News Archive - 2015
Ho Ho Ho! Guess what, you've got a present under that Christmas tree! Wow, a pair of skis?! That's right, chum! Ever felt like doing something really special on this glorious day of Our Lord? A good ski ride in the Alps would be a splendid choice! You know.. speed, thrill, adrenaline rush, trauma, death..! I mean.. victory of course! Anyway, as far as the tradition goes, a little gem from me to contribute to may-be-official winter/christmas streak of this yet another passing year. Merry Xmas, folks! Yours truly...
2015-12-19Do you know what time it is? Time for another review of course! This time about a game that took a lot of time to create and might take even more time, as well in the game’s timeline as in our real time, to finish. But that is only natural for a game about time travel, which comes from a time when one of the major players of that time’s software companies set out to create the game of all games. But before I spend too much time proving that time tends to repeat itself, lets dive right into the Timezone!
Sex sells! There is a major industry thriving on that fact, a whole branch which spawned lots of video games that feature scantily clad girls. So, how about making a meta-game, a manegerial simulation of a rising porn empire? An interesting scenario, because say what you like about this particular market, it affects everyone, leading to strong emotions ranging from lust to disgust. Now, since it is such a delicate matter, you basically have two options: Make a game that tries to shed some light on the darker corners of the human mind, an uncompromising presentation of sexual exploitation, which might make the players think about a thing or two… or you could go the way of the parody, making fun of the whole thing and get a good laugh or two out of it, because we are human after all and downplaying serious topics is our way of making them bearable.
Today's game picks the latter and easier way. Linki05 shared some thoughts on how this worked out, if it was a good or a bad idea, in our newest review for WET: The Sexy Empire.
The night sky is illuminated by the full moon. You hear just the soft sound of a light wind. Excited, you press on to the summit, enter the shack and there it is. Your prize – a new C64 game: The Cave! (Actually, it's already ten years old…)
Not that I'm in mad love with isometric games, but some of them sure deserve close attention. Phantom Club here is a really unique and obscure Spectrum game, where as a hotheaded (literally) rookie superhero Plutus the Zelator you roam in an utterly perplexing megacomplex and solve multiple missions of terminating the wicked masters of the Club. "I will ZZZAP you all!!" - says Plutus. Will he really succeed?
Ever thought you could play a detective in a gangster film? You've finally got a chance! Just keep in mind, in this MOVIE things may get a little tough, which means daddy may not be coming home tonight! Another classic isometric Spectrum game from me with certain "realism" as perceived by contemporaries, and a traditional portion of unthinkable riddles. Speaking of which, have YOU played any "So simple it's impossible" games lately?
2015-11-21Linki05 reviews Civilization V. Isn't this a bit new for this site? Not at all! First of all, there are already 50 games here which are newer. Second, it is part of one of the classic series'! Last, but not least, it was released five years ago. Back when we started in the late 90s, having games from the mid-90s was considered perfectly normal. Same age relation. So let's see where this series went…
The IF Comp 2015 is over! Which means we also conclude our coverage which we've been extending silently in the background over the past weeks. Hope you all enjoyed the games and if there are still some left to play, why not just do it now? I certainly plan to!
Ooooh, looks mysterious, doesn't it? There is a whole previously unknown Microcosm to explore! If only there was a decent game along with it… You know how it was in the early CD-based console days. Certainly, watching the cheesy TV spot is the most interesting part of digging into this piece of history
It's the perfect scoop – we have it before anyone else! Forget James Bond – this is the emperor! You like serving the dark side? Lead his armies to victory? Well, and why not (uuuuhhh…)? All the plot twists, all the plans revealed – in our review of Battle Isle 3: Shadow of the Emperor. What did you think?
2015-11-05Maverick1978 takes a second look at Blake Stone, giving a very personal account. Enjoy reading!
We just broke the 1500 floppy games mark!
For those who don't know, we have a side project for cataloguing floppy images, which you can always reach through the browse section, on the "Disk Images" option located on the right menu.
First of all, I want to thanks all those who have contributed. I just sort, check and validate all the entries. It is all the people who have helped creating images from their floppies, finding those images which other people has made, and checking the collection in search of errors to correct the ones which have really helped this project advance this far.
Because as far as I know this is currently the biggest project of its kind in existence.
But wait a moment. What is this project exactly about? Well, saving floppies.
Thanks to bit rot most of the floppies still around are close to dead. That if they still have even a bit of life in them. We want to avoid their content from dissappearing forever, and so are trying to gather together as many floppy images as possible.
Now, why is this so important? Floppies have been an important piece of the games history, but if you want something more than just love for an old medium you should know that these floppies have a tendency to contain little gems.
Lost or unknown versions of several games have appeared during while checking some of the images from the collection. And other people have found even more interesting things on similar images.
So you never know what may dissappear when your disks go kaput. And if you want to do something better be fast.
Just remember that in our forum we will be always be happy to help you to create such images, and even more happy to receive any donation to the project.
Vagabond has a date with the devil. Or rather, he had one and is now back to tell us all about it. Apparently, he tricked the evil lord. Maybe his disguise as the monk/wizard Damiano helped him?
2015-10-28Linki05 takes us back to the Cold War… Those of us who want to go back to that era at least. When the world was still much simpler, basically bipolar, with clear-cut, 'evil' enemies. Well, in this case, you wouldn't really be going back, of course, but rather just re-live those times as a game of global strategy. Have fun if you can!
Diestro presents a very special version of Pinball Illusions. As you will undoubtedly remember, each of these games consisted of exactly four tables. All but this one. The fourth one was only added in a port of a port. Fans ported it back at least one level. Enjoy!
Welcome back to The Citadel of Chaos! Didn't we just go there? Oh, sure, just last weekend to be exact. But now, instead of flipping through pages, we're stumbling through winding corridors of zeros and ones deep in the bowels of our C64. Where the main villain has turned in… that guy. Weird, I remembered him to be more menacing…
Ah, nostalgia, the bitter-sweetest of feelings! Time after time it is nice to take a look back at those times which fit the moniker of the site, and land in (presumably) simpler times, when everything was clear enough to be split in twos, like good and evil, girls and boys, childhood and adulthood, Fantasy and Science Fiction, TV Channel one and two… or Fighting Fantasy Book 1 and 2.
OK, I have to admit, I am not that old, that I would have witnessed only two of the latter, but there has been a time, when fans of the series had been eagerly anticipating a continuation of the rather successful Warlock. It is rather hard to guess how they felt like, when they finally held the book in hands, but judging by the number of books that came after them, it must have been rather on the enthusiastic side. Plus most readers of the series, whether they started it with that particular one or another, do have some very fond memories of it.
So, after besting Firetop Mountain, me and Mr Creosote thought we should stick to the series, since (spoilers!) things got better from a great start. We tried to figure out – although we did not fully agree – what made it such a great sequel and why you too should pay a visit to The Citadel of Chaos.
Ha, one day we might look back at this in nostalgia too…
Linki05, currently our most active contributor, tackles a classic diversion subject: card games on the computer desktop. Canasta may not be quite as popular as Poker, but I also have some fond memories of playing it when I was younger. Enjoy!
In our regular schedule, it's Linki05's turn again. This time, he presents the remake of a German 1980s classic. After the success of the new version of Hanse, also giving Vermeer a similar treatment was probably only a question of time. Like the other one, it was mainly a graphical update, however. Nevertheless, enjoy!
The IF Comp 2015 is on! Which means we will be covering it in the best way we can over the next few weeks. Go ahead, choose your games, I'm sure there will be something there for everyone!
2015-10-01Diestro's latest game review covers Death Rally.
2015-09-29Our regular Linki05 has his announced weekly review: Theme Hospital.
This is a familiar sight to you? I bet it is! Vagabond takes pity in all of those who like reading about games they remember rather than those who want to discover new ones – meaning this one should appeal to the vast majority of our visitors. Enjoy reminiscing about Prince of Persia!
2015-09-23Linki05 indulges us with another review, this time for one of the more unusual titles from Maxi's Sim catalogue. Which might be a bold claim, considering how many different kinds of simulations they tried back then, but the idea of playing a (seemingly) small and unimportant insect is rather unique and was not picked up all that often lateron. You might have guessed it by now: We are talking of SimAnt of course.
Congratulations, this is your prize! You can now drive this exclusive vehicle in competitive races. Sounds like a stupid idea, since it's not exactly a racing car? But then, Micro Machines was never about making much sense, was it? Rather about silly fun. Here is V3, which appropriately takes the series to the third dimension. Somewhat.
2015-09-16Of course, we would be betraying our own roots if we didn't use this opportunity to also show some attempts of how gamebooks were converted into digital games. The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, having been a smash hit in its original book form, also came out on one of the popular home computers of the time, of course. Compare for yourself!
It is a lovely day in September and you are sitting in front of your computer. You decided to visit one of your favourite sites on the world wide internet and your browser just finished loading. Scrolling to the news section you are reading the most recent news post and find a strange text, which immediately claims to usher in a new era for the site. An era of gamebooks!
What do you want to do?
- Scratch your head and ask for a more detailed explanation. Continue reading at 2
- Jump in joy and run in circles. Continue reading at 5
- Send an annoyed complaint. Continue reading at 7
- Do not care at all, you are just here for your weekend review. You find it here.
Back in the 80ies someone came up with a great way to make books more involving: By breaking up the text, adding alternative versions of the plot and connecting it with references, readers were now able to choose their own path through several stories found in one book. In a sense they were something like an analogue computer, like adding machines of old, but with a bit more text and lots of more fun (to non-mathematicians that is). They are especially akin to interactive fiction (text adventures and the more recent hyper-text experiments), so we gave it a bit of thought and after some back and forth decided to add a new system category to the site: the gamebook. They are a kind of gaming device after all, they just do not need batteries (but paper, pencils and erasers instead).
If you never have heard of them before: You are right in the middle of one. By following the instructions to the corresponding paragraphs of this news post you are ploughing your way through an interactive text.
So, what do you want to do now?
- Become kind of curious and want to know even more. Read on in section 5
- Become kind of annoyed and complain about it. Turn to section 7
- Come right to the point and read the first entry into a series of new kind of reviews. Just follow This Link.
The editors mistake you for a troll and attack! Roll a die again:
- If you rolled 1-3 see section 8
- If you rolled 4-5 see section 6
They simply ignore you!
- You start spamming in order to get their attention. Read on in section 3
- You decide to ignore them too.
- You turn to 2, because you still want to know what is all this fuss about.
That is very good to know. Since it is a special occasion we picked one of the most famous ones, the one that kicked of the genre: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. Enjoy!
You are victorious, your enemies flee before you. They will think twice about trying something new. Since you are now the master of the site you are free to go wherever you like.
You file a long and angry complaint and send it to the editors. Roll a die:
- If you rolled 1-3 see section 9
- If you rolled 4-5 see section 4
- If you rolled 6 see section 3
You stand no chance against the mighty editors! They subdue you and throw you into the reading dungeon. And there is only one book to read!
They try to reason with you: Should not you try something new once in a while? And do you even know what a gamebook is? Also, there is no need to be afraid, because there will still be regular updates too.
- Put this way, you get kind of curious and (cautiously) want to know more. Read on in section 2
- You do not care. Where are your disk images anyway? Read on in section 3
Where, indeed? Diestro providing this game actually made for the first change of out request list for a couple of years. In case you never noticed it, that is where we put particularly rare games which are so hard to come by that even we cannot locate them. Why not have a look and see if you've got one lying around?
This game comes way from the back of my shelf. I had to dust it off, literally. I had to re-study the manual, because I didn't remember a thing about it (not such a huge task). And, of course, I had to play through the game from start to finish (more laborious). The things I do to keep all of you informed!
Anyway, this is Dragonstone. Enjoy!
Linki05 reviews Building Panic. It's always a danger on websites like this one that the view on history will end up severely distorted. That is because people tend to present their favourite games and rather leave out the forgettable or really bad ones. Of course! It is good to see somebody biting the bullet for the general public's sake.
They still happen – site renovations. It's Einmal Kanzler sein's turn to receive a fresh review. Well, not that fresh, actually. It's a rather German game, so the review turned rather German as well – took some thinking how to appropriately present it in English. Not sure I succeeded.
This was actually Diestro's first contribution, but due to the MM2 already being scheduled, it overtook its predecessor. Which is funny, because it means a toy car overtook a cool, futuristic flying car! That's right, what we have here is the future of transportation – the Space Taxi. Get behind the wheel, earn money and most importantly, enjoy!
