Sci-Fi-O-Rama

Retro Gaming “Midwinter”

Sep 7th, 2009 | Categories: Computer Game | Sci-Fi

Midwinter

Midwinter Game

Midwinter Game

Midwinter Game

Midwinter Game

Midwinter Game

Midwinter Game

Ok so I thought I’d kick off September with another retro game feature; this time focusing on Mike Singleton’s supremely ambitious first-person action/strategy classic “Midwinter” – published by Microplay/Rainbird for Amiga/ST/DOS way back in 1989.n.

Though groundbreaking it’s vast scope and initial slight complexity curve ensured Midwinter probably reached a smaller audience than it deserved to, those that persevered would find themselves sucked into an enthralling mid-21st century Guerrilla War spanning across a vast playing area of over 160,000 square miles – completely unheard of for that time…

Midwinter’s environmental catastrophe based plot was great too; in the early 21st Century the Earth has cooled drastically after a devastating asteroid impact, billions have died with massive food shortages – with onset of a cataclysmic new ice age, arable farmland has been transformed into frozen wastes with humanity standing on the brink of absolute destruction.  As the last throws of civilisation tears itself apart a few thousand survivors make a intrepid voyage, to reach an isolated new land mass and start again, where once were The Azores.

Fast forward 30 years and though the environment is still as harsh as ever the colony has eventually flourished – 4000 inhabitants spread across a network of small settlements, with Geothermal Heat Mines generating power and Synthesis plants and Factories provided the food and goods…. life is hard but good, and all is peaceful… that is until the arrival of General Masters and his army….

Midwinter’s actual gameplay involves traversing the 3d solid vector landscape, this is done via Ski’s, Snow Buggy, Hand-Glider or Cable Car.  Starting off with one character you must cross the gloomy wastes, seek out and recruit other members in order to quickly mobilise an effective resistance (you can manage up to 32 different characters each with different skills/attributes). Once you’ve started to build your small army you can plot your strategy – decide to engage enemy patrols head on, ambush enemy fuel tankers? or adopt a scorched earth policy to slow there progress…. Yes the game went on for hours and hours, and there were many ways to either loose or complete it…

Although the 3d graphics may look crude today Midwinter contained many innovations for it’s time including first-person-sniping! plus directional audio; you could track an attacking vehicles position as your character turned left and right! Also extremely cool was the games GUI which featured loads of great descriptive icons, character portraits, and location backdrops, all really adding to the atmosphere…

Anyway so there you go… if you’ve never heard of Midwinter, and lets face it 20 years on there’s a fairly good chance you haven’t – you may wonder what all the fuss is about…. Well IMHO you’ve missed out!

if ever there was a game that deserves a contemporary remake then this is it – truly, truly amazing stuff!

To read more about Midwinter try:
mobygames.com: http://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/midwinter
wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midwinter_%28video_game%29

Images via http://www.mobygames.com

Comments 9

  1. I’ve never heard of Midwinter, but your description of it reminds me a lot of Arctic Baron. Have you ever played that?

  2. Kie says:

    Aah Yeah that’s also known as “Transartica” I posted the cover art on the Blog right back at the start !

    http://www.sci-fi-o-rama.com/2008/08/29/rodney-matthews-transarctica/

    I’ve never really played it as it game out in more the A1200 age of Amiga Gaming… I have read a fair bit about it and had a look on UAE …. looks cool, but then it’s French, so that’s pretty much a given! :)

  3. corbu says:

    oh man, i love that primitive 3D stuff. reminds me of the DOS terminator game.
    i don’t even want a remake, i want to be able to play the old one on my laptop.

  4. Kie says:

    I know what you mean, they do have a charm….
    never played the Dos terminator game, this is it?

    http://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/terminator

    reminds me of Robocop 3

    http://www.mobygames.com/game/robocop-3_/screenshots

  5. Helm says:

    I really enjoy a lot of early vector 3d where flats could be approached at any zoom and the ‘platonic’ dimensions would not be betrayed by messy pixellated (or even worse, pixellated-then-filtered) textures. The resolution is practically infinite, and even the dithered sides of the items retain their fine grain at zoom (I mean in-engine, not in the screenshots) because the dither is not a texture, it’s an interpolaration by the software to convey a mid-tone.

    The moment game 3d technology made the jump from flatshaded vectors to textured stuff we went into a sort of ‘dark age’ and it took them quite a while until textures were being beneficial and not detrimental to the aesthetics of the work. There is something to be said about relations between the ‘atom’ of a pixel art piece (namely the pixel) and the ‘atom’ of the vector piece (the linearly contoured shapes) and how if the pixels are too large they betray the linear shapes, if the pixels are fine enough they’re no longer visibly pixels. Vector art (and such early flatshaded games like Midwinter) sit on the far side of the range and for that they are memorable, whereas generic 3d shooters only 2 or 3 years after Midwinter, whereas technically more advanced, do not.

  6. Poker says:

    I like poker. I like it online. I think the samurai’s would win.

  7. [...] ‘Midwinter’. I actually covered the back story and game mechanics in depth a few years back, today the focus is the virtual world itself . This long forgotten classic (23 years old!) featured [...]

  8. Rico says:

    I can not tell you how many hours of my childhood were spent playing this AMAZING game. Believe there was talk a few years ago to remake this.

  9. Dan says:

    A great nostalgia trip, thanks! I spent too many hours as a kid playing Midwinter. There is a remake in the pipeline, and it’s looking good.

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