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A Weird Kid's Top 10 -- MS-DOS Computer Games


I've stated numerous times that I am first and foremost a console gamer. It's been that way since the early ninties when I first wrapped my grubby mitts around a SNES controller. There was a time back then where I was actually a console gamer and an avid PC gamer. Yes, there was a time where I would actively play games on a computer monitor instead of on a TV in my own room. Unfortunately, with all of the exponential advances that PCs have been making over the last ten years or so, I've grown cold at the thought of being a PC gamer again.

I'm sure I would enjoy many of the games that are out on PCs these days; I just don't want to pay $600+ to have a somewhat entry level PC that can run games at an "ok" level. Even more unbelievable are some of the people paying almost 3 grand on a 'gaming' rig. I have my gaming 'rig' its called an Xbox. Now before all of the hate and venom from the PC side of D-Toid starts gushing forth, let me tell you that there WAS a time where PC gaming wasn't that hard to have the right system requirements to play. This magical age came forth mainly for me in the mid-ninties right before you HAD to have Windows installed on your computer to play a game...that's right, I'm going there back to the good 'ol days where you played games using MSDOS.

I miss having my computer boot up and waiting for my every command. Don't get me wrong, I love having a GUI based OS. I really have to avoid getting too fond of the days where you had to make a boot disk with minimal CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXE.BAT files on them just to have enough system resources to play a game. Tonight's list will attempt to re-capture some of the good memories that I have of DOS gaming. That's right people, the PC club is finally getting some love from Mr. Console Gamer, 'cause tonight's list is my Top 10 Games You HAD to run in DOS.

The Adventures of Willy Beamish -- 1991

It was a typical day in boring-ass Idaho when I went over to my friend's house after school one day back in '91. Both of us were expecting to play either Ultima for the 8,000th time or we were going to go upstairs to play Super Castlevania on his SNES. Since he had better grades that quarter, his parents went out and picked up a copy of this game for him. For the next 3 days we spent the whole time after school sitting in front of his PC trying to get the maximum score in the game.

Beamish, your typical Bart Simpson, is sent to dentention on the last day of school due to his pet frog jumping onto the principal's head during an assembly and dislodging his toupee. While in detention you can choose to stay in detention or fake a hall pass and sneak past the school bully looking to beat your ass. To make things worse, if you get home late your report card with a bad grade on it is seen by your parents. To make things even worse, your babysitter's a vampire, the local plumber's plan a revolt.

This was a great Dynamix game that tried to make the game into an interactive cartoon. It played pretty much like any third person adventure game in the early days of PC gaming, however the game introduced more than one way to make it through the game. You could be a saint and avoid all trouble altogether, or you could have been an irritating little shit that will eventually get his ass thrown in military school for being that way. If you were one of the lucky kids that had a CDROM back then you were treated to voiceovers for some of the dialogue in-game. For us though, we had to load all of the discs and wait for it all to unpack...I definitely don't miss that aspect or PC gaming.

Leisure Suit Larry in The Land of The Lounge Lizards -- 1987

I think my first experience with a Leisure Suit Larry game was back in 1989 when I found it mysteriously lurking on part of the hard drive I never explored before. Turns out my dad was a closet-ed pervy computer gamer who tried to hide this game from us kids. I remember him coming home one day to find me playing this on the PC and wondering how I managed to get past the built-in age restriction programming which asked questions to verify how old you were. I was a smart kid so I ended up just doing the whole trial and error method until I knew enough of them to proceed.

Larry Laffer, the protagonist, has decided to leave his nerdy life behind and make an attempt to re-define himself in the city of 'Lost Wages'. You take the role of the the leisure suit clad idiot on his quest to find the woman of his dreams. Unfortunately, there is a myriad of problems that face you, that keep you from this goal. You have to go through a game of 20 questions in your quest to buy condoms, a black dog pees on you if you stay still on the screen too long, you get killed if you pester a guy sitting at the bar. There were so many ways you could waste time playing this game.

Many of you old timers like me can remember a time where having anything more than monochrome in a computer game was a luxury, the beauty of games like this one showed many companies that there was indeed a market for more 'mature' games that could be targeted at older crowds of computer gamers. The game was pretty typical of games from Sierra back in the day in the age where they mixed 2D sprite based adventures with text-based gaming.

MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat -- 1995

My friend brought this game over to my house one day after school one day and was immediately enamored with the simulation aspect of the game. I then spent the next couple of months obsessing about this game and the subsequent expansions that were released.

