Video Game Memories



Introduction

Short reviews of the PC games I played as a kid are posted on this page. Hopefully this page will be enjoyable to anyone who likes remembering the games from yesterday, or useful to those who, in possession of an old PC, are looking for new old games to discover.

Why this page?
I had been thinking of creating a page like this for a while. But I was not sure if it would be interesting to anyone. However, as I was looking for games to try on a Tandy 1000 EX, I discovered a series of article in Jeff Armstrong's blog titled "31 Games in 31 Days". Some of his reviews are very detailed and accompanied by the author's memories of how he saw or played the game back then.

I found this to be in fact quite interesting and so it made me decide to go for it and write this page. My reviews are much shorter, but I think they should still help readers decide if they will try a game or not.

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Pipes

Published: 1983
System: PC Booter (no DOS)
Video mode: CGA (Mode 4, palette 2 with white background.)
Controls: Keyboard. (I don't think a joystick can be used).
To play: Try it online at Archive.org

The goal is to build a network of pipes connecting the water tower to a selectable (1 to 5) number of houses. To succeed in its mission, the player has a limited amount of funds to use at the store located at the right to buy pipe fittings (from a small inventory). Parts are bought using the Enter key (otherwise used to grab and move parts) and can also be refunded (at a loss) using the B key. Once everything is connected (or before it you like fountains), opening the main water valve on the tower is done by attempting to pick it up (using the Enter key).

This simple game is one of the first (if not the first) I remember playing in my life. I must have been 6 or 7 years old. I recall being fascinated by piping at the time, to the extent that I wanted to become a plumber. I wonder if this game was responsible for this idea, or on the contrary, if my father bought this game after noticing my interest for the subject.

Title

Title

Options

Options

Normal network

Normal network

Leaks (aka. fountains)

Leaks (aka. fountains)

Leak (zoom)

Leak (zoom)



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Ernie's big splash

Published: 1987
System: PC
Video mode: CGA (Mode 4, palette 1)
Controls: Keyboard with reference card.

In this game, the goal is to build a path leading a duck to Ernie in his bath. To do so, the player has to use various tiles where the input and output are on different edges depending on the model. Once the path is complete, a press of the F5 key sets the duck in motion and each tile produce a specific sound and animation as the duck passes through. For a child it is quite fun, and the exercise of selecting and laying out the tiles appropriately is educative.

The keys in this game are a bit challenging. If I remember correctly, the game came with a cardboard card to be placed around the keyboard function keys to help. If by any chance you still have your card, please send me a picture of it!

Here are the keys from the READ.ME file: F1 = Next, F3 = Clear, F5 = Run (go), F7 = Try, F9 = Pause, F10 = Quit, SPACE = Scan.
Splash screen (get it?)

Splash screen (get it?)

Beginning

Beginning

Completed path

Completed path

Start

Start

End

End



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Computa Games (Jeux de calcul)

Published: 1987
System: PC
Video mode: 40 column text mode
Controls: Keyboard

An excellent educative mathematics game, winner of the APOLOG 1987 contest organized by the Ministère de l'éducation du Québec in collaboration with AQUOPS (Association Québécoise des Utilisateurs de l'Ordinateur au Primaire et au Secondaire).

Includes 3 Addition games (ADDIC I, II and III) and 2 Multiplication games (MULTIC I and II) where the players must in turn use numbers from the dice in an equation and depending on the result place their token at the right cell in a grid. The first player to form a line of 4 tokens wins the game.

In a sixth game named "The three dice" the players must use all the dice and have access to all basic operators (addition, substraction, multiplication and division) to write their equations. In this game all players share the same tokens but make points upon placement depending on the newly placed token surroundings.

I remember playing this game for the first time in primary school 3rd grade when I used a computer at school for the first time. I also remember loosing...
ADDIC I

ADDIC I

ADDIC II

ADDIC II

ADDIC III

ADDIC III

MULTIC I

MULTIC I

MULTIC II

MULTIC II

THE THREE DICE

THE THREE DICE



For more information on the history of this game and to play it online, visit this page dedicated to it.

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Mimi

Other name(s): MIMI the ant, MIMI la fourmi
Système: C64 et PC
Mode vidéo: ?
Parution: 1984
Commandes: Keyboard

Mimi is a game for young children where an ant named Mimi or the game reacts in a specific way to each key on the keyboard. The music and animation captures the little one's attention while teaching to associate letters to specific effects or actions (ex: F for flute).

