It was around the turn of the millennium. Not a good time for computer games. The market consolidation on hardware side (IBM PC + Playstation + Nintendo 64) had also left its strong marks on the variety of software. For years, few game formulas had been ruling the market. Console-style racing games (with the camera behind the car) were going strong. The predominant computer game genres were 3D shooters and so-called real-time strategy. Adventure games were dead as a doornail, what would become the big RPG renaissance was actually just starting to bloom (though nobody suspected it yet) and apart from that… yet, a bit fat nothing. And that's just covering the standard, previously established niches. Experimentation, low-price or indie games were all non-existent. It was an awful age of uniformity. Not quite incidentally, it was the time I launched this website – to show there had been so much more in the gaming sector once. Based on a personal recommendation, I bought the totally atypical Europa Universalis and later its sequel, Europa Universalis II.
With the advent of new technologies comes a time of innovation, a time when pioneers set out to explore the potential of the latest inventions. Red Baron is remarkable in this concern because it is not only about the early days of a new kind of warfare, but because it was in itself one of the first dedicated combat flight simulators for home computers set in this era. And so it helped to lay down the basics of the genre just like the historical biplanes in it did for the aerial combat. A very fitting combination so to speak which gives the game a timeless appeal: Entering this world of rough 3D graphics and simplistic flight models seems to have a lot in common with taking off in one of those fragile flying machines of WWI. But let us take a look at how exactly this works to the game’s (dis)advantage and what else makes it a classic.