[2004-10-02]

Games to remember

 

Introduction

I will try to list all the games I remember as being great games. I do this primary for myself, I love games and I want to remember them, but it'll also be possible for you to see if you 'missed' any great games (but only if you share my taste in them, of course).

In no particular order:

Day of the Tentacle [gameguide]

Well, it all began when a friend introduced me to Maniac Mansion (released ~1987) on the C64. We played it, and I fell in love with the genre. MM was brilliant. I love the sick humor, and the point-and-click interface is still king. I've been a loyal LucasGames adventurer since then. After MM i purchased Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders for my Amiga. Another great game, full of in-jokes for those of us who played thru MM (seen any chainsaw about?). I remember that I thought it tough to solve, I actually bought a hintbook for getting past a passage on Mars. (This was quite some time before the Internet revolution. Didn't even own a modem back then.)

The Curse of Monkey Island [fansite] [gameguide]

MI3 is quite simply one of the best five games I've ever played. I've read that MI3 was a commercial fiasco, if this is true I'm dumbfunded. Sure, the replay value isn't the greatest, but this game is still one of the top five games ever! How can one NOT love the crownjewel of graphical adventures? Anyway, The Secret of Monkey Island was one of those milestones. The music is great, and so is the story and graphics too. What else can you expect from the master of graphical adventures; Ron Gilbert? Love those puns Ron! So, I played RSoMI, followed up by playing Monkey Island 2 - LeChuck's Revenge and now just recently I played the third installment in this series, The Curse of Monkey Island. As I said, a brilliant game. The only regret (as always with games in this genre) is that the game is too short. I played it on and off for a week until I solved it (with a little help; I never could figure out how to get the goldtooth out of the restaurant).

King's Quest [fanpage]

Sierra's KQ1 was one of the first games I played on the IBM-PC. Back then these games we're quite tough to solve because I hadn't learnt English real well. Actually, the fact that I took up English so early (the English in school was still a year or two away IIRC) is that I had to learn it in order to understand the games I wanted to play. I also played KQ2 thru four. KQ3 is the game in this series that is the most fresh on my mind. Me and a friend spent months playing it! Great time. Unfortunately it went downhill from there, Sierra started to do away with the command interpreter but their point-and-click interface never could rival that of LucasArts. I've never bought nor played thru any of their newer games.

Leisure Suit Larry in the land of the Lounge Lizards [fanpage]

"Ken sent me". This is a classic. Remember the questionarie in the beginning? Quite the frustration for us kids when we wanted to play. Good thing we got hold of that Alt-X trick :-). Not much to say really, it was just great fun to play.

The Bard's Tale III - The Thief of Fate

Played it for MONTHS on the C64. Mapping, more mapping and ever more mapping. I never got very far in it though, I'm really a too careful player when it comes to RPGs, which is why I play for a very long time making little progress. Just my style I guess. I would like to say a lot more about this game but I guess those of you who played it like me, you know it for what it is, and all you who didn't.. well, there is no going back in time. You just cannot load it up and say 'this is a great game', because it isn't. It was.

Quake [homepage]

Quake and it's successors are amongst the games I've invested the most time in. I'm not very good in multiplayer, but I still find it very entertaining. I never play these solo, that's just soooo boring - multiplayer is where these games really shine. There's a group of us who get together from time to time to engage in some multiplayer mayhem, both deathmatch and CTF, leaning over in the direction of more CTF as of lately. The only FPS besides Q2 currently worth playing is Half-Life. I've played a bit of Unreal, Sin, and what's their names, and found them to be extraordinary sucky, and even HL isn't all that fun. Maybe I'm growing a little bit tired of this genre, most of the games are basically technology demos of their respective graphics engine, with almost no effort put into gameplay.

Diablo

REMOVED DUE TO Blizzard being dicks.

