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Ancient DOS Games Webshow

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Reply 3320 of 3339, by Gemini000

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Ancient DOS Games Filler #98 - Defense Grid 1 & 2 is online!

It's actually been awhile since I last touched these two tower defence games, as I've long since moved on to others, but going back and playing them again after so long reminded me of how good they were and why I sunk so many hours of my life into them! :B

But yeah, the last half of September was a MESS in reality, so I wanted to do something simple for this filler to give myself a bit of a break. I think the total amount of effort I put into this filler video was only about 10 hours in total, about half of what it usually takes me to do a filler video, though that did come at the cost of not being able to showcase the many different environments in both games.

Though surprisingly, despite the second game having steeper system requirements it was the FIRST game which was giving me stuttering and hiccups when trying to record it... Though I'm not surprised either as it was a Windows Vista title originally, meaning it likely lacks any proper DWM integration which in turn means its performance could be wildly inconsistent on modern Windows, though I wasn't having any issues at all when not recording. :P

Also...

MrFlibble wrote on 2023-10-19, 16:36:

My apologies, I meant no offence.

I am a linguist by training so I'm very aware of implicit meanings, so I am perhaps too inclined to read too much into what other people say. Sorry!

No worries! This is one of the many idiosyncrasies about me which I frequently have to explain to avoid misunderstandings so I don't find any offense prior to explaining how this works for me.

--- Kris Asick (Gemini)
--- Pixelmusement Website: www.pixelships.com
--- Ancient DOS Games Webshow: www.pixelships.com/adg

Reply 3321 of 3339, by Gemini000

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Ancient DOS Games Episode 319 - Tom and Jerry is online!

I was a little surprised by this one as I expected it to be worse than it actually was given that video games based on popular cartoons had spotty track records, especially when you consider who published this one... but really, it's a slightly above average game all things considered, though definitely has some things to watch out for and to get used to.

Not to mention... I found out near the end of putting the video together that despite having a physical 5 1/4" disk which says, plain as day, "Tom & Jerry" on it, I don't... actually... own a copy...?!? Yeah, this caught me way by surprise and I relate what happened here in the video description over on YouTube as it was too convoluted to explain mid-video! :o

--- Kris Asick (Gemini)
--- Pixelmusement Website: www.pixelships.com
--- Ancient DOS Games Webshow: www.pixelships.com/adg

Reply 3322 of 3339, by Gemini000

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Ancient DOS Games Episode 320 - Loom is online!

It's not common for a game to have both an interesting yet contrived story, yet here we are. Even when you see screenshots of this thing or WATCH raw game footage, you're not really getting a good idea of how the game plays and the sensations which go with the method of puzzle solving which happens here.

Though that said, it's also a surprisingly short game and trying to get anything but the remake nowadays is problematic, with the remake itself being objectively worse in some regards yet subjectively better in others.

This one was also high on the requests list and I was kinda fearing covering it, but I felt confident I was ready for it and hopefully I managed to hit all the important points! :B

In any event, this will be the last ADG video for the year; ADG videos will resume with Episode 321 in 2024 on Saturday, January 6th! :D

--- Kris Asick (Gemini)
--- Pixelmusement Website: www.pixelships.com
--- Ancient DOS Games Webshow: www.pixelships.com/adg

Reply 3323 of 3339, by Gemini000

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Alright! Holiday hiatus is over and thus it's time for some more Ancient DOS Games! As such, Episode 321 - EGA Trek is online!

I hadn't actually played through this one with any seriousness before, having only briefly touched it as a kid and was turned off by the interface looking all weird, given that I had already seen and played Visual Star Trek well before learning about EGA Trek. Playing through it now, I understand why this one was as popular as it was though it's definitely got some weird quirks to it, so this video kinda turned into a half review and half explanation of those quirks, since the game itself isn't very good at discussing them all. :P

Last edited by Gemini000 on 2024-01-06, 15:26. Edited 1 time in total.

--- Kris Asick (Gemini)
--- Pixelmusement Website: www.pixelships.com
--- Ancient DOS Games Webshow: www.pixelships.com/adg

Reply 3325 of 3339, by Gemini000

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Ancient DOS Games Episode 322 - Interphase is online!

