Hey there, ladies and gents! Sorry today’s post is a touch late. I had a few things I needed to attend to the other day; it’s been kind of a busy week. Before I get into writing, I’ve a few updates to share with all of you. First and foremost, my site now features a Twitter feed, so you can…see what I’m babbling about on a more regular basis. Or something. It seemed like a good idea at the time, you know?
Anyway, we didn’t quite get to finishing the list of awesome old school games last time- I’ll be topping that list off today. We’ll be back to our regular fare this Thursday. Let’s get this show on the road.
If the FPS genre has a father, it’s Doom. Just as much as Quake, this game helped to popularize first person shooters, and was among the first titles to feature networked multiplayer and a fully immersive three-dimensional environment. While Quake might have helped multiplayer FPS gaming culture evolve, it was, arguably, Doom that birthed this culture. Give it a try nowadays, and even though the graphics are dated, it’s still enjoyable. While you play, be sure tp consider for yourself that this game was the subject of considerable controversy because of its violence….
Then compare it to some modern titles like the new Mortal Kombat. Those were simpler times.
Civilization 1 and 2
And now we meet our second legend of gaming history, Sid Meier, responsible for one of the best strategy games ever made, one which spawned a near-legendary franchise. Civilization is pretty much what’s written on the box- it’s essentially a turn-based civilization simulator where players must build an empire that can stand strong over the course of history. In order to do this, the player has to manage technology choices and upgrades, diplomacy, military strength, city expansion…you get the idea. It’s rather intense, and definitely worth a try if you’ve ever been a fan of strategy games. Play Civ II if you’re on a retro kick, give Civ IV a try if you want to play one of the best in the franchise. Civ V is fun as well, but I’ve heard many say it doesn’t feel as much like a “true” Civilization game.
Myst isn’t just any point and click adventure game…it’s the point and click adventure game. Featuring one of the most immersive worlds yet seen in a video game, one could easily say that just as Quake/Doom popularized First Person Shooters, Myst popularized adventure games. I’m not going to spoil anything here- I’ll only say that it rather impressed me with its rather intricate storyline and multiple endings. Plus, you could also look at the fact that it’s essentially grown into a franchise since the release of the original- that should speak for itself.
This is the series that made the reputation of Sierra, and a title put out during the “golden age “of adventure games. It was one of the first games that felt truly interactive, and gave players (limited) freedom of choice. Sadly, I’ve never played King’s Quest at length. I had a copy of the fourth game on an old floppy disc, but five year old me couldn’t quite figure out how to play it without dying constantly. Still, the game intrigues me, and I may well have to track down .
Doom is the FPS’s father.Wolfenstein 3D is Doom’s father. Also developed by id software (they were a bloody brilliant development firm, once upon a time), the game established one of the most basic tropes of the first person shooter- running and gunning. The fact that the game was released as shareware only helped to further popularize it, and gave everyone outside gaming the first hints that this industry would one day become a very, very big thing.
This game right here…along with Super Mario World and Megaman 5, it’s responsible for my love of gaming. It was one of the first series I ever played. A tongue-in-cheek science fiction-ish platformer, Commander Keen featured beautiful graphics (for its time) and enjoyable gameplay. While it may never have become as legendary as some of the other titles on this list, it’s always going to hold a special place in my heart as one of the games that started me on gaming.
The Incredible Machine
As I’ve said on many occasions before, I’ve always enjoyed building things, so The Incredible Machine– and spin-offs such as The Incredible Toon machine- both grabbed me and pulled me in relentlessly. The premise is simple: You have tools, and you’re to build a Rube Goldberg Device to accomplish a particular task. That’s…pretty much all there is to it, and that’s all there needs to be- the studio that originally developed it might be defunct, but these games provide a shining example of what they were capable of in their glory days.
A post-apocalyptic tactical RPG, Fallout’s fascinating, richly storied world has spawned an entire franchise. The newer games in the series are fun and all- I rather enjoy them- but they’ve nothing on the originals. I love pretty much everything about these old games. The story’s good, the setting is grand,and the characters are all fairly interesting, to boot. Further, there’s something about the gameplay that grabs me- the turn-based, tactical combat system is a nice touch, and the huge list of options with which you can customize your character, far from being overwhelming, make for an even deeper experience.
Honorable Mentions: Zork and Dwarf Fortress
And now, we jump even further into the past- to a time when text-based games and ASCII art were commonplace. Zork and its sequels are massive, text-based RPGs with a rather humorous manner of presentation which has more or less ingrained itself in pop culture, while Dwarf Fortress is an ASCII based strategy/management game, where you’re tasked with keeping your dwarves rich, drunk, happy, and safe. It’s harder than it sounds, believe me. Both games are available as freeware now, and you’d do well to give each of them a try- it’s always a good idea to explore one’s roots, after all.
Now, I don’t claim that this list is comprehensive or complete. There’s a lot of downright incredible, old-school games out there that I’m sure I neglected to include on the list. If there’s a game you love that you don’t see me make mention of here, drop me a line- let me know!