A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Game Collection: Hobby Games Gone Computer

Yes.  My grand project continues!  As this blog is primarily about hobby gaming, one would think I would have many of the translations of hobby games that were brought over to the various electronic systems out there.

And I do.

But one machine had more hobby games than any other.


I guess computer gamers were a better and more receptive market for these sorts of games, and developers who might like to make such titles are also the sort that would play them more often, especially in the 80s and early 90s where much of the console development was taking place in Japan whose hobby game market is absurdly small and unconnected.

(Earlier consoles couldn't exactly do anything resembling a proper go of a classic hobby game.  Look at the Intellivision AD&D games.  Take the name off the box and you really can't tell what it is at all!)

And since my hobby games on console machines and portables will show up during said collection posts, the mighty computer platform gets it as a subgenre all to itself.  (Which also helps make my massive PC game collection a bit less massive in scope.  My living room is covered in boxes waiting to be photographed but even with the hobby games translations removed it is DAUNTING.)

Let's start with Battletech!  Crescent Hawk's Inception was one of the earliest Battletech computer games and one of Infocom's first non text adventure titles.  Made by Westwood Studios (they of the lazy Order of the Griffon D&D game on the TG 16 infamy) it is sloppy, lazy, and a bit of a failure that could have been good.  Battletech Powerhits contains this game alongside its RTS sequel (Crescent Hawk's Revenge.  It.. isn't very good.), and the first Mechwarrior game in glorious 16 color EGA.  Mechwarrior 2 is where the Battletech universe got made popular and the real birth of the Mech Sim subgenre.  I also have the cluebook, and the expansion pack.  Mechwarrior 2 Mercenaries was a standalone sequel that didn't involve playing a Clan Mechwarrior.  Mechwarrior 3 is another VS Clans game and not very good at all in my opinion.  The Gold Edition also contained the super rare expansion pack.

Activision ended up losing the BT rights to Microsoft who basically owns Battletech's IP now.  They made Mechwarrior 4 which was good, the Black Knight expansion which had an absolutely terrible story that turned all your party from 4 into cartoonishly evil villains, and their own Mercenary stand alone which was AMAZING and I have replayed it a ton.  They also made 2 mech packs for multiplayer games and a little use in the solo campaign.  (Other one in my BT megapost series.)  Mechcommander (Gold) was a RTS game based around controlling small unit tactics instead of the Command & Conquer/Warcraft style of base building.  Mechcommander 2 is the sequel.  I enjoyed both.

The Mech 3 Expansion and Mech 4 cluebooks I got cheap.  Mage Knight Apocalypse is an action RPG I got cheap just for the collection.  Magic Battlegrounds was a really interesting action strategy title.  The Microprose Magic game and expansion was an attempt to mesh an RPG with classic Magic the Gathering and almost succeeded given the tech of the era.  Heavy Gear 2 is a mech sim based on the hobby game and is the series Activision tried to use when they lost the BT rights.  It only got two titles so I guess we see how well that worked out.

Alone in the Dark & Prisoner of Ice are adventure games (the former being really the first Survival Horror game as we now know it) based on Call of Cthulhu.  Starfleet Command & 2: Empires at War are real time translations of the Starfleet Battles game but with a closer connection to normal Star Trek lore.  (3 is changed enough to not really be SFB at all.)  Ticket to Ride is the legendary boardgame with multiplayer options.  Realms of Arkania 1 and Drakensang are based off of the huge in Germany RPG series called The Dark Eye in English.  King of Dragon Pass is based on the Glorantha setting used in a number of RPGs and board games, Runequest being the most popular.  The GURPS Character Assistant is a character generator for GURPS.  That I no longer have as I traded it off for more Battletech stuff.

Now for Games Workshop translations!
Space Crusade is a near perfect to rules conversion of the not released in the UK Warhammer 40K game that was equivalent to Hero Quest.  Space Hulk however is a real time version of that game and suffers for it.  (As does the sequel below it.)  Final Liberation used the Epic scale without using any of the actual Epic rule sets.  Quite good even if it never got the planned expansions.  Rites of War was basically Panzer General's engine but you play the Eldar primarily.  Chaos Gate is sort of like X Com but you play Ultramarines fighting Chaos without the base building stuff.  Space Marine is a quite fun third person action game.  Sadly you play an Ultramarine in the solo campaign.

The Dawn of War RTS series!  1 and expansions are more of a traditional RTS game whereas 2 is more of a real time RPG where you control small units you upgrade and advance.  I enjoy both of them, though Dark Crusade and Retribution have the best campaigns as I can play Chaos all the way through a campaign.

Shadow of the Horned Rat & Dark Omen were early RTS games where there was no base building involved ala Dawn of War 2, Mechcommander, and Crescent Hawk's Revenge.  However they were both unfairly hard.  The basic design would lead into the Total War franchise though.  Hero Quest was.. Hero Quest but on a computer.  The original Blood Bowl was a poor translation of the tabletop game, being limited as hell with even a single sprite for every player on your team and no expansion rules content.  Mark of Chaos and its expansion were more modern and more enjoyable takes on the Horned Rat style of game.  Warhammer Online is World of Warcraft in the WHFB universe.  The new Blood Bowl and the Legendary Edition (Purchased at a discount online for owning original Dark Elf version so its just a DL file.) are better but not perfect versions of Blood Bowl as it really should have been the first time around.

