Monday, September 26, 2016

8-bit Fridays: The Diaries - September 23, 2016

With the stressful Monday morning meeting I mentioned last week past, the remaining week got strange whereby the remaining stressful event seemed to fall off my calendar, sadly delaying themselves for the next week. Of course that sounds pleasant, but in reality it’s another week spent dreading the next.  With that said though Friday worked out oddly as well, as the day started a bit earlier than normal, leading to the rest of the day running a bit ahead of schedule much to my surprise. That in itself translated into the work day being over early, and even dinner being done early.  This also meant I got to some gaming early as well, but not to my backlog or current plays but rather playing two hours of STO Friday evening and spending an hour playing my Air Combat arcade machine after that before finally getting to two of my “This weekend's plays”.

This Weeks Buys:

To say this least I went a little crazy this week and ordered far too many games

No Mans Sky (PS4) - Great time to buy this one especially the limited edition, since everyone is bailing on this game, who as I predicted, thought they were buying something else. Anyway sealed limited edition, quarter of the original price can't go wrong.

Darkstar One (XBox 360) - It never ceases to amaze me how I’m still picking up titles for my PS2 and XBox 360 with great regularity. This particular game is somewhat obscure and like the above No Mans Sky seems to have folks in one camp or another as to it being a good or bad game. All I know is it’s continually creeping up on my “suggestions” list, and is fairly inexpensive

Project Sylpheed (XBox 360) - In the process of discussing Darkstar One with the Space Game Junkies this is another game they suggested and liked a bit more. It’s roughly the same in price as Darkstar One being dirt cheap, so I picked it up too. It looks really cool, but sadly is no relation to the SHMUP Silpheed.

Defender (XBOX) - On the subject of “dirt cheap” I picked up this 3D remake of the arcade classic of the same name

Robotech: Battlecry (XBOX) - Again “dirt cheap”, and an attempt to expand my XBOX collection.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Final Unity (DOS) - I’m going to thank Joe Mastroianni with the Upper Memory Block Podcast for getting me to look this one up. Obviously, you had to guess a SHMUP and/or Star Trek game would be a buy for this weekend. This is another game that again verged on being “dirt cheap” and I picked it up NIB.

Thunder Spirits (SNES) - Yes a SHMUP too. This is Thunder Forces only entry on to the SNES, and is more or less a remake of Thunder Force III  on the Genesis.

Star Trek: Borg (Win 95) - Following along with this weekends “dirt cheap” theme, this mostly FMV “interactive movie” game, has a bit of a cult following. I look forward to trying it out.

Monster Party (NES) - It’s been awhile since I got an NES game, but this odd one also is a cult, and Halloween classic.  

Darklight Conflict (PS1) - OK, this weekend's general themes “dirt cheap” and space combat sims although unofficially.  

This Weekends Plays:

Nuclear Strike (PS1) - Ok, I will have to admit this by far is the best of the “Strike” games. I looks really good and with the PS1 controls is really easy to play. My only complaint is that with the better graphics the roaming around in circles, you can really get a little nauseous. That and the FMV stuff in between is kind of cheesy and cliché . Great game though overall, good to see the franchise went out with its best title.

GTA: San Andreas (PS2) - For a PS2 and GTA game the graphics are a little lacking, but it's a hell of a lot of fun. Frankly, I couldn't figure out what I was suppose to do so I just ran around creating havoc getting killed numerous times. If you don't take it to seriously, and want to exorcise your inner criminal these games can be a blast, as long as your kids don't play them or let them watch you play them.

Medal of Honor: Rising Sun (PS2) - As with the above GTA game, you can definitely see how the PS2’s graphics are starting to show their age. With that said though I've always had a lot of respect for the Medal of Honor games. These games although not 100% historically accurate, do attempt to recreate historical battles and events with some accuracy. I think that's part of the reason I'm looking forward to Battlefield 1’s release next month, so that we finally have a modern entry for this type of game. For this particular game you're in the role of a US Marine, who is onboard the U.S.S. California the morning of December 7th, 1941. After helping fend off Japanese attackers and witnessing the Arizona’s demise, you move on to you career as a Marine in the South Pacific. It's a very well done game, and an obvious juxtaposition to GTA above.

