Again, we have come to the end of another year. It feels like it only just began, doesn't it? Though looking back, a lot has happened. Just as a highlight, 71 game entries have been newly added to our main database and 93 reviews have been posted. That is more than one new game a week and almost two reviews per week! And of course, we mustn't forget all the other great contributions, whether is was the tireless work on cataloguing floppy disk images or just the upload of a box scan, a manual or even a screenshot. It all helped make the site a better resource for everyone.
So, without further ado, here is a list of the people who weren't afraid to get their hands dirty and performed this service to the community. Huge thanks go out to (in alphabetical order):
Aspirin18, batman, BillyH666, brain, bucazoid, comradesean, Darkie4646, dogchainx, DOS OS, firage, GuardianBob, Herr M., ibmpc5150, jiwaats, lostaddict1, meyou, Miolon, pchangb, Pheonix, Szkrat, Vagabond, Wandrell, yisztnil and ZeldaDoritos
By now we got a nice mix of games for the Winter theme, ranging from the usual suspects to some rather unique ones. I do not think I will be able to top Mr Creosote’s rather extravagant title from last weekend, but at least I wanted to give it a try, and picked a game that is neither a sports game, nor does it have anything to do with Christmas. Still, you get to see lots of snow and ice, because it is set in the polar region of a very popular fantasy world, near the Spine of the World in the Forgotten Realms to be more precise.
So, we are going to talk about a role playing game, one that even used the license of one of the most influential pen&paper versions, namely Dungeons&Dragons. Somehow those got a bit rare in the last couple of years, but back at the turn of the century there were three titles that were released very close to one another and breathed some new life into the genre (by changing some fundamental things). And one of them was today’s game: Icewind Dale.
Yeah, I know, you all can't wait to finally unwrap your presents! I promise I won't keep you long. I got it from a reliable source that delivery of the real presents will be delayed. So maybe just something to pass the waiting time. Nothing big overall, but should you fail that mission, it will have a big impact on kids worldwide: it's Santa's Xmas Caper!
Right now, our Winter theme has been presents and sports. Today, we'll show you another side of winter. I can't really say a darker one, because this 'dark' future is actually very bright – all too bright, in spite of sunlight having become a myth. At least there is one piece of good news: in this icy world, you'll spend most of your time close to a boiler shoveling coal, so you'll be warm nevertheless. Enjoy Transarctica!
Comanche receives its third box scan as well as quick reference documentation from dogchainx.
Today I am going to add a real classic game set in Winter. Actually I was even suprised that it wasn't on the site already, but then I have to admit, that until now I only had played it ages ago two or three times while visiting a friend of mine. Since there are so many ports of it I couldn't make up my mind which one I should tackle, so I stuck with good old DOS, because I like those crazy CGA graphics. Well, probably this wasn't the wisest choice, but I since I asked a couple of friends of mine to join in, it still was some fun. So, here is my report of this year's Winter Games!
Vagabond returns from his short break with a game he describes as 'a phenomenon on the old school arena': The Way of the Tiger. As usual for him, you can expect an extensive treatment of all the relevant aspects – enjoy!
Today we have a fine update for a real classic: firage provides us both with the manual and the clue book for The Bard's Tale. Funnily it was actually the manual of this one that convinced me to finally play it. Back in the days I gave it several tries without knowing anything about the game and getting stuck ever so often. But it wasn't until I got my hands on the manual (years and years later) that I finally got the hang of it and figured out how you were supposed to play it. So if you haven't played the game so far, because it looked too complex, or you had no idea what you were supposed to do, here is your chance to finally catch up on a surprisingly deep game.
It's December and in the northern hemisphere of the world, this is Winter time! Ice and snow, you know the drift. It also happens to be the time of a pagan celebration which Christianity appropriated to turn into one of their highest holidays. Which, by now, has turned into a super commercialised event which is all about giving expensive gifts manufactured by international mega corporations so that their CEOs can buy yet another yacht.
To get even more into the seasonal spirit than that, we'll be presenting you games related to it in one way or another. Starting off, here is Icicle Works.
firage continues with his additions. This time, it's full-blown entry of Alley Cat – the butt ugly MS-DOS/CGA port which commands an enduring popularity. Thanks!
Winter is approaching (well, it is where I live) and our winter theme as well – though today, it is firage who is responsible for this transitional update providing us with the manuals of UFO: Enemy Unknown.
Today we are going to finish our coverage of the Interactive Fiction Competition with something special: A fully-fledged interview with one of the authors about his game. Namely I met with Mr Creosote and talked with him about his entry The Black Lily. The resulting conversation is your chance to take a look behind the curtains and get some information about the hows and whys, the motivations to write a piece of interactive fiction (or to some degree computer games in general) and the thoughts that go into its creation process.
And that’s it for this years competition. We hope you enjoyed our reports about it, this peek into a hobbyist game culture with its rather unique titles. And since this gives me the final word, I would just like to say: Thanks to everyone for participating! Whether it was as an author, a player or simply as a reader. It is really nice to be part of a group of people who cares so deeply about writing and gaming.
PS: Observant readers might notice something extra special about our latest entry…
Completing my top three picks from this year's Interactive Fiction Competition, Transparent is one of those games which really would have deserved to place better, reaching only a respectable, but not spectacular 11th place. I initially played the original version, and that is what my review is mostly based on. Now, launching the game again to take some screenshots, it seems it has been toned down quite a bit already, most likely due to general feedback. My usual advice applies – don't take that too far, people!
Sticking to your original vision is always a good idea in general. Listening to advice and keeping an open mind for improvement suggestions is a great quality, of course, too, but there should be a strict limit. There will always be whiners complaining about everything. Trying to please them all will never be possible. So how has the game developed in subsequent versions: for better or for worse? You decide!
The Interactive Fiction Competition has come to an end and the results have been posted. Congratulations to Hunger Daemon – a truly deserved winner! Which, as it happens, Herr M. has already given an in-depth review. So today, I'm covering another game which did quite well and which I also enjoyed (though Herr M. said he didn't get into it): Fifteen Minutes.
