Prince of Persia
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I played through Tyrian about a year back. With it being open source, I actually played this on an OpenPandora where it’s had a full port and runs perfectly. I’m assuming it plays the same as the original DOS version.
It’s long enough ago for the details to be fuzzy so I can’t give a detailed review or anything. General impressions were that it’s a fun and graphically varied shooter. One of the best on the PC at the time it came out but there wasn’t a huge amount of competition. I definitely liked the fact that you have a shield and don’t die in one hit like so many other shooters. The number of weapons available is impressive and the number of different enemies, levels and secrets crammed into the game.
The messages that you can pick up and the storyline are mildly amusing but throwaway. Plot isn’t exactly a neccessity in a shooter so it’s a bonus that it’s there at all really. It does feel a bit cheap that it’s all done through text and some tiny portraits. This isn’t exactly Wing Commander IV in terms of cutscenes.
Where the game mainly falls down for me is that it just seemed to be lacking a creative spark and I wasn’t won over by the level design. It’s highly generic in many ways. I’ve only played a handful of shmups in recent years so I’ve tended to seek out the big name stuff like Radiant Silvergun or Tatsujin Oh. This doesn’t have the wow factor of either of those two for me and it’s amazing how little I can remember about it now in all honesty. It clearly didn’t make much lasting impression on me.
It’s a lot fairer to the player on the other hand than those other shmups. Being able to tackle one level at a time is much less repetitive. The recharging shield is way more forgiving and gives the whole thing quite a different vibe. I suppose Tyrian wants the player to have less frustration and more fun than your typical shmup which may explain the strange humour throughout. It didn’t entirely work for me and I certainly liked Tyrian but didn’t love it. I’d place it a bit higher than Death Rally from last month but still relatively middling, maybe a 65-70% rating.
I just about recall playing this from a demo CD when it first came out. The graphics did impress but it wasn’t even close to persuading me to buy the full version. This was roughly my usual experience with the shareware model at the time. If every £4 magazine had enough demos in to keep you busy for most of the month, why bother buying anything? And if you did buy a game, why make it one where you’ve already played 1/3 of it for free? Even ignoring those hurdles, there were usually much bigger and grander games available for similar money and I went for those instead. I imagine this wasn’t just me as there is a reason why boxed shareware games are often so rare and expensive these days. The easy piracy didn’t help either of course.
The UK mags would tend to review near enough everything that had a full release even if it only got a few lines at the back of the magazine. I reckon shareware was still seen as second class and more something to fill up those demo CD’s with. It’s probably a hangup from before it got professional with the likes of Id and Epic. They would sometimes have a separate shareware section but it would be brief considering just how much was being churned out.
Carmageddon came out in February as well which would have been only a month or two after this review. UK magazines weren’t always the best place for a balanced opinion in the 90’s if you ask me. I guess I can see where the reviewer was coming from but it was only a budget game after all.
I wouldn’t say expert but I’ve certainly spent way too long playing dos games over the years. You can add at least another hour from the night before so maybe 4-5 hours total. It’s not that hard a game as there isn’t much new to learn once you get going.
My initial thoughts on Death Rally are going to also be my last thoughts as I ended up finishing it in a marathon 3 hour session last night. I certainly hadn’t intended to play for that long so it’s definitely got an addictive quality.
The game is a sort of RPG/racing hybrid if you ask me. It’s more important to always be making money than actually winning races so it’s very much about grinding away for cash to get the best car. What car you are driving and a high degree of luck has way more impact on whether you win a race than driving skill. The opening sections were quite tough though as it’s tricky to compete with the basic car at the start of the game and you are still learning the ropes.
I didn’t especially like the actual racing mechanics. The cars handling isn’t all that satisfying as racing line, conservation of speed and the like don’t seem to play any part whatsoever. The cars don’t really drift either which would have added a bit more skill to things. The racing comes to little more than not touching the sides and using your turbo at the right times. I never used my brakes once in the entire game. As far as the combat aspect, the cars get more and more expensive to repair and the only way to play the game is to hang back at the start while everyone blasts through all their ammo in the first half a lap. This just feels a little broken. Also, I found I never bought anything from the underground garage as it wasn’t worth spending the cash when you were always trying to save up for the next car.
The hardest part of the game is transitioning from the medium to the hard races. I hadn’t really noticed up until this point that there is a scramble for which driver goes into which race. This is where the dumb luck comes in. I found I could earn good cash in the hard races but if I ended up against the best drivers in much quicker cars on a fast track, they would lap me every time and I’d get nothing. Basically, it comes down to saving your game, entering the hard race and if you get the wrong drivers or track, load up your game and try again. You simply can’t compete until you get a good enough car.
I didn’t realise it until it happened but apparently the aim of the game is to get to the top of the leaderboard at which point you face “The Adversary” in a one off 9 lap race. This guy is in a quicker car than you are so winning this race is not easy. I tried about 5 times until he ended up stuck on a wall and I just about held the lead until the end at which point you win the game.
