What The EFF is on this Disk!? Strategy Games (PC)
While most people either gave away, lost, or had their old games thrown out on them back in the day as some sort of right of passage into adulthood, I instead saw dollar signs, and short sightedly sold 75% of my PC games in one big eBay auction back in the early 2000’s. “I’ll NEVER want to play this stuff again” said myself, circa 2003. If I had a Delorean I’d go back in time and kick myself. Alas, I have no Delorean and I have no bruise from a self induced kick. In hindsight, the $40 I received in exchange for a barbeque grill-sized box of games and manuals wasn’t worth it, because of course, like most regular readers of my column, I DO want to play some of that stuff again. I can’t even recall what I spent that $40 on. Le sigh. As I later find, everything old, given enough time, is indeed new.
As a result of my sale, I’ve become somewhat of a hoarder with the remaining games and programs that I stumbled on in my basement. A little over a month ago I bought an FC5025 interface card. I describe it in a little more detail here. (tl;dr: It lets you use a 5.25″ floppy drive in a modern PC via USB hookup and a special program.) One disk beckoning me since I got this card is simply titled “STRATEGY GAMES”, creatively labeled with a dot-matrix printer. I had to find out, What the EFF is on this disk?After scanning a disk image with the FC5025 software and running DOSbox, I was presented with several EXE files. What to run first? I figured I’d start with STRATGAMES. Keypunch Software was a shareware/budget game publisher in the 80’s and early 90’s, so my expectations are fairly low.
Killer Bees.. From what I can see, aptly named Killer Bees are slowing spreading across the country, and you have various weapons at your disposal to dispel the swarms. Turn based with ASCII graphics. Oh, the strategy involved. I didn’t get very far and this didn’t hold my interest.
Vampire Quest. A text adventure game that, going by the title, places you in a castle searching for a vampire. If you take too long, he kills you. This is no Scott Adams game. The vampire did indeed get me.
Sabotage. I actually had no idea what this is about. Presumably, sabotage. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with a certain Beastie Boys song. This is another text adventure game. The actual input method is AWFUL. Most of these games understand synonyms.. Take – Get – pick up.. Not this one. >EXIT< Oh, wait. My bad. >QUIT<
Engineer. AH HA! I found something I actually remember! This is, in my opinion, the sole gem on this disk. You are a bridge builder who can lay one steel beam per day in one of three directions below the feet of the inspector. The inspector randomly walks around each turn ‘inspecting’ your work (he never fails you). Complete a bridge across the valley in the shortest time possible. I finally found a game I remembered, and used to play quite a bit. The graphics are ASCII based. As a result, the inspector looks a little like a faceless mummy. The game is silent, but who cares? I Googled the bejesus out of this game in the past searching for it. I remembered the name “ENGINEER : BRIDGE BUILDING GAME” But apparently, no one else did. Until now. I recorded a small gameplay video and posted it in this article.
Ruler. A turn based statistical game where you are the ruler of a medieval land. You must keep your population alive by feeding them just enough food to survive. You also must plant food to make it through the next season. Random events like bumper crops and fires in the village occur, greatly affecting the outcome of the game. Hmmmm I’m a sucker for games like this. I’ll admit it, I spent the most time on this game trying to figure out the ‘magic formula’. (I didn’t.)
Out of five games on this disk I found two I enjoyed, and those odds are better than winning the lottery, right? This also didn’t cost me anything (except the FC5025 card) The main thing is I’ve backed up a disk, rescuing it from disk-rot by imaging them safely on both my hard drives. If I feel like building a bridge or feeding some people, I know where I’ll go. I had no idea what I’d find on this disk going into this, and I have no regrets. Sometimes the journey is better than the destination. In this case, they were both equally satisfying. Look for more WTF features in the future here!