View Source Document

Classic Computer

Classic Computer Games

These are my recollections of a number of computer games, where "computer" means roughly "strategy or puzzle", whether real-time or turn-based.

You've probably heard of most of these.

Civilization II

I like that it's not just a war game; you feel like you're a steward of the civilization you've fostered. It's a bit like a sim game in that respect. Educational, too; it encourages you build a mental model of how history works, based on technological and social advances. An oversimplified model, to be sure, but something is better than nothing. I mean, did I ever really think about how sewer systems and refrigeration changed life as we know it before playing this game? Probably not.

The Incredible Machine 2

A classic. I like how it manages to unify, to an extent, using the "construction set" to build your own levels, and playing the level (since playing a level essentially means to complete its construction satisfactorily.) I also like how it naturally accomodates multiple solutions.

People sometimes tell me how RUBE reminds them of this game.

Every so often, in a television commercial or similar, I hear the exact same squeaking sound that the trapdoor made in this game, and I have a flashback to it. (That sound sample must be in the public domain or something.)

Dungeon Keeper II

It deserves mention if for no other reason than you get to carve your own dungeon out of the rock as part of the game.

King's Quest V

Alexander takes a mint.

This game is fairly well written, which is in stark contrast to the other games in the King's Quest series, which are simply painful.

If, however, you like things that are so bad that they are absurdly bad (and considering what website you're visiting, that's not unlikely,) King's Quest IV has moments of morbidity that may make it worthwhile: Graham's scream as he falls off the icy cliffs, and the narrator's jesting about "dying for a drink." But don't even try playing the endgame without a walkthrough.

Ultima VII Part 2: The Serpent Isle

Classic, and would be on a list of classic RPGs, but I don't have one yet.

I wasn't fortunate enough to play this until 2003. This was, of course, long after the hardware that it made so many demands on was obsolete, and could only be emulated awkwardly — either by Exult, which (when I tried it) was kind of hard to set up, or by switching between real mode and protected mode thousands of times a second, which is just about as happy as it sounds.

Lemonade Stand

This was going to be on the "Apple II Games of Note" list, but I realized it's not a video game, it's a computer game. And it's probably a classic. So here it is.

And it wasn't just for the Apple II, although that might be the most classic version.

There was a version for the Commodore 64.

But in the Apple II version, summer is endless, unlike in the Commodore 64 version.