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The Unsung Heroes of PC Gaming History

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the setting-the-standard dept.

Classic Games (Games) 325

An anonymous reader writes "The history of PC gaming is littered with many well-known and highly regarded titles, but what about the titles you mightn't have heard of? This list of the top games in the history of the PC includes the usual suspects, such as Half-Life and Doom, but also some often overlooked PC games including such classics as Elite, the space trading RPG developed in 1984 by two college friends from Cambridge for the Acorn and BB Micro systems. The game used a truly elegant programming hack to create over 200 different worlds to explore while using 32kb of memory, all with 3D wireframes. Also in the list is Robot War, which required players to actually code the participants, and one of the first online multiplayer RPGs, Neverwinter Nights, which introduced many of the developer and user behaviors, such as custom guilds, that have made modern RPGs so popular." What's your favorite classic game that always gets overlooked in these kinds of lists? My vote goes for Star Control 2.

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I remember Elite (1)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | about 4 years ago | (#31594908)

Of course Elite became Eve Online, exactly the same game only with better graphics, multiplayer and millions of options designed to suck out your lifespan through your wallet.

I played Elite a lot as a kid, which is why I couldn't see the Eve Online screen for the deja vu

Re:I remember Elite (1)

julesh (229690) | about 4 years ago | (#31594916)

Of course Elite became Eve Online [...]

Have you spent more than about 30 seconds playing EVE? The game play is _completely_ different. This isn't a good thing.

Re:I remember Elite (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31594958)

Correct. If Elite became a game, it's probably Freelancer. Elite was an inspiration(as was Freelancer)for EVE Online. But EVE is its own game, mainly because it relies primarily on its players to generate the content. There's PvE content, yes, but the real meat and potatoes is what takes place in all the different forms of its PvP game. Trade, industry, piracy, empire-building and everything in between, EVE is a competition for resources, and a game which enables playstyles other games would call dishonorable at best and outright griefing at worst.

Seriously. Go read about the Guiding Hand Social Club and the downfall of BOB via Haargoth. Check out the EBANK scandal and dig up the dirt on the controversies of t20 and Larkonis Trassler.

Re:I remember Elite (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 4 years ago | (#31595680)

Freelancer is more of a guided game with a very static game world, I think the hardcore Elite fans went with the X series. Freelancer has some of the Wing Commander ideals mixed into it like having you fight foreign military ships in a crappy basic thingy and winning, in X when a pirate tells you to drop your cargo or die you should make sure you're actually flying a war machine (or a fast ship that can run to the police before he can get to you) before telling him to fuck off.

So many games (4, Interesting)

twisteddk (201366) | about 4 years ago | (#31595336)

so little time and space to remember them.

Yes, Elite was probably one of the first large scale space exploration/combat games. And for all its simplicity, quite unique and addictive.

But many games exist that fits this bill in other genres:

Eye of the beholder, one of the first D&D dungeon hacks, certainly one of the more popular
Tiger mission, the first shoot 'em up. The previous ones were shoot 'em sideways, mainly
Zaxxon, the first shoot 'em sideways that tried to use 3D effects and movements
Ghost'n'Goblins, the original platform game
Maniac Mansion, an original graphical horror adventure game
Paperboy, one of the first arcadegames that had more than a joystick (joysticks today, you can't even find in an arcade hall)
Mines of Titan, among the first D&D style games with a strategic combat system
Arkanoid, for all its originality, never duplicated sucessfully.
Star wars rebellion, just for the fact that I still play that game today, more than 10 years since its original release.

Being the nerdy, gamer, looser type that I am, I could probably go on for a LONG time, and still not have gotten to the 1990'ies. ;)

Re:So many games (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 4 years ago | (#31595722)

Tiger Mission the first vertical shmup? Does Space Invaders not count?
Ghosts 'n Goblins is from 1985, Donkey Kong from 1981 and I'm sure that wasn't even the first platform game. Hell, Super Mario Bros predates the release of GnG by about a week.

Re:So many games (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 years ago | (#31595736)

I'll second Eye of the Beholder. It was one of my first experiences with getting really engrossed in a game.

Clamdigger! (3, Funny)

chromas (1085949) | about 4 years ago | (#31594912)

Tyrone calls you up, you know, in the game, and he says, "I can dig more clams than you, stupid!" And you've got to say, "Nuh-uh, boy!" And then y'all gotta race down to the beach with your buckets and your shovels. And the object of the game is to find parking.

Ugh-lympics (2, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 4 years ago | (#31595104)

Ugh-lympics [wikipedia.org] still stands as the funniest game I've ever played, the "mate toss" event was also an early example of political incorrectness in a PC game. The mate toss event was similar to a hammer throw except instead of a hammer you swung your cave girl around by the hair and tossed her down the field.

The first truly addictive game I encoutered was Sopwith [wikipedia.org]

Microprose (5, Interesting)

MeesterCat (926256) | about 4 years ago | (#31594920)

The games that have kept me occupied for the most time would be the various Microprose sims. F-19 Stealth Fighter, M1 Tank Platoon, Falcon 4.0. Admittedly, it may have been the manual that kept me occupied. Good times...

I would also make an honourable mention for Sir Geoff Crammond and his Formula 1 Grand Prix series.

