Special thanks to Cvlt of Osiris for access to this prototype.
Every so often Game-Rave.com takes a step outside the variants and long boxes to explore games that never made it to public hands, or at least in American gamers’ hands. Join in as Game-Rave explores legends and tales never told. In this exciting episode, Aeon Flux finally comes home to the PlayStation.
Aeon Flux started life as small, 2-minute animation shorts premiering on MTV’s Liquid Television. The episodes would grow in length till they become full 30-minute episodes in 1995. Starring the titled character of Aeon Flux, the show followed the secret agent as she infiltrated enemy strongholds run by her nemesis and sometimes lover Trevor Goodchild. The series was known for its interesting art style, use of mature themes like fetishes and the obvious graphic violence, while watching Aeon die in every episode…years before Kenny was doing it in South Park.
In the mid-nineties game developer Cryo Interactive got a hold of the publishing rights for the show just as it was leaving the air waves. At the time, their biggest claims to fame were the Sega CD game Dune and everyone’s favorite hosted game Mega Race. With their purchased IP in hand, Cryo got to work…and then lost the rights to it. Their work would not go unpublished however, but we’ll deal with that later.
What’s left of the game, at least that’s allowable in this prototype, is a surprisingly frank look at almost the entire Second Level of the game and it’s several sub-levels. The levels are not presented in proper order however, at least not in the way they are laid out in the level select screen. To make this as smooth a presentation as possible, I’ve stuck with the level select layout in organizing the pages and Let’s Play video.
Before jumping into the tour, let’s tackle the controls. Aeon is surprisingly versatile in her movement, but as you’ll see during the Let’s Play, most of it can be tossed aside if you just use her gun. She can shoot, jump, double jump, roll, dodge, and use grenades. Several puzzles play to her acrobatics, but they’re extremely fidgety here in the demo, so I used the No Collision option to by pass the frustration.
With controls out of the way, let’s talk Mission 2. Aeon’s objectives are to track down Trevor, or at least his intentions that are locked away in a giant prison. The investigation will take Aeon through several levels of the structure, including the standard cells, deluxe prison cells, a factory, and the darkly lit corridors of a waste facility.
Within the levels are several enemy types, just no Trevor to be found. Aeon’s journey will have her crossing paths with the cartoon’s original foot soldiers in red and green variety, security cameras, a terrifying scientist with a huge claw hand, his pets, higher ranking soldiers, and then mutants and zombie-like folk.
Once the prototype has been played through, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that in reality Aeon Flux was released as a full game to the general public. The bad news is it was only in Europe and is known as PAX Corpus. Re-skinned with Cryo’s own creations, PAX Corpus really is just Aeon Flux with swapped out characters and textures.
The game’s gotten some bad press through the ages, with good help hard to find. The fan written guide by Wade Clark on GAMEFAQS admits that the writer had to track down one of the dev team and get their actual dev notes from them to finish the guide, as the puzzles can be confusing and not very clear on what needs to be done.
Wade also gets a huge thank you from me, as without his guide this article would have been a lot shorter.
In the Superman video, I asked the question, “Did we lose something of value?” with the game not being released. That’s a hard question to answer here, because by all rights we did get Aeon Flux with the release of PAX Corpus, just with a different coat of paint. On one hand, I’d say yes, simply for the fact that it isn’t the original goal.
On the other hand, PAX Corpus confirms something that I realized half-way through doing the guided tour – there’s nothing really Aeon Flux in the prototype of Aeon Flux. Sure, there’s a character that looks like her, and there are enemies that look like her enemies, but the game failed to capture the feel of the source material.
Cryo was literally able to just swap in their own character with minimal level changes. Meaning that a final Aeon Flux edition would have just been the same generic areas that any character could walk around in. If you’re able to swap in any character and still have the same game, the original idea was never really followed through to begin with.
Which makes the prototype an amazing teaching tool to those looking how to create games based around licenses.
With that, I want to again thank the Cvlt of Osiris for the chance to bring the prototype to all of you, and best of all it will be publicly available. I’ve linked Wade Clark’s guide below as it will help you navigate the prototype in it’s own way.
PAX Corpus Guide on GameFAQs
PAX Corpus (PAL Europe Version Only) on Ebay.
Discussion and Overview
“Clean” Let’s Play
O = Jump
O, O = Roll
Direction + O, O = Double Jump
Back = Walk Backward
Back + O = Back Flip
Left = Rotate Left
Right = Rotate Right
X = Punch
X, X = Two Punch Combo
X, X, X = Two Punch and Then Kick Combo (Button can be held)
X = Next to a Computer Terminal Activates
Triangle = 2nd Weapon (Pistol Whip, Roll Grenade, Sticky Grenade)
Square = Fire Gun
Square Held = Aim reticle, can look around with D-Pad. If you start shooting, you’ll stay in this view until you stop.
