02 March, 2007

A Blast From The Past

I have a friend that plays an online game that he likes. He likes it so much he doesn't just buy the ordinary version, he buys the collectors version if he can instead, at its retail price. These collector's packs aren't $89.95 - they're quite often more like $110 or $120. Well, I've been a game player (not a very good one, admittedly) for a while, but haven't really been able to afford the games when they come out brand new, understandably. So I've had to wait until the prices of games I've wanted has come down. On top of that, there's the fact that just about NONE of the modern games these days will even run on my machine, due to demands for video this, 1.5GHZ that, 2GB drivespace here, Radeon 9700 / Nvidia GeForce 7 there... you get the picture. Some of My Small Collection Simply put, when I come across a game I (1) can run, and (2) can play, I like to get all the members of that family I can. As a result of waiting, I've gained quite a collection.

A recent (for me, anyhow) example has been the Quake family. I got Quake 1 a while ago, thankfully I found this at the Warehouse (a budget store a lot like the American WalMart) along with Doom 2. I also got Final Doom when I found that in the Warehouse too. When I brought Quake home and played it, I was hooked. I loved the feel, especially after having played DooM. I like DooM, don't get me wrong, but Quake was something else again. Of course, then I decided to get mods, paks, and maps to extend my Quake single-player experience, just like I had done with DooM previously. To give another example: a couple of years ago, I stumbled across a cheap bundle called Totally Unreal, which contained Unreal, the expansion pack (second part, as it were), Unreal Tournament (the original one) and expansions. It was pretty good too, and brought me into the arena-style game. Now I'd got more of an idea of what it was all about. I have since seen a similar package, this time including Unreal, Unreal Tournament, Unreal 2 and Unreal Tournament 2004. At this stage, it's on my list of "I want, but will wait".

For the past six years or so, I have been looking for Quake 2 to fill the series out some, but hadn't really had much luck finding it... the two times I did find it, at the time I didn't believe my machine could run it due to the 16MB video memory requirement. So I left it on the shelf at the time. That was the way things stayed for about four years. I recently tried to find it again, and stumbled into Quake 3 Gold edition instead (contains Quake 3 Arena and Quake 3 Team Arena). By then, I'd gained a Voodoo2 and a Radeon 7000, and could play it, so I bought it. I liked that too, and finally got to play Quake Arena, against computer opponents - fun for me. Now I was even more determined to look out for a nice cheap copy of Quake 2, to fill out the set of Quake games. Of course, Quake 4 was released, and I realised once I saw the specs I was never going to be able to run it with my current machines, so left it out of my mind. Of course I kept looking.

Skip forward to five days ago. When I spotted another games collection on the shelf of our local Gamesman store, I decided to ask if I could buy it.
Age Of Empires (Collector’s Edition) They had bundled the first two Age Of Empires games with the first two accompanying expansion packs, and called it "Age Of Empires (Collectors Edition)". It would pad out my set of Age of Empires games that I wanted to get. I'd originally gained the first CD of Age Of Empires, collected from a cereal packet. I took a look at Age Of Empires III, just for a comparison, I guess that's another game I won't be running any time soon, as it requires more machine muscle than I have. So I'll stick with Age Of Kings. Anyhow, I bought that set, and in return zoombuggy ended up with two more books to fill out her Philippa Gregory collection. Fair trade, I thought.

Then yesterday, I went down to another mall to get some coffee on wild discount. I decided to look in the EB Games store while I was at that mall, just on the faint hope that they might have Quake2 or something else I wanted... StarCraft, perhaps? I didn't find Quake2, of course though I did find StarCraft for $24.95. So, I trundled off to the Warehouse, just on the off-chance. I didn't find it there either, and then I picked up the Quake 4 box, looking at the price - $49.95. Then ...I spotted another Quake 4 box, this time labelled "Special DVD Edition Quake 4", and wondered ... what the ...? What made this version different from the normal edition? So I picked it up, looked at the rear of it, and nearly jumped out of my skin. It has Q2!
Included on the second DVD was Quake 2, and not only that, but also two Quake 2 Expansion Paks! I'd struck gold, finally! Now all I had to do was to talk zoombuggy around. Surely she'd allow me to spend $49.90 if I promised to pay part of the cost back at a later stage? It worked, she agreed, then asked this question: "What do I get in return?" Hm. Thought I'd better be fair and ask her what she wanted, so she said she'd go back to the Warehouse and look through their books section. In the end, zoombuggy gained three more Philippa Gregory books in return for me being able to purchase Quake 2. This would complete her series of Tudor stories. I think it'll be the last purchasing I'll be doing for a while, somehow.

