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Wild Metal Country – An Enigma of a Game

Back in the 90’s when then Internet was still young and undiscovered, things were a little tougher to find than they are today. Do you remember a time you played a game at a mate’s house or in an arcade, and you instantly fell in love with it? After searching your favourite brick and mortar store and eventually online, you could not find it any-bloody-where? This was in the times before abandonware sites and such, and this was the case for my mate Grant and I with a little old game called Wild Metal Country.

Back then, Grant and I would head over to each other’s houses for some literal couch co-op DOS gaming sessions. You would sit next to each other and either share the keyboard (and get bloody keyboard conflict interruptions), or we would take turns having a go. Games like Legend of Kyrandia 3, Quest for Glory 4, Micro Machines, Slix ‘n’ Slide, and so on. Sometimes we’d load up a new demo disc we got from the latest PC Powerplay or PC Gamer magazine to see what was up and coming. Well, this one time we came across a demo for Wild Metal Country, developed by DMA Design and published by Gremlin Interactive in 1999, and we were hooked on it all night.

The premise is simple. You’re a tank, and your co-op buddy is a tank. You drive around and shoot at other tanks, or each other, whilst trying to collect coloured containers. That’s it. And we bloody loved it! The keyboard controls were mental to get your head around. In the demo that we had, we could only go the Rhino tank, pictured above. Being a tank, you have two tracks on either side of the tank. You need to accelerate both tracks at the same time to go forward. To turn right you need to keep the left track moving forward and the right track moving backward, and vice versa. The turret is independent of the tracks/body, so that needs to be moved separately too. Sound a little complicated? Well, get this – the default movement controls are:

Left track forward – Num-5
Left track reverse – Num-2
Right track forward – Num-6
Right track reverse – Num-3
Turret left – A
Turret right – S

And that’s just to move! Then you have spacebar to shoot missiles and left control to plant a mine. Now those are the single player controls. We played local multiplayer, so we had to share the keyboard controls. One of us used the left side of the keyboard, the other the right. I can’t even remember the combinations, but it was bloody funny just watching us on split screen, trying to figure out how to move and shoot the bloody things!

The enemy tanks would be shooting at you and protecting the coloured containers were turrets that would lob exploding drums at you. When you get hit, your tank is thrown into the air and bounces around like a ball. Sometimes you’d get blown around and then land upside down or on your tank’s nose, so you’d have to shoot the ground to bounce you back up. Just as you’d land upright, someone has shot you or lobbed a mine next to you, bouncing you around again. There was much hilarity had when we fired this game up, and it’d be the first game we’d play whenever we got together.+

We played the sh*t out of the demo as it was tonnes of fun, however we wondered what the full version of the game would be like. Back then we were all about free games, so we searched a lot of warez and abandonwarez sites for this game, as that’s what you did back then. However, we couldn’t find any download links anywhere. Even good old Limewire was coming up with nothing! We searched for bloody more than a year for this bloody game and in the end, we gave up.

That was until one day in 2002, completely out of the blue, I got a message from Grant saying, “I’ve bloody found Wild Metal Country!!!” I called bullsh*t, because this game was a bloody enigma! But no, he actually did find a download for it, and it was the full game! Best of all, it was free! He can’t remember where the hell he found it, but he had the install file burnt to a CD for me. We made backup copies of that CD so that we never lost it again and saved multiple copies on our hard drives. This was like the holy grail! Even better still, the full game allowed us to use six different types of tanks! SIX!! None were as good as our favourite Rhino though.

Rockstar Games created a Dreamcast port of the game in 2000, and then in January 2004, the game was enhanced with compatibility for modern hardware and re-released as part of Rockstar Games’ “Rockstar Classics” series of freeware games. This package also included 1997’s Grand Theft Auto and was available on their website. Then in January 2008, Wild Metal Country was added to Steam, however I can’t see it there now so Rockstar may have taken the rights back. They have a basic info page here but there’s no download link. You’ll have to head over to an abandonware site to download it like this one.

After posting the above gameplay video, one of the game’s level designers, Iam Thomson, reached out to me and let me know he had been working on some new levels and minigames within Wild Metal Country which is bloody awesome. You can see some of his work on Youtube below.

Did anyone else play this back in the day? Or are Grant and I just crazy and have a weird fetish for this game? Let us know on socials or join our discord.


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