Here it is, at last: Marathon TROJAN. Now compatible with Aleph One (1.3 or newer), this uses the native M1 files to deliver the original, unaltered experience we know from the 90's.
M1 compatible fullscreen HUD plugins will work with TROJAN if you don't want to use the included Classic HUD plugin.
Additional files include the Weapons Pump Patch, FAQ, Manual, Spoiler Guide, and read me's from older versions of TROJAN.
Special thank you to Hamish Sanderson for giving us permission to distribute this re-release of TROJAN. Enjoy!
This total conversion was originally made for Marathon 1 but is now compatible with Aleph One. It has new graphics, enemies, sounds, and music.
The best part of Trojan is fighting against a variety of new enemy types. The enemy animations look very smooth and are well done. It may be too late to congratulate whoever created these adversaries, but this is some of the finest sprite work that I’ve seen in any Marathon scenario.
I was also impressed by the large number of new music tracks; they are of generally high quality but are unobtrusive enough to not distract from gameplay. The soundtracks reminded me of Unreal Tournament in a good way; the beats are repetitive but catchy.
Unfortunately, the campaign is dragged down by constant switch hunts and many tedious puzzles. You had better bookmark the online walkthrough here, otherwise you’re going to be spending a huge amount of time stuck wandering around, trying to figure out where to go and what to do, and that’s no fun: https://marathon.bungie.org/spoiler/tm2/resources/spoiler/lvl01.html
Be aware that the above spoiler guide does not explicitly mention any secret areas, although it does show them on the map. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the levels! Minor spoilers ahead!
ARRIVAL: You get to admire a nice bit of chapter artwork before the level starts. Actually Trojan has a lot of high quality chapter artwork (8 pieces in all). Since this is a Marathon 1 scenario, there is no artwork of any kind in the terminals themselves; they are all text with the occasional map.
The storyline of Trojan is adequate. Basically, unknown alien forces suddenly attack a human colony world and it’s up to you to save the day. In terms of atmosphere this campaign definitely hearkens back to the early levels of Marathon 1. Trojan is the story of a desperate struggle against an overwhelming enemy force, panicked civilians getting slaughtered left and right, and (later) two unstable AIs entering the fray to both help and hurt your cause.
You start by grabbing an arsenal of weapons with new graphics and names, but which are functionally identical to weapons from the original game. And I want to say, thank you Trojan devs for starting me out with a decent loadout befitting a space marine! So many Marathon mapmakers make the mistake of starting their campaign by making the player wander around the early levels with nothing but a single pistol. I guess the rationale for this is that the devs want to start small and build up the action gradually. But such level design is actually just wasting the player’s time, because the only thing you can do with a single pistol is beat up on weak enemies. Thankfully, Trojan doesn’t make that common mistake, and throws you right into the action against substantial enemy forces. Hooray!
Something strange happened at the start of this level. I was outside, fighting aliens with two Bob marine allies. After winning the fight, I went inside the nearby building, and the front door suddenly closed behind me, crushing one of my Bob allies to death. Surely this couldn’t have been intentional?
There are quite a few unarmed Bob civilians running around this level. They have decent voice acting, and the sprite animations look great (perhaps even superior to the Bob animations from the original game!). However, this level consists of a lot of narrow corridors, and placing a lot of Bobs in a lot of narrow corridors is never a good idea!!! It means the Bobs are constantly getting in your way and causing traffic jams that require lethal force to resolve. Usually I try to save Bobs, but after a few minutes of playing Trojan I gave up any pretense of trying to keep the human body count down because it was way too much of a hassle.
Most of the new aliens were fun to fight, but the hitbox for the floating exploding mine creature seemed to be slightly off; direct hits would often not register. Thankfully these enemies are not much of a threat and take only a single bullet to kill.
There are destructible exploding barrels, like in Doom. So cool!
Near the end of the level there’s an infuriating puzzle with six switches that have to be hit in a specific order to open the way forward. I actually softlocked myself in this puzzle, because I thought the solution was to go into a room that had partially opened up, and use a grenade to hit a switch which would open up the rest of the room. Well, instead I got stuck, and had to restart from the last save point, which was at the beginning of the level. Sigh!!!
