Years ago here at Uni, a friend of mine, Steve, lived next door to a couple of stoners. They would frequently hang out with Steve and his then-roommate, Tim. Early in the autumn semester, these two guys, the neighbors, bought a cat doll from a local shop. It was one of those Halloween decoration dolls, the kind you’d find at a discount shop. The kind with a tall, arched back, long, thin legs, black, bristly fur, sharp fangs, and a red painted mouth.
So they had this cat doll. They thought it looked cool, and Halloween was fast approaching; they wanted to decorate their room appropriately. So they got the cat and some other decorations, and that’s just what they did.
November rolled around, the end of that semester fast approaching. The two guys (I never knew their names. I never even met the guys) started complaining to Steve that the cat was talking to them. They were increasingly afraid of the cat doll. Yes, it’s an inanimate object, but they were genuinely afraid that the doll was talking to them and probably attacking them in their sleep. They no longer wanted the “accursed” object, and so they asked Steve to take it away from them, and keep the doll. So Steve acquiesced and accepted the doll.
Steve wondered what he would do with the cat doll, but he thoght it was cool looking, so he started carrying it to the one place on campus where he and a bunch of our friends hung out. You see, in the University Center on Campus, there’s a room on the second floor designated as the Commuter’s Lounge.
The Commuter’s Lounge is a room with some couches and chairs and a television, set aside so commuters can take breaks in there between classes. However, that room became the perfect hang out for the geeks and the otakus and the like. People would frequently bring in game consoles and play multiplayer games. Others would often play rounds of Magic: The Gathering or other card games. People would just hang out and talk. The Commuter’s Lounge developed its own community, a tightly-knit one. It even has its own Facebook group, with the tag line “Come nerds one and all… Just keep it off the floor, the janitors are tired of cleaning it up.” (Or had, at least, the latest post, from a year ago, is saying that the page will be shut down due to too much drama in the CL)
So Steve brought the cat doll with him to the CL, and the doll gained a reputation. People started giving the cat a backstory, and eventually gave the cat a name: Thadeus Tiberious Maximillian Buttons. The cat was given a personality, and was a mascot for the CL. Eventually Steve would bring Thadeus, or Mr. Buttons, with him to anime club meetings, and he would become the unofficial mascot of that student organization.
Mr. Buttons became quite popular. He would tag along with Steve to various social functions. Eventually, Mr. Buttons would start to lose legs from general wear and tear. These legs would be replaced, one with a sturdy wooden stick, another with a plastic robot leg. There was talk of replacing the next leg that fell off with the leg bone of an actual dead cat, but thankfully that never happened, as far as I know. A second set of plastic ears were eventually attached, giving Mr. Buttons “bionic ears”.
Then came one day, about a week before the autumn semester of 2008 started, when I was in a thrift shop. I found a very similar cat, undamaged, and they were only asking a dime for it. I thought of Thadeus, and bought the cat. I brought the cat along with me when I moved into my own room in Central Drive Hall that semester.
Most of my friends who knew Steve and Thadeus were among the same social circle, the geeks and the otakus, mainly those who were members of WCU’s Japanese Animation Society, or JAS, or the anime club. One friend of mine, Alex, was the vice president of JAS at the time, and he was in charge of planning extra activities for the club, such as movie nights, gundam model building clinics, things like that. There was one event, though, that he did completely on his own, with no connection to the anime club, no funding by the anime club, completely disconnected and unofficial. He called it “Hentai and Chicken Nights”, where he would bring chicken nuggets or whatever and we’d get together, usually in Central Drive Hall’s Multipurpose Room, eat chicken and watch and joke about and laugh at the absurdity of various hentai movies. (Hentai is essentially anime/manga porn) The whole point of these events was to just laugh at how absurd hentai tended to be. (Alex would usually schedule these on the Friday nights before the WCU Gaming Club would host a LAN Event)
Anyway, it was at one of these events that I decided to bring my cat doll along, to let him “meet” Thadeus, and for the rest of the anime club people see that there was now a second such cat doll, this one in original condition. I already knew that my cat doll’s name would end with Buttons, and that he’d be Thadeus’ cousin. I hadn’t figured anything else, however. That night, though, various friends there saw the cat doll, noted its appearance, how the “fur” along its tail seemed to split into a second tail, just various physical details, and a name was given, along with the framework of a biography.
