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Microsoft DOS Games: My Childhood

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Microsoft DOS GamesDo you remember accessing Microsoft DOS games and feeling joy once you saw those different coloured boxes filled with awesome, fun games? I sure do. Microsoft DOS games were pretty much my childhood; it was the beginning of my love for video games. Street Fighter 2, Hexen, Wolfenstein, Hugo, Jill of the Hill; there are way too many games to list unfortunately, but I will go through my top personal favourite classics and relive those precious childhood memories…and those beautiful, cringeworthy graphics, too, of course.

The Secret of Monkey Island (1990)

“Guybrush Threepwood? That's the most ridiculous name I’ve ever heard!”

“Guybrush Threepwood? That’s the most ridiculous name I’ve ever heard!”

And there they are, those graphics I remember… oh, the memories. The Secret of Monkey Island by Lucasfilm Games was one of the first games I ever played when I was younger. It was an adventure point-and-click and command game that took place in the Caribbean where you played as Guybrush Threepwood — a young man who desires to become a pirate. On Mêlée Island, he arrives at Scumm Bar where he meets the Pirate Leaders, but in order to become a pirate, the Pirate Leaders give him three essential tasks and you are then set on an adventure to increase your skills and become the best swordfighter, treasure hunter and thief — the best pirate.

The Secret of Monkey Island was a fun and great game, and at times, frustrating and funny, and even though it is a point-and-click, you had to solve puzzles and explore the islands and its mysteries. I guess this is where my love for adventure and puzzle games started.

Ski or Die (1990)

Dashing through the snow

Dashing through the snow

I’ll be honest, sport games aren’t really my thing, but back in my early gaming years, Ski or Die was awesome. Published by Electronic Arts, Ski or Die was a game about snowboarding and, well… skiing. It also featured snowball fights, competing in jump tricks assessments that get scored and racing on donut-shaped inflatable sleds.

Apart from the music and scenery, the characters were quite distinctive also, especially red skinned, wide eyed and purple haired Rodney — he gave me the creeps.

Not only was each level different, they also had their own difficulties. Your main goal was to avoid any hazards, cliffs or certain items in the snow and earn points, and if skiing, you had to ski in between the flags until the very end, or ski down a mountain and survive. It proved difficult many times, but after each death, you learnt how to get past and cross the finish line like a true champion.

Duke Nukem (1991) and Duke Nukem II (1993)

“It's time to kick ass and chew bubble gum...and I'm all outta gum.”

“It’s time to kick ass and chew bubble gum…and I’m all outta gum.”

Duke Nukem. What more can I say? This buff, blonde, badass character is one I will always remember, especially his wit and hilarious quotes. Looking like Johnny Bravo’s dangerous twin, Duke Nukem is on a mission in the near future—1997—to stop the evil Dr Proton — a madman who is determined to take over the world with the help of his Techbots — and save the world in both games.

The gameplay was simple: proceed through levels, jump onto platforms, climb certain obstacles such as ladders, collect items, health, weapons and key cards, destroy your enemies to score points and, eventually, defeat the boss.

Though Duke Nukem Forever was unfortunately a miss for me, I will always remember the original games and how fun and enjoyable they were.

Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventure (1992)

Cosmo: the cute, red haired alien

Cosmo: the cute, red haired alien

Born in 1992, just like myself, Cosmo’s Comic Adventure was a game I enjoyed playing. It was weird, colourful and… different. You played as Cosmo, a red haired alien boy with green skin and red spots whose parents are taking him to Disneyland for his birthday. An unexpected comet strikes their spaceship and they are forced to land on an unknown planet. His parents go missing and fearing they might be eaten, Cosmo is set on a 10 level adventure to find and rescue them.

Similar to Duke Nukem, Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventure was a platform game where you had to collect fruits to score points and power up modules to increase health, collect stars to unlock bonus levels, jump to each platform, hang onto walls using his red suction-cup hands, bounce off springs and kill enemies.

It was fun, simple and something different to enjoy, which is probably the reason why I remember this game so well.

Math Rescue (1992)

“Math will save the day!”

“Math will save the day!”

If there is one thing I was bad at, it was maths. What used to be on a floppy disk — those were the days — Math Rescue was a game I turned to, not only for entertainment, but also to learn. Whether you played as the boy or girl, your objective was to stop The Gruzzles and retrieve back the world’s numbers they have stolen. Throughout your adventure, Benny the Butterfly helped you defeat your enemies with the power of solving math problems. Collecting items during each level earn you points, along with defeating enemies, and hitting each of the ten blocks to solve its math quiz creates a key used to unlock a door to the next level.

