VI. Game Progression


Atomic Sam takes place on an Earth of the future, at an indefinite time, perhaps in the twenty-first century. This is not the future as our culture of the turn of the twenty-first century envisions it now, but instead as people optimistically foresaw it in 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s America. Instead of jet planes transporting passengers across continents, the world of Atomic Sam is filled with zeppelins and giant wing propeller craft. In Atomic Sam , nuclear energy has not turned out to be a disappointment as it has in the second half of the twentieth century. Instead, it has fulfilled its tremendous promise of cheap, clean energy, and has been refined to the point where it can be used safely in a child s toy or in zeppelins.

This is a future that has conquered poverty through technology, a future in which the skyscrapers stretch to unprecedented heights, and there is enough room for all to live happily. Private planes and auto-gyros (a plane/helicopter hybrid) are not uncommon, and many land on the roofs of the towering skyscrapers. Rail travel is a very important part of this future, and high-speed monorails provide quicker travel between cities than slower zeppelins.

Intelligent robots are everywhere, and people can purchase robots either to be workers in their factories or butlers in their homes . Instead of running people out of work, however, these robots have increased everyone s leisure time, while in turn enhancing everyone s prosperity . This is not the bleak, troubling future found in so much science fiction of the last two decades, but an optimistic world where technology has set the human race free to be happy.

The advance in robots did create some interesting problems, however. Robots are now basically as smart as the smartest humans , with intelligences so developed that they have emotions and desires of their own. Certainly many robots are more physically strong and resilient than humans. Yet the robots have not risen up to conquer the humans, as many science fiction works might foresee. (All of the aggressive robots that Sam faces in the game are following the orders of a villainous human.) Instead, these robots are still obligated to follow the laws humans make, for reasons that are never fully explained. Indeed, robots have no rights and are treated very much as property by the humans, not unlike African slaves were treated in the first hundred years of United States history. For instance, if part of a robot breaks, it may be cheaper to replace the whole robot than to fix it. If this is the case, it is the prerogative of the owner of the robot to permanently shut it off if he so chooses, and few humans would question that decision as being the right one. Atomic Sam does include some hints of a robot underground , which tends to the old robots in the most humane ways possible, as is explored in the Harmony section of the game.

In this future Earthlings have managed to reach the Moon and have set up a Moon colony there called New Boston. This colony consists of a number of domed structures, which provide a breathable atmosphere and Earth-like gravity. Moon walks are allowed for the residents, using space suits , of course, with many Moon residents finding such excursions to be a fun way to take a break from dome life.

When humans did finally reach the Moon, they were surprised to find a race of extraterrestrials there. These creatures had lived unnoticed on the Dark Side of the Moon for many centuries, only in the last thirty years revealing themselves to humans as the Moon colony was built. In addition to their generally strange appearance, the Moonies come in two varieties: the Bi-Headers and the Torsos. The Bi-Headers have two heads on top of their bodies, while the Torsos have none, instead having a mouth and eyes on the front of their torsos. The Moonies do not breathe and are much denser creatures than humans, and as a result can survive in either Earth or Moon atmosphere. The Moonies, though not technologically advanced, are just as intelligent as humans, and on making contact with Earthlings are quick to learn English. The Moonies and humans now live cooperatively on the Moon, helping each other in many different ways.

On first contact, the reaction of humans to the Moonies was one of shock and disbelief.-Over time, however, humans came to realize that Moonies did not pose a threat and became quite friendly with them, in particular with the Bi-Headers. It seems that since the Bi-Headers looked a bit more humanoid than the Torsos, humans found them more acceptable. As a result, only the Bi-Headers are allowed in New Boston, while the Torsos must stay outside on the Moon surface. Humans found the Moonies to be great collaborators on scientific projects, using their unique way of thinking to help advance technology. However, though both sets of Moonies are equally intelligent, only the Bi-Headers are allowed to work with humans in an academic capacity.