Wings of War (XBOX) - I'm a little disappointed this one wouldn't work. Contacting the eBay seller on this one may have to bring it to my local video game store for resurfacing.  

Chicago Enforcer (XBOX) - This is an ok game, and a very simple FPS. It reminds me a lot of the original Doom, or Wolfenstein in that it's just simple and to the point without the cutscenes, music, and theatrics of other more modern FPS’s. So if your looking just to shoot stuff up and not get too deep, all while in a historical setting, this may be the game you're looking for.

So believe it or not this is all I could really play this weekend. I pretty much figured this weekend would be pretty busy, and not a lot of play time would be available, like Saturday where the opportunity didn’t even present itself. Hopefully next weekend I can get a little deeper into things, maybe back to backlogs or just current plays, of course I have to survive this week's stressful moments to get there. Oh well, see you all on Friday night? Hopefully?

Saturday, September 24, 2016

System Saturdays - 3D-Oh-No

In the world of consumer electronics the years of 1991-1996 where a time of tremendous innovation and change, and the impact of those five years can still be felt today. Intel introduced its first Pentium microprocessors, Microsoft introduced Windows 95', the first DVD players came out, audio tapes disappeared from stores as CDs took over and CD-Roms claimed their title from 3.5 in. disks, all while Internet and electronic media became a new way of life. This is also the era of the Sega-CD, Atari Jaguar CD and super cartridge systems like the Jaguar, 32x, and NeoGeo AES. The world of video games was on the verge of great changes and "multimedia" became the buzzword of the day, as CD-ROMS took center stage. The dream of internet connectivity was also interwoven into that, as was the concept of the "set-top box" a device with similar features to modern DVRs, smart TV's, and gaming consoles.

It was no surprise then that with the changes in technology to come, many companies wanted to be out on top when the dust had settled. Back then it was all about the CD, and many companies wanted to prove what they could do with the it, and things like video games were just part of it. Names that had never been associated with gaming consoles before suddenly began to pour out of the woodwork with systems. Names like Phillips, Sony, Commodore, Apple, Panasonic, Sanyo and Goldstar (LG) where just a few of the computer and/or consumer electronics makers trying to give us the next big thing to hook up to our living room TV's. For the most part many of these systems would be very short lived, but some would have a legacy, like what would evolve out of Sony, and Apples first entries.

Those systems that didn't survive would leave us with some interesting examples of early CD-ROM based gaming, as well as give us a look into what was coming, as the world of DVD's that would follow shortly after. One such system was the Phillips CD-i, which Nintendo had bailed on Sony for after the Nintendo PlayStation (SNES-CD) deal of 1991. The Phillips CD-i in appearance looked very similar to the DVD players that follow in a few years, and it featured among other things some fully licensed and exclusive Nintendo games including two Legend of Zelda titles. Despite this the system had a huge list of problems, and a small list of games.

Another interesting system, and one that was far more prolific was the 3DO, which was licensed to and manufactured by three different companies, Panasonic, Sanyo, and Goldstar (now LG). Essentially, the 3DO Company was nothing more then a glorified publisher, that develop their own titles, or licensed them from other developers. In the case of the 3DO licensed manufacturers, the 3DO Company would act as both a first and third party developer releasing exclusive 3DO titles, as well as porting others. In addition to this Panasonic had made it part of their licensing agreement with 3DO that the manufacturer would be allowed to develop their own titles, as well and release them system wide, which they did but with only a few games.  

The 3DO company also had some say so as to the pricing and marketing of 3DO systems. EA founder Trip Hawkins, who also helped found 3DO, decided that he wanted systems at different price points to make the 3DO system appealing and semi-affordable to all. This would be part of the reason why the 3DO was licensed to three different manufacturers. Panasonic for instance was and is known for their high end electronics and therefore would be allowed to make the premier 3DO system the Panasonic FZ-1, while Sanyo would make the mid-level TRY, and Goldstar the low end GDO-101. Initially the Panasonic FZ-1 would launch at $699 in late 1993, while the Goldstar would launch at $399.

