The RPSchive: Saving The Past 1 Game At A Time

Very crudely referencing 2001

I’ve been on a heavy retro kick of late, accentuated by being commissioned for a couple of ye olde PCe gaminge features. Initially, tracking down the out-of-print games I wanted to talk about from abandonware sites or, when all else failed, torrents, was as natural as spotting typos in Kieron’s posts. Then a terrible moment of clarity hit me.

I shouldn’t be doing this, I realised. Not because of legal or moral unease, but because really I should own these games already. That I’m so dependent on the kindness of law-juggling strangers is a precarious situation at best. One day, giganta-publisher-purge-o-tron #312 may have finally killed those abandonware sites with avaricious fire. One day, those torrents might be seeded no longer. Important games could all but cease to exist. Retrospective features may never be written.

Yes, there’s every chance this cull will never happen – Valve, for instance, are steadily growing their retro archive on Steam – but this conveniently also appeals to one of my more lamentable tendencies: obsessively collecting stuff. I am man: hear me compulsively stack things next to each other.

As The Universe’s Best PC Gaming Site Run By Four Scruffy Men From Bath, UK, it seems important that we should be able to lay hands on the founding fathers, strongest sons and most compelling oddities of the ol’ IBM-compatible whenever we need to, whether for retrospective-writing purposes, to remind ourselves of how incomparably august a gaming platform the PC is, or simply for hiiiilarious out-of-context screenshots.

In my case at least, that isn’t even slightly true. Pre-journalism, I traded in most games for the latest flavour of the month, so that’s most of my 20th century gaming conspicuously absent. For later games, I do possess a wobbly mountain of laser-etched plastic circles (and a distressing amount of jewel cases that should house plastic circles, but mysteriously do not), but most contain unpatchable/timed-out review code, will-it-won’t-it-work ‘backups’, or are criss-crossed with fatal scarring. They’re as inappropriate and impermanent as paying tribute to war veterans with a monument made out of biscuits.

This is why I’m creating The RPSchive: a collection of the most important PC games since records began (or since 386s, anyway). It’s also a convenient excuse for a regular retro feature and eventual semi-definitive list of the PC’s finest hours. Oddly, there isn’t currently much value attached to old PC games – I was dismayed to discover that I’d be lucky to get a tenner for my treasured, still-shrinkwrapped copy of Dungeon Keeper. If and when these games do ever vanish from the interwebs however, their hardcopies may accrue more obscene pricetags. So, now is the time to swoop. Not for our own purposes, you understand – but for the sake of the future. Yes.

How I long to tear off its gossamer wrap, gently lift open its sturdy cover, run my hands over the gleaming angles within

At the top of this post is most of the miserably slim row constituting the games in my possession already suited to this purpose – i.e. they’re in reasonable (and 100% legal) nick, work properly and aren’t at present widely available in shops or over Steam. More are in budget cases or are lacking manuals than I’d like, but it’s a start. I’ll confer with the rest of the hive-mind later to see what they’ve got to add – so far, Jim proffers Sim City 2000 and System Shock.

Each fortnight, I wish to extend this back catalogue by one game, purchased for minor monies from ebay or similar – and each fortnight, we want your help deciding which game that shall be.

I have some rules:

– All games are essentially equal; a lesser-known electro-morsel is as eligible as Big Brand Shooter IV, so long as the argument for it is sound. No joke entries though: think of this as concerning games you’d proudly stick in a time capsule for the plant-people of tomorrow to drape their curious tendril-lips over.
– Don’t worry about Windows XP/Vista compatibility. DOSbox delights are fine.
– I’ve gotta be able to realistically purchase it, new or second-hand, full release or budget, for not more than £10 (that’s around $20). Arms may be twisted into going higher on occasion, but don’t bank on it, unless this place suddenly starts making money at last.
– While it can be in or out of retail print, it can’t be available on Steam – we’re too confident in the survival of those that are, for a while longer at least. We’re not counting Gametap though, as its UK arm so badly lacks the bulging muscle of its beefcake Yanqui kin.
– Ideally but not necessarily, it saw a CD version at some point – floppy disks are do-able in pinch, however.
– Only suggest games from the year mentioned in the post: this time, it’s 1993.

