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Classic Games (Games) PC Games (Games) Games

The Unsung Heroes of PC Gaming History 325

Posted by Soulskill
from the setting-the-standard dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The history of PC gaming is littered with many well-known and highly regarded titles, but what about the titles you mightn't have heard of? This list of the top games in the history of the PC includes the usual suspects, such as Half-Life and Doom, but also some often overlooked PC games including such classics as Elite, the space trading RPG developed in 1984 by two college friends from Cambridge for the Acorn and BB Micro systems. The game used a truly elegant programming hack to create over 200 different worlds to explore while using 32kb of memory, all with 3D wireframes. Also in the list is Robot War, which required players to actually code the participants, and one of the first online multiplayer RPGs, Neverwinter Nights, which introduced many of the developer and user behaviors, such as custom guilds, that have made modern RPGs so popular." What's your favorite classic game that always gets overlooked in these kinds of lists? My vote goes for Star Control 2.
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The Unsung Heroes of PC Gaming History

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  • Of course Elite became Eve Online, exactly the same game only with better graphics, multiplayer and millions of options designed to suck out your lifespan through your wallet.

    I played Elite a lot as a kid, which is why I couldn't see the Eve Online screen for the deja vu
    • by julesh (229690)

      Of course Elite became Eve Online [...]

      Have you spent more than about 30 seconds playing EVE? The game play is _completely_ different. This isn't a good thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kamapuaa (555446)
      Not Tradewars 2002?
    • So many games (Score:5, Interesting)

      by twisteddk (201366) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @05:29AM (#31595336)

      so little time and space to remember them.

      Yes, Elite was probably one of the first large scale space exploration/combat games. And for all its simplicity, quite unique and addictive.

      But many games exist that fits this bill in other genres:

      Eye of the beholder, one of the first D&D dungeon hacks, certainly one of the more popular
      Tiger mission, the first shoot 'em up. The previous ones were shoot 'em sideways, mainly
      Zaxxon, the first shoot 'em sideways that tried to use 3D effects and movements
      Ghost'n'Goblins, the original platform game
      Maniac Mansion, an original graphical horror adventure game
      Paperboy, one of the first arcadegames that had more than a joystick (joysticks today, you can't even find in an arcade hall)
      Mines of Titan, among the first D&D style games with a strategic combat system
      Arkanoid, for all its originality, never duplicated sucessfully.
      Star wars rebellion, just for the fact that I still play that game today, more than 10 years since its original release.

      Being the nerdy, gamer, looser type that I am, I could probably go on for a LONG time, and still not have gotten to the 1990'ies. ;)

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by KDR_11k (778916)

        Tiger Mission the first vertical shmup? Does Space Invaders not count?
        Ghosts 'n Goblins is from 1985, Donkey Kong from 1981 and I'm sure that wasn't even the first platform game. Hell, Super Mario Bros predates the release of GnG by about a week.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        I'll second Eye of the Beholder. It was one of my first experiences with getting really engrossed in a game.

    • by tom17 (659054)
      I too had Elite, on my Acorn Electron (My first computer). However, it was near impossible for me to save games with the cassette recorder and so I got bored of restarting the game every time very quickly. In fact I got bored of most stuff pretty quickly due to an inability to save stuff reliably.

      I wonder if I would have gotten more geeky in life if I had a better cassette player with my Electron!

      Tom...
  • Clamdigger! (Score:4, Funny)

    by chromas (1085949) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:41AM (#31594912)
    Tyrone calls you up, you know, in the game, and he says, "I can dig more clams than you, stupid!" And you've got to say, "Nuh-uh, boy!" And then y'all gotta race down to the beach with your buckets and your shovels. And the object of the game is to find parking.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by agrif (960591)

      NO CLAMDIGGER! [adultswim.com]

    • Ugh-lympics (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TapeCutter (624760) *
      Ugh-lympics [wikipedia.org] still stands as the funniest game I've ever played, the "mate toss" event was also an early example of political incorrectness in a PC game. The mate toss event was similar to a hammer throw except instead of a hammer you swung your cave girl around by the hair and tossed her down the field.

