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September 28, 2011 / jwaxo

X-COM: UFO Defense (Bundled Deals)

The most frightening MS-DOS game I’ve ever played.

Before the days of the internet and the subscribing to video game magazines, we didn’t learn about new video games in many ways. Some had commercials, this is true: the more memorable ones for me are the ones for Perfect Dark (debates are still going on if twelve-year-old me was old enough for that) and the GameBoy Pocket. Considering the sheer number of games pumped out, though, it’s no wonder that only a very select few bother competing for advertising space next to all of the movies, TV shows, FURNITURE FOR LESS stores, and lawyers promising that you need your money now.

The rest of it was entirely word of mouth.

In case you haven’t been reading this blog, that’s kind of what half of my stories are comprised of. There’s the game that I borrowed through my friend from the kid down the street, or the game that came, used, with our console, or the one that we picked up randomly at a garage sale. But there’s also the numerous games that we discovered just by going to visit a friend and having them tell us about it. Far too many for me to link to in this blog already, for sure.

In this case I was visiting Best Friend, and he was cooped up in his dad’s office, directing units across a wide strategic playing field.

Best Friend himself has already pointed out that he often enjoyed games for reasons that I did not often find entertaining. And while this game was like all of those other games, with heavy economic lessons, military strategies, technological research, colonization, and the like, I still found that I was just as excited and interested in it as he was.

Together: indestructible.

The game was not X-Com: UFO Defense. It was Master of Orion. The classic game of galactic domination, where you pick a species, randomly generate a number of solar systems, and do your best to win domination.

I loved the game and instantly wanted it. Best Friend mentioned it was in a pack of games by the same creator, and so I knew what I needed to look for.

Here’s the other problem of the age before the internet: where the heck do you find the games someone has told you to get? Well, you browse. Everywhere.

We still do this, to an extent. It’s almost exclusively on release dates (or near them), where we end up driving all over town looking for this specific game that isn’t in stock. We also do it if we want a specific used game and don’t have time to wait for it to come in from eBay or Amazon or whatever. But back then, it was our main means of finding games we wanted.

Once again I found myself begging my mom to drive me all over town looking for this game that was even less likely to be anywhere specific. She sighed and agreed to take me with her by the mall, before a lunch date with the grandparents. To our amazement, it was the first place we looked, and so the five-pack of games had to wait in the car during lunch.

Curse you endless soup and breadsticks!

But let’s back up and observe the five-pack of games. I purchased it for $40, which I have to point out was a pretty large sum. The discs were four games and a demo-disc. One of those games was the game I wanted, ordinarily available for $30 by itself. The other three and a half (for I did love game demos) were a crapshoot. They could go any way.

They were awesome.

Master of Orion was great. Great enough to deserve its own post eventually. But then there was Master of Magic, a Civilization rip-off/homage set in a fantasy land that was split into light and dark alternate universes. And, of course, two games in a series that are the subject of this post: X-COM: UFO Defense and the sequel, X-COM: Terror from the Deep.

The number of hours I got out of these games is indescribable. Just the X-COM games probably got me the requisite amount of enjoyment to justify the price. The joy of managing a team of paramilitary commandos, of taking aliens alive to study them, of gradually exploring a map, hoping to reveal the enemy in each shadow and stairwell: it’s too much to describe. Probably why the game has been declared one of the best games of all time from a number of sources.

And I got it, along with three other great games and a demo disc that undoubtedly influenced me in a future purchase.

Pretty sweet deal.

Also the most likely reason I compulsively buy every game pack for sale on Steam.



Leave a Comment
  1. Sean / Oct 2 2011 9:34 PM

    Haha, I totally got this game on Steam over the summer when I realized I never actually beat it. It’s surprisingly hard and still a lot of fun.


  1. Perfect Dark (Hardware Upgrades) « RaisedOnVideoGames
  2. Master of Orion II (The Hotseat) « RaisedOnVideoGames

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