Other than that, it’s a case of the most convincing argument (whether by eloquence, passion, wit or fact) proffered in the comments thread or emailed to me each fortnight will be the game that I next attempt to hunt down for the RPSchive. The winner’s reward? His/her/its comment posted on the main site in a following week, as part of a regular retrospective feature (replete with loving photographs of the game’s boxen hardcopy), and the associated happy-dolphins that may spark within his/her/its brain as a result of this reflected glory. There’ll be honourable mentions for runners-up too.

To add some sort of structure to it, and to prevent the same games coming up time and again, each RPSchive post will be limited to a specific year (so we’ll probably cycle back to the start every four months or so. Unless I’ve given up/become stricken by eBayian poverty by then). Please, please, please keep your arguments to under 250 words, both to avoid tediously gargantuan comments threads, and so those whose submissions don’t win won’t feel they’ve wasted too much time. Oh, and in an attempt to ensure this isn’t skewed in favour of more practiced writers, mastery of the language and grammatical correctness will take a distinct backseat to identifying what it is about this game that should earn it a place in this nascent RPSchive.

Let’s start with, at random, 1993. Ooh, now there’s a year. (The first X-COM is exempt, as a) it’s too clear a winner and b) I’ve already got a copy on the way.) Again, 1993 only: save games from other years for future instalments of the RPSchive.

Go! Help protect the past!

90 Comments

  1. Justin says:

    You’re going to want a separate spot to save game updates; some games were broken, right out of the box. Those patches can disappear faster than the game itself.

  2. kwyjibo says:

    When I think of all the games I don’t own. I just think to myself, that the games I do own, I better seed for longer.

    That’s how it should work – Right now, I’m seeding Streets of Sim City! Let’s party like its 1997!

  3. Lucky says:

    Myst would seem like a logical choice, but I’m 100% sure that it won’t disappear into the mists of time no matter how much I wish. Therefore may I suggest…

    Master of Magic

    Still, 15 years later, a very unique game that has unfortunately been left in the shadow of its big brother: Master of Orion.
    Main argument here is the fact that it still hasn’t gotten an official (or even a) spiritual sequel, unlike aforementioned MoO. What it did get, if my memory serves me well, was some pretty heavy patching considering the time it was released. It would be a shame if this kind of dedication was ultimately forgotten.
    Furthermore, it’s a great game.

  4. dishwasherlove says:

    Syndicate was released in 1993. I don’t want Bullfrog to railroad this new feature, but Bullfrog were awesome.

  5. Steve says:

    I can’t suggest anything from ’93 because I wasn’t PC gaming then. I would suggest Hostile Waters because there is nothing else quite like it (still) and also Warren Ellis and Tom Baker.
    Also Outcast, which I’m half way though again. Giants and Grim Fandango.
    These games you should get because a lot (all?) of you work(ed) for PCG and you liked these games. Or at least as far as I recall.

  6. Andrew Armstrong says:

    I love the retrospective articles, since I’m a part-time preservationist of sorts, great to see more stuff on the past! :)

    And wow, Mobygames is even wrong (according to my other source of immediate information; wikipedia) that X-COM was indeed released in 1993 (by 1 day :) ).

    1993…1993…anyone who wants an easy list would go to wikipedia and pick or choose. Wow…Duke Nukem II! Egads…Cannon Fodder (which I’ve never played, but the music video is awesome), and it seems the original CD-based Myst came out in 1993 too. All three of these should be salvageable from somewhere.

    However, one comes up; you MUST GET and cover; Sim City 2000 – this is the pinnacle of the Sim City series for me (and many…), and is still I think unsurpassed! (One big word: Newspapers. And no stupid garbage management.) I don’t care that you have it coming to you from Jim it seems, since you need to be told to get it. Get it now! Let me try and put it into 250 words as you wanted:

    Sim City 2000 is the basis of almost every sandbox game after it was released, and apart from it’s predecessor is almost the definition of it. It allowed anything from a low density, pleasant and green town, to a sprawling metropolis of filth, and everything in between – all the way from Coal to futuristic Arcologies.

    There was traffic to manage, decisions on the economy, environment, health, education, crime, water and power, and much more to do, if you so wished. Scenarios made for rewarding challenges, and disasters were as aggravating as the first game.

    It also became a much more personal game which lead to the Sim phenomena too (with countless knockoffs of the name) – you could name buildings and parks, mark roads, and even build your own house, statue, and llama-infested Llama Dome! The newspapers reported opinion polls (along with your city advisors helping), with Miss Sim providing some neat comedy.

    The grapics were improved to be dimetric too – you now could fashion a reticulating splines-based terrain of your choice – islands? river? sea-locked? land-locked? hills…valleys…or even base it on a real city, all the players choice!

    It was also not too technical or difficult, so I could get into it being quite young – but it was complex enough if you wanted it to be, and probably the defining simulation sandbox game all others need to be compared about when asking the question “Is this game fun?” since it has aged so well – Spore has a lot to live up to!

    (That’s a little over 250, sorry!)

    Finally, I’ll try and cover this where I can put it. Retrospectives are good, although the analysis is slightly rose-tinted sometimes, it’s good stuff – I wish I was older so I knew more 1993 games to be honest :) but Sim City 2000 still rocks, and you should have your own copy not someone elses. Hope whatever you choose to cover goes well even if my choice is invalid :D

  7. Smee says:

    You might want to point to the Moby Games list-by-year feature as a starting point for the choice.

    A few Lucasarts adventures had difficulty selections which made the puzzles harder, but Indiana Jones and the Fate Of Atlantis was the only one to dramatically alter the game by way of your choice. This either made it a straight-up puzzle game, a combat action game (even including a car chase through New York!) or giving you a movie-style romantic interest partner you played through the game with, even allowing you to control Ms. Hapgood at certain crucial points.

    The route that these paths took you through the game hinged around certain key plot-point areas, but what you did in them was always different depending on the game style you had chosen. Furthermore, areas that you went to in one path were simply unavailable if you chose another, which would lead to yet more different places and people to talk to.

    That a 15 year old adventure game included alternate paths, optional quests, vehicle chase scenes, multiple characters and multiple endings, all in a completely believable movie-like feel, pace, direction and setting, is frankly a much-overlooked achievement.

    Finally, although it’s not based on any specific film, it’s a game that completely captures the excitement of an Indiana Jones adventure. There’s even a puzzle based around surveying archaeological dig sites and you can fly a hot air balloon, ride a camel and pilot a Nazi U-Boat to, um, FIND THE LOST CITY OF ATLANTIS. Which is awesome.

    Man.

    I’m going to go install it in DOSBox.

    Edit: Oh my god, the intro is amazing

  8. malkav11 says:

    There are a lot of excellent games released during that year, but once I spotted Sam and Max Hit The Road, well..no contest. A true and utter classic. Ages much better than most of 1993’s games because of the reliance on humor rather than fancy tech. Plus, it has the advantage of running in the lovely ScummVM rather than making you fiddle with DosBOX.

    Runners up: Fates of Twinion, part of one of the earliest proto-MMOs. Betrayal at Krondor, which I hear is good. BloodNet – a cyberpunk RPG with vampires. how could it go wrong? Flashback…you all know that one, right? Gabriel Knight – excellent adventure game, but compared to the wacky humor of Sam and Max, pales just a little. Also, it’s easy to get stuck wandering around trying to trigger story progress. Master of Orion. Might and Magic V (though you’d want to get the World of Xeen compilation version that includes M&MIV as well.) Frontier: Elite II. Protostar. Pirates! Gold. Realms of Arkania. Shadow President. SimCity 2000. Syndicate. Ultima Underworld. Veil of Darkness (horror adventure using the engine from The Summoning, which I adore.).

  9. Andrew Armstrong says:

    I guess point and click games (apart from DoTT) I never looked at until the current days of ScummVM – Sam and Max was 1993 eh? Neat, second choice! (although a Guide Dang It game through and through for me) and Indiana Jones, close third, through infamy alone!

  10. Matt says:

    Some suggestions from my own collection (they’re not that old because I’m not that old):

    Giants: Citizen Kabuto
    Transport Tycoon Deluxe
    Worms

  11. Dan Forever says:

    Frontier Elite: II gets my vote. I would have been around 9/10 years old at the time, and I would play it for as long as I could steal the computer away from family. It would actually suck up my every thought away from home for a time.
    The game was also one of the few to come not only with a hefty manual but also a novella of short stories based in the Elite universe.

  12. Andrew Armstrong says:

    Matt; isn’t Transport Tycoon 1994? and Worms 1995? :) I guess you’ll have to wait until he asks for games from those years to suggest them (they are awesome however!).

  13. Jonathan says:

    Strange as it sounds, that first is the reason I don’t torrent games or music. It cheapens the medium somehow, like wearing a bootleg football shirt. It functions the same, looks the same but it’s just not the same and I couldn’t call myself a fan while wearing it.

    Porn on the other hand is fair game.