      The first truly addictive game I encoutered was Sopwith [wikipedia.org]
    • by Pojut (1027544)

      Give Oog Clamdigger!

  • Microprose (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MeesterCat (926256) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:43AM (#31594920)

    The games that have kept me occupied for the most time would be the various Microprose sims. F-19 Stealth Fighter, M1 Tank Platoon, Falcon 4.0. Admittedly, it may have been the manual that kept me occupied. Good times...

    I would also make an honourable mention for Sir Geoff Crammond and his Formula 1 Grand Prix series.

    • by julesh (229690)

      The games that have kept me occupied for the most time would be the various Microprose sims.

      Oh, yeah. I must have spent *months* playing Gunship. The career progression stuff that Microprose did with those sims really got you hooked.

      • My favourite Microprose game was Kennedy Approach. I loved the digitised speech and the way the game built up to become really frantic with 4 or 5 planes stacked while you tried to bring in another one having an emergency whilst trying to keep the light planes coming and going quick enough to not lose points. An unusual but very addictive game.
        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          I loved the digitised speech and the way the game built up to become really frantic with 4 or 5 planes stacked while you tried to bring in another one having an emergency whilst trying to keep the light planes coming and going quick enough to not lose points.

          I liked the "Lucy Makes Chocolates on a Conveyor Belt" game, where Lucy starts out standing at a conveyor belt and her job is to make chocolates, but then the conveyor starts coming faster and faster and she starts having to eat the chocolates so they w

    • actually, I remember playing Falcon 3.0 a lot more than 4.0. On a 486 at that! I logged so many hours in the skies. Good times.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Bios_Hakr (68586)

        You should check out FreeFalcon. It's 4.0 sourcecode that has been updated and tweaked to provide a more realistic experience. The full game is now free and you can find it over at http://www.freefalcon.com/ [freefalcon.com]

    • Re:Microprose (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DarthVain (724186) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @11:07AM (#31598946)

      Excuse me while I hunt you down like the dog you are for forgetting the likes of:

      CIV
      MOO
      X-COM

      Also I am pretty sure all the of those game series belong mention when talking about hero's of the PC gaming history!

  • ... was garbage.

    A list of great games which were commercial failures were:

    -Freespace 2
    -Planescape torment.

    Even mentioning the name neverwinter should send chills down any RPG'ers spine. Neverwinter nights tried to do too much with too little budget, their idea's about tools were awesome but the main single player game suffered because of it. Doing a toolset is hard while doing a game at the sametime, truthfully some days I wish bioware had infinite money to have really made NWN shine, good ideas but the de

    • by Misanthrope (49269) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:49AM (#31594932)

      They're talking about the original NWN, the AOL game. Which had a very large following and was one of the first graphical MMORPGs
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neverwinter_Nights_(AOL_game) [wikipedia.org]

    • rofl, megawoosh ;-)

    • I enjoyed Neverwinter Nights, a lot. I never did play the second one, and I didn't much get on with Hordes of the Underdark (and that's for all of the "Hall of the Fire Giant King" coolness of the setting). But basic NWN I enjoyed a lot.

      Dragon Age on the other hand, irritated me on so many levels that I shall be skipping any other title in the series, and probably the Mass Effect ones as well.

      I guess we're look for different things in a cRPG. From my viewpoint, BioWare has gone downhill rapidly of late

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bigstrat2003 (1058574) *

      It wasn't until mass effect/dragon age that Bioware really got back on track to making good games again.

      You forgot KOTOR, but yeah... NWN's campaign really bit. I enjoyed the gameplay, but the plot was mind-numbingly stupid.

    • by Jaysyn (203771)

      NWN was awesome for the toolset & some player made modules, not the original campaigns. If you've never played Darkness over Daggerford, or the remake of Pool of Radiance you really should give them a try.

  • trash reviewers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:52AM (#31594934)

    Iain Thomson: Minesweeper has probably cost more time in lost productivity in the office than anything else, including human resources meetings.

    The game was bundled in with Windows 3.11 and all subsequent versions and is simplicity itself.

    It Came out in Windows 3.1 (possibly earlier), not Windows 3.11 for workgroups.