Re:Microprose (1)

julesh (229690) | about 4 years ago | (#31594954)

The games that have kept me occupied for the most time would be the various Microprose sims.

Oh, yeah. I must have spent *months* playing Gunship. The career progression stuff that Microprose did with those sims really got you hooked.

Re:Microprose (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about 4 years ago | (#31595252)

My favourite Microprose game was Kennedy Approach. I loved the digitised speech and the way the game built up to become really frantic with 4 or 5 planes stacked while you tried to bring in another one having an emergency whilst trying to keep the light planes coming and going quick enough to not lose points. An unusual but very addictive game.

Re:Microprose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31594998)

And don't forget SWOTL from Lucas Arts, as well as Aces of the Pacific, Aces Over Europe, A-10 Tank Killer and Red Baron. from Dynamix. Also Steel Panthers 1/2/3 from SSI.

Back then I loved me some flight and combat sims.

Neverwinter nights... (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 4 years ago | (#31594924)

... was garbage.

A list of great games which were commercial failures were:

-Freespace 2
-Planescape torment.

Even mentioning the name neverwinter should send chills down any RPG'ers spine. Neverwinter nights tried to do too much with too little budget, their idea's about tools were awesome but the main single player game suffered because of it. Doing a toolset is hard while doing a game at the sametime, truthfully some days I wish bioware had infinite money to have really made NWN shine, good ideas but the development time and resources for something like that to make it good would be like a decade.

It wasn't until mass effect/dragon age that Bioware really got back on track to making good games again. NWN could not hold a candle to bioware's previous RPG's and NWN couldn't decide if it wanted to be diablo'ish action RPG or a more party based RPG where the battle mechanics were abstracted from the player.

A big issue for me was that there was not enough NPC's in your party to have the sole focus entirely on your character. I kept wishing it played more like diablo because there wasn't enough to keep you busy before you were left doing nothing. It was one of the most boring games I had ever played on the PC. The pacing was slow just like MMO's where travel time was severely slow/gimped.

It's one of the things about MMO's that I hate the most is that they really ruined more actiony-rpg elements of older single player games when game companies went mad copying MMO's.

The problem was is putting boring crap from MMO's in in your single player RPG is bad, MMO's do it just to keep you from finishing the content too fast, but that kills the pacing of the game. A singleplayer game should always have good mechanics and pacing of battles / story but NWN had none of that, the only thing that tentatively saved it (years later) were the mods players made, and even then it was still god awfully boring because the main game was so unfinished.

Re:Neverwinter nights... (1)

NickFortune (613926) | about 4 years ago | (#31595192)

I enjoyed Neverwinter Nights, a lot. I never did play the second one, and I didn't much get on with Hordes of the Underdark (and that's for all of the "Hall of the Fire Giant King" coolness of the setting). But basic NWN I enjoyed a lot.

Dragon Age on the other hand, irritated me on so many levels that I shall be skipping any other title in the series, and probably the Mass Effect ones as well.

I guess we're look for different things in a cRPG. From my viewpoint, BioWare has gone downhill rapidly of late.

Re:Neverwinter nights... (2, Informative)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | about 4 years ago | (#31595488)

It wasn't until mass effect/dragon age that Bioware really got back on track to making good games again.

You forgot KOTOR, but yeah... NWN's campaign really bit. I enjoyed the gameplay, but the plot was mind-numbingly stupid.

trash reviewers (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31594934)

Iain Thomson: Minesweeper has probably cost more time in lost productivity in the office than anything else, including human resources meetings.

The game was bundled in with Windows 3.11 and all subsequent versions and is simplicity itself.

It Came out in Windows 3.1 (possibly earlier), not Windows 3.11 for workgroups.

World of Warcraft Should not even be on the list, Warcraft maybe, Starcraft maybe, Diablo maybe, but not WoW.

Duke Nukem Forever should be (as well as Starcraft Ghost) for having names that are ironically fitting.

How about MUDs? (5, Insightful)

Kelbear (870538) | about 4 years ago | (#31594936)

MMOs are so popular these days, but MUDs, the text-based progenitors of MMOs started it all off, and are still quite active, with literally decades of their content built-up and still being added.

I spent a while earlier this year exploring a new MUD, picked it out of a list of hundreds.e

Facts (5, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | about 4 years ago | (#31594944)

Don't let them get in the way of a good article.

"Escape Velocity is a precursor to Elite in many ways"

Yes, I can see how a 1996 release is a precursor to a 1984 one.

"In addition to a rich storyline, [Elite] used 3D wireframe graphics."

Rich storyline? You mean the fact that the game was packaged with a story that bore at least a passing resemblance to the gameplay? That's not what we mean these days when we say a game has a storyline.

"For a start it used a truly elegant programming hack to create over 200 different worlds to explore while using 32kb of memory"

(1) IIRC, there were 1024 worlds in Elite.
(2) Not particularly elegant or innovative, if you ask me, using a PRNG to generate random worlds. Things very much like it had been done time and time before. We've largely stopped doing it this way, but only because we don't have to any more...

Re:Facts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31595446)

And Elite didn't run on a BB Micro it ran on a BBC Micro (as in British Broadcasting Corporation).