Today is the final day of the Interactive Fiction Competition 2014. So, this is your last chance to head over to the polls and vote on the games. If you have not had a look at the games so far and cannot make up your mind on which ones to play, you might want to read our article with some of my thoughts about this year's titles, which I wrapped up today with some finishing thoughts and last-minute mini-reviews. Overall I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed with the offerings, but there were still some very memorable titles.
The closing of the polls and the counting of the votes does not mean that the competition is finished already though. Until the end of this month we will have some more coverage, especially Mr Creosote wants to tell you one thing or another about some of the games.
If there is one game in this year's Interactive Fiction Competition 2014 that was a surprise hit to me, than it has to be Hunger Daemon. At first glance I thought it would be yet another Cthulhu game, where the old tentacle head is used for some cheap thrills (or even worse: laughs), but thankfully the game turned out to more original than I would have thought. I do not want to spoil too much, but let us just say, that it is neither the same old story about becoming insane after meeting an elder one (or his minions), nor do you just punch them out one after the other.
In another mid-week update, ZeldaDoritos reviews not one, but two versions of Tempest 2000: the original one for the Atari Jaguar and a little known early PC port which, according to him, fixes at least one major issue of the former.
After a month about promotional games, we switch over to some promotional work for games. Namely the Interactive Fiction Competition 2014 which is still going on until the 15th this month. Which means you have only got 15 days left to vote for your favourite (or maybe not so favourite) titles.
Speaking of favourites: Besides my article about the competition, in which I try to cover as many of the games as possible, I decided to give the more outstanding ones their own reviews. The first one being The Entropy Cage, a game featuring a function that gets used a lot in everyday computer life, but almost no-one spends a thought on how it really works.
Meanwhile, Darkie4646 goes back to the beginnings of a series which received a shitload of mainstream media attention in the last few years: Grand Theft Auto.
After concluding on the previous one, Pheonix now sets his sight on completing our coverage of the next big RPG series - the first gap being Ultima 2: Revenge of the Enchantress.
We're coming to the end of yet another one of our themes: today marks the addition of the last Promotional Game!
Berlin Connection takes me back to how the genre really got kickstarted (we covered that earlier). It's one of those simple Adventure games which were produced in dozens at the time around 20 years ago.
The last promotional game? Well, of course not. It's the end of this concentrated thematic run, but just like in the time before, we will continue to feature such games from time to time. They're just too interesting to pass up.
Anyway, we'll go deeper into the still-running IF Comp (which Herr M. has already been writing about in the background in the past weeks) next.
Some Promotional Games are admittedly short. Some are mercifully short. In any case, it enables us to squeeze an extra update in. James Pond 2: Codename Robocod was one of those games which really deserved a fresh look. I had replayed it quite recently to make fresh screenshots. Now, with a little delay, here is its new review!
…oh, and in case you're wondering: this game advertises for 'one of the chocolatiest biscuits in the world'. Which is why these penguins keep popping up throughout the levels. Not that this will detract in any way from this excellent game. In fact, unless you are from the UK, you will probably not even recognise these figures or associate them with anything. That's how I like my advertising!
There are Promotional Games that scream ADVERTISING! or PROPAGANDA!… and then there are games in which the advertising is actually so subtle, that if you do not know the brand or the article put on display, you would not even notice that this is in fact a game sponsored by a company.
To me Pushover belongs to the latter, because it was not until I was searching for possible candidates for our theme, until I realised that it features a real-life snack. Come to think of it, those snack packs do look like a real thing, and yes it is kind of obvious since that part about the crisps is tacked on to the story (what little of it there is). At least the should have been a telltale sign.
Anyways, as luck would have it, I had just finished a run through the game and since it is one of my favourite games, I decided it was perfect timing to finally enter it into our database.
Completing the trilogy, Pheonix brings us Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate.
With so many German games being added lately, our international visitors may very well be desperate by now. It's not that we don't care about you, but the genre of Promotional Games was just been huge over here in the early 1990s, so there is a lot of ground to cover!
To give you all a bite, too, I picked one of the favourite US brands worldwide this time. McDonald Land has this mad clown and all the other drug-induced characters… and two fat kids. What more could you possibly ask for?
Fresh documents today, coming from batman: a manual of Day of the Tentacle and a reference card of Syndicate: American Revolt. Thanks!
Role-playing games… many people like them, but few want to review them. One major reason may be that they are often of sprawling proportions. Me, personally, I just don't like how they force me to make uninformed long-term decisions early on. Pheonix is much more brave in this regard. Here is his take on Bards Tale II: Destiny Knight.
Minding the news right below (it's a great competition – go play all the games!), I'll be carrying on with our theme of promotional games for now. Today's review is an old acquaintance: Falcon Beertender, sponsored by a Swedish brewery, is an MS-Windows remake of Tapper which Elwood had on his old website, The Keep, and which he moved here when that site closed its doors. Here is a second take on it – and if you feel that review may not have been written in a completely serious vein, remember that you may just be correct.
Believe it or not, it has been 20 years since the first Interactive Fiction Competition has been taking place. Yet it is only the second year I actually plan on having a closer look at it and judge the games.
I can't give you a satisfying answer to the question why it took me so long to pick up those texted treats, I can only give anyone, who shied away from them so far, the advice to go over to the homepage and take a look at them for yourself. Believe me, as clunky as those parsers might seem to be, most of the games offer a very unique and, above else, intense experience.
If you should be wondering why it isn't Mr Creosote, who is reminding you of the start of this year's competition: He entered a game himself, and is therefore – for reasons of fair play - not allowed to review and advertise any of the games. So I offered him to step in and try to cover as much as possible of this years offerings. We will cover some of the most memorable titles together as soon as the competition is over.
So stay tuned for further information and the first couple of short reviews and opinions!
Every story has a beginning… For the big boom of Promotional Games in the early to mid-1990s, it was this very game. Sure, there had been a few others before, but this is the one which kickstarted the huge trend. The one responsible for dedicated companies being founded just to make and market such games. And I'm talking about the golden period before'promotional game' became a synonym of 'stupid Flash clicker'.