    World of Warcraft Should not even be on the list, Warcraft maybe, Starcraft maybe, Diablo maybe, but not WoW.

    Duke Nukem Forever should be (as well as Starcraft Ghost) for having names that are ironically fitting.

  • How about MUDs? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kelbear (870538) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:53AM (#31594936)

    MMOs are so popular these days, but MUDs, the text-based progenitors of MMOs started it all off, and are still quite active, with literally decades of their content built-up and still being added.

    I spent a while earlier this year exploring a new MUD, picked it out of a list of hundreds.e

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      but MUDs, the text-based progenitors of MMOs started it all off, and are still quite active

      But you gotta admit, the people who prefer them are some very weird ducks. At least in my own personal experience, people who will actually come out and say "I prefer playing MUDs to the graphically-oriented games of today" tend to be somewhat, shall we say, different in other ways, too.

      Not necessarily in a bad way, but still.

  • Facts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by julesh (229690) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @03:54AM (#31594944)

    Don't let them get in the way of a good article.

    "Escape Velocity is a precursor to Elite in many ways"

    Yes, I can see how a 1996 release is a precursor to a 1984 one.

    "In addition to a rich storyline, [Elite] used 3D wireframe graphics."

    Rich storyline? You mean the fact that the game was packaged with a story that bore at least a passing resemblance to the gameplay? That's not what we mean these days when we say a game has a storyline.

    "For a start it used a truly elegant programming hack to create over 200 different worlds to explore while using 32kb of memory"

    (1) IIRC, there were 1024 worlds in Elite.
    (2) Not particularly elegant or innovative, if you ask me, using a PRNG to generate random worlds. Things very much like it had been done time and time before. We've largely stopped doing it this way, but only because we don't have to any more...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by itsdapead (734413)

      Rich storyline? You mean the fact that the game was packaged with a story that bore at least a passing resemblance to the gameplay? That's not what we mean these days when we say a game has a storyline.

      The point is that 1984 wasn't "these days". I don't know that Elite was actually the first to package a scene-setting novella by an actual author (edit: Wikipedia says it was [wikipedia.org]) and an "in-character" instruction manual, but it was certainly one of the first - SOP back then was more along the lines of "you are mankind's last hope - press SPACE to fire".

      However, perhaps TFA should have said "back story" rather than "storyline", considering that the USP of Elite was its totally unstructured play...

      (2) Not particularly elegant or innovative, if you ask me, using a PRNG to generate random worlds. Things very much like it had been done time and time before.

      Certainly, ge

  • Some Star Control 2 love! My goodness have that game been too often neglected. Such a shame.

    Personally I'd like to see Caesar III and The Neverhood among these lists more often. Also vastly underrated games. I still play my fair share of Caesar III, such a shame no one has thought of making an open source clone.

    • by Jaysyn (203771)

      Have you tried Pharaoh or Zeus & their expansions?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DarenN (411219)

      The Ur-Quan Masters [sourceforge.net] is a native linux port of Star Control 2, and I've found it largely indistinguishable from the real thing. It's awesome.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GMFTatsujin (239569)

      Star Control 2 is the pinnacle of 1990's game development, in my humble opinion. The developers at Toys for Bob are still inundated with requests to develop a new sequel. (Shame on you, Accolade. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME.)

      Ur Quan Masters is a game that, with the developer's blessings, brings the original SC2 back to contemporary computers with refinements galore. Updated graphic engine for high-res displays, remixed music, and plenty of gameplay goodies.

      My review of SC2 is here [longtailgamer.com].

  • There was a shift in the FPS genre from wacky off-the-wall concepts towards gritty bullet-based shooters. It started off with the SWAT mod for Quake1 which really introduced location-based damage, which led to the work of the Actionquake2 team, from which Gooseman went on to develop Counterstrike!

    Suddenly, there were bullet-based games everywhere. The confluence of location-based damage, and hit-scan bullets, led to a branching of FPS skills. By this time, most FPS player honed their skills on games designe

  • by Fallingcow (213461) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @04:10AM (#31594988) Homepage

    Darklands [wikipedia.org]. Freakin' great game. RPG, set in a medieval Germany where everything people at the time believed to exist does, in fact, exist. Very free form, but with two or three "main" quests you can go on (or not)--I won't say what they are, since discovering them is part of the fun. Pain-in-the-ass manual-based copy protection, so be sure to grab a PDF of the manual if you download it from an abandonware site or something.

