Archive for the ‘amiga’ Tag

[50/50] Computer Games: Cute Overload

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

Computer Game #6: “Lemmings” (1991)
Computer Game #7: “Glider” (1990)

lemmingLittle known fact, but in the late ’80s I worked on developing a comic strip called “Lemmings.” It was based loosely on the squirrels in my college paper strip “Potatohead U” and followed the adventures of a biology major who, while on a field trip, had saved a herd of lemmings from throwing themselves off a cliff and brought them back home to live with him on campus. Hilarity, the plan was, ensued. Or not — the strip got to the pitch phase. The lemmings I drew, however, were pretty damn cute, with big floppy hair that bounced when they walked. You can image my shock (and delight) then when, a few years later, a computer game came out for the Amiga staring lemmings with big floppy hair that bounced when they walked. I at least got the satisfaction that I might have been on the right path.

Lemmings was a huge smash, and quickly ported to PCs, Macs, and every platform available. In it, you guided your lemmings through vast underground caverns, using a limited number of tools to help them find the one way out of each level. If time ran out, your lemmings went nuclear — literally — blowing up the cave in a spectacularly cute explosion.

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I’ll keep harping on Steve Jobs’ failure to embrace games as a major selling point for the Machintosh, mostly because his lack of support ensured that Mac users rarely got to play the great computer games of the day (or, if they did, the ports came years later, long after interest and support in the titles had waned.) I’ll settle for the fact that so many people proved him wrong by designing brilliant games for the Mac in spite of Jobs’ attitude. One of these hits was Glider, a game where you played … a paper airplane. Gliding from room to room, trying to find an open window to escape, you could catch lifts on errant drafts from air ducts, fans, or heat from candles (don’t get too close or you’ll burst into flames!). It was simple, fun and highly addictive.

Glider was a big hit, with a huge fan base, and after its designer got the rights back some years later, he decided to release it to the public for free. So you too can play Glider right now, online, here.

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[50/50] Computer Game #14: “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Computer Game #14: “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” (1989)

Romance_of_the_Three_KingdomsWhile you could play against a single opponent from the earliest days of Pong, games that allowed you to take on a multitude of friends were a rare thing. Back before there were fast modems, LANs, and real-time strategy software, the only way you and your buddies could play a computer game together was via the hotseat. Each gamer would take a turn in front of the same computer while everyone waited in the next room, usually talking trash and how they were going to wipe out your army next turn. All of your plotting, scheming, and attacking would have to planned and executed quickly, and it wasn’t uncommon to hear diabolical cackling come from the person in the hotseat — either that or copious swearing, when they realized you had just wiped out their army the previous turn.

The best of these hotseat games was “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” a rich, dense wargame set in 3rd century China. For all the limitations of the hardware and software, you (and up to a half dozen other players) could still recruit hundreds of historical characters in your bid to take over ancient China. You also had to make sure your followers were happy, your fields full of rice and your people safe from flooding. With the right group of gamers, like we had a couple of afternoons on the Amiga in a friend’s basement, it could be a chaotic, challenging and hilarious session. RTK was so successful it is now in its 12th version, and is available on the iPhone, playable against anyone anywhere. While no doubt faster, it probably doesn’t give you the same experience at the hotseat, with your friend cackling in the next room as he burns your crops.