Though we now see many of the technological advances described above as either impossible , impractical , or undesirable, this is the world of Atomic Sam , where the illogical nature of the environment is part of its charm . On the other hand, while this future contains many advances we see as impossible today, it also doesn t include a lot of the advances we take for granted today. For example, in this future people have no idea what a personal computer is, and in turn, computer games surely don t exist. Though television exists, it is still on a tiny television screen and is vastly inferior to a movie theater experience. While in some ways the world of the twenty-first century in Atomic Sam is more technologically advanced than 1990s America, in other key ways it is certainly less advanced, giving it a unique primitive future look.


The player controls the game s namesake, Atomic Sam. A normal though precocious boy ten years of age, Sam returns from school one day to find his apartment home ransacked and his parents mysteriously missing. Donning the atomic- powered rocket-pack given to him by his parents for his birthday, Sam renames himself Atomic Sam and vows to venture through Gargantuopolis to find his parents.


Following this brief introductory cut-scene, the player gains control of Sam inside his parents apartment. Here the player will be able to follow the instructions given to him by the Instructobot that came with his rocket-pack. These instructions will teach the player how to effectively control Sam. The player will also be able to skip by that section and proceed out into the city, trying to get to his parents office deep in the city.

Gargantuopolis is a mammoth city of the future, with towering buildings creating something of a sense of claustrophobia, and Sam s rocket-pack is unable to fly him over their tops. Traveling through the city, Sam is attacked by a great variety of robots that try to prevent him from discovering what has happened to his parents. Where these robots came from and why they are trying to subdue Sam remains a mystery at this point in the game.

Sam s parents are atomic scientists at Zeffir Zoom ” a company that works at harnessing atomic energy for increasingly fast modes of transportation. Upon reaching his parents office at Zeffir Zoom s main research complex, a cut-scene will take over, showing Sam finding a hastily written note left by his parents proclaiming, Someone has to check on Sam! Along with the note is a fragment of a wax cylinder used for voice recording. Since the cylinder is incomplete, Sam is unable to play it back at this point.

The Electric Priestess Bubble Home

Distraught at having failed to find anything out about his parents disappearance, Sam is suddenly approached by a friendly robot who quickly leads him to a nearby building. Here Sam takes the elevator to the top floor, where he meets a mysterious woman who calls herself the Electric Priestess. Quite a mysterious figure, the Electric Priestess lives alone in a sphere-like bubble home dwelling atop a high skyscraper. The ceiling of this bubble home is entirely glass, providing a breathtaking view of the surrounding city. In the home are numerous large steel doors, which lead to various forms of transportation at the Priestess disposal.

The Priestess explains to Sam that she knows of his parents disappearance, and offers to help him. At this point in the story, why the Electric Priestess is helping Sam is still unclear, but she seems quite concerned for his well-being. On hearing of Sam s concern about his parents she offers to help by guiding him to the other fragments of the wax cylinder. She offers Sam transportation to three different locations where she believes he may find more information about his parents and other fragments of the cylinder. She also gives Sam a miniature radio, which he can hook on to his ear and which will allow him to stay in contact with her.

The player will now regain control and have a choice of navigating Sam through any of three doors that will lead to transportation to the middle three sections of the game: Benthos, Harmony, and New Boston. The player can play these areas in whichever order she chooses, though she must complete all of them before proceeding to the final area, the Ikairus. The Priestess will be happy to provide Sam with some background information about any of the areas before he goes there. Once the player selects one of the doorways, a brief cut-scene of Sam being transported there will follow, and then the player will regain control in the new area.


First is Benthos, the city beneath the sea. The Electric Priestess sends Sam on her private, robot-operated auto-gyro to the undersea monorail that leads to Benthos. Benthos population is made up primarily of two classes of people: undersea researchers and visual artists. The latter group mostly relocated to Benthos because of the solitary, remote lifestyle it provides. Benthos is a domed city, into which oxygen is pumped via ducts that float on the ocean s surface many miles above. Because of the low height of the dome, Benthos consists of smaller buildings than the megaskyscrapers found in the surface cities. Scattered throughout the city are many sculptures that have been created by the artists who live there; the work is of amorphous, abstract, yet streamlined forms, many resembling space age versions of Picasso s sculpture work.

