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.
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.
Leaks (aka. fountains)
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?)
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...
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.
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!
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.
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 »
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.
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
Act 1 : They meet
Act 1 : They meet
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 »
« Footbag »
« Surfing »
« Skating »
« Flying disc »
« BMX »
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).
Porsche 911 turbo
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A player introduction
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.
One of the characters
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...