Antiquities: MS-DOS games that we didn’t choose

    I just want to write how I went to the computer games store in 1991, went through beautiful boxes with fresh releases and chose this newest blockbuster for the MS-DOS operating system. Or that. No, it could not be in 1991. It is now thousands of old games, you can get them for free, and buy the easy movement of the paper. Today is a story inspired by the complex mechanics of program availability in the nineties, when you have neither money nor even a computer. There is an IBM PC at work of parents, or a game hour at school once a month. In such conditions, it’s not a matter of choice: they played into what is right now, if a diskette is being read, and the bell did not ring.

    Perhaps due to this limited availability, old games are remembered with such warmth. I have a very subjective choice of games for review and not a claim to completeness, but it fully corresponds to the range available in those years. Perhaps it wasn’t my only one: in those years the plates of all the houses were the same, and the games that were distributed by hand under obscure laws were not very different. I chose five, which not only played in the past. I play them now on my various old computers, and probably will play for a long time. Under the cut notes about Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion, Prince of Persia, Doom, Command & Conquer and Sim City 2000.

    I keep the diary of the collector of old pieces of iron in real time in the Telegram . On Tuesdays, I collect scrapbooks from old magazines. The latest issue is a selection of Sony Minidisc advertisements, a rare musical format that I am currently exploring.

    Prince of Persia (1989)

    Starting a selection of games in 1989 - it means to miss a lot of cool games from the eighties, but in my own timeline, familiarity with games for PC-compatible computers started just from Prince. This game was written entirely by one person - Jordan Mekner. He was helped by his father (he wrote the music), the brother (he rode in front of the video camera) and the Broderbund Software company (it didn’t bother much). The incredible realism of the protagonist's movements is due to the innovative rotoscoping method. The movements of a real person were recorded on an analog video camera, individual frames from it were printed, scanned and redrawn. It was hard to work without digital technology.

    The DOS version of the game is not really the original, the author of the code on the Apple II computer that is rapidly losing relevance. The original graphics can be assessed on this video , and to be honest, the MS-DOS version looks better. But it's not just the graphics. The game balance of Prince of Persia is almost perfect. The first three levels you learn to press the buttons, the fourth immediately begins hardcore. There are 13 levels in total, it seems a little, but an hour of real time is allotted for them - if you do not have time, start over. To be honest, in the allotted time, I still do not fit, my best result is about fifteen hours. Cheat code for super power everyone remembers?

    The game is very well documented. On siteMekner has a sample of the book (in fact, the diaries of the author's development times), the full version is available on Amazon . On Gitkhab the source code of the Prince is laid out in the original version for Apple II (and on Habré there is a translation of the article with the analysis of the sources). This game did not become a successful commercial, but it gave rise to a whole franchise (including the film), which, frankly speaking, is not so interesting to me anymore. A beautiful remake of the classic game was released for Android, but at some point it disappeared from the Play Store.

    Prince of Persia is an example of a good DOS game, and for me it’s also the favorite game of all time. I first test the new (old) sound card on it, and by the number of game hours it probably loses only Sim City. Fan site games with useful information (including codes for copy protection) - here .

    Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion (1991)

    John Romero, John Carmack, Adrian Carmack: these people are known as the creators of Doom, but when the Duma was not there, there was a dangerous Dave, a simple shooting game with a twinkle. In 1991, I didn’t know anything about id Software, I got “Dave” once a month, when we were started at school to play IBM PS / 2, three people per car, and how cool it was. The technical innovation of the game was smooth scrolling as the hero moved, and the Nintendo Super Mario Brothers became the inspiration. It remains only to add a shotgun.

    The game was played by turns, changing as soon as the previous player was “killed”. It was impossible to hone skills in this mode: I passed the game later, in the two thousandths, after spending a whole lot of time (not without pleasure), then in the DosBox emulator. In order not to get stuck on the same level, they used the non-sport method: they changed the name of the file with the level before launching the game. We did not yet know about the existence of cheat codes. The first three levels are a relatively easy walk, then you need to go through the super boss (in the screenshot), then hell begins. There were a lot of good platformers then. Of the alternatives that I recall - Prehistorik 2 , the continuation of Dave, no longer relevant to John Romero, Captain Comic, one of the earliest representatives of the genre of horizontal scrollers, and of course Commander Keen . The game can be purchased on , in exchange for money you will receive the original DOS release and emulator.

