Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Great old games

I've been keeping an eye on GoG.com lately.

One family of games I grew up with was the Star Wars games. Ok. I grew up with the movies and then descended into a kind of second childhood as a TIE Fighter pilot.

GoG.com have been bringing back those old Star Wars games lately. Which ones drew me in ? Or at least, which ones did I get ?

First up is X Wing. This had the player piloting the famed craft of the movies. It's HARD. Very hard. I came to this game after playing TIE Fighter to death, winning through all the missions on it. XWing is very tough. Some of the missions are totally unfair. Lol. That's how games used to be. A proper challenge with gameplay time extended by difficulty instead of repetition.

I didn't actually get to the Death Star mission on XWing. Perhaps if I acquire it again from GoG.

Gog's secret is that they take old stuff, fiddle about with it and make it work on modern systems. Master Of Magic is a prime example, this needed something called EMS Memory and was tough to run even on the systems of the day. For the new release, it gets a wrapper to load in and ... even runs on systems it was never meant for like my Macbook Air.

In XWing and TIE Fighter's cases, you literally couldn't play them without a joystick and the wrappers let the old software connect to what they need through the new software. Magic.

TIE Fighter saw you flying for the bad guys. It set you up first in the super fragile TIE Fighter before progressing through Bombers, Interceptors, Advanced and the rather silly Defender. Sometimes you got to fly Gunships, which looked a bit like the shuttles. The toughness in this one was amplified by the lack of shields. About 2 hits would be enough to see you into space dust.

But it wasn't all about the high energy stuff. There was a strategy game in 1998 which saw me haunting games shops until it was finally unleashed. This was Star Wars Rebellion (or Supremacy depending on region). Honestly, this was a bit of a disappointment. Nothing really happened in my games and you could stalemate easily by using multiple shield generators. I got bored with it and went back to Moo2. Which I still play.

Another genre was the first person shooter and Star Wars had a first here with Dark Forces. It was one of the first games that demanded 8Megabytes of RAM. Get that. The processor in this desktop may have more memory on board than that. These are truly games from a different age. It did have another first, it allowed you to aim up and down.

Cracking game too and it spawned a bunch of sequels which turned you into a bit of a lightsaber wielding nutter Jedi.

Other games ?

I'm hoping that the old Pod Racer game comes to GoG. I loved this game. Adored it even. I was hooked for way too long and I don't play it now because it has a bit of an amnesia problem. You can install it on Windows 7 but it can't see where the save games go. So, you save your game, go away, come back and reload and ... no save game. Hopefully GoG will sort that out at some point.

For a slower pace, there's Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic. This is a game set 4000 years before the movies and runs the encounters using a variant of the D and D 3rd 3d d20 rules. I actually works extremely well as a game, plus there's a good story in there too. Oh and Jennifer Hale does one of the voices. Bonus.

Other games ?

I enjoyed X Wing vs TIE Fighter, which had the gameplay of the old games but with far superior graphics. It also had a multiplayer mode and in such, was a game far ahead of its time. There was very little multiplayer scene available at launch and the latency of dial up kinda killed the multiplayer. Full marks for starting off the multiplayer revolution though. I didn't play XWing Alliance, as by this time the gameplay had been mired in more mission silliness. I heard bad things about this one and avoided it as Not Fun.

There's a few on there that I'm interested in and a few more I may acquire ...

X Wing Rogue Squadron - missed this one. Am very interested ...
Indiana Jones and the Fate Of Atlantis - Lucasarts did more than Star Wars !
X Wing and TIE Fighter

And avoid :
Grim Fandango - there's an excellent playthrough from Duncan of the Yogscast.
XWing Alliance - silliness in missions
XvT - because it didn't really add anything over the originals.
Rebellion/Supremacy - nostalgia is nice but ... Moo2 > Rebellion.

And there's a few more there too.

To finish off - the best thing about these old games was probably the music. You didn't get the full orchestral Star Wars music in the original games, typically it was MIDI tracks turned into music by the eponymous OPL3 FM Synthesiser which made early sound cards affordable. This made passable buzzes and wheezes. What was so brilliant about X Wing and TIE Fighter is that the music adjusted to what was happening while playing.

In a furball firefight ? Dramatic music
Grabbing a quiet moment ? A peaceful lull in the music.

It was great stuff and the music sounded natural. Or as natural as OPL3 FM synthesised music can sound.

I'll not buy them yet, there's a certain place for nostalgia. It can be Shiny. But sometimes those old games belong ... in the past. And they don't have goodies like those soundtracks I love. The goodie count in these games is rather stingy to be honest and I'll hold my cash back until either sales or more goodies.

I can be reserved with me cash sometimes ! Honest.

Unless it's Thorntons. Somehow I escaped the Mall tonight not with the iPad I was eyeing up but with a bag of Butter Tablet, a bag of Chocolate Fudge, a Chocolate Mouse and a bag of Mint Crunches.


Cya next time and when you buy stuff, may your goodie count always be high.

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