Remembering Computer Bismarck
The trick of using high prices to imply high quality goes back a very long way in digital wargame publishing. Computer Bismarck, the title that launched the genre in January 1980, was advertised as “the $2160 wargame” ($60 for the software, $2100 for the Apple II Plus necessary to run it). SSI proudly proclaimed their creation was “worth every cent” of this princely sum. Whether you ended up agreeing with them depended largely on how much you valued novelties like artificial opposition and effortless fog of war, and how ready you were to overlook design quirks like an onerous interface, an absence of alternative scenarios, and a monstrously magenta North Atlantic. Read the rest of this entry »
"Soldier just screamed"
When Computer Ambush finally departs for that cherub-garrisoned VL in the sky, it can expect a star-studded send-off. If Close Combat, X-COM, Commandos, and Men of War aren’t amongst the pallbearers, I’ll be disappointed.
While the majority of his trailblazing contemporaries were focussing on naval skirmishes (limited computing power made wet warfare particularly attractive in the early days of PC wargame design) SSI‘s Ed Williger was bravely attempting to digitize squad-level WW2 urban combat. The result, Computer Ambush (1980), was flawed but breathtaking. Thirty-five years on, fighting your way through the game’s shell-ravaged French town is still a bally exciting business. Read the rest of this entry »