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"Must Have" Best DOS games

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First post, by keenmaster486

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There ought to be a master list of the "Must have", "best" DOS games in particular categories. This has probably already been done but I want a community effort here and I can't find an analogous thread. Perhaps we could set up a poll of some sort and all vote on games. If there already is something like this let me know; I've looked and looked and can't find anything that isn't just one guy giving his opinion.

The categories could be as follows (change these as necessary):

-2D EGA platformers (e.g. Keen)
-2D VGA platformers (e.g. Hocus Pocus)
-3D FPS games (e.g. DOOM [would something like Elder Scrolls:Arena fall into this category?])
-Flight simulators / flight games (X-Wing)
-Point and Click (Sierra games, Day of the Tentacle [?])
-etc. Come up with other categories as needed.

These are NOT meant to be exhaustive lists; we have those already. These should be lists of the BEST games in each category, perhaps top ten lists? But not necessarily top ten.

I don't have very many games from any of these categories to begin with, so this is partly a quest to fill my hard drive with the best DOS games in existence.
Here are my lists for the categories I actually have games from:

-2D EGA platformers:
Commander Keen 1-6, Dreams, & various mods [a few of which are better than the originals imho]
Duke Nukem (or "Nukum" 😒 )

-2D VGA platformers:
Jazz Jackrabbit
Hocus Pocus
Duke Nukem II

-3D FPS
DOOM
Wolfenstein 3D
Elder Scrolls: Arena [I haven't played this but my sister has a lot. No idea how good it is, just goes to show how ignorant I am 😊 She seems to think it's great.]

-Flight simulators
MS Flight Simulator 5.1 [last DOS version supported]
X-Wing CD edition

These are just the games that I actually have right now. I'm sure this will set off a firestorm of suggestions and heated debate. Have fun 😎

I flermmed the plootash just like you asked.

Reply 2 of 32, by keenmaster486

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Come now, I want to have it all in one place. Besides, not ALL of those can fall into the "best" category I'm looking for, which is basically "the kind of quality game that makes you think 'wow, how did this happen? Super-intelligent aliens must have come down from the sky and dropped the graphics and code into their laps.' " Anyway, I don't know what all those catalogs have in them regardless. Come on, give the ignorant newbie a chance. (EDIT: that seems kind of rude. I really do consider myself ignorant on this subject; that's why I'm asking here) 😊

I flermmed the plootash just like you asked.

Reply 3 of 32, by awgamer

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flight sims: f19 stealth fighter, battle hawks 1942/their finest hour, chuck yeager's air combat, a-10 tank killer, falcon 3.0, gunship 2000, f15 strike eagle ii, aces of the pacific/over europe, red baron, air duel: 80 years of dogfighting, dawn patrol, wings of glory, I'm sure I'm missing some.

I put star wars xwing etc. in a separate space sims category.

Reply 4 of 32, by RadioPoultry

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As far as EGA platformers go, I defintely agree with the Keen games. I also have special fondness for Captain Comic and Captain Comic II (mind you, they aren't as good as Keen).

Other recommendations from my collection:

Arcade:
Tempest 2000 is a great arcade shooter with very nice CD audio.

I've been playing a lot of Uncharted Waters: New Horizons lately. Not sure what category that belongs to. It' s a lot like Sid Meier's Pirates, with some JRPGness thrown in. Strategy, I guess? And as far as space themed exploration/trading games go, GameTek's Nomad is a good one, though that one's more on the adventure side.

Adventure:
The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Serrated Scalpel (not many puzzles, but lots of dialogue and well written).
TimeQuest (text adventure with some graphics)

3D Action/Adventure
Twinsen's Odyssey (controls aren't so great, but otherwise very charming)

Reply 5 of 32, by zirkoni

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Turn based strategy:
UFO: Enemy Unknown (and XCOM2, XCOM3)
Jagged Alliance
Heroes of Might and Magic 1&2

Real time strategy:
Command & Conquer series
Dune 2

https://www.youtube.com/user/zirkoni88

Reply 6 of 32, by rgart

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You left out some of the best DOS games to ever exist.