    The Commander Keen [wikipedia.org] series (especially 4-6), Duke Nukem [wikipedia.org] (especially 2--I'm not talking about the 3-D Dukes here) and Hunter Hunted [wikipedia.org] all need more love than they get. They're not better than the best console platform games, but they're at least in the same league.

    Tachyon: The Fringe [wikipedia.org] was one of the last good space fighter "sim" games. Doesn't come up nearly as often as X-Wing, Tie Fighter, etc.

    STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl [wikipedia.org] is the only really good FPS game I've played in quite a damn while that wasn't developed by Valve, but either no one else who played it thought so or not nearly enough people played it.

    • Dude... STALKER? Seriously? The game's _hideous_. The controls feel like you are controlling a forklift instead of a guy and I like games where there's some sort of feedback when you hit enemies... you know... so YOU KNOW YOU HIT THEM! Man, even Wolfenstein 3D had this...

      • by Jesus_666 (702802)
        Apparently you somehow managed to start the game in Yantar and never moved anywhere else. Except for zombies (braindead), ghosts (all dead) and pseudogiants (too big to care) every human or animal you hit reacts to the injury in some way. This is especially noticeable with the humans which make up 80% of the game's enemies; they very visibly flinch when hit.

        Actually, I just realized you never actually played the game at all. Doesn't change the fact that SoC is definitely one of the best shooters of the la
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Ditto for Commander Keen! That game was so wacky and yet so much fun - I have a fondness for 2D side-scrollers to this day.
    • by DarrylM (170047) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @09:50AM (#31597678) Homepage

      Agree with Commander Keen! Smooth scrolling on an 8088/CGA machine? That was incredible back in the day.

      The other game that took many, many, many hours from me was the original Wing Commander. That game was incredible for it's time, from the graphics, music, and storyline. It put my old Adlib card to good use. Many, many fun times!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbzioZBTUIU [youtube.com]

  • BBS games (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Proglodyte (1774544) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @04:10AM (#31594990)
    No mention of the BBS games of yore ? When I think of unsung heroes I think of Seth Robinson, creator of Legend of the Red Dragon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legend_of_the_Red_Dragon [wikipedia.org]
    • by nstlgc (945418)
      You just gave me a flashback to my teenage self playing Barren Realms Elite on a BBS, launching attacks against people at the other side of the world and getting the results the next day. God, I loved BRE.
  • by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @04:12AM (#31594996) Homepage Journal

    had the opportunity to experience on a computer. im not even saying 'game', mind that, im saying 'the best shit'.

    it was SO good that in a good 1-2 weeks of the 1 month duration i played it for the first time, i really lost the track of space/time continuum. when i got off the game at times to drink, or eat, and saw my family members, it felt like i was not there and i was in a dream instead.

    it was SO good.

    fortunate for you people who didnt catch up with it in 1992, that they made it open source http://sc2.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

    note - while playing do NOT turn on voice acting at any point. it will kill your experience. the aliens, cultures pack much more punch when you do dialogues in text.

    maaaaan. i wish i could really forget the game and play it all over again.

    • by Rennt (582550)
      What a game, the universe was teaming with alien races, and really felt limitless. I never even found all the races or got close to beating the game as a kid. I did beat it years later in its Ur-Quan Masters form. Highly recommended.
      • by unity100 (970058)

        man i played it 2 times more just to find more about precursors.

        and the music it had. blazing.

    • I played SC2 over and over and over again. It will always be my personal fave for PC gaming. Though as to how much impact it had upon all gaming, I'd have to say it had very little influence. It was one of those games that the reviewers never could quite classify or put in their little charts under one genre or another. And the follow-on SC3 was a soul-sucking disappointment--where they decided to replace the 2D anims with muppets that were horrible and not at all funny and that fake 3D combat mode, which w
  • Dwarf Fortress (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @04:18AM (#31595012)

    Thats a simple one,

    Dwarf Fortress!

