Title: After a Chumbawamba track, many years before "Tubthumping" catapulted them to highly-implausible national fame. Widely (and often unfairly) derided in the music press for po-faced agit-propping, the band accrued a certain amount of kudos for "Timebomb" and its cute, catchy refrain. At which point, obviously, they huffily pointed out that it was actually "Ticking ticking timebomb", and everyone went back to taking the piss out of them. The humourless Commies.


Title: Swiped from a phonetically-spelt Iain M Banks sci-fi novel ("fearsome engine") to signify the troopers' return to the evil aliens' mothership. Banks' sci-fi novels never reached the heights of his "normal" books for me, but he had a great way with a spaceship name.

Mission info: This quiet, maze-like level was supposed to convey the troopers regaining an element of surprise as they beamed back to a quiet corner of the mothership, and picked off enemies from the high vantage points of the ramparts. The stage was designed to reward players who realised that you could blow up the generator doors by shooting at them from the ramparts (presumably the shockwave doing the damage), rather than going down onto the floor and tackling them head-on. The novella would have offered a clue about this. Doing so with the first door (at bottom left) provided an easy route to the box of grenades which were necessary to deal with the nasty pair of turrets in the right-hand corners.

Background: After CF2 came out, Sensible supremo Jon "Jops" Hare opined to me that a handful of the levels were slightly too stingy in giving the player enough grenades/rockets with which to destroy all the "armoured" enemies (ie turrets, tanks and generator doors). I'd designed it that way on purpose (rockets and grenades were to be precious resources, not for throwing away lazily on normal enemies), but this is a stage where with hindsight I think he had a point. It's also one of only a few really big, sprawling levels in the sequel. I didn't enjoy those in the original game, so put as few in CF2 as I could get away with without turning it into Wario Ware. (Not that I'd have known it was Wario Ware I was turning it into at the time, of course.)


Title: From a Jesus And Mary Chain song, as a warning to the player that there was a rocket-firing alien around every corner in the zig-zagging level.

Mission info: After the slow, methodical nature of the previous stage, this one was meant to be short and explosive. The best plan, as often with rocket-heavy missions, was to take a single trooper and charge headlong for the end, firing all the way.

Background: I wanted this one to have a kind of swaying, downhill-skier rhythm. 60-odd levels of the same game, with a very small number of game elements to play with, is quite a lot to have to design on your own. So I mixed the levels up as much as possible, as much to keep myself entertained as anyone else. When you're slogging through levels over and over again during testing - nearly all of Sensible's testing was done in-house by the team themselves - the last thing you want is to have to play two long, laborious levels in a row.


Title: Reservoir Dogs

Mission info: First appearance of an enemy vehicle, the alien version of the jeep. Meant as an easy introduction, since at the bottom left there's an alien "conference area" where your troopers can hide in complete safety and lob a grenade over a wall to destroy the jeep without its ever being able to charge at them and run them down. Again, the stage name is intended to provide a clue, since the jeep is effectively trapped in the central area of the section, but it more obviously refers to two aliens stuck in a walled-off enclosure in the middle of the stage, there to lure the player into wasting a precious grenade (which can't be afforded in this level - the troopers have to lure an alien rocket-man into blowing up one of the generator doors as it is).

Background: The actual way to kill them is to take advantage of the slightly curious way the game treated gunfire across different heights, effectively shooting "through" surrounding walls of less than a certain thickness. The nominal justification for this "feature" of the CF engine, had anyone asked, was either arcing fire, cracks/bulletholes in the wall, or ricochets off buttresses, ramparts etc - I forget which. Maybe all three.


Title: Possibly from, or at least inspired by, brilliant arcade Robotron sequel Smash TV.

Mission info: This pretty easy stage is notable only for the first appearance of the alien "tank", which took the form of a big Dalek-style robot with a gun-turret head. Again, the appearance of a new device was intended to give the player an easy introduction - the Dalek tank will, if encouraged by careful trooper positioning, blow itself up by shooting against the wall in the screenshot above without the troopers ever crossing its line of fire.

Background: The entire stage, in fact, is meant mostly to plant the idea in the player's head of getting enemies to blow themselves and each other up, being purposely littered with such opportunities. Some of the game's later stages see such actions becoming more or less a necessity, so I wanted to get players used to the notion. Think of it as a tutorial level, except a quarter of the way through the game and less patronising.