The screenshots are from the Commodore 64 version, but it was on PC that I discovered this game in primary school. Unfortunately the PC version does not seem to be available on the net, and some people even wonder if it ever existed. But I found a picture of the original box art and there is a minimum requirement for PC written at the back: "IBM PC, 256K, graphics card & monitor". So clearly, a PC version exists.

I'm still looking for the PC version of the game. Please contact me if you know where I could get a copy, or otherwise I would appreciate some screenshots. I'm interested to see what the PC version looked like. I expect it won't be as colorful, but who knows, maybe it included a TV mode featuring CGA artefact colors? On the music side, the C64 version very likely wins.

Flûte

Flûte

Danse

Danse

Nage

Nage

Soir

Soir

Nuit (et rêve)

Nuit (et rêve)

Box (front)

Box (front)

Box (back)

Box (back)



Thanks to the Personal Computer Museum for letting me use their pictures of the box! (Pictures come from this page.)

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Helicopter Simulator

System: PC
Video mode: EGA (320x200)
Published: 1987
Controls: Keyboard or joystick.
To play: Try it online at Archive.org

Exactly as you would expect form the title, this is an helicopter simulator. A total of 8 environments are offered to play in combat mode (against the computer, or with someone using a modem) or simply for practising maneuvers.

I was never able to fully understand how to use the commands. Clearly this was not a toy for kids. Regardless this did not stop me from playing for hours!

Title

Title

Map

Map

Seattle

Seattle

Mt. Rainier?

Mt. Rainier?

Combat

Combat

Spaceport

Spaceport



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Commander Keen

Published: 1990
System: PC
Video mode: EGA (320x200)
Controls: Keyboard or joystick.
To play: Try it online at Archive.org

One of the first scrolling platform games for the PC, revolutionary at the time for its extremely smooth scrolling using a technique invented by John Carmack.

How this game came into being is interesting. Since the smooth scrolling technique had an EGA video card as minimum requirement (too bad for CGA), it was rejected by Softdisk. This lead a few talented programmers to make their own game (Commander Keen) and company, Id software. (Detailed story here: http://legacy.3drealms.com/keenhistory/)

This is one of the games I spent the most time playing again and again. After all, what's not to love in a world where delicious Pizza points and Cola cans are floating around? As a kid I really liked this.

Title

Title



While playing recently I noticed that the symbols seen on the signs here and there are not just random alien-looking characters. It is in fact english written with the symbols from the Standard Galactic Alphabet.

« Die »
« Exit »
« This is neat »
« Behold the holy pogo stick »

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Alley cat

Published: 1984
System: PC (PC booter, no DOS)
Video mode: CGA, multiple palettes
Controls: Keyboard or joystick.
To play: Try it online at Archive.org

This game consists in controlling a cat in its adventures inside apartments he invades through the windows by jumping from the clotheslines. To get there however, a few obstacles must be cleared: A dog that occasionally crosses the screen, mice on the clotheslines and tenants who are addicted to throwing out random objects (including telephones).

Once you're in, you face new challenges: Eatinh all the fish in a tank, avoiding electric eels, emptying the foodbowls of sleeping dogs, catching all the mice in a giant piece of cheese by jumping from and through holes, etc. Each sucess has two effects: First you get a chance to meet your girlfriend (if you can avoid the other candidates) but the game difficulty also increases: Windows close back more quickly, there are fewer clothes on the line to hang on, etc.

I played this game for the first time in 1991 on the class computer in school, and even today I enjoy playing it. The elements in this game are original and varied and controls are reponsive. Before internet and youtube, in the cat-in-your-computer department, this was state of the art.

The alley

The alley

The aquarium

The aquarium

The cheese

The cheese

The library

The library

Bonus

Bonus

Bonus won

Bonus won


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Miss pac man

Published: 1983
System: PC (Booter, without DOS)
Video mode: CGA
Controls: Joystick or keyboard.
To play: Try it online at Archive.org

This is the PC version of the Ms. Pac-Man arcade game. Similar to Pac-Man, but with a female character.

The goal is to remove all the pacgums from each level (or maze) by eating them as you avoid ghosts. But eat one of the energizers and the pray/hunter relationship is inverted for a few moments and suddenly it's the ghosts that are running away form Ms. Pac-man.

This is another game I discovered in 1991 on the class computer. It was my first contact with the Pac-Man concept.