Re:Facts (1)

ZosoZ (1603973) | about 4 years ago | (#31595734)

"For a start it used a truly elegant programming hack to create over 200 different worlds to explore while using 32kb of memory"

(1) IIRC, there were 1024 worlds in Elite. (2) Not particularly elegant or innovative, if you ask me, using a PRNG to generate random worlds. Things very much like it had been done time and time before. We've largely stopped doing it this way, but only because we don't have to any more...

Eight galaxies, with 256 stars in each; from an extract from "Backroom Boys" [guardian.co.uk] (well worth picking up):

Obviously, Bell and Braben couldn't have an infinity of other galaxies. That would just be silly. But they could, they agreed, have a coolly huge number of galaxies, as they explained to Acorn, showing off the feature. In fact, they said, they planned to have... 2 to the power of 48 of them, approximately 282,000,000,000,000 - two hundred and eighty-two million million galaxies. It was one of the few moments when Acornsoft put its foot down. Acornsoft could see that having 282,000,000,000,000 galaxies would rub the player's nose in the artificiality of what they were enjoying. A number that gigantic made it inescapably clear that some sort of mathematical concoction was involved. And it exposed the underlying sameness of all the star systems, generated as they were from only a handful of varying qualities. The pink volcanoes would come round again and again. It would be better to be more modest. Somewhere between the unimpressed response to a small game universe and the disbelieving response to a ridiculously large one lay a zone of awe. That was where they should be aiming, and eight galaxies containing 256 stars each seemed like a reasonable guess at its whereabouts.

Not sure anything like that had been done "time and time before", and certainly not combined with real time 3D graphics.

a lament for the lost King of Dragon Pass (1)

KingCarrot (897403) | about 4 years ago | (#31594948)

My vote definitely goes for the turnbased strategy/RPG King of Dragon Pass by A-Sharp.
No moving graphics, but hand-drawn still-pictures and beautiful music. Plus the entire game has a really cool story and since it consists of loads of random events it is eminently suitable for several playthroughs. This is a game where you are rewarded for thinking.

The second place probably goes to Emperor of the Fading Suns. A pretty cool space strategy game spanning multiple hex-based planets a la civilization connected by wormholes. The problem was that it was riddled with bugs that made the entire game unbalanced. Several mods have corrected this and made the game what it was meant to be: a universe based on Dune with interplanetary conquests and a bad-ass church going after heretics.

Some noteworthy mentions are probably from that old genre of 1st person RPG/strategy games which includes Dune, Alien Legacy and others.

Finally! (1)

Svippy (876087) | about 4 years ago | (#31594962)

Some Star Control 2 love! My goodness have that game been too often neglected. Such a shame.

Personally I'd like to see Caesar III and The Neverhood among these lists more often. Also vastly underrated games. I still play my fair share of Caesar III, such a shame no one has thought of making an open source clone.

Bullet FPS genre (1)

Kelbear (870538) | about 4 years ago | (#31594980)

There was a shift in the FPS genre from wacky off-the-wall concepts towards gritty bullet-based shooters. It started off with the SWAT mod for Quake1 which really introduced location-based damage, which led to the work of the Actionquake2 team, from which Gooseman went on to develop Counterstrike!

Suddenly, there were bullet-based games everywhere. The confluence of location-based damage, and hit-scan bullets, led to a branching of FPS skills. By this time, most FPS player honed their skills on games designed around a wide variety explosive chaotic weaponry, the most prominent being the Rocket Launcher, the staple of FPS games of the time.

Now, players had to learn to land headshots on the target, rather than trying to detonate rockets at the target's feet. It was a distinct branching in playstyle. Think about how many FPS are all fundamentally about landing headshots now. Today you see a great deal of these semi-realistic/realistic shooters. But it wasn't always so.

Darklands, Commander Keen, Hunter Hunted, etc. (4, Interesting)

Fallingcow (213461) | about 4 years ago | (#31594988)

Darklands [wikipedia.org]. Freakin' great game. RPG, set in a medieval Germany where everything people at the time believed to exist does, in fact, exist. Very free form, but with two or three "main" quests you can go on (or not)--I won't say what they are, since discovering them is part of the fun. Pain-in-the-ass manual-based copy protection, so be sure to grab a PDF of the manual if you download it from an abandonware site or something.

The Commander Keen [wikipedia.org] series (especially 4-6), Duke Nukem [wikipedia.org] (especially 2--I'm not talking about the 3-D Dukes here) and Hunter Hunted [wikipedia.org] all need more love than they get. They're not better than the best console platform games, but they're at least in the same league.

Tachyon: The Fringe [wikipedia.org] was one of the last good space fighter "sim" games. Doesn't come up nearly as often as X-Wing, Tie Fighter, etc.

STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl [wikipedia.org] is the only really good FPS game I've played in quite a damn while that wasn't developed by Valve, but either no one else who played it thought so or not nearly enough people played it.

Re:Darklands, Commander Keen, Hunter Hunted, etc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31595194)

I think you're the first person who has ever given me validation that Darklands existed. It's an amazing game that I wish more people had played back in its day.

