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posted by martyb on Friday September 10, @06:47PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

https://lunduke.substack.com/p/the-best-vga-dos-games-period

Every major computing platform has, in terms of gaming, something special about it. The color palettes, the sound hardware, the storage mechanisms, the available keyboards and joysticks... they all lend flavor to the games developed for each system.

The sound of a Commodore 64. The funky colors of a ZX Spectrum. The pure black and white of the early Macintoshes. All wonderful in their own ways.

But DOS gaming... it might just be the most amazing of all. Especially the period of time from the early 1990s through to about the mid-1990s. VGA graphics. Sound Blaster audio. Lots and lots of 3.5" floppies (with the occasional CD-ROM).

And the games... Oh, my. So many games. Bajillions of them. While there were a lot of stinkers (counting them is as futile as counting the grains of sand on the beaches of the world), the great ones were truly spectacular.

Nay. Life changing.

What follows are what I consider to be the 10 best DOS games that capture that "VGA plus Sound Blaster" aesthetic. These are presented in chronological order... purely because ranking them any other way made my brain explode.


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, @07:14PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, @07:14PM (#1176752)

    Oh Lunduke, you never cease to amuse me... but not in the way you think you do...

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, @07:15PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, @07:15PM (#1176753)

    Moraff's Dungeons of the Unforgiven. hehehehehehh

  • (Score: 2) by edIII on Friday September 10, @07:21PM (3 children)

    by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Friday September 10, @07:21PM (#1176755)

    One of the games I still play, just as recently as a few months ago. Master Of Orion II. It was, and still is, and awesome strategy game.

    Star Control II is an absolute classic to me. The music alone was awesome [youtube.com]. It used multi-channel sample-based music, which I believe was called MOD music. The plot was great, the game play was great, and it was just great period. #1 on the list if you ask me.

    --
    Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by stretch611 on Saturday September 11, @02:09AM

      by stretch611 (6199) Subscriber Badge on Saturday September 11, @02:09AM (#1176859)

      Master of Orion (MOO) 1 & 2 are pretty cool. MOO3 was horrible, and the MOO remake in 2016 was a huge bugfest that was so bad it was literally unplayable.

      If you are interested in the 1st MOO someone did a remake in Java for modern computers. There are a few changes, but it is quite true to its roots.

      It is called Remnants of the Precursors [rayfowler.itch.io]. It looks good... runs well (even on linux), and is so true to the original that many of the tips in old strategy guides for the original still apply.

      The biggest differences are that it does limit ship designs. But you are also able to play against up to 49 opponents and have star systems with over 3.5 million stars.
      There are 3 different ai's... the original and 2 other ais that are much more competent.

      --
      I think; therefore, I am vaccinated.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @06:56PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @06:56PM (#1177052)

      I have wasted so many hours playing MOO2. :) Bought it off Good Old Games a while back and it is still my go-to game when I'm bored.

    • (Score: 2) by Pav on Friday September 17, @01:29AM

      by Pav (114) on Friday September 17, @01:29AM (#1178462)

      Urquan Masters is the port to modern platforms, and it also includes voiceovers, music and graphic improvements from a rare console (3DO?) version... and the improvements are ACTUALLY improvements... though there are options to drop back to DOS behaviour if that's your preference. It's really worth a look.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by ealbers on Friday September 10, @07:34PM (3 children)

    by ealbers (5715) on Friday September 10, @07:34PM (#1176763)

    May be a little self-serving but I always loved simcity and the sims series (wrote/designed simfarm in that series, so I'm a little biased :-)

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by rcamera on Friday September 10, @08:08PM (1 child)

      by rcamera (2360) Subscriber Badge on Friday September 10, @08:08PM (#1176778) Homepage Journal

      i owned the entire map in sim farm, exclusively strawberry plots, set up automatic everything (auto-sold futures, auto-cropdusting and auto-maintenance), watched the dollars increase, and left it running overnight.

      next morning, i'd rolled the 32bit number. was ~1.5billion negative and increasing.

      i was able to wrap my head around commodity futures because of that game. well done.

      --
      /* no comment */
      • (Score: 2) by corey on Sunday September 12, @11:39AM

        by corey (2202) on Sunday September 12, @11:39AM (#1177206)

        Oh yes Sim Farm! Your comment got me laughing and I had to tell my wife next to me, she didn’t get the 32-bit reference so I explained it but she wasn’t anywhere near as impressed.