    This is one of the best games which has been in development by a single programmer for quite some time now. He works fulltime on the game living on donations from a very dedicated fanbase. The game revolves around creating and guiding (controlling would be too big of a word) a settlement of dwarfs, however the detail in the game in staggering. An insane amount of bodyparts are tracked for each dwarf, there is gravity, magma, water, and ofcourse.. lots of mining! The game offers almost an unlimited amount of fun and it is really up to the user to push the boundries of code!

    If i this got your attention be sure to have a look at it: http://www.bay12games.com/dwarves/

    PS. Dont let the graphics fool you:
    - http://df.magmawiki.com/index.php/Stonesense_%28visualizer%29
    - http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d3/Mayday-tileset.gif

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Zardus (464755)

      Heck yeah! I would say that, compensating for nostalgia, Dwarf Fortress is probably the best game ever created, on any platform. It's also the most ambitious. Seriously, anyone that hasn't played it yet needs to do so immediately.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RKThoadan (89437)

      WARNING: when a DF player speaks of "fun" they may be using a slightly different meaning of the word. Go here to make sure you understand what they are talking about: http://df.magmawiki.com/index.php/Fun [magmawiki.com]

  • by MemoryDragon (544441) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @04:37AM (#31595088)

    Zork, Ultima 3-7 and Ultima Underworld and the original System Shock, maybe as well the Pinball Construction Set which was the first game with an in place graphical editor.

    • by beh (4759) * on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @04:52AM (#31595148)

      I'd still prefer Ultima IV out of that list...

      More unsung heroes:

      Lords Of Midnight (ZX Spectrum, C64): strategy game with some RPG traits in the characters. Also the first game I remember to have multiple ways for the player to win (find and destroy the 'Ice Crown', OR take the opponent's home citadel ('Ushgarak') - and similar your opponent can win by killing Morkin (one of the player characters), subdue the players armies, or take the southern citadel (xajorkith). Also, what made the game 'special' was that it used first-person perspective of the entire map, not a 'map view' where you can see everything, but rather forcing the player to find out about the landscape by exploring it. (there was a drawn basic map of what the country would look like on the back of the box to give you some rough bearings, but not enough to know or see everything).

      Tau Ceti (ZX Spectrum, C64): just the complexity of the game, in a game that loads completely in 48k memory. I could have screamed when I finally won the game and all the game does it say 'mission accomplished, thank you' - but I did get the authors argument that he would have had to scrap part of the gameplay in order to put in some special effects to end the game...

      Atic Atac (ZX Spectrum): Labyrinth game; made cool by introducing difficulty levels purely through the characters, by giving each character a set of secret passages - with the easiest just having more secret passages than the more difficult ones. Also, at the end of the game, it would present you with a score, but also the time taken to finish and the percentage of rooms seen in the game - so you can always replay it trying to maximise on something different (just straight highest possible score; try and get out as quickly as possible; visit as many rooms as possible before finishing). To me, this makes the game replayable even today...

      • Ah yes and do not forget about Little Computer People Project the predecessor to the Sims :-)

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by BlortHorc (305555)

        I'd still prefer Ultima IV out of that list...

        Word on that, I drove my entire family insane with the sound track to that game.

        That said, was an awesome game, only Ultima V has any claim to being as much fun. That said, I do still remember IV more fondly than any other in the Ultima series

        Tau Ceti (ZX Spectrum, C64): just the complexity of the game, in a game that loads completely in 48k memory. I could have screamed when I finally won the game and all the game does it say 'mission accomplished, thank you' - but I did get the authors argument that he would have had to scrap part of the gameplay in order to put in some special effects to end the game...