While this is more of an Amiga game at heart than a DOS game, it was still surprisingly well received for its time yet rapidly forgotten about following. When it showed up on digital storefronts not too long ago I was kinda drawn to the concept and the graphics and was more-so curious what they did with the concept rather than if the game was any good or not.

Turns out the game is yet another example of why Sid Meier's Covert Action Rule is one of the best pieces of game design advice ever spoken... >_>

--- Kris Asick (Gemini)
--- Pixelmusement Website: www.pixelships.com
--- Ancient DOS Games Webshow: www.pixelships.com/adg

Reply 3326 of 3339, by Gemini000

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Ancient DOS Games Pro 28 - Weapon Stats - Raptor: Call of the Shadows is online!

Not really sure I ever thought I'd be going back to this game... but a lot has happened since I originally reviewed it over a decade ago and given Scott Host's latest re-release of another of his old titles I figured the time was right to go back and investigate the one aspect of it I wasn't too certain about.

The results are actually quite interesting, plus this is one of the few Pro videos where I'm pretty sure I've got the numbers SPOT ON! ;D

--- Kris Asick (Gemini)
--- Pixelmusement Website: www.pixelships.com
--- Ancient DOS Games Webshow: www.pixelships.com/adg

Reply 3327 of 3339, by Gemini000

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Ancient DOS Games Episode 323 - Warcraft is online!

Having played Warcraft II but not the original, I thought going back to the original would basically be like playing a simpler version of Warcraft II...

...I had no idea it was actually going to be more like playing Dune II... :o

...with surprisingly bad pathfinding and a multi-select unit limit of 4... >_>;

...yeah, the original Warcraft is very rough around the edges in terms of actually playing it, but at least it has a well polished presentation. :B

--- Kris Asick (Gemini)
--- Pixelmusement Website: www.pixelships.com
--- Ancient DOS Games Webshow: www.pixelships.com/adg

Reply 3328 of 3339, by MrFlibble

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Nice review, I agree with everything that you say -- even though you mentioned that RTS games aren't exactly your forte, your analysis of the game's strengths and weaknesses is spot on. And of course the defensive formations 😀

I remember reading in some FAQ ages ago that Blizzard devs confessed that they deliberately introduced the 4 unit group limit. Apparently, originally it was possible to select as many units as there were on the map (much like in C&C later on), but because of the limited AI this made the game all too easy, as players could just build a huge army and send it into the enemy base by a single click.

As for having to hold Ctrl to activate the rubber-band selection, I believe this is present in all versions of the game. Or, at least, I don't remember any that would simply allow you to drag the box without holding Ctrl. (IIRC, the GOG release should have the CD version 1.21, which is the latest available?)

Oh, and I totally agree about GOG's DOSBox configurations being off more often than not 😀

There's an interesting tidbit of information that I discovered a while ago. Even though Warcraft appears to have been quickly overshadowed by its own sequel, it has gained enough popularity for an unofficial scenario editor to have been created at some point, and various users released multiple scenarios (I have found over 40). Since the game did not support any kind of custom levels, the scenarios were created by editing saved games, and distributed as such. The interesting part is that when the Macintosh release came out (I suppose you know that it has higher-resolution graphics as it runs in 640x480, and indeed does not have the user hold any system key to drag the selection box with the mouse, IIRC), Blizzard included a save game converter that allowed to load PC saved games in the Mac version -- thus acknowledging and sort of endorsing the existence of these user-made levels. In Warcraft II, they already included the official map editor and full support of custom user maps, recognizing the potential for user creativity.

Warcraft received a somewhat prolonged life with the advent of online playing services, as free, multiplayer-only versions were available on TEN and MPlayer.com. No idea how popular it was there though.

Overall, the game's impact is not to be underestimated. It was basically the second-ever PC RTS after Dune II, and introduced both new gameplay concepts like spells and unit upgrades, and more diverse, plot-driven story campaigns with various mission objectives, unique heroes and epic storytelling.

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Reply 3329 of 3339, by Gemini000

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MrFlibble wrote on 2024-02-17, 21:32:

As for having to hold Ctrl to activate the rubber-band selection, I believe this is present in all versions of the game. Or, at least, I don't remember any that would simply allow you to drag the box without holding Ctrl. (IIRC, the GOG release should have the CD version 1.21, which is the latest available?)

