Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Trippy Games

Back in the good old days of computer gaming (we’re talking late-80’s to mid-90’s here, folks), one thing that could be said about the games market is that it was a crap shoot. Before the advent of the Internet, the few dead-tree review magazines couldn’t keep up with the number of newly-released titles, and computer game companies didn’t seem to take advertising very seriously. This meant that the chances of knowing the details of a game before purchasing it were pretty slim. Usually, all a gamer had to go on was the box copy, and whatever word-of-mouth could be picked up while hanging out at the local Babbage’s.

Buying a game could be a gamble, pure and simple. Sure, Origin was a safe bet for action or role-playing, and Sierra was the uncontested king of the adventure genre, but so many smaller companies were trying to make it big that it was impossible to know exactly what would be on the shelf on any given day. Sometimes, a search though the $5 rack would reveal an unlikely-sounding game written by two guys in a smelly basement, only to be unmasked later as a true gem of programming skill. More often, a slick-looking box with beautiful images and promising descriptions would turn out, when unboxed at home, to fall somewhere between maddeningly dull and outright unplayable (I’m looking at you, Rocket Jockey). But rarely, very rarely, a game would crop up that would cause an immediate and almost-universal reaction among gamers: “What were those guys smoking, and where can I get some?”

Continue reading over at Vintage Computing and Gaming.

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