        There was a Gauntlet-esque game I played furiously on the C64 called "Into The Eagle's Nest" [lemon64.com]. It had no save points, and in the style of Gauntlet required you to remember where the health and ammo dumps were, and use them judiciously. After many long months learning t

    • by plover (150551) *

      This list was about unsung heroes. Zork was sung from the rooftops.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by knarfling (735361)
      While I loved Ultima III and IV, and got really, really good at most of the InfoComm games ( I hated the ending to Infidel, although it was one of the easier ones to get through), one of the most unsung heros was Alternate Realty "Series" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternate_Reality_(series) [wikipedia.org]
      Released in 1985, there were many features that were considered "revolutionary" by games that were released as much as 7 to 20 years later. Things like hidden stats that changed based on your actions, and changed the
  • by liquiddark (719647) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @04:38AM (#31595094)
    The 50 or so citations on the wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] tend to indicate what most older gamers probably already know - that Elite has been a touchpoint for space games for the last 20 years or more. Who in the world can forget the damn game when it comes up constantly in game reviews and top X games lists?
  • by rarel (697734) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @04:43AM (#31595120) Homepage
    While they do appear on some niche top ten lists sometimes, they are often forgotten. Thief was a radical departure from the traditional shooting game, making shooting the last (and usually deadly) option you should consider, a shift few games have made since. System Shock was one of the first fully 3D games and its sequel one of the first true RPG/FPS hybrids, paving the way for Deus Ex.
  • "Abuse" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @04:56AM (#31595172)

    Abuse [wikipedia.org], a 1996 DOS sidescroller, continues to rank high on my list of all-time favorites, for three reasons:

    1. The gameplay was some of the fastest and most addictive in its day, with frightening sound effects, amazing art direction, interactive and destructible levels, and dynamic lighting that changed depending on the player's and enemy's actions.

    2. The player control system, using both the keyboard (movement and object interaction) and the mouse (aiming and shooting), had little to no equal in my DOS games library. I could run forward and shoot plasma rounds behind me, or fly in any direction and drop grenades in any independent trajectory.

    2. The level editor, with its intuitive link-based object system, taught me about binary triggers, logic gates, and AI long before I picked up my first computer engineering textbook. Extraordinarily-complicated systems could be created in short order with just a little practice. I still edit and play custom levels using DOSBox to this day just because of the editor.

    It's a shame that Crack dot Com, Abuse's parent company, fell off the face of the earth shortly after (even despite Bungie taking up the Mac version). Fansites still exist, and there used to be much talk about Abuse 2, but this game has largely been relegated to the history books in lieu of today's keyboard-mouse FPS games.

  • Starflight (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shivetya (243324) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @04:58AM (#31595186) Homepage Journal

    I still am amazed what can be accomplished on two 360K Floppy CDs.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starflight [wikipedia.org]

    I have a Tandy TX (80286 on a XT motherboard) just so I can have access to this game. The sequel Starflight II was almost as good as the original and introduced a race whose appearance and actions changed based on their planet's solar cycle. Lots of science fiction goodies for the geek, like an encounter with an obvious Enterprise star ship.

    Worlds that were unique through ingenious programming and even noted which you visited and gathered resources from so if you went back you had to land elsewhere, even Earth looked right from space using this system.

    All and all an impressive game done on those 2 360k discs that many have not surpassed using DVD

  • by clickclickdrone (964164) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @05:06AM (#31595230)
    A mix of tactics and arcade shooting, graphics way ahead of its time (including proper animated 3D star fields) and a novel level system not directly related to points make this a standout game. In many ways, the Elite for the Atari 8bits inasmuch as people bought Atari 800's to play it. Amazingly, it all fits in an 8K cartridge. Even more amazingly, the guy who wrote it did 60-70% of the code based on the chip specs (he designed one of them) as no complete machines existed. When he finally got an assembler and final hardware, it more or less compiled/ran first time.
    As an aside, it's depressing how the Atari 8bits are so often airbrushed out of history. Many games that are always cited as C64 originals were actually inferior ports from the Atari 800 originals although to be fair the inferiority was mainly due to games back then being designed around the hardware's strengths and limitations. C64 games that were ported to the Atari 800 generally sucked pretty badly too as the C64 had better sprite handling.
  • Some classic for me: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @05:20AM (#31595290) Homepage

    Wizard of Wor (1981) [youtube.com], a game that basically looks like a Pacman style labyrinth meets space marines. What makes this game brilliant is the pacing, you start out with a large number of small moving targets, then go to a faster moving, but smaller number of targets. The enemies abilities improve too, the last one can teleport, other can get invisible. The game also features COOP gameplay (or VS if you like, as you can shoot your buddy) and music that very effectively underlines the pacing. From all the really old games out there, this one really stands out for me, as its still fun to play for its gameplay, not just for nostalgia.

