Planner programs are one of the many relics of 90s computing. Nowadays we can happily default to Google Docs, Outlook, iCal, or whatever we have on our phones, but before we synced up with the cloud, the competition was fierce. If computers could do nothing else right, they would still store contacts and remind you about that appointment with CompuServe. Each planner had to outdo the others with a richer feature set or a more exciting interface.
Enter Seize the Day. Forget the “daybook” part of this program. The biggest and best feature is its rotating gallery plug-in. Seriously, it’s beautiful. Seize the Day » Read more
Playing Eastern Mind: The Lost Souls of Tong-Nou for the first time is a life-affirming moment. In a world where games from big publishers need to be marketable, along comes one so nearly incomprehensible that I mistook it for a fevered dream for nearly a decade afterward.
Eastern Mind is, unquestionably, the strangest game ever made. This is mainlined interactive surrealism. It’s also a deeply spiritual game. The game ruminates on the purpose of the soul while jumping erratically from moment to moment. It defies explanation.
Not many simulation games from the 80s earn their genre’s moniker like Big Rig. The creator, Bill Pogue, must have had a thing for freight trucking when he set out to recreate an accurate cross-country cargo trip. For goodness’s sake, this is a text-based driving sim that keeps track of the weight of your fuel. To the game’s detriment, all that engaging detail reminds you how monotonous the subject matter is. Big Rig » Read more
Star Wars Pit Droids! is a kids game based on the comic relief characters from the podracing segments of The Phantom Menace. If this game was produced by serial arsonists, it could not have any less going for it. You’d be excused for passing it over.
When I was a kid, I had this deep obsession with wanting to get a roller coaster video game. The object of my affection was Ultimate Ride, which looked incredible and extensive for its time. The demo took a full day to download on my dial-up connection, but in spite of my fervency, my old desktop computer didn’t meet the system requirements.
Flash-forward a few months to a trip to Office Max with my family. While rifling through the bargain bins, I found a copy of ValuSoft’s Roller Coaster Factory, which looked pretty awesome from the jewel case. It would have to do.
Roller Coaster Factory is awful. It’s inattentive and undercooked, even for a lowly budgeted game. (This time, it’s personal.)
Many of the underdiscussed games featured on this blog tend to be a little rough and weird. Even perennial favorites like The Journeyman Project are a bit raw. Oddness makes an easy target for criticism or disinterest. That can partially explain their neglect on release.
I say this to underscore how seriously I believe that MissionForce: CyberStorm is one of the greatest turn-based strategy games ever released, an absolute milestone for the genre that earns a place alongside oft-cited classics like X-COM. Few games play with genre conventions to such creative effect. Fewer still use them underlie the dehumanization of technology and war. MissionForce: CyberStorm » Read more
Haunted houses never get a fair rap. They might be cheesy and schlocky, but you’re getting what you pay for. Sometimes you just want cheap scares and creepy decorations.
So thank goodness that Don’t Go Alone doesn’t put up any pretensions. It takes place in a haunted house, and you fight ghosts. Doors burst open and scary things crawl out. There’s a fairly fun RPG here, even without the corny spookiness, and it does justice to the roadside attractions and B-movies that inspired it. Don’t Go Alone » Read more
The 90s reboot of Frogger kicks ass. I swear to god. This game is great. As great as Frogger can be, anyway. It’s like someone took the original and injected it with shark hormones.
Hyperbole aside, the Frogger remake (occasionally subtitled Frogger 3D or Frogger: He’s Back!) is easily the best in the series. It expands upon the original in clever, interesting ways without betraying its roots or stretching the formula to absurd lengths. Frogger 3D: He’s Back! » Read more
You might’ve noticed the lack of activity in the past half-year. I do this in my spare time, and there hasn’t been as much of that lately.
But the real issue is the videos. Putting up videos for each game takes an exceptional amount of time. It’s hard enough to get a good video that captures a game in 10 minutes or so, but when it involves editing or recording something outside of DOS, that can be an arduous task. It’s terrifically satisfying to see the nostalgic reactions from YouTube, but I enjoy writing about classic games much more than I do putting the videos up.
I’ve been sitting on several articles because they were missing videos, and I don’t want to keep putting that off anymore. The blog comes first now. I’ll still put up videos when I can, especially for Music Highlights (which I really enjoy doing!).
Like a terrible undergrad student, I will now cram and turn in all my essays by the end of the year. Expect a deluge of content shortly!
December 2nd marks the anniversary of QuickTime, originally released by Apple in 1991. It might not’ve been the first video codec, but it was one of the most popular and widely distributed. Back when such add-ons were popular (and before it became bloatware), QuickTime powered every adventure game and multimedia presentation under the sun. And to an extent, that’s why a lot of them don’t work on modern computers anymore. As a telling example, the first program to use and to include QuickTime was the 1991 CD-ROM From Alice to Ocean, an interactive photojournal from writer Robyn Davidson’s travels across Australia.
In an age of open content standards, QuickTime lingers, an anachronism in the same pool as RealPlayer. But let’s take a moment to appreciate all the great things QuickTime enabled 20 years ago. If you ever played a CD-ROM game or application with video, good money says that it used QuickTime.