Real-time Strategy: Warcraft 2
Role Playing Game: Ultima 7
Graphic Adventure: Monkey Island
Space Combat Simm: Wing Commander 2

Please remove Jazz Jackrabbit from your top ten list:-P

=My Cyrix 5x86 systems : 120MHz vs 133MHz=. =My 486DX2-66MHz=

Reply 7 of 32, by dr.zeissler

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Categories in 8+3 style like I named them on every PC/MAC

ADVENT = Adventures (Sierra, Lucas ...)
FLIGHT = Flight-Simulations (F16-Falcon, ...)
FIGHTN = Fighting (e.g. MK-Series, Bodyblows...)
2DSHOT = 2D Shooter (Tyrian, ...)
3DSHOT = 3D Shooter (Wolf3d, ...)
ACTION = Action (Biomanace, ...)
ARCADE = Arcade (DynaBlaster, ...)
STRATE = Strategy (e.g. Dune2, ...)
ROLEPL = Roleplaying (Ultima-Series, ...)

Long-term goal is to difference between the gfx-standards and the machines!
Which means, same structure as above but for:

XT-MDA/CGA
AT-EGA/VGA
386-486/VGA
PENTIUM/VGA-SVGA

CPU: PII 133-333 MOBO: SNI-D981 RAM: 512- FDD: Dualfloppy 3,5"HD/5,25"HD - 3,5"HD - 5,25"DD ISA-Catweasel HDD: 2x40GB - DVD
ISA(3): Audician32-S2Dreamblaster - GusACE PCI(3): Monster3D- Intel NW AGP(1): 3dfx V3-3000

Reply 8 of 32, by bjt

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Impossible to get a definitive "top 10" list as it's purely down to opinion. The most objective method is probably a review aggregator like gamerankings.com, but their coverage for early-mid 90's games is maybe a little spotty.

What's more interesting to me is people just talking about what they like and why, especially if it's not just the usual suspects.

My collection has a lot of the usuals and I do love the US greats like id/Westwood/Blizzard/LucasArts/Dynamix etc etc. But I also have a lot of affection for games that come from the UK and France. Nearly everything that came out of Bullfrog in the earlier days was gold. Just down the road from me is Team17 who put out Worms and Alien Breed. Across the channel our Gallic friends made games that had a unique feel to them. Cryo and Delphine rarely put out anything rooted in the real world, that would have been far too boring! Check this out from the Dune manual:

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Just added Syndicate Wars to my Bullfrog collection:

gwIv07ol.jpg

Reply 9 of 32, by Cyberdyne

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Well my must haves are:

For 3D:
Ultimate Doom
Doom II
Doom II TNT
Doom II Plutonia
Wolfenstein 3D
Spear of Destiny
Blake Stone AOG
Blake Stone PS
Duke Nukem 3D
Strife

For Strategy:
Warcraft 2 BTDP
CnC
Red Alert

And i really like Jazz Jackrabbit, ok, it has its shortcomings, but music and graphics are superb!

I am aroused about any X86 stuff that has full functional ISA stuff. I think i have problem.

Reply 11 of 32, by dr.zeissler

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https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiQAqwFrVmHrn3jX07EhQAw

Lots of nice stuff shown here.