My cat doll became known as Ivan Denisovich Arturo Buttons. He was Thadeus’ cousin, born in Soviet Russia, who was born near Chernobyl, the radioactivity of the area having given Ivan a split tail. Ivan was born of vampiric ancestry, explaining his sharp fangs. He worked for a bit with the KGB and eventually deserted them, leaving the country and going into hiding. Now, the cousins were reunited.
In that following semester, Ivan and Thadeus spent a lot of time together, the two of them collectively becoming famous among those social circles. They even attended a LAN Event, and participated in a Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament. In a complete surprise, the two were both knocked out in their first rounds. They didn’t even get a single attack in before they were summarily defeated.
In August of 2009, Thadeus and Ivan tagged along with Alex, Steve, Zach and I as we went up north to Indianapolis to attend GenCon 2009. The two cats got to pose in quite a lot of pictures with cosplayers and random people at the convention. There are quite a few pictures of Ivan where he may have gotten a bit drunk and started leering at certain cosplayers. I don’t know, I don’t control that crazy cat.
So there you have it, the crazy stories behind Thadeus Tiberious Maximillian Buttons and Ivan Denisovich Arturo Buttons, two crazy cats.
Ubuntu 13.04 has been out, officially, for a bit over a week at this point. I’ve upgraded, and I stayed with the current default of Unity for a while. I eventually realized that GNOME was still supported, and version 3.8 is the latest version available (not the current standard yet, as it still has some unstable features).
GNOME and Unity have had interesting developments. When I started using Ubuntu, back with version 7.04, the default interface was GNOME. It was a basic interface, and worked well enough. Eventually, Unity was being developed, and was added as an optional mode. I tried it, but didn’t find it that useful. What we now have as “lenses” were still in “beta” builds, and weren’t all that functional.
At some point, probably 11.10, Ubuntu switched to Unity as the default interface, and nowadays you have to choose to install GNOME. This Lifehacker article from 2011 details differences between the two as of the end of 2011, when Unity became the default interface.
For this, I’m just focusing on the here and now, with Ubuntu 13.04. As I’ve said, Unity is the default. If you do a clean install of Ubuntu 13.04, you have Unity to deal with: you have lenses, you have the dock, you have the toolbar atop the screen. Originally, GNOME and Unity looked quite different, but GNOME is looking more and more like Unity. The functionality is different between the two.
I’ve noticed (and this is probably just true for my older laptop) that Unity is slower, it tends to lag, especially when loading the “lenses” (I still don’t really get that term, but it seems to be what that menu is called). There seems to be a lot of work being done to add features to the “lenses”, but I don’t really use those “lenses” that often. In fact, searching for programs in that menu is a bit clunkier than what I am used to in GNOME.
After switching back to GNOME this week, I’m pleased to see that accessing programs is still as quick and simple as I remember, even though GNOME has taken on a slightly different menu design. Back in 7.04, you had a very Windows XP-ish main menu system, where you clicked one of three items on the main toolbar, and a dropdown menu would appear, and you’d search for programs like that. Very familiar to those used to Windows. Nowadays, you have a full-screen interface for the menu, centered around two features: an object-dock on the left, and a search bar along the top. Simply start typing the name of the program you need if it isn’t docked, and it will appear on the menu.
The current GNOME menu interface
I prefer GNOME’s sleeker, quicker menus to the clunkier, more lag-prone menus in Unity. Unity is a nice idea, it just isn’t quite there, yet. And I don’t think it will be. It’s a good alternative, I just wish GNOME were still the default for Ubuntu. I know Unity looks nicer, but GNOME just runs better. Again, this is all just my own opinion.
The other day I started replaying Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. The game was released at the end of 2010, eight years after the second game in the franchise, Golden Sun: The Lost Age, was released. I remember buying the game practically the day it was launched, and being really excited for it.
If you’ve never heard of this RPG franchise, and you may not have, given its odd history, it had a very devoted fanbase for a number of years, which slowly dissolved over the years between the second and third games. The original game, Golden Sun was released within the launch window for Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance system. Its release was overshadowed by other GBA launch games (such as Super Mario Advance, Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, and F-Zero: Maximum Velocity, among others), but Golden Sun was the first GBA game I had. It was a really fun game, had a great story, great music, memorable characters, and a great battle system, what with the Djinn and the elemental summons.
For those who’ve not played the GS games, and don’t know what the Djinn are in this context: the Djinn were Pokemon-esque creatures you could collect through your journeys. The game focused on four elemental types (Earth, fire, water, and wind), and there were Djinn of each type. Djinn could be assigned to characters, and, when active, would boost that characters stats and even give them abilities they couldn’t access otherwise. You could either have Djinn as “set” or “standby”. When you start having Djinn “set”, you gain the ability to cast elemental summons in battle. Obviously, the more Djinn you have on set, the more powerful the summons you can call upon. If you have a Djinni on standby (I clearly remember Nintendo Power magazine indicating that the singular is “Djinni” and the plural is “Djinn”), then you can use them in battle. Each individual Djinni had a different effect when used in battle: some inflicted damage, some boosted your characters’ stats, some revived, things like that. It was a fun battle element that set the games apart. You found Djinn throughout the game, either by solving puzzles to get to them, or just finding them out in the wild. Sometimes they’d join your party willingly, other times you’d have to defeat them in battle.
Golden Sun was a fun game, but it felt rather short. After two main dungeons, the game concluded with a “To Be Continued” screen, and prompted the player to create a “completed game” save file. Obviously this was telling the player that there was a second game in the works. We didn’t have to wait long for details on this, as the sequel, Golden Sun: The Lost Age was announced. This was back in the day when I didn’t really have access to the Internet, and most of my gaming news came from the pages of Nintendo Power magazine.
Also for those unfamiliar with the games: the basic story for the game was somewhat simple: you start out with two young men from the mountain village of Vale. There is a magic system in the land of Weyard known as Psynergy, which stems from a greater power known as Alchemy. Alchemy itself was sealed off from the world ages ago, in order to prevent the power, and abuse of the power by people, from destroying the world. The village of Vale guards Sol Sanctum, which is home to the four Elemental Stars (Mars, Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter, or Fire, Water, Earth, and Wind, respectively). The two young men, Isaac and Garett, are caught up in events when a storm breaks out in Vale, after two strangers try to break into Sol Sanctum. During the storm, a village youth is swept away downriver and thought lost. The story continues a few years later, when Isaac and Garett have been studying Psynergy with the scholar, Kraden. The group travels to Sol Sanctum to try and solve the mystery of the storm, and end up finding the Elemental Stars. While exploring that sanctuary, the villains return, and take part of the group hostage, forcing Isaac and Garrett to hand over three of the four Elemental Stars. The villains’ plan is simple: they will use the Elemental Stars to ignite the four Lighthouses around the world. Doing so will unleash the power of Alchemy, which Isaac and Garrett have been told will destroy the world. The two pursue the villains across the world, always arriving just moments too late to prevent Lighthouses from being ignited. The game ends after the lighting of the second Lighthouse causes earthquakes, and splits the cast to various areas.
It soon became obvious, through Nintendo Power, that the sequel would be a more expansive game than the first. There would be more of a lot of things: more playable characters, a longer, more involved story, more Djinn to collect. I was excited for the game.
