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!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Retrocomputing: Why Bother? Special: Alternate Ways to Play the Game 1

Yes.  Sometimes you just want to play and enjoy a good classic computer game.

But emulation isn't your bag.  The game doesn't run on Windows 7 or 8.
(I will just laugh at OSX and Linux here.)

The game itself just.. doesn't HOLD UP to modern standards.

(WASD controls for first person gameplay or GTFO?  Yes.  Just like the bottom button on a standard four button controller layout diamond is always my KILLY BUTTON.  I don't care that Japan does it backwards with center right.  Those two buttons are like mouse buttons and are thus primary and secondary/cancel.  Anything else drives me crazy and gives me a headache.  Like the one I kind of have right now and is thus why I am posting instead of working and making dat cash money.  Except it aint caused by a sinusy type cold attack.  Or too much caffeine/withdrawals of caffeine lately.)

There are a couple of alternate solutions and we are gonna talk about them a little bit.

One of the easiest is of course Console Ports.  Yep.  In some cases many of the classic games got ported to consoles removing pesky disk or tape loads.  They usually got decent controller modes over their 1 button counterparts.  In many cases the games had better graphics and sound.  (Gods while in the US Genesis and SNES port runs a bit faster than the Amiga original adds in a full in game music score plus nice proper multibutton controls over 1 button Amiga play.)

I am gonna show an example that will work quite well as to what you can expect from a VGA DOS era game since I own the Sega CD port and recently got a boxed PC DOS CDROM copy cheap.

(As usual click for larger images.  Most of the non game images are from my iPad Air as to minimize the need for a flash.  But some clarity is still lost.)
Dungeon Master 2 will work really well here!  Both versions have things the other does not while basically being 99% the exact same game.  Obviously the PC comes in a much bigger box.

Surprisingly enough this game even supports the mouse for the Genesis which not too many other games did, allowing for almost the same control as the PC.  Though in general the Sega version wins out because it has control pad support including the 6 button controller which allows a number of actions to be macro set to the top 3 buttons.  (You see the Dungeon Master genre of RPGs are closer in some ways to an action game with RPG elements where you have to stick and move.  Pure mouse play does NOT work well for this.  Also this was in the days before WASD controls became a default and the keyboard movement is either the arrow keys or the numeric keypad.  Depending on your computer's desk setup playing games like this is super uncomfortable unless you can move said keyboard about 5 inches to the left of it's normal position.  And no, setting keys in DOSBox doesn't help much.  In fact it just makes things difficult.)

Both my games were bought used, Dungeon Master 2 around 1996 when a computer store was getting rid of it's attempts at renting out video games.  Sadly this means this sticker from a former Commodore sales and service location is basically stuck there forever.  But it does let you see how the old Sega CD and Saturn CD boxes looked.  Kind of classy in a way.

The back of the Sega CD version has an ad for one of the three official clue books made for the game.  I am also showing what the PC Jewel Case front and back look like too.

Of course the PC version also comes with this nice fold out poster map thingie and a reference card with a bit of a starting walkthrough.  It's main manual has one as well though they are both a touch different.

The PC version manual is a bit larger and the introductory story is a bit better written.  In general both manuals basically cover the same thing.  Its just the Sega version has size limits.  Its a console thing.

The PC version on the left here again shows it is a bit better than the console manual but.. they basically cover the exact same info.

However the console manual is nicer in that it tells you what a lot of the spells in the game are as opposed to having to find them in the PC port.  

Now we are seeing the games compared side by side in emulators but using my original disks.  (I have a good DOSbox setup that runs most things easy peasy for me.)  PC on left, console right.  From my research the Sega version there uses the Amiga palette so it is actually hurting itself if true.  (The main Amigas and their popular graphics modes had 32 colors on screen.  PCs of the day were 256 colors.  You can see this.  Normally the Genesis did 64 colors though the Sega CD did boost its' capabilities to some degree.)

Again, its basically the SAME THING but one is clearly better looking.

