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Retrospective: Soldner: Secret Wars

You say bugs. I say gaming jazz.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Soldner never, ever disappoints. There are many games that you can rely on for offering you a fun time. But there is none other (that I've encountered) that provides so much endless, improvised hilarity. It is, without question, the funniest game ever made.

There have been many patches of the game over the last few years. Many many patches. I think the total stands at approximately 450,000. What they all have in common is they don't fix what people wrongly interpret to be mistakes.

However, I'm a purist, and as such I desire the game in its purest form. (Homonyms equal truth.) This week I have been playing the original, untouched Soldner. Soldner as the developers originally intended, multiple companies and fan groups started meddling with perfection.

And what perfection. The game, which is probably meant to be played multiplayer, offers a single-player campaign that has retrospectively been described as "training". This is a lie. It is the single-player game which shines most brightly. It's the single-player game of the unpatched version of Soldner about which I speak today.

I'm camouflaged for my mission in the children's adventure playground.

You play as a soldier. Your mission is to shot at some other soldiers, then rescue hostages, or maybe blow up a fuel tank. Sure, this makes more sense in multiplayer, but tough.

Having picked a mission from the list, you are deposited between three magic boxes that provide you with weapons, cars and helicopters and a compass point to aim for. With all this in place, the game begins to improvise.

Because why should an object exist in the world? Really, seriously, think about it. What universal law states that an object has to continue existing? Or continue to exist in the space it currently occupies? So when the bonnet of my jeep clips the side of a fuel container, I see no reason why it shouldn't pop out of existence.

This is not my favourite fuel tank popping out of existence story Soldner has provided. I remember a few years ago playing it, driving to a house in which a target was held, with a large fuel container out front. There were two enemy tanks, which on seeing my arrival sprang into action. One started driving around the house in a peculiarly elliptical orbit, while the other tested the strength of the external wall of the building by repeatedly ramming into it.

Action! Fire! Tanks that explode like Hot Wheels cars!

After it blew itself up the orbiting tank's trajectory took into its path the fuel tank, causing it to crash directly into it. There was some sort of pop, and then in their place sat a Jeep, driven by a man in a red beret.

This is like being given a cuddle by God.

Everyone must have their own favourite thing about Soldner, and mine is the way buildings explode. And don't explode.

As we all know, both wooden and brick buildings, when tapped by any object, let out an almighty explosion. They don't actually blow up, obviously. That would be ludicrous.