Options

Options

Level 1

Level 1

Level 2

Level 2

Act 1 : They meet

Act 1 : They meet

Act 1 : They meet

Act 1 : They meet

Level 3

Level 3


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California Games

Published: 1988
System: PC, DOS
Video mode: EGA (also with CGA and Tandy support)
Controls: Joystick or keyboard

This PC version of California Games, originally for C64, proposes a total of 6 sport games popular in California, namely Skateboarding, Footbag, Surf, Roller skating, Flying disc and BMX.

In the BMX stage, the player must ride along trail ridden with obstacles (tires, tree trunks, etc) and score points by dodging them with style. The roller skate challenge is similar but takes place on a generally flat sidewalk, this time with grass sticking out between slabs, missing slabs, etc to avoid. In the footbag game, the ball must be kept in motion without touching the ground as long as possible with varying figures. Halfpipe and surf are also similar, but it is the player that must keep moving instead of a ball. Finally, in the flying disc level, the goal is simply of throwing the disc (easy), and then catching it (not easy).

I have good memories playing this game during recesses when I had from time to time the privilege of playing on the class computer. My favorite sport in California Games remains to this day BMX.
« Halfpipe »

« Halfpipe »

« Footbag »

« Footbag »

« Surfing »

« Surfing »

« Skating »

« Skating »

« Flying disc »

« Flying disc »

« BMX »

« BMX »


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Test drive

Published: 1987
System: PC, DOS
Video mode: CGA (EGA and Hercule Graphics versions also exist)
Controls: Joystick or keyboard

In this game you are invited to race against the clock at the wheel of a sport car on a cliffside road. There are "slow" vehicules to avoid as well as oncoming traffic, the later having a suspicious tendency to appearing just as you are overtaking.

The five cars available in the game are: Lamborghini countach, Lotus turbo esprit, Porsche 911 turbo, Ferrari testarossa and Chevy corvette. They are equipped with a radar detector, useful to avoid being slowed down by a patrol car (unless you successfully outrun it).

I played this game a lot on the class computer, but I lost interest for it in favor of Stunts (presented later on this page).
Lamborghini countach

Lamborghini countach

Porsche 911 turbo

Porsche 911 turbo

In game

In game

In game

In game

Collision

Collision

Too slow...

Too slow...


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Blockout

Published: 1989
System: PC, DOS
Video mode: EGA 640x350 (Supports other modes, such as Tandy)
Controls: Keyboard
To play: Try it online at Archive.org

Blockout is based on the Tetris concept of falling blocks, but adds a third dimension to the game. Manipulating the blocks is not as easy, as they can be rotated around 3 different axis (X,Y and Z) using keyboard keys Q-A, W-S, and E-D respectively.

This is an excellent game, and I suspect that it develops spatial perception a bit more than regular 2D tetris.
Maker

Maker

In game

In game

In game

In game

In game

In game

Help

Help

Scores

Scores


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Monuments of Mars

Published: 1991
System: PC, DOS
Video mode: CGA
Controls: Keyboard
Licence: Shareware
To play: Now available for free from 3D Realms

NASA sent several missions to explore the mysterious monuments on the red planet, but none of them has come back. You are the last hope. Will you succeed and discover what happened to them?

Monuments of Mars is a platform game without scrolling (one screen means one level). The player must solve simple puzzles (Switches, access cards) while destroying or avoiding enemies (Ammunition is limited and should not be overused).

Lives are infinite so dying means nothing more than restarting the current level. For situations where you become unable to move (it happens if you fall at the wrong place, or run out of ammo) there is a suicide button (F6) to restart the level.

I wonder how many hours I played this game...

Story

Story

Level 5

Level 5

Level 7

Level 7

Level 4

Level 4

Level 6

Level 6

Level 9

Level 9


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Sokoban

Published: 1988
System: PC, DOS
Video mode: CGA or Tandy
Controls: Keyboard or joystick
Licence: Commercial
To play: Try it online at Archive.org

Sokoban is a puzzle game where crates must be moved into position by pushing only. They cannot be pulled and only one can be moved at a time. One must think carefully of the order in which to move them. In case of mistake, the game only allows one move to be undone using the U key.

There are now many games derived from this, but it is to this specific version that I first played. The elevator must be used to reach the desired level, selected using the number keys and A to accept, C to clear. There is also a level editor. Only levels (floors) 51 and above are editable.

I will probably always enjoy this game.