Instead, Das Erbe positions itself in a flourishing genre of the time: adventure games. Quite an ambitious genre for a game which was supposed to be distributed free of charge. It may not have turned out to to be the longest or most complex one ever, but it spread around like wildfire anyway. Everybody played it at the time! It was the big talk of the schoolyards. If it hadn't existed, we wouldn't be running this theme on TGOD more than 20 years later. That is why it simply had to be part of the run – enjoy!
Credit for this update goes to batman again. He uploaded a manual scan of Day of the Tentacle.
Promotional Games have been a major part of this website almost since its beginnings. More than ten years ago, I reviewed a game called Elefanten. This solid, even if simplistic, economy simulation tries to sell you shoes – although it is set in an African wildlife park!
Anyway, the thing is that that old review predated the explicit establishment of what we today consider the minimum standards of what constitutes a review. So this is the perfect opportunity to revisit it! And if you really feel like it, the old review will remain available in the archive.
batman gains his first credits for his review of Stunts.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step right up, step right up! Come closer and watch this wondrous newest item in our collection of incredible curiosities from the farthest corners of the earth! We have spared neither trouble nor expense to bring this monstrosity of a promotional game right here, right now to you, our dearest and most trusting customers!
Our brave game hunter M. went through space and time to a truly exotic place where cars can fly through the vacuum of the void between the planets, which are cluttered with megalopolises filled with the strangest of cybernetic and alien creatures. Listen to the stories this valiant man has to tell after his return from this mysterious dimension called Karstadt! A man who ever so humbly said: ‘I just did my Space Job.’
Going from war to a slightly less grave subject, as per our announcement, we will be mainly covering Promotional Games in the coming two months. You know, those games which you had to pay money for and which then attempted to make you buy even more useless crap! Well, at some point, companies at least had the decency to give them away for free.
comradesean kicks the theme off with a game about food: Avoid the Noid was sponsored by the largest pizza chain worldwide. I'm writing this as lunch time is approaching, and I can feel the effect already – I'm getting hungry. So the game is working! Damn this manipulative propaganda! Oh, well… I'll better be off… for… completely unrelated reasons, of course…
…and here's Darkie's take on Tetris for the Game Boy.
Yet another game coming from Darkie4646 – Jazz Jackrabbit, proving how the former typewriter had by then turned into a viable platform for action games.
In early August of 1914, all all the major European powers had entered what would later be called the First World War. 100 years ago from today, it was already in full swing, and death and bloodshed would continue for more than four years.
Having presented a number of related games over the past two months, Herr M. and I wrap up our theme with a discussion which, retrospectively called Digital Trenches: War in computer games as illustrated on World War I, touches upon our general impressions how war was and is treated in computer games. What are your impressions? Should war be subject of such entertainment? If so, are there limits, borders which shouldn't be crossed? We would love to hear it!
Darkie's streak continues solo again with a second look at Space Quest 1, i.e. the official VGA remake of the 1980s classic.
This has got to be the freakiest occurence in the long history of this website! As you certainly noticed, a lot of new contents are published at the moment. This causes a small delay for each item due to the queue being full. GuardianBob entered Duke Nukem 3D… and while it was waiting to finally appear on the site, Darkie4646 entered the same game again, not knowing of the previous effort! So here they are, both review, both sets of screenshots and all information joined in a single, big entry – thanks, of course you both receive full credit!
When we started thinking about possible candidate for our World War I theme, one of the first things I thought of was doing a game that does not belong to the usual suspects, i.e. a game that comes from a unique genre. It soon became apparent, that there are for one not that many games set in this time period in the first place and that for two the very rare ones that are not the typical war game were already on the site.
Yet I did have a bit of luck in my search, because since this year sees the centenary of the beginning of the war, there are a lot of commemorations. One of them comes in the form of a very special game, that tries to approach this conflict in a refreshingly new fashion. And I liked it a lot.
To be honest, I always find it rather hard writing about a game I really like, especially in this game‘s case, because it came at such a surprise. What made it even harder was my wish to avoid spoilers. When I started playing this game I had absolutely no clue at all of what to expect, and this certainly made the experience even greater… especially the ending.
Still, there are a couple of thoughts I would like to share with our readers, in order to give Valiant Hearts: The Great War the attention that it deserves.
Darkie's streak continues with a second opinion about Rebel Assault.
Darkie4646 dives deeply into the murky waters of Japanese role-playing games which, of course, are played primarily for their rape scenes. Which can lead to issues of the expectations not quite matching up with what's actually there in case such players find a reasonably complex and long game as well. Have fun with Knights of Xentar!
We already had the First World War on land and in the air featured in the games presented in our running theme. So what is still missing? Right, the war took place on the sea as well. Probably less spectacular than those planes, in particular, but nevertheless an important part of the historical events!
Dreadnoughts attempts to simulate this part in a strategical manner. Developed by one of the most prolific (or notorious?) war game designers, it should take its material seriously. Well, just that the war on the sea was never really decisively won or lost by anyone – so can this game be a winner (or loser)?
Battlezone is the latest game to be reviewed by Darkie4646. You know, it's really nice to see that the number of games for which the readers don't have to rely on just one single opinion is increasing steadily!
Today's game comes courtesy of GuardianBob, and it falls into the much hated niche of uninspired movie licences – and it should also get fined for its bad pun title: 3 Ninjas Kick Back.
It's funny. When we decided upon covering games about World War 1 within the crew in these two months, each of us picked some games and then went off to play and think about them. Then we usually get back together to present our review drafts to each other before publication. The last thematic game before this one was Red Baron which Herr M. gave a thorough review. I was drafting my review about Wings. Imagine our surprise when we presented our main points to each other, only to find that they were virtually identical!
Sure, now you may think, why not? They're both flight simulations set in the same war, after all. However, what makes a game? We usually try to see what it is that really makes each game special. Many observations we had went in parallel – just, to make things even more interesting, that our evaluation of these observations were in some cases contradicting each other directly.
