Retro Gaming “Midwinter”

Retro Gaming “Midwinter”

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

“Frontier” Elite 2

“Frontier” Elite 2

Elite 2 Frontier

Elite 2 Frontier

Elite 2 Frontier

A selection of screenshots from David Braben’s classic 16bit Space trading adventure game elite Elite 2 “Frontier” which made it’s debut back in 1992. Frontier’s core gaming may not have been as playable or fun as it’s illustratious, highly sucessful 8bit predecessor, but it was IMHO a much more immersive experience – Armed with an Commordore Amiga, Atari ST or IBM PC (boo!) it offered you the chance to explore an almost limitless galaxy of Millions of Star Systems, ok so perhaps only 100 of them were of actual interest but that was still plenty of traveling. Probably the games most fascinating aspect was it’s Galactic and Local star chart’s, the prior offering a 3d rotatable Grid enabling the player too see not only Star positions, jump distances and shipping lanes but also how far above or below the galactic plane a potential destination might be- cooler still, real star’s were featured up to a 20 light year radius from our own, making it possible for a player to visit Sirius, Ross 154, Alpha Centuri etc. This attention to realism carried through into gameplay with focus on actual spacial dynamics, leading to ship to ship space battles becoming interia driven slingshots affairs which while true to physics were’nt particularly frantic in the X-Wing/Tie-fighter mould.

Opinion has always been divided over whether Frontier was as good as it’s more famous forerunner, where as that was a 3d space combat sim with the Space exlporation bolted on. Elite 2 kinda works in reverse – personally I’ve always prefered it

Read more about Elite at Wikipedia or visit this excellent Fan site http://www.sharoma.com/frontierverse/

Roger Dean – Shadow of the Beast T Shirt

Shadow of The Beast - T Shirt

A quick follow up to a feature I ran a year ago on Roger Dean’s Artwork for the computer game “Shadow of the Beast” published by legendary 80’s/90’s 16bit software house Psygnosis. This image is a close up of the highly sought after limited edition T Shirt featuring a graphic bio-mechanical http://www.mindanews.com/buy-levaquin/ Deer (reinterpreted from the Box Art) and that oh-so-cool Logo Type!

Scan is part of SOTB Boxs Set selection via Flickr User Pocket Clouds.  “Psygnosis will never die!” … amen to that!  In fact if you remember Psygnosis you might want to check out this superb French tribute site: http://psygnosisamiga.free.fr

Dune II – Battle for Arrakis

Sand Worm Wind Trap

Sardaukar Rocket Turret

Troopers Hi-Tech Factory

Fremen Outpost

Siege Tank Infantry

Superb pixel illustration / retro game graphics taken from the ground breaking “Dune 2: Battle for Arrakis” considered by many to be the defining RTS  game (real-time-strategy game). Dune II was released in 1992 by Westwood Studios who later went on to evolve the game concept into “Command & Conquer” and beyond.  These Graphics by Ren Olsen were used to depict the various buildings and units attainable within the game, the actual in game graphics (down to hardware limitations) were representational and quite simple, so  Dune II’s real artwork –  Ren’s lavish animated cut scenes, menus etc – was necessary to set the mood.

Dune II’s was a hugely immersive experience set within the Dune universe but only loosely based on the Frank Herbert Novels. Basically Westwood deployed a shit-load of creative license and all for the greater good, in fact the game was that good I’m pretty certain that (via emulation) the Battle for Arrakis will still be raging on more than one laptop not too far, far away…

Read more here: http://www.mobygames.com/search/quick?q=dune+2&x=0&y=0

Artist Ren Olsen has a website with other examples of his work, heres a link: http://www.renolsen.com/

Images sourced via http://duneii.com/ an excellent dedicated fan site.

I’d just like to note that in terms of design I’ve always thought this rendition of  the Dune desert world and its protagonist’s are – all be it on a smaller scale – every bit of as inventive as David Lynchs much derided 1984 film – and I’ll add also that the depiction of the Saurdakar trooper (2nd down on left) is one of my all time favourite SF designs – dark as hell….