This is the eighth entry of the [2019 with DOS games] column, a mini-compendium of the mandatory MS-DOS games ever released. For a big part of my life I’ve been a PC games player and I had tons of old games to play with back in the 90s. This is my homage to them.
The rules are simple. MS-DOS has been created in 1981 and was still available in computer until the early Noughties. However the release of Windows 95 acted as a break and everything before immediately becaome. So I can fairly tell that the DOS era goes from 1981 until 1985. [2019 with DOS games] will feature every two weeks a selection of three games, one for every five-year period (1981-1985, 1986-1990 and 1991-1995) in alphabetilac order that I consider either important, ground-breaking or simply fun and easy to play. I’ll try to consider only DOS-exclusive games or in case games spread on different platforms that have the PC version as a flagship. No claim of completeness, I’m not a human encyclopedia (unfortunately…). Let’s go with letter H.
The Hobbit (1982)
- Developer: Beam Software
- Publisher: Melbourne House
- Genre: Interactive Fiction
Here we are with another of THOSE games. The Hobbit has incluenced a lot the adventure genre, not only because it was one of the first “visual” adventure, not restricted to the main text, but even because the parser (named Inglish) was incredibly advanced for the time and able to recognize structured sentences with a lot of words, not just the “old” verb-noun sentence. Another important feature of the game is a bit of “randomness”, since the gameplay is not only based on what is written in the parser but also include a bit of unpredictability in order to play everytime a slightly different adventure.
The game was converted to most of the micros of the era, if not all of them: ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro, Dragon 64, Oric, MSX, Apple II and Macintosh. Melbourne had its annus mirabilis in 1982 with the release of the first games of Horace and continued to create solid game throughout all the 80s and early 90s with titles like Marble Madness, Xenon and T2: The Arcade Game.
Hero’s Quest: So You Want to Be a Hero (1989)
- Developer: Sierra On-Line
- Publisher: Sierra On-Line
- Genre: RPG, Adventure
Hero’s Quest, also knows as Quest for Glory, is the forefather of a numerous family of adventures. In the game, credited as “three games in one” you can choose among Fighter, Mage and Thief with different impact on the storyline. It was one of the first games of its genre to be in “real-time” with an alternance of day and night and the necessity to eat and sleep.
Being a blend of adventure and RPG, Hero’s Quest quickly became an influential game and a genre-defining one. The game received a restyling in 1992 with the “new” name Quest for Glory and with improved graphics.
- Developer: Raven Software
- Publisher: id Software
- Genre: FPS, RPG
Although my game of choice in this “mini-series” is the sequel, Hexen, Heretic has a soft spot in my heart for being one of the FPS I’ve played the most in the “Doom era”. The game features some elements of more realism, like the possiblity to look up and down and the effect of the wind on characters and items and the plot is centered on the character of Corvus in his journey to find and defeat D’Sparil, one of the Serpent Riders who subjugated the world.
Heretic also introduced the inventory, something that was reserved to the RPGs and adventures and features 7 different weapons that go from the Elven Wand to the Dragon Claw and the Firemace. A neat feature is the effect of the Doom cheat codes in Heretic: with IDKFA Corvus is left with only his wand and with IDDQD he dies decapitated. Don’t try it at home.
As always here are some honorable mentions:
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1984)
- Hacker (1985)
- HKM (1988)
- Heroes of the Lance (1989)
- Hard Drivin’ (1990)
- Hugo’s House of Horrors (1990)
- Heart of China (1991)
- Heimdall (1991)
- Hook (1992)
- Hardball IV (1994)
- Heimdall II: Into the Hall of the Worlds (1994)
- Hocus Pocus (1994)
- Heirs to the Throne (1994)
- Hammer of the Gods (1994)
- Hexen (1995)
- Hi-Octane (1995)
- Heroes of Might and Magic: A Strategic Quest (1995)
Among the games in the honorable mentions section, the ones I’ve plated the most are those of the mid-90s. One of them is surely Heretic.
I’ve played the likes of both Hexen and Heretic a lot of times even though I’ve never completed any of them. I’ve also bought in the last years a copy of Hexen for the N64 but for me this will always be a PC game. Hexen is one of those “Doom clones” as they were called back them, sequel of Heretic, with a medieval setting and RPG elements. It was one of the games included in the compilation Twilight hence it’s one of those games I’ve played a lot in my teen years.
Another game I played a lot for no apparent reason is Hardball IV. Baseball in Italy is nothing short of a curiosity. Where I live is the only area in which there are competitive teams (for italian standards) but when I was living with my parents the only thing I know about baseball was that I needed a ball and a baseball bat. However I got passionate watching some matches on TV and I’m still the only one among my friends to know at least the basic rules of the sport. HBIV was a great game, with good graphics and intriguing gameplay and I remember myself trying to complete a full season with my loved St. Louis Cardinals. Of course I’ve never won anything…
In the end we have a couple of games, Heimdall and Heimdall II: Into the Hall of the Worlds, two isometric RPGs I loved to play. The cartoonish 16-bit graphics are right up my alley and the fact that is an isometric action-RPG was enough for me.
Previous entries in this column:
- [2019 with DOS games] The Ancient Art of War / Altered Destiny / Alone in the Dark
- [2019 with DOS games] The Bard’s Tale / Barbarian / Betrayal at Krondor
- [2019 with DOS games] Castle Wolfenstein / Cadaver / The Chaos Engine
- [2019 with DOS games] Dragonworld / Dangerous Dave / Doom
- [2019 with DOS games] Enchanter / Elvira: Mistress of the Dark / Eye of the Beholder
- [2019 with DOS games] F-15 Strike Eagle / Future Wars: Adventure in Time / Flashback
- [2019 with DOS games] GATO / Gobliiins / Guilty