Origin games have always been famous for their in-jokes -- from the Bloodfang in Ultima VII to the WEC (Crusader) references in the Secret Ops fiction, there's a rich tapestry of unofficial crossovers. Today we're looking at an especially unusual relationship... in Wing Commander, System Shock is a game (turned movie), and in System Shock Wing Commander is a game you can actually play! Wing Commander III's Victory Streak manual included a 'HoloVid review' about a new movie based on System Shock's story (with the proper character names):
Hail SHODAN radiates with cyberpunk action and the good looks of Clint Mason. After streetwise hacker James Finn (Mason) accepts the challenge to punch deck into Citadel research station, he unknowingly removes the logic systems behind the station's artificial intelligence. Finn finds himself trapped in a steel jungle with nothing but his hands and a few electro-magnetic grenades. The furious pace of this epic game-based HoloVid will send you reeling through the aisles ... the ending will astonish you (2.24 hours) ***
Wing Commander 3 for the 3DO went one step further and actually included a screenshot from System Shock alongside the 'review'!:
The original disk version of System Shock included a number of mini-games you could collect during the game's cyberspace mode and then play whenever you had a quiet moment. These were small, simple games that loaded in the player's left VDU - versions of things like Pong and Tic-Tac-Toe. For the subsequent CD version of System Shock the designers went all out and included a major homage to Wing Commander: Wing 0, a tiny Wing Commander shooter.
Wing 0 features a 13-mission campaign complete with traditional Wing Commander plot elements: wingmen, speech, traitors, nav points, talking heads, familiar fighters, autopilot flybys, lasers, dogfights and so on... all done in a 148x139 corner screen!
Thanks to a saved game kindly provided by Shadowcat of the Through The Looking Glass forums, I was able to jump right into Wing 0 to break it down into its component parts. The result is a brand new article, available here, that treats it like we would any new game -- it provides mission layouts, endgames, wingman comms, controls and ships!
I've also put the saved game I used to access Wing 0 directly online here (500k) -- if you have the PC-CD version of System Shock, give it a try (and if you don't have the game, go buy it!).
Wing 0 was developed for System Shock CD by Sean Barrett. His biography says the following about the game:
"...for the CD game I outdid myself with a relatively complete Wing Commander minigame, Wing 0--written just before Wing 3 was released, it's both an homage and a parody, featuring, for example, one pacifistic wingman who refuses to fight (and strangely never gets attacked either, because he's actually a traitor!!!), a mission where you get something like 8 wingmen, and a final 'aww, what the heck, let's send you out by yourself to defeat their entire armada' mission."