The Priestess informed Sam that his parents kept a private lab in Benthos, and Sam will set out across the city to look for it. As in Gargantuopolis, Sam will be waylaid by numerous mechanized adversaries who try to prevent him from reaching his parents lab. Combat in Benthos will have less to do with flying to great heights as it did in Gargantuopolis, since the dome prevents anyone from flying too high. Flight will still be the key to fast maneuvering and effectively battling the robotic creatures Sam must defeat at every turn. In Benthos, Sam soon meets the flying girl Xeraphina, who will help him find his parents and tells him about Benthos.

Finally, Sam will make it to his parents lab, a small office full of his parents equipment and with a number of pictures of Sam on the walls. Once Sam reaches the office a cut-scene takes over to show Sam discovering another fragment of the important wax cylinder his parents made before they disappeared. With it in hand, Sam will get back on the monorail and make his way back to the Electric Priestess home, where he can proceed to the next area.


From the Priestess home, one of the doors will lead Sam to her private zeppelin that will take the player to Harmony. A good distance from Gargantuopolis, Harmony is a special planned community that includes both large green parks and industrial, metropolitan areas. Harmony is the city where most of the country s robots are built, and here the robot inhabitants greatly outnumber the humans. In Harmony, Sam will need to learn to differentiate between friendly robot natives and the more vicious adversaries who continue to try to stop his quest for his parents.

In Harmony, Sam will meet Scrap, a super-friendly robot who befriends Sam and helps him battle the robots who would block his process. Sam also hopes to find Ike, the old robot assistant of his parents. The Electric Priestess explains that Ike went to Harmony to retire among his own kind, and Scrap helps lead Sam to the senior robot.

However, on finding Ike, it turns out that the aged robot s memory has been damaged, leaving him with only two state-sanctioned options: be turned off forever or have a new head attached. Opting for the latter, Ike is soon to have a replacement head put on, a common procedure. But Scrap is afraid Ike will lose his memory of Sam s parents, since memories are often lost in the head-replacement procedures. Scrap suggests they try to find an underground robot doctor, a fellow robot who works in secret to repair old robots, thereby saving their minds and memories from the junk pile.

Sam and Scrap will need to travel across more of Harmony to locate this robot doctor,-and then lead him back to Ike. They eventually find one who is willing, a massive robot named Tool who agrees to do the necessary work. Of course, while traveling through Harmony, the player will still have to face ill-intentioned robots at every turn.

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Once Tool is brought to Ike, a cut-scene takes over as Tool performs the procedure to restore the old robot s memory. Tool is successful, and Ike now remembers the wax cylinder fragment Sam s parents sent to him and will pass it on to Sam. With another piece of the puzzle in hand, Sam can board the Priestess zeppelin and return to her bubble home.

New Boston

Finally Sam will be able to travel to New Boston, the Moon colony. Sent there on the Electric Priestess private rocket, Sam will encounter the friendly extraterrestrials known by Earthlings as Moonies.

On some of their research projects, Sam s parents had worked with one of the Torso Moonies, a fellow by the name of Dulo. It is this Moonie Sam must find, since the Electric Priestess suspects that he has another piece of the wax cylinder. New Boston itself is another domed city ” like Benthos ” and its inhabitants are able to live much as they do on Earth. Earth-like gravity is maintained inside the dome, and a device called an Atmospherator generates breathable air for all the inhabitants. Some Bi-Header Moonies live inside New Boston, assisting with research projects.

When Sam inquires about Dulo, he will be told that Dulo, as a Torso Moonie, is not allowed inside the Moon colony, so Sam will have to acquire a space suit and go out onto the Moon s surface to find him. Shortly after going out onto the surface, Sam will meet Dulo. Dulo explains that, as a Torso Moonie, he was not able to work with humans. Sam s parents, however, noticed that Dulo had some special talents in their field of research, and as a result were willing to leave New Boston and travel to Dulo s home on the Moon s surface.