Of course one franchise owned the computer game space more than any other:
Eye of the Beholder 1-3 are good overall Dungeon Master clones.  Dungeon Hack takes the same engine and turns the real time first person dungeon crawl into a single player randomly generated roguelike.  Shadow Sorcerer is an odd isometric real time game using the Dragonlance original trilogy novel setting.  The Gold Box series is the legendary turn based AD&D 1st ed rules RPG, with Unlimited Adventures being a Do It Yourself maker.  That was somewhat limited in comparison to the 9 Gold Box titles...

D&D Stronghold is a weird real time kingdom simulator, the Core Rules is an awesome tool for AD&D 2nd ed campaigns with all sorts of neato stuff.  Masterpiece Collection contains multiple late DOS era D&D games.  Ravenloft series/engine, Dark Sun, the Al Quadim action RPG..  a good little value.  So much has been said of the Infinity Engine real time series I don't need to repeat it.  Daggerdale is a poor action RPG I only got because it was cheap.

And we finish it up with the modern era.  And the sought after Dragon Magazine Archives with the first 250 issues of that magazine on PDF.  Plus my original editions of Baldur's Gate 2, Icewind Dale 2, the turn based but flawed Temple of Elemental Evil, the real time Neverwinter Nights series, and the collection of it including the few expansions I missed out on.

Of course as always there are new pickups here and there, which given my wont tend to show up next to other games so just ignore those for the new hobby game titles:

These were a couple pickups I got from either the same seller, or around the same time frame.  The D&D Starter kit is both 3.5 inch floppy editions of the low level AD&D Gold Box games AND their clue books all original and complete.  I do not have Heavy Gear 1 as of yet but it and the Icewind Dale book were so super cheap I had to grab it.  (In my collection aims I try to get the clue books as well as the game.  I don't care as much for original packaging but I do want the manuals and stuff.)  The Ultimate Fantasy was another cheapie hook up that I primarily bought to have Fantasy Empires but getting legit CD versions of a couple games I already have does not hurt given how floppies tend to die.  (And the papers make the copy protection easier to get through.  While still having my original manuals for gameplay use.)

Sadly this AD&D pack is from Wizard Works and isn't as rad as the SSI collection.  While it is the original games there are no cluebooks included.  However they are also older games now on 3.5 disk which at least helps me put them on the original machine.  They each have their own manuals but they seem to be shrunk in dimensions and have the command summary cards combined with the manual.  Curious.  Renegade Legion Interceptor is a proper turn based version of FASA's "Machine Sheet" wargame that is even MORE spergy than Battletech (armor is now in blocks.  Weapons do different damage to the blocks.  Some a direct line internal.  Others melt like a divot into it.  Some dig in and expand.  Others peel off the top.  Yeah.) but works great in a computer version.  Sadly they never made the capital ship or tank game in computer format.

(Tell me this isnt the BEST ad for a game ever: )

One thing I have noted over the years is many of these translations didn't use the rulesets or for some reason took a turn based ruleset and made them real time.  I never understood why as it rarely translates properly.  I understand wanting to get the most people playing but.. the license is supposed to be for that product.  Why make something turn based real time?  Is it to get those people who won't play anything that isn't constantly moving?  Am I just that messed up and slow thoughtful games are just for losers?

I don't know.

Anyhow there are plenty of games left to buy both console AND computer plus a couple hand held titles.
(Let's not even start on the digital only titles.  One of the reasons I bought an iPad Air was to play Eclipse.)

There is this little mini post I am working on where I explain the basics of how to continue a retro collection without breaking the bank or screwing yourself over in glorious consumer whore-y bliss.  One of the parts of it that I will like even if I decide the main subject is too preachy is where I list the TOP X titles I want and why.  Since Hobby Games Gone Computer is sort of a sub collecting hobby of mine I may as well just list my top 5 future purchases for both computer and console here.

See part of this post I may or may not make in its current format says it is good to have goals to search for so these sorts of lists can keep you on some sort of track as opposed to running around like a chicken with your head cut off spraying blood all over the place.  So knowing WHAT I want most will help me get it in some reasonable timeframe.


1: Tunnels & Trolls: Crusaders of Khazan: http://www.mobygames.com/game/tunnels-trolls-crusaders-of-khazan

I am a big fan of the tabletop Tunnels & Trolls game.  Of course I want the computer version!  Hell, I did the Kickstarter for the next edition of the RPG.

2:  War of the Lance:  http://www.mobygames.com/game/war-of-the-lance

It is a conversion of a long out of print and expensive D&D module.  Where you get to basically fight out the War of the Lance from the Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy.  I had it on the Commodore 64 back in the day.  I loved the Chronicles books as a teenager so it is also out of nostalgia.  And I do love me some massive turn based wargaming.