What are those things which both games have in common apart from genre and theme? Well, this would be your chance to read this latest review and re-read the previous one to find out…
Things are still going strong. It's Darkie4646's turn again, with his second review already. This time, he made an especially valuable contribution by reviewing Invasion of the Mutant Space Bats of Doom. That was one of the old reviews which didn't fulfil the minimum requirements established later. So now we're able to move it to the archive!
By the way, also check out Darkie's profile page where he tells his personal story, how he got into computer games and how it all progressed. What are your own experiences? It would be great if more users would share their stories like that!
Here we are again with another edition of Weird Games… your host tonight is Vagabond once again. A lover of those queer old games released on the home systems of the 80s (well, who here isn't?), he takes a look at a particularly twisted one. Flunky has its player running cryptic errands for unlicenced caricatures of the English Royals. Yes, well, and why not?!
After the quite interesting updates during the week – thanks again to the eager contributors! – we return to our theme for the weekend!
Today we take a look at one of those games that somewhat belong to the hard core of old DOS games, one of those titles that can be found on almost any abandonware site. Actually it has been on this site for quite a long time too, but since the old review does not live up to our current standards I thought it deserved another go. Not only because it is a title I care a lot about, but also because it is one of the most famous World War I computer games too – at least to gamers of a certain age.
It belongs to the probably most popular genre for games set in this conflict: The good old flight simulator. And even though there had been a couple of similar games before (and after) it, this one actually was one of the first to have a major breakthrough.
So put on you flight goggles and get on your leather jackets: We are going to take on the Red Baron!
We're currently receiving a lot of major contributions – that's great, folks, keep them coming! Today, it's BillyH666's turn. He took care of Quest for Glory: Shadow of Darkness (also known as Quest for Glory 4).
Pheonix jumps in again, with a review of the unofficial MS-DOS port of Ultima: Escape from Mount Drash, thereby completing a former stub entry. Highly appreciated!
Sky Kid is the new game in our First World War theme.
Not one of the best known games for the NES, it's still a curious piece, first of all because there are lots of airplane shooters, but few of them use pre-WWII machines.
Undoubtely this is due to the popularity they got on that war, when they were not only mass produced, but also saw cities being razed by the newer bomber planes, and the development of modern air combat techniques.
Not that some of this didn't exist before. Actually, this little game does include bombing, and a bit of air combat techniques. All of this shown in that little child-like style, which, I suppose, is what give the game it's title.
Pheonix joins our ranks with a review of the PC booter version of Archon – The Light and the Dark. He included screenshots of the CGA and the composite mode of the game – interesting comparison!
Unbelievable, but we already have two games in which you play a sheriff shooting criminals already on the site as per today: Gunfright takes a decidedly different approach than the psychological and talky Law of the West, though.
We're still looking into games concerned with the First World War, commemorating the outbreak of this unbelievable slaughter 100 years ago. Researching in advance, one thing struck us: There are basically just two genres covered. Almost all of the games are either strategic wargames or flight simulations.
Scenario: Theatre of War falls into the former category, being firmly based on the Risk concept. Interestingly enough, it really only makes the link to WW1 in its documentation – the whole game, from graphics to contents, is basically a huge anachronism.
Nevertheless, it's worth looking into. I had quite some fond memories of it. Where they justified? Is it – pure irony, considering its theme – an enjoyable game?
Here we are, still on Vagabond's streak, this time tackling a game which, at least visually, is very typical for the Spectrum: Fairlight: A Prelude. There were countless of these action adventures played from an isometric perspective on that system! Though, if the review is to be believed, only few were this complex. Enjoy!
Vagabond continues his look back on the Spectrum days with an in-depth review of Myth: History in the Making. I have only played the Amiga version of this one which came out a couple of years later, but I remember being quite impressed with the visuals. Though there is apparently little relation between the different ports apart from the basic game idea.
Incidently, this review has got database ID 1000! It's not actually the 1000th review on the site (because some old ones have been removed, like mentioned recently in the previous news item), but we're getting there – stay tuned!
Browsing the site, a major oversight occured to me: Earlier this year, I had replaced the old review of Alien Bash II as part of our site renovation theme. What I had forgotten was to move it to the review archive! Nothing has been lost, though, so it's been restored in its appropriate place.
This year marks an important centenary: On the 28th of July 1914, one month after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. This went down in history as the beginning of World War I, or the Great War as it was called before the second one. To join in on the commemorations we want to find out what kind of an impression this conflict has left on the world of video gaming. Which inspirations did the designers draw from this setting? How accurate is the depiction of the actual events? What genres are suited best for it? Stay tuned and we might give you some answers to this and a couple of other questions.
I am going to kick things off with Wing Nuts: Battle in the Sky, a game which builds a nice bridge to the previous months, since besides being set in WWI it also came on a silvery disc and made heavy use of FMV cut-scenes. It might be best described as a spoof of the very popular dogfight flight sims, or in short as ‘B-Movie meets the Red Baron’. As far as the questions above are concerned: It is a bit on the not so serious, almost silly side, and does not teach you that much about the war. Still, it does have some charm.
Finally we would also like to remind you, that we really appreciate your contributions. Every bit or byte you are willing to share is welcome and time and again it is nice to hear your opinions or stories. You can always join in, simply by adding something for the general updates or especially for the themed ones. Thanks to all you (past and future) contributors!
Aspirin's next addition is the manual of what is probably his favourite game: Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion.
This is not the launch of our next big theme, but rather the continuation of Aspirin's update streak. The Lost Vikings 2 is the slightly enhanced, but lesser known sequel to the popular home computer classic.
In a surprise move, we decided to wrap this theme up with a little related article. We discussed games of Laser Age in the past two months. We talked about what so-called Interactive Movies meant, how good (or bad) they were… but always with respect to specific ones.
Cinematics vs. Interactive Storytelling takes a more general look on the subject – mostly a couple of inherent issues in the attempt to create Interactive Movies, but also a little bit of appreciation of what this genre might have actually introduced to the computer game world in a positive sense; and finally, what they might still learn from other media like (traditional) movies.