The Panasonic FZ-1 currently stands as the most popular of the 3DO systems with collectors. Not only because it was the first release of the system but because it, and the FZ-10 to follow, featured the best controllers and shortest load times of all the 3DO systems. Plus the FZ-1 looks like a million bucks to boot, and has been known for its reliability. As the owner of an FZ-1 I can tell you it's definitely a beautiful system, and if I decided to I could easily hide it with my other Panasonic components without anyone telling its there. It's also a very high quality unit, not only in its weight and construction, but in its operation as well. This system, which is now 22 years old, hooks up easily and plays as if it just came out of the box. Another interesting thing about the FZ-1, as well as other 3DO systems, is that you can play two player games despite there only being one controller port, since controllers can be daisy chained into each other. Another unique feature about the 3DO controllers are that the controller cords are roughly 7 1/2 feet in length, which allows you to distance yourself pretty far from the TV, and if you have a friend hooked in to your controller he could conceivably stand 15 feet away from the console.

As far as games and game-play this is where I feel the 3DO suffers. First of all 3DO games to me don't look any different then what you could've played on the already existing Sega-CD. It was a mix of a lot of full motion video content coupled with fairly crude polygonal games, and control similar to what you see out of your DVD remote. The controls despite looking like game controllers, proved to be stiff and at times lagging or unresponsive, as well as sometimes being counter-intuitive and I will give Flying Nightmares as an example of the latter. With that said though the console did have some good titles that played well, like Gex (,  and Super Wing Commander both of which I have in my own collection, as well as Road & Tracks: The Need for Speed, and the premium priced Super Street Fighter II said to be the consoles best game.

In addition to games the 3DO had other benefits that most other systems of the era didn't have since, the 3DO offered non-gaming software titles as well, like a world atlas program, encyclopedia, and other reference, and non-gaming entertainment software. This combined with the component like looks of 3DO systems gave consumers a somewhat primitive version of a set-top box that, like modern gaming systems (the XBox One or PS4 for example), essentially turned their living room TV's into makeshift pre-internet PC's. The 3DO also had the capability to play VCD's (Video Compact Disk's) which essentially were a rudimentary form of DVD's, however the library of English VCD's was extremely small since the format was already on the way to being replaced by the massive storage capacity of the DVD format around the time the 3DO was released.              

At its reception the 3DO looked promising as consumers showed interest in the new "multimedia" platform. However, the consumer market can be fickle, and the $699 price for the FZ-1, and $399 for the lower quality Goldstar GDO-101 were a massive turn off to consumers at launch in 1993. After six months of low sales each system would drop in price, with Panasonic moving to $499, and Goldstar to $299 with 3DO hoping price was the main issue for suffering sales. By the end of 1995 Panasonic had released the FZ-10 a cheaper to manufacture unit at the price of $399, while Goldstar would drop their price to $199 in an attempt to sell units and at least recover some of their costs, even though they would be selling the units at a loss. By that time systems like Sega's Saturn and Sony's PlayStation had been released ultimately numbering the 3DO's days, as the 3DO now looked as outdated as the Saturn's predecessor the Sega-CD. Despite that the console would remain on the market for most of 1996, and actually share some titles with the PS1 and/or Saturn like Space Hulk: Vengeance of the Blood Angels, Star Fighter, and Wing Commander 3. By the end of 1996 the 3DO would finally be discontinued as a system, but the software company would remain until 2003 publishing such franchises as Army Men, and High Heat Baseball.  

To this day the failure of the 3DO is still a hotly debated topic, as many point to the systems high price at release for being the biggest issue. True, $699 for Panasonic's top model was roughly equivalent to $1150 in 1993 money, while the cheapest unit Goldstar's GDO-101 at $399 was equal to about $660. In comparison the PlayStation launched at $299, and the Sega-CD sold for $229 at the time of the 3DO's release. Another factor often seen as part of 3DO's demise was their business model, which was extremely unorthodox for the industry. Essentially the 3DO company's concept was to develop gaming titles that could be exclusively distributed on proprietorially licensed machines. In theory it was a win-win scenario whereby Panasonic, Sanyo, and Goldstar could focus on building and selling machines, while the 3DO company focused on developing and licensing games and software, relieving all parties of the burden or doing both tasks as with traditional console makers. However, companies such as Nintendo, Sega, and even Atari at that time based their business models around selling their machines at cost or even at a loss, and making it up on the back-end selling games, and development licenses. To put that into a modern perspective think about how a new game sells for about $60 and will be going for $20-$30 a year from now, proving that $30+ extra at release is all profit. It's also comparable to the razor blade model whereby the producer sends the handle and first razor cartridge out for free making it up on the back-end in overpriced replacement razor cartridges. In the case of 3DO the separation of machine maker and developer kept this from happening, meaning manufacturers couldn't cut their sales price and make it up on the back-end since, with the exception of a limited Panasonic, the back-end belonged all to the 3DO Company. 

