I have been gaming out like a madman during this self quarantine, you know, making the best use of all this time, and it got me thinking. What were the most important games to me when I was growing up? Now, I've played a lot of games in my time. In fact, I'm playing one right now as I write this. Impressed, aren't you? Each one of my selections had to have some kind of impact on me, in some way, to make the list.
This made the list because it was the first PC game I can remember ever playing. My family's first home computer was a “Kaypro II” that my father purchased in 1983. Just to give you an idea of how cutting edge it was at the time, here are the specs:
- Released 1982
- Priced at US $1595
- It weighed 26lbs or 11.7934 kgs for easy mobility
- CPU was 2.5 MHz
- RAM 64k
- The display was a 9” green screen of magical wizardry
This is what the ol' gal looked like:
“Pffft... kids today with their CGA and VGA monitors. When I was a kid we had one color, spinach green!” – NickelNDime, trying his best to relate to the younger generations.
I also recall that we were not allowed to touch the sides of the computer when it was on because it would get terribly hot. My father used to joke that if the stove ever went out, he'd be able to cook an egg on the top surface of it.
There was nothing really to the game itself. It was almost an identical copy of, “DONKEY KONG.” except way scaled down to run on this machine. The main character was represented as a lower case, “p” when moving right, and a lower case, “q” when moving left. The lower case “o” represented barrels that the player had to jump over. Here's a video I found of the game in action.
I can still recall many nights my three brothers and I huddled around this machine. Our eyes locked on this 9” green screen as if it was a ginormous drive-in movie screen. I also remember having the fear that if I was ever left alone with the computer, it would suck me in like the computer from the movie TRON:
I was just as rational back then as I am today.
My brother Chris was aware of this fear, and would exploit this fear so he could have more turns on “Ladder” than me... what a jerk.
Wait, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, “How did a six year old NickelNDime follow the story line if he had never played the first 'King's Quest?'” Well if you must know, I was a really mature for a six year old. By this time, my parents had invested in a real PC for the family... a XEROX home computer!
For those of you who don't know, the “King's Quest's” series was one of the first problem solving/puzzle type games. The player had to move from scene to scene and interact with the world. The player would type commands such as, “Look around” or, “Pick up sword.”
This game forced a six year old NickelNDime how to read and write well above the average six year old. I would watch my brothers play the game and memorize how to spell the words they typed. When I was left alone with the game, I spent countless hours trying to type in the commands to get the character to do what I wanted him to do. As a perk, I was exposed to a lot of programming humor which was littered throughout the game. The version we had was on three, 5-¼” floppy disks. I remember this because Disk 2 of our copy was damaged so we'd have to put it in just right for it to work...
...that's what she said.
Here's a clip of someone doing a play through:
Sid Meier is best known for his Civilization series, which I've also enjoyed immensely. But he also made a ton of other really exceptional games that were so out of the norm for their time. “Pirates” was one of those games. In the game, the player played an escaped captive who becomes a pirate in the Caribbean. The player could chose from the time periods of 16th, 17th, or 18 centuries.
A player would sail from town to town accepting quests from local mayors. Along the way, the player would have to manage a crew, supplies, and multiple ships as they sailed the open seas. The combat was split into ship warfare until the player crashed into the enemy ship. Then it would be a swashbuckling sword fight scene. If the player won, he'd choose what to plunder. If they lost, they would be taken prisoner.
Such a ground breaking game of its time. Here it is in action!
This game brought my love of flight simulators with my love for “Star Wars” together. The player had their choice to pilot an X-Wing, A-Wing, and Y-Wing spacecraft from the “Star Wars” universe. The player would combat against Tie-Fighters, Tie-Bombers, Star Destroyer, and even get to do the epic Death Star trench run!
The Pilot would not only have to control the flying and shooting, but there was also navigation, targeting, and power management. My brother and I would take turns being the pilot, while the other would be co-pilot. Yep, we were pretty, pretty, pretty cool.
Why nobody has bought the license and done a reboot to this game is beyond me. Here's a live look at this classic:
I have always enjoyed turn based strategy games growing up, such as the Civilization series, but I had to go with this one to make the cut. In fact, it was almost exactly like the first Civilization game except for two main differences. First, it was fantasy based, so the player picked a sorcerer and a type of magic. The second difference was that each battle became its own chess match of sorts. So, it became a game within a game.
The game would start off with letting a player choose the type of leader, followed by choosing the race the leader would lead. For example, a player could choose a Nature sorcerer as the leader, and choose the High Elves as their race. The player would then start with one settler and a fighter unit. It is up to the player to decide what spells to research, and how to delegate resources. There are two ways to claim victory. One, kill all other opponents. The second is to research and cast the Spell of Mastery.
Heroes could level
This was such an in-depth type of game which I absolutely love. There's a newer game out titled “Age of Wonders” which is very similar to this game. The creator of that game said his main inspiration for it was, “Master of Magic.”
Here it is in all of it's glory:
Well, that's my list! What did you think? If you're a gamer, and enjoy the retro type games, hopefully you'll try one that I've written about.
Until next time.
Take it easy, but take it,
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