I’ll admit, even though this game used to frustrate me and eat away my patience when I was younger, it did help me learn the basics of maths and also the basics of problem solving, and what’s even better was that I had fun doing so. Thanks Redwood Games!

Transport Tycoon (1994)

Build a Transport Empire

Build a Transport Empire

When thinking back in time and back to the games I used to love playing as a kid, I often wondered where my liking for games such as The Sims — in terms of designing and landscaping — stemmed from. Now I know. Transport Tycoon was a game, similar to SimCity, where you had to start and build a transport empire. The game begins in 1930 and you start out borrowing money in order to establish a functioning transport/delivery system — using trucks, ships, trains, planes and buses — and earn profit from it until 2030.

Maintaining a stable/functioning empire and business wasn’t all that easy though. You had competition and faced problems such as disasters along the way. It was either succeed and praise your efforts, or fail miserably from bankruptcy and start all over again — patience and planning were essential. It was a headache at times, but awesome and enjoyable nonetheless. Transport Tycoon was one of the best strategy games on MS-DOS, if not one of the best games on MS-DOS.

Wacky Wheels (1994)

Animals on Wheels

Animals on Wheels

Forget about Mario Kart, Wacky Wheels was the racing game for everyone in 1994, and wacky it was. Before you started a race, you could choose between eight different characters: Tigi, the tiger; Blombo, the elephant; Ringo, the racoon; Razor, the shark; Uno, the panda bear; Sultan, the camel; Morris, the moose; or Peggles, the pelican. Tigi was my favourite. There were different races and tracks to choose from and all of which contained collectables such as hedgehogs and bombs that could be used against your opponents to take first place.

Wacky Wheels was also multiplayer. It featured races and special arenas where you could battle against someone else on a split screen. To this day, Wacky Wheels will always hold a special place in my gaming heart as it was a game me and my older brothers always used to play and verse each other in — it brought us together. No words can describe how much fun this game was at the time and I will never forget the amount of joy I had playing it.

Doom (1993) and Doom II: Hell on Earth (1994)

One Man: Two Hells

One Man: Two Hells

Life on Mars, Hell on Earth; it’s a war against the Devil and his demons and you’re on your own. As the unnamed space marine, known as Doomguy, you were set with the task to secure the Union Aerospace Corporation on Mars but the true horror starts when the UAC’s secret experiments go horribly wrong. “Evil” enters through the experimental gateway, possessing and killing all of the UAC personnel and you are then left as the last man standing on a new mission to kill the demonic enemies to keep them from attacking Earth. But just when you thought you had won the battle against evil, you return to Earth where new horrors lie ahead. A new Hell has formed on Earth and it’s up to you, once again, to save humanity in Doom II: Hell on Earth.

As a first person shooter, Doom and Doom II were tough to beat. Unlike shooter games these days, you couldn’t look up or down, or even jump. You were always in the middle of the action — defeating the scary, evil creatures and possessed humans — and boss fights were a nightmare… literally. And unlike many DOS Games, you didn’t earn points in Doom, you just had to survive, collect health, weapons and ammo, and find coloured key cards for each coloured door. It was a true survival game, a classic, and the best action/horror game I used to play in my early gaming days.

Commander Keen (1990-1991)

Helmet Boy

Helmet Boy

And last, but definitely not least, my all time favourite DOS game: Commander Keen. Billy Blaze, also known as Commander Keen, was an eight year old boy — who always wears his infamous yellow, green and white helmet — on an adventure to travel through space in each of the six games. Each game had a different plot, but the gameplay and style never changed. Using the arrow keys to walk and jump, you had to jump — by foot or using your pogo stick — onto different platforms, collect items for points and health, kill enemies by either jumping on them or using ray guns and collect coloured key cards to open certain doors. But just when I thought the game couldn’t get any more awesome, it also featured Paddle Wars.

Commander Keen was the game I played for hours and days, and never once got bored of it. It’s the game I instantly think of when I remember MS-DOS. It was, and still is, my favourite MS-DOS childhood game and, for me, the best game on Microsoft DOS.

___

Well, that’s it, my list of top favourite DOS games. Now, back from the past, what were some of your favourites?

I think it’s fair to say that Microsoft DOS had some of the best and most well known games that are to this day considered classics, and even though the graphics are completely outdated and laughable to many, DOS games still bring joy and a smile to gamers who remember them. Nobody can forget their favourite old games after all.