Select = Inventory
L1 = First Person View / Look around with D-Pad
R1 = Hold with D-Pad to Run
R1 + X = Quick Kick
L2 = Crouch Lean Left (Can Press X to attack from this position)
R2 = Crouch Lean Right (Can Press X to attack from this position)
R2 + Down + X = Pick Up Item
Start = Pause
This is also a “Secret Menu”. You can turn collision and damage on or off, as well as turn on a little X / Y co-ordinate of where Aeon is in the level. There is also a Level Select, but it appears anything other than the 2nd Level and its sub-levels will crash the proto and lead to a black screen. Other choices will just shoot you back to the top.
Level Select Menu
“Select Your Mission”
Mission 1: …
Mission 2: The Prison
Level – 3. Scaph
This is where the chair from Trevor’s Office would lead you. Here is where one of the game’s boss fights appear. There is a slowly walking man with a huge blade on his hand, along with two altered yellow dogs.
The dogs need to be quickly taken down with the pistol. Once they’re out of the way, dealing with the main character is a bit of a chore. He needs to be shot in the back several times to finally succumb, but getting around him is annoying. Thanks to the demo having infinite ammo, there’s a much simpler way to kill him.
Once you make quick work of the dogs, walk slowly into the room until you trigger the boss’ walking animation, visible by keeping an eye on the red dot on your radar. Once he starts moving, roll grenade at him. If you hit him, he’ll stumble and fall, with his back showing to you. Unload the gun clip on him, and repeat this process about 5 or 6 times and he’ll finally crumble.
Once removed, you can walk into the now open lab room and notice the computer banks and isolation tank in the back. Here is where you would have talked to someone in the tank (Note the blue face and body) which would have then ended the level.
Level – 2. Mad Men
Is a dark, dilapidated and rusty area stocked with poisonous puddles and mutants. What’s supposed to happen is a glowing orb would guide you through the dark corridors, but it’s just not bright enough and seems to wander off into nowhere. Instead, we can jack up the brightness to finally see the walls of the level, and can use the bodies of our eliminated enemies as mile markers.
Traversing this stage simply requires one to find their way through, avoiding the radioactive puddles, and keeping the mutants at bay. Once you reach the end of the level, there is a stationary mutant who would have interreacted with the glowing orb, and sent you on your way. Turning to your right will reveal a destructible wall, which will then lead to an elevator. Activating it will cause the game to lock up.
Level – 1. Cave
You start next to a conveyor belt that leads to an incinerator. Blocking your path from getting into the furnace and out of it are dilapidated crates. You will need to use the sticky grenades to blow away the boxes. Once you’re inside the incinerator, use them on the boxes to your immediate right, and take that conveyer out.
Walking in introduces us to workers, so they can be ignored and the door entered. This is a hallway lined with boxes and several guards. If you drop a grenade at the base of the first box, a chain of explosions will tear through the boxes knocking out the guard, giving you time to run over an cap him. From here Aeon will need to clear the room, with a catch. There’s a small security camera in the corner of the interior room, and if it spots her, two guards will appear behind crates down the hall, and one more will run in from the side.
Once everyone has been removed, it’s time to explain what should have happened here. A column with a pair of sensors stands in the middle of the room; shooting specific sets would activate doors or adjust laser fences in the hallways. Here in the prototype, they don’t seem to work, so I use the No Clip option to walk us through the rest of the level.
From changing the first set of sensors, Aeon would run through the far-right rooms gathering items, which include some sort of meat or health pick-up, working her way back to the main room, with the lasers turning themselves off to allow safe passage. Once back to the main room, there would be a side room to acquire a quick power-up hidden in a corner. Now heading back down where the two crate guards were reveals laser traps. Activating the other pair of column sensors would have removed some of the beams, allowing Aeon to jump or roll past them.
The next hallway leads to a pair of conveyor rooms, reach with a terminal that turns off one of the crushers allowing passage. This sequence would have required double jumping the conveyors to reach the next door, but if you miss its instant death. Reaching the end of this level would introduce you to the glowing orb used in the Mad men level. This ends this area of the game.
Level 1. Jails 1 (Starting Point of the Demo)
This level is insanely big, and was originally designed to act as a timed door type stage. The jail is fairly symmetrical, and what would normally happen is that Aeon would reach a terminal that activates a door in one of the 4 quadrants. She would then need to haul ass to the area before the timer turns off locking the door. The process of unlock-and-run is then repeated till all the areas are explored, and entrance to the next level section obtained.
