This conversation a week or so ago on sakeriver brought on some nostalgia for great games of the past. So I dug through some of my old CD roms, and found some goodies. I have the CD for Dark Forces, Descent II, Thief: The Dark Project, Diablo, Myth 1 & 2, Ultima VI, Wing Commander, Rogue Spear, Final Fantasy VII, and King’s Quest V.
Those of you who know games from 10-15 years ago will recognize some real gems in there. At the time I felt like playing the original Wing Commander, so I put in the CD and tried to run the install. It didn’t work! I got a “does not run on this version of windows” error. Basically, these older games need DOS to run, so anything from Windows NT and beyond won’t work. I would need Win98, Win95, or actual DOS to be able to play it. So I went to google and did some searching around. So I found that there is a good DOS emulator called DOSBox that is open-source, quite mature and well-supported, and is pretty much made for the sole purpose of enabling you to play old DOS games on today’s computers. So it has full hi-mem support, sound, and graphics. So if you have a mac or only run linux and you want to try out some classic PC games, this is definitely the way to go.
I installed and configured DOSBox, and then tried to install Wing Commander. No luck! The installation program requires DOS tools, which haven’t been added to the current version of DOSBox. Fortunately though, an abandonware site called Abandonia had a copy of Wing Commander and instructions for playing. So how big is the original Wing Commander game? Try 2.7 MB (zipped). That’s it. I was amazed that a game could even fit in that small amount of space. Of course, this is before digitized sound and mpeg cutscenes, and the game itself is pretty monotonous, but I was still surprised. Also, try this game if you want to try an old-school RTS. It was absolutely phenomenal for it’s time, and very challenging.
Looking at these old games brought back supressed memories of a certain game. A game that my brother Porter and I spent countless hours over a period of months working on. We faced insurmountable odds and fought the very gods themselves. And in the end, we were defeated. The game I’m referring to is Pools of Darkness, the fourth an final Gold Box game in the Forgotten Realms world. We spent several months on that game building our characters up and taking out the likes of Thorne, Kalistes, and Tanetal. But at the final battle, where you have to fight about 50 dracoliches, 50 giant iron golems, 50 giant bits o’moander, and the resurrected Thorne, Kalistes, Tanetal, plus the balor Gothmenes, we never could beat it. We tried it over and over again, but there were just too many too powerful creatures.
These many years later, it remains the only game I can think of that I really liked but could never beat. So I’m going to give it another try. I found that all the Gold Box games are available here, and all the manuals (which you need to get past the copy protection) are also available here. And if I don’t have the patience to go all the way through the game again? There is a walkthrough and some saved games that have uber maxed out characters that would make getting through the game a breeze. Is it cheating? Probably. But I don’t really feel guilty. Even dishonestly beating the game would at least give me some closure… or at least let me see the ending cutscene.
I need to see if I can remember the characters we used before. There was the cleric Drysia, the mage Maglita, and the short fighter Gumby, but I don’t remember the rest. Do you remember, Porter?
Here’s some screenshots from the intro:
(btw, these are actual size, 320×200 pixels. PDA’s have better resolution that that now!)