Last but not least, some also point out the 3DO's failure being tied to some controversy around titles released on the system, since the 3DO in-time became notorious for it's adult titles. For instance the Angry Video Game Nerd, covered the softcore "romantic comedy" (that was ironically neither) Plumbers Don't Wear Ties, which allowed players to choose whether or not to allow nudity in the game, but even with the nudity filter on the game was still packed with adult innuendo. Plumbers Don't Wear Ties, however was just a softcore title while other more hardcore titles existed such as the notorious The Coven, or Blonde Justice both of which have been the subject of ridicule on more than a few YouTube shows. In Japan there where many titles that pushed limits even further, leading many to question the family friendliness of the system.

Ultimately though, you have to look at the 3DO as you do many of the other innovations of its era, as an experiment, and an attempt to grab for the brass ring on the next big thing. Over time the concept of the "set-top box" would come to fruition in various forms, but most of the modern examples prove to be successful due to WiFi internet connections. As for what caused it's failure I have no doubt it was a mixture of the 3 circumstances above, but I suspect the business model behind the 3DO concept played a huge part in the high prices of the system, as well as the somewhat questionable games released on it later.

To me the 3DO is another oddball system that didn't fit into a particular generation, having been too advanced for the forth generation, and outdated by the fifth. Like the Atari Jaguar, and Sega 32x it was another console entered into generation 4.5, at a time of huge changes. Also, like the Atari Jaguar, and Sega 32x, its not really a bad console and somewhat ahead of its time. Considering it went toe to toe with the PS1 and Saturn in late 1995 and into 1996 it must have had some potential, but just not enough to evolve with the Saturn and PS1 out of the blockey see through polygonal era, or in price.
Headphone jacks on the bottom of the controller, something common in modern controllers

If your interested in a 3DO for your own collection keep in mind that they go for a little more than an average system on eBay. A system with a working console, controllers, and perhaps a few games could run you between $140 and $170. As stated above your best bet on getting a working console is to look for either the Panasonic FZ-1 or FZ-10, since these systems were generally made with higher quality standards. As far as games and prices the 3DO had a fairly sizable library even scoring a Madden title, and the games run from regular video games to FMV messes and beyond. For the most part price wise they are equivalent in price to what you'd find games on its contemporary's like the PS1, Saturn, or N64, going for. Of course like any system it has some games that are common and others that are rarer, for instance like the above mentioned Star Fighter is a more common title that usually ranges around $10-$12, while the above rarer Super Street Fighter II goes from around $40 in the jewel case, to $90 in the tall box. 

If you have as 3DO, lets drink a toast to it this weekend, and then write me back and let me know what your favorite title is. 


Monday, September 19, 2016

8-Bit Fridays: Backlogs V - The Legend Continues

I'll openly admit pushing through 29 games on one platform in less then 48 hours is pretty taxing. But with my Atari 7800 collection now checked in and cataloged I've come to realize I'm about 10 games away from completing the collection of original releases (home brews are a different story). Of course there are a few financial ball-busters in there like Tank Commander and Mean 18 just to name two out of the five titles with high price tags on them.

As for this weekend my goal is to hammer out all of my backlogged GoG titles, and maybe with some luck get to another system or to as well. 

This Weeks Buy's:

So basically as I knock down one backlog list I'm building another, well hopefully not. It's been a good week for bargains though and most of what I've picked up has been for less then $5. 

Medal of Honor: Rising Sun (PS2) - This was basically a thrift shop find this week, at $4 and in great condition I picked it up.

GTA: San Andreas (PS2) - The GTA games on PS2 are pretty fun, and there seems to be several of them. Again proof of just how prolific the PS2 was/is.

Wings of War (XBOX) - Outside of Halo, Crimson Skies, and MechAssualt the original  XBOX is a bit of a mystery to me. So going back to my roots, this WWI flight sim caught my eye.

