Apr 28, 2008

Stalin Vs. Martians and the 4th Five Year Plan

StalinNope, we won't be discussing Stalin today children, so please do behave and try to stop acting shocked, as all we will be talking about will be games about Stalin, or, to be precise, the two games about Stalin I'm aware of. Right? Right! Excellent, then.

The first game is the appropriately freeware Stalin's Dilemma by famed strategy game designer and SUNY College history teacher Ed Bever. You can download it via the Home of the Underdogs, marvel at its impressive historical accuracy, revel in its intricate socio-economic model and start implementing 5-year plans while preparing for the Nazi invasion, as this is a turn-based game about Soviet economic development between 1928-42. Apparently doing a better -and less brutal- job than Stalin did is nigh on impossible...

Stalin Vs Martians RTSStalin Vs. Martians, on the other hand, a forthcoming piece on applied wargaming surrealism by three whole Russian development studios, seems to be aiming for a slightly less realistic take on Stalin. And it starts exactly where Dilemma ends too (i.e. in 1942), when the infamous invasion of colorful aliens began, though nobody noticed or seems to remember. The game, a humorous 3D RTS of sorts, will probably be available very soon and you can find out all there is to it by following this humblest of revolutionary links. Oh, and here's a rather interesting bit from the game's official FAQ:

Vopros: Can we play as Stalin himself?
Otvet: Yes, but not from the start. Stalin is our commander and he gives us orders. Closer to the grand finale he will appear on the battlefield as a playable unit - a huge colossus, five times higher than any other creature. Just like it was in real life.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: the freeware Icehole games, Age of Decadence interview, Aquaria, Тургор: a dark and surreal adventure

Apr 24, 2008

The habitat of the Dungeons & Dragons CRPG

Pool of Radiance TSR Gold BoxYes, well, as you might have noticed I'm not updating Gnome's Lair as regularly as I used to -neither of course as regularly as I would like to, but this definitely doesn't mean I have no more gaming nonsense to share with mankind. Au contraire... All I lack is the necessary free time, not the ideas. Hopefully though my just published Top 10 D&D CRPGs feature post over at the excellent Dungeon Mastering RPG blog will both keep you entertained and prove I've not lost interest in gaming. Cheers!

Related @ Gnome's Lair: The Orb of Dilaaria, Remember Llamasoft?, Wii retro gaming, Knights of the Dinner Table for free

Apr 21, 2008

Grab the first issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly in glorious PDF & CBZ

Electronic Gaming Monthly EGM issue 1 coverThose lovable retro gaming maniacs running Retromags.com, the premier resource for downloadable retro magazines, have gone and done something particularly impressive. Yes, again, and as you might have already read over at dear racketboy's they have scanned the historically important and immensely enjoyable premiere issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) for our reading pleasure. What you might not know, though, is that -in pure Retromags tradition- we're talking about something more than a mere scan. We're talking about a version of EGM that has been touched up and enhanced to remove any sign of old age and only then masterfully packed into a 68-pages long PDF/CBZ file.

To download EGM #1 you can either use the torrent created by racketboy, go for the direct PDF download or grab the CBZ file. Better yet, visit Retromags and grab a few more retro mags while you're at it or even stay and lend a helping hand. The retro gaming community after all probably needs you too. Yes, even you.

EGM scanEGM #1 (May 1989) Table of Contents

Insert Coin (editorial) ...p.6
Top Ten Games ...p.8
Next Wave (short previews) ...p.8-11
Press Start (news) ...p.13-15
Letters to the Editor ...p.18
Contest ...p.19
At the Arcades (Atari Hard' Drivin' review) ...p.20
Game Gossip ...p.22
Preview '89 (the issue's main feature) ...p.23-29
16-Bit Sizzler (PC Engine, Mega Drive, SNES, Slipstream) ...p.30 & 62-63
Dare to Compare (Tecmo Bowl vs. Quarterback) ...p.31-33
1943 review (NES) ...p.40
Racket Attack review (NES) ...p. 41
Ultima Exodus review (NES) ...p.42
Bubble Bobble review (NES) ...p.43
Bump 'n' Jump review (NES) ...p.44
Y's review (Master System) ...p.45
Rastan Review (Master System) ...p.46
Time Soldiers review (Master System) ...p.48
Hat Trick review (Atari 7800) ...p.50
Tetris review (NES) ...p.51
F-19 Stealth Fighter review (PC) ...p.54
Zak McKracken review (PC) ...p.56
Hybris review (Amiga) ...p.57
Double Dragon review (C64) ...p.58
Sword of Shodan review (Amiga) ...p.60
Offshore Warrior review (Amiga) ...p.61
Game Over ...p.66

The complete guide to Taxan Games booklet

A short Retromags Interview with Phillyman

1. Who are you, oh retro loving giver of magazines?

I go by the name Phillyman, but the real name is Rob. I am 28 years old and got into video games early on in life; my first systems were an Atari 2600 and a NES. I grew up mostly playing Nintendo based systems, but I did have the Sega Channel...who here remembers that service? Anyways now I collect older games and systems. I am also a fanatic of Halo 2 and 3!

2. Care to share bits of the history behind Retromags?

I used to be a member on website named grh.se. Through that website I found a group of people scanning video game manuals. I had always wanted to help out with the emulation community, and knowing that my programming skills are not good enough to create emulators, I had the idea to scan my old Nintendo Power magazines. We were going to originally be called Powerscans.com, but a week later that domain name was taken. I then thought of the name Retromags because its more generic and doesn't tie us into just scanning Nintendo Power magazines.

3. Any significant future plans?

We are working towards a few goals right now, one of them being scanning the first 10 years of Electronic Gaming Monthly. Other goals we are looking to accomplish by the end of this year are putting together a final set of Nintendo Power issues 1-165. Oh and I would also love to get PSM issues 1-53 and Sega Visions 1-25 all scanned and released to the public. Goals for next year include providing the first 10 years of GamePro and the first 5 years of Next Generation magazine. Beyond that I am not sure..Gamefan and GameInformer maybe?

4. As for EGM issue 1, you must be quite proud, eh? How did you uncover this rarest of gems? Which parts of it did you enjoy the most?

The first issue of EGM has been on my hit list for the past 18 months or so, and through relentless searching on Ebay I finally found a copy for sale. I had to have it and placed a max bid of $100 on it...luckily I got it for around $37. I then took the $63 dollars saved and managed to snag EGM Issue 4, 8, 9 and 11 also! I think the best part of these magazines is really the advertisements, you can really get a feeling for the time the magazine was released in.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: A ton of free retro magazines, The DOOM Bible, ZX Spectrum's Rex, Mersey Remakes interview

Apr 14, 2008

Icehole brings gamers the gift of junta & revolution

Sim Junta 1821Icehole games, the Greek developers better known for World Basketball Manager and soon to achieve international stardom via the forthcoming political simulation Us & Them, have been all nice and released a couple of their older games as freeware. This means you can be playing both Sim Junta: Come be the Bastard and 1821 in a few minutes, provided of course you got a decent connection and are smart enough to figure out where to click.

Now, as 1821 is only available in Greek and -let's face it- the Greek audience of this blog isn't exactly gargantuan, let me focus on Sim Junta instead. It is, after all, a pretty deep statistical management/strategy game, that interestingly puts the player in the (stinky, imperialist) shoes of a dictator of a fictional country. Desperately trying to please ones American masters, avoiding being overthrown by revolutionary guerrillas and simultaneously making sure there's a constant flow of money from said country to a secret Swiss bank account is the object of the game. Knowing how to deal with a variety of social classes and interest groups the key. How very realistic, really. Great fun -in a thoughtful quasi-satirical manner- too!

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Basketball Manager for free, Gun Mute, Monty's Christmas Special, Prototype II: the shmup

Apr 5, 2008

The Orb of Dilaaria

It's nice to see that Wolfenstein 3D, the granddaddy of the modern FPS and the game that singlehandedly created the modding scene (as I enjoy mentioning), still has what it takes to attract some of the best modders around. Take The Orb of Dilaaria for example. It's an utterly impressive mod based on a vastly updated and heavily tweaked Wolf3D/Spear of Destiny engine, that spans 6 acts and over 60 maps, sports 20 different character types, offers an amazingly non-linear storyline and even takes place in a proper dark-fantasy setting.

On the techier side of things The Orb features parallax scrolling skies (!), ceilings, multi-textured and at times animated floors, rain effects, shading, fog and -yes- teleporters. What's more, as this is a stand-alone total conversion of Wolfenstein, you won't need the original game(s) to run it either. DOSbox or VDMsound might come in handy though.

To find out more on The Orb of Dilaaria and of course download your free copy, do try clicking yourselves over here and/or here.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Wolfenstein 3D lives!, Introspect UT 2004, relive Quake in 32-bits, an updated Duke Nukem 3D