Best of DOS Games

Having old game withdrawals? Many Microsoft DOS games can be found and downloaded for free and played using DOSBox.

Stephanie is an aspiring novelist who loves writing—both fiction and non-fiction—and enjoys editing. Having graduated from University studying Professional Writing and Editing, she continues to do what she loves most: writing novels, short stories and poetry, as well as writing and editing articles for the site and listening to her favourite band, Linkin Park. But apart from writing, there is one other primary passion of hers. Video games. From playing Monkey Island on Microsoft DOS, to Doom, Mario, The Sims, Grand Theft Auto and Tomb Raider, her love for video games became a part of her life at a young age and they always will be.

Features

The Maker of 2019’s Must-Have Interstellar RPG Within the Cosmos Talks Gameplay, Lore, and the Future

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Within the Cosmos

Some indie games look impressive enough to match anything coming out of the AAA studios. Within the Cosmos fits that bill to a tee. Every screenshot from the project shines with ethereal beauty, and the description makes it sound like a marvellous mash-up of Deus Ex, Mass Effect, and Halo

This RPG casts players as a would-be colonist intended to seed human life away from what seems to be an apocalyptic interstellar war.

To find out more about the promising project, OnlySP reached out to developer Francis Debois, who went into great depth about the gameplay, structure, and the processes involved in production across the last five years. 

OnlySP: I wanted to start by asking about the gameplay. In the marketing you’ve mentioned that objectives can be completed through stealth, combat, or diplomacy, which is always a plus for an RPG. Is that multi-path approach available for every mission, and how free-form are the player’s options?

Debois: The missions in the game generally give you multiple ways to affect how the mission unfolds, whether it’s through dialogue or how the player approaches the mission. Also, the options available to you are governed by the type of character you create. If you have a character that’s high in Intelligence, you might be able to hack a control panel that opens a door to a room that you’d otherwise have to fight through to get to, or if your Charisma isn’t high enough, and you try to convince them to leave the area, they might not listen to what you have to say, and they’ll become hostile, or you can simply avoid all of that and find a way to sneak inside!

OnlySP: From what I understand, the RPG levelling mechanics are tied to modules on the character’s suit. Can you tell us more about how this system works and maybe provide examples of some of those modules and upgrades?

Debois: Modules are essentially “perk points” that you can use to upgrade your character. Every time you level up your character, you will get a module you can use to enhance/alter your character. The perks available to you are tied to your attribute points. So, if your Agility is high enough, you can “spend” a module and get the “Light Steps” perk, which makes your footsteps much lighter, therefore harder for the enemies to hear.

OnlySP: The game also has a stat system, which sounds a little like S.P.E.C.I.A.L. from Fallout. Is that an apt comparison? Will players be able to improve and modify those stats through gameplay and, if so, how?

Debois: Yeah, it’s a similar idea to how S.P.E.C.I.A.L. works in Fallout or similar games. When the player starts the game, they will be given a fixed amount of points that they can assign to their attributes. So, if you decide to max out your Constitution and Agility, you’ll have a character who’s agile, sneaky, and strong, but that would come at the cost of not having much Intelligence, Charisma, or Perception. So, you’re really gonna have to think about what attributes you favour, or you could put a roughly equal amount into all of them and have a character that can do a little bit of everything but not a master of everything. It’s up to you. I feel like that system will really create the desire for players to have multiple playthroughs of the game, and still have each playthrough feel like a different experience.

As far as improving and modifying those stats… I’m still trying to get the balance right. There might be one or two instances where you can upgrade them, or get temporary boosts to them, but whether you can improve or modify them beyond that is still being determined.

OnlySP: While upgrading, will players be able to respec their character’s abilities at all or are they locked into the upgrades they use?

Debois: No, they won’t be able to respec. Once you select an upgrade/perk, that’s what you’re locked into.

OnlySP: If I recall correctly, I’ve read somewhere that Within the Cosmos has a linear structure. Does that mean players won’t be able to revisit previous locations? 

Debois: You WILL be able to revisit previous locations. It’s linear in the sense that you can’t visit a new region, or planet that you have no narrative reason to visit yet. For example, the first planet you go to in the game is Alios, the second planet you visit is Berith II. If you’re right in the beginning of the game and you just got to Alios, you won’t be able to just go straight to Berith II until you’ve reached the point in the story where it makes sense to go there, but once you go there, you can go back and forth between those planets as often as you’d like. Also, I used the term “linear” as a way to get the point across that it’s not a huge open sandbox or anything. The game is very story-driven.