Golden Sun: The Lost Age was released two years after the first game, and was also on the Game Boy Advance. The story picked up just where the first left off, and led to, as was promised, a more expansive story. What caught my attention about the sequel was that you played as one of the villains, a character named Felix. This seemed rather odd; why would you be playing as the villains, trying to fulfill their plan to destroy the world? All was explained in a rather nice twist: turns out that having Alchemy sealed away was weakening the world, and causing it to decay and fall apart. Unleashing Alchemy was the only way to save the world. The villains from the first game turned out to be the actual heroes.
What also made Golden Sun: The Lost Age such a great game was how it connected with the first game, beyond just being a sequel. If you had a completed save file from the first game, you could transfer that data to the second game, and carry over your characters, complete with collected items, levels, and Djinn. When those characters joined your party in the second game, they would be just as you left them in the first game. Doing this would allow you to access bonus content in the second game, including a secret dungeon (provided you had collected every Djinn in the first game).
This connection method reminded me of a couple of Game Boy Color games, those being The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages. Those games boasted a linked mode, where either game could be played as the first, with the other being the sequel. Completing one game would give you a passcode, which would unlock bonus content in the sequel.
Either way, it was not just a really neat feature, but a nice way of connecting the two games. I’ve not played the Mass Effect games, but I’ve heard there was a similar idea between the first and second of those games, if not the third.
In the years since The Lost Age was released, I’ve learned that the first two games were originally developed as just one massive game, but the project proved either too much for a single GBA cartridge, or the developers just didn’t feel like keeping it as one game. Either way, we ended up with two amazing games for the Game Boy Advance.
The Lost Age had a rather solid ending. It completed the story in a satisfactory manner, for the most part. The only problem with the ending was that it hinted at a possible third game: the game’s main villain, Alex, gained the power he sought and a bit of that power was given to the game’s lead protagonist, Isaac. It was strongly hinted that a third game would be released eventually. So the fans waited. And waited. And waited, only to learn nothing of a new game.
The Game Boy Advance era came to an end in 2004 when the Nintendo DS was released. I remember awaiting E3 2005 for news of a new Golden Sun game. The DS would be the logical home to a third game, as the first two were on the GBA. Nothing was said. The franchise developer, Camelot Software, fell into obscurity, after focusing on Mario sports titles.
Years passed. It wasn’t until E3 of 2009 that something new was announced. It was at Nintendo’s E3 press conference that Reggie Fils-Aime revealed that a new Golden Sun game was in the works for the Nintendo DS. It was a small announcement at that E3, but to me it was huge. They also had a trailer for the new game, and it caught my attention. Turns out that, for this new game, you’d be playing as the children of the first two games’ protagonists, as the story was set 30 years later.
The game was eventually released, in the holiday season of 2010. As mentioned earlier, I bought my copy practically on launch day. It had been eight years since The Lost Age was released, eight long years. And herein lies my argument that we will never see a fourth Golden Sun game.
Dark Dawn, the latest title in the series, told the story of the next generation of characters. Alchemy has been restored to the world, and old villains return. Let’s skip the story and head directly to the game’s ending. Spoiler alert, whatever. Dark Dawn ends much as the first game did: the protagonists are faced with a rather huge dilemma, and the players are faced with a “To Be Continued…” cliffhanger.
That’s a problem. The third game, which was released eight years after the second game, continues the story, roughly, from the first two. It ends with a cliffhanger. It ends with a tease for another game, a fourth game in the series. It’s now May of 2013, and there is no word on a new game. A bit over two years later. And I doubt we will ever see that fourth game.
Let’s look at this. The first two games were released on the Game Boy Advance. The first game was released in 2001, the second in 2002. The third game was released in 2010. That’s eight years. The fanbase of the original games grew older. Time passed. A lot of time passed. Fans waited for news, but after each year’s E3 came and went with nothing said about a new game, interest dwindled. Fans grew up, became interested in other things, lost interest, gave up waiting for a title that looked increasingly unlikely to ever be announced. People moved on.