COMMAND AND CONTROL This is a pretty horrible level, because large parts of it consist of narrow dark corridors with gray textures everywhere that blend together. I guess the point of this was to create some sort of maze to frustrate the player? But mazes don’t work in Marathon! I mean, I’ve got an auto-map, you know? It just looks bad, aesthetically speaking, and there’s not much to do in the mazes except keep an eye out for the occasional monster closet that opens up.
Another bad thing: There isn’t a pattern buffer until the end of the level. So if you die…you are going to suffer an awful lot of retracing your steps, which is annoying to say the least!
I also have to say a word about the switch hunts. They are terrible. There are so damn many switches, and there is no reason for 90% of them to exist. This is a problem throughout all of Trojan, although this level does stand out as a particularly egregious offender. Many of the switches open some door that you can’t see, often on the other side of the map. Then you have to go through the tedious process of backtracking through the level to try to find what opened up. Most of these switches should have been set to “trigger only once,” but no! Most of them can be hit again! So you can screw yourself by hitting a switch twice that you were only supposed to hit once, thereby closing the door that should have opened. There are so many switches it’s easy to lose track of which switches you’ve already hit, plus sometimes the switches open doors that only stay open for a brief time before closing. So in those cases, you’ll almost certainly need to hit the switch a second time as you try to figure out how the stupid doors work. Throw in the fact that some of the switches are broken, and there’s more locked doors than you can shake a stick at (some of which are decoys that will never unlock or open) and it’s just one huge recipe for frustration. If it wasn’t for the aforementioned online walkthrough, I’m sure I would have given up on Trojan long before I finished, due to constantly getting stuck on the switch hunts.
THE ROACH FARM Your mission is to save a nuclear reactor. The architecture for the reactor areas looks good and seems reasonably functional/authentic. Since these levels were made for the Marathon 1 engine, there were significant limits on things like the polygon count, so the levels tend to be small and without the intricate design construction we’ve come to see in some other Marathon campaigns. But I think the Trojan devs did a pretty good job with the (limited) M1 mapmaking tools that were available to them.
One great example of this is a switch-operated elevator that stops at three different floors. I believe this may be a first for the Marathon game engine; the Trojan devs may have initially invented this concept, although other devs have subsequently copied the idea and incorporated it into their own campaigns. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, as they say.
I did end up softlocking myself by jumping out of a ventilation shaft into the central core area. It seemed like a good idea at the time…
CITIZEN CAIN This level stood out for having lots of fun combat, making it one of the best Trojan levels. There is only one stupid switch puzzle that’s likely to give you trouble, which involves hitting a switch to temporarily open a door, then hitting the switch again to make sure the door stays open. You only have a very limited line of sight to this door, and it took me some time to figure out what was going on.
The storyline is heating up, as a rampant AI makes his appearance. He seemed to be a knock-off of Durandal, with perhaps a bit more insanity, but his terminal texts were entertaining enough so I can’t complain.
I do have to complain about a ridiculous crusher trap, however. Flipping some innocuous switch, not unlike any of the dozens of other switches you’ve already encountered, triggers a lethal crusher trap. It’s almost certain the player is going to be killed by this stupid thing the first time they enter the area. Thankfully, there’s a pattern buffer nearby (hopefully you used it!).
FRYING TONIGHT! The player is forced to take a leap of faith, and jump into a small ventilation shaft that’s directly above a huge lava lake. But you don’t actually know that the door to this shaft is unlocked, because so many doors in Trojan start out locked, and it’s quite clear that if the door is in fact locked then you’re going to be taking a lethal lava bath. I have mixed feelings about this. I guess psychologically messing with the player spices things up a bit. But I’m not sure I agree with forcing the player to explore areas that seem to be so far off the beaten path that, if you’re wrong about exploring them, you’re almost certainly going to get softlocked or killed. Remember, just two levels ago I did something very similar to this with a different ventilation shaft and ended up getting softlocked!
In the northwestern part of the map there was a mini-maze which had a bunch of the floating suicide bomb monsters hiding in it, and because I was running into them at point blank range it was almost impossible to avoid taking damage. At least there was a shield recharger at the start of the maze, though not all players will be lucky enough to find it before they run into the bomb creatures. Aside from this, the combat in the level was quite fun, with several newer enemy types getting a chance to shine.