The events of MechWarrior 2 have you take control of one of the two opposing clans in a battle for supremacy. Honestly I couldn't care less about the story element of this game. I played it mainly for the giant robots and fully customizable mechs. This was one of the first games I played on my PC that gave me a feeling of immersion in its 3D environments. The game was a success for Activision that led an expansion and even a stand alone game known as MechWarrior2: Mercenaries.

There have been very few games that have warranted the purchase of new hardware for my computer when I was growing up. This game simply demanded a new joystick, the Microsoft Sidewinder 3D Pro! Damn I can't even recall the amount of fun I had playing this game in my early teen years over the modem with my buddy. Sure, it is by no means as fun as XBox Live, but back then we worked with what we had, and that was just a modem I used for PvP.

Command & Conquer -- 1995

The real-time strategy game was foreign to me until I picked this game up when it came out. It had received so much critical acclaim from all of my friends at the time that I simply couldn't exist as a person unless I bought it too. This led to many nights of up until 5 am multiplayer matches over the modem...

The story is fairly simple, its the UN backed Global Defense Initiative (good guys) versus the cult-like quasi-religious Brotherhood of Nod (bad guys) in a battle for supremacy. You'd choose at the beginning of the game which campaign to follow through with and depending on your successes or failures you'd get different endings. In the events leading up to the 21st century a meteorite crash lands near the Tiber River in Italy and introduces an alien substance known as Tiberium which becomes extremely valuable due to it leeching nutrients from the soil it infects.

The first game from Westwood Studios in the long running series of games that share the same name, though this game was also known by many as "Tiberian Dawn" due to it being the first in the Tiberian Series. This series became known for its use of live action FMV cutscenes that would be shown in between each mission and would give you an idea of the progress or decline your forces have been making. The storyline was completely epic in its scale, and I loved the acting (especially for Kane). Another interesting fact is that the game was shipped on multiple CDs even though it would fit on one CD-ROM so you could let a friend borrow the other campaign that you weren't playing at the time.

Wing Commander III: Heart of The Tiger -- 1994

This was an awesome birthday gift for me when I turned 14, a Wing Commander game (which is win) that comes packaged in a 5 x CD-ROM bundle? I thought to myself, holy shit this game has to have tons of content! Luckily I was right, this was probably the first time in a computer game where I felt that the production quality rivaled that of any movie I had seen at that time.

Wing Commander III takes place almost 15 years after the events of Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi when the newly named protagonist from the first two games (Col. Christopher Blair) is given the assignment of being the "Wing Commander" aboard the aging TCS Victory. The game boils down to a near WWII-esque decision on using a weapon of mass destruction to end a war that had been raging for nearly 30 years.

This game was tits mainly for their essentially making an interactive movie experience like we are experiencing nowadays with games like Mass Effect. The characters you'd interact with would respond differently depending on the answer to the questions they'd ask. Keep in mind that this was the early '90s we're talking about here, this is still very much the land of the SNES in console terms. This game also made the leap from sprite based to 3D texture wrapped polygons before 3D processor were available on the market. Oh yeah...MARK FUCKING HAMILL!

King's Quest VI: Heir Today Gone Tomorrow -- 1992

I played this at my grandma's house when I was living there for a few months back in 1992, no shit people, my grandma is a computer nerd. She picked it up because she had made the mistake thinking I liked King's Quest instead of Space Quest. It was all good, I would play any Sierra adventure game that you'd put in front of me, especially if it has roman numeral that high.

I can't tell you much of the backstory. well because I honestly don't know it. King's Quest VI is the ONLY one of the whole series that I spent any time with. I know that the princess that is rescued in this game had some backstory in the previous one, but who cares?!? Ok, cereal time, the whole point of this game is that you are a prince who has a magic mirror that showed you that a damsel is in distress. Like as ass, you jaunt off and travel to this far away land to save her. Nobody told you that the seas around the islands you are travelling to are incredibly rough. You crash your ship, wake up on the shore with nothing but the clothes on your back, taa daa! The game begins!

The reason that I loved this is game is pretty simple, it was fun and at the same time so fucking hard to figure out. The graphics for the game were top notch for its time, the puzzles were tough as always, and I'm a sucker for games that place you in a land where you can experience a bunch of fairy-tale-esque characters. I had to use the guidebook for many of the game's puzzles, but it seems like I would have never got the good ending if I would have tried to finish it myself.

Duke Nukem 3D -- 1996

This was THE FIRST game I picked up with my FIRST paycheck when I FIRST got a job when I was 16. Working at Blimpie, making sammiches for all the fat people who wanted extra mayo wasn't so bad when I could go home with a wallet full of money and play me some Duke Nukem!

