Game Reviews

Playing Retro Games

1001 Games to Play Before you Die!

QMeister (or lafigueroa to all brainycoders) has been playing games but is too busy playing to actually provide any game review content. So I will be filling in with game reviews for the retro games I pick up and play as part of the 2D Platformer project. I picked up two books highlighted in the book review section - 151 Video Games - An Illustrated History and 1001 Game to play before you die. I will feature all the games I pick up and actually spend some time playing.

Oregon Trail

We assume you have installed an Apple II emulator on your machine (e.g. AppleWin) and have found the game ROM (in our case disk1 and disk2) somewhere on the Internet.

The game was designed as an educational game to share with school children the trials and tribulations of making one's way to Oregon during the time period when hundreds of thousands of travelers decided to traverse across the United States on the historic east-west journey.

The journey started in Independence Missouri and ended in Oregon City, Oregon. If you read any stories about the journey you know it was long, hard and awe-inspiring.

The game can't do justice to the actual Oregon Trail but it does allow you to play and learn elements of the actual trip. The game remained true to the costs of goods, the dangerous elements and disasters. The game would be regarded as a simulation game. There is an element of chance (probability of bad weather and injuries) in the game.

I spent about an hour playing today. I won on my second try. On my first try I lost family members trying to ford the first river crossing and lost the rest and all essential items on my second river crossing. I learned my lesson and decided to either pay or shore up my wagon before trying to cross! It is not the sort of game I would play again. But, I did some yelling over my poor hunting skills and learned to get all your supplies at the start because along the way the prices become exorbitant.

I could see why many kids would have enjoyed the game as they learned to trade off food rationing, hunting or buying as they tried to figure out how to get across and meet the multiple obstacles that were thrown in for fun. I highly recommend that you try the game.


I decided to try to download a Microsoft version of the game but you can head over to Computer Space Fan to get a feel for the original version created in 1961 at MIT. The original game was developed by young students - inspired by the Lensman series of books by E.E. Smith.

The game pits two players in spaceships with a star at the center (constantly pulling them in) as they battle to keep from falling into the grasp of the sun and each other's missiles. The game was the direct inspiration for one of the first commercial arcade games - Computer Space.

It has been quite a chore to get the C#/XNA version up and running. First I had to locate C# 2008 Express version online. I actually had newer versions of Visual Studio installed but the SpaceWar project installer just did not work. I also unzipped the C# project with the source and resources and could not get any C# version to recognize the project type!

I still could not get the SpaceWar_ARCHIVE_Windows_3_0 to install without finding and installing XNA Framework 3.0. This all just felt like so much work to do in order to get the Microsoft's version of the game to work on my PC. But, I finally got it to start installing. I did discover that 7-zip is a great little tool to manage iso file formats. I thought I was going to have to download a tool to burn the iso file to a CD but discovered I can use 7-Zip to unzip the iso file to the C:\Temp directory and execute the setup.exe file from there.

To get SpaceWar to run:

  1. 1. Open C# 2008 Express
  2. 2. Open a new Space War project
  3. 3. Follow the instructions
  4. 4. Highlight the Project name and Press F5 to run in debug mode

Note: You will need a Microsoft Xbox USB Controllerfor your PC if you plan on playing on your PC.

The only downside to the game was that it requires two players. Unfortuantely, I don't have the time to implement an AI version for one-player. I will add it to my TODO LIST.

Older/Other Reviews...