Dune 2

The mother of all modern RTS games. I remember playing this on a friends all new sparkling 486-25MHz. Wow. The sound, the smooth graphics.. the game play. This was the first RTS I ever played (as far as I can remember anyway). I have been told though, that this is not the first game of the genre and I can believe as much, but this was surely the one that created the genre as far as modern gameplay and commercial success goes.

Total Annihilation

The best RTS ever created, blasting everything, including tens of titles released after it (such as the crappy Starcraft). After Dune 2 we dreamed about the next generation of RTS, and TA delivered. TA got everything; lots of nice units, great sound and music, 3d-units, network multiplay, crap AI, unrivaled UI/controls and that elusive "great gameplay" that everyone wants. TA is the reason the successors to C&C: Red Alert are all disgraces, not hits.

Gabriel Knight - The Beast Within

The legacy of Sierra On-Line. I first played "The Beast Within" and only much later played the first game "Sins of the Fathers". Both are really excellent adventures but they are also really really different as far as technology goes. With GK:TBW a natural evolutionary step were taken as the classic graphical adventure entered the realm of full motion video and video-capture for the characters. I believe the first GK was the first game to be 'fully speach enabled'. One thing to note about these are that they are extremely hard. Sure, so I'm not the best player around, but I had to use a walkthru for lot's of parts of the first game. The second game I had to play thru in a couple of days as I had borrowed it from a friend, but I know from the solution that GK:TBW was very very hard too. Even so, if you like adventures and can stand some crude graphics (in the case of GK:SotF) you should pick these up somewhere.

The third installation in the series is good too, but you'll have to have played the earlier games to understand all the subtle character to character interaction.

Blood Money [homepage]

Simply the greatest shoot-em'up ever constructed. This represents Psygnosis at it's height. Even today, the year 1999 C.E I have not played a shoot-em'up that is more fun. This of course could be because shoot-em'up all but died out with the downfall of the Amiga homecomputer and the era it represented. The good thing is a modern PC can emulate the Amiga and I have been known to play Blood Money on my PC in emulation mode :-)

Baldur's Gate[homepage] [fanpage]

This must now rank as one of my all time favourites. It's strenght is also it's weakness; AD&D. I wish the developers could have tweaked the game play a little more to fit into the computer, but I guess their hands were tied. I played this game heavily for a month or so and I did play it through without any cheating. I found the game to be not at all hard in any way, in fact, the game is not harder than you make it by your choice of characters and playingstyle. Sure, I reloaded a lot in some parts (like in that ending maze with the skeleton lords or whatever, damned frustrating that). Even though most of the quests were a little... shall we say 'generic', this is till one great game. I do however not agree with their tech-philosophy of using large 'hand-drawn' backdrops instead of tiles. I believe firmly that allowing for some tiling would only make the game greater (meaning of course that the function is put to use by generating random dungeons and such). The cheer amount of graphics made the game kind of slow-loading (not that you have to load very often as you play) unless you put the whole game on a disk, which is what I ended up doing. What I miss the most with the Infinity Engine is that they went with traditional animated "sprites" instead of using live 3D-models. This will surely hunt them as per the x^2 curve. Also, there must have been some room for optimization in the engine - the game slowed to a crawls as soon as you hit 10+ moving objects on the screen. This is not a giant leap in gameplay, it's like a traditional RPG with more crisp graphics, but the quests and the worlds is pretty much still of early 90's standard, but it must be noted that the addon: Tales from the Sword Coast is much much better as far as quests go. Another great thing about this game was the game many hours of happy game-hacking it gave.

I've got three different characters I'm playing with, one is my - and you will have to excuse my not very original names - original cleric, Nynaeve, and the second is my Fighter/Mage, Saruman and the last is my Fighter Svenske.

Nynaeve is a level eight cleric of immense wisdom. She's been thinking of turning to wizardry, but she haven't made up her mind yet. Meanwhile, she's working on her status as a cleric. Her stats are 11/17/19/19/21/11, and her favourite items are her ring of holiness and her sling +3.