There was some interest in the third game, from people like me who remembered the originals and were glad that a new one was being developed. But my own life is an interesting look at things: the first two games were released when I was in high school. By the time the third game was released, I was in my last year of University, and already moving on with my life as an adult. And there you go: teenagers when the first two games were released were adults by then. Entirely different circumstances, maybe different tastes in video games. It just felt like something from the past was being revived for no point whatsoever.
I played Dark Dawn. I completed Dark Dawn. It didn’t live up to my expectations, but then again, after waiting so many years, nothing could truly live up to the wait. To the hype, for better or worse. Dark Dawn was far easier than the first two games. None of the bosses were that difficult. The story was interesting, but just didn’t captivate me like the first two games did. Was it because it didn’t focus on the same main characters, but rather their children? Was it because I was older?
As I said, the core fans of the originals had moved on, lost interest, given up hope for a new game, and here we had it. Dark Dawn is the worst selling game of the series. It only sold 46,000 copies its first four days in Japan. As of January of 2012, it has only sold 80,000 copies in Japan. Sales figures through the rest of the world are just as bad. Either the older fans had no interest or the game didn’t appeal to current gamers, but there you have it: the game just didn’t sell well; it sold worse than the original game.
Dark Dawn‘s reviews were not that kind. Just glancing at GameFAQs, I’m seeing the game has a 7.0 reader review average, an 8.1 from GameFAQs ratings, and a 79 from MetaCritic. Those seem like acceptable ratings, actually, but the game wasn’t received that well; the sales numbers should tell you that.
At the end of the day, it’s clear: there won’t be another Golden Sun game. Long-time fans of the series will either just pretend Dark Dawn never happened (accepting it just means we’ll be left with an unresolved cliffhanger) or just put up with that “to be continued”. There’s not enough interest from fans to justify making a fourth game. It all comes down to the question of whether a game project will earn enough in sales to balance out development costs, and what Dark Dawn tells us is that a fourth game will probably not. The third game does not compare that well to the older games, enough that expectations of a fourth game would probably be lowered.
The Golden Sun franchise is a great example of what happens when you have a series of games, especially with a continuing story, and too much time passes between releases of games. A few years are okay, but when you near a decade, the original audience has grown older and likely moved on, losing interest. I would love to see another Golden Sun game, but I’ve already moved on, having realized that game will likely never be made.
Here we are, it’s early April, 2013, and Doctor Who fans are anticipating the show’s 50th anniversary later this year. We’ve had some confirmations from the BBC as to what we can expect from the special, and there are hints to what else we can expect.
At the outset, I’ll warn you that this column contains spoilers for the 50th anniversary special. If you want to abstain from any announcements, any confirmations, anything possibly spoilerish, click away. The rest of the column is after the jump.
Now this is a thing.
Age of Empires was a PC game released in 1999, a game that quickly became a fan favorite among the Real-Time Strategy genre. An expansion, The Conquerors, was released the following year.
Since then, there has been a subsequent game, Age of Empires III (2005), and a number of variations and spin-offs on other platforms (PS2, and DS), that took different approaches to the format. Since then, though, the RTS genre as a whole has largely died off (I’ve written about this in a previous article).
Then late 2012 came along, and there was a rather interesting development, albeit among the fan community rather than an official project. A website opened, promising an upcoming, fan-made, unofficial expansion to Age of Empires II, a game that, by this point, was over a decade old (and not even available on GOG.com).
This expansion adds a number of new features. According to the site, these include five new civilizations (Italians, Indians, Slavs, Magyars, and Incas), 30 new techs, nine new units, 50+ population limit, 11 new maps, and resolution support up to 1920*1440.
I’ve yet to give this a try (though I should, given how much I like AoE II), but I have seen at least one person on Twitch playing the expansion.
Either way, it’s neat to see something like this from the fan community, an expansion to a game that is, by this point, 12 years old and has more of a limited fan base. I will give this expansion a try this weekend.
