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058 - Wing Commander

Best Games - Wing Commander

Don’t bother going back. You can’t. Time has eroded this game.

Wing Commander a cultural relic that pushed technology, and craftsmanship forward. It plowed, and then paved new roads for future creators. This game created new verbs.

The first time I played Wing Commander was on a 286. It sported vga graphics and an adlib sound card, but it was still barely able to run this game. The front of the machine housed two floppy drives, a 3 ½ and a 5 ¼. Through some trial and error and delicate file shuffling, I was able to make the game think that several floppies were, in fact, a single drive. This let me play without ever seeing an “insert disc” screen, just so long as I could deftly swap disks when I heard a particular “cachunk” noise. It’s worth noting that I could only do this because the the game was a pirated copy that everyone passed around school. I would feel bad about that, but I went on to buy every game in the series. I still have cd, dvd, and/or digital versions of all of the Wing Commander games.

The digital version of Wing Commander sits now, installed on my thoroughly modern computer. It is almost unplayable. Maybe it was just too far ahead of it’s time. Maybe it always suffered from rough edges and 23 years have cast them into sharp relief. But after 23 years, the music, presentation, sense of sweeping adventure, that hasn’t aged a day. After 23 years, Wing Commander still stands as high water mark. One of the best games.

This post is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 by the author.
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