The manuals included with the GOG release are clearly from a later version as they explicitly state:

"Click & Dragging the mouse = Selects up to four units at once."

...BUT, the game's help system states:

"Group Select: While holding the Ctrl key down, drag the mouse over up to four units and they will be selected as a group."

...and I can confirm that in the GOG release, if you click and drag without holding CTRL down, nothing happens. :P

--- Kris Asick (Gemini)
--- Pixelmusement Website: www.pixelships.com
--- Ancient DOS Games Webshow: www.pixelships.com/adg

Reply 3331 of 3339, by MrFlibble

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Not sure if this could be of any use, but regarding shareware releases of Warcraft, there's definitely at least one such release on CD, which was found and obtained by Hallfiry (a major Blizzard enthusiast) some time ago:
https://www.betaarchive.com/forum/viewtopic.p … =366991#p366991

It was published by FormGen and includes missions 1, 4 and 3 (in that order) from each side's campaign. The odd thing is that mission 3 is modified so that the player cannot build churches/temples and train clerics/necrolytes, making this mission harder and less interesting. I've not been able to figure out why this was done. Otherwise the game should be identical to retail version 1.2.

The included license actually allows to distribute the shareware version in installed form, minus the intro cinematic:

[*] Everyone can -- and is encouraged! -- to copy, upload and generally pass around this Program
electronically WITHOUT CHARGING FOR IT.

However, since its size would be about 18 megabytes when zipped, I think no one ever tried to do that, and besides, mission 3 is much more fun in the downloadable demo that does not hold any tech back.

There was also an OEM version with six levels per side (basically half of each campaign) that was bundled with certain Sound Blaster cards and possibly other hardware. This one reports the version number as 1.21, but does not have functional cheat codes.

An early demo version exists without a version number that has a few minor differences, including different appearance of certain building sprites, and a raising skeleton animation that is not used in the final game. The missions are the same: 1 and 3 for each side, plus a modified mission 2 that swarms the player with an unbeatable horde of enemies before fading out to an outro crawl encouraging to buy the full game. This demo also has stills from the pre-rendered map animation before missions. A variant of this demo mentions Interplay as a publisher, although at the end of the day they only published the Japanese PC-98 version, IIRC.

Also of possible interest, Command & Conquer has a shareware CD as well, with three levels per side (as opposed to only three GDI levels in the downloadable demo):
https://archive.org/details/ccdemocd_201806

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Reply 3332 of 3339, by Gemini000

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elszgensa wrote on 2024-02-18, 15:48:

GOG's manual appears to be for the Mac version. ...which is also on their disc image.

That's odd... the MacOS and DOS versions are normally included on the same CD so how could the manuals be specific to the MacOS version?

--- Kris Asick (Gemini)
--- Pixelmusement Website: www.pixelships.com
--- Ancient DOS Games Webshow: www.pixelships.com/adg

Reply 3333 of 3339, by MrFlibble

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Gemini000 wrote on 2024-02-19, 14:09:

That's odd... the MacOS and DOS versions are normally included on the same CD so how could the manuals be specific to the MacOS version?

Since I never owned a physical release I can only guess, or, waitasec, here's a hybrid DOS/Mac release on eBay:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/266471385874

You can clearly see on the screenshot shat shows the manual contents that there's a page called "Getting Started on the IBM-PC", and then another page titled "Getting Started on the Macintosh".

However, the GOG manual -- which appears to originally come from a re-release by Sold Out Software -- is very explicitly for the Mac version only, which is stated right on the first page (added by Sold Out Software):

There are some changes to these manuals that you should be aware of. First, the loading instructions within these documents are […]
Show full quote

There are some changes to these manuals that you should be aware of.
First, the loading instructions within these documents are for an Apple
Macintosh installation (don’t worry, the rules for the game are the
same). Therefore, you should refer to the README document in the
root directory of your CD-ROM for correct PC installation
procedures and network functionality.

Later on in the manual itself, the listed system requirements are for a Macintosh 68030 processor, and the screenshots are very visibly from the Mac release as well (with a different font), even though they're squished to 16:10 dimensions from 4:3 -- probably in order to fit the original DOS manual layout.

