I’ll openly admit pushing through 29 games on one platform in less then 48 hours is pretty taxing. But with my Atari 7800 collection now checked in and cataloged I’ve come to realize I’m about 10 games away from completing the collection of original releases (home brews are a different story). Of course there are a few financial ball-busters in there like
just to name two out of the five titles with high price tags.
As for this weekend, my goal is to hammer out all of my backlogged GoG titles, and maybe with some luck get to another system or two as well.
So basically as I knock down one backlog list I’m building another, well hopefully not. It’s been a good week for bargains though and most of what I’ve picked up has been for less then $5.
This Weekends Plays:
Even though I bashed the late Microprose X-Com games last week, you’re actually going to find that I am a huge fan of the company. To me, or anyone who played DOS games in the late 80’s up to the Windows 95’ era, that red Microprose logo was a staple of your video game collection and the mark of a highly entertaining and quality game. So if I seem to gush in admiration for some of the Microprose titles below, you’ll have to forgive me.
Disclaimer: The first five games up to Silent Service I actually played here and there over the week. From Silent Service onward these are games I played on Friday and Saturday night.
Covert Action (GoG) – A late 80’s-early 90’s spy game that has you take on the role of either a male or female CIA agent on a number of missions. If you played a lot of PC games in this era you would find this one to be pretty standard fare for Microprose and Sid Meier at the time. It’s engaging and fun, and a pretty great adventure game. I was just always a fan of the box art.
Pirates! (GoG) – Pirates! was among one of Microprose best known franchises, and has survived long enough to still have ports being made on modern systems like iOS. Even this DOS version from 1987 is still a highly impressive game, and it’s easy to see why it was an instant hit and has left a legacy to this day. Even with its CGA or VGA color schemes the game still looks great, and the graphic animations, were smooth and crisp and even slightly better than what one would have encountered on consoles of the time. The game itself although simplistic has some great RPG elements to it, with finding information, trading, and dealing with other aspects of the pirates life. The naval combat also looks good, and can be somewhat challenging since one has realistic elements to deal with like winds, and currents. Definitely a great game for the era.
Pirates! Gold (GoG) – What better way to follow Pirates! than with Pirates! Gold it’s 1993 remake. This relaunch was a way of keeping the title fresh, as well as taking advantage of the many advancements in graphics, sound, and gameplay that had taken place in the 6 years since the game’s initial release. With that said even though this version has somewhat better everything, and mouse support, but I can’t help but feel as if the ease of play was lost a bit on this one, compared to the original. Overall, it’s still a classic but I prefer the first version.
Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri
(GoG) – This is my first non-Microprose game but one could infer that it has its roots in old Microprose stock since it’s a Sid Meier’s game. Essentially this is a turn based planet explorer, kind of like cross between Sierras Outpost
and Masters of Orion
. It’s not a bad game, perhaps a bit more involved than I’m in the mood for today. Of course is you read Backlogs IV last week
, then you know I’m not a big one for Turn-Based Strategy games either. Had it not been part of a sale package I don’t think I would have bought this one.
Sid Meiers: Colonization (GoG) Think of the aforementioned Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri then make it a DOS games, and about the colonization of the Americas. Yes, this is another TBS, and no doubt had some influence on the eventual creation of Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri. It’s not too bad, kind of nice and simple, but again TBS’s just aren’t my thing. There is another game called Seven Cities of Gold which has a similar premise, but is a little more RTS like, and a hell of a lot more fun, wish I had that one instead.
Silent Service 1 & 2 (GoG) – These are actually both separate titles on GoG but I thought I would just cover both at once. For me Silent Service will always be a great memory as a game that I spent hours playing on the old Commodore SX-64. Trust me when I say there is no real difference between that version and the DOS version, since I have played both. As for Silent Service 2 this is another one I spent hours playing on DOS, and I can safely say that it’s very much a reboot of the first game, with the improved graphics, sound and gameplay, and just a much better game overall. If you didn’t know the Silent Service was/is what the US Navy called the Submarine Service during and before World War 2, and to this day it is still an acceptable term to use. The games themselves are basically World War 2 submarine simulators focused primarily on the Gato Class submarines operating in the Pacific theater. This first game is extremely simple yet fairly fulfilling, as to where the second game takes on some addition historical contexts that can either make the game harder or easier based on how historically accurate you want your simulation to be. Having sunk hours into both previously (pun intended), this is one I checked to make sure worked that evening before heading on, since I knew once I started playing and got invested hours would fly by. My suggestion if these games sound interesting to you, or you have good memories of them, is that you wait for a sale to pick this set up since I got it for $.99 about two years ago.