Again, PC on left, Sega on right.  Same thing but the PC version looks loads better.  From my research the Amiga version was closer in form to the original Dungeon Master whose home platform was the Atari ST which while generally on par with the Amiga was saddled with 16 colors on its most popular machines and thus normally looks inferior to most Amiga counterpart games.  Yet from my understanding DM2 here never was released on the system that it owes its' existence to.  

And one final shot from Dungeon Master 2 showing exploration.  The same info and basic graphical layout but the PC version is vastly superior.

Yet the Sega CD version has more control options to easily choose from and is a bit easier to play.

I guess the choice is yours on this one!

I just need to learn how to "get" the Dungeon Master franchise and most of its VERY popular in the UK cousin games so I can play them and enjoy them.

But you see there are plenty of ways to enjoy a lot of old computer games even if you don't want to play with old computers.  

Here are a few more for this installment as a way to inspire you to look into various platforms and games just to see what is out there.

This here is an iOS game called Silversword.  It is basically a modern game trying to be like the Bard's Tale series but with allowances for nearly 30 years of technology and game player expectations.  Automaps!  The game informing you when your characters have earned a level up or have regained magic points in the sun.  ACTUALLY TELLING YOU WHAT YOUR EQUIPMENT DOES.

You know, stuff I wanted back in 1988 when I first played Bard's Tale.
(Also graphics for male and female characters, another thing BT 1 and 2 decided we didn't need.)

I would call this a Homage/Spiritual Sequel game.  Other games in this category would be Midnight Manor which is like a modern Montezuma's Revenge except with a built in construction set, or Devil Whiskey which is another Bard's Tale styled game.  The Dark Spire on the Nintendo DS is a Wizardry styled game.

Nowadays with Kickstarter this style of game is making a big comeback.  GOG.com and Steam have plenty of games basically being unofficial sequels to the classics as well.

This here is a translation patch for two Japanese only Wizardry installments.  See many Computer RPGs were BIG IN JAPAN so they got more games over there.  So let's call this that then.  A few of them even have translation patches.

Another big one is the Source Port/Hack.  This is where a game is either ported to run on modern platforms with engine tweaks, if not having the engine entirely redone, usually allowing for modern gameplay enhancements like Sensible World of Soccer has had, allowing for online leagues and the like.  (I was the Revolution.  I am NOT a Goal Scoring Superstar Hero sadly.  I need time to learn this game.)

(Note: most of the following images I uploaded to Facebook so they are a touch reduced in image fidelity compared to if I had hosted them elsewhere.)

This here is a special case.  Not only is it a source port.  Its a source port of a console game that was a console only sequel.  Doom 64.  Yes.  Someone took the original Doom 64 game and back coded it into a Doom Sourceport.  And then later on someone else made it so you could just directly play it on it's own, but like all good Source Ports this one adds in features like improved graphics resolution and control options.  On the N64 I didn't get very far.  On the PC I have nearly completed it even giving how I am trying to avoid saving my game anywhere besides the start of the level.

But let's show a "proper" sourceport eh?

Here is stock Quake in what would have been fantastic for its time resolution.

Now?  Source Port with fan made graphical improvements all over the place.  I could have even added more if I felt like looking for and installing them all.

Vanilla again.

Source Port!

The glorious Doomsday Project sourceport running Heretic with almost all the upgrades I could find.  Heretic was basically Doom with fantasy trappings and a higher difficulty level plus inventory management.  It can abide now like the Dude.

Just download a couple handy packs, put them where the instructions tell you to, and let the front end program handle the rest!  (It just reminds me I still haven't bought Hexen which is the sequel to Heretic and I have been meaning to buy it for close to 2 decades now.  Also the Quake 1 Mission Packs.)

Of course there are others too!  Perhaps I will cover these whenever I decide to do another installment eh?

Until then, GET TO GAMING.  There are so many ways to enjoy classic computer games in all sorts of ways you are bound to find something you enjoy!

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