The MoeGamer Awards are a series of “alternative” awards I’ve devised in collaboration with the community to celebrate the sorts of things that never get celebrated in end-of-year roundups! Find out more here — and feel free to leave a suggestion on that post if you have any good ideas!
Perhaps it’s a timeless classic that has remained constantly excellent as the years have passed. Perhaps it’s something you didn’t appreciate much in your younger days. Or perhaps it’s even something that went overlooked or underappreciated in its original time, only to seem even more innovative and distinctive when looked at from a modern perspective.
I’ve got a great one in mind from among the games I’ve played and written about this year, so this was an easy decision to make.
It takes guts to show up for a job you were hired for several months late… particularly when that job is saving an entire planet from destruction by a comet.
Unfortunately, your considerable tardiness (thanks largely to a delay on the planet Targ, as depicted in the original Mercenary) means that there are just three hours and ten minutes before the planet Eris is obliterated by the eponymous comet, and of course the solution to this rather pressing problem is anything but straightforward.
Along the course of your journey through this spectacular polygonal 3D open-world solar system, you’ll have to deal with the aftermath of eccentric professors having a spat with the head of state over a chess game, a severely incompetent post office, an overenthusiastic prison service and that most fearsome foe of all: British parliamentary politics. Damocles is a classic, and in this video I fuck it up completely. Enjoy!
’80s and ’90s MicroProse was most well-known for its jet fighter sims, but now and again they branched out into something a bit different.
Knights of the Sky was an ambitious attempt to simulate rickety old World War I biplanes rather than high-tech jet fighters — something that only became possible due to improving technology and mastery over the available hardware.
It’s a cool game, for sure — but be prepared to live without a bunch of modern conveniences you might have come to take for granted in more recent aircraft!
When I was a kid, I really, REALLY got into military flight sims, particularly those from MicroProse.
One of my favourites was F-15 Strike Eagle II, a particularly accessible take on the 16-bit era jet fighter sim, and a game that I used to like to dress up to play. I’d wear a green bomber jacket, a backpack (to simulate both a parachute and a seat belt), a balaclava (to simulate a helmet, in the absence of anything like a cycle helmet or the like), sunglasses (goggles) and an “oxygen mask” crafted from a bit of paper, some duct tape and an old vacuum cleaner’s hose.
My parents and brother referred to it as “The Elephant”. I thought it was badass. Whether or not it actually enhanced my enjoyment of F-15 Strike Eagle II is probably debatable, but I do know that I still enjoy this game today!
I finally beat Ace Combat 7’s single-player campaign the other night, and the whole experience is indeed a fine addition to the franchise.
Today I thought we’d talk a bit about the mechanics and controls of the game, including where it fits into the overall franchise from this perspective, and into the broader concept of “flight simulators” as a whole.
Suit up and get ready, pilot; it’s time to scramble.
Attempts to realistically simulate things it would be near-impossible for the average person to experience have been around for a long time… even when the technology wasn’t quite up to the job.
Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, one of the most prolific creators of simulations — with a particular (though not exclusive) focus on military jet fighter simulators — was MicroProse, erstwhile home of Sid “Civilization” Meier. As time went on, these games got more and more satisfyingly complex and true to life… but the genre had to start somewhere!
F-15 Strike Eagle was first released in 1984 for various 8-bit computers and ported to a variety of other platforms (including the Atari ST) over the course of the next three years. It’s a fairly “arcadey” take on the jet fighter sim, but it remains enjoyable to this day… even if its core tech looks severely dated even compared to MicroProse’s own titles from just a year or two later!
Follow Atari A to Z on its own dedicated site here!
I grew up with flight simulators, primarily due to my father being both a proper propellerhead and a writer for a computing magazine — in other words, we got a lot of review copies of such games.
One thing that struck me about the genre was that it was rather rare to see games based around just flying; instead, prolific developers such as MicroProse tended to emphasise the military angle, simulating exciting aircraft such as the F-16 “Fighting Falcon”, the F-15 “Strike Eagle” and the somewhat-less-exciting-but-appeared-in-a-movie A-6 Intruder.
There was Microsoft Flight Simulator, of course — or subLOGIC’s Flight Simulator as it was known in the early days — but that was slow-paced, rather complicated and, according to my father “not a game”. Clearly there was room for something in between the two extremes.