Straight from the designers themselves "Murderous aliens have landed in futuristic Los Angeles, and humans suddenly find themselves atop the endangered species list. The odds are a million-to-one, just the way Duke likes it!" Honestly there's not much story to be had here. This game was just an in-your-face-I'm-a-man-spelled-m-a-n testosterone romp through an adolescent fantasy of being the biggest badass in the world. Here's the story in a nutshell: SAVE THE PLANET and see some boobies.

The game wasn't a typical FPS where you didn't get a chance to interact with your environment, you had pool tables to mess with, toilets to flush, strippers shaking their stuff for some moneys, arcade games to play, and light switches to turn on and off. The varied environments for each level really spoke to how much love was put into making the game different from the cookie cutter FPS games of that time. The weapons were creative especially with the shrink gun and the pipe bombs! The game also featured equipment that you could use whenever you felt like it, like the HoloDuke which was used to distract enemies, and the best item in the game a god-damned jet pack (fucking win)! The game was something that I haven't experienced in a long time a fun juvenile romp, where it was common to hear lines from Duke like the one he stole from another macho-badass "I'm here to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and I'm all out of gum", c'mon tell me that he's not a badass, I dares ya!

Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness -- 1995

When I played the first Warcraft game on my PC, it was years after I had bought Warcraft 2. I didn't mind the game, though it did seem like there was something missing from the overall experience. Luckily for me, Blizzard did a really good job of improving on the original game. I felt like I honestly got my money's worth out of a game, something which is quickly going the way of the dodo.

The Warcraft series is full of too much mythos and a little too much lore for me to include any of it here, and I'd probably end up screwing up the story anyways, but I'll give it a shot. From what I can recall the story took place after the fall of Azeroth, when the Orcs pushed all of the survivors to the northern lands of Lordaeron. From then on, the storyline gets fuzzy for me. I know this, the game is your standard RTS fare, one side versus another!

All I could think when playing this game is "Blizzard did it again!" Thanks to me being a console gamer, I was lucky enough to play other games released by Blizzard in time past. Games like Blackthorne and Rock & Roll Racing gave me a benchmark that I could rate the quality of any subsequent games the company released, and Warcraft 2 was no disappointment. The company took all of the good from the first game, put it in the second game, improved upon it, balanced the gameplay out, and released an RTS juggernaut on the world.

Return To Zork -- 1993

Oh man, do I miss the old days when Infocom was a decent computer game company. Those days where there were only text based adventures...wait a minute, no I don't. I hate text only adventures. After Infocom was bought in '86 by Activision, we saw nothing released from the Infocom label from 1989 until the early 90s, where the new games were brought out using the Infocom Zork brand. This game was the final Zork game to be published using the Infocom label.

Winning a sweepstakes that gives you an all expenses trip to the 'Valley of the Sparrows' seems pretty sweet until you arrive in the town and realize that something isn't quite right with the town and the residents. The entire area seems to have become all jacked up. This is all thanks to a dark being simply referred to as Morpheus. It's up to you to find out what's going on and avoid death at the same time.

Unlike all of the other games in the Zork series, this game made the marked departure from the original format of a 'text adventure'. The game takes place in the first person perspective and was one of the first games I played that used video capture actors and extemely detailed graphics for the static images. The point and click interface was annexed from other games of the same ilk, but was highly successful in the ways you could interact with the environment, no longer did you have to worry about using your imagination to figure out what you can do with the plant and paperclip you have in your inventory.

Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and The Time Rippers -- 1991

I played Space Quest for the first time when I was nine back in 1989 (Space Quest III) when most of the comedy in the game was lost on me. The series has always been known for its satire and parody, though I enjoyed it mostly for its inclusion of Sound Blaster support. Before then, all computer games usually used the built-in computer's speaker which sounded god-awful. The fourth version of the Space Quest was a gift my dad gave me when I was 11 and was played over and over again, nearly on a weekly basis.

You are the aptly named Roger Wilco, a space janitor who always seems to find himself in the most dire of situations regardless of where he might be. In Space Quest IV, you embark on a zany trek through time which takes you to many different incarnations of the Space Quest series throughout time (SQ I -> SQ XII). You see, the evil Sludge Vohaul from Space Quest II comes back in Space Quest XII in an attempt to kill Roger in Space Quest IV. Confused yet? Good, its meant to be crazy like that.

The game featured totally awesome 256 color hand painted sprites and an incredible mouse-driven interface with the game which made playing the game so much easier than having to always type the commands on the screen. I loved the humor that this game has especially when it comes to the time travelling changing the title of the game on the screen. There was a part near the end where you had to erase programs off of a supercomputer from the future, included on the directory in the computer was a file known as 'SQIV' and if you deleted it, it booted you back to DOS, that blew my mind as a kid that the programmers would mess with their audience in such a way. I regard the Space Quest series as the most brilliant game in the click adventure games ever made on the PC.