        I used to always go the strawberry farms too.

        Great game.

        I saw a comment above about Mod music. I used to use I think Fast Tracker II and open random files until I found game music. I also used to make music and ripped off the instrument samples from other music files to build up a library. I made better music than what you hear these days from big name hip hop artists and I was just mucking around. Like, more complex, interesting, and difficult to make. I guess being aware of that feature of music is why I’m a lifetime big fan of The Chemical Brothers.

        Had sourced a Gravis Ultrasound board from somewhere after a while, that was cool.

        I also used to (after my mate showed me) use Xtree Gold to open saved game files, view the hex and find the value of the points/money/gold/experience value, then up it by an order of magnitude or two, save then open the game. Most of the time it worked. I remember hacking the original Warcraft a lot that way. Fun times.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @09:58PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @09:58PM (#1177112)

      Nice, congrats on having been part of that! All the Sim* games were fascinating to me, though I didn't get to play them all. Good times, though.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Snotnose on Friday September 10, @08:27PM (6 children)

    by Snotnose (1623) on Friday September 10, @08:27PM (#1176788)

    Those were the days when every 3 years you bought a new computer for about $2500. I was fortunate enough to be able to afford that (I usually had a better home system than the one at work, and I was an embedded software developer).

    Wing Commander. Nice game, much too easy. I beat it without even trying and was surprised when it ended. I was waiting for it to get harder.
    Civ. Don't get me started. At the time I was working full time and going to college part time. This game almost got me fired and kicked out of school.
    Wolf3D. See Civ. Made the mistake of installing it on a work computer, nuf said.
    MOO. See Civ and Wolf3d.

    I only had so many hours in a day, never played any of the others. But games like Civ and MOO you could always replay, always a different experience. Wolf3D had a lot of imitators, I remember a redneck version (Redneck Rampage?) that was funny as hell but too buggy to finish, and a horror version (something about vampires) that, again, was a great game but too buggy to finish.

    --
    The skulls of my enemies are much more enviromentally friendly than plastic cups. just sayin.
    • (Score: 2) by coolgopher on Saturday September 11, @12:28AM (3 children)

      by coolgopher (1157) Subscriber Badge on Saturday September 11, @12:28AM (#1176839)

      Wing Commander: How the hell do you keep those three(?) Jalkehi fighters from destroying the capital ship you're meant to protect?! Those six front-mounted laser cannon just obliterate *everything*. Someone suggested taunting one of the enemy fighters until he gets pissed off enough to forget about his mission and targets you instead. Tried that, but at that point I refer back to the earlier sentence - obliterates *everything*, my ship included.
      Civ: It was fun until I started looking into the saved game file structure, and realised the computer was cheating horribly.
      Wolf3d: Ach, mein Leben!
      MOO: I missed that one.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @02:29AM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @02:29AM (#1176865)

        Civ still hasn't managed to get an AI that is good enough not to cheat blatantly, even with the dumbed down 5/6.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @04:53AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @04:53AM (#1176881)

          I think the FOSS remake FreeCiv has non-cheating AIs. It's more Civ 2 than Civ 1, but it has tons of configuration options.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @06:59PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @06:59PM (#1177053)

            FreeCiv has a Civ2 ruleset but they also have their own that does a whole lot more.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @12:40AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @12:40AM (#1176842)

      Redneck Rampage came out long after wolf3d, and reused the Build engine from Duke Nukem 3D, which was more or less a (technically improved) clone of the Doom engine, so I'm having trouble seeing it as an imitator of wolf3d in either a technical sense or otherwise.
      (Really, there weren't a whole lot of FPSes between wolf and doom, and virtually all of the post-doom FPSes seem to owe much more to it than to wolf3d.)

      As for your vampire game, the only horror game from the wolf3d time I can think of is Catacomb 3-D, though that was actually a predecessor, not an imitation or modified version. There were a fair few horror-themed FPSes with doom-era engines, of course, but I can't recall any of them being vampire-centric either.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, @08:49PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, @08:49PM (#1176794)

    Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Lemmings, Privateer, X-wing, Tie fighter, Dark forces, Syndicate. I don't know if these count, cause these already had accelecation and stuff but Quake and last, but best of the best, Interstate '76.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, @10:24PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, @10:24PM (#1176811)

      Quake is the dividing line between the games of the 90s and what became modern gaming. It originally came out in a DOS version with only software rendering, and would run - barely - on a 486. But it quickly evolved into a 3D accelerated game (the first serious one) that was primarily played in multi-player form, over the Internet (the first serious one). It's not a stretch to call it the most significant game of all time.

