Category Archives: 1990

PowerMonger computer video game

WePlay: PowerMonger on the Sega CD

PowerMonger, by Peter Molyneux’s Bullfrog Productions, was originally released for the Amiga and Atari ST computers in 1990. It was their follow-up to the blockbuster Populous, which helped to define the concept of the God Game. PowerMonger, however, brought things down from heavenly perspective to the earthly confines of battling warlords.

The Sega CD version featured in this WePlay video was released in 1994. The nifty polygonal graphics engine of the original is retained, with some added cinematics and landscape fly-bys. Watch Bill take you through three islands in the game here:

Late to the Party – Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All the Girls (1990) Pt. 5

Another serving of Late to the Party, where that sweet, sweet retro gaming cake NEVER gets stale. Today Anthony joins me in continuing the higher-education hi-jinks of one Ernie Eaglebeak, where we visit the Sorcerer U. cafeteria, and the housemaster’s wife Hillary comes on to us:

Late to the Party – Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All the Girls (1990) Pt. 4

The Party continues, long after everyone has stumbled drunkenly home and the confetti has been swept up. Today Tim Mack and I continue the game by attending a fascinating lecture on magical ethics, and take a whirl in the Simulation Chair. 

Late to the Party – Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All the Girls (1990) Pt.3

Welcome back to Late to the Party, where procrastinating gamers get their decades old gaming fix. This episode, Tim Mack and I continue guiding Ernie Eaglebeak through his collegiate experience, having been previously rescued from his evil stepfather and enrolled in Sorcerer University.


Other episodes in this series:
Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All the Girls Pt. 1
Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All the Girls Pt. 2

Late to the Party – Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All the Girls Pt. 2

Presenting our second instalment of Late to the Party, game playthroughs where we finally buy into the hype decades after a game’s release. This episode, Tim Mack joins me in continuing Steve Meretzky’s ribald 1990 text/graphic adventure game Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All the Girls. Our collegiate hero registers for classes at vaunted Sorcerer U, and gets the lay of the land, so to speak.

Class is in session. Welcome to college, Mr. Eaglebeak!

Other episodes in this series:
Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All the Girls Pt. 1 
Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All the Girls Pt. 3

Late to the Party – Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All the Girls Pt. 1

Welcome to Late to the Party, where we hop onto a game’s bandwagon waaay too late. This premiere instalment starts Babarnicals and me off in Steve Meretzky’s 1990 risqué adventure game classic about an abused young man who’s only hope of escaping imprisonment by his evil relative is by attending wizard school. Similarities to a certain other young wannabe wizard are purely coincidental, of course.  

Here is part one of our playthrough of Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All the Girls:


Other episodes in this series:
Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All the Girls Pt. 2
Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All the Girls Pt. 3

The Visual Cortex: Double Dragon II

There’s been a lot of left-right scrolling fighting games over the years, for a number of different consoles, but Nintendo’s NES particularly seemed to specialize in the genre. And amid that myriad of brawling cartridges stood the Double Dragon games. Beginning in the arcades, they soon punched and kicked their way to the console market, including a 2009 version for the Zeebo microconsole.  The pugilist brother team from the games, Billy Lee and Jimmy, also slugged their way into many computer game translations.

Lined up in the Cortex today is an ad for the NES version of the second game in the series, Double Dragon II: The Revenge:

Ad for Double Dragon II: The Revenge, a video game for Nintendo's NES 1990

The arcade smash comes home


Image from California Games II, a computer game by Epyx 1990

The Epyx Games: California Games II on PC (DOS)

Welcome, moondoggies, to more sun-bleached sporting hijinks in California Games II, released by Epyx for the PC in 1990 as a sequel to their popular California Games. It was programmed by Gil Colgate, Kevin Furry, Darrell Fetzer and Jesse Taylor. Art was handled by Arthur Koch, Matthew Crysdale, Paul Vernon, Collette Michaud and Joel Mariano. Chris Ebert, Bob Aron and Chris Grigg did sound design. The game was produced by Matt Householder, and additional design was done by Tom Schumacher. You can really see the personnel rosters climb as the games advance, can’t you? Initially released for DOS, California Games II also saw light on the two big 16-bit computers of the era, the Amiga and Atari ST, along with later console versions for SNES and the SEGA Master System.

