Back in the day, when I actually had more than 10 minutes at a time to string together for leisure activities such as video games, I was a somewhat avid gamer (somewhat == nowhere near as scary as some of my friends who managed to basically flunk out of college or come damn close). Some of my favorites included:
* Tetris: the original (I’ve lost the box but still have the actual game on a ZIP disk around here somewhere). This game was, in every sense of the word, a virus. It quickly found itself onto every computer of everyone I knew in College and it even crossed the line into being a human virus: everyone I knew got some of those songs stuck in their heads as well. Hell, 16 years later and I’m still get Volga Boatman or Red Army stuck in my head from time to time.
* Strategic Conquest: I remember sophomore year (’87-’88) and spending many late nights playing this game. My girlfriend and I would basically sit side by side and play parallel games against the computer (or maybe against each other, I actually can’t remember anymore). This game was perfect in that it simple enough to be easy to learn and play yet complicated enough to be challenging to play. I played it again last night for the first time in something like a decade (give or take) and had a ball. I’d forgotten how much fun it is. And the version I tried was much newer than the last one I remembered playing: it had color, more types of units and the computer player appeared to actually be somewhat smarter (though after a decade how on Earth would I know that?!)
* Microsoft Flight Simulator: Remember the original black and white Mac version which had the tiny menubar at the top and the completely lame WWI flying ace game embedded in it? In that one, and later in the color version, I used to take off from California and fly to New York. Often I’d set the autopilot and then go out and come back in and see if I was even close. Once I left it too long and ended up over the mid-Atlantic. I used to fly the plane around Manhattan and through the World Trade Center. That doesn’t seem so fun anymore as it used to… I’ve toyed with X-Plane and while it’s astounding in its graphics and realism, it’s almost too complicated if you just want to go up and fly around a bit.
* Spaceward Ho! is probably one of my all-time favorites. Nary a day goes by when the sound “HYA!” or “Whoaaaaaa” come out of my mouth (much to the confusion and chagrin of my wife). That game is still around and in an OSX version which I really should just buy one of these days. And I finally have a large enough screen to do it justice… I lost many hours in the middle-90’s (or was it the early 90s?) playing that game.
* Civilization: Another fantastic game. I loved the first version and mostly liked the improvements in CivII, which I still have installed here. I keep thinking about CivIII but haven’t gotten around to it.
* SimCity: I loved the first one but was only luke warm about SimCity2000. I haven’t really looked at the latest one. Somewhere in there I got disenchanted with simulation games like that. I began to hate not having any real goal or any sense that I am getting somewhere. I keep thinking I should get into the Sims but it just doesn’t grab my attention. Ah well… (Same for SimAnt, SimEarth…)
* RoboSport: I *loved* this game. I wish it were still around. Program robots to blow each other up. Interesting strategy, etc. Reminds me of the Big Trak I had as a kid. (And that can spawn a whole discussion of Logo, and I won’t go there at all).
* Solitaire Games: For years, the favorite was the one from Spectrum Holobyte (ah, remember them? Makers of the world’s most convoluted game: the Space Shuttle Simulator which was near impossible to play) but in the last 5+ years, it’s been Solitaire ‘Til Dawn which I still play more than any other game on my computer.
* Shanghai: One of the best mahjong-tiles based games ever. Their two player Dragon Slayer game was very cool. I just got the new version of this old classic from Game House. It’s fun. I miss the old one. I designed a really cool tile set for it…
* Wizardry: One of the all time greatest adventure/D&D type games ever. Werdna and Trebor… ah, those were the days.
* Dungeons of Doom: (I think that’s what it’s name was… a graphical version of your basic moria game). Never did finish it.
* Oxyd: Weird. I got to level 90 or something and never finished it. I just threw away my code book. I finally game up on every getting it working on any computer I now own.
* Lemmings: remember when this was all the rage? I loved those cute little guys with their floppy hats.
* If you want to go back further, there’s Advanture on the old Atari 2600. And there’s Star Raiders on the 800XL.
* More recently, I’ve been enjoying Final Fantasy X, Tomb Raider, and Twisted Metal games.
* Honorable Mentions: Dark Castle (“mwaa! mwaa! nya nya nya nya!”), Bolo (network fun), Variants of “Black Box”… and and and… I’m drawing a blank. I’m sure I’ll think of more later…