The world of Sherlock Holmes adaptations has been completely bizarre, of late, at least as far as critical reaction is concerned. Also note, I’m referring to at least the reactions that I’ve been seeing on Twitter, which may or may not be indicative of a larger reaction.
I remember when BBC’s Sherlock was in production, and a common reaction being confusion and tentative approval of the Sherlock stories being modernized. We also knew that Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss would be in charge of this production. It was an interesting idea, and maybe those two were up to it. At the time, Moffat had just become the new showrunner for Doctor Who, and many were drawing parallels between the characters of Sherlock Holmes and the Doctor.
I also remember how the first series of Sherlock was met with a mostly positive reaction. This was a great adaptation of the Sherlock stories, one that was incredibly well-acted by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. The common reaction was positive for this new series.
Series two ran two years later, and I guess this is where fan reaction started going downhill. I do remember a lot of people being extremely pissed off at Steven Moffat, to the point of reviling the man (assuming they hadn’t done already) for his portrayal of Irene Adler. The common reaction is that the guy should stop writing for television, or at least stick to shows that only involved male characters. There was extreme hatred for how he wrote women, and any discussion of the show, even if it had nothing to do with the Irene character, would soon reach that topic and become a discussion on that.
However, the popular opinion remained, that Sherlock was a good adaptation of the Sherlock stories.
The rest of series two aired, culminating in that cliffhanger ending of The Reichenbach Fall, and lots of discussion was had concerning what actually happened at the end of the episode, and how that would be resolved. From what I saw, the reaction to the series overall was still mostly positive. People were anticipating the third series.
At some point since then, there was a press conference where Moffat gave the three word clues for what to expect with series three stories. This was at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, back in August, and the three clues were “rat, wedding, bow”. I remember a lot of discussion on those clues, as to what stories the clues referred to. Again, people were eager for series three. They at least liked the show.
At some point, we had the announcement of an upcoming American version of Sherlock, set to air on CBS, called Elementary. The common reaction was obvious: ew, gross, it’s an Americanization of Sherlock Holmes, and also set in modern day, looks like they’re trying to copy the BBC, it’ll inevitably fail and be horrible, why would they even bother? This reaction was furthered when it was revealed that the Dr. John Watson character in this version would be a female. That was met with a fair bit of indignation: how dare they do that, they’re obviously going for a romantic relationship between Holmes and Watson, it’s American television, what else would they do? The idea is that Sherlock is not a romantic character, and would not seek a relationship with anyone. The overall reaction to the possibility of this Americanized Sherlock was mostly negative, and the discussion frequently brought in comparisons with the BBC’s show. Still, reception of the BBC series was mostly positive, with people wondering if it could even compare.
Now, Elementary is an ongoing series, and I’ve noticed something strange, given all that I’ve just established.
The common reaction that I’m seeing now is that BBC’s Sherlock is a horrible, atrocious thing, with people quite vehemently disliking the series. This is different, as I clearly remember people being quite fond of it when it was running. Yet any discussion of the series is quickly shut down and the speaker shamed, how could they possibly like that? Don’t dare say anything positive about it, don’t you realize how horrible that show is? Moffat shouldn’t be allowed to write for television. This outrage goes to the point where you can’t even mention the show without hearing this outcry. (On a somewhat related note, I’ve heard the discussion that Gatiss can’t write, either, especially for Doctor Who) I think this discussion usually returns to Irene Adler, and that Moffat cannot write women characters, which I would admit is true. However, you’d not believe how angry people are over this show. I guess this is indicative of a larger conversation going on right now on television programming and cultural trends and progress that should definitely be made.
Now here’s where it gets a bit more bizarre: people actually like Elementary. This just seems like an odd reality where that horrible, disgusting American adaptation turns out to be a far better Sherlock adaptation than what the BBC is doing. Elementary generally gets a highly positive reaction, according to what I’m seeing, and Sherlock is outright reviled.