What a price! $88.90 down to $49.90! After I bought it, I decided to compare some prices. At EB Games where I'd gone before, I looked again on the shelf at the StarCraft collection they had tried to persuade me to buy ($54.95 for SC, expansion, and two guidebooks - actually a pretty good price), then checked on the shelf for Quake4 for the version I had just bought. Sure enough, I found it - at $89.83 (or something like that). Then I realised how much of a discount I'd got it for. I still wasn't sure if I was going to be able to run Quake 2 of course, but I looked at the machine requirements (90MHz Pentium, 24MB memory, 775 MB hard disk space) and thought let's give it a go, and took it home.

Of course I was going to need the Quake 2 binaries for Linux, not Windows, so I went ahead and installed those, and copied the data off the DVD into the right place on the hard disk. I had Quake 2! Started it up, it even ran for me, which surprised me considering that the specs had stated 16 MB of video memory. It turns out that Quake 2 has a perfectly usable software rendering mode, which runs perfectly acceptably on a K6-II @ 533MHz. Sure, I don't get the fancy graphical effects, but hey, I'm there to play the game, not admire the scenery. Another thing I don't get with it is the original Quake 2 audio tracks, as they supplied it on a DVD-ROM instead of a CD-ROM. Again, I can handle it, though the music apparently rocks.

My next purchase is to aim for completing the Command & Conquer series (there's a box called "Command And Conquer - The First Decade" that I'll have to buy), and work out which of the Tom Clancy games I can run on my machine, and fill out one or two more of his games. For some reason, I like them, though they don't play the same as Quake/DooM/Unreal Tournament. I think I'll dodge games like Flight Simulator*, Formula 1, Need For Speed, GTA**, and anything where I have to steer around a circuit. I suck at those games, big time.

(Updated on 23-5-2007) I also really like the Myst series from Raven Software. So far I have the first game "Myst" on a disc on its own, and the collection of the first five games that I also got for a cheap-ish price ($29.95), called "Myst, The Collection". I can't currently run games 4 or 5 yet, but the first three look pretty darn good.

To bring the story to an end (because this is getting to be a bit long...) I now have all the main cast of Quake games, though I can't play Quake 4 for quite a while, as that'll require a motherboard upgrade.

* EDIT: Several years later, I eventually bought Flight Simulator X on Steam, and have loved it. Time changes things sometimes.

** I also bought all but one of the GTA titles, at least to this date (Dec 2016).

So, be prepared to trawl the aisles at the Warehouse sometimes - you never know what you might find. Also, do check prices everywhere before you shell out your hard earned cash. Quite often, you'll get a pleasant surprise somewhere if you do. Incidentally, another option I was told about today (thanks, wishes), was to go online and go to trademe to look for a game there. I'm informed it's a good place to find games as long as you are prepared to observe the caveat emptor principle (buyer beware).

To summarise, these are the games I currently have in my collection - it's getting reasonably sized. Some of them are real old and I don't play them much, or they were given to me and I still haven't worked out how to play them yet.

  • Age Of Empires, Rise Of Rome, Age Of Kings, Conquerors
  • Beneath A Steel Sky, Lure Of the Temptress
  • Command & Conquer
  • Ultimate Doom, Doom II, Final Doom
  • Duke Nukem 3D (including the first two Duke Nukem games)
  • F1 2000
  • Fifa 99
  • Half Life (Game Of The Year), Team Fortress, Blue Shift, Opposing Force, Counter Strike
  • Heroes Demo CD (contains demos of:
    • Deadly Dozen
    • Hitman
    • Project IGI
    • Rollercoaster Tycoon
    • Tombraider Chronicles
    • Totally Unreal
  • Monsters Inc - Bowling for screams (Sample game)
  • Moto Racer
  • Myst Masterpiece Edition
  • Myst: The Collection containing:
    • Myst Masterpiece Edition (yes, a second copy)
    • Riven
    • Myst III: Exile
    • Myst IV: Revelation
    • Myst V: End Of Ages
  • Quake and two expansion paks, Quake 2 and two expansion paks, Quake III Arena, Quake III Team Arena, and Quake 4
  • Railroad Tycoon II (not strictly mine, more ... left here by the owner's mother)
  • Spec Ops (Ranger Assault)
  • Tactical Ops (Assault On Terror)
  • Terracide
  • The Need for Speed SE
  • Thief (The Dark Project), Thief II (The Metal Age)
  • Tilt!
  • Tomb Raider I, Unfinished Business, Tomb Raider II, Tomb Raider III
  • Tomb Raider - The Last Revelation, Tomb Raider Chronicles, Tomb Raider - Angel Of Darkness
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear
  • Totally Unreal, containing Unreal (Game Of The Year), Unreal Na Pali, Unreal Tournament
  • Worms 2, Worms World Party
And that's it. If I were able to stick these all on one hard drive, it'd take up quite a bit of space. And that's not even including any of the games that I've installed that aren't on a CD somewhere (i.e. games that came with Mandriva, or other Linux games (fillets-ng, xlogical, etc etc).

Hope you enjoyed this trip through nostalgia lane with me.