At the beginning of the year, I reflected about quiet introspection. Turns out that in spite of all, it turned into a busy year 46 new game entries, i.e. almost one per week. Plus numerous re-visits/rewrites of games previously covered, in order to improve our existing contents. Making overall 67 new reviews – well over one a week. We covered games from 1978 as well as 2021, for 10 different systems, across all genres. Sometimes, I think we should focus more. But then, there are so many fascinating games waiting everywhere!
Today, we close the year with a returning user. beranmuden, local specialist of everything Sierra, concludes the Police Quest trilogy with part 3: The Kindred. What could be more appropriate for new year's celebrations than some crime? Remember: Don't drink and drive! Sonny Bonds surely agrees.
This or that, you decide! It's Lords of Time either way. Nine games in one. Sort of.
Handhelds does not only let you live it up by playing fast-paced action games, but also give you the opportunity for some serious mental training in every kind of puzzle and board games. Away from the worldwide community of Chess, Go and Othello, there is a little brain teaser hidden in the depths of the Gameboy library: Curtain up for the Cool Spot in his first game: 7UP Proudly Presents Spot: The Video Game!
Perspective all wrong, absolutely no sense of distance and a mega distorted body. Yet, Lionheart somehow made the reputation of being a graphical masterpiece. What is, unfortunately, much less discussed is the wide variety of levels, also as far as gameplay is concerned, the game offers. Personally, I never really got into it. It's just too ugly. Graphics matter!
Believe me, Cold War nostalgia will come. Wasn't the world a lot simpler then? No matter on which side of the iron curtain you lived, at least you knew who your enemy was. Whom not to trust. Who would protect you. Even if this act of protection would actually mean blowing up the whole world.
East vs. West: Berlin 1948 takes us back to the beginnings of that era. Don't expect a James Bond style action spectacle, though. This one deals with actual spy themes and gets quite a bit out of it.
P.S. Enjoy the world-exclusive solution I wrote upon realizing there is none out there!
What does a hearing aid have to do with a seesaw? Well, the German company Interton was founded as a manufacturer for hearing aids and produced in the 70s a little-known gaming-console. One of the around 40 released modules is Circus, which involves two clowns bouncing on a seesaw.
Believe it or not, it's Civilization V! Its free reimplementation, known as Unciv to be exact. Complex strategy, freely available for various platforms – this gets our stamp of approval, even if nowhere really old.
Blasteroids! One of the first three Amiga games I owned. Expect a bit of nostalgia here.
Back in the mid-90s, you basically had the choice between butt ugly rendered cut scenes or full motion video cutscenes staged by awful actors. It was also a time of consolidation between game genres. On the computer side of things, so-called real-time strategy was the latest craze, with tons of ultra-formulaic titles being released. SSI's War Wind received favourable reviews for breaking away from some such conventions.
Cartoon characters are subject to artistic freedom and are naturally endowed with superpowers that only fictionally exist. One representative of this species is the sheep Sven Bømwøllen. His creator didn't equipped him with horns like a real ram, but he gave him super-virility. A game from Sven’s perspective therefore obviously revolves around only one specific theme. See for yourself!
Time to revisit an old acquaintance again. 1869 was first featured on this website 20 years ago. Since then, my view on it hasn't fundamentally changed. Although widely recalled as a beloved memory from years gone long by, it simply isn't a good game. Nevertheless, it was ripe for another look as my old write-up was a tad too polemic to get a pass.
LostInSpace covers another (fairly) modern-day C64 title called Woolly Jumper. In his review, he mentions "minimalist graphics". Certainly can't see this on the excellent title screen! Then again, there is a certain tradition to making a cover which has little to do with the in-game looks
If the night sky is clear and cloudless on Halloween, you might see her riding on the broom: Witchy, the witch. In this funny casual game for the C64, a whole pack of undead ghosts is hot on her heels and you can literally hear their battle cries: "Get Witchy"!
Like the rest of the geek world, we're following the hype and taking a look back at the first Dune computer game. Not having really played for almost 20 years (you can find my previous account of it here on the website, too), it was surprisingly painless and actually rather pleasant to revisit. Can't claim this for all those games from those times
There we are at the end of the trilogy, Jungle of Doom! The game features a jungle, but preciously little doom. It's in fact a rather relaxed title, especially compared to the predecessors. Upon replaying it, it was also by far the one I had least recollection of. Could this correlation be interpreted as causality?
Of course, when you've done one, you can't just stop, can you? Especially when these games are so mercifully short. Then again, Hugo II: Whodunit is by a large margin the longest of the trilogy. If you give it a try, you'll very quickly learn which approach the developer took to achieve this increase in size. Spoiler: not the ones you've been hoping for.
Back into the House of Horrors! Inspired by the DOS Game Club (an initiative to play old-ish games together), I started this one up again. First impression: surprised by how well I remembered pretty much everything. Second thing which came to mind: how on earth did I actually solve it back in the day? On that, my memory is unfortunately fuzzy.
The protagonists in a jump 'n' run are characters that should be remembered well. So what could be better than a real superhero? Especially since the player likes to identify with them to stroke his ego. As befits a real budget release, the licence was also spared a great deal. The result is Captain Dynamo, an inglorious hero off duty.
Once again, Soccer Kid triumphs over the evil alien Scab! OK, admittedly, I did not make this picture on the most recent run. Nowadays, I usually play the game on more casual terms, not attempting to actually beat it. Nevertheless, it remains one of my go-to-games in the jump'n'run genre.
This screen, you may be familiar with, but you won't see it all the time. Raptor saw the signs of time when it was released in the early 1990s. The computer games market skyrocketed, but not because everyone suddenly became a dedicated super player. The trend towards "casual" was already beginning. So the game went against the past genre trend to make things hard. A blessing if you would like to revisit it today.
Reading an old story in an old yellowed book makes the experience that much more unique. The oldest type of computer game is probably the text adventure. On an 8-bit system, it takes the player to the roots of the whole industry. The Revenge of Moriarty, with its well-known, highly cultivated protagonist, offers furthermore literary reminiscence.
And… action! Well, in fact, you only play a messenger boy running around a Hollywood studio in Action in Hollywood, but have no fear. Some stars may become unavailable and a stand-in may be required. How convenient for our career! Hm, maybe it is actually one of those stories where in the end, it turns out the protatonist himself is the mysterious saboteur whom everyone has been searching all along?
In slightly more recent times of higher resolutions and smoother animations, Microsoft entered the game publishing arena. They were not met with missile launchers, but a rather welcomed by the market. Particularly as they carefully chose their products. Mech Commander came with a strong licence and it was overall well produced without going overboard on the videos which make many of the games of the time so cringeworthy in retrospect.
R.I.P Patrick Swayze
An episode, a tale, a story taken out of the life of a pub waiter in a small harbour town can be replayed in this short text adventure. His adversary and pirate leader is the namesake of this freeware game: Captain Cutter's Treasure. Who will come on board?
Queueing up for death… again. Cannon Fodder 2 takes the premise of the first part, but yanks up severity by various orders of magnitude. In spite of the new graphical sets, this is the impression which prevails after playing. A sequel designed solely to please the fans, not even trying to break into new audiences.
B.C. Kid – a home computer conversion of a popular Japanese console game. Technically highly competent, but was it still an appropriate design in the early 1990s? How about now, another 30 years later? Is anyone actually still playing jump 'n' run games these days? Let us know!
Going back to the days of black and white movies. Although this game does have a couple of small coloured spots. In fact, the game even delivers on what the title screen promises: a train, attacked by fighter planes, a bridge in the background… if they had squeezed in a station shootout, things would have been pretty much complete. The game is The Train. So is the movie it was inspired by.
Mad TV changed the landscape of business simulations fundamentally. People saw this genre didn't need to be all dry and niche-y. Though then, most imitators only copied the outer appearance, not so much the inner values. Does Der Planer manage?
…and now for something completely different. The larch. Sorry, wrong track. While not going back to the actual roots of its genre, XTrek defined the way "adult" text adventures would be for years to come. Why did this one, of all, gain such traction? How does it hold up today? What's the appeal of typing for virtual sex at all? Find out!
Back into… the engine! The second Chaos Engine is not nearly as well known as the first, and as so often, there is a good reason for it. Released only on an already commercially dead platform, how could a broad audience have noticed? Let's take another plunge!
Although we review new text adventures with quite some regularity, there is also a wealth of new (free) point & click adventures released every year. The Telwynium may be a good one to introduce this world to our audience. Graphics and interface clearly recall Sierra's transitionary period, when they already used mouse interfaces, but before they moved on to fancy VGA visuals.
Dungeon crawls… what genre could be possibly more timeless than this one? Tales of Maj'Eyal, or TOME4 for short made a big buzz about ten years ago, starting the big commercial revival of roguelike games. That not only makes it a worthy entry into our database for reasons of historical legacy, but it's also already a "good old" game on its own right by now.
Here comes the "Krew". The Skeleton Krew. Yes, the 90s were really an embarassing decade, weren't they? Some parts, we may nowadays think back to fondly, but for sure, where things went too far in their attempt to be "cool" (or |<3\/\/1), there is no defense. Looking beyond the cover, there could still be a good game inside nevertheless, right?
Pirates! is among the games I essentially never have stopped playing since first seeing them on my screen. Of course, back then, it was an elderly TV it was beaming from. These days, it's more likely an emulator window. One way or another, though, it remains one of those timeless designs which just draw you in time and time again.
Recently challenged on our forums about my dislike for roleplaying games, I took the opportunity to try and set things right on this account once again. Actually, if you browse a bit, you'll find a number of quite positive RPG reviews written by me here on the site. Though admittedly, there are typical aspects of the genre which I do dislike. Wizardry IV: The Return of Werdna does away with most of them, making it my favourite installment of this classic series. At least on paper, as it does have its own issues, unfortunately.
Super Mario invented the jump on the opponent's head named after him and became famous in every child's room. With the collection of a feather, he can even hurl fireballs. MetaMorphosis has lived up to his name and transformed Mario into a spider creature that shoots poison spit. The cute enemies are also all bizarre creatures that seem to have sprung from a horror trip. Don't be put off and take a look.
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!