CPU: PII 133-333 MOBO: SNI-D981 RAM: 512- FDD: Dualfloppy 3,5"HD/5,25"HD - 3,5"HD - 5,25"DD ISA-Catweasel HDD: 2x40GB - DVD
ISA(3): Audician32-S2Dreamblaster - GusACE PCI(3): Monster3D- Intel NW AGP(1): 3dfx V3-3000

Reply 12 of 32, by sf78

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"Must have" indicates one should actually OWN these games. Many late 80's EGA games are nearly impossible to find these days, or the prices for them are absurdly high. Then again, if you bought/downloaded everything from GOG etc. you don't really own anything if you lack the physical media, manual and box for the game. 😵 So should we talk about games that people need in their collection to make it substantial, or just games that warrant a place in a top-10 list no matter how you obtain it? It would be an interesting challenge to actually own most of the games in these lists. 😀

Reply 13 of 32, by BloodyCactus

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Lot of the Bitmap Bros catalog like Gods, Magic Pockets, Xenon2.. Canon Fodder, Risky Woods, Links386, Supaplex, Metal Mutant, Flashback, Another World, Lemmings, Elf (elf never gets much love, I always thought it a good game on msdos, better on amiga tho). classics like jill of the jungle, zool, jazz jackrabit, prehistorik, moonstone, bubble bobble, rastan saga, blues brothers..

gee I didnt even start on rpgs or adventures yet 😜

--/\-[ Stu : Bloody Cactus :: http://kråketær.com :: http://mega-tokyo.com ]-/\--

Reply 14 of 32, by FGB

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I'd like to add "Z" from Bitmap Brothers to the category of best RTS games. Man that game is fast and fun and later maps are quite demanding.
I love it!

To all who don't know Z: It's not a Command&Conquer style clone-game, it brought a whole new concept to the genre: One had to control sectors on a map to gain control over production of units and the more sectors you control the quicker the units get produced. You win the map when you destroy the oponent HQ.

Runs smoothly on a DX2/66 in VGA and is playable on a DX4/100 in SVGA (Pentium recommended though - Pentium 66 / 75 is fine).

www.AmoRetro.de Visit my huge hardware gallery with many historic items from 16MHz 286 to 1000MHz Slot A. Includes more than 80 soundcards and a growing Wavetable Recording section with more than 300 recordings.

Reply 15 of 32, by Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman

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-2D EGA platformers: no idea.
-2D VGA platformers: no idea.
-3D FPS games: System Shock.
-Flight simulators / flight games: Their Finest Hour, Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, TIE Fighter Collector CD, Jane's Advanced Tactical Fighters, F-16 Combat Pilot, F-117A Stealth Fighter 2.0, Gunship 2000, Wing Commander.
-Point and Click: no idea.
- RPG: Space Rogue, Ultima VI, Ultima VII, Buck Rogers: Matrix Cubed, Buck Rogers: Countdown To Doomsday, Privateer, Privateer 2: The Darkening, Star Control II, Quest for Glory I-IV.
- Strategy: Air Force Commander, Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon, War of the Lance, Armor Alley, Red Storm Rising. Syndicate, Warlords II with scenario builder.

Never thought this thread would be that long, but now, for something different.....
Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman.

Reply 16 of 32, by clueless1

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I see three different categories of "must have" games. 😀
1) Must have because the game is a classic, is extremely fun and has lots of replay value.
2) Must have because of its nostalgic value, even if it's not as fun today as it was back then.
3) Must have because of its critical acclaim, even if it's in a genre that you're not really into.

For me, category 1 must haves include System Shock, the Wing Commander series, Duke Nukem 3D, Ultima Underworld 1 and 2, Descent 1 and 2, Ultima 7 series, Wings of Glory, Gabriel Knight, Quake I, and Tie Fighter CD.

Category 2 must haves are Doom 1 and 2, Ultimas 2-6, Aces of the Pacific, Aces Over Europe, Red Baron, Lost Treasures of Infocom, and Inca.

Category 3 must haves include all the Sierra and LucasArts classic adventure games. I never could get into point and click adventure games (other than Gabriel Knight) back in the day, but I recognize their greatness and enjoy owning them. I also will keep trying them with the intention of falling in love with them they way I did with category 1 must haves.

