Saturday, December 03, 2005

Old school is in da house!

Thanks to a wonderful ebayer by the name of soul2spare, I have some prized vintage games to add to my collection. These are some of the first PC games I remember playing, and I am absolutely thrilled to finally be able to own them.

First up: Duke Nukem II. Before the days of Duke Nukem 3D and Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project, there was this little side-scrolling gem (and its predecessor, Duke Nukem) published by Apogee. Filled with hidden areas to explore (if you could time your jumps just right) and plenty of that well-known Duke Nukem attitude, I used to love playing through them when I needed a quick destruction fix. Satisfying explosions, quests to collect the letters of Duke's name, and destructible health-powerups added nice little tweaks to keep it all from getting boring.

Possibly the first enjoyable and easily approachable minigolf-game, I coveted my best friend's copy of Zany Golf. Well, no longer. I can now putt around the windmills and bouncing hamburgers to my heart's content. Well, if I can find a working 5.25" floppy drive, that is. Creatively-designed obstacles kept the game interesting without making it frustrating, which is more than I can say for some of the flash-based mini-golf games I've played lately.

My early love in computer gaming was role-playing. The early Wizardry and Phantasie games were part of my regular playing cycle, and Ultima 6 was the masterpiece that hooked me. Around the same time, my brother bought a copy of Might and Magic. I wasn't lucky enough to score a copy of it, but soul2spare was able to provide me with a copy of its sequel, Might and Magic 2: Gates to Another World. An early tile-based, first-person view allowed you to explore a map of twenty quadrants (plus cities and dungeons); each quadrant was 15 x 15 tiles. Since this was before the days of such handy things as automap features, New World Computing included a custom-sized pad of graph paper for keeping track of your progress. Many a night were spent sitting beside my father, pencil and graph paper in hand, as he played through these first two Might and Magic games. I had as much fun mapping as he did playing. My wife undoubtedly thought I was had lost my mind when I opened up the packeage tonight and gazed longingly at the map and graph paper, both in pristine condition.

Also among my new acquisitions was a slightly newer game: Darkstone. Released after Diablo, it improved on that groundbreaking game in several ways: full control of two separate characters, true 3-d environtments, movable and zoomable camera, and more character class options. I had a ball playing through my brother's copy, and I'm really looking forward to loading it up again now that I own it, even if it is 6 years old.

I'm keeping my eye on soul2spare. Plenty of gaming gems to be had at great prices, all backed up by a friendly seller. Can't beat that.


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