My guess is that for whichever reason, Sold Out Software had the digitized manual for a Macintosh-only release (?), which they put on their CD.

UPD: Here's a physical copy of Macintosh-only manuals, seemingly exactly the same as the source from which Sold Out Software had scanned their PDF:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/266359662367

Since these two are sold separately, there's no telling if they come from a Macintosh-only release, or from some very wasteful hybrid release that included a separate set of manuals not only for the two races, but also for the two platforms? (doesn't seem very likely to me but who knows?)

UPD2: Confirmed, here's a Mac-only release in mint condition (or so it seems):
https://www.ebay.com/itm/186245571752

The price is sky high and likely not worth it unless you're a collector going specifically for these things, but at least we are now sure where the GOG manual comes from.

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Reply 3334 of 3339, by Gemini000

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Looks like there's a LOT more releases of the game than I expected... definitely makes it a mess to collect for though. :P

--- Kris Asick (Gemini)
--- Pixelmusement Website: www.pixelships.com
--- Ancient DOS Games Webshow: www.pixelships.com/adg

Reply 3335 of 3339, by MrFlibble

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Gemini000 wrote on 2024-02-21, 07:55:

Looks like there's a LOT more releases of the game than I expected...

Oh yes, very definitely! I've already mentioned that there was the Japanese PC-98 version which, curiously, does not use the updated Mac graphics, even though it runs at a higher resolution (IIRC). And there were also PC re-releases, if I'm not mistaken, like the Battle Chest, although it is very unlikely that it introduced any new features. The latest PC (DOS) version should still be 1.21 (or is it 1.22?), which is included with the GOG release.

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Reply 3336 of 3339, by elszgensa

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MrFlibble wrote on 2024-02-21, 15:32:

[PC-98 version] runs at a higher resolution (IIRC)

Oh, interesting. You seem to remember correctly. Looks like exactly double the h/v resolution, but they're only using it for (the dynamic parts of) the text, everything else gets pixle doubled. i.e. no increased view distance. Pity.

I wonder... Do they scale the assets at runtime, or do they come already pre-scaled? The latter case would mean one might be able to replace them with higher res ones, which could be fun. Kinda doubt it though. I dont know the PC-98 too well but I wouldn't be surprised if it allowed you to draw graphics at low res then render high res text on top of that. Good font handling is important to the Japanese.

Last edited by elszgensa on 2024-02-21, 18:11. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 3337 of 3339, by MrFlibble

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I too am not really familiar with PC-98 -- my knowledge of that version mostly comes from exactly those MobyGames screenshots (while the actual Interplay Japanese website shows pre-release DOS 320x200 screenshots anyway, including a very rare one not available elsewhere). I remember seeing (again, on Mobys) other PC-98 conversions of DOS 320x200 stuff that had some dithering applied to it for a kinda-sorta higher-resolution look; but I gather than native games on that platform indeed have higher resolution and detail.

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Reply 3338 of 3339, by megatron-uk

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Indeed most PC-98 Dos games are 640x400 using what was termed the EGC graphics hardware. Early games are 16 colours, but the PC-9821 introduced the PEGC hardware which was backwards compatible but also added 256 colour mode.

Somewhat after, when Windows became the defacto PC-98 OS, the funky NEC graphics hardware was largely replaced by more standard S3 and Cirrus chips that we all recognise from 'normal' IBM PC land, but for a time the two existed, with add-on accelerators being used for windows, and the EGC/PEGC hardware still providing bios/Dos functions.

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Reply 3339 of 3339, by megatron-uk

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There's definitely a style to PC-98 games, which tend to be optimised for hi-res art in a limited palette, so lots of creative use of dithering and other similar effects.

Lots of overhead RPG games, 'visual novels' (to use the polite title!), but not much in the way of multi-directional scrolling or action games (there are a few exceptions).

One positive thing the PC-98 platform did have going for it was the relatively standardised sound options; plenty of games have MIDI options, plus the two most common sound cards/modules/chips were based on the Yamaha OPNA... And there were some truly talented people who got it to really sing, here's an example:
https://youtu.be/cnJwivCGHHs?si=05VPBZRMQ5eZKrp9

My collection database and technical wiki:
https://www.target-earth.net