The design of the "tank", while a handy way to save graphics space, was also intended to be an element tying the game's various settings together - the idea being that the aliens, while interfering with time by giving the troopers' opponents in the various worlds unnaturally-advanced weaponry, would design that weaponry in keeping with their own style. Hence, gun turrets also resembled mechanical dragon's heads and so on. Unfortunately, that was another theory somewhat undermined by the canning of the explanatory novella.


MISSION 8 - 1 2 X U

Title: After a classic punk single by Wire, and relevant only - as far as I can remember - to the fact that the mission has two stages, both of which are almost as short and snappy as the song.


Title: Probably my favourite stage title, this one, as it works on more than one level. The name comes from a particularly obscure Jesus And Mary Chain b-side - the single version of "Head On" came out as four different 7" vinyl releases, each with a different b-side, which could be collected into a box set. "Terminal Beach" was the best of the songs, and the name was used to introduce the desert levels' equivalent of water, in the shape of huge slicks of pitch-black oil. This was a depiction inspired by the destruction wrought by retreating Iraqi armies in Kuwait during the first Gulf War, as they blew up much of Kuwait's vital petroleum industry (including many oil terminals - geddit?), causing massive economic and environmental damage. I loved the topicality (at the time) of the reference in relation to the game's plot, and also the natural sense of revulsion induced by having to reluctantly send the troopers wading into this filthy, toxic goop.

Mission info: The level itself is short and straightforward and meant to be pretty easy, albeit that it's liberally strewn with mines. As compensation, though, the same mines can wreak cathartic havoc on enemy troops and buildings when exploded with gunfire. The river of oil is pretty wide, though, so it can be a good idea to split your troopers up to make sure there's always some covering fire while you're wading.

Background: One of the other alternative b-sides to "Head On" was "In The Black".


Title: The Israeli army's favourite handgun, lionised in many movies of the era.

Mission info: This, on the other hand, was pretty mean, but I like it. As soon as the level starts, a huge flock of birds (hence the title) fly directly overhead, distracting the player from the rather more pressing matter of a massive tank just a few yards down a narrow street from the troopers. Yep, it's another "panic" level, and if the troopers aren't off the mark very quickly to collect the crate of rockets near the tank, they'll be wiped out in a blink. Not being completely heartless, I made the player's squad comprise only two troopers, so that lives wouldn't be lost due to the "trail" effect (since there was no time for the player to split off a sub-squad). The rockets are actually useless for taking out the tank (they're only for destroying the generator doors), but there's a player turret (making its first appearance in CF2) to the top right corner of the level that'll do the job nicely. Failing that, it's not too tough to get the tank to blow itself up in such a confined space.

Background: Like most of the "panic" levels, "Desert Eagles" was designed to be relatively easy once you survived the frantic beginning. (Doubly so in this case, because all the birds used up a lot of the sprites - the CF engine could only draw so many objects in a level, and a whole flock of birds would have taken up about half the level's allotted total.)



Title: Named after another early song by The Wedding Present. The title came about because this mission featured the full complement of player vehicle types in succession - choppers, jeeps and tanks - and also added a whole new kind of level in the shape of the hostage-rescuing mission.


Title: It rhymes.

Mission info: First appearance of an enemy helicopter. In keeping with the notion of introducing new elements gradually, the chopper here is the harmless transport model, and the grenades needed to destroy it are nearby. (CF novices note - just like in real life, you can only destroy a helicopter with grenades when it's on the ground.) But also in keeping with the game's underlying design of having the player always on their toes, the rest of the level is evil, with the player relentlessly bombarded with rockets and grenades in areas almost bereft of cover. It's time to hide in a corner, separate off another heroic single trooper and send him off on a lung-bursting VC mission.

Background: Alert viewers may have perceptively surmised that by now, we knew there wasn't going to be a plot novella, so there was little point in attempting to logically explain the transitions between settings any more. Therefore, there's no obvious reason why our heroes have been in the desert for the last two levels, having previously roamed an alien mothership, nor has any ostensible method of transport been provided for the move. We just had to hope that by this far in, players had either been sufficiently convinced, or absorbed in the game, or just suspended their disbelief, not to be fretting about the lack of a coherent plot. But one existed in my head, and you'll be hearing it as this feature goes on ("And on and on and on, man" - Waldo 'D.R.' Dobbs).