Chicago Enforcer (XBOX) - I had to get this one just for the name itself. Basically, it's a FPS set in prohibition era Chicago. 

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (PC) - I bought this on accident trying to buy the XBOX version. Anyway, it's a highly recommended title and my son has been looking for it for a while. 

Gradius III (SNES) - Back in the saddle with a tradition SHMUP this week, and one off my wish list. Sadly I couldn't get it CIB, but loose is cool with me.

Oh and....

Hybrid Buy/Play:

Star Trek: Online (XBox One) - STO on the XB1 and PS4 was kind of a 50th Anniversary gift for us Star Trek gamers, having come out the week of the 50th Anniversary. Always critical of MMO's I debated downloading it, until I watched a few YouTube videos from guys who are hard to impress. It seemed to be a common opinion among them that it was actually pretty good, and one could play the game to its end without buying additional content. So I finally downloaded it on Wednesday, but wasn't able to really play it till Thursday evening. To say the least, I too am impressed and have poured at least 12 hours into it so far. Perhaps I'll cover it in a Trekking Through Games article later. 

This Weekends Plays:

Even though I bashed the late Microprose X-Com games last week, you're actually going to find that I am a huge fan of the company. To me, or anyone who played DOS games in the late 80’s up to the Windows 95’ era, that red Microprose logo was a staple of your video game collection and the mark of a highly entertaining and quality game. So if I seem to gush admiration's for some of the Microprose titles below, you’ll have to forgive me.  

Disclaimer: The first five games up to Silent Service I actually played here and there over the week. From Silent Service onward these are games I played on Friday and Saturday night.

Covert Action (GoG) - Late 80’s-early 90’s spy game that has you take on the role of either a male or female CIA agent on a number of missions. If you played a lot of PC games in this era you would find this one to be pretty standard fare for Microprose and Sid Meier in this era. It’s engaging and fun, and a pretty great adventure game for the time. I was just always a fan of the box art.

Pirates! (GoG) - Pirates! was among one of Microprose best known franchises, and has survived long enough to still have ports being made on modern systems like iOS. In this DOS version from 1987 it’s still a highly impressive game, and it's easy to see why it was an instant hit and has left a legacy to this day. Even with its CGA or VGA color schemes the game still looks great, and the graphic animations, were smooth and crisp and even slightly better than what one would have encountered on consoles of the time. The game itself although simplistic has some great RPG elements to it, with finding information, trading, and dealing with other aspects of the pirates life. The naval combat also looks good, and can be somewhat challenging since one has realistic elements to deal with like winds, and currents. Definitely a great game for the era.   

Pirates! Gold (GoG) - What better way to follow Pirates! than with Pirates! Gold it’s 1993 remake. This relaunch was a way of keeping the title fresh, as well as taking advantage of the many advancements in graphics, sound, and gameplay that had taken place in the 6 years since the game's initial release. With that said even though this version has somewhat better everything, and mouse support, I can’t help but feel as if the ease of play was lost a bit on this one compared to the original. Overall, it's still a classic but I prefer the first version.

Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri (GoG) - This is my first non-Microprose game but one could infer that it has its roots in old Microprose stock since it is a Sid Meier's game. Essentially this is a turn based planet explorer, kind of like cross between Sierras Outpost and Masters of Orion. It’s not a bad game, perhaps a bit more involved than I’m in the mood for today. Of course is you read Backlogs IV last week (, then you know I’m not a big one for Turn-Based Strategy games either. Had it not been part of a sale package I don’t think I would have bought this one.

Sid Meiers: Colonization (GoG) Think of the aforementioned Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri then make it a DOS games, than make it about the colonization of the Americas. Yes, this is another TBS, and no doubt had some influence on the eventual creation of Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri. It’s not too bad, kind of nice and simple, but again TBS’s just aren’t my thing. There is another game called Seven Cities of Gold which has a similar premise, but is a little more RTS like and a hell of a lot more fun, wish I had that one instead.