Graphics were nice enough for the era but nothing too special. The same goes for the music. My general thoughts on Death Rally are that it’s fairly average and a little bland. I know other people love it but I’m just not seeing it. I’d much rather have been playing Micro Machines if I wanted this sort of racing game or if you want a car combat RPG, something like Autoduel has way more going for it. I should say this isn’t the sort of game I would usually play so I’m not really the target audience. It was still a whole lot better than Nitemare 3D.
I got off to a running start which certainly helped. I’d already put about 5 hours in on the 1st of the month which was nearly enough to max out my ship and crew. Since the game after that mainly relies on knowledge, it’s fairly easy to speed things along with judicious use of saved games.
I don’t reckon Starflight is particularly tough in all honesty especially for the era. Compared to Wizardry or Might and Magic, I’d go as far as to call it forgiving. There seem to be several ways to find some of the clues and farming minerals/endurium was never difficult even when close to Arth. The aliens gave enough hints to get me to the end of the game, I don’t recall ever having to entirely chance upon anything. The hardest part of the game by far was at the start where I was still trying to figure out how everything worked.
Pooling resources might not be a bad idea. I could certainly offer hints but I’m trying not to give anything away. If you know where you are going, I expect it could be completed in about 15-30 minutes once you have the ship upgraded. I’d hate to be the only one to see the ending at any rate.
The version I’m playing came on 2 5.25’s but I have obviously installed it to hard disk. I guess if you are saving the data along with the planets themselves, it still works when split across a couple of disks.
There is a whole lot of game for so little data. I’ve started following the plot now. I won’t give too much away here but the clue that vede mentioned does point you toward somewhere else to go via a message in a ruin. I didn’t get all that far into that particular quest but ran into others when talking to some aliens who intercepted me along the way. The conversation system isn’t massively complicated but the aliens are really chatty once you get them started. There is way, way more text than I expected. A lot of it appears to just be for atmosphere/background but there are loads of clues to places to explore in there as well. This part of the game seems to be like one big treasure hunt.
I’ve just spent a big chunk of my bank holiday Monday playing Starflight. Far longer than intended in fact so it clearly has that addictive quality.
You definitely need to read the manual on this one. There is no indication as to what you are supposed to be doing in the game itself. Actually, I’ve been playing for hours and I’m still not sure myself. The only real brief is to boldly explore the galaxy. I figured I should treat it like an RPG and start out sticking close to home to earn money and beef up my ship and crew. I’ve spent my time mining minerals on planets and doing a tiny bit of exploring. I’ve yet to meet any alien life forms friendly or hostile.
What I’ve seen so far doesn’t really resemble an RPG as there has been hardly any combat. It’s seems to be more about exploring all the planets and driving the little vehicle around trying to find minerals or alien ruins. There is certainly no shortage of planets to be going at and the universe makes Elite look small. I’ve raked in a decent amount of cash through mining. I think I’ll save a bit more up for some lasers then head out further afield.
Considering how repetitive it is, I should be getting bored with the gameplay. I’m not sure why but I’m finding the mineral mining and learning how the game works strangely compelling. I am catching up on podcasts at the same time but I’m really liking this so far. I could see myself losing a whole lot of free time to Starflight this April.
Some advice for anyone playing this. The save game system is seriously old school. The game doesn’t have any data files but essentially has an executable for each of the 5.25 floppies it came on. As you play, these executables are updated with the current state of the universe. The one and only savegame you get is apparently also stored in these executables and needs to agree with the universe state. The result of all this is that if you die in the game or want to load a savegame having cocked up, you can’t since the two states will vary. The hd installation from the two floppies actually creates two directories and you are supposed to manually copy the entire game into the save directory every time you save, then copy it back again if you want to load your game.
If that sounds bad enough, anyone playing this on a floppy disk originally would presumably have to copy their disks every single time they saved their game. At least it’s nice and quick on a hard disk.
I’ve played my way through the rest of the 87 levels over the last few days. It got a whole lot tougher so the second half took way longer than the first. It’s not a long game but was probably about right to not outstay it’s welcome. There was nothing new really, just more of the same so there isn’t much to add to what everyone has already said.
I wouldn’t say there was much consistency with the difficulty. Some of the later levels can be done in no time with others taking me ages to figure out. No matter how tough it got, I always found it less frustrating than Lemmings which would maybe have been the main competition at the time. It’s the fact you can quickly change things and try things out with no real penalties.
I liked the game a lot. Not enough to put it in the classic category but close. There is a slight lack of variety and the puzzles can be hit and miss. I expect the sequels improved on both of these aspects so I’ll certainly be giving them a go at some point.
I have played TIM a few years back so not sure if this counts as first impressions. At any rate, I had about an hour on it last night and it still a fresh experience going back. It seems like there is a single solution in mind with every puzzle which could be problematic if you don’t grasp the intention of the designer. It picks up in the later levels where things can get a bit more chaotic and I’m sure some of my solutions weren’t entirely the ones intended.
I actually like the pixel perfect nature of some of the puzzles. None of the solutions take more than a few seconds to run and making little adjustments and setting the machine off again to see what difference it makes can be more entertaining than building them in the first place. I’m sure my PII is running the game faster than intended having said that. If I was at the original speed, I might not feel the same.