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.
OPL3 FM vs. Roland MT-32 vs. General MIDI DOS Game Comparison
Let's benchmark our systems with cache disabled
DOS PCI Graphics Card Benchmarks

Reply 17 of 32, by Tertz

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keenmaster486 wrote:

so this is partly a quest to fill my hard drive with the best DOS games in existence

There are popular, well-known games. "Best" is too subjective.

eXo's favourite DOS games, from eXoDOS 2.0

1. Adventure


King's Quest 1 - 7

Roberta & Ken Williams founded Sierra after creating the first graphic adventure game on the pc, Mystery House. Sierra's flagship launch title was King's Quest. They went on to develop 8 games in the series, 7 of which were made for DOS.
The first 4 games in the series use parsar commands while parts 5-7 were gui driven. The series is known for it's often humorous death sequences, and a few moments of frustrating pixel hunting.
Overall however, Roberta's combination of fairy tale mythos and adventuring has earned the King's Quest series a place in the adventure hall of fame.
Sierra put out many other great series such as Space Quest, Quest for Glory, Leisure Suit Larry, and arguably Police Quest. They also had some great one off titles such as Freddy Pharkas and later got heavily involved in FMV games with games spanning upwards of 8 cd's(!) with productions like Phantasmagoria.

Secret of Monkey Island, Lechuck's Revenge, Curse of Monkey Island

LucasArts was always known for their polish and humor, and none of their series capture this quite as well as the Monkey Island series. 4 Games were developed by LucasArts for this series, 3 of which were for DOS. The original Secret of Monkey Island was many gamer's first introduction to the world of adventure games, starring Guybrush Threepwood, a wannabe pirate who battles with insults and is known to sell a fine leather jacket or two along the way.
Great animation, razor sharp wit, and inventive puzzles make this games a must play.
Other DOS games not to be missed by LucasArts include Loom, Sam and Max, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle, The Dig, Full Throttle, and Zak McKracken.

Alone in the Dark 1 - 3, Jack in the Dark

The original survival horror game. The Alone in the Dark series creates a creepy atmosphere which is as much from the music and environment as the awkward motions of your polygon hero. While the polygonal graphics may seem dated, the story (derived from Lovecraft) and hand drawn backgrounds are very memorable.
4 games were released for DOS in this series, with one of them designed towards children titled 'Jack in the Dark'.
The game can be frustrating as you will die many times as you figure out where the enemies will come from while grappling with the tank controls, but it is worth it to see Resident Evil's ancestor in action.

Zork 1 - 3, Return to Zork, Zork: Nemesis

Zork helped popularize the text adventure with it's somewhat zany world of Frobozz. Many gamers of the era will immediately recognize the opening line of the original game, 'You are standing in front of a white house."
Infocom put out 7 games directly tied to the Zork mythos, with a second trilogy taking place in the Zork Universe (Enchanter, Sorcerer, & Spellbreaker).
Infocom went on to become king of the text adventures, often filling their game boxes with elaborate extras such as maps, news papers, and other tangibles that often held clues to the game.
Return to Zork and Zork Nemesis took the series in a more Myst-like direction, but retain the same odd style.

Discworld 1 - 2

Terry Pratchett's Discworld series is notable for it's highly detailed graphics, great sense of humor, and unforgiving puzzles.
Rincewind, an inept wizard, is accompanied by a homicidal treasure chest. He is often followed by Death (who is just waiting around int he event he is needed) while dealing with assassin ninjas, orangutan librarians, and other odd characters I wouldn't want to spoil.
The game can be overly verbose at times, where you may feel like you are watching a movie rather than playing a game as the dialogue goes on and on, however the voice acting is top notch (Eric Idle portrays Rincewind).

Gobliiins, Gobliins 2, Goblins 3

The Goblins series was later bought and published by Sierra, but it didn't start with them and upon starting the game it is obvious that this is not your typical adventure game. Some might even say it is more of a puzzle game. What warrants it's inclusion on my short list however is the saturated graphics, detailed backgrounds, and astounding soundtracks. When the first Gobliiins was released, it was one of the first cd-rom games. Hearing the fire crackle and the grandfather clock gong while I tried to figure out a certain room made the game so much more immersive.
The series has some excruciatingly difficult puzzles, but the persistent gamer is rewarded with great humor and astounding art. Characters often break the 4th wall to gripe at the player if they lead them into precarious situations.


