Meow! GOG Release Wing Commander III

By John Walker on September 13th, 2011 at 2:20 pm.

He's no cat person.

When Good Old Games released their first batch of EA games, it seemed pretty odd that the Wing Commander included was Privateer. Fortunately they’ve now righted that wrong by previously sticking up Wing Commanders 1 and 2 for $6 for the pair, and today they’ve added the most famous of the series, Wing Commander III: Heart Of The Tiger. Or as it’s more commonly known, The One With Mark Hamill In It.

This one is $6 alone, but still, coo, it’s a big game with a lot of stilted acting. And cat people! Cat people are the best people.

If you don’t mind my going all Gaming Made Me for a moment, I have some pretty heavy memories attached to this game, although as is so often the case, not of actually playing it. And as ever, in my memory I was about 9 at the time, but in reality I was almost an adult. In 1994, when I was 17 years old, I remember watching my older cousin, James, playing it. He lived in Wales, in a farmhouse, and seemed so impossibly adult to me, being in his early 20s. And there was his PC running this game that looked so impossibly complicated, with all these actors from real life! Mark Hamill, Malcolm McDowell, John Rhys-Davies, Thomas F. Wilson, Jason Bernard, Tim Curry and, er, Ginger Lynn Allen. I couldn’t tell you a single thing about the game. Just the cutscenes. Which were mesmerising.

Can that possibly still be the case? Who knows. But you can find out, at last. Also, have a blooper roll:

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81 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    Stellar Duck says:

    Ah, yes. Ginger Lynn Allen. I actually saw her in Wing Commander before I saw her… elsewhere.

    Imagine my surprise though, one day, with my Gentleman’s Relaxations Videos.

    • Premium User Badge

      Rinox says:

      I can only assume those involve pipe smoking, drinking whiskey in leatherbound chairs, and being generally stuffy and moustached.

    • djbriandamage says:

      Insert unsavoury “being moustached” joke here.

    • Nick says:

      Who wants a moustache ride?

  2. N'Al says:

    AFAIK, WC4 and Prophecy had Mark Hamill in it too, innit?

  3. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    > Cat people are the best people.

    As cosmetic surgery advances, watch them go from stock fantasy characters to furry reality in the coming decades.

    • Gnoupi says:

      My skin is augmented.

    • outoffeelinsobad says:

      See these eyes so green…

    • LionsPhil says:

      There’s already a guy who’s rather infamously tried.

      He looks like a guy who got into a car crash without a seatbelt and the surgeons “did all they could”.

  4. mod the world says:

    I remember the days when i was tweaking the memory of my PC just to get Wing Commander 3 to run. Low-memory, high-memory, extended memory and so on. In the end, i had to boot from floppy disk to be able to play it. Also i had to buy an expensive new RAM modul with 4(!) MB. The kids today just don’t know how good they have it.

    • jenkue says:

      I really do prefer updating my hardware once in a while to playing games tailored for ancient console hardware and smartphones.

    • Premium User Badge

      aleander says:

      That’s an idea for a puzzle in some game. Or, a game in itself. Configue EMM386.EXE to run this super-critical piece of software.

    • Wulf says:

      Ultima VII was the worst in this regard. It had its own custom memory manager and couldn’t run with EMM. It had to use XMM (or was it XMS?) only.

      I remember how I had a config.sys and autoexec.bat with something like 20 boot options. One of them was named ‘Ultima VII’ and yet another one was named ‘TIE-Fighter.’ Some games were so bitchy that they even needed their own boot routines.

      (I found Wing Commander III incredibly easy to run when compared in context to Ultima VII.)

      Oh, and… did anyone actually ever use QEMM? I found next to no use for it, as custom configurations of the stock managers invariably worked better.

  5. _PixelNinja says:

    One more to go to my personal favorite in the series — Wing Commander IV: The Price Of Freedom!

    In my memories, Wing Commander III and IV hold some of my best times playing games. I loved the choice of full motion video and the great cast they had. I mean in c’mon, in IV you played Luke Skywalker, you had Biff as your wingman, The Shredder and Eric Draven as your team members and Warren Keffer as your arch enemy!

    To me these games were epic, magic and so immersive. Good times it was!

  6. DanPryce says:

    I can’t wait for the FPS reboot of Wing Commander.