      • (Score: 2) by corey on Sunday September 12, @11:47AM

        by corey (2202) on Sunday September 12, @11:47AM (#1177207)

        I agreed but then I remember when a mate got a Pentium 150 and overlooked it to 187MHz, which was insane for the time but the 150 was a beast. And we played Interstate ‘76 heaps on it, I think he might have had some Voodoo card too. I thought that was the first real 3D game for me.

        My neighbour got a Pentium 100, this was a bit earlier so that was a wicked processor at the time, and we played the first Need For Speed endlessly on that. I managed to get it going on my 486SX-33 but it was slow as. I think it was about 20 x 3.5” floppies all arj-ed to multiple 1.44MB images.

        But yeah this is 95-97 from memory.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Pav on Friday September 10, @09:31PM

    by Pav (114) on Friday September 10, @09:31PM (#1176800)

    Ur-Quan Masters (ie. Star Control II) has been improved over the DOS version, with better graphics and added voiceovers from a rare console version. There's a Linux port, and it's really worth playing... though it can be a slow starter without a playthrough. However, because of UQMs combo of non-linear roleplaying and constant arcade action it's challenging even WITH a playthrough.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, @10:20PM (18 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, @10:20PM (#1176810)

    ... For people aged exactly 40 to 50, I guess.

    The 90s really was the golden age of games. It was the moment where technology was still a constraint, but no longer a straitjacket. All the game ideas that had been bottled up because of impossibility or just pale shadows of what they could be came pouring out.

    Civilization (1 only, I guess, if you insist on DOS - later ones were Windows only). Civ is one of the few 90s games that actually benefits from Windows. Pollution sucks, but you can always occupy other nations and clean their pollution for them. And nuclear weapons don't pollute if you use them on ships! (actually pretty accurate, if unintentional).

    X-COM. Either you discover psionics early on from a Sectoid terror attack and steamroll the whole mid game, or you don't, and get slaughtered when Ethereals show up. Still tremendously fun even if poorly balanced. There's a modern series that follows the same formula - the first game is magic, then every subsequent game gets worse.

    Wing Commander 2/Privateer. The best pure space combat and the best mixed combat/trading games. (Elite was earlier) Modern successors in the form of Squadron 42 and Star Citizen are mired in epic development hell. Ten years in, at least ten more to go. Will they be finished before Chris Roberts dies? Better read the Game of Thrones books in the meantime.

    TIE Fighter. Almost as good as a pure space combat game, plus it was Star Wars. The concept of being just a regular soldier who happens to get involved in the important part of the war, rather than some kind of cinematic character or chosen hero, really appealed to me. There's a modern remake of this too - in the form of a mod for a different game - but it's way too easy.

    Master of Orion. I probably played the second one more, but in hindsight, the first one was better. I loved the second one because it was an homage to Star Fleet Battles, a board game that I also loved (and which still exists, barely, though I no longer play it). The second one had the fundamental problem of being obviously playtested and balanced with tactical combat off, but everyone in practice played with it on. Because it was fun! But it also broke the game, because the AI built bad ships. No such problem in the first game, which achieved its goal of being Civ In Space.

    SimWhatever. My favorite was SimEarth, which did have a DOS version although, like Civilization, it was better in Windows. SimCity was more popular, and also very good.

    Populous. The best of the early RTS games, in my opinion. I think it was from Peter Molyneux, who also failed to make the leap into the 21st century.

    Aces of the Pacific (or Europe, or the Deep). WW2 flight/submarine simulators. Europe had better graphics and combat, but Pacific let you play the whole war from either side, carrier or land based, with almost every significant aircraft type included, along with historical flying aces and information.

    Worms. This simple game is what everyone played in computer lab instead of doing their assignments. Might technically be from the 80s.

    Lemmings. A fun puzzle game that just screams 90s. I didn't play it that much myself, but lots of people really got into it.