2. RPG


Wasteland, Fountain of Dreams, Fallout 1 - 2

The Fallout series is fairly well known these days with Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas bringing the games to today's modern consoles. It all started back on DOS thought with Fallout 1. Wasteland first outlined the world that Fountain of Dreams (unofficial Wasteland sequel) and Fallout populate, although due to the fact the games came from different publishers, Fallout had to be called a 'spiritual successor" rather than a sequel.
These games explore the world after a nuclear apocalypse. Fallout was notable for its many ways of solving problems depending on the characters stats. Brute force, charisma, bartering, hacking, or tactical ops are all possible approaches. Play the game with a dumb character and you will have very different conversations than playing through the game with an intelligent character.

Ultima 1 - 8

Richard Garriott's Ultima universe was first published by Sierra On-line for the PC, before being self published by Garriott's own Origin Systems. The Ultima games revolve around Garriott's alter-ego, Lord British. The player takes on the role of The Stranger\Avatar (depending on the game), a human from earth called upon by British to assist protecting this fantasy world.
The games are often dungeon crawls, but initially were known for providing a graphical interface when most games of the time were still text based. While ground breaking at it's initial release, later versions did not fare as well as comparable RPG's of the time.

Elder Scrolls: Arena, Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall, Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire

Another series that is still going strong is the Bethesda developed Elder Scrolls series. One of the stronger first entries into the first person RPG genre, Elder Scrolls Arena allowed users to travel over the entire game world rather than restricting players to key locations or map travel. This has become an expected part of the Elder Scrolls series, with the newer games boasting some of the largest open worlds ever developed.
Dagerfall introduced a larger NPC system with politcal parties and guilds, while character development revolves around building up skills through usage rather than a point system.

Legend of the Red Dragon, Treehouse Truants, Operation: Overkill II
Show last 98 lines

I included BBS Door games as I consider these to be the precursor to the modern day MMORPG, and I have a soft spot for nostalgia. Honestly, they are just as much a precursor to Farmville as well... Sysops of BBS systems (we are talking pre-net here guys) often looked for ways to keep people dialing in. What better way than to encourage all your users to kill the horrible red Dragon in LORD. Flirting in the bar, user battles, random encounters, and cool swag - all in 15 turns a day. Once your turns were up, you had to wait until midnight to adventure again, so it wasn't uncommon to have a LORD characters on multiple BBS's. But what happened when you had already played all 10 characters? Well, for me, that is when I started testing out all the other door games. Offworld mutants, fishing, pimp wars, trivia; there were all types. But the best were always the RPG games. While the versions here won't have random people from all over your area code dialing in, you can at least see what the game was like. LORD fans have kept the game alive, and you can still find games going on the web.


3. Strategy


Dungeon Keeper, Theme Hospital, Theme Park, Syndicate

Bullfrog is generally considered the inventors of the "God game". While their entire catalog is full of gems, strategy and simulation was their forte.
Theme parks full of puking children, hospitals over run with bigfoots, and cyber soldiers carrying out assassinations are only a few of the worlds Bullfrog created. Dungeon Keeper is still one of my favorite games to this day.
Here the player competes with other Keepers to lure demons and creatures to their dungeon by creating an underground pad that puts everyone else to shame. Gathering creatures is just the beginning though. Now you must train them, use them to research spells, and fortify you walls. The player competes against other keepers, do-gooding Lords, and even their own creatures (Vamps & Wizards just can't get along).
Amazing art, humour, and challenge define one of the best strategy games ever developed for any system.
Other must-play Bullfrog titles in this collection: Syndicate, Theme Hospital, ThemePark, Populous, Populous II, & Powermonger.