    • phenom_x8 says:

      It was a FPS from the beginning by its default view I guess!
      So, no reboot needed!

    • Premium User Badge

      aleander says:

      It will be rebooted as an isometric view tactical strategy/shooter hybrid.

    • mejoff says:

      It already got rebooted as a shitty top down multiplayer XBLA game :(

  7. stkaye says:

    God I loved these games as a youngster. I’m still a Price of Freedom evangelist. Heart of the Tiger was – and this is a strange thing to say these days – much too long, and quite unvaried in terms of narrative content (of course the gameplay was unvaried, it’s a wing commander title). It felt more like a long, serialised TV show – like Space Above and Beyond or something. Wing Commander IV actually felt like a movie; a pretty good movie, too.

    • djbriandamage says:

      Mark Hamill and Malcolm McDowell sure made great adversaries.

  8. djbriandamage says:

    Luke Skywalker, Biff, a porn star, and a race of cat men walk into a bar… stop me if you’ve heard this one…

    The production values of this game were ridiculous and the calibre of actors, sets, and holy frijoles the costumes, were all phenomenal. There’s a ton of FMV (as opposed to stop motion video I presume?) with branching conversations similar to Lucasarts games which made Wing Commander 3 and 4 truly deserving of the nebulously overused “Interactive Movie” categorization that was so en vogue at the time. (multimedia!!!)

    This game is totally worth $6 and I recommend everyone play this.

    However, if you’re more interested in the story than the pew pew I highly recommend this 2-hour “movie” version from the Wing Commander CIC website. It’s more or less a “let’s play” session, sans commentary and interface, and is very watchable.

    http://www.wcnews.com/holovids/full_length_wing3.shtml

    • stahlwerk says:

      FMV is meant in contrast to animating only parts of the screen against a static background. See the Inca games, for example.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Or the previous Wing Commanders, I believe.

      Y’see, once upon a time sonny, actually changing every pixel of the screen in real time was considered too much for the poor CPU to manage. That’s why we had palette cycling effects. And blitter chips? Pah, way back when there were player-missile graphics, where a GPU was advanced if it could plot a handful of sprites and some dots…*eyes glaze over wistfully*

  9. Abundant_Suede says:

    FMV nostalgia aside, I always preferred Privateer.

    • Burky says:

      Agreed, it moved away from trying to be an “interactive movie”, a dead-end concept Chris Roberts became obsessed with, and became the greater game because of it.

  10. MOKKA says:

    I still have my original copy but I was never able to finish the game. When I played it the first time I somehow screwed up the story and ended up being in a mission which was impossible to win.
    A few years back, as I went through my DOSBox Nostalgia Session, I was able to get to the second to last mission and then the game refused to let play any furhter by crashing continuously.

    So I might pick this one up just to be able to play these last two missions.

    • Bart Stewart says:

      III and IV never did anything for me. I didn’t want to watch movies; I wanted kitty-shooting action.

      For the past couple of years I’ve been randomly trying to find disk drives that would read my original disks for I and II (and the Secret Missions) so I could DOSbox them, but no joy.

      Thank you, GOG! Between you and Rage and Skyrim, I will *never* get back to Morrowind to finish it….

  11. Theoban says:

    NO GOG, NO. I say no. In the last few weeks I’ve bought six games from you, I need REST.

  12. deadly.by.design says:

    Forget Mark Hammil…

    …it’s BIFF!

  13. Xercies says:

    Back when I was a nipper this was probably one of the hardest games I had ever played and I couldn’t even get passed the first mission!

  14. KrunkSplein says:

    Okay, my memory is crap, to put it nicely. But something about WC3 has forever stuck in my memory.

    First off, in the opening cutscene: “DIS-integration!”

    Secondly, in one of the very first dialog trees, the two options were:
    “Play along with him”
    “This guy’s a loon!”

    I spent way too much time as a kid toggling between the two in order to make Hamill do a little rap.

  15. Doth Messar says:

    I hate manure.

  16. Drake Sigar says:

    WC3 – the game that has Luke Skywalker being bullied by Biff.

    • food says:

      Hmm… a young orphan raised by strangers fighting a tubby who’s a dick in every reality and hellbent on world domination.