BOY ARE MY ARMS TIRED The mission objective is to kill everything. Now that’s a goal I can get behind!!!
There is another lethal crusher trap at the start of the level, even more unfair than the previous one, because it provides a possible avenue of escape that looks promising but actually results in certain death. Of course, the first pattern buffer is AFTER the almost-certainly lethal crusher trap, so I got kicked back to the previous level. Argh!!!
Later still there’s a 4 switch puzzle. I never actually figured out the solution to this one. After wasting much time on it, I eventually decided that grenade jumping across a large lava pit was easier than figuring out the puzzle. Which, I think, is a pretty good indication that the puzzle was too hard.
CAN’T BE TOO CAREFUL NOWADAYS The level starts out with an easy switch puzzle that turns into a difficult platforming puzzle that requires split second timing to pull off. Blah!
Later you’ll run into an apparent dead end, with nowhere to go except wading into a lava river or grenade jumping to some elevated ledges. This is, again, a case of the player put into the unenviable situation of having no clear path forward and no good options. I grenade jumped, but not every player knows about grenade jumping or can reliably pull it off. Jumping into the lava river will get the player to the same eventual location, but at considerably greater risk.
Towards the end of the map there is a switch-activated elevator that’s a soft-lock waiting to happen. If the player fails to hit the switch, which is quite possible since it’s on the far side of a pit and initially out of sight; if the player instead drops down into the pit…it will become impossible to backtrack (without some difficult grenade jumping), and unfortunately the player may need to backtrack because there are two switches that must be activated to complete the level, and one of them is before the pit. So…why does that switch even need to exist anyway? Just make the damn elevator initially active or replace it with some stairs!
NO MORE TV DINNERS Bob androids, yes! At first I thought they were enemies, like the Pfhor simulacrums, but then they ran up to the hostile aliens and started punching them! This level features the most intense combat yet, against large numbers of baddies, many attacking from elevated positions or unexpected angles.
There is a switch/platforming/crusher trap, but a nearby pattern buffer means the consequences for failure are negligible. There is also a rather bizarre puzzle which has two different solutions, neither of which are obvious. One solution involves dropping down to a teleporter in a lava lake. At first I thought the teleporter was part of a secret because it was so out of the way, but no, it led to the level end. I actually backtracked through the whole level to see where the second path led, but it turned out to be just some minor platforming that took me to the same place.
YOU WERE DEAD, NOW YOU ARE RESTORED Bob zombies! Now I’ve seen everything!
After fighting your way out of an amphitheater you encounter one of the most stupid Marathon puzzles imaginable. Flipping a switch reveals what appears to be an elevator. It even shows on your map as an elevator. But if you go forward, the door closes behind you and you get softlocked, with the only way out being suicide by your own grenades. Seriously, wtf! Terrible puzzle design, only slightly mitigated by a pattern buffer that appears right before the trap. There’s no way you could possibly solve or expect this trap without “a priori” knowledge. Even when you solve the first part of the puzzle, there’s a second part that’s also likely to softlock you because of the wonky way the solution switch works! Ugh!
This level is also notable for having the first difficult-to-find secret area. But here once again you’re likely to be softlocked, stuck in a room with no way out except suicide, unless you use “a priori” knowledge that could only have been gleaned from your own previous pointless death. It turns out you shouldn’t go to the secret area as soon as you find it (which would make sense), instead you should complete most of the level, then massively backtrack to the secret area, which makes no sense but it’s the only way to avoid getting softlocked.
Once you actually reach the secret you’re rewarded with the choice of four loot areas connected to four teleporters. Three of the teleporters send you to another loot area, whilst the fourth teleports you back to the main level. So once again you can get screwed due to lack of “a priori” knowledge, because how are you supposed to know which teleporters to take in which order? If you’re unlucky enough to choose the exit teleporter first you end up missing out on some prime loot through no fault of your own. Bad! Bad level design!
SAY BRO, ARE YOU WILLING AND ABEL? This level starts out strong with some intense firefights. Then it falls flat when you get into a ventilation duct system. I don’t understand what the obsession is with all these dark maze-like ventilation system areas in Trojan. They’re not aesthetically interesting, and there’s really no tactical aspect to the duct-based combat, because there’s almost nowhere to dodge and enemies just queue up in a line to be mowed down in any case.