This post covers the DOS version, which is a great entry in the Epyx Games series. The available events here are Hang Gliding, Snowboarding, Jet Surfing (Jet Ski), Bodyboarding, and Skateboarding. I’d have to say that personally, I enjoy snowboarding and skateboarding the most out of this title. Although what to do with the helicopter in snowboarding is initially inscrutable (protip: don’t land on the platform, hover over the snowy slope next to it and hit the fire button to jump out), the multi-stage gameplay is a blast and mighty harrowing as you careen down the mountain. The jetskiing event is by far the worst, with little to do but try and keep between the buoys with a stiffly-handling watercraft. There is also no sound effects in this event, except for the music that constantly plays. Considering that the player is prompted before the race to “rev up your engines”, it’s funny that there’s no actual engine sounds! Bodyboarding is merely blah, although the graphics in this one really give me the idea that I’m actually playing a classic graphic adventure by Sierra Online.  Maybe a sequel to Codename Iceman or something. Matching the Sierra Online adventure game ethos are some of the dire ends you can come to. Things are not as laid-back in California as they seem.

The music is a bit better here than in the previous California Games, and player control seems responsive and tight. In all, a lot of fun to play. It’s totally tubular..although take it easy approaching the tunnels in while on your skateboard, or you might leave a permanent mark. Now THAT’S bogus, dude.

Every game in the Epyx Games series will be featured in posts all during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Here are the links to the other articles:

The Epyx Games: Summer Games on the C64
The Epyx Games: Summer Games II on the C64
The Epyx Games: Winter Games on the C64
The Epyx Games: World Games on the C64
The Epyx Games: California Games on the C64
The Epyx Games – The Games: Summer Edition on Amiga
The Epyx Games – The Games: Winter Edition on Amiga
The Epyx Games – The Fail Reel

For more bitchin’ info on the history of Epyx, glide over to your local Dot Eaters entry, man!

Sid Meier’s Railroads! and Other Tales of the Rails

I’m up North visiting my parents for a week with the kids, so I’m stuck with a dodgy Internet connection (tethering a weak 3G signal through my iPhone to my laptop), hence the lack of updates. Or at least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Stuck with only a laptop as a gaming rig, I’m downloading games it can run with its limited video card (thank Zod for Steam), so I snagged the Railroad Tycoon Collection. It’s a great deal: the aforementioned Railroads!, Railroad Tycoon 3, and Railroad Tycoon 2 Platinum for only 15 bucks! That’s a lot of spike drivin’, and you don’t have to be J. Pierpont Morgan to afford it.

I’ve been playing the heck out of Railroads! It’s the definitive game for SMRR fans; the apex of the series, really. It strips out all of the annoying minutia of building your railroad, and adds a lot of graphical flourish and wonderful detail. It also features a delightful musical soundtrack that dynamically adjusts to the locale in your view at the time.

Sid Meier’s Railroad games are a stalwart of computer gaming… after all, it was the first Sid Meier’s Railroad Tycoon, released in 1990 by Microprose, that put Meier solidly on the track of being considered one of the gaming gods of the industry. The man-hours of productivity lost to the original in nigh incalculable, although a guess might be that you could probably ring the Earth multiple times with railway track with all the time spent building virtual ones.

Screenshot from Railroads!, a computer video game by Sid Meier

City building by rail


With its vaunted pedigree, the release of Railroads! in 2006 was naturally eagerly anticipated. And on the whole, Meier delivered. There is, however, one glaring flaw that turned a lot of people off, nearly myself included. The problem is the absolutely atrocious AI routing in the game. You don’t notice it as much at the start, when you only have a few stations connected, without a lot of multiple tracks heading into cities. But as you add more trains and their routes into the equation, you need to start putting in more and more multiple lines to avoid congestion. And once you start doing this, the problem starts driving you nuts. There is nothing quite as frustrating as having four or more lines side by side, with proper switching track connecting everything nicely so no trains should ever have a problem negotiating through a route, and still trains bunch up because they keep heading into the same fudging lines as oncoming trains. Here’s four lines wide open, and still trains are halted because for some goddamn reason they want to occupy the same goddamn space! AAAAAAARRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!

Still though, Railroads! is a fun game that can burn away hours like so many shovels of coal into the tender box. All aboard!

P.S. I also noticed this while playing.  Looks like Coco’s career hasn’t gone too well after losing The Tonight Show.  

Proof Conan O’Brien is a time-travelling warlock


Speedball 2 Evolution: Ice Cream!

The iOS version of the much-beloved Bitmap Brothers game, originally released for the much-beloved Amiga computer platform in 1990 under the name Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe, is available for purchase in the app store today.

While receiving a slight graphical overhaul, play looks remarkably similar to how things went down in the arena back in the day: fast and brutal.

Here is the official iOS trailer: