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A Salute to Old-School PC Games!

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posted on Feb, 26 2008 @ 12:08 PM
I don't know about most of you, but I've been playing PC games since Zork, and frankly, it seems like they were a lot more fun back then. People didn't worry about things like "marketability" and "target demographic" and there were actually NEW innovations. People didn't make games to cash in on the WWII FPS market, or to rehash an old license. Graphics weren't the point of games, they were merely gravy to a good, fun concept. Half the time, the "graphics" were nothing more than ASCII text, assuming they even went that far.

That's why I started this thread, to salute some of the best Old School PC games to ever grace the CRT.

Now many of these greats are so old (like DOS versions) the original title won't even run anymore, or are on defuct systems (like the Amiga, Vic-20, or the Apple 2e). That's where the beauty of the internet and open-source code shines through. I've managed to find a number of games where the original open-source was fixed and modded to run on current-day PC systems, or alternately re-created with open-source code as a clone game. All of which are free.

Feel free to add your own, but to start us off, I present to you some of the best Old School Games ever, along with a link to their current free equivolent:


Originally developed by some bored MIT students, Zork is an icon of old-school gamers, and was the original "Adventure Game". Before the advent of massive graphic Action/Adventure games, the Adventure genre meant something more like "a game where you type go north to move about, or get sword to pick up the sword". The game was entirely controlled by typed commands, critical thinking, puzzle solving, and careful reading. Infocom has been kind enough to provide all three of the original Zork titles for free via the link.

Defender of the Crown

By Cinemaware, largely considered to be one of the best trans-genre games. Consisting of RPG, strategy, action, and adventure, this game places you in the role of one of four factions seeking to unite England against the Norman invasion during the Middle Ages. In between battles, you compete in tournaments, rescue fair maidens, and recruit allies. The graphics at the time (1986) were stunning. Every so often, I still run across someone who played this title way back then and they're still in awe of what the game looked like at the time. Especially those of us who didn't have an Amiga, but played one of the later ports, like on the C-64. The link takes you to Cinemaware's site where you can play a flash version of the game for free.

The "Roguelike" Games

One of the earliest and most heavily modded RPG's ever, Rogue was a game that used Dungeons & Dragons like stats, and ASCII graphics, and mapped out dungeons you could run for treasure, weapons, armor, magic items, gold, and, of course, experience. Rogue was the original, but quickly got so heavily remade, remodded, and more complex that it birthed its own genre of games known as "The Roguelike Games". Moria, for instance, added a town-level where you could buy and sell equipment, as well as the ability to SAVE your game. NetHack added new and hilarious character classes like "tourist" into the mix. But the single best, most complex one I ever played was Omega, where you had the ability to create yourself as a character based on honest answers to a series of questions, and included multiple towns, guilds, wilderness, plotlines, and even other dimensions. The respective links take you to the places you can download these free titles.


Where to start with Wasteland? The first real post-apocalyptic RPG game, it created a new genre all on it's own, later becoming the inspiration for many other games, such as the Fallout series. The storyline was deeply compelling, the humor was as clever as it was irreverent, and the social commentary was insightful. Most of all, though, it was just a helluva lot of fun to see the combat result that your enemy had just exploded like a blood sausage or been turned into a thin red paste. This game is technically Abandonware. EA bought Interplay's rights, but never re-released the game, won't sell the game (not that the original boxed set would work on a PC these days anyway), and apparently doesn't persue those that share the emulators for it.


This game actually caused me to become best friends with someone. After being forced to go to his house to apologize for breaking his finger, he showed me this game on his Dad's machine. I was floored. I returned again and again to play the game, and eventually saved enough allowance and odd-job money to buy my own copy, only to find out the graphics were too advanced for our PC and we had to upgrade to a CGA graphics board just to get it to run. Now, if you're truly old-school, you know how hilarious that is, but truth told, this is the Space Exploration game that created its own genre, eventually culminating in the likes of EVE, Galactic Civilizations, and others. It eventually spawned a sequal which got mixed reviews, but personally I found less enjoyable than the original. The premise of the original is that stars are going Supernova far too early, in a wave, and scientists have figured out that Earth only has a few years to figure out why before its own Sun explodes. They've secretly cobbled together a simple starship, which you can then use to explore other planets, mine minerals, capture/kill life forms, and meet new intelligent alien life. Like Wasteland, this title is also abandonware.

Star Control I

Star Control was the first of a well loved series. It was a ship vs. ship combat game of the Alliance of Free Stars vs. the Hierarchy of Battle Thralls. It also included a strategy game where you could play larger epic wars out on a rotating galaxy map and produce your own ships and even find precursor technology that gave better stats to ships. It was an excellent game, and so well enjoyed it spawned several new versions, the second one deserving its own place in this list.

Star Control II

Most people, like myself, didn't even realize how great the main game to StarCon2 was until weeks after playing the melee version. The melee (ship vs. ship) featured not only better graphics, but new ships with exciting new special abilities. Eventually, some of us got around to playing the "main game" and found it to be the sequal that Starflight II should have been. It was a fantastic adventure with a great storyline, and a new menace to the galaxy that threatened even the Ur-Quan hedgemony. Of course, since we'd already played the melee, the surprise was a bit spoiled, but it was still a great and truly epic space adventure. The ability to customize your ship down to the individual module and look was revolutionary and the ability to interact with species in a trade and diplomatic environment was incredible. By far, this game shines as one of the single best Space games ever made. Just, do yourself a favor, and skip the 3rd one in the series.


One of Sid Meyer's earliest "Civ" type games, this was a 4X game (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate), that focused on early colonization of the New World, and is both educational and fun. You can play as the Spanish, English, French, or Dutch, in competition or cooperation against both other nations and natives. The link goes to "FreeCol," a very well done open-source clone of the game that is still being modified and upgraded to this day.


This was one of the oddest releases ever, not just by Activision, but by the game developers as a whole. In 1983, the movie War Games came out, and a public that was still largely ignorant of computers in general was happily made aware that not only could you dial into other computers from home, but that they could be hacked into, and World War III could be started accidentally by some dumb kid thinking he was playing a game. Two years go by, and one day Activision releases "Hacker", a box with no pictures of the game itself, no explanation of what you do, and nothing except a brief description that you will face a logon screen. The box came with no instruction book, no explanation, and if I recall, the disk wasn't even labeled, or wasn't labeled with anything other than "Hacker" on it. I loaded up the game and was presented with a logon screen. Within minutes, I had supposedly connected to another computer, hacked into Magma, LTD, bypassed their security systems, and saw what looked to be a military robot of some sort, followed by a map of the world and target hotspots. I freaked out and called my dad into the room. Lucky for me, he knew a lot about computers, modems, etc, and assured me it was just a game. Namely because the Commodore 64 I was running it on didn't have a modem. From what I've heard from others who played the game, they had a very similarly scary experience.


Autoduel was the computer version of Car Wars, though it later gained a tabletop title of the same name. In all those games, a dystopian future had arisen where weapons and armor had become standard issue on cars, and road travel was even more dangerous than the arenas. Every city was an isolated pocket of life amidst a Mad-Max style wasteland, your ride stood between you and death. This game featured the ability to buy cars, trucks, trikes, and outfit them with all sorts of interesting weapons and armor configurations, and earn money either through missions, raiding, or arenas. Though it lacked many of the cooler weapons and upgrades offered in the tabletop games, it was still a solid title that both entertained and educated (lots of math involved in figuring out the best rig).

2400 AD

An RPG in the same vein as Wasteland. Humanity has been enslaved by the Tzorg (robots) and you are a member of a resistance movement to put an end to their rule. This game was incredibly difficult as the only weapons that could actually hurt the robots more than they could hurt you cost far more than you could ever make in a reasonable amount of time. This was one of the first games I can remember where you could have new weapons built out of components you found throughout the world. A thoroughly enjoyable, if difficult experience.

Well, I hope this encourages you to try some of these Old School games out. If not, maybe it gives you Young Gamers a glance at the history of what games used to be like, before pretty much everything became a formula genre game.

posted on Feb, 26 2008 @ 12:33 PM
Why salute?

Games of any kind are a complete waste of time, that's why tehy call them games.
This is one of the things that has been contributing to the decline of our civilization.

Can you imagine how much TIME has been wasted by millions playing all those games?
Seems all that wasted time could have been spent on better things like learning other languages, learning a new career, developing new technologies...

