Monday, August 24, 2015

Gaming Bits: Windows 9x, A New Era of PC Gaming (56k WARNING)


The time is mid-1995, the Sony Playstation is about to wow any and all gamers as it did in Japan the previous year, Developers were still learning the Sega Saturn, Nintendo's 64 was almost ready to come out, and The oldest surviving gaming platform was about to show what it was really made of. an easy to use Universal Operating System for IBM PC and Compatibles (which were in of themselves becoming cheaper and more accessible to to the home user) has came out appealing to businessmen, power users, gamers, and your typical Average Joe who wanted a simple non-clunky OS for IBM PC and Compatibles. That OS came to be known as...

Before we get into the innovations, implications, and benefits of Windows 95, Let's get into a history of PC Gaming. In the 80s and the First Half of the 90s, PC's were rather inaccessible to Average Joe users. Which is kind of the reason you saw more proprietary Computers From companies like Commodore, Atari, and Apple make their own Computer systems, It's not like today whether it's a question of Mac or PC or even Linux, Back in the day you had 20 different companies from around the world making their own proprietary Computers and Operating Systems. some time in the 90s, PC Compatibles have came down in price, Microsoft's response, Make Windows 3.1, a clunky, buggy OS that was broken beyond all stretch of the imagination. Still people didn't want to use MS-DOS, so microsoft made a full upgrade to MS-DOS compared to 3.1's shell like nature.

Just what did this System bring to the Table? It Introduced the Start Menu (Essentially The Hub for all your programs, games, Applications, etc.), Internet Explorer (many 90s kids first internet browser (also it's main competition was Navigator, guess which one people actually preferred)), The Microsoft Network (a dialup service by Microsoft (Just Imagine navigating my blog on that (I think it's still offered you know)), Plug and play (Where you could plug in your devices and Windows could search for a driver), The Recycle Bin (for removing files) and an overall new look for windows. It had an X button, a minimize button, and a maximize/restore down button on windows. It heavily used CD-ROMs.

In 1998, Windows 95 got better with Windows 98. It was beefier, had more features, (including a new Explorer look (that had a feel similar to Internet Explorer), Internet Explorer 4, a better Windows Update, and more), and it added some games, like 3D Pinball Space Cadet (Which was included with Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95. Microsoft Plus added programs, games, themes and made it a better overall experience. There was also Windows 98 Second Edition, but all it added was stability fixes.

Yoshiette 1: We found a new continent, Captain Columbus...

In 2000, Windows ME was introduced, Windows ME or Millenium Edition was the definition of  a downgrade. sure it had Internet Explorer 5, Windows Media Player, the first edition of Windows Movie Maker, and some new games like spider solitaire, spider solitaire, does whatever a spider can, can it swing from a web? Oh wait, back on subject. The big problem with ME was that it was just so damned buggy. If you wanted it more buggy, you could always upgrade to IE6. This pretty much killed of the Windows 9x brand. A Year Later, Microsoft released Windows XP and the rest is history...

Instead of dwelling on Windows ME forever, let's talk about the Windows 9x seies as gaming platform... All games could use the Keyboard and Mouse, but there was also Gamepads (Like Microsoft's Sidewinder series), Flight Sticks, and Driving Controlers. You could also upgrade your system with 3D Graphics Cards from NVidia, 3Dfx, and others. It was just so customizable. Now let's take a look at some games that took great advantage of the 9x standard.

The Quake Series was extremely Customizeable with mods, Skins, levels, and it had gripping single player and a great multiplayer.

Half-Life, along with it's expansion packs and mods were extremely customizeable, and had great storytelling.

Star Wars: Jedi Knight Dark Forces 2, A Personal favorite of mine.

Unreal, A beast to run, but It looked great, and had great mods.

Command & Conquer, the refinement of Dune II released a few years earlier.

Homeworld, A full 3D RTS Game.

Total Annihilation, Another fav of mine.

StarCraft (and it's expansion Brood War), a ridiculously fun game through Multiplayer.

There also were RPGs that took advantage of the powers of DirectX, Diablo, Fallout, and Baulder's Gate just to name a few...

Thanks to DirectX Racing Games have never looked better, or have been more moddable. The Midtown Madness and Need For Speed Series are good examples of this...

With a new generation of PC Gaming, We lost some stuff, like the massive popularity of the adventure genre, case in point, Games like Grim Fandango and The NeverHood (another personal favorite of mine) never stood a chance.

So in closing, Windows 95/98/ME had a lot of interesting games, and I'm pretty sure you could play a lot of these on modern versions of windows (with some requiring more work and patches and fixes than others). I just wanted to take a look at some of these games for Windows 95's 20th anniversary.


I Sense a 2-parter coming!

^This next time, and I think you can figure out what's after that^

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