This is the debut of state_trooper. He reviews Archipelagos, a rather original early 3D effort which moves somewhere between action and puzzling while mixing it with a good dose of pseudo philosophical mythology.
Linki05 presents another German classic: Mad TV 2. Wait a minute, classic? Really? Have you ever heard about this one? So it's an overlooked, forgotten gem? Better don't get your hopes up too high…
I can hardly believe it, but this is already the second time that the same game has been reviewed pretty much at the same time by two people independently. Diestro sent in his take on Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament, which was just perfect, because I had just finished drafting my own review of the Micro Machines 2 Special Edition. So now we've got both variants covered! What you therefore get is two views on the same basic game plus some information about the differences between the two releases. That's some service, eh?
As announced, new games are being added pretty much back-to-back right now. This one comes from MasterLee and he already addressed in on the forums some time ago. Now, it finally found its way to the site so that everybody can learn about Wurmi aus Frankfurt.
We're picking up speed again, thanks to people like Linkie05 who keep producing more and more fresh contents. Today, we have Zeppelin – Giants of the Sky for you. More, also from other people, to come! Why not join the ranks of contributors as well?
We are indeed jumping around wildly throughout gaming history this year. This one comes from a time when 'international' releases already sported 'localised' titles, hence it's now listed twice. This is not just a nightmare for libraries, but it was actually a disadvantage: where the original version offered the choice of various languages, the differently titled one did not. Where is the advantage in that? Gameplay is mercifully classic, however. So have fun with Ignition (Bleifuss Fun)!
2015-07-29Our old friend GuardianBob receives his third gold star for his treatment of Shadow Warrior. A whole game about slicing people (literally) in half – that was the 1990s for you!
2015-07-25Vagabond's quest has come to an end: Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out! receives maximum rating from him! Is this the one game, the holy grail which Sierra had been working up to in all their years of existence? That's as may be – it's still a frog!
In any case, if you like oddities in the history of gaming, this one is definitely for you!
2015-07-11And now for something completely different: While it is nice to be nostalgic and take a look back at more or less remarkable games, occasionally it can be fun to brew up something new instead. So, I have done a bit of tinkering and created a small surprise for you. I do not want to spoil it, but let's just say, that you will not have heard this before.
2015-07-08beranmuden continues the unofficial Sierra Quest theme with his take on Gold Rush.
2015-07-04Sometimes, we don't have to look all that far to find good games. Where newer freeware projects tend to not receive a lot of attention, being lost in the vastness of the Internet, some manage to surpass their commercial counterparts. Axis & Allies has been ported to the computer environment officially and unofficially with a commercial background a couple of times already. Though TripleA, available for free and even open source, easily beats them all!
2015-07-01Today things get a little bit creepy: danigancho uncovered a good old horror story game from the data crypts, namely Veil of Darkness.
Doom II (Hell on Earth) was the usual cash-in sequel released shortly after the groundbreaking original. Or wasn't it? themasterofall may be able to answer this in his review.
P.S. If you're up for some Sim City 2000, why not join Herr M.'s forum initiative to build a city collaboratively?
2015-06-20Almost exactly one month ago, I wrote about the quest to find a good Sierra game. MasterLee accepted this challenge, explaining us all about what qualities he perceived in Jones in the Fast Lane. This could very well turn into another small running theme. What do you guys think?
2015-06-17themasterofall continues his coverage of well-known games with his treatment of the popular Dune II.
This time, it's Vagabond's turn to cover yet another entry to our Breakout theme. It's called PopCorn, and it's apparently quite on par with better known ones gameplay-wise. Only it's butt-ugly. And it suffers from what Vagabond calls 'French Syndrome', meaning the effect that it's rather hard to get to run correctly. Nevertheless, it may be worth the effort!
2015-06-10Continuing with the reviews from themasterofall, here is Biing! Fascinating that we've already found two people who actually like that one…
On rather short notice Mr Creosote asked me to step in and put today’s game online, a game I never had played before and only read about in his review. So how to do it justice in a news article? Well, since he made it sound rather interesting (if a tad bit lacking) I decided to take a closer look at it and lo and behold: Even though it is a rather inexpensive game the developers offers something that got a bit rare by now, namely a demo!