Sheesh, maybe I should start my own thread on this.

posted on Feb, 26 2008 @ 01:03 PM
Why salute? because there are so many kids born into ignorant families who will not educate their children beyond TV and public school and video games, but I think we at least owe it to the thinkers making video games to influence the same in their players, to think.
And these oldschool games were great, at least they knew they were games, these days it seems they are trying to push for VR more and more to the point we care nothing about our real lives and just pursue our "second" lives (that's not a game, its a prison!)

either way, nice post OP, i remember those ascii RPG's up to the visual candy of leisure suit larry, and thats about the extent of my video game experience. got an old snes collecting dust with the chess cartridge being the only game ever played on it for more than 5 minutes

posted on Feb, 26 2008 @ 01:21 PM
Oregon Trail

I used to play this all the time on my apple 2e.

posted on Feb, 26 2008 @ 01:54 PM

Originally posted by Alxandro
Games of any kind are a complete waste of time, that's why tehy call them games.


Sheesh, maybe I should start my own thread on this.

Might I ask why you bothered clicking on a thread entitled "A Salute to Old-School PC Games" in a forum called "video Games" when you clearly think that all games are a waste of time? And even more to the point, why would you then waste your own time, posting on a subject you feel is a waste of time, to tell other people what a waste of time the same subject is?


Apparently at least one thing PC games did for those who played them was to teach a modicum of common sense and discretion. The rest I'll elaborate on later. It's really a pity you harbor the opinion about games that you do, and is a surefire sign you never got to benefit from them.

Originally posted by psychedeliack
Why salute? because there are so many kids born into ignorant families who will not educate their children beyond TV and public school and video games

Personally, my family was far from ignorant. They encouraged education quite heavily. I'm born of a rather long line of engineers, and looking to become one myself. My father was one of the first software programmers ever, designed the precursor to AutoCAD, now works for a major defense contractor, and grandfather pioneered the field of radio remote control, lasers, and robotics. The other grandfather was a Navy Frogman working UDT. One grandmother was a forerunner of the Women's Liberation movement, and the other played a heavy role of a genealogical society. My mother ran the accounting books for my father's firm. I was hardly a "kid born into an ignorant family".

All of them thought video games were a fantastic idea.

I salute the Old School games because they required a lot more imagination and creativity on the part of the player, and they executed novel, original concepts that had not previously been explored. From Video Games I learned critical thinking skills, improvisation, resource management, applied math, typing skills (80wpm @ 100%, thank you), grammar, creative writing skills, troubleshooting skills, code and programming skills, abstract thought, quick-decision making ability, multi-tasking, hand-eye coordination, history, an appreciation for the arts, all sorts of oddball skills and knowledge that have later come in handy, how to read instrument panels, an entire dictionary worth of terminology and words I'd never have otherwise had a need to know, and most importantly, eventually provided me the basis and interest for earning an income to feed my wife and kid.

It's easy for most people (especially those that never bothered playing them) to glance at "Space Invaders" and dismiss video games as a stupid waste of time. The truth of the matter is that they taught me an incredible number of things, and got me interested in learning about things I'd have never otherwise had an interest in. "Colonization," for instance, not only helped improve my grades in history, but gave me an active interest in American History which I have continued to persue even into my 30's.

I think it's rather sad that so far the only two replies to this thread gave such dismal assessments of the value to society that video games have added.

posted on Feb, 26 2008 @ 01:59 PM
reply to post by AcesInTheHole

Hell yeah! I loved Oregon Trail so much that I got the most recent version (Oregon Trail 5th Edition). The new one actually includes photos of the edible and medicinal plants along the way and tells you what parts are edible/useable and how.

Apple 2se had some great games as well. Did you ever play the "Treasure Island" game?

There was also this game where you could create musix by drawing lines and trade them to some aliens or something. I can't remember the name of it though.

posted on Feb, 26 2008 @ 04:28 PM
reply to post by thelibra

Whoa, don't have a cow man.
You asked for opinions so I gave you mine.

Actually what caught my eye was the word Classic.
That was the time when games were exactly that, games.

Games are supposed to be for entertainment, nothing more, nothing less.
Entertainment is OK when it's done in moderation, the problem is many people get consumed and end up doing it all day long.

I know some kids that all they do is play games, go to school, go to the movies, come home and watch a sporting event while playing a game, watch more TV, hit the sack then get up and do it all over again.

And I'm sure there are some adults that do the same, so don't get defensive if this includes you.
Whatever floats your boat.

Kudos to you if you were able to milk some good edumacation from your obsession but you have admit that not everyone is as lucky.