Star Control 2. was the best sh@t i ever (3, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | about 4 years ago | (#31594996)

had the opportunity to experience on a computer. im not even saying 'game', mind that, im saying 'the best shit'.

it was SO good that in a good 1-2 weeks of the 1 month duration i played it for the first time, i really lost the track of space/time continuum. when i got off the game at times to drink, or eat, and saw my family members, it felt like i was not there and i was in a dream instead.

it was SO good.

fortunate for you people who didnt catch up with it in 1992, that they made it open source http://sc2.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

note - while playing do NOT turn on voice acting at any point. it will kill your experience. the aliens, cultures pack much more punch when you do dialogues in text.

maaaaan. i wish i could really forget the game and play it all over again.

Re:Star Control 2. was the best sh@t i ever (1)

CarbonShell (1313583) | about 4 years ago | (#31595244)

Personally I was a HUGE MoO2 fan, but I agree that this type of game should be mentioned.

Though I also find it strange they will list WoW but not the vitally important Ultima Online.

Re:Star Control 2. was the best sh@t i ever (1)

Rennt (582550) | about 4 years ago | (#31595436)

What a game, the universe was teaming with alien races, and really felt limitless. I never even found all the races or got close to beating the game as a kid. I did beat it years later in its Ur-Quan Masters form. Highly recommended.

Re:Star Control 2. was the best sh@t i ever (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 4 years ago | (#31595510)

man i played it 2 times more just to find more about precursors.

and the music it had. blazing.

No mention of Starcraft? (1)

Decollete (1637235) | about 4 years ago | (#31595004)

For having transformed a country's generation with celebrity nerds with APM that even the trading firms would choose to hire, Starcraft should probably be in that list also.

Dwarf Fortress (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31595012)

Thats a simple one,

Dwarf Fortress!

This is one of the best games which has been in development by a single programmer for quite some time now. He works fulltime on the game living on donations from a very dedicated fanbase. The game revolves around creating and guiding (controlling would be too big of a word) a settlement of dwarfs, however the detail in the game in staggering. An insane amount of bodyparts are tracked for each dwarf, there is gravity, magma, water, and ofcourse.. lots of mining! The game offers almost an unlimited amount of fun and it is really up to the user to push the boundries of code!

If i this got your attention be sure to have a look at it: http://www.bay12games.com/dwarves/

PS. Dont let the graphics fool you:
- http://df.magmawiki.com/index.php/Stonesense_%28visualizer%29
- http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d3/Mayday-tileset.gif

Re:Dwarf Fortress (2, Interesting)

Zardus (464755) | about 4 years ago | (#31595494)

Heck yeah! I would say that, compensating for nostalgia, Dwarf Fortress is probably the best game ever created, on any platform. It's also the most ambitious. Seriously, anyone that hasn't played it yet needs to do so immediately.

Sierra games anyone!! Quake2 with 3dfx voodoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31595024)

How is this possible that no Sierra titles have been included?
Kings Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest, Leisure suit Larry!
Black Cauldron!

Re:Sierra games anyone!! Quake2 with 3dfx voodoo (1)

anarche (1525323) | about 4 years ago | (#31595372)

+1 vote King's Quest, or Quest For Glory (although it came later). I sat down and played through all Q4G games a few years ago. *sigh* the fun

Re:Sierra games anyone!! Quake2 with 3dfx voodoo (1)

dingen (958134) | about 4 years ago | (#31595528)

How is this possible that no Sierra titles have been included?

Because the question is "What's your favorite classic game that always gets overlooked in these kinds of lists?". Obviously, nobody in their right mind would ever forget the many quality Quest-games by Sierra in any list about PC gaming history.

Add to the unsung heros list (2, Insightful)

MemoryDragon (544441) | about 4 years ago | (#31595088)

Zork, Ultima 3-7 and Ultima Underworld and the original System Shock, maybe as well the Pinball Construction Set which was the first game with an in place graphical editor.

Re:Add to the unsung heros list (3, Interesting)

beh (4759) | about 4 years ago | (#31595148)

I'd still prefer Ultima IV out of that list...

More unsung heroes:

Lords Of Midnight (ZX Spectrum, C64): strategy game with some RPG traits in the characters. Also the first game I remember to have multiple ways for the player to win (find and destroy the 'Ice Crown', OR take the opponent's home citadel ('Ushgarak') - and similar your opponent can win by killing Morkin (one of the player characters), subdue the players armies, or take the southern citadel (xajorkith). Also, what made the game 'special' was that it used first-person perspective of the entire map, not a 'map view' where you can see everything, but rather forcing the player to find out about the landscape by exploring it. (there was a drawn basic map of what the country would look like on the back of the box to give you some rough bearings, but not enough to know or see everything).

Tau Ceti (ZX Spectrum, C64): just the complexity of the game, in a game that loads completely in 48k memory. I could have screamed when I finally won the game and all the game does it say 'mission accomplished, thank you' - but I did get the authors argument that he would have had to scrap part of the gameplay in order to put in some special effects to end the game...