3:  Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor:  http://www.mobygames.com/game/pool-of-radiance-ruins-of-myth-drannor

The infamous game that is both known for playing badly AND messing up your C: drive if you uninstall it from the wrong place.  There is a jewel case version that proclaims it is patched and a lot better.  Also I have done some looking.  It is pretty damned cheap overall.  Its just a matter of getting the jewel case 1.3 edition version so I can actually play it for myself!

4:  Space 1889: http://www.mobygames.com/game/space-1889

It might be one of the first steampunk computer games.  Based off one of the first steampunk RPGs.  (Which I do not own.  I do however have the more fanciful but less gamey Castle Falkenstein.) From like 1990 or so.  Before everyone thought it was cool to hate the genre.  (Ok its mostly SA Goons who seem to despise it.)  For King and Country!  Fight the good fight for England!  Cool.

5:  Twilight 2000:  http://www.mobygames.com/game/twilight-2000

Its from an RPG I DO own.  Its basically post WW3.  While widespread nuclear war never happened lots of chaos did erupt and it is 80s as hell.  The default setting is the PCs being part of the US army in Eastern Europe.  US command basically says "War is pretty much over.  Y'all are on your own get back home any way you can".  Its basically a sandbox in a setting somewhat less miserable than The Day After.

Honorable Mentions: Megatraveller 1-2, the Renegade Legion Space Fighter games, Spelljammer, Descent to Undermountain, Birthright, Nuclear War, Heavy Gear, Buck Rogers 2, Dragonstrike, Crimson Skies, the Drakensang expansion, Realms of Arkania 2 and 3, Skyrealms of Jorune.

Console:  Console hobby games gone electronic are not as common but sadly tend to cost more given how consoles are more popular regardless of quality.  And sadly more hobby games on consoles become barely connected gameplay wise to the source material.  I just don't get it.  But when DO I?

1:  Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance 2:  http://www.mobygames.com/game/baldurs-gate-dark-alliance-ii

It is another of the genre that won't die: ACTION RPGs.  You know the kind.  Run through dungeons killing tons of critters Diablo style.  I enjoyed the original but this one tends to go for a bit more than I really want to pay for what it is.  And like half the hobby games gone electronic I want for console tend to be this sort of game.

2:  Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (Cloudy Mountain):  http://www.mobygames.com/game/advanced-dungeons-dragons-cartridge

This is the FIRST official D&D video game.  It barely resembles D&D in any way.  It is ok and generally cheap since the Intellivision isn't usually a sought after machine for gamers or nostalgics.

3:  Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun:  http://www.mobygames.com/game/dungeons-dragons-warriors-of-the-eternal-sun

Its an original D&D game that is sort of the sister to the Turbografx 16 one.  Like it this title tends to share some art assets with other Westwood/SSI D&D games but it is more a hybrid game with Eye of the Beholder style real time dungeons and top down turn based combat and exploration in the overworld.

4:  Buck Rogers Countdown to Doomsday:  http://www.mobygames.com/game/buck-rogers-countdown-to-doomsday_

Its an SSI Gold Box game.  Only sci fi!  And uses a version of AD&D that TSR modified for the first more "serious" Buck Rogers RPG and universe setting that didn't take off because nobody cared about Buck Rogers in the late 80s and early 90s for any reason.  (Outside of people who hit puberty when the late 70s show was on.  And that had more to do with a future Silver Spoons cast member in tight clothing than anything else.)  While it is apparently a bit cut down from the computer version it removes the first person exploration for third person and anything I do not have to map is GOOD.

5:  Dragonstrike:  http://www.mobygames.com/game/nes/dragonstrike_

One thing that ticks me off is when the console and computer editions are not just tweaks of each other, but entirely different games.  If the Commodore 64 could handle the first person dragon flight combat, how come the NES couldn't?  Did they just decide the effort was worth making dumber games for the masses?  Could they not afford whatever memory mapper chips the cartridge would require?  It is a mystery.  One of many mysteries involving how the supposedly superior NES just couldn't handle games from the Commodore 64.  (And honestly sometimes vice versa.)  Computer ports just never seemed to fare well on the NES even if they became VASTLY more famous here.  (Wizardry, Ultima 3, Three Stooges, Skate or Die, Shadowgate, Maniac Mansion.. just to name a few!)

Honorable Mentions:  D&D Slayer, D&D Deathkeep, Iron & Blood Warriors of Ravenloft (one of the worst fighting games ever made next to that PS1 Star Wars game), D&D Heroes, Forgotten Realms Demonstone, Car Wars (Only sort of counts), Shadowrun SNES and Xbox 360 (terrible but there), Mage Knight on the DS.


Monty said...

Great post! For me, PC and now console games are a perfect compliment to painting stuff and traditional wargames. Some of the examples you listed are excellent games and not to be shirked at ;)
Must admit though, I did own the Space Crusade board game here in England many moons ago...:S

Monty said...

Great post! For me, PC and now console games are a perfect compliment to painting stuff and traditional wargames. Some of the examples you listed are excellent games and not to be shirked at ;)
Must admit though, I did own the Space Crusade board game here in England many moons ago...:S


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