Rise of the Robots -- 1994

From the community participation from last night and tonight, it seems that Butmac's suggestion that Rise of the Robots make it to the list tonight as the entry for a horrible DOS game. I only had experience playing this game on my SNES, and from what I can recall it sucked on that system too. I played my rental copy of the game for a whole couple minutes until I beat the game, then let it collect dust until the rental time was up.

Ok, apparently a giant corporation that makes giant robots makes a robot so smart (HAL9000 are you there, SkyNet is that you?) that it becomes self-aware and decides that it wants all the other robots to rebel against their makers as well. So, somehow the protagonist (ECO35-2 (it's never a good idea to use the letter O in a model number people (cereal!))) is introduced to the factory where all the shit's going down to stop it all before it spreads to the city. Oh NOES!!!

Don't get me wrong, the game looked great, it had an awesome amount of design put into all of the graphics. It's unfortunate that they didnt spend more time making the game any good. In fact, the multiplayer was so one sided due to the increasing difficulty of each robot's stage that someone could dominate by choosing the boss character. I dunno, I didn't really enjoy the game. But according to a Mr. Butmac, it is one of the worst games ever made for the PC.

That does it for another edition of A Weird Kid's Top 10. Sorry that there's no Number 0 tonight. I couldn't find one that fit the criteria that well. However if there's a good one in the comments, I can try to squeeze it in. I hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together. As always, let me know if you have a particular top 10 that you'd like to see, and I'd be happy to oblige. And for all of you that have submitted ideas, I promise I'll eventually get around to yours. Thanks for reading!!!

Honorable Mentions

Rise of the Triad
Space Hulk
Sim City
The Hand of Fate
Day of the Tentacle -- Mxyzptlk
Maniac Mansion -- Mxyzptlk
Monkey Island -- Electro Lemon
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About Excrementoone of us since 5:39 PM on 07.11.2007

Hey robots, I'm Excremento, but you cool and old skool Dtoiders know that already, this is merely for the N00BS. I've been a videogamer for as long as I can remember. I have well over 27 years of video game experience that I rely on daily, and a near encyclopedic memory of gaming starting with the Commodore 64 and ending with whatever is the current hotness.

I've got my own blog at MediaWhoreNetwork that I try to write on when I'm not too busy...and just recently have decided to come back to do a few Community Blogs here on Dtoid now that most failbloggers don't exist anymore. I'm still here fellas (and ladies) updating as often as I can for all of your enjoyment.

Any of you out there who wish to chat it up with ol Ex can do so at:

Gmail -- xopher (DOT) reed (AT) gmail (DOT)com

Facebook: Xopher Reed

Author of The Ten Commandments for Community Bloggers

NES Games
SNES Games
Genesis Games
Female Game Characters
Dreamcast Games
Fighting Game Series
Shitty Games I Own
Arcade Beat 'Em Ups
Robot characters
Third Party NES Soundtracks
EGM #58 May 1994 Readers' Top 10
Final Bosses (SNES)
Things I'm Excited For In Halo 3
Gaming Beverages
Albums To Game To
Cancelled Games
Worst Video Game Weapons
Best Video Game Weapons
Video Game Vehicles
Most Frustrating Moments In Gaming
Useless Game Characters
Arcade Gun Games
Video Game Sidekicks
Overrated Successful Games
Games That Deserve Sequels
Game Soundtracks
Legend of Zelda Games
MSDOS Computer Games
Games I Wish My Fiance Would Play With Me
Advertainment Games
Games Mrs. Excremento Plays and Enjoys
Games of 2007
Ways To Die
Game Series I Never Get Tired of Playing
Games You Had To Leave The NES On All Night To Beat
Games I Forgot I Owned Until I Found Them While Packing Up My Apartment to Move to My New House
SNK Games
Guilty Pleasure Movies
NES Games That You Had to Leave on All Night to Beat
Arcade Beat 'Em Ups

White Russians
Mr. Destructoid's Green Death
Happy Cola
A Pimp Named Butmac
The Electro Lemon
Irish Car Bombs
Neonie's Furry Purple Squirrels
Adios Motherf*cker
Shipero's Italian Martini
Coonskin And Bones
Flaming Dr. Pepper
12-Gauge Shottie
Destructoid Army Green
Miami Vice
The Workman Mojito
n00bmeister's Sneaky Drinking at Work Drink
Necros's Lounge Lizard
The Goomba Smash
Aerox's Lunchbox
Bloodylip's I Have A Dreamsicle


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