The first episode of Paganitzu was put on the market as shareware for the PC and was a typical beginner's game that ran flawlessly even on weak computers. Due to the low level of difficulty, even newcomers were not immediately deterred and encouraged to play. With Amiganitzu, the game was even converted to the PC's famous predecessor 21 years later. Such an honoured game is worth a closer look for me in the following.
Whoosh! Is that one window shooting at another one? Oh, no, another missile flying in! And what is that transport plane carrying? A large battle robot? Boom, there goes my headquarters. Metal Marines put fun on Windows (3.x) desktops. Still fun today. Even if not that many people may be using Windows anymore.
Last remaining combat unit to General: "Awaiting orders". Answer from general: "Hold your ground". With these or similar words, the player may wear down his troops during a tenacious defence without remorse. The soldiers will obey blindly because, after all, the army only exists virtually. You can find out how convincingly The Perfect General II conveys the battle action in this detailed review.
Back over to the other side of the big atlantic pond, right into the most dusty backrooms of provincial Germany. This is where we find the remnants of what used to be a mainstay of game culture around here. Never eclipsing the changing most popular genres of each age, but finally outlasting almost all of them. Business simulations were always there to stay. Sneered and laughed at, but always making a solid profit. Winzer, along with others, was a part of my own socialisation.
The world's most powerful graphics technology – Infocom boasted to provide nothing less in its heyday. It was of course meant in a figurative way. Five years later, under considerable market and management pressure, things turned actually tangible. The Infocomics not only predated their illustrated text adventures, but offered nothing less than a fresh approach to storytelling. Untrodden ground, uncharted waters. A big whirlwind or just a storm in a teacup? Think about it: have you heard of these Infocomics before?
Oh, a Time-Bird? That sounds cool, doesn't it? No clue what it is, but now I sure want to have one. Oh, really? What a pity! All this effort to get it? Is it really necessary? I'll pass then. Who wants to have a go instead?
Chuck Rock on wheels. You're probably growing a bit tired of all those racing games by now, aren't you? Same for me. So don't worry, BC Racers will be the last one for now. Not going out with a big bang, admittedly, though some nice ideas inside. Enjoy it for what it is.
A shopping mall, this is exactly what was missing there at the foot of the castle! Good thing there are such forward-looking rulers as the evil queen enabling change for the advantage of all. Yes, it may not be the most original joke ever, but at least Eric the Unready certainly gets more out of the old fairytale clichés than certain other adventure games. The question is: does all this still hold up today?
All looks a bit… weird, right? Would you believe this one comes from 1995? Surely, they made much better looking racing games long before? Yes, they did. XTreme Racing made the misjudgement believing that "true 3D" would be an advantage in some way. Though who cares about graphics when playability is top-notch?
Zeppelins over London? History Line 1914-1918 (published as, but nevertheless completely unknown as The Great War 1914-1918 overseas) jumps back to the first world war. Being the forgotten offshoot of the Battle Isle series, I actually prefer it over the original, even if the cold facts may speak another language. The tanks in this one simply have more recognizable character
Another Gunboat? Yes, this is actually the one I had in mind when I thought "let's review Gunboat". But then, last week's game looked tempting enough to try as comic relief appetizer. Now, on to the main course. This one sports the fancy subtitle River Combat Simulation. Simulation may be aiming a bit high. Though then, really feeling like being on a mosquito infested river somewhere in the jungle, smelling only sweat and an old Diesel engine, while being constantly shot at may not be all that desirable anyway.
Oh well, unfortunately, it is another case of more care and effort having gone into the title screen rather than the actual game. Behind the action-packed promise, Gunboat primarily leaves its player frustrated. The action is so hectic and overloaded that you'll likely follow this purple faced, bearded guy from the picture soon. Wait a minute, is this fish mocking me?
Much needed break thanks to the holidays. A good opportunity to re-visit one of the eternal classics. The Settlers fulfils this point easily. After starting out, it feels like only a moment, but actually hours have passed. Lost in thoughts, I'm watching the busy going-on of the screen. Then I perform some optimization of the transport paths in order to dissolve some traffic jam. Actually, I don't feel like urgently winning the game. My little realm is just working so well.
Officially endorsed by the mafia… yup, such a game exists. Although a little surprisingly, it is called Crime Does Not Pay. Is this really the position the mafia would take? Wait, is it possible that this sigil on the box is actually faked? Maybe the real mafia had nothing to do with this after all? In any case, which mafia would it be? So many questions…
Playing through older racing games may feel like driving through a desolate wasteland at times, indeed. Run-down ruins which maybe looked new and shiny in their day, but which are clearly past their prime. It's a genre which hasn't aged that well broadly speaking. There may be exceptions, and I will not give up my search for those gems, obviously. Today, it's Bump 'n' Burn's turn.
