Guest Retrospective

Chris Todd, a Producer at Human Code and writer of Scheherazade, the gameflow system for Wing Commander III and IV shares his favorite computer games of all time.

1. Civilization
Go back to the original in all its suggestive iconic glory; one of the few computer games to withstand the test of time (and still run on my 386SX laptop) -- a marvel of game design surpassing technology.

2. Archon
Another landmark from the early days of Electronic Arts, when they all wore black and took artsy publicity photos. The forces of Light and Dark fight across a constantly changing chessboard. Despite the crude graphics and sound, it combines strategy and action to a degree that has seldom been equaled.

3. Doom
You knew it was going to be on here somewhere; and, as much as it has been over-hyped, it deserves to be. I mean, really: a reject from Aliens running around wasting obscenities from a bad Cthulu rip-off? You can't lose with a formula like that.

4. M.U.L.E.
One of the silliest names for a computer game ever. Back before Dan Bunten changed to Dani, this was one of his (her) great successes, as you race to colonize a planet with the ever-versatile robotic M.U.L.E.s at your disposal. Someone, please, convince Dani to release this for a platform that hasn't been dead a decade.

5. X-Com
This game has it all. Guns. Secret bases. Horrible creatures from beyond. Innocent civilians who are ruthlessly slaughtered. No, it's not SimCity 2000, but an extraordinarily well-thought-out combination of resource-management, combat, and story, as an ill-prepared Earth attempts to combat an alien invasion.

6. System Shock
Doom for people with physics degrees. And a lot of time. One of the few games to successfully capture the cyberpunk gleam, and maybe the only game to successfully integrate a tight narrative with action-adventure.

7. Sundog
Bonus points if anyone remembers this game, a beautifully clean example of how to do a sci-fi adventure game with a minimal (but elegant) interface, and what seemed like a huge, well-thought-out universe. Cool name, too.

8. Toshinden/Wipeout
The Sony PlayStation -- fun in a box. Wipeout has a soundtrack that would fit right in at any rave and graphics so smooth they glide. Toshinden is what every fighting game should aspire to be, and if anyone disagrees with me, Ellis will kick their ass.

9. Star Raiders
This game fit on a cartridge, for god's sake. The first of the 3-D space combat games made its appearance on the Atari 400, but packed in tons of gameplay and a bizarre 3-D scanner that I never figured out ('course, I was, like, eight or something). Still, this was the game that launched a thousand ships, so to speak.

10. Wing Commander III
Okay, yes, I was one of the programmers, so yes, it's going to go on the list. Depending on who you talk to, it either hailed the beginning or the end of the "interactive movie" genre. n

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