At this point, I’ve only seen the pilot episode of Elementary, and it doesn’t seem that remarkable to me. The show seems like a standard police procedural, detective drama that one would see on CBS in primetime. The names Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson are there just to gather attention and an audience, the writing and pacing of at least that pilot episode were exactly what you’d expect from any CSI show. I’ve seen the discussion on the type of logical reasoning that Elementary‘s Sherlock does as opposed to BBC’s, and how they are different interpretations of the character. There’s also the factor of Elementary‘s Watson being a woman and the very likely possibility of a romantic relation where there shouldn’t be one, given the source material.
Maybe the show improves, but that isn’t what I’ve been hearing. However, given this bizarre transformation of popular opinion, it may as well be the best interpretation of Holmes, right up there with those two movies that star Robert Downey, Jr and Jude Law.
I’ve just been left more than a bit confused by this new set of opinions, and am wondering exactly how or why this is.
At this point: BBC? Don’t even bother making a third series of that trash you call Sherlock. CBS? Keep making that wonderful modernization you call Elementary, it’s the best. That seems to be what I’m seeing, and I’m just wondering when opinions shifted as drastically as they have done. I’m confused, that’s all. I think BBC have a good adaptation, but I guess that makes me a villain? Or maybe my noticing that and even mentioning it makes me a villain? I’m really confused.
In 1989, a game was released for Windows 3.x called “Castle of the Winds”. It was a variation of RPGs (like Ultima or Dragon Warrior) that had your single character explore dungeons, most of which were randomly generated.
In a way, Castle of the Winds was a precursor to the “roguelike” genre that is so popular nowadays, with games like The Binding of Isaac and FTL: Faster Than Light. The basic idea of a roguelike is that most of the content you experience is randomized, and each death is permanent, meaning a death results in a fresh attempt, with default stats and none of the items and/or power-ups collected in the previous attempt. The dungeons you explore have a randomized layout, with different enemy spawns each time.
At the start of a new game, you create a generic male or female character, and roll some basic stats, much like a Dungeons & Dragons game. Once you settle on a set of stats, you start your quest. There’s a basic story about your home village being burned and you having to go on a quest to defeat whatever villain caused the destruction. Then you head north and enter the first dungeon.
From what I remember, the first dungeon always has the same layout, but further dungeons are never the same.
As the game progresses, you attack enemies by clicking on them. You have either weapons or spells at your disposal, and leveling up unlocks additional spells. As you explore dungeons, you find an assortment of items, from weapons and armor to potions and scrolls and gold, as well as traps. Most of the items you collect cannot be fully used until you identify them (this is most true for the scrolls and potions). Some items might turn out to be enchanted, others might turn out to be cursed, most will be normal.
I remember playing this game a lot as a kid, on my family’s old Windows 3.x machine. I think I even still have the floppy disk for the game somewhere. This was a fun game, and required a lot of careful planning. It’s interesting how, what with the roguelike genre being such a popular thing nowadays, that this game was released at the end of the ’80s.
There were actually two Castle of the Winds games. The first was a free shareware title, and included an advert for the sequel, which was sold commercially. I think I eventually got the sequel from a yard sale, or maybe some dollar store in town.
The two games look and play the same, the second just provides even more dungeons to explore.
(Side note: I like to look at the system requirements for these older PC games. I hope your computer is able to play these games. Here’s a look at what the games ask for: 640×480 graphic display, 80286 CPU, 2MB RAM, Windows 3.x or above, 32 bit version of Windows or below)
However, back in 1998, the games’ creator, Rick Saada, made both games freely available on his website (as of this writing, that site seems to no longer exist, but the games can be easily found elsewhere). Of course, getting the games to work nowadays will most likely require DOSBox (or maybe it doesn’t, it’s been a while, I don’t remember). Either way, if you don’t remember the game (or if you do and would like to play it again), you can do so rather easily.
The games are rather simple, but I still find them fun to play. In any case, they are a neat look at how the roguelike genre existed even back in the early days of PC gaming. Does anyone else remember the two Castle of the Winds games?