As usual, we are curious what you guys & girls think. Were the beginnings of Laser Age a misguided failure or did they have their merits after all? Every game or article item we publish can be freely commented on our forums, even without registering. So speak up and be heard! For now, all that remains for me to say is thank you for reading and stay tuned for our next theme. You're wondering what that will be? Well, this piece of information can be found on the forums as well…
Dragon Lore: The Legend Begins is for many of us one of the better known games from the Laser Age, mostly because that, and to a lesser extent his second part, were very popular games for budget CD-Rom releases.
Maybe that's a thing that made these things look like a gimmick, the new CD-Rom games were not only receiving all that "films from the future" treatment, but also became cannon fodder for cheap releases, which most of the time didn't amount to expectations.
There were exceptions, of course, but the marketing, the budget releases and those ugly graphics from early CD games really did a lot to damage their reputation.
Still, as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so what better to do than take a look back at all the games we have been reviewing up to now? After all, I've just stated the common opinion, but in reality there were quite a few gems back then, some of which should not be forgotten.
As for us, now we have reached the end of this theme and soon, very soon, we will be back to give you a new fresh set of reviews.
Here we go again already with the next new game. Vagabond discusses a forgotten gem from the home computer era: Heavy on the Magick. Long-time visitors might remember an editorial I wrote early last year. In case you've been wondering what that rant was all about: this! Thanks, Vagabond!
It is Aspirin18's turn again. This time, it is about a lesser known version of a popular classic; a somehow unlikely version, given the controller situation on that system. But, unlikely as it may seem, it works! Of course, we're talking about Cannon Fodder for the Mega Drive. Curious? You should be!
When the Laser Age eventually had reached its peak, there was one kind of game that was immensely popular: The puzzle adventure. To many (PC) gamers this was the epitome of Multimedia games and at the same time almost synonymous to the infamous interactive movies. There is a wide range of theories why they were so incredibly popular, yet there was one thing about them to be sure: They sold like hot cakes.
There were countless attempts to get a piece of that cakes, and while most of us will think back at them with painful memories of wandering through plastic worlds full of wooden actors in search for the next ultraeasy Tangram to put together, a selected handful of them was not that bad after all. Opinions on which ones ranked among the latter may widely vary though. Especially if they are, like today’s game, part of a long running series, and were created by a comparatively new company, who tried to take things in a different direction.
You might have heard of the decline of Infocom and how they were bought by Activision. At least we had a short brush with the concluding attempt to revive the Zork games earlier this month. As a loyal reader you have certainly noticed the hints at a sequel in that review. So let us continue from there and take a look at the first title of the series which did not appear under the Infocom label. Here are excerpts from my travel log of Zork Nemesis: The Forbidden Lands.
This review of Softdisk's Dave Goes Nutz! comes from Aspirin18. Thanks!
Laser Age was also a time of third-rate actors with semi-known faces from TV to earn a quick extra dollar by appearing in games. Often, these 'stars' would actually only have one or two scenes, but still, their names and faces would prominently appear on the packaging. Do you recognise the guy on this picture? Probably not, but he's the 'star' of today's game. A small hint: His claim to (TV) fame originated in a similar role and genre.
We're talking about Mission Critical, made by Legend Entertainment, one of my favourite developers of all time. Their adventure games were usually very intelligent and challenging without being unfair – even at a time when the genre moved to simpler and simpler designs.
Seems like they couldn't keep up market-wise, unfortunately. This was one of their experiments to catch up again. Though does it also dumb down the genre or is it simply an attempt to make things more accessible? Read on, play and then make up your own mind about their intentions and their success!
In the spirit of revisiting and improving older game entries, Aspirin18 uploads a new level for Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion. Thanks!
If you think about it, it's funny how the Infocom properties sort of skipped one gaming generation: Discounting a few half-hearted attempts towards the end of the company's semi-independent lifetime as a developer, the games went straight from text adventures into the Laser Age!
After the first attempt, which should rather remain buried and forgotten, Return to Zork certainly managed to catch the press's attention. The reviews were generally positive – at a time when CD drives were still uncommon, a game primarily designed for that medium (with a stripped down floppy version only appearing as an obvious afterthought) had a novelty factor which couldn't be ignored. The fact that Activision had also hired a couple of professional actors (no big stars, but at least they didn't use the janitor…) helped the impression of a big, spectacular production as well. Last, but not least, Zork was still a name with a certain amount of pull. How does it hold up today? Well, that's for you to read in our review.
Laser Age doesn't mean just lots of videos and plastic graphics, even though this one has a bit of that. Of videos, I mean, because otherwise it ignored most of the CD-Rom glamour.
Is that bad? I don't think so, CD-Rom games at the beginning were a fad, where few seemed to care about the final product, they just had to fill a CD, no matter what.
Of course some people who ignored all this, but that wouldn't be a laser game. It's clear this is something else, a third kind of approach: the enhanced game.
Because Castles II: Siege and Conquest already did exist, but the coming of a new medium meant they took the chance to improve it.
Oh, but no, I won't say anything else, that's what the review is for, and maybe, if you feel like it, also the game itself.
Aah, the good old Laser Age! While most of the games from this era of computer gaming leave a lot to be desired in hindsight, back in the days they certainly had their charms. Being able to watch movies on your computer was simply revolutionary idea and an exciting new experience. At least it was a huge improvement over either blocky polygons or boring still images. And the real actors, even though they were more often than not cast from lower B or C (like ‘cleaning personel’) to D (like ‘doesn’t care’) movies, also look a lot more alive than state of the art motion capture dummies.
Admittedly most of the titles from the early years are best forgotten. But there came a time – shortly before everything went 3D – when Multimedia outgrew being a simple gimmick and became sophisticated enough to be put to better use than spicing up a game of tic-tac-toe or covering up some railroad tracks. One of the developers that made good use of this potential was Westwood, whose Command & Conquer and Dune series for example wouldn’t have been even half as memorable without all those nice cut-scenes.
Today we are going to take a look at one of their games, which belongs to the rare examples for an interactive movie done right. If you are curious what it takes to earn such praise, just take a look at our latest review for Lands of Lore: Guardians of Destiny.
