The Single Button Joystick

Tag: Pentium 133

Still searching for that ‘perfect’ game.

by on May.19, 2013, under Amiga, IBM and Compatibles, Retro

Shame you're always 'American'.My perfect game will never be found. If it were created, it’d be the end of my productive life. I would work only to feed, clothe and house myself. It is, therefore, to my advantage that such a game does not exist. It’s a nebulous term, ‘perfect’, thrown around like so many World At War hand grenades. I mean it as a game that’s perfect for my needs and wants.

Huge games in my life have been well documented in previous posts, but the games that come close to ‘perfection’ are a very different group. These games tend to be ones that stay with me for a long time, or come back periodically. One such game is Colonization, more properly, Sid Meier’s (<3) Colonization, which I am currently playing.

As close to a perfect game that I am going to get Colonization, has near unlimited re-playability, great variety of practical strategies and an excellent interface. The click and drag method of organising A wonderful town!your colonies is so intuitive, that the game is still completely playable, nearly twenty years later. It handles exploration, trading and warfare all very well despite the very basic interface. This game is a more focused offshoot of Civilization, but I have always thought Colonization succeeded in the end game, where Civilization was lacking.

Colonization has you running your colonies as trading outposts until you’re able to declare independence from your mother country. The King then sends waves of soldiers, dragoons and ships to blockade and take back your colonies. The game transforms from a trading/exploration game to a basic but competent war game. If you plan and anticipate where the blows will come you can win your freedom, but it is rarely easy.

New France!The end game of Civilization is almost always a foregone conclusion. You are either in an overwhelming winning position or you’re probably not going to win. On all but the hardest difficulties, you’d roll over your opponents as your modern armour plows through their spearmen and archers. Colonization never suffers from a predictable end game, except that it will be a worry!

So while I continue an unending search for this ‘perfect’ game, I will probably find myself twenty years in the future still playing Colonization.

That isn’t such a bad thing is it?


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An Underhanded Undersea Odyssey.

by on Sep.27, 2011, under Amiga, Commodore 64, IBM and Compatibles, Modern, PC, Retro

He turned to look at me, put his finger to his lips and said ‘shhhh, depth charges.’

Noise free, proud to be.

I remember walking into the study (a tiny room from which I am typing) and seeing my Dad, a submarine captain. Japanese Destroyers were above us and nearly sunk our sub over the next ten minutes; Ten minutes where we only spoke in whispers. I don’t know if the whispering helped our cause, but Dad managed to pull the damaged sub away from the Japanese and made for home. This scenario happened a couple of times and it enforced the mentality: Silence ruled under these simulated waves and it was something I wanted to try. Thus began my first foray into this undersea world with 1987’s Silent Service. The Amiga version that took me into the briny deep was a significant upgrade on the C64 and Spectrum versions from two years, though the graphics and sound still left a lot of work for the imagination. At the time, these limitations made no difference to the tense atmosphere the game created. The variety of ships to sink was very small, and disappointingly battleships were not included, but as a result I now love me some submarines.

As a weapon of war, they are often misunderstood in the media.  Australia is still shocked that a single Japanese mini sub penetrated Sydney harbour and missed a stationary USS Chicago with two torpedoes. This is common knowledge to almost every Australian, but I’d wager next to no-one would know about the hugely successful United States Navy submarine campaign. Even with hugely defective torpedoes for the first 18 months of the conflict, the “Silent Service” brought Japan’s resource empire to its knees. However it was a conflict I grew up with, because of my beloved Amiga 500.

A decade later I can still sink em'!

The aptly named Silent Service II: Serve Silenter* continued my love for underwatery adventures. It was an excellent game and sequel, improving on its predecessor in all areas. Disappointingly, the game ran too slowly, as my old A500 was showing its age. I didn’t really go crazy for it until I found a copy for my first PC several years later. The smoother experience and quicker loading times really allowed me to get deeper into the game and actually play it properly.

Although I had many successes with SSII, one particular encounter stands out. I had found a large convoy fairly close to Japan, the war was still going fierce so it was probably 1943 sometime. What made this convoy special and unlike any other I had seen, was that it had only one troop ship, being escorted by around six destroyers of varying size. I managed to evade the escorting ships and sink the troop transport, making my escape undetected. After reviewing my combat log, I found that the Troop Ship was worth nearly over 1,200 points 25% more than the Super Battleship Yamato. It left me wondering WHO was on that ship? Hitler meeting Emperor Hirohito with Mussolini doing the cooking.

My Captain would have looked similar

Soon after this amazing patrol, when that career ended, my Captain had amassed a truly dazzling array of medals and commendations; Five Naval Unit Commendations, Five Presidential Unit Commendations, twice awarded the Medal of Honor and a whole host of other award. With this level of heroism, even Mormons would shout this captain a beer. In that last campaign, I was playing it on near realistic difficulty and the rewards reflected that, however it was hardly a difficult game once I had it ‘figured out’.

In stark contrast, my experiences with 2005’s  Silent Hunter III on the PC were bathed in horror. By no means was being a submariner in the US navy an easy job, but in comparison, Uboating for the Germans was a death sentence. 30,000 of the 40,000 that served in the Uboats did not return home. Despite knowing this, I’ve started four or five campaigns and they’ve mostly ended up the same way. I do really well and sink many-a-ship in the first 18 months, then the fun turns to repeated deaths at the hands of the professional submarine killers that are the Royal Navy. Its sequel, the sadly buggy Silent Hunter IV: Wolves of the Pacific took me back to the almost friendly atmosphere of the Pacific, where the Japanese will lose, no matter what you do.

It is easier to play on the side that won the war.

Who knew?!

*not the real title


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My first PC

by on Feb.18, 2011, under Retro, Short updates

Rather than this blog becoming an Amiga rant, I’d like to talk about something else briefly. By the end of 1996, I was well aware my Amiga 500 was obsolete. The first PC put together for my family was a Pentium 133. 32mb of RAM.

It ran Quake 2 and Ultima Underworld fine, so there was me happy for 2 years!

Please tell me your first PC and  the early games that got you through tough times!

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