I quite like the music as well. It’s kind of upbeat and quirky and reminds me of the Willy Beamish soundtrack a lot of the time. Can’t say I’ve checked if it’s the same composer.
The interface could use a little refinement. I don’t like having to flick through the lists of components so much when there are loads for a given puzzle. It’s crying out for a scroll bar with mouse wheel support. Assuming it doesn’t actually remember where I’m up to when I restart the game, I could seriously live without the long level code to type in to pick up my progress. Other than that, this is holding up really well for such an old game.
I’ve got the opposite concern that there possibly aren’t enough levels. The box says there are “over 75 levels” which means 80 if I recall correctly. I got through 41 last night so at that rate I might finish it with another go. I can’t say I remember the individual puzzles but maybe the solutions are buried in there somewhere and speeding up progress. I’m curious to know how other people are getting on. The expansion pack added another 80 levels but I don’t actually own that one.
I’ve spent a lazy Saturday morning playing a whole lot more and it’s definitely grown on me. It’s either getting easier or I’m getting the hang of the controls and stange combat style you have to adopt (probably the latter). The better weapons definitely help and some of the levels have had much reduced enemy counts with more focus on exploring.
I had noticed the little pixel on the eyeball for spotting secrets although I’m just going around hugging walls and clicking all the time as it’s quicker. That pixel doesn’t light up for the walls you have to shoot either but I eventually noticed that these always have a slightly different texture. Once you know to look for these it’s obvious but it took me long enough to spot it.
The later levels have started introducing boxes and gravestones which can be pushed around. There have been some sneaky puzzles involving walls you have to shoot at distance from one side to clear a path so you can then push a gravestone from the other. There is certainly more brainpower required than Wolfenstein 3D anyway. You can quite easily make some of the levels unwinnable so I recommend keeping a spare save file for the start of each level just in case.
Now I’ve got into it, I reckon I may actually be enjoying this more than if I were to go back to Wolfenstein. It seems to me like you need to adopt a slightly different mindset to play one of these oldschool FPS titles. I’m probably getting too used to being guided around on rails.
I’m halfway through episode 2 now. This has ramped up the difficulty with far more enemies in one area at a time. There are lots of human enemies in this second part who are barely damaged at all by the wand at the middle difficulty so I’m having to make sure I have the right weapon all the time. If I hadn’t played episode 1 first I probably wouldn’t be able to get anywhere in this but I’m making steady progress.
The only place I could find to buy the full game was direct from the author at http://www.dgray.com/n3dpage.htm. It’s slightly steep considering the age of the game at $12 which gets you Windows and Dos versions. The Windows version won’t actually run on Windows 10 but the installer does work and dumps the DOS versions in the installation folder.
I’m also playing this for the first time not having run across it before now. I don’t think we should be that unkind about the graphics/engine. This only came out in April 94, a few months after Doom. There were still Wolfenstein-like commercial games coming out around then like Corridor 7 and this doesn’t look all that much worse to me. I can’t say I bought any of them at the time mind you when I had Doom to play instead.
I definitely agree on this being hard. I’ve gone for the middle difficulty level and those women in white who float around the place can take half my health in a single hit. The enemies appear to be able to shoot through walls at times which isn’t helping. The only way to get through plenty of sections is knowing where the enemies are in advance requiring constant saving. I notice that the damage done/received drops massively depending how far you are away so a tactic that sort of works without using too much ammo is kamikaze runs straight at enemies since they can’t shoot back while you are hitting them. I can’t say I’m too struck with the combat. There is none of the satisfaction that comes with a decent shooter.
A big part of that is the controls are somewhat infuriating. I’m playing this on real hardware so keyboard mapping is out. Just playing with keyboard is ok but the turns are too inaccurate for me to hit often enough. This means using the mouse which conveniently has the right mouse button for strafe/open door. This should be fine except it only switches on strafe when you move the mouse side to side, not pressing left/right on the keyboard. Maybe if I play this for long enough I’ll get used to it but right now I’m getting by without any strafing. Even if I could strafe all the enemy attacks appear to be instantaneous so I couldn’t dodge them either way.
The instructions talk about this game having puzzles. The only puzzles I’m finding are the usual find the keys and the ridiculous number of secret doors/walls. I wandered around forever before I found a section of wall I was supposed to shoot on level 3. The levels are huge to have to find these sorts of secrets to progress.
I can’t say this game is entirely awful but it’s really not winning me over so far. I’ve only done the 3 levels though and will stick with it.
There are loads of great suggestions here. Not enough people have played Realms Of The Haunting so that would be my personal choice from everything mentioned so far. It’s one of the handful of decent FMV games and more than a little weird but in a good way.
If you want something obscure, The Legacy was an atmospheric Lovecraft inspired first person dungeon crawler and the last game ever put out by Magnetic Scrolls. I really enjoyed it but it seems to be forgotten these days.
Veil of Darkness was a decent SSI RPG featuring vampires that I vaguely recall playing many years back.
Finally, the Call of Cthulu series (Shadow of the Comet + Prisoner of Ice) is well worth a look as far as point and clicks go.