      Yer right, that is the story from Warcraft 3. :P

  17. digitalsoap says:

    I played this game to heck when it first came out. Have always wanted to try WC4 but have never had the chance. Here’s hoping GOG can get WC4 pretty soon. In the meantime, I’m gonna shoot me some Kilrathi.

    • ASBO says:

      I have such fond memories of the entire series. The only disappointing part for me was when

      SPOILER ALERT!

      Hobbes inexplicably turns on you. All that work throughout the series building trust, and then that. What a shame. Still, how many games let you pilot a spacecraft while drunk (and in the game)?

  18. Premium User Badge

    shoptroll says:

    I get the sense that John owns multiple editions of James Cameron’s Avatar :p

    On a serious note, with most of the Kilrathi Trilogy hitting GOG, do people recommend gamepads (I have a rumblepad 2) or joysticks for these games? I have fond memories of playing WC1 with a joystick but I don’t have a modern one at all… And since I’ve ditched my Audigy 2 for a Xonar, I think I’m without a Joystick port.

    Anyone have recommendations for a good mid-range (preferably USB) joystick? Does anyone still make these?

    • Torgen says:

      Joysticks haven’t used joystick ports for many years. It’s all USB, baby. (Unless you’re saying you still have an *old* joystick that uses the port.) Grab a cheap $10 joystick so you can play WC and Freespace again!

      Or, get one of these: http://saitek.com/uk/prod/x65f.html

  19. jonfitt says:

    “And cat people! Cat people are the best people.”

    Kill the Kilrathi spy!

    • ZephyrSB says:

      Kill Rathy!!!

      No, wait, we’re not quite there yet, are we?

  20. Premium User Badge

    Skystrider says:

    And then there is this:
    http://www.wcnews.com/news/4346

    ^.^

    • Premium User Badge

      shoptroll says:

      I bet you a cup of tea that it’s a FPS with motion control grafted on :p

    • Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

      Wouldn’t it be nice…

      Also the battle of Repleetah would make an absolutely awesome grungy, gritty FPS. Christ, I don’t believe I remember that.

  21. Demiath says:

    Well, Mark Hamill was in WC4: Price of Freedom, too, so WC3 can hardly claim the title “The One With Mark Hamill In It”. WC4 did have significantly less fur, though, and maybe RPS has a principle of being soft on cats…

    • Torgen says:

      All those bribes Wulf has been sending them are starting to pay off.

    • Wulf says:

      Actually I think they’re just trying to be nice. It hasn’t gone unnoticed.

      Really though, yeah, I liked both III and IV. I liked III more but only because IV was more professional, and in being so it lost a lot of its charm, for me. I mean, look at me today, one of my favourite games is Champions Online. I’m not so much into serious stuff.

      In III I had people in entertainingly cheap suits yelling “EYE OF THE TIGER!” randomly at me. In IV I had po-faced people waxing on about the nature of humanity. I choose the former.

  22. ResonanceCascade says:

    So as an old Tie Fighter fan who never played Wing Commander back in the day, I have two question: are these games like that, and if so, which one should I get?

    Hopefully I’ll be ebaying a Sidewinder this week…

    • Nick says:

      Kind of.. and they are all quite good, really. Privateer is one of my favourite games, but the combat isn’t as good as in TIE Fighter (another of my favourites) and is essentially similar to the first few Wing Commander games, the 3rd and 4th feel a bit better to “fly” and have some fun with Mark Hamill and Biff.

    • bill says:

      They’re pretty much exactly like that – and yet as an old tie-fighter fan myself I could never get into them.

      They have the same basic mission structure, and similar controls.
      But for some reason I never felt any sense of movement or speed from the WC games… it always felt more like a floating FPS view than flying a ship.

      But it’s probably just me, as essentially they’re the same game as X-Wing/Tie-Fighter which i love.

  23. Hardtarget says:

    welp, gog have finally done it, they’ve made me buy a game for the first time in years

    now if only they also put up Wing Commander IV my life will be completely

  24. neolith says:

    Oh, the joy!

    Anyone know if the game will recognize my old Sidewinder FF?

    • Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

      I’e played 1,2 and three with bot a Logitec Wingman extreme and a Saitek X51 so they all play nicely with different modern joysticks.

    • neolith says:

      Thanks for the info, Wooly Wugga Wugga! :) Missing support for modern joysticks would’ve been the only thing possibly keeping me from buying the games.