Title: Named after a brilliant Roald Dahl short story from a "Tales Of The Unexpected" compilation, which to my shame I largely stole once for a school essay. I've had a guilty horror of all forms of plagiarism since.

Mission info: The "pool" of the title, though, refers to a "car pool" - the troopers find themselves in a vehicle compound, beside the first appearance of the desert version of the player jeep. Unfortunately, in another "panic" start, there's also an enemy jeep heading straight for them. Getting in the player jeep will result in an explosion destroying both vehicles, the catastrophic nature of which only becomes clear a few steps further in, when the hapless troopers encounter several more jeeps and an enemy tank for good measure.

This is the most evilly obtuse of all the "panic" missions - the solution requires such lateral thinking that when I came to write this guide I'd forgotten it myself, and cursed my former self repeatedly as I got blown up time and again. The answer, which I was terribly proud of at the time, is to use one of your rockets to immediately blow up the space just in front of the troopers, in the jeep's path. (You'll need to hit Space to switch from grenades, there isn't time to select with the mouse. You can do it with grenades, but it's a lot harder.) The jeep will be taken out in the resulting explosion, leaving the player plenty of time to ponder the rest of the stage in a thoughtful and leisurely way.

Background:  This stage proved me right about one thing. I'd lobbied very hard to include in the manual a note saying that there were no levels where you HAD to sacrifice any men to survive, this being a core principle of the design. Virgin's producer on the game, Pete "Hicky" Hickman, however, insisted (for reasons which I'm sure were arcane at the time, and which I can't for the life of me remember now) on not doing so.

When it came time to do Amiga Power's playing guide to the game, AP's CF2 aficionado Cam Winstanley concluded that the only way to beat this level was send one of your troops on a suicide mission at the start, which annoyed the heck out of me. (Annoyed at Hicky, that is, not Cam. You can't really be angry at Cam - not only was it the game's sneakiest level, and not only is he an extremely personable chap who'd never intentionally cause offence, he's also 6'5" and built like a Belfast police station.)


Title: The cynical description of the deaths of non-combatants, first heard in the 1991 Gulf War. Our name's Sensible Software, goodnight.

Mission info: The title of this level provides a warning to the trigger-happy player that it sees the introduction of innocent civilians, and also of the first player tank. Wandering around the stage aimlessly, blowing one of these guys away - or letting the enemy do it - results in instant failure of the level. Annoyingly, though, the cheeky monkeys occasionally throw lethal stones at your poor troopers -  perhaps they resent the occupying presence of a "liberating" army, eh? - and should they kill each other with those same stones, you still lose. Also, the level's road is mined, necessitating gunfire to clear your path. It's a tense, fraught level, with very little enemy activity - a deliberate change of pace after the frenetic chase action of its predecessor - and the only thing to do is pick your way carefully to the top, clearing mines as you go, then creep back down delicately in your tank and blow away the enemy generator at the bottom.

Background: Lots of people hated the "Protect Civilians" missions, but I liked them. I enjoyed the fact that they were slow and quiet, and you had to creep around step-by-step rather than charging in with all guns blazing. (Hey, they were practically a predecessor of FPS stealth games.) It was true there was a slight element of randomness, but it's not as if the player was penalised because of it - if you failed a level due to a civilian death, after all, at least you hadn't lost any of your troopers.

A few players moaned that this mission's civilians would sometimes walk suicidally right under your tank, but that was deliberate. These were, after all, resentful stone-throwing civilians - it was supposed to represent an act of political protest, like the suffragette Emily Davison throwing herself under the hooves of the King's horse, and I really liked the idea that the player, having at last got theirself in the all-powerful, invincible tank, would suddenly find themselves having to run away in panic from a tiny little guy armed only with stones. It was another attempt, in the absence of being able to add any new features to the game, to give the player something they weren't expecting.

Phase 4 - YOU CAN RUN

Title: A really obtuse clue, from the lyric of New Order's "State Of The Nation". It's so obtuse I'm actually too embarrassed to explain it here.