  14. Paul Barnett says:

    Ultima Underworld

    3 Reasons. 1) Its basically Dungeon Master on Steriods with an annotated map. 2) It was way ahead of its time. 3) It inspired Carmac to make Wolfenstien 3D.

    (Number 3 was supplied by Dan Enright after a drunken slanging match between me and him about Underworld Vs Dungeon Master. It was his ninja move to win the argument, no UU no doom and thus the world would end.)

  15. Ross says:

    Sim City 2000 gets my vote, Mostly because I remember purchasing it back in the day (though I got the special edition reprinted in 1995 with exclusive interview with will wright!)

    I wish I had kept my copy of Myst, I believe it got sold in a garage sale, I didn’t make that mistake again I have most of the sequels sitting here as well as a few others i convinced my parents I should keep (monkey island 1, 2, 3, Grim Fandango, Blade Runner).

  16. malkav11 says:

    Also, I will point out that Sam and Max was going for around 3-4 USD plus shipping from UK sources on eBay, so that’s easily under a tenner.

  17. Thiefsie says:

    It surely must be one of the following:

    Doom, Elite 2, Gabriel Knight, Indiana Fate of Atlantis, DotT, Sam & Max, Another World, SC2000 and Syndicate.

    My vote is for X-Wing!

  18. Homunculus says:

    It would be remiss of the discerning PC games connoisseur to appraise the 1993 vintage without at least a consideration of Lucasarts’ seminal release, X-Wing. Although all of its contributions were subsequently quite soundly surpassed, not least by its delectably more morally dubious younger sibling, in its proper historical context its impact should not be underestimated.

    It is that rarest of beasts, a credible game rendition of a movie property, emulated in recent memory only by Escape from Butcher Bay. At the time, Totally Games’ offering was like a spearmint mind-blast, scouring sour memories of an endless parade of dispassionate Ocean drivel.

    It also serves in its own right as a fine representative of one of the forgotten genres; since the advent of the spectacular Freespace 2’s apparent commercial failure, the space sim has become somewhat of a pariah genre, its inky firmament studded with only a few gleaming gems whose glittering is illumination from the long past.

  19. James says:

    Fantastic idea, guys. I’ve been putting a bit of money into building one of these collections myself, so this might be a great way for me to pick up some ideas for purchases.

    Unfortunately I can’t help this week, though, since 1993 was quite a bit before my time. I will watch with great interest!

  20. Txiasaeia says:

    Dark Sun, Doom, Epic Pinball, Unlimited Adventures, Gabriel Knight, Master of Magic *and* Master of Orion, Myst, SimCity 2000, Shadow of the Comet, Syndicate, Ultima VII, Privateer, and X-Com… 1993 was an amazing year for PC releases!

    Of this list, I’d say that Privateer would be one of the most important releases of the year, and of early video gaming as a whole. Privateer broke the mould of the recent space sim (remember those?) franchise Wing Commander and integrated first-person interstellar combat with the trading mechanics of games such as Elite. In Privateer, players traded, explored, fought, and unlocked an alien mystery in a universe teeming with life. It was a refreshing change from the military mindset of the Wing Commander games, though it didn’t stray too far from its basic themes: rather than being given a ship and pointed towards an enemy, players were constantly being forced to make the decision between offensively protecting their cargo (and their costly hardware!) and running with their tails between their legs from superior enemy forces. On a personal note, I’ve never played a space sim since that replicated the feel of the difference between that first clunky frigate and the tricked-out, top of the line fighter! Moreover, each of the ship upgrades actually meant something: it was such a personal accomplishment to me to be able to get that auto-tracking system!

    Unfortunately, the PC world seems to have little love for space sims of late, with Microsoft’s Freelancer and the X-series being the only recent successors to this landmark game. The franchise went on to Privateer 2, which built upon the success of the first game (+ expansion pack) and starred Clive Owen, rather than a faceless protagonist.

    But I digress. All in all, Privateer was one of the most successful, enjoyable, and engrossing space sims of the 90s, and one that very much deserves a gaming retrospective.

  21. Frank says:

    Doom may be the most important 1993 game, but Day of the Tentacle, Myst, Prince of Persia II, King’s Quest VI, the Amazon Trail, World of XEEN, Pirates! Gold (remake), Syndicate and Ultima Underworld II are all classics, says I.

    Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness (QGF4) tops them all though:
    -It integrates RPG trappings (read “stats”) into the adventure genre like no game before or since. Different skills and classes allow the Hero to solve problems in different ways (a la Deus Ex), actions have consequences (e.g., do-gooders can become Paladins), fighting sequences are actually fun and all such RPG elements are subordinate to the adventure’s core: story-telling.
    -The setting and presentation are among the best the adventure genre has ever seen. Why do games invent fantasy-themed worlds when the myths and legends of, for example, Eastern Europe are already so rich? The graphics, music and CD-voiced audio were better than anything I’d seen at the time, making the NPCs into real characters instead of passive quest-boxes. The whole world changed with the night/day cycle: will-o-wisps, monsters and thievery (on the Hero’s part) at night vs. spirits, a grumpy burgomeister and bunnies (killer bunnies) during the day.
    -The game allowed the Hero’s stats to be imported from other QFG’s, in what may have been a unique way of promoting a series’ back catalog. Games came out almost yearly, so it’s not unreasonable to compare it to modern “episodic” gaming (one QFG = one season of Sam & Max).
    -And there’s sneaking.

    The game was so buggy I couldn’t finish it, so I can’t comment on the over-arching story. However, the characterizations and side stories (about the rusalka, leshy, domovoi and, inevitably, vampires) are what stuck with me and I imagine the same would be true if I’d seen the whole plot.

    I left my copies of the CD version and the QFG Anthology at home, but here’s a video (which incidentally verifies the 1993 release date): link to youtube.com

    Oh, and the author, Lori Ann Cole’s sell
    (from link to adventureclassicgaming.com):

    The Adventure game puzzle-solving aspects of Quest for Glory were intrinsic to the world, not patched-on, “here we need a puzzle” types that some games used. Too many Adventure games had puzzles based on the “Guess the Designer’s Mind” school of design. There was only one solution to a puzzle, and you needed to find it out no matter how illogical it seemed.

    I also disliked the fact that when you came up against a puzzle in an adventure game, you were stuck hitting your head against it until you figured out the solution. In Quest for Glory, almost every puzzle had multiple solutions. Some of them stemmed from the skills of the character that you were playing. And if you were stuck on a puzzle, you could always forget it for a while and go out practicing skills or slaying monsters while your brain cooled off.

    The main thing about the Quest for Glory series that stands the test of time is that the game is not about puzzle solving or monster killing, but about story and character. All of the characters you meet in the game are more than just information devices – they all have personality as well as their own story. I wanted to create the impression that this was more than a game, but a living world that the player somehow managed to step into. I wanted the computer interface to be as smooth as possible so that you didn’t have to think about how to do things, but simply be immersed in the world. And I wanted the player to feel like he really was a hero.

    So I believe what has stood the test of time is that Quest for Glory is like a beloved book that stays in your heart because you believe in the cause of heroism and feel as if you became a part of it. But most of all, they last because they really are fun to play.

    Other games have taken aspects of Quest for Glory, but I haven’t found any that tried to capture the essential nature of the series.

    Which game in the Quest for Glory series is your favorite? Why?

    My favorite game is Shadows of Darkness. It had the proper moods of sombre and silly, scary and magical. It brought back Ad Avis to plague the hero, and introduced the tragic villain of Katrina. It even had the tragic sacrifice of the monster Toby that foreshadows the ending. The game had the strongest of the stories, and put the player in the greatest of dangers without friends or allies. If you could make it past the thousands of bugs, it was a great game.

  22. nihohit says:

    If we’re using the wikipedia reference for 1993, then out of this world (AKA another world) isn’t from 1993, but it’s a definite keeper.
    But the list does feature an obvious choice – it has to be the first “Alone in the Dark”!
    This is the game that practically defined horror gaming for years to come (for better or worse, some would say). Every resident evil, silent hill, etc. has its roots in this game. This is a gaming ancestor.
    remember the first scene? in the library, with the demon barging through the window, accompanied by the din of a well timed musical cue?
    grabbing and freely pushing the chest through a full 3D room?
    It had all the lovecraftian horror you can take, from “horrible truths” to gruesome monsters galore, until finally you emerged to the light of sunrise in the end of the game.
    Don’t leave this game alone in the dark – get it!

    oh, but except that – yay Sindicate!

  23. Benjamin Finkel says:

    My vote’s for Myst. Almost nobody I talk to these days remembers it. Despite people’s apparent abject hatred for the franchise, I consider its sequel Riven to be the greatest game of all time, and Myst was a substantial piece of history leading up to it. But go with more obscure things, I guess – I wouldn’t mind hearing about fun old games!

