Archive for the ‘classic gaming’ Tag

I May Have Played This Already? – Xargon

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

It’s a concept that’s nearly unheard of now, but there was a brief period in my life where I was the only person I knew with a computer.

I bring this up not to boast or imply any sort of superiority about my upbringing, merely to illustrate a story. My dad is a CAD drafter, and as such has always needed to own really powerful computers in order to handle the 3D modeling software he uses for his job. This resulted, one spring evening, in my parents taking my sister and I to the newly-opened local Best Buy where, amidst the giant Mario and Sonic statues they had on display near a wall of tube TVs straight out of a Kriss Kross video, my family bought our very first PC. It was then that the world of PC gaming was open to me, and for someone who at that point had only seen what the NES, Genesis, and SNES had to offer it was revolutionary.

My time spent with LucasArts adventure games and DOOM could fill a series of blog posts, so for the sake of brevity I’ll get to the point. Early PC gaming brought with it the concept of shareware, an idea popularized by id’s Commander Keen games wherein you give part of your game away for free and make people buy the rest. Sort of like DLC, except you’re actually being given a sizable chunk of a game instead of being forced to pay to unlock fighting game characters or some shit.

A lot of games would cross my desk as a young lad thanks to shareware – the burgeoning PC gaming community meant my dad worked with a lot of dudes just as nerdy as he and I who would gladly make copies of shareware games and pass them around so everyone got to try them. This sort of behavior was encouraged by publishers (hence the name ‘shareware’) and seems almost quaint and naive in retrospect, considering how abhorrent the idea of sharing a game must be to most publishers these days.

Most of my fondest PC gaming memories of those days that weren’t related to LucasArts, id, or whoever made the Magic School Bus PC titles, were shareware versions of games like Hocus Pocus, Duke Nukem II, or One Must Fall: 2097. I treasure these memories and love these games dearly, even if I’m…hesitant to replay any of them. Playing them under shareware, which generally just meant I had the first “episode” of the game, equal to roughly the first 10 or so levels usually, made them so much more…mysterious. Like there’s two whole other chapters to these games that I might never actually see, and it really built them up in my mind to be epic adventures the likes of which I’d never see.

One of them, however, eluded me for years. Amidst the deluge of generally good shareware games my dad would bring home, one of them never quite made the same impression on me – to the point where I couldn’t recall it’s damn name. I knew it had a map screen, I knew you played as some beefy European model, and I knew it was kinda hard and pretty to look at. A friendly NintendoAge user helped me track this mystery game down after some 20-odd years of me not really having given it any thought or effort…and it turned out my white whale’s name was Xargon.

Xargon, sure. Why wouldn’t it be called a made-up word starting with ‘x’?

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Sometimes I Miss Video Games, You Guys

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

So I’m going to be upfront with you right now – I don’t really know where this post is going to go. As is often the case with me, I’ve had a lot of thoughts and opinions swirling around that I can’t quite express or explain concisely. Maybe the point of this post is to give me the chance to do just that! So, please bear with me, as this one might get away from me at times. Screw it, that’s why people have blogs, right?

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little iffy about modern video games, and occasionally I get a little iffy about old games too (which may surprise you considering how often I write about them on this blog, and elsewhere). It’s just occurred to me more and more that the video games industry isn’t what it used to be (ugh, I know, I’m an old person now) and I’ve felt lately that either it’s losing me, I’m losing video games, or both. And strangely enough, I have The Misadventures of Tron Bonne to thank for this revelation.

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Sadly, this wasn’t the first time Miss Tron made me…think a lot about myself. Look, whatever, I was young!

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I Should’ve Played This Sooner: Air Fortress

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

I feel like “space” was a really common setting for many games of the 8- and 16-bit eras. And why not? Everyone everywhere was still kind of coasting on the good vibes of Star Wars and Aliens, and the setting itself allowed for a degree of freedom; not that it really mattered a ton on the NES but making your enemies invaders from the stars meant they could look and act like basically whatever you felt like drawing and programming. I was pretty into space as a kid, but not in a scientific way – being an actual astronaut would be boring as hell, but I was always down for Rad Gravity or Solar Jetman or really any game that gave me the slightest pretense of leaving the chains of Earth’s gravity to launch myself into battle against nefarious invaders/native citizens of other planets who weren’t really bothering anyone.

Due to the popularity and/or wide-ranging gameplay styles of ‘games set in space’ (which, let’s face it, isn’t a super helpful descriptor for anyone), obviously there were going to be a few that slipped through the cracks of my youthful video game times. One, however, stuck with me a bit more than others, and now that I’m a grown up with my own money, I can finally put it to bed. Hubcap, Ironhide, what are we playing today?

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