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The Nine Lives of Secret Agent Kat is one of the most obscure and underrated shareware adventure games of all time. Designed by Bill Fisher, designer of The Last Half of Darkness, Nine Lives uses a tweaked version of the same game engine. The plot is simple: you control a party of 4 secret agents, who must infiltrate a super-secret lab to steal a super-secret document (duh). Despite this typical espionage plot, Nine Lives is full of interesting plot twists and excellent atmosphere that Last Half of Darkness fans will enjoy.
Gameplay is similar to Last Half, but with some significant enhancements. The screen is still divided into four major sections: scene graphics, list of exits, action menu, and a description box. This time, icons have replaced action words in the menu, and pictures of your four agents are displayed at the bottom along with what they are holding. Most puzzles, as one can expect from an espionage game, involve the use of high-tech gadgetry and your agents' abilities. You can call up the HQ for some hints on what to do next, and combine some inventory items together. Agent Kat is the name of the team's leader, who must be kept alive at all costs to continue the game. Each agent has a "health bar" similar to RPG titles, and they will die if the health bar goes to zero (they can be wounded by enemy bullets, etc.).
With an interesting blend of RPG and adventure elements, some solid puzzles, and a high play value, The Nine Lives of Agent Kat is well worth a look for anyone looking for a fun, unassuming spy adventure. It certainly does not live up to Last Half of Darkness in terms of atmosphere or plot, but it has plenty of charm all its own, especially considering the shareware status.
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Nine Lives of Secret Agent Kat, The screenshot
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