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Going Back to The Days of DOS

Features: F-19 Stealth Fighter, Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D

By Nick Saul     November 26, 2000

Who can forget the good old days where game graphics were pixilated, and the sound was either PC Speaker or AdLib? None of the complex requirements of today's games: they didn't need DirectX 7.0 with a 16 MB 3D accelerator and 128 MB of RAM. They were basic (which is what I'll call anything that requires 640K of RAM and a 386), fun, and we'd spend hours on them with our free time.

Not to say that we don't spend enough time on today's games, but it's fun to look back and remember the games from 10 years ago, and see how far we've progressed. Today we'll be looking at a few classics that I still remember and which never get tired of playing.

F-19 Stealth Fighter

This is probably the first computer game I ever played, and one of my all time favorites. Yes, the graphics are really bad compared to today's games, but it just shows how far we've come.

The game plays out as if you are an Air Force officer: you fly a few training flights; then you start on your regular missions, where you can be promoted, get medals for your performance, and you can even be MIA or KIA. The missions are you're generic fighter plane game: you are assigned to destroy targets or photograph targets, and you get a variety of missiles to carry out your objectives. Now since this game has a very limited engine (it was made in 1988give it some credit), there are no escort missions or game switching scenarios (at least none that I've come across).

While the game is fun, the one thing that is the most annoying is the sound: the engine noise is like a high pitched whine through the PC Speaker, which can get on your nerves very quickly.

I wasn't able to find a demo of this game, but you might be able to find one on the internet if you look hard enough. Finding a very old game like this is not easy!

Commander Keen: Marooned on Mars

This game is another old one I used to play. The graphics are really simple, and the sound is through PC Speaker. You play as Billy Blaze, an 8-Year old boy who builds a spaceship and goes to Mars, where he battles the evil Vorticans and retrieves the parts to his spaceship that the Vorticans have taken.

It is still fun to play this game all these years after its release in 1990. It does take a little while to get used to the gameplay, but if you're a fan of old DOS games, I'd say download the demo for this one. There are other Keen games, but Marooned on Mars is the one that started it all.

The game is pretty basic: you jump; you shoot; you get things; and that's about it. As far as puzzles go, pretty much the only one is finding a keycard to go through a door. Although it's basic, I still find the game enjoyableno great graphics and no stereo surround sound, just a plain and simple game. Great for lunch breaks!

You can find the demo by going to the 3D Realms website and scrolling down till you reach the download section of the page. This is shareware: there is a button on the top of the page that says 'Buy It', so I would assume that you should click there to order it.

Wolfenstein 3d

This is the game that started it all, the first FPS that we all remember and love so well. I was instantly addicted when I first played this game; I had never seen anything like it before. I thought the graphics and the sound were incredible (at that time of course), and I couldn't get away from playing all 9 levels in all 6 episodes. Many different magazines and reviews praised this game; it has been called 'one of the most important games ever made' because it has inspired so many other games, from Doom to Quake III.

In this game you play as B.J. Blazkowicz, the Allies bad boy, who is captured and held at Castle Wolfenstein, waiting to be executed. You stab a guard with your dinner knife as he brings your food to the cell; after taking his gun, you make your way through the castle, trying to escape. Of course, that is only the first episode; there are 5 after that, one of them requiring you to kill Adolf Hitler himself!

Because the subject matter is somewhat controversial (many people don't think the Nazis are a good subject for light entertainment), it is a little surprising the game was made. Well, it was made, and it sparked a new kind of game, one that has influenced us over the last 10 years.

This game can still be ordered here at the 3dRealms website by clicking the 'Buy It' icon at the top. If you are a resident of Germany you can't purchase this game. You can also download the shareware version of the game by scrolling down the page.

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