Atic Atac (ZX Spectrum): Labyrinth game; made cool by introducing difficulty levels purely through the characters, by giving each character a set of secret passages - with the easiest just having more secret passages than the more difficult ones. Also, at the end of the game, it would present you with a score, but also the time taken to finish and the percentage of rooms seen in the game - so you can always replay it trying to maximise on something different (just straight highest possible score; try and get out as quickly as possible; visit as many rooms as possible before finishing). To me, this makes the game replayable even today...

In what far-flung universe is Elite "forgotten"? (5, Insightful)

liquiddark (719647) | about 4 years ago | (#31595094)

The 50 or so citations on the wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] tend to indicate what most older gamers probably already know - that Elite has been a touchpoint for space games for the last 20 years or more. Who in the world can forget the damn game when it comes up constantly in game reviews and top X games lists?

Re:In what far-flung universe is Elite "forgotten" (1)

dingen (958134) | about 4 years ago | (#31595352)

I was thinking exactly the same thing while reading the summary. Who on earth would call himself a gamer and not know the awesomeness that was Elite.

Thief & System Shock (5, Insightful)

rarel (697734) | about 4 years ago | (#31595120)

While they do appear on some niche top ten lists sometimes, they are often forgotten. Thief was a radical departure from the traditional shooting game, making shooting the last (and usually deadly) option you should consider, a shift few games have made since. System Shock was one of the first fully 3D games and its sequel one of the first true RPG/FPS hybrids, paving the way for Deus Ex.

Re:Thief & System Shock (1)

WML MUNSON (895262) | about 4 years ago | (#31595268)

System Shock ruled. It was the first game I ever played that really made me cower in a (virtual) corner out of fear and not want to move.

I remember it used to get nods from PC Gamers lists back when I subscribed, though they would always note how it was completely ignored by the mainstream. Poor marketing, I suppose.

Re:Thief & System Shock (1)

ebolaZaireRules (987875) | about 4 years ago | (#31595578)

I LOVE Shock 2... and I'd love to tweak shock1 to fix the crosshairs to the center of the screen & use mouselook.

I liked the mention of EV in the article... played all 3 of them, and a great many plugins.

"Abuse" (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31595172)

Abuse [wikipedia.org], a 1996 DOS sidescroller, continues to rank high on my list of all-time favorites, for three reasons:

1. The gameplay was some of the fastest and most addictive in its day, with frightening sound effects, amazing art direction, interactive and destructible levels, and dynamic lighting that changed depending on the player's and enemy's actions.

2. The player control system, using both the keyboard (movement and object interaction) and the mouse (aiming and shooting), had little to no equal in my DOS games library. I could run forward and shoot plasma rounds behind me, or fly in any direction and drop grenades in any independent trajectory.

2. The level editor, with its intuitive link-based object system, taught me about binary triggers, logic gates, and AI long before I picked up my first computer engineering textbook. Extraordinarily-complicated systems could be created in short order with just a little practice. I still edit and play custom levels using DOSBox to this day just because of the editor.

It's a shame that Crack dot Com, Abuse's parent company, fell off the face of the earth shortly after (even despite Bungie taking up the Mac version). Fansites still exist, and there used to be much talk about Abuse 2, but this game has largely been relegated to the history books in lieu of today's keyboard-mouse FPS games.

My Favorite Classics that get Overlooked... (1)

djdevon3 (947872) | about 4 years ago | (#31595176)

1. Marathon
2. Diablo
3. Duke Nukem
4. Quake 2
5. Warcraft 2
They don't get enough credit for their innovation in which we all still receive the fruits of their labors in one way or another today. Everyone has their own list of games like this who grew up during that time. I wouldn't expect nor hope that all lists are like mine because it would mean there would be no competition then and no innovation. ;)

Re:My Favorite Classics that get Overlooked... (1)

anss123 (985305) | about 4 years ago | (#31595272)

When I think "overlooked but influential" I tent to think of games like "Hovertank 3D" (ever heard of that - it's from the same people that made Quake II) or Smurfs for the uh... Coleco console.

Dune 2 set the mark for strategy games (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31595184)

I think that Dune 2 had a big impact on Strategy games. The title was the first to really lay down the foundations for games like C&C (and don't we all wish Westwood was still making C&C?!). All the modern games that stem from that style are around today, mostly because of the success of Dune 2. imho.

Starflight (2, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | about 4 years ago | (#31595186)

I still am amazed what can be accomplished on two 360K Floppy CDs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starflight [wikipedia.org]

I have a Tandy TX (80286 on a XT motherboard) just so I can have access to this game. The sequel Starflight II was almost as good as the original and introduced a race whose appearance and actions changed based on their planet's solar cycle. Lots of science fiction goodies for the geek, like an encounter with an obvious Enterprise star ship.

Worlds that were unique through ingenious programming and even noted which you visited and gathered resources from so if you went back you had to land elsewhere, even Earth looked right from space using this system.

All and all an impressive game done on those 2 360k discs that many have not surpassed using DVD

Tetris? (1)

ninjacheeseburger (1330559) | about 4 years ago | (#31595198)

Just to point out the article linked is actually top "computer games of all time" and uses a more broader version of "computer" as Tetris is on the list.