Mission info: With two stages still to go before the next save point, the player's nerves are probably a little on-edge by now, so a bomb-dropping enemy helicopter chasing them around a wide-open level also infested with rocket-launchers is just about the last thing they'll want to see. Luckily, it takes a few seconds to get off its mark, so quickly separating off a single soldier and scarpering towards the top of the level and its cache of rockets will bring positive results. Thankfully the stage lacks generator doors, so the troopers can either be liberal in using the rockets to take out the chopper, or save some to mop up the enemy launchers afterwards from a position of relative safety.

Background: Pleasingly, this was one of the levels that completely stumped Cam when he was writing AP's player guide, forcing him to phone up and ask how to do it. Clearly not a big New Order fan.


Title: From a line in an album track (either "Style" or "Rick James Style" - take your pick!) by the fleetingly-popular Lemonheads.

Mission info: This level introduces both the player chopper and the first hostage-rescuing mission, with the troopers charged with saving a poor unfortunate (who, had the plot still been in place by now, would have been in possession of vital information) about to be stoned to death by fundamentalist loonies guarded by enemy troops. The first task is to retrieve two crates of grenades from the top right corner, then use the "shockwave" method to blow up the two generator doors in the prison compound. After that the stage should be fairly plain sailing, though even with the hostage safe the unwary player should be careful of getting his helicopter blown up in the fenced-off section at the bottom left corner while clearing out the last clutch of enemy soldiers, leaving his trooper stranded behind the wire with no means of escape. With the important hostage rescued, the desert missions were complete.

Background: In a particularly memorable live Top Of The Pops performance of the Lemonheads' biggest hit, a cover of "Mrs Robinson", singer Evan Dando inexplicably performed the last verse of the song in the form of an uncannily good impersonation of Morrissey. I have it somewhere, I'll post it for download one day.



Title: After the pivotal moment in the Boo Radleys' majestic spinetingler "Barney… And Me". Interfering magazine idiot Colin The Publisher had stopped the quote from being used as Amiga Power's spine line not once but twice, for no reason other than that he personally didn't understand it, because he was a clueless, soulless bonehead who wouldn't know a good magazine if you shoved one up his arse and set it on fire. I used it here not only in defiance of that, but also in vague tribute to her appearance in TV movie "The Country Girl", which I'd happened to see around the time, but a smarter man might have saved it for one of the gangster levels in memory of her famous performance in "Bonnie And Clyde".


Title: The exploding livestock of indeterminate species (probably some sort of pig) which make their debut here give the level its moniker, courtesy of a brilliant barnstorming hoedown of a single by the deeply obscure US indie-cowboy band Guadalcanal Diary which was also uncertain about the  genetic lineage of its creatures ("Well, they look like cows / But they're water-buffalo!").

Mission info: A very simple mission, involving getting into a pen in the middle of the stage, collecting the grenades and then blowing up all the generator huts surrounding the pen. However, as the stage goes on, enemies pour out of the huts in numbers which will overwhelm the troopers if they waste a single moment. Some players like to stay within the pen after collecting the grenades, which reduces the number and directions of enemies attacking and provides some protection via the fence, but the randomness of which bullets do and don't get through the fence makes it a risky strategy.

Background:  One of CF2's "sound the alarm" levels, this one, where the longer the player took to complete the stage the exponentially harder it got - enemies simply generate faster than you can shoot them. If you're taking your time over the level, staying in the pen is definitely the safest option, but be sure to shoot all the exploding pigs.


Title: Trad. Probably a Marx Brothers movie or something, though.

Mission info: Another attempt to give the player a little tip with the level name, here. This is the first appearance of the player tank (here in the "motorised dragon" incarnation, down in the bottom-right corner of the map), in a tough level full of enemy tanks and gun turrets and a bunch of innocent civilians just itching to be blown up in the crossfire.

Background: The troopers are generously supplied with grenades and rockets, but the title was hinting at the fact that the best way to approach the level was with a single soldier, and that he might be employed in some kind of mounted capacity. It's a straightforward shootout, with the object being to carefully pick off the enemy emplacements and vehicles one at a time, and the trick being not to get the civilian huts (from which the inhabitants sensibly tend not to stray) between you and an enemy gun. The art of misdirection was a recurring theme in the design of CF2.



Title: I've completely forgotten.


