So, as I wrote in part 1, I had played my Game Gear for a few years until it broke and for a few months… that was it for gaming. I continued reading magazines, but with my – at the time very limited – budget (allowance was all I had, so saving up for a game now and then would have been possible, but a whole new system? Nah), that was pretty much it. Fast forward several months and Christmas ‘94 comes along, together with… my first PC!
Hardware-wise it was a 486 with 66MHz, 4MB of RAM, a 512MB hard drive, a CD-ROM and a floppy disk drive (at the time something like that wasn’t bad!), came with MS-DOS 6.22 and Windows for Workgroups 3.11 pre-installed. And with that… a whole new world opened up.
At first I mainly started experimenting, learning about how things work, “gaming” was limited to things like Minesweeper or Solitaire, the stuff that Windows at the time had pre-loaded with it. Then I started looking at what our local newspaper kiosks had to offer and found some pc game magazines that had floppy disks (3.5 inch) as additions, containing sometimes a demo, sometimes an older game as a full version. After a while this expanded to magazines with bundled CDs, magazine specials with CDs that contained collections of game demos, “Advergames” (games specifically for advertisement of products or companies, some of these where surprisingly good) and sometimes even a full game. Local computer shops also had CDs that contained lots of Shareware on them (pre-Internet times where… different), since those didn’t cost too much, I snagged some from time to time.
Oh and by the way, at the time sound cards weren’t really standard yet, so all I had was the PC Speaker, beeping away. Not many games supported more than simple sound effects in combination with that. A Lotus racing game I remember was one of the few exceptions. It did manage to produce some nice tunes out of the simple PC Speaker. After a year or so, the computer got an upgrade and a Creative SoundBlaster card was added to it. Man, did that change a lot!
Some notable titles that I experienced during the time before the next big upgrade (more on that… next post) have been X-Com: Terror From The Deep (great atmosphere, but MAN was it difficult), Stonekeep (RPGs turned out to be pretty much my favourite genre), Castle of the Winds (first game I ever ordered the full version of by mail after experiencing the shareware version), the first Command & Conquer (the other favorite genre, RTS), Doom (well this one is almost a given for the time period), Civilization 2 (just.. one… more … turn), Stars! (see Civ 2), Warcraft 2 and Tyrian… I probably skipped over a few. Aside from that, I dabbled in a lot of demos/shareware versions and played several of the mentioned “Advergames”, too many to mention, I probably don’t even remember them all anyway.
So that was my introduction to PC gaming… it was an enjoyable experience, I learned some things about the “inner” workings of the operating system (ah the joys of optimizing the available memory in DOS so that all games would run…) and was introduced to new game genres, some of which would continue to be my favorites up to this day. If you have been around and active with computers in ’95… I think you can tell what’s coming up next. Until then…