My Winners (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31595202)

An oft side-stepped (tho not always unfortunately *shudders at the failed sequel*) is Deus Ex. The first installment is by far one of the best FPS games i've played, bar none. Intensely rich and engaging story-telling, coupled with one of the first WELL-EXECUTED user-choice-based-story-progression, not to mention the seamlessly implemented affordability for the user to complete missions/goals user a wide variety of techniques (lethal, non-lethal, etc.) made its initial impression a lasting one as well as afforded for long long hours of further replayability.

On a less serious, but just as nostalgic note: Whacky-Wheels! I only really played the demo but hell if i've not lost an entire month of my life (over the span of a few years) on that game :P.

Star Raiders - Atari 800 (2, Insightful)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about 4 years ago | (#31595230)

A mix of tactics and arcade shooting, graphics way ahead of its time (including proper animated 3D star fields) and a novel level system not directly related to points make this a standout game. In many ways, the Elite for the Atari 8bits inasmuch as people bought Atari 800's to play it. Amazingly, it all fits in an 8K cartridge. Even more amazingly, the guy who wrote it did 60-70% of the code based on the chip specs (he designed one of them) as no complete machines existed. When he finally got an assembler and final hardware, it more or less compiled/ran first time.
As an aside, it's depressing how the Atari 8bits are so often airbrushed out of history. Many games that are always cited as C64 originals were actually inferior ports from the Atari 800 originals although to be fair the inferiority was mainly due to games back then being designed around the hardware's strengths and limitations. C64 games that were ported to the Atari 800 generally sucked pretty badly too as the C64 had better sprite handling.

M.A.X. - Do not confuse with the flop of M.A.X. 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31595232)

M.A.X . . . I've wasted hours playing this great game.

Kings Quest (1)

WML MUNSON (895262) | about 4 years ago | (#31595238)

Dying for a drink, Graham?

Re:Kings Quest (1)

dingen (958134) | about 4 years ago | (#31595546)

I think it was in King's Quest III when you gave the command to "look at the ground" while being indoor, the interpreter would only respond with "Indoor, the ground is called the floor" without actually telling you what was on the floor. I really loved that.

Stars! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31595284)

Stars! was a very complete space diplomacy/conquest game, with tools to play by email and so on. I was waiting on Stars! Supernova, but it will never be. Actually an opensource projet called "Thousand Parsec" seems to try doing a new version

Some classic for me: (3, Interesting)

grumbel (592662) | about 4 years ago | (#31595290)

Wizard of Wor (1981) [youtube.com], a game that basically looks like a Pacman style labyrinth meets space marines. What makes this game brilliant is the pacing, you start out with a large number of small moving targets, then go to a faster moving, but smaller number of targets. The enemies abilities improve too, the last one can teleport, other can get invisible. The game also features COOP gameplay (or VS if you like, as you can shoot your buddy) and music that very effectively underlines the pacing. From all the really old games out there, this one really stands out for me, as its still fun to play for its gameplay, not just for nostalgia.

EF2000 (1995) [youtube.com] is what I consider the best flight simulation ever. It might not be quite as realistic as Falcon4.0, but its a lot more accessible. It is also the first game I have seen that simulated a complete dynamic campaign and persistant world. Instead of just having self standing missions, everything was generated dynamically and your action did have actual impact on how the war advanced. To bad that the concept of a dynamic campaign seems to have been lost in time, as it is nowhere to be seen in todays console games.

The Last Express (1997) [youtube.com] is an adventure game, but not just your average adventure game, this one happens in (almost) realtime. Unlike other games this one doesn't sit around till the player takes action, but instead all the other characters in the game world actually act on their own. This makes the game world feel much more alive then basically every other game. I still haven't seen anything quite like it and its ironic how even todays "action" games allow you to basically sit around and twiddle your thumbs, you have to walk to the action, the action doesn't come to you.

Honorable Mention (but not really that obscure): Another World (Ico and SotC got a lot of inspiration from this), The Longest Journey (adventure with the best storytelling ever), Operation Flashpoint (best tactic shooter/warsim around), Syndicate (kind of realtime XCom:UFO), Strike Commander (storyline meets flightsim), Mech Warrior 2 and 3 (mech sim, not watered down mech action game).

Re:Some classic for me: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31595564)

EF2000 was great but it took so long to get anywhere, and it was so easy to get shot down.

Marathon (1)

SwedMiro (1494175) | about 4 years ago | (#31595310)

A true classic and precursor to the Halo series. The first shooter with a truly deep story!

Re:Marathon FTW (1)

ernest.cunningham (972490) | about 4 years ago | (#31595544)

I used to play this game along with Shadow Keep back in the day. We even had Marathon 2 and Infinity on the School network and would have LAN matches. Good times! I remember one time I was playing Marathon on my Powerbook 1400cs at night with headphones in and no lights on. Because of the ambient sounds etc and the intense story i caught myself being tense, slightly scared and waiting what was gonna happen around the corner like a horror movie. My heart rate was fast and I was on edge cause my life was low and It was like I thought I was going to die in real life haha! Marathon = 3D style shooter with intense story line, awesome multiplayer and map making tools. All back in 1992-96 :D For those interested in the game it was opensourced by the makers (Bungie Software!) and has been actively developed since then. check out http://source.bungie.org/index.php/Main_Page [bungie.org]

Re:Marathon (1)

interactive_civilian (205158) | about 4 years ago | (#31595740)

Marathon had a few other things that really set it apart as well:

1.) No targeting reticle, and I think it may have been the first FPS in which you had to aim vertically at enemies above or below you (Doom auto-aimed). Combined with an unfortunate lack of ability to use the mouse, and this made shooting quite a challenge.

