[2019 with DOS games] Oil’s Well/ The Oregon Trail / The Orion Conspiracy

Hello guys,

This is the fifteenth 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 O.

Oil’s Well (1984)

  • Developer: Banana Development
  • Publisher: Sierra On-Line
  • Genre: Maze

Oil’s Well is a clever reinterpretation althoug heavily modified of Pac-Man, but it’s actually a clone of Anteater (also an anteater is a more clever idea for a character that send something underground to collect things). The goal is to collect all the dots with the probe avoiding the hazardous insects that can destroy it simply touching it.

The idea is simple and the game is easy, at least in its premises but can become complicated navigating through the latter levels.. The simple gameplay can become addictive and different magazines back then pointed out that Oil’s Well is a simple yet clever game. In 1984 Computer Games awarded Oil’s Well “Maze game of the Year”.

The Oregon Trail (1990)

  • Developer: MECC
  • Publisher: MECC
  • Genre: Adventure

A few games in history has been really iconic with catchphrases and situations that became so famous to obscure sometimes the importance of the game itself. One of these is The Oregon Trail. Originally developed in 1971 (pure prehistory) was conceived to be utilized by the students of MECC the as a support for the regular history lessons. The game became soon popular and broke the burdens of the school. The outbreak “infected” almost oll of the platforms of the era and was ported everywhere and, of course, on DOS running machines.

The Oregon Trail is a simulation of the path that led the pioneers through the West in the XIX century, full of perils and inconvenients. A lot of situations has become iconic: “You have died of dysentery” or “Mary has typhoid” are some of the well known situations in the game and became also subjects of t-shirts. The original idea was, of course, to represent with accuracy an important historical event and the game did it pretty well, considering its age. It’s a great classic everyone should try, at least once.

The Orion Conspiracy (1995)

  • Developer: Divide by Zero
  • Publisher: Domark
  • Genre: Graphic Adventure

I’ve said many times that for me the only graphic adventures worth playing are the ones made by Sierra and LucasArts. Not that other companies never made any good adventure, but simply it wasn’t easy to race in the same championship of the two main companies. Divide by Zero did manage to create some good game, like Innoncent Until Caught and its sequel Guilty but this time probably they bit off more than they could chew.

While the setting on The Orion Conspiracy is a really good one and the visuals are pretty good as well, the game has a lot of flaws in the plot, in its forced use of a foul language and in the overall chaos that goes from pieces of plot left unfinished, random deaths and a certain rush towards the end of the adventure. But that’s just what people think of the game. The fact is that when you have just a few games to play, every one of them looksa great and that’s why I still remember The Orion Conspiracy fondly.

As always here are some honorable mentions:

  • Oil Barons (1983)
  • Overdrive (1984)
  • Ogre (1986)
  • Oligopoly (1987)
  • Obliterator (1988)
  • Operation: Cleanstreets (1988)
  • Omega (1989)
  • Operation Stealth (1990)
  • Operation Neptune (1991)
  • Overkill (1992)
  • One Step Beyond (1993)
  • One Must Fall: 2097 (1994)
  • Operation Body Count (1994)
  • Operation Crusader (1994)
  • Overlord (1994)

One bad game and sincerely not a kind of game up my alley is One Must Fall 2097. I usually don’t play a lot games like this, nevertheless when they involve robots. I’m not a huge fan of rusty jusk that fight in an arena but since back then I didn’t have that many games to play I ebded up playing even this title. One think that always intrigued me is that bot this game and WipEout are set in 2097. Just a coincidence or there is something particurat about 2097?

Operation Body Count is one of the thousands Doom clones of the era and I had it on my Duth Flyer so it was an obvious choice when I wanted to play an FPS that wasn’t Doom. It is not a bad game nor a masterpiece but a trusty piece fo software when you have some time to kill.

Overlord instead it’s your regular yet not particularly remarkable flight simulation set during the WWII. Technically speaking it features good graphics but the flight simulators (in my opinion) haven’t changed a lot fro the first till now except for the visuals, so…if you’re a fan of the genre ok, otherwise I believe that the choice of a particular one is merely a matter of “the first you’ve played as a kid”…

Previous entries in this column:

  1. [2019 with DOS games] The Ancient Art of War / Altered Destiny / Alone in the Dark
  2. [2019 with DOS games] The Bard’s Tale / Barbarian / Betrayal at Krondor
  3. [2019 with DOS games] Castle Wolfenstein / Cadaver / The Chaos Engine
  4. [2019 with DOS games] Dragonworld / Dangerous Dave / Doom
  5. [2019 with DOS games] Enchanter / Elvira: Mistress of the Dark / Eye of the Beholder
  6. [2019 with DOS games] F-15 Strike Eagle / Future Wars: Adventure in Time / Flashback
  7. [2019 with DOS games] GATO / Gobliiins / Guilty
  8. [2019 with DOS games] The Hobbit / Hero’s Quest: So You Wanto to Be a Hero / Heretic
  9. [2019 with DOS games] In Search of the Most Amazing Thing / Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure / Innocent Until Caught
  10. [2019 with DOS games] Jumpman / Journey / James Pond 2 – Codename: RoboCod
  11. [2019 with DOS games] King’s Quest / Knight Orc / Knights of Xentar
  12. [2019 with DOS games] Lode Runner / Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards / Lure of the Temptress
  13. [2019 with DOS games] Microsoft Adventure / Maniac Mansion / Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge
  14. [2019 with DOS games] Nine Princes in Amber / Neuromancer / The Need for Speed

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. For my birthday, my mom got me a handheld version of The Oregon Trail. It is awesome! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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