Pyro 2
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  • Strategy
  • 6/24/1989
  • 1
  • high score save
  • 1
  • $0.00
  • ?
  • Yes
10  |  THE Most Evil "Snake" Game You'll Ever Play...
Darryl B. , 11/27/2005 11:51:50 PM
Wow. It's really different how I came across this game in the first place, how I got back to it a decade or so later, and the game itself isn't exactly "normal" either.

I got introduced to Pyro 2 in 1989 or 1990 when I went over to a friend's that I had known from an online chat board (in my pre-internet days, with my whopping fast 1200 baud modem!). Me and several of his buddies watched some of Crocodile Dundee 2 on cable, had some dinner, and I got introduced to something called an Aussie Hawk (also known as an Aerobee, although I'm unsure of that spelling...they're like frisbees, except, with only a little bit of effort, you can easily whip them 20-50, if not a hundred yards! Even if you suck at frisbee throwing [like I do], they're still pretty awesome!).

And everyone was playing some freeware game called Pyro 2 on his computer.

Like everyone else, I got into it big time (it was so addicting), got the game from my friend to put onto MY computer (a whopping fast [not!] 286), played it for a while, then never played it again until recently...occasionally I would think about it here and there over the years, but that was about it.

So, at one point a few weeks ago, I added it to the Stage Select database, and figured that, if it ran too fast to be able to play it on my old 486, I should at least be able to get a snapshot of the title screen, as I had saved it onto a writable CD-ROM of mine years ago.

Well, I'll be damned if it ran fine on that 486 too...guess I was thinking about the jump from 486 games to the Pentium computers, which DO run way too fast to be able to play.

And I got re-addicted to it as well...AMAZING staying power for a game with near-awful, blocky ASCII graphics and all.

Pyro 2 is sort of a cross between those snake eating games (you know, where you control a snake [or a worm], eating onscreen things, and you grow and grow) and either a puzzle and/or strategy game. Obviously due to the name, it's one of THE most politically incorrect games ever, as you have to burn down as many floors in as many buildings as possible. No, don't dismiss it due to it being so revolting in concept (most of the buildings are empty), it's one of the few games out there that's very simple, yet can be very tough (what the hey, fire can be pretty unpredictable in real life anyway), yet still addicting as hell.

You start off every game in the main I. R. S. building (hah!), dragging your fuse behind you. You must set fire to as much as the floor(s) as possible. You'll start off empty-handed, but there are scattered gasoline cans to pick up along the floors, which you (represented as a square with a trail behind you) can only carry up to four cans (represented by blue squares on your body...or hat...or whatever it is you're wearing [more on this later]) at a time; if you try to pick up a fifth can, you'll automatically kick it over, spilling the gas (more on why this could be a very bad thing later).

The fuse is what decides the pace of a game: if you have to stop, turn around, and/or have to back track (heaven forbid on the latter) in the mazes of a floor, that will burn your fuse down quicker. There are a few ways to lengthen it, though, which is important, since you only get one life; get caught by a lit fuse, you burn your butt down to hell (where you probably belong anyway) and the game ends.

Lengthening your fuse defies all forms of logic, though -- but what the hey, it's a video game -- as there's several ways to do it: first off, you must have a gas can with you (holding down the Shift key as you pass over one will pick it up). You can come to a stop at a wall and press Enter, which will deposit the can's contents in a nice little square that doesn't expand (whatever; maybe these "gas squares" [as I call them] are left over from a Road Runner episode that has portable holes and all). Once the fuse catches up and the wall starts to burn, if there are any gas cans along the wall, if any of them blow up in really large explosions, that will slow down and lengthen your fuse (again, whatever!).

Another way to lengthen your fuse (but is the most dangerous) is to just spill a can in the direction of any other cans that are nearby (by pressing the spacebar). However, do it wrong (gas cannot travel over your fuse line, so make sure you back up enough to spill the gas behind you), and it could catch the wall on fire where the staircase is at the bottom of every screen, which is your exit, and if that catches on fire, you're usually dead meat, unless you have several potions handy (more on those later). However, survive through several buildings, and the gas spills become huge...too huge to be useful. So that strategy becomes null and void eventually too.

The game's difficulty ramps up nicely, since, in the beginning, you just have to figure out how to spread the gas to lengthen your fuse, keep an eye on where you're going (you could be heading for a dead end without realizing it at first), keep in mind ahead of time of how many gas cans are in your path and where you should dump whatever ones you have before you go over your limit and spill the others, etc. However, later there are also moving walls that can block your path if you cross them, if a gas can starts changing color, it's going to rupture all by itself (uh oh!), and some buildings aren't empty: in certain places around the world, a text message will appear on the left side of the screen, saying "a guard!", or whatever; if that person touches you, unless you use a potion, you're stunned (or something?) until your fuse catches up to you and burns your only life out of existence. People you could run into are the Pope, George Bush in the White House (Bush Sr., that is, which dates this game, along with Princess Di, who is now deceased), guards in various places, etc. Yes, it's an awful thought of them burning to death if they run into your fuse (but they'll steal your gas cans though, so maybe they deserved it?), but like I said, this is just all ASCII graphics here, they're just blocks. So no disgustingly real graphics for soccer moms and certain idiotic lawyers the world over to whine about, unlike certain games of today.

Speaking of which, the blocky graphics are crap -- but at least the author makes fun of this himself in the instructions demo, noting your bright "pink outfit"; heh -- although the S-shaped things representing your gas cans are cool, and even though blocky, fire is represented well in various colors, and the potions look cool as a clamped, fist-looking icon. The SOUND of fire burning is represented VERY well by the crackling and all, even through an old PC speaker. And sometimes the keyboard will screw you around, but the controls usually work pretty decently for the most part.

Helping you out, though, is a nice 10,000 point bonus for burning down an entire floor, and potions that will not only make you invincible for a few seconds in case you have to go through fire, but also to whatever person you might run into in the occasional building (which I only just now found this out recently, all these years later!). There are also a few alternate keys that you can use (other than the few I outlined), and even though Pyro 2 has no dedicated pause button, you get a pause in between every floor until you press a key (and with you being on a floor usually lasting 30 seconds or less until you're outta there, a pause key doesn't really matter here), and there's even a secret bonus level that I've yet to find; there's a hint in the demo screen, I just need to look into it.

This is truly an amazing game that can be played for years to come with some killer replay value. And for being *free*, you can't really beat that, on top of everything else.

I'd like to thank my online friend Dave -- aka as his old, online handle of "Moose" -- (whatever his last name is, and wherever he is now) from the old Rendezvous Houston BBS for introducing me to this amazing piece of freeware that's come back to (happily) haunt me all these years later so I can share (/bore!) everyone with nowadays. And for a game that can fit onto an old, 362K, 5" floppy to STILL have this staying power nowadays is truly amazing.

(Note: due to finding a few websites that actually mention this game nowadays -- along with being able to download a later version of it, like at [unfortunately, this version is harder, has a few different playing variables, and is VERY lacking in sound; what the heck happened?! :( ] -- most of them have a copyright date of 1990, with a slightly different title screen, as the "II" in Pyro II is slanted to the right. However, typing "Pyro2 -c" at the DOS prompt of my 486 computer shows the copyright date as to being 1989. So I have the earliest version of the game, it looks like. Ha ha. [The original Pyro was never released to the public domain.])

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