    DooM. I actually didn't play this all that much, especially compared to its successor Quake. But the impact on gaming in general is unmistakable. John Carmack took an ill-fated detour into space flight before going to Facebook to do Oculus things. I think he's doing something else now, but I don't think he's interested in game engines any more.

    Lost Vikings. A very early game from Blizzard, probably my favorite puzzle platformer (and my favorite platformer of any kind, on PC). Ahead of Duke Nukem and Commander Keen (which was from the 80s, anyway).

    It's ironic, I think, that today we have so many more choices, yet if I were to look back on the 2010s, there won't be as many games that I loved that I can point to from the early 90s. It really was a golden age.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, @10:26PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, @10:26PM (#1176813)

      Frak! I forgot Descent and Falcon 3!

      Just too many games to remember from the era!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, @10:36PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, @10:36PM (#1176816)
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, @10:43PM (11 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, @10:43PM (#1176818)

      The 90s really was the golden age of games. It was the moment where technology was still a constraint, but no longer a straitjacket. All the game ideas that had been bottled up because of impossibility or just pale shadows of what they could be came pouring out.

      The 80s disagrees. You can't beat the gameplay of those great arcade games. In my opinion, there is a strong negative correlation between graphics capabilities and gameplay. It is still more fun to play those games over a lot of AAA games now, which are just the same FPS with extended cutscenes and marginally better graphics this year over last. Games measured in kilobytes are more fun to play than games measured in 100s of GBytes.

      • (Score: 2) by sjames on Saturday September 11, @12:58AM (10 children)

        by sjames (2882) on Saturday September 11, @12:58AM (#1176847) Journal

        When you can't knock them over with incredible graphics and sound, you have to resort to game play to make it sell!

        • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Saturday September 11, @06:41AM (9 children)

          by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Saturday September 11, @06:41AM (#1176899) Journal

          I very much appreciate the amazing job many of those early games did pushing the limits of 80's graphics. The Apple II computer hi-res graphics (which at 280x180 IIRC are laughable by today's standards) had just 4 colors plus black and white, the computer was severely CPU bound, yet the games managed so much. To play music while rendering graphics was difficult. The CPU had to click the speaker at the frequency of the note that was wanted, and use the milliseconds in between those clicks to update the graphics. Ultima 2 had animated waves. The Bilestoad was perhaps the most masterful with excellently clever use of graphics while playing music. Epic, and Theseus and the Minotaur (I think by the same person), managed 3D perspective solids. Another unique graphics treatment is Way Out, which on its start screen actually used the low res graphics, to access many more colors, but did some timing trick with the horizontal sync to cause the display to show thin horizontal lines in those colors. Wizardry's graphics were weak, drawing outlines of dungeon walls; Bard's Tale showed what Wizardry could have been. Seadragon was one of a few that actually managed to produce voice through that primitive speaker. Very scratchy and tinny, but you could make out the words.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @09:45AM (6 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @09:45AM (#1176930)

            Apple ][ graphics were strange, because of the weird implementation of color. Awesome in 1977, but pretty tired by 1983 when the C64 came out.

            All the hi-res graphics had 192 rows, and 280 columns in the bitmap. But because odd columns could only be blue or green, and even ones only orange or purple (I think I have this right), and the pixels would bleed into the adjacent column on an NTSC TV or composite monitor, it was effectively 140x192. You'd get white if you had two adjacent pixels turned on, no matter what columns they were in. (There was an additional weirdness in that the columns were 40 groups of 7 pixels, each with a "palette" select bit that switched the group of 7 pixels between blue/orange and green/purple). So, there were a lot of limits on exactly which colors could be next to each other, which is pretty visible in certain games. You can also see how this corresponds to the Apple ]['s text display of 40 columns and 24 rows of 7-pixel-wide, 8-pixel-high text characters.

            On the //e and //c an additional mode was added in which the bitmap was extended to 560 pixels wide, and the palette bit was done away with, yielding 140 columns of "simple" 16-bit color. Unfortunately, it wasn't packed two pixels to a byte, but maintained the 7-bit encoding with the palette bit just being ignored. On top of that, every other 7-pixel byte was in a different bank of memory! Because of this extremely awkward setup it was common to use the double hi-res mode, as it was called, just for paint programs and splash screens. So it would have been just fine to keep the palette bit and have 32 colors. (I vaguely remember there being some way to make this happen, maybe involving a soldering iron).

