemies. The map would refresh about once a second, creating a short period of no visible information. This, plus the enemies’ ability to sneak up behind players and ambush them, led to several intense moments.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, there was a CD-ROM version and the original floppy disk version. The differences, in addition to the immediately visible President difficulty setting, were important. The CD-ROM version featured ten more levels than the floppy disk’s 30, putting its final count at 40. The CD-ROM version featured 8 multiplayer maps, and one mode: deathmatch.
This is my own conjecture, but I believe that the CD-ROM version and the floppy disk version sport different HUD elements. I could be entirely wrong and attributing the CD moniker to emulated ports, but I’m going to stick with my theory.
Let’s take a brief look at the world that influenced Corridor 7. We’ll focus on games first. The year prior to Corridor 7‘s release saw a a number of games featuring sci-fi settings and narratives, as well as defending against the invasion of an alien race. The best examples are Master of Orion pictured above, and Syndicate (1993, Bullfrog Games). The sci-fi setting proved to be very popular and financially successful, which definitely encouraged Capstone to create one following the sci-fi trend.
Unfortunately for Capstone, id Software released Doom in 1993. Considered the game that revolutionized first-person shooters in a 3D space, Doom used an engine that was faster and more capable than the modified Wolfenstein engine Capstone was using. Thus, Corridor 7 was considered out-of-date by the time it saw release.
Global and national events likely had little bearing on the development of Corridor 7. Bill Clinton was elected President of the United States and soon had to contend with terrorists bombing the basement of the World Trade Center. On a better note, Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister of Israel, and Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization signed a peace agreement on the White House lawns on September 13th, 1993. There were no major technological advances and no major space discoveries to suggest a major sci-fi influence.
While it could be said that Corridor 7 was the defense of the American ideal against those who would seek to destroy it, that connection is tepid at best. Corridor 7 was a game that wished to explore the sci-fi genre on its own, and it wished to tell the tale of a man who could not only survive but succeed in spite of the odds. It’s a classic hero tale in video games, and it’s certainly neither the first nor the last to explore that narrative.
The future of Corridor 7 included a sequel, Corridor 8. However, in the middle of development Capstone and their parent company, IntraCorp, went under. In 2005, Les Bird, a programmer for the game, gave the source code to a fan who runs a large Corridor 7 fansite. That can be found here. Since then, there have been no rumblings of a remake or a remastered version. Things have gone silent for Corridor 7, but it definitely remains in several gamers’s hearts.
This article is dedicated to my dad, who really loves this game. I have fond memories of watching him play Corridor 7 for hours on weekends, and it was awesome. He beat the game on Major difficulty. At least, that’s what I like to tell everyone.
What Happened in 1993? (cross-checked with a variety of other resources)
All images link to their source site.