Saturday 13 August 2016

Goodbye 1991, Hello 1992

Goodbye Atari 2600 - Released way back in 1977, Atari Corp finally retired this piece of video game antiquity on 1st January 1992.  Not only did it outlast its successor (the Atari 5200) but ceased production on the same day as the Atari 7800.

Goodbye ZX Spectrum - Going through a lot of changes in its 10 year lifespan, Amstrad pulled the plug on the ZX Spectrum with the +3 version.  As of July 2012 there had been over 24,000 titles released for the Speccy.  Not bad for a British computer built down to a price.

Goodbye Sega Master System - Soundly beaten by the NES, Sega withdrew their Master System from sale in the US.

Goodbye Amiga - Released after the Atari ST, the Amiga outsold its rival by roughly 3 to 2, mainly due to its superior hardware.  Commodore ceased production after 7 years.  It is not all bad news however...

Hello Amiga - A second-generation Amiga appeared in 1992 featuring the AGA chipset.  Despite many improvements over the original, the new Amiga (or Commodore itself for that matter) wouldn't survive much longer against the PC and console onslaught.

Hello Windows - Version 3.1 was released in April. This (or at least 3.11) was the first taste many PC users of the time had of a Microsoft GUI.  It was then a DOS program rather than on OS in its own right and didn't see much in the way of games.

Hello SNES - As usual Europeans were the last to receive a major console release - in this case the 16-bit Nintendo.  It arrived in the UK in April and in June for the rest of Europe.

1991 took a long time to get through, mainly due to real life getting in way and not having enough time to dedicate to playing games.  1992 looks like it will be a long year too as a house move is on the cards before the end of 2016.  There are also a lot of  RPGs on my shortlist.

One RPG we won't see is Ultima VII: The Black Gate. I took a sneak peak at it and despite the amazing graphics and the start of a good storyline, it just didn't grab me.  I remember things that annoyed me such as the AI controlling NPCs in combat, the difficulty in mapping, and Iolo being constantly hungry.   What I didn't remember is how bloody long it takes to do anything.  Just exploring a single town and speaking all the citizens seemed to take forever as does traversing the map.  I didn't get on with the new 'improved' interface either.  Not a bad game but not a favourite.

Other RPGs include the last of the Gold Box games.  The series started off very well but seemed to get weaker as the years have gone by - I didn't even bother to finish Pools of Darkness. I'm hoping we see another glimpse of what made Pool of Radiance  and Curse of the Azure Bonds such classics.

Out of the other games for 1992, Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss is the only one that really caught my eye.  It got rave reviews on release, but how will it fare nearly a quarter of a century later?  And will it make me nauseous like nearly all early (and a lot of later) first person games did?  Only time will tell.

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