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Games Beaten In 2021 (classic computing edition)

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There are annual "Games Beaten" topics in the "Classic Console Discussion" subforum, but prompted by a post from @Gibstov ("Sorry, this isn't a Console game, but I don't know if there is a PC game beaten thread so...") I thought it might be a good idea to start a topic here in Classic Computing Discussion, for those of us that are playing and completing games on classic computers (or emulators thereof) including the classic 8-bit and 16-bit computers, and I suppose also MS-DOS games as as well!


I'll start it off:




Ultima III: Exodus (PC MS-DOS)

I used the fanmade upgrade patch to play through the game*; I ran into no problems at all**, and really enjoyed the "composite CGA" tileset, which I found less garish than than the EGA tileset (both are a HUGE improvement over the CGA graphics of the unpatched version).  The patch also adds MIDI music, and it sounded great playing through my Roland Sound Canvas—I especially liked the creepy dungeon music.


I really enjoyed this game!  I played it "honestly" even though I generally knew what to do from completing the NES version back in the day. That meant mapping the dungeons by hand and only doing something once I got an in-game hint telling me to do it; for example, I knew the order in which to use the cards to defeat Exodus at the end, but forced myself to track down the Time Lord to get his hint about the cards prior to finishing the game.  This also explains why it took me 239,725 moves to complete the game!!  I found that playing it this way resulted in my party being more than powerful enough to explore the lower levels of the dungeons and ultimately complete the game, without having to do any artificial EXP or GOLD grinding.


The overall quest structure is really good.  Ultima has always focused on (and excels in) nonlinear exploration of a world to gather information to figure out the overall quest on your own, and Ultima III does not disappoint in this area.  It's a lot of fun getting the lay of the land, gathering information in towns, and slowly figuring out what you need to do.  I found the game to be pretty fair in terms of providing hints on what you need to do to complete it.


Overall, an excellent game and I'm very happy that I've finally completed the PC version. I also love the twist at the end where Exodus is not a devil summoned from the abyss but instead a supercomputer built by sorcerers!



* https://exodus.voyd.net/projects/ultima3/

** On actual hardware, I needed to disable the sound FX fix to run the game.  This is meant only to play PC speaker SFX at the proper speed on modern computers, so isn't needed on actual period hardware.

Edited by newtmonkey
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  • 2 weeks later...

AD&D Curse of the Azure Bonds (PC DOS)

Another week, another classic DOS RPG down.  That's a bit of a lie, I've been working on this game on and off now for several months.  It's not particularly long, but I had gotten burnt out since I played it immediately after finishing Pool of Radiance.



I'll get the bad out of the way.  The structure of the game is actually pretty lame.  It's "nonlinear" in that you can tackle the middle portion of the game in any order, but there is a clear order you are meant to progress through the game (there is even a location you can visit telling you which "boss" you should kill next, like reading a strategy guide for Megaman lol).  You do have some optional locations to explore, but they are just mazes without any interesting encounters—simply a way to gain experience and treasure.


One of the biggest letdowns with this one is the lack of a true wilderness to explore.  Pool of Radiance really feels massive and open in comparison, with a large wilderness to explore step-by-step and plenty of interesting locations to find.  Curse of the Azure Bonds, in contrast, has you selecting a handful of locations from a map menu.  Pretty disappointing imo.


Now for the good.  The graphics are a bit better than in PoR (though still only EGA) and the sound was also somewhat improved (though still only PC speaker/Tandy 3-voice).  I was impressed that there was still plenty of room for my party to develop; they were nearly unstoppable at the end of Pool of Radiance, so I was happy to see enemies still putting up quite a fight.  Really excellent encounter design in this one, even if it does rely too heavily "hold person" and "poison" (basically instant death if unlucky).




I imported my winning party into the sequel Secret of the Silver Blades, but will probably take a break from Gold Box games for a while.

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Good initiative, though unfortunate if we still need to separate consoles from computers in discussions that are not model specific. At least in the tracker we happily co-exist together, with the only split between classic and modern systems.


Also the majority of computer games I'm playing have no definitive ending, or have a set playtime so you "end" them every time you play.

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  • 6 months later...

Phantasie (Apple II)




Really great game!  Create your party and explore the world to track down magic rings and runes, so that you can defeat the big bad guy.  The game is played from on overhead perspective, with unexplored areas blacked out then revealed as you pass through/near them.  That means the game has an automap, making it very user-friendly for a 1985 release!


The dungeons are a high point here.  They have layouts that make sense, a nice mix of fixed and random encounters, and most impressive of all, unique themes and events. For example, one dungeon has you getting throw into jail, from which you have to escape.  Another has you shutting off sewage valves to explore previously blocked areas.  Truly a pleasure to explore.


Combat isn't very complicated, but you have several tactical options to use.  All characters can select one of several types of attacks with varying damage and accuracy modifiers, fighters can lunge into the middle enemy row, while thieves can attack any row without penalty.  Spellcasters have a nice selection of spells, including plenty of buffing/debuffing spells (which work more often than not!).  Even before battle starts, you have some options including attempting to flee, demanding that enemies surrender, or surrendering yourself.

Outside of Ultima IV, I don't think a more "complete" RPG was available around this time (though Might & Magic Book One would be released the following year in 1986).  I'd definitely recommend this as a good starting point for anyone that wants to get into older CRPGs but feels intimidated by old interfaces (Gold Box) or the need to map (Wizardry).

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  • 1 month later...

Shard of Spring (Apple II)



This turn-based RPG takes place on a single continent consisting mainly of one large island.  You can explore much of the world with only a slight bump in encounter difficulty on the east side, but the dungeons are definitely meant to be completed in a certain order.  The game does a good job at guiding your exploration with hints at taverns in town.


The highlight here is the combat.  It uses an "action point" type system where moving, turning, attacking, using items, and casting spells use a certain number of points.  Characters can continue attacking as long as they have enough points left, so by the end of the game I was getting 4-5 attacks per round from each character; very satisfying!  Magic is interesting in that you have access to all spells in whatever schools a character knows, with each spell having a minimum number of spell points to cast... however, you can spend more SPs to get better results (more damage, etc.).


The dungeons were also fun to explore.  They are pretty small, but I did end up mapping a few on graph paper.  There's a good mix of random and fixed encounters, and some light inventory-based puzzles.


Like most older CRPGs I've played through, there was no need whatsoever to artificially grind experience or gold.  I ended up finishing the game at level 8, while the maximum level is 20.  I think the realistic maximum level here would be 9 or perhaps 10, as anything above that would require hours and hours of grinding.


Overall, I had a good time with this one.  Simple but fun, and I'm glad I gave it a chance.  Next is to tackle it's superior sequel, Demon's Winter!

Edited by newtmonkey
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