Saruman is a level six fighter who turned to the wizardry, so far having earned level eight in that profession. His stats are 19/16/19/19/13/9 and his favourite items are his two rings of Wizardry. (See below for more on Saruman)

Svenske is a level eight dwarven fighter with an axe-fetish. He was born with a very high constitution, and after having found a tome he rose to a godlike level, gaining regeneration of hit-points. He's a real tank with his more than a hundred hitpoints. His stats are 19/18/20/14/17/9.

The characters above are as of 2000-07-03.

Update 2000-11-28: I'm now playing BG2 and I must say that they have really learnt their way around the infinity engine this time around. It's pretty clear that with BG1 they didn't have the time and/or experience to utilize the infinity engine to the fullest, but BG2 is one seriously rocking game. I'll be back here with updates as soon as I've played it through.

Update 2001-02-20: Yesterday I completed BG2. Wow, what a game. One of the best game ever, quite simply (but remember, I'm quite the BG-fanatic :-). Below you will find character files from my BG2 sessions, in chronological order:

Saruman, having travelled thru Amn to defeat Irenicus in hell, is now a dual-wielding level 6/17 Kensai/Mage. His stats are 19/15/19/19/13/10. Saruman is Neutral Good and quite sturdy.

Update 2001-07-08: Just now I closed the book on the Bhaalspawn saga. Saruman ascended at level 25.

Eye of the Beholder

I discovered EOB1 at a friends place as he played it on a ~10MHz 286. I later played EOB3 on my fathers 386-16MHz and it was sort of sluggish as I remember it - I have no idea why, had a whopping 4Mb of memory :-). Anyway, these games - I played Dungeon Master on the Amiga also. I remember discussing the technology with a friend, and I distinctly remember saying something like "Think in the future, games like these where you can really move freely..." and we just sat in awe of the thought of future games (Well, the future is here and I'm not at all impressed so far, and I won't be giving Ultima Underworld a section of its own) - anyway, these games were fun. I have sort of a love-hate relationship with dungeoncrawls, I sort of hate being spooked, but I kind of like it too :-)

Stunts / 4D Stunt Driving

We used to play this for hours and hours, trying to beat eachothers high-scores. For those not familiar with this title, it's a 3D racing game where you can drive a variety of cars through real crazy tracks with jumps and loops and stuff. A very fun game, made even better by the inclusion of an editor for creating new crazy levels. A modern multi-player remake of this wouldn't be a bad idea in my mind.

Armour-Geddon

This one is from the day when the name Psygnosis signalled quality. I guess we would call this a 3D Real-time Strategy game nowadays. Of course, this was a decade or so before the actuall Golden Age of RTS. In this game you would control four different types of vehicles, tanks, hovercrafts, helicopters and a jet-planes. Resource management was (as I remember it) mostly about putting engineers on building these vehicles, and researching things. You only controlled one vehicle at a time, and you did that in a 'first person' view. I don't really remember all the details, but you had to use these different crafts go into the world and attack the enemy, who pretty much controlled the entire game world. You got missions that you had to complete. As if this wasn't revolutionary enough, you could actually link your computer to a friend (serial) and you would both play the game together. We did that and it was a real treat, one taking a tank, for instance, and the other one going up in a helicopter to help out. If you've played this game, I doubt you would be very impressed by Ground Control (except for graphics, the 3D worlds was quite flat back then). A remake of this game would be "da' bomb", as they say.

LaserSquad

A nice turn-based tactical war-game in which you control a futuristic squad of soldiers on different missions. The game begin with you equipping your troops, then you place them on the battlefield, which is often a one-level building complex. Basically you roamed from room to room, killing robots. Each turn you would give your soldiers commands, such as move here, open this door, throw a grenade, etc. When you've spent all your action-points the enemy would do his moves, and it would repeat. Might sound dull, but it was actually quite fun.

Twintris

Simply the best implementation of tetris I've ever come across. I'm talking about the Amiga-version of course.

Populous

One of those truly different and ingenious game ideas. Well implemented too, with multiplayer support over serial cable (this was before everybody had their own LAN at home).