Title: "Vegetable Man", originally by spaced-out hippy Syd Barrett, but familiar to me through a cover by - again - the Jesus And Mary Chain. (Hey, they're my all-time favourite band, okay?) Named thusly because there are so many vegetable patches. You've clearly interrupted some serious gardening here, and they're pissed off about it As for what made Syd so grumpy, I have no idea. Write us one we can whistle, little guy!

Mission info: This one's none too subtle, taking place on a single screen which, after a few seconds of peace and quiet, turns into an apocalyptic scene bursting with rockets, exploding buildings and hordes of enemy soldiers (the generator doors are set to maximum speed). It's the most extreme "panic" mission in the game, though giving the player only a single trooper makes it just about manageable without casualties, if you're really quick off the mark and accurate enough with your rocket fire to take out one or two of the enemy gun turrets before things get too mental. It's not a classic, but it gets you 15 extra troopers for clearing a whole mission in about 10 seconds, so don't complain too much.

Background: With the exception of the later alien planet levels, which were mostly created by competition winners, this is the only level of CF2 I didn't design myself. Programmer Julian "Jools" Jameson came up with it at the last minute when he couldn't fix some problems in the "proper" level. I'm pretty sure the map that got ditched and hastily replaced with this was one closely modelled after the maze in Pac-Man. I seem to recall vaguely that while it technically fitted within the CF map-size template, the way the game's perspective worked (for more on that, see the entry for Mission 14 Phase 1) made it impossible to actually get the troopers through it.



Title: From my favourite Oasis b-side, "Listen Up". Presumably all run together because there wasn't enough space otherwise, and without the apostrophe because it looks better that way. Bands were mucking around with odd punctuation at the time (see the previously-mentioned S*M*A*S*H, and Pulp's "F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E., and in particular the Manic Street Preachers' all-in-one-breath "Holy Bible" epic "IFWHITEAMERICATOLDTHETRUTHFORONEDAYIT'SWORLD
WOULDFALLAPART", for whose greengrocer's apostrophe WoS is not responsible
), so it felt in keeping with the zeitgeist. Um, anyway, the reason for the name is that all the levels in this mission (except the last one, for plot reasons explained below) featured a player squad of just a solitary trooper.


Title: From the Cure song, of course, because it's a big, sprawling, featureless level.

Mission info: This mission was something of a homage to the feel of the first CF (signified by the bleeding trooper corpse hanging from a tree near the top left of the map). There's nothing clever going on, just a single trooper alone in some woods, with medieval Viet Cong continually popping out of indestructable holes in the ground. The only way to stop them is to take out the generator buildings in the two upper corners, which when destroyed also halt the flow of enemies out of the holes.

Background: Designed to be a respite from the frenetic and brutal levels preceding it.


Title: Named after a song recorded by veteran shoegazing indie wimps The Pastels.

Mission info: One of my favourites, this. As mentioned earlier, CF2 had to be made with the existing CF engine, which meant I wasn't allowed to add any new features to the basic game structure at all. So in an attempt to make the sequel worthwhile as slightly more than just a data disk, I racked my brains trying to use the existing features in new and inventive ways. This level certainly fulfils that criterion. In a "panic" opening, the trooper is tempted to use his single rocket to take out the two enemy battering rams bearing down on him. However, the correct option is to dash straight for his own ram and set off at high speed around the oval-shaped level, because a few seconds after the start the medieval version of the enemy attack helicopter (a bomb-dropping witch in a magical bubble) starts to pursue him doggedly, inadvertently providing the player with some much-needed firepower.

Maintaining maximum speed around the level means that the bombs drop not on the player, but on the pursuing rams, and when all are destroyed the trooper can wait for the chopper to land and use his rocket to blow it up, completing the stage. As an extra evil twist, I added a third ram which the player would encounter at the end of his first "lap". (An alternative strategy is to wait until all three enemy rams are on your tail, then quickly jump out of yours and leg it, causing all four to be destroyed in the collision.)

Background: Looking back, I should perhaps have given the player an extra fraction of a second to jump into the battering ram at the start, but it can be done.


Title: Named after the only really good song ever written by the New Order/Smiths/Pet Shop Boys hybrid/spinoff/supergroup Electronic.