            Apple finally came up with a halfway sane graphics layout on the //gs (only halfway sane, because access to the graphics memory still slowed the CPU to 1MHz, but at least the bitmap layout made sense, and allowed for some pretty neat tricks). But Apple hated the //gs and wanted to push everyone to the inferior but more expensive Macintosh, which should have sunk the company, and nearly did.

            • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Saturday September 11, @06:42PM (5 children)

              by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Saturday September 11, @06:42PM (#1177047) Journal

              Yes, Commodore 64 graphics smoked Apple ][ graphics. Audio, too, was vastly superior. If it wasn't for that horribly slow and clunky disk drive, much slower, larger, and more expensive than the Apple's, a huge step back, the C64 might have become the dominant home computer of the 1980s. It got close anyway. The PC's CGA graphics were arguably worse than the Apple ]['s, only 4 colors at a comparable resolution, while the Apple managed 6.

              Yes, you remember the Apple ][ graphics correctly. Adjacent rows could freely mix colors, adjacent columns, not so much. I vaguely recall the //e double hi-res mode. Never saw any game that used it. Sadly, by the time the //gs came out, I had moved on to the PC. I thought and thought about getting a gs, but the world had moved on, and I moved with it. Something like over 90% of the computers at the school were PCs. Soon I was the only person who still had an Apple ][, and if the platform was tired by 1983, it was moribund by 1988. Still a few games came out for it, such as Ultima V in 1988, but that was the last of the Ultima series for the platform.

              Commodore's last gasp, the Amiga, had really impressive graphics, but the price was too high. It wasn't just the money, it was also their stranglehold. By then, the PC had EGA graphics, roughly comparable to C64, with VGA in the wings, and when the precursors to the Sound Blaster audio card came out, that addressed the original woeful state of audio, bringing the PC into parity or better in all categories. I am astonished that Apple managed to survive, and turn around the MacIntosh, but they got one thing right: most people don't want to be power users.

              • (Score: 2) by sjames on Saturday September 11, @07:21PM (4 children)

                by sjames (2882) on Saturday September 11, @07:21PM (#1177057) Journal

                The C64 floppy was just plain odd. The big holdup with it was the bit banged serial communication between floppy and the CPU. It could be made a lot faster by a hack that expanded the communication to 2 bit parallel over the same hardware (made popular by the Fastload cart). Than and changing a register value in the drive to speed up track seeking. The floppy drive itself actually had a 6502 running it (the C64 itself was a 6510A).

                In theory it should have been superior to the Apple][ where the floppy was managed by the CPU at low level (including converting the encoded 5and3 nibbles to bytes). In practice, they got it working and then stopped.

                • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Saturday September 11, @09:33PM (1 child)

                  by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Saturday September 11, @09:33PM (#1177102) Journal

                  There was a lot of low hanging fruit that went unpicked. Some shockingly bad design and coding.

                  For example, while Apple DOS 3.3 was much faster than the Commodore, it was still badly done and far slower than it could have been. The stupidity was that it took slightly longer to read, decode, and memcopy a sector than it took for the drive head to rotate past the start of the next sector. And so, instead of being able to read a 16 sector track in one rotation of the floppy, it took 15 rotations. The simple idea of interleaving the sectors could cut the number of rotations to 2, while another simple idea, don't double buffer, that is, skip the memcopy by putting the data directly at its final destination, sped the processing time up enough that it could finish before the drive head reached the next sector. DOS 3.3 needed about 45 seconds to boot up. Aftermarket DOSes needed 5 seconds. I found one more thing that sped it up a little more, introduce a short delay in the format routine before beginning a new track, to allow time for the arm to move. Otherwise, after reading 16 sectors, the time it took to move to the next track caused the drive to just miss the start of the first sector, and it'd have to wait for nearly a complete rotation. I hacked another Origin Systems game, Moebius, and with sector interleaving sped the combat sequences up greatly, cutting the time from 20 seconds to 5 seconds.

                  I improved several other games. One was Dark Forest, a computerized version of an Avalon Hill game, Wizard's Quest. Took 30 seconds to compute how many armies a player received, and was sometimes wrong. I fixed the bug and sped it up so it took 1 to 10 seconds. The original code was just plain bad.