Laser Age continues. It's funny how our themes overlap, though if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. What you probably didn't expect, though, was that a game of last year's 1983 theme would reappear in this very moment.
Long before the phenomenon entered people's homes, Dragon's Lair started a short-lived, but highly successful laser craze in the arcades. So while games like Rebel Assault or The 7th Guest kickstarted the genre on home computers, its real technical roots lie here – ten years earlier. Darkie4646 takes a second look at this seminal classic and comes to a somewhat different conclusion than I did last year.
lostaddict1 returns with his next game review. This time, it is about a pinball game which is based on an actual pinball table which is based on pool billiards. The title is, confusingly enough, 8 Ball Deluxe.
How could we tackle a theme like Laser Age without talking about those dreaded Interactive Movies which nobody ever admitted to like, but which nevertheless sold very well? There will be more of that, I'm sure. Though today, we're taking a look at a special one. It has no awful on-screen actors, just real voices. The graphics are all computer generated, and even in a special, stylish way. To make things even better in my book, it is the adaption of a novel which I happen to like quite a bit. The game is Private Eye – will it fall into the typical trap of adaptions never being up to par with the source material?
Finally, it seems we're on the way to become a truly international website! After that Russian game some time ago, we now have a Korean one. It is called Returned Raccoon and comes courtesy of pchangb.
Metal Mutant features quite a tough boss fight at the end. pchangb provides some hints about the icons which suddenly start appearing there. Thank you!
This week, Disney announced the planned release date for the next Star Wars movie. Of course, knowing those last ones from 10-15 years ago, all the fans are now conflicted in their deep love-hate relationship with this series: Should we look forward to these sequels? Or will they destroy those fond childhood memories even further? Don't kid yourself, though: Those movies will be huge hits again, because even if the 'blogs' will be full of hatred poured over the Disney executives afterwards, everybody will still go and see them!
Our theme this month is Laser Age. How does this connect? Well, Star Wars has always been on the vanguard of special effects. In the early 90s, when the CD age was just beginning LucasArts came out with a game which you might argue single-handedly started the Laser Age as far as home computers were concerned. So what better game to also kick off our theme with than Rebel Assault?
There is one very popular genre for Multiplayer Games we have not covered so far: The good old first person shooter. So, true to the nostalgic spirit of this site, let's go back to the beginnings, to one of the first titles to offer networked multiplayer gaming for this kind of game. If you are thinking of Doom right now, you are not quite right… but not that far off.
Actually we are going to take a look at one of its 'cousins', one of the many clones its massive success had spawned. But since todays game shares its publisher, that is id Software, and used almost the same engine (with some slight modifications) you might call it an official total conversion of the sci-fi shooter. It was developed by Raven Software, which had not quite made their breakthrough, though they had gained somewhat of a name for their games set in rather unsual fantasy worlds. Yet it was Heretic that finally put them on the gamer's radar.
Who said an old dog can't learn new tricks? In this case King's Bounty got a huge facelift. Actually, it became another game altogether, getting mixed with the famous Might and Magic series it spawned what would become the new beacon of New World Computing: Heroes of Might and Magic.
Is it actually worth it? Did it receive too much praise? That's up to you to decide, but just pay attention to one thing, what made that game so good was, in part, that it was a multiplayer game, making it also part of the current theme of the site.
So if you want to try it, for a better experience get somebody to play against.
This one is a curiosity in our running theme of multiplayer games. Well, actually, it weren't much of a curiosity if our target audience were a little broader. On a website focused on playing games using a computer, it is, though. The reason being that this is an application enabling you to play a game without a computer after the initial preparation! Wow, sounds intriguing, doesn't it? Curious how that might work? Then, there is only one way to find out: Head over to our brand new review, and if you like what you see, why not Make Your Own Murder Party?
P.S. Unfortunately, my scanner is currently out of commission. Scans of the box, the manual and miscellaneous material will follow once I get a replacement.
When it comes to classic Multiplayer games you certainly cannot go wrong with arcade games. As owner of one of them, what better way is there to make some extra money, than letting two (or even more) players join forces in front of one machine? On the other hand the fun for the gamers also grows exponentially and there is a chance you might even save some coins by a skilled co-player.
It might be a close call, but the most popular genre for the arcades must be beat 'em up games. And actually they lend themselves exceptionally well to multiplaying. Whether it is in head-on battles or in a more cooperative way, there is always room for one more human fighter. The best thing about them is, that they tend to be a lot less predictable than computer controlled characters, which certainly makes for a lot of surprises. So why not chose one of those games for our current theme?
The most successfull games were ported to the home systems, often while cutting some of the features (e.g. most promimently the graphics). Yet there are some versions that almost live up to the originals. Golden Axe was one of them. As conversions go its ports were actually quite decent. And true to the Multi- spirit of our running theme, today we have got reviews for two of them! A longer discussion for the Amiga and a shorter glance at the DOS version.
You know those games, you actually like a lot, but try as you might, you just can not beat them? Whether it is an unfair boss, that extra overlong level or simply the lack of a password or save system: You fail and fail again. Yet, when you finally make it, there is a moment when you come to realize that your victory does not quite live up to your expectations. You just do not know whether you should love or hate the game for it! And that's exactly how I feel about today's game right now.
For twenty years I kept playing it and always failed at a certain point, that one particular level that was simply unwinable (#15 if you are curious). Today, with a little help of an emulator (kudos again to FS-UAE) including a save function, plus some swearing on my part, at long last I saw the final victory screen… and well, it is a bit of a let down. To top it off, the demo, my very first contact to that game, which I played ages ago and which consisted of just one level had exactly the same ending. Well, so much for coming full circle.
Fortunately the game itself definitely makes up for it, true to the old saying: The race is the goal. Especially if said race is against a human opponent in one of the most creative Multiplayer modes seen in racing games. I do not want to give away too much of the review already, but the game has a very unique and effective way to let two players compete in front of only one screen. It works so well, that you really have to wonder why almost no other game picked this up. Me and Mr. Creosote took a shot at it and the results can be found in our newest review for Micro Machines.