Red Baron (GoG) – Red Baron for its time was an absolute paradigm shift it the genre of air combat simulator games on PC. Today it sits as an undeniable classic that would go on to influence many other air combat sims to follow, especially within Microprose. Like the aforementioned Silent Service the game didn’t just present itself as a simple airplane shooter, comparable to Atari’s Red Baron arcade game, but rather as an actual flight sim with many realistic and historical contexts. It was essentially this, that set the game apart from others before and after it. For my play-through I had a simple instant action flying against Hermann Goering (at that time a flying ace) who I shot down quickly from above with my Spad (imagine how that would have changed history). Despite the graphics being a little outdated the game still looks great, and plays well.
Red Baron 3D (GoG) – There seems to be some confusion as to whether Red Baron 3D and Red Baron II are the same game. I have Red Baron II CIB, awaiting testing and cataloging as one of my Windows 95 games. Anyway, this is one of those instances on GoG where the game doesn’t work so I’m going to have to send this to technical support and hope they have a fix.
Wing Commander: Privateer (GoG) – Set after Wing Commander II this game takes on the life of a private merchantman making his way in the Gemini sector of space following the Kalrathi wars. It’s pretty entertaining as you would expect from a Chris Roberts title of that era, and reminds me of Star Flight meets Wing Commander in its execution. Good game, good story line, but nothing really all that different from what you encounter in the Wing Commander games.
Wing Commander: Armada (GoG) Back to war with the Kalrathi, in what is considered to be Wing Commander 2.5. Actually this is the traditional Wing Commander type game interestingly coupled with a Turn Based Strategy game. It’s an interesting concept to say the least and way more interesting to play then X-Com was last week. It’s worth getting and trying if the Wing Commander game bundles go on sale at GoG.
Starflight II (GoG) – Hey, talking about Starflight did you know there was a sequel. Lets be honest if you’re like me this was a game you probably didn’t hear much about back in the day. By the time I got my Commodore SX-64 even Starflight II was an old game. But playing this game, its easy to see it’s influence on a lot of other space games, like the aforementioned Wing Commander: Privateer, and there’s also a reason many refer to the Mass Effect franchise as Starflights spiritual successor. With that said though the game also has some Star Trek influence to it, as well as a little Lost in Space. I personally think the Starflight games are pretty much a must play for anyone who wants to learn about the history of video games, and spot in its evolution. As for Starflight II outside of a few minor things it’s pretty close to Starflight.
Wing Commander (GoG) – I know this one well, and spent hours playing back in the day. I remember heading up to Wal-Mart one night during a Christmas vacation in high school, just to buy this since by that time it was in a $5 bargin bin. I played the heck out of it, and can say it’s truly a classic. If you don’t know much about it, this was the premiere space combat simulator of early 90’s PC gaming, and it even made it to the SNES. Again this is another influential game that would go on to build it’s own huge franchise, lead to the creation of the flight sim Strike Commander and go on to influence many other space combat flight sims right down to Star Trek Online which I mentioned above, and of course Wing Commanders direct descendant Star Citizen.
Wing Commander II (GoG) -Remember how I was giving the XBox 360 shit about long cinematic’s before the game starts? Holy smokes I never thought this one would end, and this is older. I will admit though it looks pretty damn good, and the animations are nice and smooth. It does look and play a bit better then Wing Commander as well.
F-117A (GoG) – This is another favorite since it was a Christmas gift from my mom the Christmas I got my first PC. I played it a lot, and loved the hours I put in. Take Red Baron mentioned above, update it a lot, and add a modern aircraft and you have F-117A. Basically it lies somewhere between full fledged flight sim, and arcade game meaning it’s fun yet serious enough to feel realistic.
Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space, Save The World and The Devil’s Playhouse (GoG) – These three Sam & Max games were gifted to me by Joe Mastroianni of the Upper Memory Block Podcast about two years ago. I installed them on my old laptop played a little of each one, then the laptop went out on me. So with that said I am reinstalling all three games on my new desktop years later so I can actually have a good platform to play them on. All three of these games are point and click adventure games, with a highly comedic tone. The game is based around freelance police detectives Sam & Max who are a dog detective, and an incredibly strange bunny. The games are all pretty odd, but they’re suppose to be that way, and certainly do yield a lot of comedic effect. So if you want to game and laugh at the same time you may want to check these out, and they’re also available on multiple platforms
Master of Orion (GoG) – This is another Turn Based Strategy game mostly about managing resources, building fleets, and of course building your empire. You of course can choose to play as a number of races, each of which puts a different spin on the game. To be honest if you can give it the time it can be fun, but I prefer the RTS version Pax Imperia which could get really intense. Overall though it’s easy to see why this one is a classic.
Master of Orion II (GoG) – This is actually a better version of the first game, much more manageable, and intuitive. Same Turn Based Strategy but a lot better of a game, although all the goals and gameplay methodologies are the same. I’d say get this one over the first if your interested.
Dragonshere (GoG) – This is kind of a Microprose rip off of Sierra’s King’s Quest series. Its an OK game about on par with these type of point and clicks from that era. This is actually a freebie, or was I don’t know if it still is, from GoG when you sign up and the next three games I will talk about also are.
Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire (GoG) – This is a quasi-text adventure game from back in the day, basically I didn’t feel like doing a lot of reading so I just kind of did the minimum and got out. I don’t think I’ll return to it.
Ultima 4: Quest of the Avatar (GoG) – I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Ultima games as a whole so I was eager to see what this one was about. Sadly it seems a bit buggy, and just wouldn’t work. Again, like the two games before it and next to follow, this one was a GoG freebie, so I’m not going to complain, at least Dragonshere has been a good game so far.
Treasure Adventure Game (GoG) – I was hoping this was going to be a fun little retro 8-bit type game, but I couldn’t get it to work. I mean it loaded ok but I could get anything besides the arrows to work meaning there was no action button. Too bad, but again a freebie.
So with some time left on to a non-GoG game
Wing Commander III (Origin-EA) – This was an Origin free game of the month about two years ago and I made sure to get it while it was free. When this game came out it in 1994 it was huge, and changed the world FMV games. Mark Hamill, John Rys-Davies, Macolm McDowell, and Tom Wilson as well as few other familiar faces made the opening cinematic worth watching, as well as a lot of other scenes in between. After this many other games made sure to have at least one familiar actor in their FMV’s to show their game was quality stuff too, like James Earl Jones in Command & Conquer 2. As far as game play itself it’s a great improvement over the Wing Commander games that came before it and obviously everything looks sharper and cleaner, and even game play itself is better, being a bit smoother, and more intuitive.
Sadly though today, Sunday, I wouldn’t have time to get to any additional plays. I had achieved what I had set out to do the weekend before and completed my play through of my GoG backlog. With that said now my original list of 114 games has shrunk to 28 unplayed and 6 games currently unplayable do to system issues. Of these 28 games 10 belong to Sega systems including 4 on the Dreamcast, 4 on the Sega-CD, and 2 on the 32x, while another 11 are Win 95/98 games awaiting my getting that platform to run virtually, and 3 are DOS games. The remaining four are one each, a Channel-F game, a TRS-80 CoCo game, an Atari 800 game, and a C64 game. I don’t know if I will have the time next weekend to work on these, or concentrate on a group to handle but I’m may return briefly to my original 8-bit Fridays: The Diaries format so that I can focus on a few of my new buys, and getting those checked in and off my eBay list.
Anyway, I have a very stressful week ahead of me including a meeting bright and early Monday morning. So I wish you all a good week and maybe I’ll see you all again gaming next weekend.
*I would also like to thank Moby Games for some of the images above, being that these are games from GoG and not physical copies in my possession images of cavers had to be borrowed.