Ok, i realise i may be breaking some unwritten rule by focusing on two games but i just felt i HAD to speak their names out loud and sing their praises to the masses!
As a child, my father felt that rather than some silly toy like a mega drive or super nintendo i should have an Amiga 500+ as my games console. I resented it at the time, i heard tales of Zelda, Sonic and Mario (rare treats to sample at the houses of my friends) and my mind soared at the action and adventure they represented and there i was, with this hulking 3.5" disk based grey box sat under my television. I calmed down, i accepted there were still excellent games to be had and determined that i must uncover them and so my father and i set off on a quest, a mission greater than any had undertaken before.....
TO SEEK OUT NEW GAMES ON RELATIVELY OBSCURE BRITISH SYSTEMS, AND TO BOLDLY GAME WHERE COOLER GAMERS NEVER REALLY WANTED TO GAME IN THE FIRST PLACE!
Or something like that anyway. Along the way, my Amiga collection largely resembled my PC games in terms of genre and style. Sure the occasional scrolling shooter or platform game appeared but i was ALL about the strategy and the two games i want to talk about on this blog are Celtic Legends and Mega-Lo-Mania. Firstly, i believe (although would be happy to be corrected) that Celtic Legends never appeared on another system, whereas Mega-Lo-Mania possibly saw a mega drive release, so i accept that these aren't the most familiar titles to the Dtoid community but let me wax lyrical to all of no readers anyway.
Ahh mega lo mania, how i love thee - let me count the ways. To the uninitiated, this was the more action orientated of the two games i'll cover. You basically played the god of a particular group of people and guided them through various epochs in their history. Each epoch was reached after researching a certain amount of technology, possible after acquiring the requisite resources.
So far, so godfather of age of empires. Where the genius came in was the overall wackiness of the presentation. These were malicious gods, fighting like the gods of ancient greece or terry pratchett's discworld over who's tribe would succeed. To accomplish this, you ordered your people to do everything from mine, to breed, to fight, to build, to...well...that's about it Anyway, it was absolutely stunning, especially when you get to the end and after waging war with sticks and stones, catapults, bi planes and nuclear weapons you finally reach the point where OLYMPIAN GODS WAGE WAR WITH UFOs. Yes it's a super weapon that dwarfs the terran battlecruiser, the obelisk of light and those dragons from warcraft 2 because it's a roswell style flying saucer.
In summary, this game was just fantastic for it's time and still would stand up as perhaps a flash or XBLA game. The weirdly passive nature of giving your men orders but not being able to actually direct their actions and the incredible art design and dramatic, wagnerian score all combined to really make you feel like a God.
A god that killed people with the use of flying saucers.
Ok, now i'm done jizzing like a nuclear powered spunk cannon on international spunkday over Mega-Lo-Mania, it's time for a bit more of a european flavour to be added to the mix. Celtic Legends, another strategy game but this time hailing from Ubisoft and carrying a definite gallic tone was a little gem on the Amiga 500+ when i got hold of it. I took the old amiga out just the other day and played it with my dad, fond memories were stirred and in many ways it's what motivated me to post this blog.
This time, we're taking a more sedate approach with a turn-based strategy title. Tactically it's like a cross between warhammer and battlechess. Each unit was animated as it moved around a hexagonal board and carried different properties, some even with special abilities such as sucking the health of an enemy or poisioning them. It seemed so exotic at the time, with it's french unit names even in the english translation and it's almost total obscurity, not just compared to blockbuster SNES/MD games but even in comparison to other Amiga titles. but even beyond this fanboy infatuation, it was still a great game.
Firstly - anyone who thinks modern games are 'epic' needs to try some of these strategy games. I never came close to finishing this title as it was just too huge but that's fine and i don't think it disqualifies me from raving incoherently about how much fun i had with it. The storyline was pretty loose, you commanded an army of angelic creatures against it's mirror opposite demonic foe over marshes, plains, ruins and other generic celtic landscapes. The key to the game though was the tactical combinations.
Anyone who currently enjoys advance wars or final fantasy tactics, would have loved this game back in the day. You could not produce units during a battle, or even during the overarching campaign. You were simply given 'armies' that depleted as you lost units in battle and told to capture certain areas of the overworld, any losses were permanent until you had completed the objective and this made the use of a spare floppy disk to save on ESSENTIAL. Each battle began with your men arranged much like the pieces of a chess board, ranked opposite one another except with perhaps different pathways or obstacles between them. You moved your pawn like 'soldat' units forward, perhaps with a wizard or the super powerful 'arcangel' unit following behind and casting spells. Huge creatures that resembled the big pink Imps from Doom would maul your puny men, only to receive a scorching blast from the wizard in the back row. This game was fantastic, exciting, thoughtful and bloody hard but most importantly bags of fun.
Sadly, it hasn't aged quite as well as mega lo mania. Whilst still looking nice and playing well, the interface of the Amiga and the way you needed to select symbols (i assume of gaelic origin) rather than choose spells from a list led to confusion when i re-played it. I got the hang of it eventually and soon i was challenging my dad to a game which we both enjoyed but i doubt it will appear again. No more erosion of such fond memories is needed, and i am left with the simple pleasures of fond memories.
God bless the Amiga 500+, despite it's shitty mouse and lack of a decent joystick/joypad it was a great machine and it helped spur on a love for strategy games that brough me to such titans of the field as command and conquer, warcraft, starcraft, homeworld, company of heroes and dawn of war.
Although i still really wish i got the chance to play Zelda when i was 10.
Anyone who found this enjoyable in the slightest, just send me one positive comment and i'll probably gush about the wonders of Cannon Fodder in another blog, bye! read