      I’ll be in space kicking some furry ass now.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I believe these all run under DOSBox, so it’s basically a question of if Windows supports your joystick, which DOSBox will then pretend to the game is something suitably antique.

      Funnily enough that probably rules out anything of the right era, since the gameport is long dead in this barren USB wasteland.

  25. hjarg says:

    I am old and wrinkled and this brings a tear of joy into my eye.
    Now, i remember having being a proud owner of a joystick about 10 years or so ago… perhaps it’s time to go shopping again.

    • Wulf says:

      I’m oddly tempted, too.

      I remember my old Saitek and Throttle, and how I still had things mapped to the keyboard. For my slightly younger self it was the closest thing I had to being in an actual spaceship.

      I wouldn’t know a good joystick from a bad joystick these days, though.

  26. Premium User Badge

    Daiv says:

    Wing Commander III & IV, Freespace 2 (+ FSOpen updates) and a joystick. Enjoy the rest of your month without human contact.

  27. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    Astonishingly, not the worst thing Hamill has done.

    Like John, my memories of this consist entirely of watching an older cousin play it, and it’s only the FMV stuff I remember. That and one of his mates who couldn’t quite grasp that it wasn’t related to Star Wars and kept asking if it was set after Jedi.

    About six years ago I saw a complete mint copy of the fourth game in an op shop for AU$5. I didn’t buy it for some reason (possibly I didn’t have any cash on me), but I went back a couple of days later and it was gone. There’s a lesson in that for all of us.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Wow. Thank you for drawing the existence of that film to my attention.

  28. Wulf says:

    I’m still convinced that Hobbes wouldn’t have betrayed everyone willingly. What did they have on you, Hobbes? Some of the Kilrathi weren’t always the most honourable people, so blackmail or holding remnants of his family hostage wouldn’t be out of the question. Poor sod.

    Also, I still fondly remember the cloaking device. And how crazy it drove one of the important opposing Kilrathi characters.

    EYE OF THE TIGER, WHERE ARE YOU? I CANNOT SEE YOU. SHOW YOURSELF, COWARD!

    • mod the world says:

      hey wulf, don’t spoil it for the younglings!

    • Wulf says:

      Oh, right… whoops. >_>; But hey, if this were marketing, that would be incentive to play it. It was terribly cheesy but it was terribly cheesy in wonderful ’90s sorts of ways that were so, so funny.

      I kind of like how the bad humour crossed over into other Origin games too, though. Does anyone remember the crashed ship in Ultima VII? Apparently the Kilrathi are as poor at piloting ships as the Qularr. The Qularr just crash into any planet broadcasting a radio signal. Not sure what does it for the Kilrathi, though. Probably the smell of delicious meat.

      Poor, silly Kilrathi. But I still loved them, no matter how ludicrous or ineffectual they were as foes.

  29. Hyperion says:

    Still waiting for them to add Strike Commander, the CD version (can dream).

    Dont know about Wing Commander 3 and 4. I’ve only played WC1 but the “hollywood backed story” only reminds me of scifi Rick Berman/Babylon 5/Battlestar Galactica/Stargate soap opera junk.

    I hope the story in the games isnt like that stuff.

    Cant complain about the cast though. But Hamill was at the top of his game in the 90s. Especially villains like Adrian Ripburger from Full Throttle and the Joker from Batman.

    Also, its great playing Origin games that doesnt require having to edit half of DOS to get everything to work right.

  30. matrices says:

    Why did this guy and whoever played Princess Leia age so terribly in real life? It was so jarring to see their faces even 20 years later, I was like, damn…

    • Vinraith says:

      In Mark Hamill’s case it probably had a lot to do with the motorcycle accident (which is why he looks so different in Empire and Jedi, respectively). It’s a real shame, too, he’s a better acting talent than he’s usually given credit for. Some of his voice work, which is sadly almost all he can get anymore, is just outstanding.

      In Carrie Fischer’s case, well, it’s hard to take care of yourself when you’re bipolar, and I’m guessing the drug problems took a pretty serious toll as well. Again, it’s a damn shame, the woman deserves a lifetime pass for that bit in the Blues Brothers alone.

    • LionsPhil says:

      “Oh, sir-r-r-r, that’s horrible. I am not waiting for you to die.”

  31. olemars says:

    Good god, the graphics seemed so much better in the 90′s.