Silent Service 1 & 2 (GoG) - These are actually both separate titles on GoG but I thought I would just cover both at once. For me Silent Service will always be a great memory as a game that I spent hours playing on the old Commodore SX-64. Trust me there was no real difference between that version and the DOS version both of which I've played. As for Silent Service 2 this is another one I spent hours playing on DOS, and I can safely say that it is very much a reboot of the first game and with the improved graphics, sound and gameplay, and just a much better game overall. If you didn’t know the Silent Service was/is what the US Navy called the Submarine Service during and before World War 2, and to this day it is still an acceptable term to use. The games themselves are basically World War 2 submarine simulators focused primarily on the Gato Class submarines operating in the Pacific theater. This first game is extremely simple yet fairly fulfilling, as to where the second game takes on some addition historical contexts that can either make the game harder or easier based on how historically accurate you want your simulation to be.  Having sunk hours into both previously, this is one I checked to make sure it worked this evening before heading on since I knew once I started playing and got invested hours would fly by. My suggestion if these games sound interesting to you, or you have good memories of them, is that you wait for a sale to pick this set up since I got it for $.99 about two years ago.

Red Baron (GoG) - Red Baron for its time was an absolute paradigm shift it the genre of air combat simulator games on PC. Today it sits as an undeniable classic that would go on to influence many other air combat sims to follow, especially within Microprose. Like the aforementioned Silent Service the game didn’t just present itself as a simple airplane shooter, comparable to Atari’s Red Baron arcade game, but rather as an actual flight sim with many realistic and historical contexts. It was essentially this, that set the game apart from others before and after it. For my play-through I had a simple instant action flying against Hermann Goering who I shot down quickly form above with my Spad (imagine how that would have changed history). Despite the graphics being a little outdated the game still looks great, and plays well.

Red Baron 3D (GoG) - There seems to be some confusion as to whether Red Baron 3D and Red Baron II are the same game. I have Red Baron II CIB, awaiting testing and cataloging as one of my Windows 95 games. Anyway, this is one of those instances on GoG where the game doesn’t work so I’m going to have to send this to technical support and hope they have a fix.

Wing Commander: Privateer (GoG) - Set after Wing Commander II this game takes on the life of a private merchant man making his way in the Gemini sector of space following the Kalrathi wars. It’s pretty entertaining as you would expect from a Chris Roberts title of that era, and reminds me of Star Flight meets Wing Commander in its execution. Good game, good story line, but nothing really all that different from what you encounter in the Wing Commander games.

Wing Commander: Armada (GoG) Back to war with the Kalrathi, in what is considered to be Wing Commander 2.5. Actually this is the traditional Wing Commander type game interestingly coupled with a Turn Based Strategy game. It’s an interesting concept to say the least and way more interesting to play then X-Com was last week. It’s worth getting and trying if the Wing Commander game bundles go on sale at GoG.

Starflight II (GoG) - Hey, talking about Starflight did you know there was a sequel. Lets be honest if you're like me this was a game you probably didn’t hear much about back in the day. By the time I got my Commodore SX-64 even Starflight II was an old game. But playing this game its easy to see it’s influence on a lot of other space games, like the aforementioned Wing Commander: Privateer, and there’s also a reason many refer to the Mass Effect franchise as Starflights spiritual successor. With that said though the game also has some Star Trek influence to it, as well as a little Lost in Space. I personally think the Starflight games are pretty much a must play for anyone who wants to learn about the history of video games, and spot its evolution. As for Starflight II outside of a few minor things it’s pretty close to Starflight.

Wing Commander (GoG) - I know this one well, and spent hours playing back in the day. I remember heading up to Wal-Mart one night during a Christmas vacation in high school, just to buy this since by that time it was in a $5 bargin bin. I played the heck out of it, and can say it’s truly a classic. If you don’t know much about it, this was the premiere space combat simulator of early 90’s PC gaming, and it even made it to the SNES. Again this is another influential game that would go on to build it’s own huge franchise, lead to the creation of the flight sim Strike Commander and go on to influence many other space combat flight sims right down to Star Trek Online, which I mentioned above and of course Wing Commanders direct descendant Star Citizen.

Wing Commander II (GoG) -Remember how I was giving the XBox 360 shit about long cinematic's before the game starts? Holy smokes I never thought this one would end, and this is older. I will admit though it looks pretty damn good, and the animations are nice and smooth. It does look and play a bit better then Wing Commander as well.

F-117A (GoG) - This is another favorite since it was a Christmas gift from my mom the Christmas I got my first PC. I played it a lot, and loved the hours I put in. Take Red Baron mentioned above, update it a lot, and add a modern aircraft and you have F-117A. Basically it lies somewhere between full fledged flight sim, and arcade game meaning it’s fun yet serious enough to feel realistic.

 Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space, Save The World and The Devil’s Playhouse (GoG) - These three Sam & Max games were gifted to me by Joe Mastroianni of the Upper Memory Block Podcast about two years ago. I installed them on my old laptop played a little of each one, then the laptop went out on me. So with that said I am reinstalling all three games on my new desktop years later so I can actually have a good platform to play them on. All three of these games are point and click adventure games, with a highly comedic tone. The game is based around freelance police detectives Sam & Max who are a dog detective, and an incredibly strange bunny. The games are all pretty odd, but they're suppose to be that way and certainly do yield a lot of comedic effect. So if you want to game and laugh at the same time you may want to check these out, and they're also available on multiple platforms

Master of Orion (GoG) - This is another Turn Based Strategy game mostly about managing resources, building fleets, and of course building your empire. You of course can choose to play as a number of races, each of which puts a different spin on the game. To be honest if you can give it the time it can be fun, but I prefer the RTS version Pax Imperia which could get really intense. Overall though it’s easy to see why this one is a classic.

Master of Orion II (GoG) - This is actually a better version of the first game, much more manageable, and intuitive. Same Turn Based Strategy but a lot better of a game, although all the goals and gameplay methodologies are the same. I’d say get this one over the first if your interested.

Dragonshere (GoG) - This is kind of a Microprose rip off of Sierra’s King’s Quest series. Its an OK game about of par with these type of point and clicks from that era. This is actually a freebie, or was I don’t know if it still is, from GoG when you sign up the next three games I will talk about also are.

Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire (GoG) - This is a quasi-text adventure game from back in the day, basically I didn’t feel like doing as lot of reading so I just kind of did the minimum and got out. I don’t think I’ll return to it.

Ultima 4: Quest of the Avatar (GoG) - I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Ultima games as a whole so I was eager to see what this one was about. Sadly it seems a bit buggy, and just wouldn’t work. Again, like the two games before it and next to follow, this one was a GoG freebie, so I’m not going to complain, at least Dragonshere has been a good game so far.

Treasure Adventure Game (GoG) - I was hoping this was going to be a fun little retro 8-bit type game, but I couldn’t get it to work. I mean it loaded ok but I could get anything besides the arrows to work meaning there was no action button. Too bad, but again a freebie.

So with some time left on to a non-GoG game

Wing Commander III (Origin-EA) - This was an Origin free game of the month about two years ago and I made sure to get it while it was free. When this game came out it in 1994 was huge, and changed the world FMV games. Mark Hamill, John Rys-Davies, Macolm McDowell, and Tom Wilson as well as few other familiar faces made the opening cinematic worth watching, as well as a lot of other scenes in between. After this many other games made sure to have at least one familiar actor in their FMV’s to show their game was quality stuff too, like James Earl Jones in Command & Conquer 2. As far as gameplay itself it's a great improvement over the Wing Commander games that came before it and obviously everything looks sharper and cleaner, and even gameplay itself is better being a bit smoother, and more intuitive.

Sadly thugh today, Sunday, I wouldn’t have time to get to any additional plays. I had achieved what I had set out to do the weekend before and completed my playthrough of my GoG backlog. With that said now my original list of 114 games has shrunk to 28 unplayed and 6 games currently unplayable do to system issues. Of these 28 games 10 belong to Sega systems including 4 on the Dreamcast, 4 on the Sega-CD, and 2 on the 32x, while another 11 are Win 95/98 games awaiting my getting that platform to run virtually, and 3 are DOS games. The remaining four are one each, a Channel-F game, a TRS-80 CoCo game, an Atari 800 game, and a C64 game. I don’t know if I will have the time next weekend to work on these, or concentrate on a group to handle but I’m may return briefly to my original 8-bit Fridays: The Diaries format so that I can focus on a few of my new buys, and getting those checked in and off my eBay list.

Anyway, I have a very stressful week ahead of me including a meeting bright and early Monday morning. So I wish you all a good week and maybe I’ll see you all again gaming next weekend.

*I would also like to thank Moby Games for some of the images above, being that these are games from GoG and not physical copies in my possession images of cavers had to be borrowed.