Welcome boys and girls, to the first Lazygamer Retro Review! I am glad you all could make it. Before we begin let me quickly give you a rundown on the rules and regulations so we don’t have any unfortunate accidents along the way.
Rule one: The following Retro Review is awesome and should ideally be read when feeling nostalgic or in a deep state of relaxation. Rule two: While this may be a new environment for you, this is a safe place and we encourage you all to express your feelings in the comments section and share your own retro stories. And finally, rule number three: Please don’t feed the Geoff. He may look pretty and seem tame but if you give him a finger he will take the whole arm.
So, kick back, relax and hit the jump for the first Lazygamer Retro Review.
The Secret of Monkey Island
This is for me the quintessential game that will always spring to mind when posed with the question: “what retro games do you cherish most fondly?” There are many reasons, but most stem from the overarching notion of the game being “my first”. Yes, in a way you could say that Guybrush Threepwood popped my gamer cherry. Not in a sense that The Secret of Monkey Island was the first game I ever played (I cut my teeth on games like the original Tetris, Sopwith Camel and Alley Cat) but it was the first game that I actually bought. Well to be fair, my dad actually bought it for me but it was the very first game I owned; big box with Dial-A-Pirate code wheel and all. I couldn’t have asked for a better game to kick-start a hobby that would ultimately end up consuming most of my free time, cash and energy.
The game itself was at the time nothing short of amazing. It oozed production values and it actually had a story with fleshed-out characters spouting witty dialogue steeped in what would become trademark Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer humour. But what continues to stand out, and what probably stands out for most that have fond memories of this game, is the music.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a house that was littered with computer technology. Owing to my dad’s business, I had access to top-end PCs while growing up. As such, when The Secret of Monkey Island was released, its archetypal soundtrack blasted through our house in delicious detail thanks to a Sound Blaster AWE32 audio card. To this day, the opening bars of the Monkey Island theme tune give me goose-bumps; not because the tune is particularly moving, but because of the memories it instantaneously brings backs.
For me, The Secret of Monkey Island represents more than a game I enjoyed as a kid; it was the first game that sucked me in; the first game that transported me to another place; that took me on an adventure that countless other games in the same genre would try in vain to emulate, but never quite match. For me, The Secret of Monkey Island will forever be my archetype for the point-and-click-adventure genre.
Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty
Dune II is the Helen of Troy for the strategy genre: it is the game that launched a thousand RTS titles. Westwood’s Dune II was not the first RTS game ever made, but it was the game for which the term “real-time strategy” was coined. It was also, arguably, the first RTS game that made the genre accessible thanks to a simple interface, the mouse as an input device and a winning game play mechanic.
Of course, by today’s standards the interface is outdated and clunky for an RTS game, but at the time there was nothing else to judge it by. It got the job done, even if it meant you had to click on each of the sixty-five spammed Harkonnen Troopers in order to get them to attack your enemy.
The fact that today you are required to harvest minerals in order to produce enough zerglings to rush the Terran scum is largely thanks to Westwood and Dune II. Resource collection, base building and unit creation are staple mechanics for many RTS games; those mechanics first appeared in Dune II.
The folks at Westwood went on to create the wildly successful Command & Conquer franchise. Two years after Dune II, Blizzard had become inspired by the popularity of RTS games and created Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. One could even argue that it’s thanks to Dune II that the MMORPG World of Warcraft exists, but that might be pushing it somewhat.
Regardless, I would be remiss in excluding Dune II from any list of retro games that played a part in my gaming education. It got me hooked on a genre that I thoroughly enjoy despite the fact that I am phenomenally terrible at most RTS games.
When ever I get asked about retro games my eyes generally roll in my head and I change the subject as quick as I can. I am not a fan of retro gaming, yes I loved the games at the time but we’ve moved on now and every single game that gets released now is better than the games from 15 years ago, that’s just how technology works. But if I was forced to pick 2 retro games out as reasons why I am completely addicted to gaming then I couldn’t go past the original Quake and Duke Nukem 3D
Quake was my first love, long before I met my wife and good beer I was a massive Quake fan. I can’t remember the single player campaign at all but I can still mentally map out the multiplayer god sends that were DM1, DM4 and DM6. Specifically DM4, it was by far the best layout of any multiplayer map that I have ever played in any game. It was perfectly balanced with the power weapons being difficult to get to but massively worth it once you got them and the red armour impossible to get without alerting quality players of your location.
Above all else it was the sounds of Quake that made the game, in my heyday I could accurately call and kill players simply by listening to the sounds of the game, if I was coming back from the rocket launcher and I heard you going down the stairs, grabbing the lightning rod and then grabbing armour I could swing around the corner fire a rocket, then rocket jump, fire another one in mid air, land and fire the last and as you exited that portal you would be smashed by 3 rockets in the face… man those were the days.
Duke Nukem 3D
Being a massive quake player meant that I pretty much hated Duke Nukem 3D, that was the rule wasn’t it? We couldn’t love Quake and Duke… well I have a dirty secret as I actually thoroughly enjoyed the Duke as well but in this scenario it was actually the single player that caught my attention more. The oversized enemies and over powered weapons that made you feel like a super hero and a mouse at the same time was an awesome experience.
The risque nature of the title with pigs as cops and strippers who could be gibbed was a breath of fresh air in the midst of aliens horror shooters (quake, doom, wolfenstein) or happy go lucky games (Sim City, Mario etc) not to mention the awesome voice work which made Duke Nukem a game that can never be forgotten.