OnlySP: Speaking of locations, the game has the character visiting a number of planets. How many planets are there, and how have you differentiated each of them?

Debois: There are three planets in the game. Each one is aesthetically different, with different fauna, different factions, and the architecture of each planet reflects the dominant faction or factions on that planet. Aside from those locations, there are other places you’ll visit for a mission or a series of missions.

OnlySP: Looking at the Steam Greenlight page, there’s mention of vehicles and survival mechanics, but those seem not to have made it to the final version. Can you maybe explain how the development process has resulted in changes from the game you initially set out to make?

Debois: The direction the game was headed when I created the Greenlight page was completely different to what it ended up being! Initially, I intended to make an FPS with survival mechanics, but as the game progressed, and I started writing more of the story, I realised that survival mechanics didn’t really make sense, and it negatively impacted the experience. There were many things that were added and cut out in the end, so vehicles, and the survival mechanics were just two of the many things that simply didn’t end up feeling right as the game really began to take shape. As I wrote more and more, I felt like an RPG would be the best way for players to experience the game and the story.

OnlySP: You’ve mentioned that the game should take between eight and ten hours to complete. Does that factor in all the content available in the game or just the main missions?

Debois: 8-10 hours is a rough estimate of what I would say an “average” playthrough would be. Which is someone who has completed the main story, and did a few side missions. If you decide to do everything possible in the game, it will certainly take longer than that, but if you decide to strictly follow the main story, it will be shorter than that.

OnlySP: As I’ve been following Within the Cosmos, I’ve felt that it looks a bit like Halo and sounds a lot like Deus Ex. It’s got me wondering what you feel as though it’s most similar to and what sort of inspirations have shaped the look, feel, and overall tone?

Debois: Oh, there have been so many inspirations! I love the FPS RPG genre, so Deus Ex was a massive inspiration, as was Fallout: New Vegas. Those are two top tier FPS RPG games that I absolutely love. Space-based games have had an influence as well, such as Halo and Mass Effect. They helped shape the game in one way or another. I’d say the biggest inspiration behind it all has been Star Trek, I think the story and lore will reflect that to some degree.

OnlySP: Within the Cosmos is set against the backdrop of an interstellar war. How much of that background lore will players be privy to as the experience goes on?

Debois: The interstellar war is the reason that the player, and the factions are there in the first place. You will be exposed to the history of the war by reading some of the logs in the game, and through some characters you meet, etc. The war is what ties everything together. As you play through the game, you will see that even though you’ve escaped to this region of space, which is far away from the war itself, you still feel the effects of it. What you decide to do can really influence how the war plays out.

OnlySP: Meanwhile, the main story follows an individual sent to safety to preserve the human race. We’ve seen similar ideas of species protection and propagation in the likes of Fallout and Mass Effect: Andromeda. How is Within the Cosmos distinct from those earlier games?

Debois: Well, I really don’t like to compare Within the Cosmos to other games, but Fallout is more of a sandbox, and Mass Effect is more of a story-driven action RPG. Within the Cosmos falls somewhere in the middle of that.

OnlySP: As I understand it, Within the Cosmos, is entirely self-funded, self-developed, and self-published. Did you ever consider crowdfunding or partnering with a publisher to help get the game across the line sooner? Why or why not?

Debois: Not really, no. Some people suggested that I should try crowdfunding but that was something I was never interested in for Within the Cosmos. This was really a game that I wanted to make myself, so funding it and publishing it myself felt the most natural to me.

OnlySP: I know there’s still a little while before Within the Cosmos launches, but what’s next for debdev?

Debois: Once Within the Cosmos is out, I’m going to listen to the feedback from the community, and just work on updating the game with more content as time goes on. I really want to give this game all the support I can give it. Anything after that, we’ll have to see what happens! I would love to work on some of the other ideas I have, some more RPGs. There are other games that I really want to make, but after dedicating nearly five years of my life to this game, I’m not sure I will have the financial means to be able to do this again! 

OnlySP: Finally, do you have any final comments that you’d like to leave with our readers?

Debois: I’d really like to thank those who have been giving the game compliments, and those who have been providing feedback! It all really means a lot to me, and proves that all the years of hard work that I have inputted into the game, has been all worth it!

Thank you all for reading this, and for having an interest in Within the Cosmos! I really hope you check it out on Steam, wishlist it, and play it when it releases on 1 August!


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