chaos.jpgThis is not to be confused with the fan favorite PC and Dreamcast game Soldier of Fortune. Soldiers of Fortune is the name given to the USA Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis release of the Amiga cult hit The Chaos Engine, which was developed and published by UK developers The Bitmap Brothers. It was also ported to the RISC OS, the Amiga CD32, and the Atari ST. Soldiers of Fortune is a 2-player top-down shooter in the vein of Ikari Warriors with a few elements borrowed from Gauntlet, and some alternate history science fiction thrown in for good measure.

In a steampunk version of Victorian-era Britain, inventor Baron Fortesque invents a device called the Chaos Engine, which soon proceeds to corrupt the countryside, unleashing strange creatures and monsters. Six nameless mercenaries are hired to stop the madness, and hopefully make a good profit off of it in the process. There is the Navvie, the Scientist (who is known as the Preacher in the UK versions), the Mercenary, the Thug, the Brigand, and the Gentleman, each of which has their own weapon, stats, abilities, and special attacks. The co-op nature of the game is emphasized, as when playing in 1-player mode, you select an AI-controlled partner to back you up. There are 16 levels across 4 worlds, and the game offers a good challenge. You travel around each world shooting monsters and activating the nodes. There are several weapons and items to be found, and players can spend the money they earn in each level to upgrade their characters and weaponry.

While its difficulty may turn off some players, fans of top down blast-a-thons will enjoy this game. While the company is still around and handling several of the licenses, it remains to be seen if this game will be re-released on the Wii virtual console. There was a sequel for various UK Amiga systems, but its development was rushed and the game had a mediocre reception due to it being unfinished and it only being a competitive game. Time will tell if this game will be revisited in any way, so be prepared to do some hunting if you want to find the original.