    Ben

  24. Crispy says:

    I would usually email this in secret, but considering you had a go at Kieron for having typos in his posts, it seems only just for me to post it right here.

    “I shouldn’t doing this, I realised.”

    Can’t be showing favouritism, now, can I?

  25. Doron Tohar says:

    Pool of Radiance
    An epic rpg with great story, great battles and great mechanics. One of SSI’s gold box classics (this sounds like a promotional but I really loved the game).
    Stunning EGA graphics )-:

  26. Thos. Armitage Esq. says:

    Pool of Radiance is way before 1993. About 89, 90, if I recall right.

    Similarly, the first Ultima Underworld is earlier than 1993 – but I’d include UU at the first possible opportunity because, as pointed out, it had a remarkable engine and really pushed the idea of what an RPG could be. Prior to that, it was Ultima VI or the Gold Box titles…

  27. Putter says:

    I’ve never posted here before, though I’ve read the comments. But this is too interesting a topic to me as I’ve been doing the exact same thing for atleast two years now. It’s very difficult, though, not having access to ebay (going through all the process of getting set up on ebay and paypal without a credit card is nigh impossible). However, I’ve gotten a good 80-100 PC games so far, mostly from the era ~1998-present (though some from earlier in the 90’s), and its coming along nicely. I want to go back farther, but I will need to wait until I get a credit card – visiting all the game shops in the tri-city area has occassionally had me jumping for joy in the store, but often leaves me disappointed.

    As someone mentioned is a good idea, I’ve also got patches spread across many CD’s. Too many to keep adequate track of. That might have to be my summer project – getting a more organized database going. Further, I also have any codecs, third party programs, and detailed instructions in both physical and digital form of how to get them going either with either Windows XP or Dosbox. As you can see, I’m paranoid enough to be prepared for the apocolypse. When the internet is destroyed, I will still be able to play my games ;) (assuming I’m not a pile of goo).

    I’ll have to think over night about those I consider absolute necessities. And those that could be had on the cheap (SS2 – gah!)

    But lemme just reiterate – this is a topic of immense interest to me, just as those Retro columns have been. I’m interested to see what you come up with, and will try to eventually acquire the games on the list that are of interest to me. Good luck to you!

  28. Nuyan says:

    I never heard of the game before, but I say “Eric Cantona Football Challenge”. Eric Cantona, what a hero!

  29. Jim Rossignol says:

    I hate old games!

  30. Alec Meer says:

    Steve – actually, Hostile Waters was in this initial RPSchive, but fell off the table without me noticing as I was taking the photo. Here we go.

  31. Mike says:

    Careful not to grab the obvious ones – Doom hardly needs preserving, and the same goes for Sam and Max, Frontier, etc.

    Will these ever die? I’m not sure. But it’s fun to see what can still be bought nonetheless. I’d probably plump for Duke II. But that probably doesn’t need preserving either…

  32. caesarbear says:

    Ah, retro gaming is very dear to me. I admire and encourage RPS’s efforts to increase it’s retro collection, but I should warn you that it may not be easy to find the titles that truly deserve preserving. Some rare seminal works often go for $50 or more for a legitimate copy:

    BloodNet, one I never got to play. I great merger of the fantastic and cyberpunk at the time Shadowrun was climbing in popularity. I haven’t heard great things about the actual gameplay, so it’s too much of a risk for the price.

    Empire Deluxe is a revision of a massively important game in terms of mechanics. The classic Empire exists in various form ported from the pre-IBM PC original. Empire Deluxe is the only polished retail version available but at $30 , it’s internet robbery for such a simple game.

    Seven Cities of Gold Commemorative Edition, the original is far before ’93, but this would be the best shot at getting a retail version of the game. Still it’s rare and thus expensive.

    On the cheaper side, there are a number of good choices:

    Dark Sun, my experience was with a borrowed copy, and it didn’t grab me before I returned it. It was a new twist and refreshing change from the standard gold box RPGs. It might be something I need to return to some day, to examine the supposed ‘decline’ of RPGs in this era, before it’s supposed revival with Baldur’s Gate. Were these RPGs really sub-par or were they overlooked gems ahead of their time?

    F-15 Strike Eagle III, the precursor to one of the best ever flight sims, Jane’s F-15. Bombing Iraq never got old apparently. I sadly played this during my piracy teens, but I’d like to get back to it, after I play all the other flight sims in my back catalog.