                  • (Score: 2) by sjames on Tuesday September 14, @08:00AM

                    by sjames (2882) on Tuesday September 14, @08:00AM (#1177639) Journal

                    I had almost forgotten those details, in spite of the time I spent messing around with the floppy on the Apple][ at school. Such fun as reading half tracks and other early copy prevention trickery, boot code tracing, etc. The odd thing is, there was interleaving in DOS 3.3, it just wasn't effective or useful interleaving.

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @09:52PM (1 child)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @09:52PM (#1177110)

                  As you can probably tell, I'm an Apple enthusiast, not a Commodore enthusiast. But each system had advantages, so there was plenty of room for both. Early on the Apple was just better in general, with the PET having no sound at all and only character graphics, no bitmaps, and no color. Later on though, the Commodores (either the VIC-20 or the C64) had better graphics and sound, but were inferior as computers. The VIC had only 22 columns of text, which was terrible. It had better color than Apple but it only had 4KB of memory, which just wasn't adequate in the early 80s when most Apples were shipping with 32K and almost none with less than 16K. On the positive side it did have a cartridge port, so executable code could be in ROM, while the Apple was loading everything from disk. By the time the VIC grew to 32K, Apples had 64K.

                  The C64 and //e repeated this, with the C64 having better graphics and sound but the Apples having more memory, a much better disk (and usually two of them), and an 80 column text display, matching the PC. You could do word processing on an Apple that was comparable to the PC, except for having less memory. But Appleworks was vastly easier to use than Lotus or WordPerfect.

                  Apple, unfortunately, artificially limited the //e to 128k instead of the 1MB it was designed for, because Apple wanted everyone to buy the inferior but more expensive Apple /// (sounds familiar). You could get aftermarket RAM expansions up to 1MB and Appleworks and a few other programs would use them, but most software assumed that you would only have 128k.

                  Commodore, of course, shot themselves in the foot with their awful disk drive. I remember that the drive was supposed to be a lot faster, but there was a bug in the shift register they used, so the speed was artificially limited. For some reason, compatibility maybe, they couldn't fix it later.

                  When the Amiga came out, Commodore couldn't decide whether to compete with game consoles, the PC, or try to continue the increasingly outdated concept of the "home computer", so they basically did none of the above and (combined with political problems in the company) let their technical superiority go to waste. Apple was so busy trying to get people to buy worse computers for more money that they broke their actual good computers and tried to avoid selling them, even though people really wanted them. Atari had some really underrated computers, but they got wiped out by the video game crash. This is why everyone uses PCs. Microsoft had the good sense to just show up and stay out of the way, and the good luck that IBM allowed them to sell DOS to everyone instead of just to IBM.

                  • (Score: 2) by sjames on Sunday September 12, @12:04AM

                    by sjames (2882) on Sunday September 12, @12:04AM (#1177128) Journal

                    To me, the HUGE advantage of the C64 is you could convince your parents to buy one, while the Apple][ was above $1000 which made it a hard no for many.

                    Soon after, the IBM PC clone took over the world. Ironically, that was mostly because IBM's management never took the PC seriously.

                    Next to the various Apple][, the Mac looked like an appliance. That appealed to some, but most wint with the PC either because it was a "business machine" or because it was far more hackable than a Mac. Ah the joys of buying a memory upgrade that comes in a tube. The soft crunch as your thumb seated each chip.

          • (Score: 2) by sjames on Saturday September 11, @12:31PM (1 child)

            by sjames (2882) on Saturday September 11, @12:31PM (#1176967) Journal

            Voice out of the Apple][ speaker was a brilliant hack. The speaker hardware was a simple push-pull that could be toggled by writing to a set I/O port. The voice was actual digital audio using the physics of the speaker cone as a primitive DtoA converter. The program would toggle the speaker driver at a fixed ultrasonic frequency with variable duty cycle. Due to inertia, the speaker cone would average out to an intermediate position allowing low resolution audio samples to be output. Due to the lack of a programmable timer interrupt, the fixed frequency was manged by timing the machine instructions. With a 1MHz clock and an average of 4 clocks per instruction, the coding had to be efficient. It's a minor miracle that it actually worked.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @10:04PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @10:04PM (#1177113)

              Yep! I saw a demo on the //e that had four channel audio (with different waveforms, not just sine wave) plus some simple animation in double hi res mode. Pretty amazing.