2.) First FPS with Grenade/Rocket hopping (which inspired the phrase "Frog blast the vent core!")

3.) I think Marathon 2 was the first FPS with liquids and swimming.

For those of you who haven't played it, or wish to re-play the Marathon Trilogy, it is available as an open source free download: Aleph One [bungie.org]

Starsiege: Tribes and Possibly Achron (1)

AstrumPreliator (708436) | about 4 years ago | (#31595344)

I generally consider Starsiege: Tribes a very influential game in the FPS genre. Up until that point for the most part FPS games were rather cramped and multiplayer was rather limited in size. Tribes introduced wide open terrain, seamless transition between interior and exterior portions of a map, vehicles, and cooperative team play on an extremely large scale[1]. Games after, notably the Battlefield series picked up on this and really popularized these concepts. Even Halo was inspired partly by Tribes[2]. Today most games support these basic features, but in 1998 it was extremely impressive. I can't say for sure whether Tribes was the first to do any of this, I'm sure someone did before, but it was popular enough to grab the attention of other developers. Unfortunately it wasn't popular enough to establish a stable sub-genre which is generally called the FPS+Z genre[3]; most likely this was due to the gameplay complexity that was introduced by this game. Still, this game should make it to more top game lists.

Another game which may belong on this list in a few years is Achron [achrongame.com] which is a time traveling based RTS. I doubt this game will become largely popular, however the concept is simply fantastic and shows a lot of thought towards mixing the genre up a bit. Perhaps it shouldn't be labeled a Real Time Strategy game, perhaps Meta Time Strategy game would be more accurate.

[1]I think the max server size was 64 upon release in 1998, although it could have been 128. It's been a long time.
[2]I'd have to find the commentary. I don't remember if it was on a web site, in a magazine, or what.
[3]Tribes had a jet pack and by "skiing" players could attain incredible speeds.

Re:Starsiege: Tribes and Possibly Achron (1)

TribesPlaying-iuSioN (548280) | about 4 years ago | (#31595600)

I played that game to death and even though competition seems to be as good as dead, some people still play even today, almost 12 years later. For an idea of how the gameplay evolved over time check out this video, split into three parts, which sparked the Tribes revival a few years back: It's called Legends and it still gives someone who played it for so long goosebumps :) Especially considering the steep learning curve of the game. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aV07MgjpoLE&annotation_id=annotation_233962&feature=iv [youtube.com] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pY6vZuCNX0Y&feature=related [youtube.com] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ExmlQ1graw&feature=related [youtube.com]

Halflife Physics?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31595350)

From the article:

"With an impressive arsenal of game and physics engines and exquisitely crafted visuals, Half Life had all the eye candy you could want."

"Iain Thomson: Half Life took the first person shooter (FPS) format and made it so much better by adding a physics engine that really worked. It was also key to the development of multiplayer gaming in the mainstream."

I must be losing my marbles, because I could swear there was NO physics engine in Half-Life. In fact, one of the big selling points of Half-Life 2 was the addition of a physics engine. When Half-Life : Source was released critics noted it added little more than a physics engine. Tell me I'm not crazy....

Flying Buffalo... since 1970 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31595360)

"Nuclear Destruction" multi-player PBM off of a 16 bit DG mini (NOVA?)

Syndicate (1)

Rennt (582550) | about 4 years ago | (#31595378)

Syndicate put you in control of an amoral conglomerate in a hard-core cyberpunk setting - with cyborgs, mind control devices and gauss guns at your disposal. I loved every minute of it.

Physics in Half-Life?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31595386)

Halflife didn't have physics! And where the hell did my comment go? I think I AM going crazy

Yep, liked the list but (1)

anarche (1525323) | about 4 years ago | (#31595412)

No Sierra. Bad.

No Pac-Man? I realise that this is a home gaming list, but c'mon pacman should be there.

Zork? precursor to NW.

Bard's Tale? set the trend for 1st person RPGs for years to come.

Re:Yep, liked the list but (1)

will_die (586523) | about 4 years ago | (#31595706)

The Bard's Tale took alot of stuff from Wizardry. IIRC wizardry was also one of the first games to also use the WASD configuration for movement.

Quake 1 (1)

WML MUNSON (895262) | about 4 years ago | (#31595416)

I'm always amazed at how games like Doom and Half-Life get regarded as all-time greats, but people somehow always gloss over the title that put multiplayer gaming on the map.

Where do you all think concepts like Rocket Arena and Team Fortress came from? What about classic map designs like 2fort5 and McKinley Base?

Don't forget that before there was Fatal1ty and his sponsorships, there was D11-Thresh and John Carmack's Ferrari.

Most good games are overlooked (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31595458)

and only a random few will ever reach high popularity and posterity.

X-Com: UFO Defense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31595468)

You couldn't have Fallout 3 without Fallout, and you couldn't have Fallout without X-Com. As far as I know the concept of a turn-based squad tactical simulation started here. And the comic book graphics made all 256 of those colors SHINE.

