Monday 23 September 2013

Goodbye 1988, Hello 1989

Hello SVGA - According to Wikipedia it was in "1989 that a standard for programming Super VGA modes was defined by [the] Video Electronics Standards Association".  This is the point at which PC graphics quality had finally surpassed those of the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga.

Hello Sega Genesis - The Genesis was the North American name for the Sega Mega Drive.  Released in August, it was the first of the 16-bit consoles to enter a market dominated by the NES.

Hello TurboGrafx-16 - A redesigned and renamed PC Engine.  Also released in the US in August, the NEC machine failed to make any impact against its 16-bit rivals.

Hello Atari STE - An enhanced Atari ST released in late 1989.  Designed to take on the dominant Amiga, it featured upgraded graphics and sound.  Technologically it still lagged behind the Commodore machine and few games took advantage of the improved hardware.

My biggest surprise of 1988 was that Ultima V didn't make it onto the blog.  I had never played it before and as much as I tried I couldn't convince myself I was having fun - it just felt like I was going through the motions.  I gave it a good few hours over a couple of weeks so didn't feel guilty about stopping.

As for 1989 I am really looking forward to dusting off my Pool of Radiance characters and tackling Curse of the Azure Bonds.  I also enjoyed Phantasy Star so I'm looking forward to it's sequel.  Hopefully Phantasy Star II* will tie up some of the loose ends from the original story, but I'm not counting on it.

A game I have played before is Chaos Strikes Back** on the Atari ST. I played it on release and found it waaaay too difficult to be enjoyable.  I'll give it another crack of the whip and see if it's any better through older and wiser eyes.

* I got the year wrong - the English version of Phantasy Star II wasn't released until 1990.  I only realised this after I played (and dismissed) it.  It was way too linear and I found the combat even more simplistic than Phantasy Star.  The dungeons also had an annoying parallax scrolling thing going on which obscured dead ends and walls making them infuriating to map.

** Nope, Chaos Strike Back didn't make it on the blog.  It is slightly better (easier) than I remember but it is more like a puzzle game wrapped in the Dungeon Master engine.  I may go back to it when I have more time but I can't ever see it becoming a favourite.  Sorry Petrus.


  1. Do you have a master list of games you are playing through, or are you checking out the most popular titles? I'm interested in knowing what other games failed to make a good impression.

    1. A bit of both really. I have a master list that I compiled from doing searches for top 100, top 25, best games etc for each system. I then added my favourite games from memory. Basically I ended up with a big list for the best/most popular games for each machine sorted by year.

      Obviously it's all personal opinion, but my main criteria for adding games to the blog is asking myself "Would I play this game again?". RPGs are different - I will try to play the ones I like through to completion, as some I probably wouldn't want to repeat.

      I intend to do some stats at the end of the 80s, but for 1988 I had 159 games on my master list (some of those I played on more than one machine). For 1989 I have nearly 200.