This one is definitely not a multiplayer game. Rather, it was probably mostly played by little boys after dark, in secret, so that their parents didn't see. And the next day on the schoolyard, they would brag about it, usually making things up to make it appear much more notorious than it actually is. Of course, I'm talking about Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking For Love! (in several wrong places). jiwaats gives it a fair treatment from today's point of view.
Multiplayer online games are common place nowadays, so much that the pay-to-play are become more or less old-fashioned. Still, they have made a great impact in the evolution of videogames, and some of the most important online games are forgotten.
Most people would think Ultima Online and Everquest are the first MMORPGs, but before them the MUDs offered their services to players, and between both ages there was a single game which was the first actual multiplayer online, but maybe not so massive, RPG: Neverwinter Nights, the original AOL supported game.
It's ironic how things work. Yes, there is a newer game with the same name, but it's just an attempt to take on the fame of a forgotten game, sharing little with this old and, sadly, mostly dead game.
Today, we have the big one: the one game which fits into all of our themes this year so far! It's a re-review of a previously covered game (which also means its old review has been moved to the archive). It was the first game on this site for its system. It is also a great multiplayer game, so we decided to save it for this month: North & South!
Since we are talking about it with special attention on the multiplayer aspect, we also took the time to actually do some playing together, of course. For this, our thanks go out to Frode Solheim, author of the excellent Amiga emulator FS-UAE which enabled us to play over the Internet! Oh, and if you get the impression while reading our discussion that Herr M. is a little sour, it is because he lost every game – regardless of the scenario and which side he took. But don't tell him I told you
It’s my turn to kick off of two months of Multiplayer Games . Most of the time they are a rather intense experience, because as you know: As soon as a real human being joins you in a computer game emotions tend to run high. There always seems to be a bit more at stake than in a normal game against the often quite predictable computer, whether it’s because you can’t hide behind an unfair AI or bad level design in a head-to-head fight against human opponents, or because teaming up with a couple of friends simply is a lot more fun than trying to do everything on your own.
Today’s game rather falls into the latter category, the co-operative gaming. It’s a game me and a couple of friends spent a lot of time with over the last three years. In fact we played it so much that ‘Buddeln!’ (=‘Digging!’) – how we use to call it – has become a kind of war-cry to us. Yet, digging is only part of the game, there is also some running, fighting and even building to be done. It’s an open-world platformer, a Super Mario game on steroids. And since me and said friends had such a good time with it, I think it’s about time to tell you something about Terraria.
And just as a reminder: If you want to know what themes could be next, or yet even better wish to suggest a theme yourself, just head over to the forum. We really appreciate your feedback.
After the last update, which turned out larger than usual and also had to be committed mid-week for obvious reasons, it was hard to keep up with the weekend schedule as well. Thankfully, lostaddict1 jumped in – perfect timing – and provided an interesting review about a little known game in the tradition of Japanese console games, albeit running on a computer: God of Thunder.
It's a case of believe it or not… yet another year has passed, a lot has happened and this website is now 14 years old! Older than some of the games we're covering, probably even older than some of our own visitors. Which also makes a lot of our contents – read: game reviews – quite old.
Old game reviews aren't necessarily bad. Some could really be better, though. That is why we dedicated this complete month to replacing some which we really felt were not appropriate, i.e. the games really deserved better. You probably noticed. Well, we hope you noticed! Some other reviews had already been replaced in less structured fashion before this concerted effort.
To wrap this up, I revisited three games again today: Siege, Ambush at Sorinor and Walls of Rome. These three had previously shared one common review. This made some sense at the time (i.e. 14 years ago), because the games really are quite similar. Yet, it is not something we really want to do anymore. Each listed game does deserve its dedicated treatment and in this case, it was even quite interesting to work out the actual differences in some more detail than before. So check out those three fresh reviews and tell us what you think!
What happened to those reviews which got replaced, you ask? Are they too embarassing to still show around? By no means! They are part of the history of the site as well, so instead of deleting them and hoping nobody will remember, we have just moved them to our newly established review archive. Given the long history of the site, I do believe this could even be a sort of historical document of its own. What do you think?
It's almost like there is an indirect dialogue between Miolon and jiwaats going on here. At least it is now the former's turn again to review another adventure game of the independent variety: Teenagent.
Ready to go Back to the Beginnings again? Then follow me to a slightly controversial review from the early days of The Good Old Days. What made it so controversial? For one it is rather short (like last week ends review) and for two it takes a very aggressive stance against a popular racing game, namely Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge. But instead of simply replacing the old review, we did something different this time: Part re-review, part delayed discussion, I took a closer look at said review and tried to find out how it holds up. Is the original review right, is this one of the most boring racing games? Or is there more to it?
Adventure games seem to be in high demand around here right now. After the Sierra influx, jiwaats presents an independent title from about the same era: Flight of the Amazon Queen.
Miolon continues his quest of covering the latter day Sierra Adventure games. Torin's Passage was released as a standalone game, at a time when their more famous series' were slowly drying up. Is it worth a look? Miolon definitely thinks so.
Today we are going to (re)discuss Tetris for Game Boy. This game has been on the site for such a long time, that Back in the Beginnings of TGOD its old review did not have to meet the 300 word criterion. In fact it is 11 words short and while this does not necessarily make it a bad review (what is there is quite interesting), its obvious brevity does leave room for improvement. Since it is a rather famous game, we thought it would deserve a bit better, so I volunteered to offer a new and more in-depth view.
To be honest I almost feel a little bit bad about this, because the review that is going to be replaced is from one of my favourite reviewers, NetDanzr. Long time Abandonware-fans might remember his site 21st Century Oldies, which he ran from around 2000-2004. Back in the days, it was one of my primary information sources for anything about old games (besides The Good Old Days of course ), because there was a lot of informative trivia to be found in his reviews. Somehow it is unbelievable that this lies almost 10 years in the past now… yet not all of it is gone, since when his site closed down NetDanzr was kind enough to leave his reviews to this site, so you can still look them up.
From time to time, people will come here and how much Sierra games meant to their childhood. Few take the time to actually share this sort of nostalgia in a meaningful way, though. Miolon did, starting with King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride. Thanks!