When was the last time you played a demo of a game? Most probably it has been a while (at least it was for me), which is funny because once they used to be quite common. Actually they were one of the best ways to either get you really interested in a game or spare you from suffering through a game that lost you right after the intro. But I guess once games became too big for their own good it just did not pay off anymore to cut them down to size.
Once in a while games still do offer demos, especially those from the indie corner. And as mentioned above today’s game is one of them. I actually would even recommend to take a look at it, because as far as demos goes this one does a lot of things right: It teases an interesting story, features well crafted characters, shows some grand sights and has just the right length without neither feeling too short nor too long. Best of all: It ends spot on with a mysterious revelation that keeps you wanting for more!
This leaves me with a lot of questions: What is the Legacy? What was up with Rosangela’s aunt? Does she need psychiatric or psychic help? How long did it take to pixel that cool skyline in the intro movie? Does the game live up to the promise of the good old Lucasarts/Sierra style adventure? Is it worth getting the full game?
Well, Mr Creosote’s opinion on The Blackwell Legacy might help getting some answers. The rest of them probably hinges on the answer to the last question…
2015-06-03themasterofall submitted a couple of second opinion reviews of games already in the database. Those are always welcome! To start things off, here is his take on Master of Magic.
2015-05-30It is time for our monthly Breakout clone! This time we go back to the advent of the good old Game Boy and take a peek at one of its earliest games. It is one of those titles that was overshadowed by giants (one of them probably being the single most recognisable game for this system) and has been slightly forgotten over the years. Undeservedly or not? We are going to find out in our newest review for Alleyway.
On our eternal quest to find a good – no, let's be realistic, we would be fine with playable – Sierra game, we came across this one. Hunter Hunted comes from a time when they were trying to become the 'multimedia' company. A time which is not remembered all that fondly usually, but for them, it also meant they were experimenting with different genres and styles. Experiments which mostly went horribly wrong, just like anything they touched. Though let's see about this one, without any prejudice.
I have got to make a confession: Although I love the Ultima series and played almost all of the games, it was not until very recently that I finished any of them. The first one I played was part six, and with a bit of cheating (OK, let‘s be more honest and make that a lot) I eventually saw the closing cinematic, without understanding anything about it. Years later I got very close with Ultima VII, but lost interest after making the big mistake of playing by walkthrough and gaining godly powers, while solving almost nothing on my own. A couple of years ago I wanted to make up for that mistakes and play the second trilogy, but gave up when I entered the first dungeon of Quest of the Avatar. This was far too primitive to my liking.
Recently I picked up the game I reviewed for today and thought to myself: This time I will make it! No walkthroughs, no cheating, no running away from crappy graphics or game controls. Lo and behold, I finally made it… and enjoyed the game quite a lot on top of it. It’s really a strange experience to accomplish something you planned to do for such a long time but never quite managed to pull off.
Well, to honour the occasion I thought it would only be fair to give said game a review, a second one at that since Wandrell, who seems quite ahead of me as far as finishing those classics is concerned, did share some thoughts about it a couple of years ago. Nevertheless here are those things that left the most lasting impression on me of Ultima: Worlds of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams. Whew, quite a name.
PS: OK, come to think of it I actually finished Mount Drash, but I would not count that as a true Ultima game.
2015-05-09Renovations of the dusty, old corners of our site continue with a re-review of Transplant, albeit at a slow pace. Obviously, we're trying to find the right balance between brand new things and those older ones.
The great thing about sharing such a website with others is that you can get recommendations from others. When we internally discussed what to cover this year, Herr M. told me about a couple of more recent games. These days (and when I say 'these days', I indeed mean the last ten years or so), a thriving 'indie' market has developed. Even though I wrote about it earlier right here, most of it is way beyond my radar. So I was quite surprised when I learned that Machinarium already dates back more than five years without me ever having heard about it; I was even more (pleasantly) surprised it proved to be quite an entertaining game! And you won't even hear me repeating the apparent standard complaint from reviewers about it being too short. That size is quite alright with me nowadays.