    EF2000 (1995) [youtube.com] is what I consider the best flight simulation ever. It might not be quite as realistic as Falcon4.0, but its a lot more accessible. It is also the first game I have seen that simulated a complete dynamic campaign and persistant world. Instead of just having self standing missions, everything was generated dynamically and your action did have actual impact on how the war advanced. To bad that the concept of a dynamic campaign seems to have been lost in time, as it is nowhere to be seen in todays console games.

    The Last Express (1997) [youtube.com] is an adventure game, but not just your average adventure game, this one happens in (almost) realtime. Unlike other games this one doesn't sit around till the player takes action, but instead all the other characters in the game world actually act on their own. This makes the game world feel much more alive then basically every other game. I still haven't seen anything quite like it and its ironic how even todays "action" games allow you to basically sit around and twiddle your thumbs, you have to walk to the action, the action doesn't come to you.

    Honorable Mention (but not really that obscure): Another World (Ico and SotC got a lot of inspiration from this), The Longest Journey (adventure with the best storytelling ever), Operation Flashpoint (best tactic shooter/warsim around), Syndicate (kind of realtime XCom:UFO), Strike Commander (storyline meets flightsim), Mech Warrior 2 and 3 (mech sim, not watered down mech action game).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fallingcow (213461)

      There was a game with (IIRC) Harrier in the title that gave you control over the invasion of a small island nation. I can't recall whether you actually got to dispatch the ground forces or whether they arrived on a time table, but you definitely did have control of a few Harrier aircraft, which you could launch from your carrier with an autopilot or fly on your own. You planned out your (or the AI pilot's) objectives before hand, setting waypoints and targets.

      It's pretty obscure, and a bit hard to find as

  • I generally consider Starsiege: Tribes a very influential game in the FPS genre. Up until that point for the most part FPS games were rather cramped and multiplayer was rather limited in size. Tribes introduced wide open terrain, seamless transition between interior and exterior portions of a map, vehicles, and cooperative team play on an extremely large scale[1]. Games after, notably the Battlefield series picked up on this and really popularized these concepts. Even Halo was inspired partly by Tribes[2].
  • Syndicate put you in control of an amoral conglomerate in a hard-core cyberpunk setting - with cyborgs, mind control devices and gauss guns at your disposal. I loved every minute of it.
  • I think this list tried to sound like: "Hey, look how cool we are for showing off this old-ass games instead of newer ones"

    However, they missed the whole RTS genre and some classics. Say whatever you will, but whenever you come up with a top games of all time list, you must include these titles:

    FPS: Doom, Quake, Half-Life
    MMORPG: Ultima Online, World of Warcraft
    RTS: Starcraft
    RPG: Diablo, your favorite Ultima, NetHack

    Specifically, I find it unforgivable to miss Quake and Starcraft. Quake basically defined the

    • I was playing Dune 2 and Dark rein and C&C before SC. SC is popular but it hardly defined RTS. Its a plug from the same formula as the rest.

      Moderators: Do your worst.
      • by acid06 (917409)

        I actually played Starcraft very little - I played much more Warcraft II and Command & Conquer.
        Still, Starcraft clearly seems to me as the most important RTS title so far considering everyone else's experience and despite my personal experience.

  • Elite was impressive considering the very limited resources of the BBC Micro, but Frontier (Elite II) was even more impressive, it being single handledly coded in pure 68000 Assembler by David Brarben, with a procedurally generated universe and real sized planets you could land on, all in 400Kb (uncompressed).

    My own picks, in no particular order:
    • Herzog and Herzog Zwei by Tecnosoft: basically invented the whole RTS genre; Westwood acknowledge it inspired Dune II and Command & Conquer.
    • The Mercenary
    • "Herzog Zwei"
      greatest sega game EVER.
      I remember getting it from the rental place for cheap because they had no box or instructions.
      We had to figure it out on our own.
      controls, gameplay, "what's a Herzog"
      Man was it worth it.