    Sim City 2000 (1993)

    Perhaps someone is closer to the original Sim City, but I just missed it, but I sat for hours and days in the sequel, Sim City 2000. I’m probably going to be criticized by real game fans, but I have never played Sim City honestly. Changing a couple of bytes in the saved copy of the game, I secured myself an unlimited loot, and from the bottom of my heart I was engaged in construction. Such irresistible sitdermanship sometimes led to ridiculous glitches: either an airplane between four skyscrapers would get stuck, or you would accidentally find a metro station to which a tunnel was not connected. I reduced taxes to zero, the population adored me. He built the cities of the future, then demolished and lined up a dozen parks of recreation and culture in the line. In short, amused as I could.

    Subsequent versions of the game (in 1999, 2003 and 2013) did not impress me at all, and now the flagship of Maxis (Electronic Arts division) is Sims, which seems to be about the same thing, but not really. I strongly recommend playing the DOS version of the game, the online version of Windows has a very strange interface. In the online store EA game can be bought for $ 6, sometimes it is distributed there for free. Cheaper - and without being tied to an online store - on .

    Doom (1993)

    If you are lucky and you have a new computer, most likely the 486th with the SoundBlaster 16 sound card, then Doom will be the first game you will launch. At least I had it that way. Although the first (well, almost) 3D first-person shooter is not particularly picky about hardware, in the mid-nineties it becomes a sort of benchmark, a demonstration of the capabilities of the latest computer technology. Okay, you can play without sound, but it will not be so interesting, and it is also advisable to connect not skinny computer speakers, but a normal sound. 25 years later, the Duma graphics looks outdated, and even the “tride” is rather conditional, but the presence of monsters, BFG9000 and tricky level maps with secrets are delivered to this day.

    Yes, probably Duke Nukem 3D (1996) was more mischievous, and because of the difficulties in obtaining normal technology, many of these games became available almost simultaneously. But still Doom is the very first, and it seems the only shooter that I went through to the end until the release of the first Far Cry and the second part of Half-Life in the two thousandths. I recommend this post with a detailed story about the game and this video with a full set of branded boxes of official releases.

    Command & Conquer (1995)

    In 1995, Windows 95 comes out, the era of DOS-games ends, although even the 1997 Quake II and MDK shooters released in 1997 have versions for MS-DOS (the amendment, I played the original Quake for DOS , the second series was still Windows. And MDK offered to install under DOS ). C & C works both there and there, as well as a multimedia era game, with video inserts between levels (of dubious quality, unlike gameplay) and a full-fledged soundtrack. I get acquainted with the game, of course, in a reduced form: 2 CDs are compressed to a couple of tens of megabytes, videos are cut out, there is no music. Not that it was a big deal: first go through a solo campaign, then even play with friends, connecting two computers with a null modem cable.

    In what other game will you have a unique opportunity to build an army of several dozen units, which will be destroyed by the only enemy tower that was put in the right place? C & C is a relatively rare game that I could not make friends with emulators, and play it on authentic hardware, but with an optical drive emulation so that the real one doesn’t buzz. The ability to run the original on a modern computer is: the fans continue to finish that original release. Electronic Arts, by the way, recently announced the release of a remake of the original C & C and the continuation (more precisely of the prequel) Red Alert, although "the development has not yet begun."

    Bonus: Shortline

    Russian games are also included in the standard set: this is a preference, and brain-exploding "Field of Miracles ", and this game, Shortline . Created by Andrey Snegov and Doc company in 1992, is a puzzle about the construction of the railway and the best means for meditation. It is impossible to play it without being distracted by something: six cities that are gradually being built can be connected a fairly small number of railway tracks, and you can easily miss a train that has not appeared in time.It is not that very complicated, but it takes up the whole brain, and allows you to disconnect from urgent business.

    However, if you become bored, the game has either a bug, or a feature - if you put it on pause and then restart, one more will be added to the trains already on the tracks. For the successful carrying of the train to the destination, you get money, for a collision - you lose, so you still need to build in the schedule the repair staff, and sometimes deal with ghost trains that do not recognize traffic lights. I recommend a slightly buggy, but quite useful remake of the game for iOS / Android - Rails .

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