Curious to know a rough estimate of all your total lifetime hours you've "contributed/donated" to the gaming industry.
BTW, don't forget to exercise.

posted on Feb, 26 2008 @ 04:47 PM
Man there's one that I'd love to find, but can't.

I think it's called JetFighter.

posted on Feb, 26 2008 @ 05:16 PM
GREAT thread Libra!!

Starred and Flagged

I remember ALOT of the old school games. Grew up on the R.P.G.'s!

All the old 2 D's (2 dimensional) didn't pack a punch quite like the graphics in the ones today.

Yet, the storyline kept me glued to the tv screen.

Where RPG's are concerned, they at least played out different scenerios:

* Roaming from town to town, aquiring items, armor, spells, etc.

I didn't particularly like the games that did the same thing over and over....SNORE.. the ones that 'round em up, shoot em down...all out carnage! Nah...No thanks...gets kinda boring after awhile.

Times sure have changed eh? Before all these console games came about, I'm sure a lot of the kids were getting more fresh air outside, but not every day was sunshine and roses.

Some days were raining, snowing, blizzard, and all kinds of foulness. Perfect for 'kicking back', and quietly amusing oneself.

When it comes down to how much time these kids should be playing these games, it boils down to how much do parents involve themselves from the get go. Get them while they're young.

These consol game systems were a saving grace, to some extent, when my son was in and out of the hospital receiving Chemo. He was far too sick to go outside and play, and one way to keep his mind active, was wheeling the portable consoles into his room, and let him have his entertainment in this way.

Anyways, enough of my personal stuffs...back to the old games!

Libra...why do you have to make me remind myself of how old I am?...lololol

A few of my favorites:

Dragon Warrior
Exile (Trilogies) - PC
Breath of Fire
Brain Lord
Donkey Kong
Final Fantasy (Originals)

These are just the tip of the iceberg.



posted on Feb, 26 2008 @ 06:18 PM
reply to post by thelibra

Psh you were one of those C64-lusers.

4 LYF!

Miner 2049er owned me.

posted on Feb, 26 2008 @ 06:55 PM
My first desktop game ever, on Apple 2 not on PC


One of my favorite


posted on Feb, 26 2008 @ 10:00 PM
Great topic libra.

Ones that spring immediately to mind for me are:

King's Bounty, precursor to the Heroes of Might and Magic series.

Pool of Radiance, the first SSI RPG using AD&D rules.

Sword Quest, a dungeon crawl on the good old Microbee.

posted on Feb, 27 2008 @ 01:45 AM
our first PC was a commodore Vic20. also had the C64 and Amiga 500, Amiga CD32 with SX1 HDD expansion.

Defender of the crown? wow, that game brings back memories.

i have MAME, its got about 5000+ coin op games in it and many of them bring back memories.

Super Sprint was always one of my favourites, and wonderboy in monster land

posted on Feb, 27 2008 @ 03:28 AM
Forgot The Bard's Tale (original, not lame remake!). Spent many hours of my youth carefully plotting maps in intricate detail. Might explain my lack of action until university...

posted on Feb, 27 2008 @ 07:33 AM
Prince of Persia ...

S&F from me too ...

[edit on 27/2/2008 by internos]

posted on Feb, 27 2008 @ 01:22 PM


posted on Feb, 28 2008 @ 03:59 AM
Commander Keen


posted on Mar, 4 2008 @ 03:44 PM
Regardless of the naysayers in this thread

A Vic20 was my first foray into computers, backed up with a Vixen 15 meg RAM pack, yeah I was the coolest in my house lol.

I have fond memories of a old text based adventure game (sorry cannot recall the name) but I do know once you had got so far into the game your own imagination provided the graphics to the text you was reading.

Progressed to the 64 then the Amiga, during that progression I did learn Commodore Basic and wrote a fair few games myself to play, no games worth selling just my own stuff.

So back to the naysayers, games actually led me to learn certain programming codes and enabled me to write programs for myself, it just shows that games and gaming have more to them than just playing, it generally puts the gamers on the edge of certain technologies that they can play around with and learn.

Gaming is just education with FUN to the max


posted on Mar, 4 2008 @ 04:10 PM
mine arent as old.... but:

7th guest
11th hour
Freddy Pharkas
the entire Leisure Suit Larry series
Oregon Trail (of course)
Missile Attack
King's Quest

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