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Trail Blazer

Mr. Chip / Gremlin Graphics 1986
Genre: Action
Rating: 4/6
Licence: Commercial
System: Atari ST

A football rolling along courses made of coloured tiles, trying to make it to the end before time runs out. The colour of the ground indicates different effects on the ball: yellow increases speed, green decreases it, white makes it bounce, magenta bounces it back and cyan switched left/right controls. Rolling into holes (black) makes the ball fall into the void of space... only to bounce up again a moment later (but at a loss of time).


ShadowBit Interactive 2004
Genre: Sport, Action
Rating: 3/6
Licence: Freeware
System: PC

Gremlin's classic arcade game Hustle remains one of the most played classics today, although you might not know it under that name and it has mostly lost its place on desktop computers. It has moved to smaller devices like mobile phones, and it's usually called Snake.


Silmarils 1993
Genre: Strategy
Rating: 5/6
Licence: Commercial
System: Amiga

As it is right now, winter is popular in our part of the world. Adults have this kitsch assosiaction of a whole happy family gathered around a cozy fireplace or having romantic sleigh rides and kids dream of building snowmen and having snowball fights. Winter time also being Christmas time, there are further associations of love and peace all around. And presents! Though would you like permanent winter? Probably not.


Hanon Ondricek 2014
Genre: Adventure
Rating: 4/6
Licence: Freeware
System: Interpreter

There are some themes which will always belong to the staples of fiction. Exploring a haunted house is one of such mainstays. Look around on this very website and you'll find numerous examples, ranging from good to bad. Today, I will discuss Transparent, a game whose protagonist arrives at such a house as part of a film crew, ready to take some preparatory photos. I guess – player motivation and backstory are largely absent, but this is really not much of an issue as you'll be drawn in soon enough and natural curiosity takes over.


Jumping Jack Flash 1992
Genre: Action
Rating: 4/6
Licence: Commercial
System: Amiga

If there were an award for most distributed freeware game of the era before the Internet became all-encompassing, Transplant would be a serious contender. At a time when it just became viable to put floppy disks on magazine covers not just as a special, but on a regular bases, full version games – as opposed to tiny demo versions which might not even have been interactive in many cases – were in high demand. Preferably, of course, not the usual blips and blops crap.

Transport Tycoon

Microprose 1994
Genre: Strategy
Rating: 6/6
Licence: Commercial
System: PC

The game begins with the founding of your company. You choose a fitting portrait, the company colour and of course the name. Then it immediately starts with your first funds. Similar to Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon, in which you could build tracks for your trains. In Transport Tycoon, you're not limited to railroad tracks for your iron horses. On the random map which is full of cities and factories, you can build a depot and bus stops, to transport citizens to the next town, for example. Alternatively, you can create a system of railway tracks through all cities with which you can not only transport people, but also goods like mail. For example, you can build a station near a forest and another next to a sawmill. Connect the stations and you can transport raw logs to the mill, which can be very profitable. In addition, you can conquer the skies with your planes or and waves of the sea with your boats. Either you're just transporting passengers, or you buy fitting vehicles for other goods. That decision is up tot he player.

Transport Tycoon Deluxe

Microprose 1995
Genre: Strategy
Rating: 5/6
Licence: Commercial
System: PC

One of the best business simulations of the 90s. Mange, decide, achieve! Build up your own empire of different means of transport and bring prosperity to the different cities.

Transport Tycoon Deluxe is a version of the classic enhanced by new graphics and features. The game lets you build up your own transport empire starting out in 1950. Your supremacy is challenged by competing other companies which appear subsequently.


Infocom 1986
Genre: Adventure
Rating: 5/6
Licence: Commercial
System: PC

One could argue Trinity came three years too late. The US Senate refused to ratify SALT II even already a couple of years earlier, the civil Korean Air Lines Flight 007 was shot down out of paranoia in September '83, the Able Archer excercise showed a new quality of macho provocation, and at the end of the same year, the German parliament finally made way for the implementation of the NATO Double-Track Decision, i.e. the stationing of new nuclear missiles right at the iron curtain separating Europe. The most striking example of fictional media coverage of this new height of tension certainly was The Day After, first shown on TV the very same year. In 1986, when Trinity was released, even though the situation certainly was anything but stable, things seemed to be developing in the opposite direction already again. Had Infocom taken too long to deliver their treatment of the mainstream fear of nuclear war?


Microsoft 1991
Genre: Puzzle
Rating: 4/6
Licence: Freeware
System: PC

I tend to dislike card games. My father loved them, and he was much better at them than I ever will be. There is one notable exception to this rule, however: TriPeaks. It's a very simple card game. You enter your name, and a deck of cards pop up, shaped like a mountain with three peaks, with all lowest cards revealed. You get the rest of the 52 cards in the deck, all turned over, except one. Say, you get a 5. You must pick a card from the mountain that's either one higher or lower than your current card, so in this example 4 or 6. Then that card becomes your next card, and you have to pick a card one lower or higher than that one. The idea is to make series, or streaks, of cards. Why? Money. You start the game broke. First card in a streak nets you $1, the next $2, the next $3 and so on. Having to buy another card loses you $5. The object of the game is to get filthy rich. It's more difficult than it sounds, however. I rarely get over $200 no matter how long I play. My father easily got $3500 in a single game.


Sean Bridges & Others 2001
Genre: Strategy
Rating: 4/6
Licence: Freeware
System: PC

So many enthusiasts try creating their own games. Very few ever come to a stage which produces something worthwhile. It's not a new phenomenon, but the Internet makes it almost painfully visible through all those hopelessly outdated websites laying out hugely ambitious plans and promising sweeping updates 'soon' – that announcement dating back many years.

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