Dulo says that, yes, he too has a piece of the wax cylinder, but has stored it in his home, a good distance from the dome. Sam will go with Dulo to get the cylinder. Of course, throughout New Boston as well as on the surface of the Moon, more robotic adversaries will try to stop Atomic Sam from achieving his goals. Like Xeraphina and Scrap, Dulo will work with Sam in defeating the adversaries they encounter on the surface, helping to incapacitate the robotic nuisances. Once Sam reaches Dulo s home he will be able to get the fragment of the wax cylinder from him. Sam must then fight his way back to New Boston and return to Earth from there.

Return to the Electric Priestess Bubble Home

After Sam has completed each of the three areas, he will have collected all of the fragments of the cylinder he thinks he needs and will return to the Electric Priestess bubble home. In a cut-scene, the Electric Priestess says that she is most impressed with Sam s work in recovering all the fragments of the cylinder. Unfortunately, when Sam tries to put it together, he finds that one piece is still missing. The Priestess then reveals that she has the final piece, with which Sam can fully assemble the complete cylinder.

Fortunately, the Priestess has a machine with which to play back the cylinder. On the cylinder Sam s parents explain the work they had been researching , and how it led them into conflict with Max Zeffir, the owner of their company, Zeffir Zoom, and the man who has abducted them. Sam hears his parents explaining that in their work for Zeffir Zoom they discovered a dangerous flaw in one of Zeffir s new monorail systems, something that would mean huge losses for the company in order to successfully redesign. Unfortunately, they relate, Max Zeffir himself became aware of the problem but refused to have it fixed, and needed to silence them so the monorail system could go ahead without delay.

With the cylinder s playback complete, the Electric Priestess reveals that, in fact, she is Zeffir s sister. She was the original head scientist for Zeffir Zeppelins, and lost her leg many years ago in a zeppelin accident , which she blames on Zeffir s cost-cutting. She suspected all along that Zeffir was behind Sam s parents disappearance, but felt she must have proof before she could reveal her suspicions to Sam. In fact, she explains, she has been a friend of Sam s parents for some time, and when they started to fear that they would be caught by Max Zeffir, they broke up the evidence, in the form of the wax cylinder, and scattered the pieces, putting one in their apartment, one in their office in Benthos, and mailing the remaining pieces to Ike, Dulo, and the Electric Priestess herself. The Priestess now concludes with certainty that it has been Zeffir sending robot minions to try to stop Sam from discovering the truth about his parents.

The Ikairus

His parents, the Electric Priestess reveals, are most likely being held captive aboard Zeffir s atomic-powered flying fortress the Ikairus. A constantly airborne , mammoth craft ” its atomic power allowing it to fly indefinitely ” the flying fortress is Zeffir s pride and joy, and is also where he resides. Kept aloft by some eighty propeller engines, the craft looks like a gigantic flying wing, and is large enough for other aircraft to land on.

The Priestess again lends Sam her private auto-gyro, which flies him to the Ikairus. On board the flying fortress Sam will have to battle still more robots in addition to the very challenging Merciless Mercenaries. The battles on the Ikairus take place in much more small and confined spaces, representing the corridors of the ship, and the player will need to adjust his fighting style accordingly . Finally, Sam will be able to confront the quite insane Zeffir. Zeffir not only has Sam s parents held captive, but he has also captured Xeraphina, Scrap, and Dulo. While Sam and Zeffir battle, Zeffir brags of what he will do to Sam s friends once he has defeated Sam. Finally managing to subdue Zeffir, Sam will at last be reunited with his parents, who are quite glad they gave him the atomic rocket-pack for his birthday.

Game Design Theory and Practice
Game Design: Theory and Practice (2nd Edition) (Wordware Game Developers Library)
ISBN: 1556229127
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 189

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