Greetings all! It is with a big smile and a heavy heart that I offer up the last post in my “Deserted Island” series. It seems fitting that I end where my gaming really began, on computers. But, I’ll tell you, I’m not going all the way back here to the TRS-80, because I don’t think using BASIC to write up a game of Russian Roulette or make the screen turn 8 colors really counts as gaming. Though my early life was filled with a Atari and Nintendo, the PC actually dominated most of my gameplay, especially once I hit high school. We had dozens upon dozens of floppy disks brimming with games, both real and knockoffs, demos and full experiences. While my peers were drowning their quarters in the arcades, I was quietly sitting in a comfortable chair in a darkened room blasting you-know-what to you-know-where or navigating my little pixelated friends through mazes, over ledges, and into grand boss battles. The PC is where I discovered the simple joys of point-and-click games, text games, and first person shooters. I doubt I’m going to get wifi on my island, so I gotta do something with my PC, right?
In place of my normal history paragraph, here’s a little snippet on computer games history. On January 25, 1947 Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray filed a patent for the first recognized electronic game. Inspired by radar displays from World War II, their game was a missile simulator that was designed to play on a cathode ray tube (CRT), hence the name “Cathode-Ray Tube Amusement Device.” This room-sized, analog device, beyond its miles of circuitry, had a large screen with knobs. By turning the knobs, players manipulated a dot — representing a missile in flight — on the screen. The CRT Amusement Device was not a “video” game by today’s standards, and it was never mass-produced; but Goldsmith’s and Ray’s new technology was reportedly worked into that era’s mainframe computers. Just think of it…if they hadn’t come up with the idea of people playing a game on a screen, we might not be here today writing about the subject!
The choice between DOOM and DOOM II (both of which I immensely enjoyed) came down to which was the bigger and better of the two games. The answer, for me, is DOOM II. While we were introduced to our strapping space marine, his array of weapons, and a cacophony of monsters from straight from the depths of evil in DOOM, in DOOM 2 all of that was amplified. The stakes were higher, the monsters were scarier and more plentiful, and the levels were even creepier and more visceral. Though I managed to make it to the end of DOOM II many times over, I actually never beat that boss…goat head…thing at the end of the game; but the overall experience was no less rich. It’s kinda like I almost don’t ever want to beat it, because then I don’t know that I’d have much incentive to replay it over and over and over. And if I never beat it on my island, after an eternity, I think that would probably be okay too.
Sam and Max Hit the Road
Holy moly, if ever there was a anthropomorphic dog and a hyperkinetic rabitty-thingy to love, it’d be Sam and Max. I mean, no where else in gamedom exists a demented, crime-fighting duo like these guys. Together they wreak havoc yet still manage to solve crimes. They’re like Criminal Minds meets Ren and Stimpy meets L. A. Noire meets Seinfeld. And that’s a pretty fantastic combination. Hit the Road is just one entry in the highly likeable, point-and-click Sam and Max series. Joining Sam and Max on one of their clue-gathering, mystery-solving, wit-slinging adventures, is just about one of the most enjoyable things one can do while sitting at a computer. During a time when most of the video games I played involved running, jumping, hitting, bashing, racing, and very little dialogue, Sam and Max proved that an intelligent and witty puzzle game could hold my attention just as well, if not more so.
I’d be remiss to not include at least one text adventure game. And I guess I’m still neglecting that here with Questprobe: Spiderman, because it had graphics. But no… it really was a text game, just with pictures. With a series of simple (and unknown, to me anyway) commands like “look,” “climb,” “get,” and directional cues, players maneuvered Spiderman to help him save the world from Mysterio. You gathered clues, met other super heroes and villains, and discovered just how frustrating it was to remember where you had and hadn’t been in the game. (Or, again, maybe that was just me.) Though I fear going round in circles on my island, even though it, itself, will really just be one round circle (no jagged cliff faces on my perfect, beachy island!), I don’t think I’d mind going round in circles in that game again. I’ll just have to remember to save one of my notebooks from getting washed away. Oh, and a pen or something. For, you know, notes.
Before id Software became the king of DOOM and all things first-person-shootery, they released Commander Keen. This was a delightful series of platform games that told the adorable story of little Billy and his homemade space ship that took him on some alien-fighting, junk-food-gathering adventures. And if you think that doesn’t make any sense, then you should really just play the game, because it really is quite a good time. There was not much more to it than collecting things and shooting little, green aliens (or big, green aliens in the case of the bosses). Now certain degrees of patience and strategy were required — it was still a platformer with jumps to make and things to avoid, so it wasn’t an utter breeze. But it was an easy game to enjoy and play.
Rogue: The Adventure Game
Oh, Rogue, I don’t think I’d have had a gaming life if it wasn’t for you. Playing the classic dungeon crawler and DOS game Rogue is one of my earliest gaming memories. You started each level in a single room with a line of text at the bottom showing your progress, health, XP, gold, and such. And you had to move your character – a little face (☺) – around to make the walls and doorways appear. From the doorways you traveled to different rooms through corridors. Text also appeared at the top of the screen in the game telling you what was going on. In some rooms there was nothing. In some rooms you found money or food; in others there were weapons, armor, and/or enemies. As you progressed, the level designs became more complex and the enemies more raucous (as raucous as an “O” for orc could get anyway). I never did find the amulet that was at the game’s end, but look at that — I’ve got all the time in the world on my island! The amulet…it will…BE…MINE!
Wow, wow, and wow you guys, that’s it! The reminiscing and quite island living are over for me. I hope you’ve enjoyed following along as much as I’ve enjoyed writing up the posts. If you missed any of the previous posts, links are below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the series in general — too long, too short, too much, not enough? And be sure to leave comments on your PC experiences as well. I’ll be continuing here at UWG with regular posts from here on out …or until I get stuck on a deserted island.
Probably a good thing that I don’t have any travel plans in the works.
Previous posts in the My “Deserted Island” Games (MDIG) series
MDIG – Atari 7800 edition
MDIG – NES/SNES edition
MDIG – N64 edition
MDIG – Gamecube edition
MDIG — Nintendo DS edition
MDIG — Wii edition
MDIG — Playstation/Playstation 2 edition
MDIG — Playstation 3 edition
MDIG — Xbox edition
MDIG — Xbox 360 edition