Bending to popular demand, a fresh look at Cannon Fodder. Honestly, I'm always really torn about these. On the one hand, it really bugs me that 90% of our audience's attention goes towards just a few games. I keep thinking that beyond reliving those nostalgic memories, there must also be some interest to discover lesser known games of days gone by, even if it's just to put rose-tinted nostalgia into perspective. Then again, maybe those popular picks are the games which have stood the test of time and which will therefore remain in everyone's mind. You decide for yourself.
How much better can it get than this? Time Commando's title screen offers a lot. If only the actual game could deliver! It's one of those games which has aged quite badly. The early 3D rendered graphics not being able anymore to mask the shallow gameplay, it's a curiosity of its time, but not much more nowadays.
On this day, 21 years ago, The Good Old Days opened its virtual doors. It was a reaction to my personal dissatisfaction of the state I perceived the games industry to be in. No variety, exclusive focus on genres I disliked. Though there were exceptions, after all. Almost on the same day, The Sims was released. A game which, although not completely without precedence, pushed the boundaries of what a game could do, what a game could be. Now regarded "good old" as well, time for us to cover it
Stronghold is one of those games which I have personally never stopped playing since 1993. Not every day, not every week, but with an almost alarming regularity, I keep coming back to it. Which made it all the more painful that this game was covered by what was probably the worst review of the complete website. Time to alleviate this lack.
On to equally gloomy themes, SuperKarts is all about polluting the environment irreparably until our earth turns into a literal hell hole, with the last survivors being forced by mutant gods to perform deadly races for their amusement… or is it?
Aren't we all in the mood for a bit of apocalyptic material right now? Yup, time to re-visit game ID 1 of our database. Actually, It Came From the Desert wasn't the very first game to be covered here, though a later database transformation moved it forward to the beginning of the list. Nevertheless, this was a trip back to the "early days" for sure. It was a relief to see this beloved game held up well.
Lazy policeman drinking coffee and eating donuts… well, at least the landscape is quite scenic, isn't it? And I can assure you the other side of the law, the illegal booze smuggler organization the player belongs to in Moonshine Racers, doesn't exactly come across as less of a cliché. It's a big part of the fun.
Even in 1993 this game's title came across like pure provocation. Aufschwung Ost? All the big promises of social and economical upturn after the so-called German reunification of 1990 had burst like the empty bubble it had been. Bleak reality had caught up with all those who had lived a lollipop coloured dream for a brief time. If the game is to be believed, it more than anything revealed how big a lie it had all been. How foreseeable the looming disaster should have been.
Surprise, surprise: here is the sequel to last week's game. Discovery – In the Steps of Columbus, released in 1992 appropriately, has actually been on our website for a long time, though coverage left a bit to be desired. So here we go again.
Going even more obscure, Merchant Colony is a game which for sure you have never heard of. If you have… congratulations, you are one out of thousands. Though for sure, you have played other games from Impressions, as they became quite famous by the mid-90s. If you would like to know where they started, this is your opportunity!
Trying to brighten the moods again a little, you know what always works to get people entertained? Templar conspiracies. Already before the more famous Broken Sword, there was Time Gate: Knight's Chase. Though you may not have noticed back then, as it flew way below the general public's radar.
These days, new year is not so much a time of big bang and loud fireworks. What we have behind us is very likely the weirdest year of many people's lifetime so far. We kept all this out of the website on purpose, but nevertheless, it is clearly the right moment for humility and introspection. Considering and maybe re-considering what we're doing, what we're doing well and what is maybe just eating our time with no or little payoff.
So this is what we did. Following some intense discussions (not all public), The Good Old Days is changing. Slowly, but surely. Exactly in the way I said: trying to focus on what we do best, saving time on what maybe others can do better. For instance, we've now finally written down some quality standards for reviews. We're also busy going through all existing contents, classifying and improving where we can.
One thing you may have noticed is that some old game reviews are being moved to "archived" status. We don't plan to remove any existing contents, don't worry. Though this indeed should signpost that as per today, we're not fully happy with those older contents anymore. This doesn't mean anyone did anything wrong at the time. We've been online for almost 21 years now. What constitutes a good game review has evolved over the years. For instance, when we started out, highly detailed description of game mechanics, really explaining how a game plays were still the norm. By now, other media (such as Let's Play videos) have emerged which put a big question mark to the usefulness of doing this in writing. Nowadays, we are trying to write much more about interpretation, the big picture and historical classification.
With the amount of stuff we have produced over those years, all this takes time. We're proceeding step by step while obviously also keeping the site running with new contents, but sometimes also re-visiting already covered games with new thoughts. In some cases, former authors are not available anymore to re-work old contents, so at some point, we will have to take decisions concerning those items. It will all happen in due time.
A time of change, of course, is also a good opportunity for new beginnings. Where do you think the site should go? What is it that you visitors are really looking for? Feel free to share your thoughts in the forum. Here is to a better new year!