Saturday, September 01, 2012

Top 10 PC Games I Had Played in Windows ’95 During Childhood

When I was into gaming, the main medium I played was PC.  And back when desktop personal computers were not yet a household staple as it is nowadays (it was really expensive back then), my family was blessed to have one.  So I get to have the experience of playing PC way ahead of most of my contemporaries. 

The operating system back then was Windows ’95 and most of the games occupy very minimal hard drive space when compared to modern games.  For perspective, consider this: our PC back then only had about 2 GB of hard disk space!  A flash drive has more capacity than that!  

Here are the top ten favorite PC games I played back then…

Note: Some of the games here are still available for free with Windows XP (the OS of my netbook).  While some are available for download in the Internet, which I have downloaded and played again by using Dosbox.  I got some screenshots to use for this list. But there are also screenshots here that are not mine, but merely taken from the Internet.  


Card games on PC were very popular back then.  But my most favorite among them was Hearts.  At first, since I rarely read the “Help” part of a game, I thought that the aim was to get as many points as possible.  It was actually the other way around.  Once I understood the mechanics and the point system – cards belonging to the hearts suite is a point, 13 points for the queen of spade, but you get zero points and your opponents get 26 points each if you get all hearts and the queen of spade in a round – I found the game to be intelligent and addictively fun. 


Before Diablo II, there was Castle of the Winds.  I remember how easily I got hooked a few minutes into the game.  This fantasy RPG has awesome gameplay (during its time, at least).        
8.) DOOM

I never get to finish this game at all.  The graphics, by today’s standards, is silly, but I admit that the demons/mutants/monsters/aliens (never bothered to know what were they) that regularly comes out of nowhere freaked me out a lot back then.  I think this was the first first-shooter game that I’ve ever played.   


This game bored me initially because I never understood it at first (again, because I was too lazy to read the “Help”).  But there came a time that I bothered to read the instructions so I can comprehend how to play it.  I realized that it was not at all purely about randomly guessing where the mines are (hint: the numbers actually have a purpose).  It also involves plenty of analyzing and quick-thinking (to determine which squares have mines as fast as possible).  And after finally understanding all of these, I found myself spending several hours a day playing it.  


This was the best intergalactic-themed PC game that I had played back then.  The game’s aim is to beat your opponents by destroying all their ships or leaving them with no planet left.  In the game, you have to get as much of the planets in the star map on your side, whether you’re good (green) or evil (red), either through colonization of uninhabited planets or investing on neutral races’ planets.  It’s also necessary to earn money, which can be done by means of two things: a) mining uninhabited planets and selling the cargo to inhabited planets; and b) from the automatic taxes of your planets (so, more planets, more income).  The money you earn is used to buy stuff and weapons (remember, it’s a war after all), and for investment on neutral planets to get them to join your side.  It seems complicated at first but it’s actually an easy game to master.  As soon as I got the hang of this game, I easily dominate whenever I play (as shown with the screenshot above).   

5.) SIM CITY 2000

The first simulation game I’ve ever played was probably this one (played Afterlife - a sim game with a heaven and hell setting - back then, too, but if I remembered it right, I played Sim City 2000 first).  I loved the idea of being able to control and design an entire city.  I would also get to play the more modern Sim City game later on, but believe me that I derived more excitement from playing this oldie for the first time than what I got from playing the more advanced version (the novelty of the “controlling a city” concept probably wore off)


This is the only Civilization game I ever played.  This game was the first of such kind I ever encountered back then.  I found it innovative, very unique, and multi-faceted.  You have to guide your civilization in advancing through history.  You have to choose what technological advances your civilization should pursue.  You have to expand by creating new cities or conquering cities owned by your opponent/s.  You have to consider political and economical aspects.  Sometimes, diplomacy can be used to your advantage.  You can make alliances or treaties.  Building a strong military force is very important.  Amidst all of these, there’s a lot of maintaining to do as well.  You have to keep this cities connected to each other, defended from threats, and amply supplied.  You have to keep your people happy and/or in check.   Etcetera, etcetera.  There are plenty of factors considered in this game, and it’s what makes it fun.  Also, it allows you to live out your world domination fantasies (I was able to build a British Empire that was more dominating than the historical and actual one).


This was the game that I played a lot whenever I hang out in my mother’s office (when she was still working) as a kid.  In each level (there are 20), you have to search and destroy the three hidden bases of your opponent before he or she (there’s a female commander) destroys yours.     There are only a few structure options to build in this game that I can enumerate them here.  Interceptor Missile Battery (IMB) defends your island from enemy missile and Metal Marine attacks.  Radars increase the accuracy of IMBs.  Mine fields damages enemy Metal Marines that walk on them.  Gun pods are armored pillboxes that defend your island from invading enemy Metal Marines.  Decoy bases look like real bases to, yeah, serve as decoys.  Camouflage structure hides your base or decoy base.  Logistics and support structures (Factory, Energy Plant, and War Administration Headquarters) decreases construction time, and increases fuel and money production (I seldom build them, though).   ICBM silos can shoot out nukes (but I never make them since they are expensive and fragile).  Missile batteries shoot out missiles.  And, most importantly, Metal Marine Hangars houses Metal Marines – your most valuable assets since they can be used for both defense and attacks.         


The Carmen Sandiego games that I’ve played are Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego?, Where in Europe is Carmen Sandiego?, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Deluxe Edition, Where in Space is Carmen Sandiego?, Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?, and Where in America’s Past is Carmen Sandiego?  There is a variety of themes in each game, but the essential gameplay remains the same: in each round, you have to chase V.I.L.E. agents across several locations; through trivia clues, you can determine what location.  Moreover, you have to determine the proper identity of the V.I.L.E. agent you are chasing so you will have the proper warrant once you caught up to him or her.  If you don’t have the correct warrant, the arrest is made void.  The titular Carmen Sandiego, the V.I.L.E. ring-leader, only appears on later rounds.  I’m proud to say that I’ve caught Carmen in all the games I’ve enumerated (screenshots are shown above).

My most favorite Windows ’95 game is Chip’s Challenge.  The game consists of more than 100 levels as you control the protagonist, Chip, through them.  In each level, Chip has to reach the respective exit door to proceed to the next level.  He should reach it before time expires, if it’s under a time limit (which is the usual).  The exit door opens when all the needed microchips in that level has been collected, but in some levels, there are no microchips to collect and Chip just needs to find the exit.  Each level has unique challenges and puzzles to figure out.  Sometimes, there are monsters to avoid.  This game involves plenty of analyzing, imagining, and trial-and-error; it really challenges your thinking skills. 

A good thing about this game is the option to skip a level is offered whenever you have failed it too many times over.  By proceeding to a newer thus fresher level, it will prevent you from mentally burning out and getting extremely frustrated because of a level that you are unable to get through.  You can just return to the levels you fail to solve some other time (once you have a refreshed mind).  I think I had solved 75% of the game’s levels.          


Janie E. said...

I've literally spent years trying to google to find out what the name of Castle of the Winds was. I could describe it and go on and on about how I played it and loved it before we got Diablo. Thank you so much for the images - they showed up when I googled Windows 95 rpg :)

bernel said...

You're welcome, Ms. Janie ^_^