So we are going Back to the Beginnings of TGOD, and I took the chance to re-review an old classic, namely Railroad Tycoon.
Some of you may not recall the game. No matter it got some newer entries on the series, and even a boardgame adaptation by Hasbro, the popular ones where the first original ones.
And that's what got reviewed, the original version of the game. This is also, for those of you who don't know what this month's theme is all about, an improvement over the previous entry for the game. We are taking the chance to fix some games whose entries date back to the early days of the site and we feel deserve more than they got back then.
Ultima IV and Ultima V routinely appear on people's favourite lists. Some even consider these games the 'true' beginning of the long-running series. yisztnil wants to make sure everybody can enjoy the games in the best possible way – by telling us about graphical and musical upgrades freely available on the net.
In case you wondered what this Chaos Engine which we talked about four weeks ago looks like, here it is… Well, actually, it is one of the games inspired by said game. Alien Bash II was first added to our site 10 years ago. The review I wrote back then was, to say the least, sub-par. At that time, the rules we have today for what constitutes a complete game entry were not fully defined yet. So this month, we will be going Back to the Beginnings of TGOD, re-evaluating some of those games which really would have deserved a better treatment. There is still quite a number of those. Why don't you try yourself at one of those?
Following up on one of the gaming industry's major events of last year, namely the closure of one of the formerly most prolific development studios, we revisit the beginnings of said studio. The first game they made was Rescue on Fractalus! Though before they could even release it, it got leaked and spread around the world in a preview version. Which meant that not many people needed to buy the final version anymore – it was probably not even played by many people. The company, of course, was Lucasfilm Games. Let's remember them for the good times they gave us all!
Here we are – surprise mid-week update! bucazoid reviews his first game here on this site. It goes by the same of Sabor, or Саборъ in its original spelling. Surely, all of you will know that this is the name of an old Russian hand-to-hand fighting style. Oh, you didn't? Well, then let this review teach you all about it!
First games… there are so many of them. The very first video game I ever tried has to be either one of the Game&Watch games or something on the C64 (Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, Ghostbusters or Donald Duck's Playground). The first game I owned was King's Quest 6, the first game I bought Quest for Glory IV. The first game I played on my very own computer: Deus Ex. The first game I reviewed for this site was Screamer, though I did some translations prior to that and I think the first one of them was Space Quest.
So, you see: Everything begins somewhere, there is always a first time for anything. But if you were to ask me for the first computer game I seriously played, I would definitely name Beyond Columns. And in our newest review, you will find the reason why.
Now it's my turn to keep on with the theme of First Games, and even thought I had a few to choose I decided for the Opera Soft games, which were a big hit in Spain when I was too young to even play them, and managed to stay popular for years, becoming the first games I ever played.
Some of them are already reviewed here, these are Livingstone Supongo, Goody and La abadía del crimen. Their games are hard and complex, even if they are based on very simple ideas, and for some reason they wanted to add unsatisfying endings to the mix. Not that I managed to finish any ever, and I have played lots of times, but I do know how a few of them end.
Opera was one of the main companies back in the 80s, a decade nicknamed "the Golden Era of Spanish Software", a term created back then, I suppose as a reference to "The Spanish Golden Age". It was on those years that the country had an actual videogames industry which, sadly, died with the transition from 8 bits to 16 bits.
Now this historical company receives a fourth game, which I didn't play as much as the previous three, but is also to me one of their most representative games, probably just because I used to play it as a kid.
A game with the name Mot.
For those who followed our small special about the Interactive Fiction Competition last year and wondered whether something like this would also be possible in German language, there are good news ahead. The Textpäckchen project has released its first games today – there are two at once – and they are both available in German: Wasser-Hasser and Die Geschichte des Herrn P. More games are already being worked on. Check it out!
Szkrat uploaded, apart from a box scan of the same game, a Czech translation data file for Black Thorne – just replace the original one and all the in-game texts will be displayed in your favourite language. Great!
Keeping in the spirit of improving existing game entries, meyou went back to Zone 66, providing it with a later version for download as well as a manual scan. Thanks!
Our most recent review for The Chaos Engine got me interested and I decided to give it a try myself. Since this game has a hell of a difficulty level I failed miserably at finishing even the first couple of levels. Well, I am one of those impatient persons that tend to rather cheat their way through, than learn how to seriously play such devilish games. So I opened up my hex editor and took an in-depth look at the game.
It took quite some tinkering, but in the end I created a modified version of the (MS-DOS) game, in which you never run out of lives and everything is dead cheap. If you can live with the (compared to the Amiga version) slightly inferior graphics, this is your best chance to make those endless hordes of surprise spawning scoundrels pay. Just download the Trainer, but it in the game's directory and enjoy!
…and there we are already in 2014! Time flies by sometimes, and we are still in the process of discussing what we're going to do this year after wrapping last year's theme up. Yet, that does not stop us from already starting. You see, the basic decision is that instead of having several concurrent thematic streams, we will be running shorter ones, i.e. monthly or bi-monthly instead. As I said, further themes for the rest of the year are still being discussed and we would really welcome your input – and, of course, you are all invited to join in and show the world your contribution to one theme of the other as well!
The first theme is (drumroll) First Games. January will be all about the first games we ever played or bought, the first games made by company X or something along similar lines. The Chaos Engine is a special one: It was the first game (among three others) to appear on this site when it opened its gates 14 years ago. Of course, there is a little story behind it. The thing was that back then, we didn't have the nerve yet to go into the fickle subject of emulation (remember: this was when most people were running Windows 98, i.e. MS-DOS, as their primary operating system, so old IBM games would run 'natively'). Two out of the four launching games, we had not really played much in those IBM versions, though. We had played those games extensively on the Amiga. Still, due to the aforementioned reason, we put the IBM versions on the site.
So, to finally amend this, here is a review of the game version we were really talking about back then. The original one, which made us sit together in front of the TV for hours and hours, trying to beat that damn machine… and failing again and again on this mission. Time to get out the guns and try once again!