Did you play any of these at one point in the past?
(Answers and commentary below the fold; freebie on the title of the first game)
Game #1 – Castle of the Winds (Windows 3.1 PC) – I was a big PC gamer in the early 90s. While my parents never had the money to buy the latest game consoles on the market (my friends generally got that privilege so that is where I played the SNES, Genesis, 3DO and so on) I made enough money from mowing lawns and running a selling stand where I sold weird items like new handcloths and bags from my Dad’s hospital job to build my own computer. I started off low level – a 286 with a 40MB HDD and an orange monochromatic monitor but before long my parents did get a Gateway 386 PC and then I one upped that by continuing to save and I built my own 486DX PC with an incredible VGA monitor. I did get my hands on Windows 3.1 at some point but there were very few good games, much less good games for the OS so I mostly stuck to DOS. But when I discovered Castle of the Winds, that would become the “killer app” for the OS that I would spend hours on.
It is a basic RPG where it is turn-based although the monsters don’t move until you do. Everything moves once per turn so you can “pause” the game by just sitting there. Most of the dungeons and items were randomly generated with each new game and before you go into each new level. So if you descended to a new level and it turned out to suck, you could just reload your save game right before the descent and then hope for better loot like enchanted items. You can still play this by running Win 3.1 through DOSBox, for me it is a game that is still fun to play, although I have not played it in a long time.
Game #2: Cybercon III (PC DOS, Commodore Amiga, Atari ST) – I got this game for Christmas one year and that the beginning of a long journey to get to the end. I didn’t play it every day but there was a time where I had a whole week off from school for Spring Break and a friend and I spent most of our time trying to finish this game (we weren’t successful at the time). The game control layout was complex enough that we actually split the keyboard up between a “pilot” and “engineer”, my friend usually enjoy being the engineer to manage the mech systems in battle.
This was an early 3D game with flat-shaded polygons that was quite a challenge to play through. You are inside of a mech that is infiltrating an underground automated complex that is the home of an evil intelligent computer that rules the world. The box claimed the game had over 500 rooms to explore and it would change the enemy types and patterns depending upon where you were located. It also came with a code wheel that you had to use to enter in these shape codes to save your game or access new areas (it was one of those copy protection schemes). It was a fun exploration game that we felt was programmed to be evil – once the game auto-saved when we fell into a pit trap that is impossible to get out of (your mech could jump and with enough power it could jump high enough for you to see the floor of the room above you but that was it); when I finally figured out what to do to end the game, it began crashing constantly as I finished the work needed to get the final codes and items to reach the last AI. It might have been buggy but it really felt like the game was taunting the player to finish it. Also, some of the bosses were downright ridiculous, one of the first ones is so large that you can’t fit the full view of it into your screen.
Game #3 – Stellar conquest 2469 – (PC DOS) This was one of those games that took advantage of my VGA screen and its amazing 256 colors. It was a space strategy game where you woudl start off with a star and you had to expand your empire from there; there were certain taskes you could undertake to manage or develop your technology. Once your turn ended it was the next human or AI player’s turn to do the same. You could build up massive fleets of fighters, bombers and capital ships and then send them to take over an enemy star system. As you grew you could become more powerful but you also had to manage the risk of spreading yourself too thin. You couldn’t control the space battles, you just had to watch and hope that you send enough/more powerful forces to wipe out your opponents defenses. The star systems you take over all mattered – each one could have between 1-5 planets and the planet types would determine how many resources you would gain each turn. I also played this a bit with the friend that was the engineer in Cybercon, it was a lot of fun.