Yes, I know. It is hard to believe sometimes how certain games ever found publishers. Then again, they may not have cared, believing there will be enough gullible customers just picking the game up because of the box art without informing themselves first. Yes, that's probably it. Although it is strange, because Ball Raider wasn't even thrown onto the market as a budget game. Questions, questions…
Yes, I know. Doesn't look so great, does it? But then again, we don't care much about this sort of thing here, do we? Do we? At a time when everybody else was going for flashier and flashier visuals and the buzzword 'multimedia' appeared at least a dozen times in each professional game review, Sim Copter went the opposite route.
OK, if we're honest, it very likely wasn't intentional to make the game so ugly. Though, and this is the main point here, Maxis didn't forget to make the actual game good. At least if you share the minority view. Oh, you don't even know the game? Never played it? Well, then this may be a good opportunity to catch up on what happened in the world in early 1997…
Revisiting one's own old sins can be painful. The beginnings of this website 15 years ago produced some contents which I'm not particularly proud of. This is often the case with old stuff; it's a little bit embarassing. Of course, the fact that that was the time that many of the games which are our most popular entries to this very day were added (i.e. reviewed) doesn't make it better, because it means that the contents of lesser quality continue to receive more exposure than the bulk of the more recent, clearly superior stuff.
Advanced Destroyer Simulator hardly belongs to the elite circle of the most popular games ever. However, its old review did not meet our minimum length criterion established later in the site history. So I went back and replaced it. As painful as that might have been.
Sometimes it is best to keep things a bit simple: Like a caveman, a growling stomach, his trusty club and lots of baddies to bash to death with. In fact, today’s game is so ‘primitive’ it even runs on a 286, that is one of the beige-age forefathers from the dawn of PC history, and it outright yells this – along with the fact that it is still running today – at you. Yet, as any retro gamer will tell you ‘primitive’ does not always necessarily have to mean boring or unchallenging.
So, what is it that makes today’s game special? Why should it have a cult following? And why do some people consider it legendary? Well, let's get Vagabond to the podium, who has donned a loincloth, mullet and bashtastic weaponry to go hunting and gathering in the world of Prehistorik 2, and now he has some stories to tell.
2015-03-21Rats live on no evil star! – This fine piece of information I learned from the drawkcab monks in Castleview. Said monks (and lots of other weirdness) can be found in Might and Magic V: Darkside of Xeen which up until now had only a stub entry on this site. Thanks to Enceladus we could fix that today!
You learn something new every day! Did you know that Titus the Fox was originally about a French comedian, and that they swapped characters because said artist was not that famous outside of France? What’s more the game was based on one of his songs about a North African girl and that’s the reason why it is set in the Sahara or more precisely Marrakesh (in both versions).
Learning all this stuff while reading comraresean's newest review (and doing a quick Wiki-search) helped me shed a whole new light on some of the weirdness found within that game…
2015-03-12Time for another Legendary game! Elapno has some things to say about one of his favourite games: Callahan's Crosstime Saloon.
Today’s game might not be the most original as far as gameplay is concerned, but it did try to push the graphics power of the PC to its edge. In a time when DOS games either looked like pixelated Pollock paintings or, even worse, like two coloured psychedelia, this one set on crispy clear images with a colour palette that included more than two shades of pink. That it turned out to be a Breakout clone seems to have been an afterthought, and somehow you can tell.
My first contact to it was a rather strange one: I found this hidden gem on one of the the disks of my ‘backup’ version of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Wary like I was, I thought that it was a virus, but lo and behold it was a game! I immediately fell in love with its silly name and wasted a couple of days trying to master it. I distinctly remember how I was awestruck that such a small game could be that ‘complex’ and good looking.
A good part of this former glory has worn off by now – we got used to far higher standards – but to some degree it is still a rather interesting title. Why? Well, let’s take a look at Bananoid!
2015-03-05Keeping to games that broke with tried and trusted formulas: One of our newest reviewers – namely Elapno – shared some of his thoughts about a rather unique RPG title from the early nineties with us, so we can now offer you a second opinion for Darklands. Thanks!
2015-02-28Usually the First Person Shooters is somewhat formulaic: You, your guns and myriads of baddies to send to the great beyond. Yet there are some of them that try to do things a bit differently, and today's game is one of them that even spawned a short lived subgenre. Instead of shooting the next best terrorist/alien/monster you simply go hunting in them instead. A comperatively mundane task, but if done well it certainly is a welcome change. So, Anonymous went all the way back to Deer Hunter to take a look on how well it holds up today.