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Duke Nukem

Published: 1991
System: PC, DOS
Video mode: EGA
Controls: Keyboard
Licence: Shareware

A scrolling platform game, divided in 3 episodes (the first one was distributed as shareware). Your goal: Stop Dr. Proton and put an end to his world domination plan.

The screen in this game does not scroll as smoothly as it does in Commander Keen and only a much smaller surface of the screen is occupied by the play zone. But these two weak points are compensated by the presence of two background layers providing overall a good appearance to the game.

This game holds for me second place following commander Keen in the scrolling platform category.


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Gorillas

Published: 1991
System: PC, DOS (Qbasic demo)
License: Commercial (Included with MS-DOS 5)

Gorillas is an artillery game where two gorillas fight on the rooftops by throwing each other explosive bananas. In this game, the angle and velocity values are keyed in directly. Gravity can be adjusted and each level has a random wind intensity. Those additional variables improves the replay value.

We often played Gorillas my brother and I when we were younger. We played it again recently and it was still fun!



This game inspired me when I created RATillery, a simiar game.

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Supaplex

Published: 1991
System: PC, DOS
License: Commercial
To play: Try it online at Archive.org

Supaplex is a puzzle game where the player controls a spherical character that is not unsimilar to Pac-man. The goal is to collect the required number of infotrons before reaching the end of the level, avoiding boulders that fall like in boulderdash.

The graphic theme is clearly digital electronics, in the menus as well as the game. At the time I was very impressed by the configuration screen and its sound card shape with options selected by clicking on chips.

The difficulty level (or required amount of patience and tolerance to repeating the same level more than a dozen times) rises rather sharply. I never managed to finish them all.
Title

Title

Menu

Menu

Configuration

Configuration


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Hoyle's

Published: 1989
System: PC, DOS
Video mode: EGA
Controls: Mouse and keyboard.
Licence: Commercial
To play: Try it online at Archive.org

This is a collection of 6 popular card games for PC: Crazy Eights, Old maid, Hearts, Gin rummy, Cribbage and Klondike. Played alone or against one or more virtual players, each with his own level and personality.

With the exception of Klondike, all these games are best played in society. The presence and diversity of the virtual players in this game play a great part in making things interesting, without of course equaling a real life game.

I was always quite amused at the comments and facial expressions (Anger in particular) of the virtual players during the game. I often enjoyed playing against the programmer (who is, not surprisingly, an expert at all games) and with the dog, the later being right at home in the category called the not-so serious players.

Game selection

Game selection

Players

Players

A player introduction

A player introduction

In-game comments

In-game comments

No, really?

No, really?

Cribbage

Cribbage


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Stunts

Published: 1990
System: PC, DOS
Video mode: VGA
Controls: Mouse, Joystick and Keyboard.
To play: Try it online at Archive.org

Stunts is a 3D racing game where the player has to perform maneuvers only the most life-hating drivers would dare to attempt: Jumps, loopings, etc. The game can be played against the clock, or against one of the built-in players.

The game behaves a bit capriciously. At the slightest touch of a few select obstacles, low walls in particular, you loose. In many collision situations, the car often has physically dubious reactions (such as high velocity spinning takeoffs) which are always a pleasure watch using the replay function.

With its built-in track editor, this game has great replay value.

Game

Game

Track editor

Track editor

One of the characters

One of the characters

Jaguar XJR9

Jaguar XJR9

Porsche March

Porsche March

Replay

Replay


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Other games

As I did not want this page to become too large, I only wrote about games I remember playing while I was still in primary school. Of course I kept playing games after...

Chicago 90

Chicago 90

The incredible machine

The incredible machine

Epic pinball

Epic pinball

Electro body/Electroman

Electro body/Electroman

Skyroads

Skyroads

Ken's labyrinth

Ken's labyrinth

Wolf 3D

Wolf 3D

Doom

Doom

Rise of the triad

Rise of the triad

Duke 3D

Duke 3D

Quake

Quake

Warcraft 2

Warcraft 2

Tongue of the fat man

Tongue of the fat man

Face off!

Face off!

Hocus pocus

Hocus pocus

One must fall 2097

One must fall 2097

Circuit's edge

Circuit's edge

Day of the tentacle

Day of the tentacle

The secret of Monkey Island

The secret of Monkey Island

Jill of the Jungle

Jill of the Jungle

CD-Man

CD-Man

Paganitzu

Paganitzu

Death Track

Death Track



An many others (sorry, no screenshots)

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