I was always fond of the PC and console gaming heyday of my youth. I remember yearning for those constant chills and thrills, knowing that certain characters and games were going to stick with me for a long time to come... if not forever. I should have known that those thousands of hours spent gaming: missing class, forgetting to take out the trash and even standing up dates just to get to that next dungeon or find that next illusive key would have affected me so much.
Everyone has their own little list they had a hard time wiping from their memory banks. Stranger still, most of these games have been lost to gaming limbo. Many 'Top 100' ranked titles, as stated by gaming sites and game junkies alike, have never staged a comeback in the modern gaming verse. How hard can it be to revamp a game that has a solid concept and a hardcore cult following but was limited by the visual and audio technology of the time. Letís go through some of these colossal breakthroughs in gaming and wonder why they have never been brought back from the dead?
X-Com: UFO Defense
Style: Turn based strategy
X-Com: UFO Defense
or Enemy Unknown
as it was known to those crazy Europeans has to be the first title in my "why the f*ck isn't this around anymore" list. Maybe it was just me but this was the first game to incorporate two unique gaming styles into one. It wasn't like all of the other mind numbing run and shoot style games that ended with a boss fight at every turn. You really had to think and plan every aspect of your X-Com team. On one side you had to manage your soldiers, bases, economy, ships and inventory. On the other side you had your turn based action, once those pesky little sectoids (greys) were grounded of course. It was the first game to give you the feeling that you are a part of that "in-game" team that you completely immersed yourself into.
Another thing about this game that people tend to forget is the music. I know it was the crappy media format of back in the day but it was done in a way that made you feel like you were inside a horror movie. Who can forget every time a random trooper with one of those ridiculous 'German Youth' names was shot? That death cry would either make you cringe or laugh depending on your mood.
They did have some follow ups to the game with X-COM: Terror from the Deep,
your basic photo copy but underwater and Apocalypse
which was a lot smoother on your PC while sacrificing all of that game functionality you had come to love. Neither title lived up to the original masterpiece. Ohh and if you are wondering why I forgot to mention Interceptor
please don't make me start to go off as I have high enough blood pressure as it is.
Jane's: Fighters Anthology
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Style: Flight Simulator
Next we have Jane's: Fighters Anthology,
the cream of the crop of all combat flight simulators. When this "bag o joy" came out it did something no one else had done before. It packaged all of the planes from every armed forces branch into one solid combat flight simulator. Looking back at it, the graphics were horrid compared to other combat sims that sprouted up only five years after its debut. The difference here was the depth. It was the first combat flight simulator to introduce the F-22 Raptor during a time when no one had any idea what that aerial beast was going to look like. They nailed it in every way, from the design to its payload aspect.
Oh and you can't knock the reference guide that detailed all of the in game vehicles and more. With over 125 playable aircrafts it provided an experience yet to be duplicated. I have seen a lot of these sims come and go. You would think someone would team back up with Janeís to give us that depth in campaigns and strategy that we need and crave. Yes the mindless top-gun, graphic intense, destruction combat simulator is fun but is loses its luster after a week or two.
The 11th hour
Publisher: Virgin Interactive
Style: Puzzle / Brain Teaser
Up next we will discuss the Jurassic Park
of the gaming the world, the puzzle walk through. I first got a great taste for this gaming style after playing The 7th Guest
, the predecessor to the 11th hour.
Everyone still argues with me that they never played this game and that the treasure hunt / puzzle games were the worst. There has to be reason why this genre is making a comeback as an "app" for the I-Phone. You know everyone was playing it during those hours when Full House
was off the air.
No one wants to admit that instead of shooting the 'mother brain,' you were stuck with that skeletal hand moving around blocks and candles. Don't be afraid young padawan, your brain really enjoyed creating numerous neurons for you to drink and smoke away in the future. The mindless blaster was a great way to get that sugar rush out of your system but this series had a fun, well thought out plot, with a great set of puzzles that I was way too dumb to solve. It could be nice to see one of the big gaming companies take this title on and find a way to combine it with another gaming style: rts, action, rpg, who knows...
If they ever find a way to pull the "puzzle walk through" style out of the amber in that old man's cane and bring it back to life, letís hope it doesn't sink into the land of the lost games. Poor budgeting and lack of gamers taking an interest could be the final straw. They should also find a way to keep the sleazy intro that looks like something from a 80's Cinemax
Style: Platform Style (Constant)
Style: Platform Style (Constant)
Two games that look almost exactly the same, except for that whole "I'm a giant bad ass toad with the elephant man's arm" sort of feel, Contra
should find a way to make a comeback soon. We all know the side scroll shoot'em up is dead, but it wouldnít hurt to see these characters resurrected on a high end gaming engine. I can totally see Contra
with a Gears of War
feel to it. Along with that and character familiarity, it would be a touch of gaming nostalgia for fans and it would rake in the cheddar for the company that pushes it.
I know by now I sound like a Hollywood producer with no ideas left. The type of guy that thinks a Monopoly
remake is a good idea. It feels like there are some things that my kids need to see in the future. It's rare to see a giant stick robot get his leg snatched from him and get beat down with it a couple of seconds later. Look if it doesn't happen how else are the guys over at GameStop going to finally answer the question, "Yo when is that new Battletoads
game coming out?"
Style: Graphic Adventure
Talking Hispanic skeleton in a zoot suit within a fully controllable 3D environment... I should just end it there but I can't sorry. When Grim Fandango
hit the market in 98 it blew everyone out of the water. The voice acting, the music, the story line, artistic design and overall game direction couldn't be beat. While sales suffered due to the move into the action style gaming of the time, Fandango
had that depth, character development and story line that brought you into the world of Manny Calavera. I don't think Lucasarts
would ever touch this property again but who knows, maybe someone can bring Manny back to the after-life.
Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn
Publisher: Interplay / Bioware
This last title, Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn,
only gets an honorable mention sadly enough. I really didn't think this title all the way through when I was writing the article. Bioware's Dragon Age: Origin
and its sequel are the logical grandchildren of the Baldurís Gate
franchise. I really think it's me missing the comedy duo of Minsc and Boo. The random phrases they would spew out while you were investigating a dungeon or under attack by something would crack me up every time. I guess I had to toss it in since I'm looking at the old case sitting on my dusty gaming library.
Thank you for taking a minute to read this and feel free to bash me accordingly. I would love to hear about any other ridiculously sexy old school games that I didn't mention. As I said there are a lot of games and we each have our own lists. I'm sure even some of the ones I have talked about have versions that are on some low end gaming systems or poorly redesigned for the PC. While that is all fine and dandy I would love to see them at least on one of the big three systems or PC platform again.
LOOK WHO CAME: