- 1993 was a huge year in my life for video games. While everyone else was either playing Doom or Myst, I was treated to two of the finest strategy games every released: Master of Orion and X-Com: Enemy Unknown. While MoO is one of my formative gaming experiences, that is a story for another day. This story is about X-Com. Or more specifically, it's a story about the X-Com demo.
- The demo arrived on a three-and-a-half inch floppy disk packed in a gaming magazine. I would guess Computer Gaming World because that was my favorite source of game news at the time, but it's been too long to remember. When the disk arrived, I wasn't even sure what it was going to be. All I knew was that I was curious. So equipped with my Packard Bell 386-20 with four megabytes of RAM and a Sound Blaster Pro (installed personally because of Wing Commander), I got ready to face the aliens.
- Where the main game lets you choose your battles and stack the odds in your favor, the demo set you with a team of six soldiers: two equipped in no armor and light arms, two with light armor and medium weapons, and two in heavy armor and heavy weapons. Arrayed against is a full unit of Snakemen (I think) and the reviled Chryssalids.
- What followed over the next several turns was a maddening search of the area by my outmatched forces to hunt down all the aliens. I had to learn tactics as I played because there was not tutorial. If I messed up, someone died. Several someones. It was terrifying.
- It was exhilarating.
- Finally completing that mission was one of my favorite gaming moments. And it was only the demo. I got more fun out of it than some full games I've played.
© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.