Into the Eagle’s Nest (C64)

One man. Three hostages. Ninety-nine bullets. Untold riches. An infinite number of expendable Nazis. Welcome to Into the Eagle’s Nest.

Gauntlet, the classic arcade game released by Atari back in 1985, quickly inspired multiple clones both in arcades and at home on both consoles and home computers. Knock-offs such as Alien Syndrome (Sega, 1986), Druid (Firebird, 1986) and Demon Stalkers (Electronic Arts, 1987) copied the top-down maze format of Gauntlet and competed directly against licensed Gauntlet ports in the home market. While most of these Gauntlet clones took place in fantastic, magical settings, Into the Eagle’s Nest dropped players into World War II.

Presumably inspired by (at least in name) the classic World War II film “Where Eagles Dare” starring Clint Eastwood, Into the Eagle’s Nest places you in the heart of of the Eagle’s Nest, a Nazi fortress full of treasure, danger, and, well, Nazis. Your orders, according to the game’s manual, are to penetrate the Eagle’s Nest, rescue three allied captives before they are killed, destroy the Eagle’s Nest using hidden caches of explosives, and save as many stolen art treasures from destruction as possible.

To those who have played Gauntlet, the game’s layout should seem familiar. An overhead view of the Eagle’s Nest appears on the left, while a running inventory and status of your keys, ammo, health, and score are displayed vertically along the right hand side. A few differences between Gauntlet and Into the Eagle’s Nest are immediately noticeable. One, Into the Eagle’s Nest is a single-player game, so there will be no help for you. And two, the game’s graphics are much larger than Gauntlet’s. This design choice allows for more detailed graphics, but also means players are not able to see much of the game’s map at any given time (your view is limited to approximately 8×8 game tiles).

The game mechanics of Into the Eagle’s Nest should also seem familiar to Gauntlet veterans. Players will need to collect keys to open doors, collect first aid and food for health, and treasure (jewels, paintings, and vases) for score. Each level also contains elevator, wooden doors (which can be shot open), dynamite (boom!), and boxes of ammo. You’ll need the ammo to shoot and kill the hoards of Nazis, who are more than happy to return the favor. They’re not particularly bright, but there are lots and lots of them to deal with. The game is made more difficult by the fact that all bullets are invisible.

The ultimate goal of the game is to find all three allied prisoners and lead them to safety. Once your cohorts have been moved from harm’s way, you can complete the game’s final mission by using explosives and blowing the Eagle’s Nest sky high. If so are somehow able to do this, you’ll just start over in another, more difficult Eagle’s Nest. That doesn’t even make any sense. It would be like Darth Vader telling the Rebellion, “Oh yeah? Too bad for you I had ANOTHER Death Star!” And just how many stolen pieces of artwork were the Germans hiding in World War II? I mean, seriously; the Eagle’s Nest has more art than the Louvre!

As far as Nazi-killing games go, Into the Eagle’s Nest closes the gap between the original Castle Wolfenstein (Muse, 1981) and Wolfenstein 3D (id Software, 1992). Although it’s a difficult game, it’s a fun one to play. Into the Eagle’s Nest was released for most major 8-Bit computers including the Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Atari, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum, as well as a few 16-Bit platforms including the Amiga, Atari ST, and DOS.

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