But the most shocking thing to me is that grenade hopping was actually required to proceed. I was able to explore all the ducts except one, which required grenade hopping to reach, and I don’t feel that grenade hopping should ever be required of the player, since it is an uncommon skill that many casual players don’t even know about. I think this may be a bug or something that didn’t get ported to Aleph One correctly, since in the online guide getting to the elevated duct was a non-event. Also, in the online guide it stated that four blue switches needed to be activated in one room to proceed, but in my game only one of those switches would activate. I suspect that one of the other three blue switches that would not activate might have made the duct area more traversable, obviating the need for grenade hopping.
BIG PIG New cool-looking human allies and a big new alien enemy! Hooray! This is one of my favorite levels of Trojan. There is fun combat against challenging enemies, and no puzzles to slow down the action.
BURN! BURN! BURN! Another solid combat focused level. A few times I ran into an apparent dead end, but some quick backtracking revealed the way forward. This level also has one of the most difficult to find secrets in Trojan:
*Spoiler ahead It involved counterintuitively opening a door from the wrong direction, from a room that was adjacent to the actual door room. End spoiler***
DAMAGE IS OUR MIDDLE NAME This is a pretty straightforward romp through some alien-infested caves. There was one door switch that I had trouble with (it didn’t open at first), but after that it was smooth sailing and some fun combat. The final nuke detonation was a nice touch.
AGGRESSIVE MARKETING Three new types of challenging enemies to fight! Yes! Some cool new graphics as we explore the GenCorp ship! Yes! The storyline is getting interesting as you have to deal with a new hostile faction! Yes! A tedious switch hunt, with no less than six terminals that must be read for successful level completion? Noooo!
At one point a door in the southern central part of the map should have opened but did not. I’m not sure what the trigger for that door was, but after much backtracking on my part the door did finally open.
DEATH OF DRUMMAND This level is all about platforming, by which I mean using split second timing to make jumps to moving platforms. Failure usually means a dip in a lava bath, or the indignity of having to wait for a slow-as-molasses elevator to get back to the correct position. But…the Marathon engine doesn’t really lend itself to parkour of any kind. Marathon physics are such that even if you successfully make the jump, you’ll frequently bounce off the platforms you were aiming for. At least the most difficult section had a teleporter-out-of-the-lava nearby, to make the consequences of your inevitable many failures not quite so frustrating.
DOUGHNUTS FOR DINNER We’re back on the GenCorp ship, ready for some fun combat and not-so-fun switch/terminal hunting. I want to say that I appreciate the GenCorp ship levels actually look like a ship (from an architectural perspective, when looking at the auto-map) and I think that’s pretty impressive. Also, I probably should have mentioned this earlier, but I’d like to say that I appreciate it that in Trojan the devs were really good about warning the player that a terminal was about to teleport them somewhere, so they’d have the option to press escape to abort if they still had unfinished business in the area. This may seem like a small thing, but a lot of other Marathon campaigns have a problem with terminals teleporting the player without warning.
In this level enemy tanks make an appearance! But our arsenal has been upgraded as well, with rocket launchers that are quite formidable. There’s lots of heavy fighting on this level, and the challenge was welcome.
SAY IT WITH GRENADES Another combat focused level, and one of the best in Trojan, in my opinion. The reactor that you’re supposed to blow up looks cool, and I liked how after the detonation you see how it affected the lighting in the areas of the level you’ve already been through.
Towards the end of the level there is an elevator that, once taken, forces you to engage in a lot of pointless backtracking. It’s actually useful once you destroy the reactor, but you’re likely to encounter (and use it) before then, which is not a good thing. For the purposes of utility and streamlined gameplay, this elevator should only have been activated after the reactor was destroyed.
ELECTRIC As soon as the level starts you’re hit with a very cheap ambush, as aliens swarm you from multiple angles and you have almost nowhere to dodge their attacks since you’re precariously perched on the edge of a lava lake. Basically, before the player even gets their bearings they’re probably already taking significant damage. Players could easily be killed by this ambush, then have to replay the entire previous level because there are no pattern buffers on the GenCorp ship! That would really suck, and it’s a pretty good justification for why this sort of instant-ambush-at-level-start is always a bad idea.
