DOS Gaming

Forget consoles, DOS is where it's at!
April 16, 2007
With so many people spreading the love of retro console games, you may forget or indeed, not even know that PC games do exist and in my opinion, it's a gaming experience that just shouldn't have been missed.
Back then all you really had to work with in terms of an interface was the old DOS command input. Not exactly pretty but on the plus side, you didn't have to wait too long for it to boot up, nor did you have any bloatware running in the background as you have today.
But anyway, the games I had on my system were fantastic and these were just ones purchased on a whim, considering there was no easy way to get game reviews back then so I couldn't plan what to buy in advance. The fact that all the games I ended up getting turned out to be winners really makes the old DOS PC seem like a godly device because as far as I'm aware there are no bad games for it (although I'm sure there has to be somewhere but, I guess I may never know).
So what games did I have in the end? Well, here are a few select ones that you should definitely play. If you like retro gaming, you absolutely MUST play these.

1) Ultima V
In Ultima V, you play the role of the Avatar, who has been summoned back to Britannia by his friends Shamino and Iolo, but for what purpose? Well, it seems that since the ruler, Lord British, has gone missing and the throne has been taken by a tyrant named Lord Blackthorn. On top of that, a new evil in the form of 3 powerful manifestations of evil known as the Shadow Lords are terrorising the kingdom. The objective of the game should be pretty clear, which is to destroy the Shadow Lords and remove Blackthorn from power.
This is the only game in the Ultima series I’ve ever owned. When I was a young man I didn’t really have much of a grasp on the concept of RPG’s. I wasn’t exactly sure what the main objective of the game was, but the fact that I could roam just about anywhere and talk with pretty much anyone was enough to keep me entertained. I especially enjoyed the fact that everything seemed to be functioning just as a regular world would. There is a day and night feature which causes characters to do different things at different times of day. Day and night also causes various other things to happen, like certain portals open up at midnight from time to time, taking you to seemingly random areas.
Another thing I enjoyed was that there were very few limitations. You could do everything from looting stuff from towns, to killing innocent people. Although, there is a strict justice system enforced and although it is possible to get away, you’ll have soldiers chasing you wherever you go, plus no characters will want to help you if they consider you a murderer.
And we haven’t even scratched on the elements that make the game a good RPG, such as the standard gold, items, stats, monster battles. Actually I have to say, the monster battles are pretty fun and unique. They’re a sort of “tactics” style.

2) Elite
Yes 3D graphics are possible on an ancient PC from 1984. Although absolutely no textures are used, the models are all there in full 3D, running smoothly. Elite puts you in control of a space craft with weapons capabilities and quite a large cargo hold. The object of the game is to build up your ship with better weapons, better defence and making lots of money. Money is really the main aspect of the game. So, how do you make any money in Elite? Well, the universe is HUGE! There are hundreds of galaxies to visit and that’s where the space trading comes in. In every galaxy is a space station, which allows you to buy various things from food to illegal arms. The trick to making money is to buy these goods at the cheapest possible price and sell them for a profit in more refined galaxies. But of course, if you’re carrying goods, you should expect unwanted visits from space pirates, who will be the ones you do most of your fighting with (through space ship combat obviously). Got a bunch of illegal goods in your ship? Don’t be too surprised if the space police start trying to shoot you down.
Again, as a kid this sort of game wasn’t really too easy for me to understand. Fortunately, the game is huge and at the time, looked incredible which was more than enough to please me. It was enough for me to shoot down a few ships before getting shot myself. Even by today’s standards this game is some pretty hot stuff in terms of gameplay and replay value.

3) Civilization
If you’ve never played any Civilization games then you have really missed out on a great series. Unlike many long running series, Civilization doesn’t show any signs of getting stale. I happen to own Civilization IV, which I am very pleased about and do so enjoy playing until I just collapse from fatigue. However, you have to give the original Civilization its props because all the sequels are directly based on this game, usually only with a few minor updates added and improved visuals.
Civilization of course, puts you in the shoes of one of the great rulers of the world’s nations. Your task is to use a strategic combination of diplomacy and warfare to conquer the world. You start with a group of settlers that you use to found your first city. From there, you can construct various buildings, train soldiers and even more settlers to expand your empire. You will find other empires doing the same thing, each with their own personalities which could spell a peaceful relationship between the two nations, or an all out war. Sending your troops to battle rival cities will allow you to take control of them and expand your empire further. However, warring with every nation on the planet is probably going to be a bad idea, so try and keep your allies happy and maybe they’ll help you out. There’s always time to backstab them later.
Like I mentioned, the core gameplay is essentially the same as modern releases like Civilization IV. In a way, the simplistic graphics of the original make it a good thing, since it makes it a lot easier to see what’s going on in some cases.
Where nowadays MMORPG’s are the games that consume lives, Civilization is the game that did it in the early 90’s. It still has this effect to this day, where you will sit and play it for hours on end as time rushes you by. And when you’re done with your nation, you can start over for a completely new and fresh experience.
There’s no excuse not to have played this one, considering it was ported to many computer systems and even the Super NES.

4) Lemmings
Do I really need to write about this one? If you don’t know what Lemmings is or have never played it then you don’t deserve to be reading this. You don’t even deserve to live! Well, that may be a little harsh but Lemmings most certainly is a game that is known far and wide for the cute little blue rodents with rockin’ green hair.
The way to play Lemmings is fiendishly simple. The little buggers fall by the dozen and start blindly marching forward, usually straight towards bottomless pits or various deadly traps. Your job is to assign them specific jobs in order to prevent themselves from dying and eventually to help them reach the end of the level. Jobs include things like Blocker, who will make all Lemmings that touch him turn around and head the other way. There are also diggers who will literally smash through most of the terrain in the game. Don’t forget bridge builders, who create paths over the many large holes.
So yes, you already knew this game was fantastic didn’t you? Well, what makes it so great is the hundreds of expertly designed levels, simplistic gameplay and generous learning/difficulty curve that allows even young and inexperienced gamers to have a laugh. Of course, nothing is more gratifying than getting every single Lemming safely to the end of the level, except perhaps using the Nuke command to blow every single Lemming to tiny pieces.

So, there are the top games I have purchased. I also own many other good ones including Rick Dangerous, Pacman, Frogger and several top-scrolling space shooters. In my opinion, it was a better gaming machine than a console at the time, because of the crisp visuals from the PC monitor and the fact that well, it was a PC. Customize your games anyone?.... And yes it had a word processor too.
For obtaining these games nowadays, I believe you would need to rely on emulation through something like DOSBox, unless of course you got your hands on an ancient PC. Probably wouldn’t set you back too much to be honest.
So, I hope you found this interesting and do attempt to play anything above that you may have missed because I can guarantee you they will provide you with many long weeks of entertainment.
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