              A couple of games I remember for having good audio were Ghostbusters and the Halley Project. Both games were limited to the usual clicks, beeps, and whooshes during actual gameplay, but they had very good sound in their intros. Ghostbusters had a short voice clip "Ghostbusters! Ahahaha" and the entire Ghostbusters theme song in multi voice, complex waveform sound. Halley project had an extended spoken intro with some guitar riffs.

              Not bad for a speaker that had to be moved by toggling power to the coil using a 1MHz CPU!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @12:23AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @12:23AM (#1176838)

      1990: Commander Keen 1-3
      1991: Commander Keen 4-6, Duke Nukem 1, FreeCell, SimAnt
      1992: Chip's Challenge, Cosmo's Cosmic Adventure, Space Quest IV, UnReal World
      1993: Day of the Tentacle, Duke Nukem 2, Sam & Max Hit the Road
      1994: ADOM, Lode Runner: The Legend Returns, SimTower
      1995: Rayman
      1996: 3-D Ultra Pinball: Creep Night, Chex Quest, Death Rally, Duke Nukem 3D
      1997: Age of Empires 1, Total Annihilation
      1998: Journeyman Project 3, Railroad Tycoon 2, StarCraft, Thief 1
      1999: Age of Empires 2, Dungeon Keeper 2, Islamic Fun
      2000: Diablo 2, Thief 2
      2001: Pocket Tanks, Tropico
      2002: Age of Mythology, Morrowind

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @02:32AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @02:32AM (#1176866)

        Missing for 2000: Majesty

    • (Score: 2) by coolgopher on Saturday September 11, @12:35AM

      by coolgopher (1157) Subscriber Badge on Saturday September 11, @12:35AM (#1176841)

      I actually enjoyed X-COM: Apocalypse more than the previous two games. Though again, if you managed to keep it together to research bio-toxin-C, you were pretty set for the rest of the game. That said, it *was* rather satisfying to have quick reactions on your characters so any headsucker that came charging towards you got deflated as soon as it showed its... uh... head? body? after all the chaos those little bastards caused you early on in the game.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by c0lo on Saturday September 11, @01:28AM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Saturday September 11, @01:28AM (#1176851) Journal

      Dune II - prototypical for RTS

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, @10:42PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, @10:42PM (#1176817)
  • (Score: 1) by Hauke on Saturday September 11, @12:10AM (2 children)

    by Hauke (5186) on Saturday September 11, @12:10AM (#1176836)

    Many of those previous games are sitting in their original boxes on a shelf right above this computer.

    Additions:
    Settlers / Serf City (Life is Feudel) (Leading into Settlers II / Settlers III...) (Of which Settlers II led into https://www.widelands.org/ [widelands.org] ... Off topic, not DOS)
    King's Quest (KQ IV - The Perils of Rosella)

    Already mentioned, thus just repeating:
    Star Controll II. (Evil Blobbies come instantly to mind)
    Masters of Magic & Orion (And MOO2)
    Civilization with the pollution

    --
    TANSTAAFL
    • (Score: 2) by coolgopher on Saturday September 11, @12:49AM

      by coolgopher (1157) Subscriber Badge on Saturday September 11, @12:49AM (#1176845)

      Sooo many hours of Settlers II split-screen multiplayer (with two mice)! Those were the days. And the music [youtube.com] was amazing - I still listen to the MIDI versions from time to time in the background.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @12:27PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @12:27PM (#1176963)

      Damn, forgot Settlers from my list.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @06:21AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @06:21AM (#1176894)

    HARD MODE

    -> List games that weren't originally made for the Amiga, which looked down its little cyber nose at VGA graphics and monophonic SoundBlaster cards.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @08:18AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @08:18AM (#1176916)

    Stunts - Perhaps the racing was simplistic and unrealistic, but I really enjoyed playing this and designing lots of weird and unique tracks.

    Scorched Earth - Not sure how this hasn't been mentioned yet. I spent far too much time playing this classic tank game.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @09:10AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @09:10AM (#1176922)
    I remember hooking up 3 machines via serial ports AND parallel ports for some Doom sessions with friends.

    I don't think this was documented to work (or supposed to work) but I somehow got it to work... Had to do some stuff with plip and ipx. I can't remember the details.

    It would sometimes go out of sync though.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @10:12AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @10:12AM (#1176933)

    https://www.scmp.com/tech/big-tech/article/3148128/china-said-suspend-approval-new-online-games-heating-beijings [scmp.com]

    Maybe this news will be a boon and see these VGA games brought back from the dead or better yet, remastered!

  • (Score: 3, Touché) by Magic Oddball on Saturday September 11, @10:43AM (2 children)

    by Magic Oddball (3847) on Saturday September 11, @10:43AM (#1176943) Journal

    The article should have been titled "the best VGA DOS games if you love sim games, space shooters, FPS, and strategy titles." The only exception on the list appears to be DOTT; since I found the SCUMM games interface a bit frustrating, I never got around to playing it.

    As someone who prefers well-written, thoughtful RPGs and adventure games, I'd rank Ultima VI: The False Prophet, Ultima VII: The Black Gate, Gabriel Knight: Sins Of The Father, Ultima Underworld, and Beneath A Steel Sky, I'd rank those ahead of the vast majority of games on that list, if not all of them.

    The Incredible Machine, Myst, Riven, and The 7th Guest also deserve to be mentioned for people who prefer graphical puzzles.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @05:05PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @05:05PM (#1177028)

      I was coming in to mention Ultima, both VI and Underworld; glad someone beat me to it.
      System Shock fits in there as well.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @09:22PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @09:22PM (#1177098)

      I considered putting Myst on my list, but it wasn't a VGA DOS game, but rather a SVGA Windows game. It was still a great game, and there's even a modern remake.

      I didn't include any RPGs because I'm not really into them and the only one that I could think of that I really liked was Dungeon Master, which was from 1987 and outside of the time frame.

  • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Saturday September 11, @02:30PM (2 children)

    by Immerman (3985) on Saturday September 11, @02:30PM (#1176997)

    I loved almost all those (missed a few), but there's a few gems I still go back to play - MoO and MoM in particular aged really well , graphics aside, and "Civ with magic" grossly undersells MoM: separate tactical combat that was clearly the inspiration for Age of Wonders. The joys of inducting new races with wildly different strengths into your empire (and army - trolls super-healing and resurrection made them incredible infantry). And of course a parallel universe world map reachable through well-guarded portals.

    But no mention of my all-time favorite: System Shock. The only first-person game of that era that I've continued revisiting across the decades. A contemporary of Doom, but far more "cerebral", I'd say far better than Half Life in that regard, though the engine was more like a really advanced Wolfenstein with support for 3D props, bridges, and looking up and down. Wonderful story and gameplay, the joys of inventory management and creating strategically located supply caches, and the eventual addition of a 3rd-party mouse-look hack eliminated the biggest shortcoming to enjoyment by us spoiled modern gamers. Really hoping Nightdive Studios manages to actually finish their remake, and does a decent job of it.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @10:12PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, @10:12PM (#1177115)

      Master of Magic was a lot of fun, but it was also pretty easy. Turning up the difficulty made the early game harder but the later game was still too easy. By the time you got the portal to the underworld open, you pretty much couldn't lose.

      Of course, strategy games today still have this problem of the easy late game!

      • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Sunday September 12, @03:12PM

        by Immerman (3985) on Sunday September 12, @03:12PM (#1177230)

        True. Though you could make things more interesting by intentionally hobbling your wizard's growth potential during character creation.

        More effectively, there was eventually a third-party mod that enabled hot-seat multiplayer. And I think there was another, much later, that enabled online play as well.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by acid andy on Sunday September 12, @01:42AM

    by acid andy (1683) on Sunday September 12, @01:42AM (#1177147) Homepage Journal

    If they're going to go up to 1996, Magic Carpet was out in 1994 for DOS and is tremendous fun. Flying over big, deformable 3D textured outdoor landscapes was pretty impressive on the hardware of the day. They used fogging to reduce the draw distance and I liked the way that looked and the castle that you could gradually fortify was great. It was quite an addictive game even though (or perhaps because) the core gameplay was pretty simple and a bit repetitive. I always found it kind of amusing that according to the plot you're supposedly restoring the worlds to "equilibrium" by killing off all the rival wizards and their creatures and taking all their mana for yourself! It's like a satire on human civilization.

    --
    Where did that thought come from? And that one? What about this one? Woah, man...
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