Mission info: Slowing the pace again after "Speedway Star", this hostage-rescuing mission features an indestructable but dim-witted damsel (she's an idiot! She lives in the country! Get it?) being held prisoner at the gates of a castle at the top left of the map. She'll only follow you slowly to the safety of the hospital tent when it seems safe to move (evidently she doesn't know she's indestructable), so the poor trooper has to constantly clear the area of enemies, take a few steps, wait for her to catch up (by which time more enemies have appeared) and repeat until she's safe. The wise player, therefore, clears out the rest of the map before going to the castle.

Background: I much preferred the medieval levels like this one which depicted settlements, rather than dark and gloomy woods - they had a lot more atmosphere. The damsels were supposed to represent the mothers of famous figures from Earth's past. By kidnapping them and preventing those people from ever being born, the aliens hoped to effect major changes in the direction of history and make the conquest of the planet easier by giving it a more compliant populace. Unfortunately, in the intervening time I've forgotten who the historical figures were. I think maybe this one was Wat Tyler.


Title: A reprise of Mission 2's title sees our lone trooper bemoan his solitary task. When writing this feature, I discovered that "Wish The Lads Were Here" (without the brackets of the Frankie version) is the title of a different, Oi!-type, tune recorded by various bands with alarmingly suspicious names like The Blackshirts, Skullhead and Pitbullfarm, on albums with worrying titles like "The Blackshirts Rise Again" and "Victory Or Valhalla". But on fearfully giving it a listen, it doesn't appear to have any neo-Nazi lyrics suggesting that Pakistanis should all go "home" or anything like that, so phew. (It seems to just be a catchy and slightly homoerotic anthem about going to the pub for a nice drink with some men.)

Mission info: But I took some pity on the little fella here, with a relatively easy mission providing lots of opportunities for going kill-crazy with his machine gun and no need for complicated thinking. The choice is whether to take out the chopper-bubble right at the start before it takes off, or to run hell-for-leather through the stage, letting it do the work of taking out the nasty rocket-launchers for you.

Background: On this and a couple of other levels, you'll find special weapons caches left behind in the wreckage of destroyed enemy installations, offering 50 rockets or grenades. I didn't actually know about the existence of these when I was designing the game (nobody mentioned them, and I'd given up on the original CF long before they appeared), so Jools just stuck them in at random. In this level, they're pretty much pointless.


Title: From an Echobelly song.

Mission info: This hostage-rescuing mission presented the player with a fairly easy rescue of the damsel (who, to save you exploring the whole of the fence maze, is located at the centre-left edge of the map), and then the slightly harder task of administering justice to those who had kidnapped her by blowing up all the generator huts and gun turrets positioned in a ring around the level. You have just enough grenades to achieve the task, but things can be made a little easier by tempting the gun turrets to blow up a couple of the huts for you. You'll need to have mastered the art of accurately chucking grenades on the run by this point, or the turrets will blow your trooper to bits as he winds his throwing arm up. It certainly would have helped if the stupid damsel would have pulled her weight.

Background: This is a bit of a cheap level, to be honest. I liked the fence maze, which reminded me of those "Which wobbly walk through the bushes is George Best's bottle of vodka hidden at the end of?" drawings in children's puzzle books, but it's really only there to waste the player's time. If you take the natural route of looking at the top first, then going clockwise, you'll have had to do a lot of fighting, and probably have lost your trooper and had to restart many times, before you actually find the damsel. I can't remember whose mother she was supposed to be either. Let's say, oh... Oliver Cromwell.


Title: Like the level itself, a mirror image of Mission 6 Phase 3.

Mission info: Oops. Alert WoS Forum viewers will recall this as the level I left a clever trick in entirely by accident. The cunning idea was that the player, without enough rockets and grenades to take out all of the lethal rocket turrets lining the opposite banks of the rivers, would have to cunningly sneak up to one, tempting its opposite number to shoot at it, then leg it away so as not to be blown up in the resulting turret-destroying explosion.

Background: Unfortunately, a small misunderstanding of the game's success conditions meant that players could simply load their squad (which, incidentally, was plotwise supposed to comprise the lone trooper and the damsel rescued from the previous level, now dressed as a soldier - someone had, indeed, given her a gun) into the battering ram and peg it at maximum speed to the end of the stage, then jump out onto the switch pads, immediately summoning the UFO and winning the level without having to shoot a single bad guy.



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