  • by amchugh (116330)

    First person real time dungeon crawl on a TRS-80 with sound! At least five years ahead of its time in 1982, which is like a lifetime in the gaming industry.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dungeons_of_Daggorath

  • by rodrigoandrade (713371) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @06:39AM (#31595738)
    Just to mention a true PC RPG classic that no one else cared to remember.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betrayal_at_Krondor
  • Sword of the Samurai. I still play it today, thanks to DOSBox.

    Also from Sierra Online - Alien Legacy. It was ahead of its time with excellent (for the day) graphics, a wonderful storyline, challenging, thoughtful game-play and excellent music.

    Airbucks - Impressions. I still play it today, despite the bugs.

    Castles 2, a fun and witty game.

  • AFAIK The first game to introduce the Heroes of Might and Magic style turn based map control + combat. Sophisticated mana and xp system for each unit, and you have to chase down on the map and kill on the battlefield the one enemy Hero while keeping your Hero safe. Majestic intro and great atmosphere throughout the game. 1991 - Ubisoft http://www.lemonamiga.com/?mainurl=http%3A//www.lemonamiga.com/games/details.php%3Fid%3D245 [lemonamiga.com]
  • ...Hyperblade? Sanitarium? Eradicator? Hunter Hunted? Die by the Sword? Crusader: No Remorse/No Regret? Time Commando? ROBOT FREAKIN' CITY???

    FREAKIN' TIE FIGHTER????????

    Seriously...how were these games missed by you folks?

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Uh, this is the list of unsung heroes. Everyone knows that Tie Fighter is one of the best games ever made. Those other ones can go on the list.

      • by Pojut (1027544)

        True...and if someone doesn't know about Tie Fighter, they should be schooled up on it asap. Those other ones definitely have a place on this list, though...no doubt about it.

  • Beware! I near! Run Coward! RUN! RUN! RUN!

    ("Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING."? Yeah, well, sometimes I got my REASONS, ya f'n filter!)
  • In the late fall of 1965 I trudged over to where the PDP-1 or 6, can't remember, was located. Down in some basement. There was an open demo of Spacewar and the room was packed. I stayed until the wee hours of the morning and finally got a chance to play for 5 or 10 minutes. I was fascinated. Fast forward to 2008 and Sins of a Solar Empire came out. Playing it, I had to chuckle a bit. It made me remember Spacewar. Gravity wells, hyperspace, ships firing torpedoes and other mayhem. Brought back old memories.
  • This list is missing Dungeon Keeper II.

    "Your dungeon is damp, install central heating."

  • What about Myst (Score:3, Insightful)

    by techno_dan (591398) on Wednesday March 24, 2010 @07:33AM (#31596154)
    It seems odd that they never listed Myst! It set quite a few benchmarks for story and visual quality.
  • Back in the days of VT100, when windows were something you looked through, when Apple was selling the awesomeness of the Apple ][, there were two games to play that I spent untold number of days playing: Nethack (then just "Hack") and the original Adventure. It is safe to say these games were the genesis of pretty much everything, I believe I remember reading somewhere that the head developer of Diablo got a lot of inspiration from Nethack, and Adventure spawned pretty much the entire adventure game industr

  • Games like King's Quest and its descendants were absolutely astounding for their time, and took adventure gaming away from nerds typing "xyzzy" or "plugh" to a much wider audience. They were also critical in getting women interested in video games. In some ways, it created the audience for Myst and its relatives as well.

  • Stunt Island was a n awesome game as a kid. Nowadays it would never be let out the gates but back then, it was a playground. You could let your imagination run wild as a kid. It had similar value to playing with legos. I wouldn't mind seeing a new version with pretty graphics.
  • Ultima Underworld (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sqweegee (968985)

    Probably one of the earliest examples I can remember of a game with 'mouse look'. A well made first person RPG, completely non-linear with tons of quests, various factions to befriend or go up against. Even had some decent physics for '92, objects could bounce and roll, also had some limited dynamic lighting.

    The whole thing was far more advanced than Doom which came out a year later.

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