As far as the theme of this level, the devs must have said, “Hey, let’s make a level where half of it is so dark the player can’t see a damn thing. Then they’ll have no choice but to use the infravision power-up that most people ignore because it’s so horrible!” Unfortunately, even the brightly lit half of the level has problems, since at two separate points the player must locate a secret door to proceed. Why??? I mean, for secret areas, sure, make the player take the time to search for a secret door. But for just normally completing a level give the player a break; there’s no reason secret doors should ever be mandatory.
Speaking of secret areas, there is one in this level that requires a large amount of grenade jumping to reach. Grenade jumping is a rare skill that few players possess or even know about; even for secrets I’d argue that grenade jumping should never be mandatory, though I’m sure some people will disagree.
LUNE NOIR The alien ship graphics are great; even the sounds of the alien doors are cool. I liked the new fusion weapon (retrieved on the last level, but probably first used here), and the new rapid fire alien weapon. There is also a new alien enemy type that looks suitably bizarre and, let’s face it, variety is the spice of life. I’m really impressed with the huge number of different enemy types that can be found in Trojan.
This level has some pretty horrible switch hunts. But even worse, at one point I thought I was softlocked because I seemed to be stuck in an area. Even tabbing all the walls looking for secret doors did me no good. So, I was forced to consult the online spoiler guide, only to discover I should have tabbed a weapon shelf in the center of the room, which was actually a secret elevator that led out of the area. There is no way I ever would have found that without the spoiler guide!
SAVAGE STREAK The graphics for the alien command center looked great. The combat was mostly fun, and there were several clever ambushes.
Unfortunately, there is a part where you are forced to drop down into a river of harmful alien goo. Even worse, this happens far, far away from the only shield recharger on the level, so you pretty much have to do a bunch of tedious backtracking to get health before even attempting this. Even if you do take such precautions, it’s still quite possible to be killed by the goo, because once you drop down to hit the necessary switch, it’s not at all clear where you have to go. Looking on the auto-map will basically tell you a general direction to escape, but that’s it. And once you’re in the goo river and taking constant damage your entire freaking screen will be turning bright green; in my case I actually ran right past the hidden exit teleporter and died because I couldn’t see the damn thing in time.
EAT YOUR MICROWAVE Aside from the normal tedious switch hunts, what sets this level apart is a fantastic boss battle that takes place around an alien monolith (the alien computer core).
There is also, unfortunately, a teleporter puzzle that’s more annoying than dangerous. There are five teleporters situated around a pool of harmful alien goo. Of course only one takes you where you want to go, and the rest teleport you all over the map, necessitating lots of tiresome backtracking. You have no way of knowing which teleporter is the correct one, so trial and error is the order of the day. Because you’re taking damage from the alien goo, it reduces visibility on your screen and it’s easy to get confused about which teleporters you have already taken. So yeah, I was not a fan of that puzzle.
NON DORMIT, QUI CUSTODIT Big plot revelations and even bigger firefights lie ahead. Appropriately, since this is an epic mission to retrieve the alien Macguffin that everyone’s after, it has one of the best soundtracks in Trojan.
Unfortunately, some of the monsters in the level had trouble triggering and just ignored me. For the most part, Trojan has been really good about using monster triggers correctly, so this took me by surprise. The lack of enemy aggression made some difficult fights easy, including the boss battle for the artifact. Since the huge boss monster was ignoring me, and I got typical non-combat hit registration sounds and graphics when I fired a few bullets at the boss, I mistook it for just some impressive-looking flavor graphics. I then left the room and the artifact behind, completed the rest of the level, then had to consult the online guide to find out what to do next! Fortunately, my second visit to the boss did result in an epic battle. But there’s no way to retrieve the alien artifact without grenade jumping, and you know my feelings about mandatory grenade jumping (grenade jumping should never be mandatory to complete a mission!!!).
I do have to give plaudits to Trojan for having an entertaining variety of mission objectives. So many Marathon campaigns fall into the tired cliche of “there’s some aliens here, go kill them.” But Trojan has mission-based gameplay that syncs with a fairly interesting story. In Trojan you get to grab alien artifacts, fight fun boss battles, destroy a giant monolith, and even detonate a nuclear bomb. How many other campaigns have even attempted such things?