    Strike Commander, it was really a flight sim heyday in the early ’90s with Falcon 3.0 leading formation. If you can get it running, this was a premium spectacle at the time. Along with Wings of Glory, and Pacific Strike, it was the Bruckheimer-esque movie ride that most of today’s console titles try to shoot for.

    Master of Orion, would have to get my ultimate vote though. While yes, it did have a more popular sequel, the first MOO had a streamlined simplicity of interface while retaining depth that few strategy games have succeeded at. If released today, it would be the killer XBLA app.

  33. dartt says:

    I came in here to say Cannon Fodder (mentioned by Andrew Armstrong above). I was thinking it before you even mentioned 1993.

    Here is why:
    * The humour.
    * The controversy.
    * Richard Joseph.
    * Name the first two recruits!
    * Darwinia.

    This game came out when I was (mental math) 7 years old and is one of my earliest gaming memories. I’d never played anything quite like it and it was the first game to make me care about the little men I was sending out to die.

  34. Kaltano says:

    Betrayal at Krondor, Still one of my favorite RPGs of all time, that takes place in Raymond E. Fiest’s world of Midkemia. Sierra is actually the reason I started reading Fiest’s work and I have been a loyal fan ever since i read a preview for the game in Sierra’s Interaction Magazine.

    In 97 Sierra made BAK freeware to promote it’s sequel Return to Krondor so you can download it free from Alt-Tab.net.

  35. Grill says:

    1993: what a f*cking year to start with! Was it the best year for games ever?

  36. caesarbear says:

    Oh, how could I forget:

    Dune, while having little to do with the overshadowing and landmark Dune 2, this is a game I still love to play. It’s partly because I love the book, but it was a very engaging real time management/strategy game. It’s far from perfect and I overlook it’s faults, but the strategy game from the perspective of an adventure/RPG is something rarely done, or done well. The CD-rom version is oddly inferior IMO. Unfortunately the included poster alone can go for some serious cash on ebay.

    Star Trek: Judgment Rites, and the prequel Star Trek 25th Anniversary, are some fantastic adventure games. They capture the show perfectly and JR I believe has the last performance of DeForest Kelley as McCoy. Shatner unfortunately phones it in, but these should be cheap pick-ups and are great counter examples to the typical Star Trek game.

    “1993: what a f*cking year to start with! Was it the best year for games ever?”
    Yeah, there are an embarrassment of choices.

  37. Simon Brent says:

    Another vote for the Ultima Underworld series here, but for Ultima Underworld 2, a) because it is superior to the original, and b) because it came out in 1993 while UU1 was released in 1992.

    It was wonderful, diverse and huge, and a game I still return to to this day – yes, I have a retail copy, no, you can’t buy it from me. It was the game which first got me interested in RPGs, and was in instigator of my 15 year obsession with being a paladin on at least the first play through of any new one.

    Looking Glass and derivatives > Bullfrog and derivatives.

  38. Briosafreak says:

    Indiana Jones and the Fate Of Atlantis.

  39. phuzz says:

    Cor, it was a good year wasn’t it! I’m tempted by a few games, Cannon Fodder (first game I remember with proper music), Elite II (first game I ever preordered), Beneath a Steel Sky (Came for the Amiga on 15 floppies, loading it onto a harddrive if you were lucky enough to have one took about two hours of swapping disks), but instead I’m going to have to go for The Settlers, which came in a triple pack with The Chaos Engine and, erm, Terminator 2, obviously enough.
    I remember playing settlers for hours, often just following a particular woodcutter as he wandered around, not to mention the days you could spend tweaking a road network until it was just right, and to top it all off, multiplayer :)

    But then I just found a Team17 fan site (www.dream17.co.uk), who not only have a list of all of their games, but disk images of all of them (for an Amiga emulator), and now I’m torn between SuperFrog or Alien Breed 2…

  40. grey_painter says:

    I wont suggest a game, you seem to have plenty at the moment. What I will do is remind you of charity shops as an avenue for old games since a (albiet very brief) scan of the comments thread has shown no mention of them. In the last year or so I’ve picked up Syndicate Wars, Day Of The Tentacle, Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight, Anachronox and Sacrifice amongst others for about £2 a pop. Obviously it is a bit hit or miss about what they have in, but half the fun for me is going in every Saturday to see if anything interesting has appeared yet.

  41. Butler` says:

    Sorry to be all modern and hip, but did anyone notice 1998?