X-Com UFO Defense, X-COM Terror from the Deep, X-COM Apocalypse

Microprose released several squad based games. X-Com is arguably the most successful.
The X-Com games are tactical squads= games in a turn based worlds. Players must hunt invading aliens by building up their base, scouting for incursions, and even researching alien tech through autopsies on the corpses you manage to retrieve.
The learning curve can be steep and the difficulty can be unforgiving at times, so make sure to save often. Take the time to learn the game though, and you will easily loose several nights sleep to this series.

Command & Conquer, Red Alert, Warcraft 1 - 2

Real-time strategy games as we know them would not exist without the original C&C and Warcraft games. Blizzard went on to craft one of the most balanced RTS series, while Westwood gave us some of the most innovative weapons/units in the genre. Blizzard became synonymous with cutting edge CGI while Westwood cornered the market in hilariously bad FMV. Both series have their superfans and their haters, they are the Street Fighter & Mortal Kombat of the real-time strategy world.
Red Alert, a C&C spinoff, has created it's own cult following by exploring an alternate future with soviet tesla coils and time travel. Warcraft 2 however paved the beginnings of a story line that would launch the most successful MMO ever.

SimCity, SimCity 2000, SimAnt, SimIsle, SimEarth

Will Wright hates your free time. SimCity 2000's sole purpose is to destroy any and all free time you may have. Just writing about it makes me want to fire it up and make sure all my people have water and electricity... at least until I send the aliens to eradicate them. The game is simple genius. If you want a break from being Mayor, you can always jump into your SimAnt colony, try your hand at evolution and ecosystems in SimEarth, maybe see if you have a green thumb in SimFarm, take a vacation to SimIsle, or bore the living hell out of yourself in SimHealth... a game about healthcare that even the authors admit didn't work so well.
Or just go back to SimCity classic and see where it all started. While they are all (except that horrid Simhealth) amazing games, SC2k just never gets old, and somehow never seems to age.

Civilization, Colonization, Pirates! GOLD, Railroad Tycoon

Sid Meier wants to make sure the Sim games aren't the only series in town stealing free time. Civilization is a behemoth in its own right, although I don't really feel like it came into its own until after the DOS era. Pirates! and Rail-Road Tycoon however are easy to jump into, polished, and easily stand the test of time.


4. Simulators


Star Wars: X-Wing (CD Edition), Inperial Pursuit (Expansion)), Star Wars: Tie Fighter (CD Edition), Defender of the Empire (Expansion)

X-Wing and it's 2 expansions gave players the ability to jump into the cockpit and fight for the rebels while it's sequel, Tie Fighter, allowed you to work your way through the ranks of the empire. Both versions are present in their CD special editions which include all expansions, new cut scenes, enhanced resolution, and extremely well acted speech (especially for the time!). While Wing Commander was still pushing pixels around, this series debuted with a full polygon engine for the ships. The story line is engaging. I fondly remember rising through the ranks of the empire, starting as a lowly pilot and eventually flying as wingman for the man in black.
The series is remembered by many fans as the best Star Wars space sim ever released. Even today, many will argue that they stand as the best Star Wars flight sims ever released.

Sensible Golf, Sensible World of Soccer, International Sensible Soccer, Sensible World of Soccer '96/'97

You can't have a pack of DOS sports games without mentioning the Sensible series. They stand out against the multitude of soccer simulations released in the early days of DOS, while maintaining character that the dominant EA Sports of the late 90's never had. It is quite charming to watch the little pixelated fellows go about their soccer games or play golf.
The Sensi games really stood out due to their multiple club levels and high customizable aspects. The soccer games introduced a gameplay mechanic known as aftertouch which allowed the player to cause the ball to swerve after the kick, creating some very interesting (albeit unrealistic) goals.
The first game, Sensible World of Soccer is regarded as one of ten most important games of all time by a committee of game developers that included Warren Spector and Steve Meretzky.

