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  • Blue Max / Das Boot


    Source: PC Games – January February 1991

    Three-Sixty Pacific was known for their simulations and war games on the PC in the DOS days. Though they were only around for about nine years, they produced a number of popular and highly rated games in these genres. This ad is for two of their probably lesser known games.

    The first is Blue Max. Subtitled “The Aces of the Great War”, this isn’t the Blue Max you are probably thinking of if you owned a Commodore 64 or Atari 8-bit computer. That one was an isometric overhead shooter with a World War I theme. Though the theme is the same with this Blue Max, it is a simulator in which you get to fly various World War I era planes. Blue Max had a couple of very unique features. First, it allowed for two player split-screen play for cooperative or competitive play. This is pretty unusual for a simulator. Second, dogfights could optionally be played as turn-based strategy games. In this case a hexagonal map was shown but a frozen 3D view of the current action would also still be shown in a window.

    The second is Das Boot (literally translated “The Boat”). Also a simulator, Das Boot has you controlling a World War II German U-Boat. It was somewhat based on the novel of the same name. This was quite a realistic simulation of a Type VII German U-Boat in 1941 with the player having full control of engines, torpedoes (multiple types) and all other aspects of the submarine. It was far more complex than something like Silent Service.

    Blue Max was available for the Amiga, Atari ST and DOS based PCs. Das Boot was available for the Amiga and DOS. To play either one you’ll have to have an old computer handy or be willing to delve into something like Dosbox or an Amiga emulator.

    The above ad is from the January/February 1991 issue of PC Games magazine.

  • Omega


    Source: VideoGames & Computer Entertainment – December 1989

    Omega (not to be confused with Omega Race) by Origin was really a game ahead of its time given that it was released in 1989. The goal was to build a tank with a certain budget, program it, and then pit your tank against others. As you win battles, your budget increases and you can build better tanks for more difficult challenges. You could even create your own battlefields.

    Omega was ahead of its time in a couple of ways. Part of the game involved actually programming your tank. There were various AI script commands that could be used that were reminiscent of BASIC. There were instructions that allowed control of various functions of the tanks as well as others that allowed communication and coordination between tanks. The code used to program the tanks was cross-platform so Omega players from different platforms could still compete with each other. For a while there was even an official Omega BBS to facilitate this.

    Omega was available for several platforms including the Amiga, Apple II, Apple IIgs, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS and Macintosh. The ad above mentions all of these with the Apple IIgs and Macintosh versions “coming soon”. This game has never had a sequel or been remade but I think it would be an excellent candidate to remake today. I’m not aware of anything quite like it. If you want to give this one a try, any of the versions are pretty good and there really isn’t a significant difference in terms of game play. The 16-bit versions will have somewhat better graphics in most cases but it isn’t a big deal for this game. Pick your favorite platform and give it a try.

    The above ad is from the December 1989 issue of VideoGames & Computer Entertainment.

  • Tower Toppler / Sports-A-Roni (Commodore 64)

    Tower Toppler and Sports-A-Roni by U.S. Gold for the Commodore 64 and other computers.

    This ad from 1988 is for a couple of late 1980s computer games distributed by U.S. Gold in North America. Tower Topper is a platform game while Sports-a-Roni is a sort of parody of the Olympics or other sports games.

    Tower Toppler is probably the most well known of the two. It was originally released under the name of Nebulus in the U.K. but the name was changed to Tower Toppler when it was brought to the U.S. Maybe Nebulus was thought to be too nebulous of a name… Tower Toppler is an excellent game and a unique sort of platformer. Your goal is to make your way from the bottom of the tower to the top while avoiding various enemies and obstacles in order to plant a bomb to destroy the tower. There are eight towers to destroy that you can think of as eight different levels. Uniquely, your character stays in the center of the screen and the tower seems to rotate as you move to the left or the right.

    Tower Toppler was released on a wide variety of systems, including the Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari ST, Game Boy (as Castelian), NES (also as Castelian), Atari 7800 and DOS based computers among others. For overall gameplay experience, I recommend the Commodore 64 version. The Commodore 64 version made an appearance on the C64 DTV in 2004 and was also released via the Wii Virtual Console in 2009.

    Sports-a-Roni is a bit more obscure. It was also released on several platforms, including the Commodore 64, Atari ST and DOS based computers. There are 8 “sports” events including pogo, pillow fight, run up the wall, river jump, boot throwing, the pile of plates, pole climbing and sack race. In its original European release, this game was called Alternative World Games. It’s not a spectacular game but if you enjoy games like the Epyx Games series then this might offer a nice change of pace. However, I don’t believe this one has had any re-releases so you’ll need an original disk and hardware or be content with emulation. I would again say that the Commodore 64 version is the best overall.