Old school PC gaming

posted by Jeff | Saturday, May 27, 2023, 11:50 PM | comments: 0

Yesterday we heard "Disco Inferno" while riding the Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster at Epcot. I explained to Diana that the song always reminds me of this game that Stephanie and I used to play in the late 90's called Dungeon Keeper. Well, actually it was Dungeon Keeper 2. The premise of the game was basically a management sim where you were in charge of building a dungeon and killing all of the good guys with your monsters and minions. It was the opposite of D&D, kind of. When you built a casino for your monsters, and they hit the jackpot, the narrator would say, "Jackpot winner!" and "Disco Inferno" would start to play.

I remember reading awhile ago an article about the GOG service... Good Old Games. It has been around for more than a decade, and what they do is take old games and figure out how to make them work on modern computers. They work with the copyright holders to sell those games, with no DRM and a very liberal refund policy, and it's pretty great. The Dungeon Keeper games are available for "free" via Xbox Game Pass on the PC (which is actually through EA), but I couldn't get either one to reliably run. DK2 would run, but at a frame rate that was like a slide show. So I bought both games for ten bucks on GOG, and they worked right out of the box. The first one even runs on my M2 Macs! These games are so, so good, and hold up incredibly well despite the two decades and change that have passed. I spent the late afternoon and evening playing almost non-stop.

I am not nostalgic about many things, but there were some games back in the day that were so much fun on the comprooders. When Dungeon Keeper 2 came out, that was the start of the era where we would constantly chase higher frame rates with new video cards. I never bought the expensive ones, so I never had great experiences, just decent ones. Remember, we had not yet seen the Nintendo Gamecube or original Xbox yet, so the most sophisticated games were still on PC. Tomb Raider may have had its start on PlayStation, but it was way better looking on the computer. Hard to believe, but games running at 640x480 on a 17" monitor looked way better than anything on an NTSC video game console at the time.

There is a huge pile of things to play with Game Pass Ultimate, which covers Xbox and Windows. I kind of wish that I would have upgraded my Windows computer instead of getting the Mac Mini, but the two things are good at different things in this case. I still have the machine under my desk, and it's easy enough to just change the input on a monitor to use it. And the crappy thing is that this is the year where many of the new Xbox games require the Series X/S and won't run on an Xbox One. Faced with a $500 console that's already a few years old, that doesn't feel great if there are dual releases on Windows. Although, heck, if the cloud stuff really takes off, I can play anything on any machine that has a browser.

For now, I'm having a ton of fun revisiting Dungeon Keeper. And the funny things is, I suspect the CD-ROM is still in my garage somewhere.


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