  42. Arnulf says:

    I started playing games on pcs in 1992 because of Ultima Underworld and Ultima VII. Before that I was a staunch despiser of all things PC. I soon was to discover why I despised PCs so much: MSDOS and the 640 K memory barrier!

    Getting Ultima VII to work with its absurd memory requirements got me some serious sweating over many a config.sys and autoexec.bat. As a CS student I was pampered by coding for motorola and sparc processors. The i486 was my bane in these days.

    Formerly I played on a trusty Amiga 1000. A C64 before that one. Ultima VI was the last Ultima for that platform. Richard Garriott I curse you! I saw Ultima Underworld at a collleague’s computer while I was intern at a research institute. My mind was set to have this. So I went and bought the parts for my first PC. Assembling that with the help of some friends proved to be an adventure in and of itself. LIttle did I know then that PC gaming would be my biggest hobby ever since.

    To stay on track Ultima VII: Serpent Isle hails from 1993. Also Legend of Kyrandia: Hand of Fate, its predecessor was far better though. And the successor Malcolm’s Revenge. I’ve got all three.

  43. Larington says:

    Ahhh yes, ’93 a time when space shooter/explorer/trader games were worth getting. Privateer, Frontier: Elite II & X-Wing are all games which certainly deserve to be in the collection for all eternity. As a reminder of the potential of games set outside of planetary atmospheres.
    Its a shame really, that more modern space games just don’t get that much representation, the last three major games being Freelancer, X3 & EVE. And frankly, I don’t personally believe that these are quite as accomplished as their elder brethren.
    We needs more! Precious.

  44. Ozzie says:

    Woo!
    I’m a die-hard collector, too!
    I don’t have much from 1993 atm, though.

    I think Shadow of the Comet might be a good choice.
    It’s a horror adventure game based on Lovecraft myths, one of the three games Infogrames released based on them.

    The main point it has going for it is atmosphere. It is very unsettling, there aren’t any true shock moments, but you always sit on the edge of your seat.

    Another thing is that the town you visit feels truly alive. People walk around and go after their business, various different things happen depending on the daytime and your progress. The story, based on Lovecraft, is very good and well-told, too.

    The main point against it are the controls. You move around with the arrow keys, and a line-of-sight shows you things of interest. The problem is that it doesn’t show you everything.
    It’s not so bad as in Grim Fandango, but point and click would have improved the game, I’m sure.

    Infogrames added mouse controls in a later version of the game (I guess the CD version), but according to others it was even worse.

    The other two Lovecraft games were the sequel Prisoner of Ice and Alone in the Dark. In contrast to AitD Shadow is nearly a pure adventure, there are only some time-based challenges.
    But you can die, and there’s even one possible nasty dead-end at the….end.

    I hope the next year will be 1998. I have a good suggestion for that one. ;)

    Oh, and Mobygames knows more about the game: link to mobygames.com

  45. Nick says:

    Chalk up another for Privateer, that is one of my favourite games of all time. I can’t really add more than what has already been said however =(

  46. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    Like Nick, I can’t really add much more, but I would just like to point out:

    omg EPIC PINBALL.

    I also note that Star Trek: The Next Generation: Pinball: Colon came out that year, as did Sonic Spinball on the Megadrive. What a year.

    Seriously though – Doom, X-Wing, Syndicate, Sim City 2000 – possibly four of the greatest games ever, all out in one year. I think things only went downhill from there! Ooo “Golden Age” mentality etc. I should write an essay.

    edit: actually I think TIE Fighter was better than X-Wing. Hmmpfh.

  47. Okami says:

    I’ll throw my weight behind Betrayal at Krondor. It was a very fine CRPG that told a really compelling story. The game’s systems were solid, there was an absolutely huge world to explore with a lot of different side quests and great characters.

    I absolutely love the cheesy digitalized “cut scenes” (which were basically animated gifs with three frames” and the music still sends shivers down my spine.

    Great and absolutely underrated game. A lot better than Return to Krondor too, which was way too linear in my opinion.

  48. Ozzie says:

    Oooooooh, don’t remind me of Return to Krondor, probably the worst game I’ve ever tried.
    I still have to try Betrayal in Antara, though.

    Betrayal at Krondor is a very fine game. It was released as freeware many years ago.

  49. Rook says:

    Some one just found the lens flare filter I see?

  50. SuperNashwan says:

    Man, if I hadn’t had a brutal cull last week I could’ve sent you boxed copies of Blade Runner and Freespace 2 instead of slinging them in the bin :(