There is an incredibly difficult-to-reach secret near the level start that’ll have you tearing your hair out.
*Multiple spoilers ahead** It’s pretty obvious from looking at the auto-map that there’s an elevated ledge at the top of a mining shaft. The only way to get up there is to pull off an extremely difficult rocket jump. It took me probably 100+ tries, and when I got up there I was face to face with an angry alien and had no choice but to drop back down again or be killed. So I kill the alien, make another 100+ attempts before getting back up there, only to find…a blank terminal. WTF? At first it seemed like a cruel joke by the devs, but then I got to thinking, “What if the terminal is tied to the success of the mission?” So I grabbed the alien artifact, came back, made countless more attempts to rocket jump up to this stupid ledge a third time…Ugh! My suspicions about the terminal were correct, and I was taken to a secret level…But really, the amount of effort to get to this secret was kind of ludicrous. For some of Trojan’s secrets you really have to be a glutton for punishment.
LOVE PUPPY 23 (secret level) It’s a vacuum level, which might not be a big deal except there are several puzzles to figure out, which will cost you precious time and air. So yeah, you’re going to have some suffocation deaths.
Also, pretty early in the level there’s an unexpected lethal crusher trap that will almost certainly kill you the first time you encounter it. Everything about this level seems to be designed to punish the player for not having “a priori” knowledge about it, which I feel is unfair. To add insult to injury, since there’s zero pattern buffers in the entire level, that means you’ll get kicked back to the previous level and have to do the stupid rocketing jumping thing a hundred more times to re-enter the secret level.
Hah! That was a joke. Even the most masochistic players wouldn’t torture themselves like that. I just used the level skip cheat after my first death on Love Puppy 23. Apparently the devs realized that was what people were going to do, so they helpfully provided a bunch of weapons and ammo at the level start; in this way level-skippers have a fighting chance for the combat portions of the map, rather than having to struggle with just a single pistol. *End spoilers***
HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL There are no less than three enemy factions on this level, hell bent on killing you and each other! That is so cool!
In the eastern part of the map there are two lava bridges to choose from. If you end up choosing them in the wrong order you can end up…well, I wouldn’t call it a “softlock” because it is possible to escape, but still, it’s quite difficult, and it may not be immediately apparent just how much trouble you’re in until you’ve cleared out the eastern part of the map and come back to the lava bridge to find it missing! Then you’d better hope you’ve got a lot of health left so you can survive an extended lava bath, which is the only way to recover. The bottom line is, you may lose a lot of time and progress simply because you made a rather innocuous choice about which bridge to take.
Towards the end of the level you’ll face some of the most tactically challenging fights in all of Trojan, as you face off against powerful juggernauts whilst high atop a narrow walkway with a lava lake below. Your only avenue of retreat will descend into the lava after you’ve crossed it, adding to the fun. I actually had to plan out how I was going to fight my way through this, and felt a real sense of accomplishment when I succeeded.
FROM OUR BACON MENU The level is based on a central hub that you keep coming back to as you open up more parts of the level. This is solid, professional level design and I enjoyed playing this level. The combat was tough but fair, which is what you’d expect from the second-to-last level of the campaign.
DANCE THE LAST WALTZ WITH ME You get to see some new graphics for the Hades ship, get to listen to a good soundtrack, and even get to fight bobs! There is not a single pattern buffer on the level, but this is acceptable for the final level of the campaign. The epilogue tied up most of the plot's loose ends, though it seems there were plans for a sequel that never materialized.
In summation, this campaign features some great combat, a decent story, and new graphics/sounds/music. There are definitely some rough edges, particularly regarding some puzzles and switch hunts. But if you’re a fan of Marathon 1, this is definitely a total conversion worth checking out!
The issue I was having seemed to be related to the current Aleph One version at the time (1.4).
Tried said levels again with the Aleph One 1.5 release candidate, and they work fine now!
Overall, definitely a very good scenario for the M1 environment.
Update: 1.5 fixed it. Got through the scenario, thanks!
Sharkie is right, I'm close to the end of the game but there are a couple game breaking bugs.
Necessary mission-finishing switches on Have Gun, Will Travel, and the last level do not respond at all. Because of this, the levels cannot be completed. Very disappointing.