You know what the best thing about the site having been founded in the year 2000 is? Whenever its anniversary comes up – each time completely unexpectedly – it is at least easy to quickly calculate its age. Provided that I remember what year it is, which, painful to admit, gets harder with age as well.
So, by my unreliable count, this would be TGOD's 15th anniversary. On the one hand, what we've always been trying to provide here is an anchor of stability; for a long, long time, you can already come here and find us – doing what we do. The centrepiece of the site has remained the same throughout the years: We started showcasing games, we're still doing that and we will continue to do so.
However, we've also always had growth not just in height (adding more games), but also in breadth. As far as manpower allows, we're considering new features, new kinds of contents to complement the main things. In this vein, I'm happy to announce what I hope will be a valuable additional source of information: our brand new magazines section.
Old games magazines, usually scanned, but sometimes also HTML-ized, have become quite a staple of the Internet already. Some websites offer vast collections, and they're doing an amazing job at archiving them (and, credit where credit is due, the scans now found on this site can be downloaded in PDF format from the Internet Archive). What is often lacking is proper indexing and cross-references to additional information. Which is where we saw the gap we're trying to fill: Matching what is mentioned in the magazines with what we have and the other way around. All integrated into our regular interface.
For now, we have ACE and PC Player. Together, these cover the time from 1987 to 2001. You can simply browse them, like on other websites, or you can jump around from there to our game entries to see and learn even more (or try the respective game out). Or, if you visit one of our game entries, you will find the magazine references linked right there to see what people at the time thought about it.
How fast (or whether) this section will grow? That really depends on your feedback. How useful do you find this sort of thing? Is this addition indeed a valuable complement we should extend? Or is what other websites offer sufficient? In the end, it is like with all the things on this site: When there are people willing to take care of it, it will be done. Which is another tradition of the site: the active volunteers decide about the direction it takes.
The badge of being 'influential' is used in excess in the gaming media. If that were to be believed, every other game would have made groundbreaking innovation. At a time when there are basically no more than ten different games being remade all over and over again.
Not that it really used to be much different in the past. Every age had its typical genres, successful hits followed by a slew of clones. But then, there are the sleepers. Games which didn't sweep the world, which didn't provoke immediate imitation. However, now, almost thirty years later, Trinity is the game everybody tries to re-make.
One question about truly seminal games is always how they aged, or how they still hold up today. As unoriginal as the clones may be, they often surpass the original in every way. How is it in this case?
Life is a miracle. Just take a moment and consider how (almost?) infinitely vast the universe is… and yet we know of only one (comparatively) infinitely small place were all of the innumerable parameters are exactly right, so you can read these words. E.g. put the earth slightly closer to the sun and the oceans might start boiling, move it farther away and they start freezing. Change the axial tilt and the season will go crazy, increase the tectonic activity and nothing will ever stay the same.
One game that will give you some food for thought in this respect and show you at least a glimpse of all the incredibly complex processes that sustain our ostensibly simple everyday life is SimEarth. And MasterLee has been so kind to share some thoughts about it, so we could add this little masterpiece it to our site today.
2015-02-12We have got two file updates today: Thanks to kdenk you can now download the original and the remastered version of Digger, and thanks to jiwaats you do not have to be unprepared for your Return to Zork, because he donated not only the game's manual but also the Encyclopedia Frobozzica.
Escaping a prison/dungeon has to be one of the most common tasks in the history of computer gaming. Think of any game (that features at least a minimum of a coherent plot) and chances are extremely high that it features someone breaking free of some sort of shackles. What is it that makes this predicament so attractive to gaming? Is it the fact that it caters to some primal fears? Is it because it is a very handy universal motivation, that suits any player character possible? Or is it the nice effect that it mirrors the players entanglement with the game itself? Or, one step further, that anyone feels a prisoner at times?
Well, before things get too philosophical, let’s turn our attention to one of those games that fully embraces this cliche and goes for an all-out prison break scenario. It does not even bother setting things up, you just go to jail and want to get out again. Vagabond has been one of the most recent inmates and has the one or the other story to tell about life in Eden Blues.