Carmageddon, Splat Pack, Max Pack

Racing sims were some of the most abundant early dos games. They were simple to code, and sold fairly well. Franchises like Test Drive began to break away from the clones and later games such as Need for Speed began to push the limits of realism (well, as far as dos goes). But none of the above captured the fun of driving like Carmageddon did. Inspired by the 70's flick Death Race, Carmageddon allowed the player to win races a multitude of ways. Sure, you could always try to get first place.... or you could lie in wait and ambush the other drivers until there are none left standing. Or just go and run down every single pedestrian on the level and win that way. Destruction and mayhem earns you cash, which earns you better cars. The cars feel heavy and fairly realistic for the time.
The games soundtrack is notable for featuring tracks from Fear Factory. Also included is the Splat! Pack which adds more cars, tracks, and environments.

Jane's Combat: US Navy Fighters, Marine Fighters, Advanced Tactical Fighters, NATO Fighters, AH-64D Longbow, Flash Point Korea

Jane's Combat Simulations (a brand released by EA) immediately became known as some of the most realistic combat flight sim's on the market, however many of them retained an arcade mode for the more casual gamer.
AH-64D Longbow in particular garnered very high reviews at the time of it's release. No other helicopter sim came close to it's flight model. The original missions span several key battles, while the expansion adds a new campaign set in Korea, as well as a new co-pilot. ATF and it's expansion gave PC gamers the first chance to jump into the cockpit of some of the world's most advanced and secretive planes.
Apart from the flight sim aspects of the games, they also include in depth information on the aircraft, weapons, vehicles, ships, and locations culled from the Jane's Information Group.

Wing Commander Deluxe, Wing Commander II: Deluxe, Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger, Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom, Wing Commander: Privateer (CD-ROM), Privateer 2: The Darkening

The Wing Commander series hardly needs any introduction. Starting as a pixel based flight sim in 1990, the series spawned a movie, spin-off franchises, and even fan-made sequels that were good enough to be approved by EA as Wing Commander canon.
The games are notable for their space opera storylines and distinct races, such as the often villianous Kilrathi (which resemble felines). Starting with Wing Commander III, the games began to make heavy use of FMV and Hollywood actors. John Rhys-Davies, Mark Hamill, Thomas F. Wilson and Malcolm McDowell all portrayed characters in the Wing Commander series while Christopher Walken, John Hurt, and Clive Owen were brought in for Privateer 2.
Arguably the most original thing to come from the series was the spinoff Privateer series, which allowed the character to be a freelancer in the Wing Commander universe and play as a pirate, a merchant, a mercenary, or any combination of the three. There is a campaign plot underlying, however the player may choose to play it at their own pace and even continue their game after the campaign is complete.


5. Action


Commander Keen, Wolfenstein, Spear of Destiny, Doom 1 - 2, Quake

Doom and DOS are practically synonymous. While some gamers previously warmed up their trigger fingers on Wolfenstein 3D, Catacomb Abyss, and their cousins, it was Doom that sold new computers. It is not a coincidence that an entire generation of gamers can recite the IDDQD mantra with their eyes closed. id didn't cut their teeth here though, they also released the wildly successful Commander Keen series prior to defining the FPS genre. And after Doom they released, arguably, the first successful polygon based FPS: Quake.
As a publisher, id also got several other successful games to market such as Heretic and Hexen. Carmack, Romero, and Hall are still (generally) fondly remembered for their impressive track record.

Caverns of Kroz, Monuments of Mars, Arctic Adventure, Paganitzu, Secret Agent, Bio Menace, Monster Bash, Duke Nukem 1 - 2

I couldn't pick just one here, even though Duke Nukem is the most famous. Starting with ASCII based adventures in the world of Kroz, Apogee stormed the shareware scene. Soon games such as Monuments of Mars, Arctic Adventure, and Paganitzu upgraded the ASCII characters to animated sprites. Before long, Secret Agent, Bio Menace, Monster Bash, and Duke Nukem himself were giving Keen a run for his money.
Seeing a new Apogee game hit the BBS scene was a big event in those days. Every kilobyte you downloaded was time, and you knew you were getting a quality game with these guys. Apogee's FPS, Rise of the Triad, was an underdog FPS that was over shadowed by the released of Duke 3D, but definitely deserves some playtime.

Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, Heretic, Hexen, Blood, Star Wars: Dark Forces

Where Doom opened the door for FPS games on the PC, Duke kicked it off it's hinges with a girl on both arms. Duke's one liners are legendary and still quoted. If Duke threatens to rip off your head and crap down your neck, well... you might want to take that literally. For many gamers, Duke was a breath of fresh air from the nameless and voiceless space marine fighting back the army of hell. Here was a full blooded action hero with enough ammo and jetpacks to fulfill his sole mission: save Earth's women.
Duke had an Asian cousin in Lo Wang who also spit out one liners while slicing foes in half with samurai sword. Technically superior to Duke 3D; Shadow Warrior was buried in an avalanche of Duke & Doom clones due to the industries move towards polygon-based games and not standing out enough from the flood of Duke & Doom clones.
The Herectic and Hexen series combines the gameplay of FPS with RPG elements, including a class based weapon system. One of my favorite FPS games of the era was Blood. It was built on Duke's 'build' engine and added some extremely unique weaponry while continuing the tradition of loner/sarcastic 90's anti-heros.
Star Wars: Dark Forces is a must mention as it marks the first really successful licensed FPS. Before Dark Forces, Star Wars fans had to settle for console platformers or pc flight sims. Now suddenly they were in the shoes of Kyle Kataran and experiencing the Star Wars universe from a whole new perspective.

Prince of Persia, Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow & The Flame

It is not a stretch to state that aside from Mario, the Prince of Persia series is one of the most influential platform games ever made. Animation like this was unheard of in 1989. From Radio Shack to Sears, this game was running on computers to show off what they were capable of. Extremely responsive controls, beautiful animations, and unforgiving gameplay (with a 60 minute timer!) define this game. Don't let the difficulty dissuade you from playing this iconic DOS game.

Mortal Kombat, One Must Fall 2097, System Shock, Raptor: Call of Shadows, Tyrian

In many cases the DOS port of Arcade titles like Mortal Kombat were, at the time, the closest thing you could get to the Arcade version. Dos exclusives like One Must Fall 2097 showed the ugly side of PC fighting, proving that keyboards were never meant for button mashing.
It is impossible to talk about DOS games without mentioning System Shock, a genre bending game that combines adventure, action, hacking, survival horror, and puzzle-solving into an experience that gamers remember and talk about nearly 20 years later.
And of course there are the amazing Shoot Em' Ups: Raptor: Call of Shadows and Tyrian stand shoulder to shoulder with their console based cousins of the time. They offered complex storylines, selectable pilots, stores full of power ups, and bosses that filled the screen. There was also an influx of gorgeous Korean shooters towards the end of the DOS era that are must play for Schmup fans.

DOSBox CPU Benchmark
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Reply 18 of 32, by MusicallyInspired

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GL1zdA wrote:

Not one Space Quest entry 🙁. Great list though. I'll forgive that oversight seeing there is more than 1 Sierra title represented.

Last edited by MusicallyInspired on 2016-05-05, 14:02. Edited 1 time in total.

Roland SC-55 Music Packs - Duke Nukem 3D, Doom, Hocus Pocus, Descent, and more.
Latest release: Heretic Music Pack (12/12/18)

Reply 19 of 32, by gerwin

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Nice list indeed, the screenshots help a lot.

You can also download a Computer Gaming World issue as PDF, like the June 1996 issue for example:
http://www.cgwmuseum.org/galleries/index.php? … 96&pub=2&id=143
On the page 202 there is the Hall of Fame (prior to 1989 and 1989-1996) and on page 206 there is the Poll with the Top 10 in each category. On page 208 there is the general Top 100 of that month.

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