There are curious issues with the prototype that make the level a bit hard to maneuver, with the main problem being that while the terminal works, the doors don’t seem to. You can use the No-Collision option to peek inside the locked doors, and reach the other quadrants, but the left side of the prison has a curious special effects glitch.
If Aeon walks through the left side cafeteria, the lights will go out, and then stay out. It makes traversing the left half of the prison fairly hard, so it’s better to just no-clip to the area from the right side. There is another terminal in the middle of the prison, but it doesn’t seem to be programmed yet.
Level 2. Luxe Jails
Under normal circumstances, you would need to shoot the orange light that’s in the ceiling behind the laser grid, but here in the prototype your reticle disappears as you come near it, so it’s impossible to activate the rest of the level naturally. Using the no collision cheat, you can walk past the lasers to explore the rest of the level. These “offices” contain the science experiments of a crazy doctor, whose office just happens to be around the corner past a lot more laser beams.
The concept of this level was to create a prison riot, setting all the office folk free, and then taking down the terrible doctor. He follows the same dogs and giant razer fingers of the previously scientist, only this room is insanely small to work in.
Once all three of them have been defeated, you can work your way out of the area into another elevator, which takes you to the Jails level.
Alternately, there’s a small corridor that will activate some sort of red bug, that if you roll follow through a hole, takes you to the cave.
Level 3. Offfices [their typo]
Start in a room full of scientists, walk around, kill the two guards. Walk into elevator. This will bring you to a second Executioner’s area (Luxe Jail).
Level 3. Trevor’s [their typo]
You’ll start just outside a door, and then realize you’re in an office. There is a desk and chair surrounded by pillars. Once close enough, these pillars activate a laser grid surrounding the desk.
To get past it, you simply need to double jump to the desk from the point right before the lasers activate. In the final version, Aeon would sit in the chair and be lowered to the next level. Here in the prototype however, she’ll just spin infinitely.
Mission 3-1: The Base
Level 1a. Unknown
Level 1b. Unknown
Level 1c. Unknown
Level 1d. Unknown
Level 1e. Unknown
Level 1f. Unknown
Level 1g. Unknown
Level 1i. Unknown
Mission 3-2: Part 2
Level 2a. Unknown
Level 2b. Unknown
Level 2e. Unknown
Level 2f. Unknown
Level 2g. Unknown
Level 2i. Unknown
Mission 3-3: Part 3
Level 3a. Unknown
Mission 3-4: …
Mission 3.5: Demiurge
The Demiurge Level
Mission 4: The Pyramid (Name is blocked by HUD, Solved in GS Memory Editor)
Mission 5: The Ground (Name is blocked by HUD, Solved in GS Memory Editor)
- Map levels keep their same names in Pax Corpus, unless Aeon Flux related.
- The Level Select order of stages do not match the actual order in-game.
- There are various employees that can be seen working through-out the game, including kitchen staff, packers, and scientists. In Pax Corpus, they could have been left alone or actually killed.
- Two of the first four guards the player is introduced to in the proto are not programmed. They just stand on either side of the door, lifeless. They can be killed though.
- In the retail copy of Pax Corpus, you can find two pieces of Aeon Flux leftovers in the code.
- There are only two known pieces that use the pick-up animation in the prototype. The Cave area is the only sequence that appears to hold items. A small square hiding behind the crates of a side room, and then either meat or pills in the freezer.
- In Aeon Flux, you need to hold three buttons for Aeon to pick up an item. It appears to have been made an automatic gesture in Pax Corpus.
- In Aeon Flux, the HUD includes an upside-down triangle that essentially does nothing. In PAX Corpus, it’s a sort of radiation meter that lets you know how much of the blue Pax Corpus energy you have absorbed.
- There’s a small office area that connects to the Luxe Jails, but is given its own level designation.
- The prototype’s camera is unstable. If you click into first person view, it can become stuck. Clicking again will set it free. In other instances, it will completely lock on its own, turning the game from a moving camera to an almost Resident Evil visual style.
- The No Collision option will only work on walls and floors. Any placed objects like doors, lasers, crates, etc will still prevent Aeon from moving, or worse inflict damage.
- Aeon’s Health Bar is an eye that closes as you take damage, a nice little nod to the original cartoon’s opening sequence.
- Triggering the column sensors in the Cave level will sometimes cause the sensor panel to become a damaged crate object.
- In the Cave level, it’s possible for Aeon to fall right through the floor in the space between the conveyor belt and floor.
- In the Cave level, the Incinerator’s flashing red animation to make it appear there’s a fire is contextually activated by Aeon’s position on the conveyer belt. If you No Clip through the wall and walk around the belt, when you come back into the incinerator the red animation is not present.