2015-02-05Thanks to kdenk we can add one of the undeservedly lesser known classics today: Digger a game about the eponymous excavating machine that always looked a lot less like a caterpillar but more like a duck on wheels to me.
In our Breakout theme, I'm jumping ahead by two whole decades. After covering the 'original' (well, sort of) last time, today's game pretty much represents the last breath of this seminal idea's commercial life. Released at a time when games were getting more and more complex, it was not particularly well received. Certainly, it was inappropriate to ask for full price instead of making it a budget release. Though that hardly seems to be relevant these days. So our review only looks at the gameplay aspects of Bunny Bricks.
Sometimes reviewing a particular title is not easy, especially for those games I share a kind of love/hate relationship with. Every time I started to write about todays addition, it either sounded like undeserved praise or unfair bashing. Even after finally bringing my thoughts to (virtual) paper, I am yet undecided on whether I should finally trash the game, or forget about all its shortcomings and immediatly start replaying it again. There is so much I want to like about it, but also so many things that get me quite furious. And the worst thing about it is, that it is all in the detail: Overall the game is somewhat mediocre, but when you take a closer look at single features, it either turns out to be a horrible design flaw or a spark of utter genius.
Giving it a rating on our scale must have been one of the toughest cases I ever came upon. Normally I have got a gut feeling what it might be, compare it with the games I have done so far, and then come up with a final verdict. Not so this time: I wanted to give it a 3/6 originally. But then I thought about all the fun I had with it, and almost wanted to honour it by giving in to a 5/6. In the end there was one thing about, that saved it from the lower score, and that was its rather unique setting. Although there are a couple more steampunk (computer) games by now (which you can still count on one hand), this one was probably one of the first. Well, at least it was my first contact to this strange genre-mix of fantasy and not-quite-yet-science-fiction.
But before I give too much away about it in this news post already: Head right over to my thoughts about Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura
At times it is very interesting not only to take a look back at old games, but also on old reviews. Try as you might, it is either impossible to write a piece of software or a comment about it that does not include some piece of zeitgeist. Just think of how strong the focus on the technology is in contemporary reviews (e.g. ‘best/worst graphics ever’), while most modern reviews about older games are mostly about nostalgia (e.g. ‘used to play this with my dog’), historical nitpicks (e.g. 'the first time the right mouse button was used’) or an interesting feature of the game that was either groundbreaking or is long lost and forgotten (for better or for worse). Of course not all of them are that stereotypical, but I guess it is save to say, that nine out of ten times you can tell how many years after the release of the game the review was written, only by keeping an eye out for signs like the ones mentioned above.
To give you an example: Today I am going to add an old review from the Home of the Underdogs to our database, in order to contrast one of my rather poetic reviews from last year. Try to see for yourself if you can tell some differences (or maybe even similarities) in the approach to the game. And who knows: Maybe you even want to share some thoughts of your own about Zork Nemesis?
Today we are about to revisit a classic, a strategy title that has been in our collection since its earliest days. Quite fittingly, since its original version was one of the first turn-based war games for home computers. As such it naturally was very influental to the games to come after it, and many of its (then) new features, like the seminal cities with their unit production or fog of war, are very familiar by now.
Back in the 80ies Empire: Wargame of the Century gained quite a following, so much so, that about 10 years later it got a rewrite in a 'deluxe' version which did not only update the graphics but added some nice updates to the game mechanics, while keeping the refreshingly simple gameplay intact.
But I have to admit that although I have been trying to beat it many times, I am not really an expert at this game, this honour belongs to other people: Give thanks to dogchainx for our newest review of Empire Deluxe!
You know what you see there on the left? Well, of course you do! You also like it? Then, you're in for a treat, because you'll be seeing a bit more of it right here on this site in the course of this year. Herr M. and me decided to give one of the seminal classic of gaming history some regular coverage and after some discussion, the decision was to take Breakout.
Starting out, we have a review of the Atari 2600 version. Why not the arcade original? Well, there is really no way to play it unless you buy an original arcade machine. The thing is, this game predates the regular use of general purpose microprocessors in such machines. So it was not actually written in software, which would make it possible to emulate it in something like MAME pretty easily, but the game's logic was actually built completely from hardware gates. So this first official home system conversion seemed like the next best thing to kick off.