Wing Commander II

Outstanding article on a pillar of computer games’ 90s culture.

In retrospect, the Speech Pack for that game might have been one of the thing that made me think that sound is important in games. Even then as a preteen, buying sounds for a game felt wrong but I thought this was just because technology was moving so fast, developers didn’t have the time to do everything at the same time. Which was true, to some extent.

The technical craziness to me was that this game used 20MB of space. My hard-drive at that time was 20MB, which was standard and not enough for Origin’s game. 40MB hard-drives were ultra expensive. It’s as if today a game coming out required you to have a 2TB SSD ($1200 as of now). Not recommended, required. That was nuts.

The game was pretty bad. The fake 3D didn’t work well. The divide between gameplay/story was already there and yes, the story wasn’t that great. But it didn’t matter, I really wanted that game. The jump between the CGA-based awful game clones on MS-DOS to this mind-blowing 256 colors fest with digital effing sound was ludicrous. 3D-rendered bitmaps were sexy as hell.

I loved the visual style and design: those spaceships look like they were straight out of Robotech and I couldn’t get enough of that back in 1991. At the same time, Sonic was blowing everything away and Street Fighter II was punching everything away. Dragon Ball, Ranma½, Saint Seiya were airing in France.

That summer, Japan was reigning supreme in my young designer’s head. Japan, and Origin Systems.

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