Sometimes, life is tough. You have to save that hard-earned cash you made stripping for rich business men in a windowless dungeon to afford Far Cry 7 or to swap out your Voodoo3 graphics card for the Geforce GTX 9 million. Good news fellow ecdysiast, there are games from the past that are still fun to play, as long as you don’t mind graphics that look outdated on a digital watch. You can have your mayo-sandwich sans bread, and eat it too! They’ve been archived in abandon-ware sites so that our descendants can one day chortle at our primitiveness while playing Dark Souls 35 on their oculo-cerebral implants.
Space Rogue (1989)
A space combat simulator and RPG released in 1989 by Origin systems. You control your ship à la Elite in space and switch to an RPG-like top-down view when controlling the player on space stations and on the ground. Quests are given to you by NPC’s, as is tradition in RPG’s, and the credit rewards are used to upgrade your ship. You can also make credits from piracy or trade, and can explore extra sectors by flying through wormholes, but this is made more challenging by the fact that space flight uses Newtonian physics. The simple yet catchy music coupled with peaceful exploration, inter-mixed with space combat makes this game a fun little gem to play on a slow weekend. Bonus points if you can master docking and worm-holing drunk.
Although this seems like a doom-clone in taxi form at a glance, this game is a riot to play and is different enough to warrant a play through. You control a hover-taxi in the prison-like apocalyptic city of Keno (not to be confused with Detroit). You pick up fares and attempt to avoid or brutally murder the often psychotic inhabitants of the city, whether they are in their heavily-armed vehicles or when they pop out of man-holes armed with Uzi’s (are we sure this isn’t Detroit?). As you progress, you upgrade your taxi with thicker armor and deadlier weapons while advancing to more insane parts of the city. The only downsides are the limited number of songs for the radio (the 90’s Australian alt-rock that is available is awesome) and some later levels can get pretty insane with the sheer number of enemies thrown at you while you desperately try to keep your taxi from exploding. There’s no feeling like plowing through traffic with a giant buzz-saw attached to your hood, as the screams of bystanders intermingle with the lyrics “he just stepped from the verge into your headlights.” Brilliant.
Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters (1992)
Alright, this game is freaking awesome. A story-driven space exploration game that rivals the scope of Mass Effect, the game sees you exploring an entire galaxy, collecting resources from plants and moons to upgrade your ship, all while attempting to woo various species into joining your galactic cause to overthrow your nasty war-mongering overlords. The game is extremely charming, from the humorous dialogue to the trippy beats the game plays. If there’s only one game out of this list that you try out, it has to be this one.
There’s an open-source version called the Ur-Quan Masters available at sourceforge.net that comes with additional music and speech packs. Anyone else get a nostalgia-boner?