Re:X-Com: UFO Defense (1)

tosh1979 (909809) | about 4 years ago | (#31595668)

I was looking for an X-Com: Ufo Defense mention. Great game that had me hooked for months.. and its sequel under water was great too. Never did get into the third installment though.

Quake, Ultima Online, RTS games? (1, Offtopic)

acid06 (917409) | about 4 years ago | (#31595470)

I think this list tried to sound like: "Hey, look how cool we are for showing off this old-ass games instead of newer ones"

However, they missed the whole RTS genre and some classics. Say whatever you will, but whenever you come up with a top games of all time list, you must include these titles:

FPS: Doom, Quake, Half-Life
MMORPG: Ultima Online, World of Warcraft
RTS: Starcraft
RPG: Diablo, your favorite Ultima, NetHack

Specifically, I find it unforgivable to miss Quake and Starcraft. Quake basically defined the initial 3D FPS genre, made the concept of game mods much more relevant and was generally responsible for kickstarting multiplayer over the internet in FPS games. Hell, a lot of titles still have a console where you can type "bind x action" and stick to the +attack, -attack, etc, syntax.

Re:Quake, Ultima Online, RTS games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31595768)

Doom, Half-Life and WoW are all in the article...

My own list (1)

zr-rifle (677585) | about 4 years ago | (#31595500)

Elite was impressive considering the very limited resources of the BBC Micro, but Frontier (Elite II) was even more impressive, it being single handledly coded in pure 68000 Assembler by David Brarben, with a procedurally generated universe and real sized planets you could land on, all in 400Kb (uncompressed).

My own picks, in no particular order:
  • Herzog and Herzog Zwei by Tecnosoft: basically invented the whole RTS genre; Westwood acknowledge it inspired Dune II and Command & Conquer.
  • The Mercenary Saga by Novagen: first person, free roaming adventures in a sandbox solar system, with multiple ways you could complete the game.
  • Phantasy Star 2 by Sega: the archetype of the modern JRPG; inspired Final Fantasy 7, and we all know what a massive it was.
  • Silent Hill 2 by Konami: a perfectly crafted mindfuck that so many other games, including its sequels, failed to replicate.
  • It Came from the Desert by Cinemaware: first real attempt at an interactive movie; look ma', no CD-ROM!
  • Metal Gear Solid by Konami/Hideo Kojima: broke the fourth wall and delivered the first, real interactive movie; and what a ride that was.

Grim Fandango (1)

adokink (1094097) | about 4 years ago | (#31595514)

Probably the best and most complex adventure Lucas Arts ever did. It was the first game I had the certainty that video games could be a big art as cinema or literature. And it was in 3D. Great!!

Robinson's Requiem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31595618)

That was a true classic: an open-ended survival game of which I haven't seen the likes before or since. Neither do I know of any game that matches the punishing difficulty of RR, which kept me from ever completing it.

Starflight (1)

tg (34562) | about 4 years ago | (#31595662)

possibly the best game when released in 1982. huge universe to explore and great game play. Uhleks Ho!

Dungeons of Daggorath (2, Informative)

amchugh (116330) | about 4 years ago | (#31595684)

First person real time dungeon crawl on a TRS-80 with sound! At least five years ahead of its time in 1982, which is like a lifetime in the gaming industry.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dungeons_of_Daggorath

SRAM & The Incredible Machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31595730)

Two old classics for me

SRAM on Amstrad CPC used a dictionnary to interpret the sentences you typed and perform the corresponding actions, and it was doing it right, even when i tried to be a fool.

The Incredible Machine by Sierra on MS-DOS was a so awesome physics game that I'm still looking for a game using the same principles without being 1000x less fun.

Betrayal at Krondor (1993) (3, Insightful)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | about 4 years ago | (#31595738)

Just to mention a true PC RPG classic that no one else cared to remember.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betrayal_at_Krondor

Fallout 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31595746)

The original fallout game.

Also, under the so broken and yet so silly horrible mention category, the original MTG video game (Shandalar).

The World of Xeen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31595754)

Might'n'Magic 4+5 The World of Xeen. Man those were fun days!

"INCONCEIVABLE! The royal pyramid besieged! I must contact the queen...... Queen Kalindra?"
"My pharaoh, I'm a prisoner! ALL IS LOST "

"Without the proper key to this tower... you may not pass... mortals."

And remember folks, DON'T FEED SCRAPS =P

Too bad it's only 10 (1)

dcray2000 (969850) | about 4 years ago | (#31595756)

It's a real shame there are only 10 here and the focus seems to be on a game feature rather than possible depth. Games like Gothic and Birth of the Federation also hold distinction in my mind. In their time their technology was nothing special, but they had the pinnacle skill of the greatest games, re-playability..

Crusader No Regret (1)

fabioalcor (1663783) | about 4 years ago | (#31595760)

A really good game for it's age and quite unknown. It's a 3rd-person shooter with incredibly sharp graphics (for a 1995 DOS game), nice music (not midi!) and lots of video cutscenes with good actors. The story is very deep and immersive. I like it so much I'm still playing it (in a DOS box).

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