Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Reliving the childhood game

I only played one computer game when I was a kid. It was an old DOS flight simulator called F-19 Stealth Fighter with 16-bit graphics and horrendous sound. But I remember it fondly. Firing maverick missiles and getting Distinguished Flying Crosses consumed quite a few hours of my childhood.

This past weekend I decided to relive the nostalgia and play it again. I installed a DOS emulator for my macbook pro caller Boxer and it wasn't too hard to find a copy of F-19 floating around in the abaondonware universe.

The game is still fun. Even more than before.

For one thing, I'm a lot better. I decided to glance at the manual this time around and figured out how to play the most difficult levels. When I was a kid I could never advance far enough, because to play this game properly required a lot of patience. Flying a stealth fighter, after all, is not about blowing everything up. This time around, it was quite easy to win the Congressional Medal of Honor (the highest achievement in the game), where as before it seemed impossible.

Screen Shot 2012 06 26 at 11 37 19 PM

Another added fun factor is that I've actually visited some of the places in the maps. This game was made during the end of the Cold War. So one of the maps was Eastern Europe and I had to fly missions into Czechoslovakia and Poland. It was quite amusing to fly across cities like Prague, Brno, and Krakow and see the low res renderings of them that looks nothing like the real thing. Even more fun to attack targets in those cities and imaging what those parts of the world was like frozen in time.

In the end, this was just a well made game. No wonder, because Sid Meier made this before he became famous for making strategy games. It is amazing after more than 20 years, this game is not only still playable, but still amazingly fun. Sid said of F-19:
Everything I thought was cool about a flight simulator had gone into that game.
So there you have it… a bit of my childhood that is still accessible. No matter how much two decades have changed me and the world, some things remain preserved forever.