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Rail! Entertainment > Docs >

More Old-School PC Games - With Downloads!

By Michael - 12-08-04

(I currently don't have much ambition to write, but I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. Even if the review sucks, you can at least enjoy the games.)

SCORCHED EARTH (1991) by Wendell Hicken 

(My video card doesn't seem to want to take screenshots of DOS games, so no pictures for this one. You'll just have to use your imagination - or better yet, download the game).

Here's a fine example of what a classic DOS game should be. Nostalgia? Check. Turn-based multiplayer action? Checkity check. Pixilated tanks? You betcha. 

Scorched Earth contains enough explosions to satisfy the bloodlust of the modern gamer, but at the same time, it possesses a sort of innocence (try saying that with a lisp) which allows you to play against family members without offending them and/or being disowned. I've played against my mother, who is opposed to violence in any form (unless it involved sticks, wooden spoons and/or belts against myself and my siblings. Heh. There was no problem with that, was there?) Come to think of it, I've actually played this game with both of my parents (over a 12 year period, anyway).

10 Freaking Players: Let's start with the turn-based fun. The game supports (dig this!) up to 10 players on one PC. I can definitely see this as a party game way back in 1991, before all this fancy Halo 2 stuff with all the banshees and warthogs and doohickeys. Never mind how you get 10 people to share a keyboard, but there you have it. 10 people can play, which reminds me of a movie I saw on a motel TV late one lonely winter night around 1997 or so.

Your Tank: Each tank is assigned its own color, and you can tell the game whether it'll be a computer (AI) or a human (Asshole) player. The object of the game is to kill your opponents with your tank. You control the angle of your tank's turret along with your chosen projectile's velocity (The game also takes gravity and wind speed into account). You have a wonderful variety of weapons and tools to choose from. 

Weapons: Okay, let's go over a few weapons.

  • Baby Missile, Missile - These are the default tank weapons. They shoot. They explode.
  • Nuke, Baby Nuke - That's what I'm talking about! My personal favorite is the Nuke. Made of a red/orange radial gradient, it destroys a good portion of the screen. I remember actually, um, being impressed by the nuke's graphics when I first played this game back in the day.
  • Leapfrog - Bounce, bounce, BANG!
  • Funky Bomb - On impact, this bomb releases several independent bombs in a seemingly random pattern.

There are many other weapons such as the MIRV, Death's Head, and Napalm which blow things up and/or set objects on fire. There are also dirt weapons that can dig through the landscape (making your opponent fall) or you can bury your enemy in a mountain of mud (Using Dirt Clod, Dirt Ball, Ton of Dirt, Liquid Dirt). It can take a long time to dig somebody out (so you can finally get a shot at them), so I don't recommend using these very often.

Gameplay: You set up your tank's turret and cannon velocity, and then you choose your weapon. Everything's set? Hit Enter. Now get a drink as your pixel slowly floats across the screen. Come back and see if it landed anywhere near your enemy.

Talking Tanks: Just thought I'd mention it. There is an option called "Talking Tanks" where the tanks spout one-liners before they fire, and speak final words before they explode. There is a .CFG file that you can edit yourself, to add personalized insult value to your game.

Some of the one-liners are charming in the fact that they remind us of a better, simpler time: The early 1990's. A few decidedly 1990's quotes from the game:

"Eat my shorts!"
"I didn't do it. Nobody saw me do it."
"Hasta la vista, Baby!"
"Mama said knock you out!" (Was that 90's, or late 80's?) 

I love this stuff, and that's not sarcasm folks. It's pop culture! 

If you want any more specific information, you can go ahead and read the manual. All I can say is that I love this game. If you want to check it out, you can download the shareware version here (634 KB). Enjoy!

(One quick note: Scorched Earth's animations can play unreasonably fast on modern machines. Some of you may need a "slowdown" utility to play the game properly.)

pcgames2_quenzar.jpg (104075 bytes)QUENZAR'S CAVERNS (1993) by Pulse Ventures Ltd. On a personal note, this is the game that first made me aware of Visual Basic (I do some VC++ and Flash as well, but I am quite fond of VB). This game was included on "The Ultimate Windows Set" CD I got for my first computer in 1995 or so, along with Castle of the Winds (which I mentioned earlier). This is one of the better games from that CD. Quenzar features simple RPG-style gameplay. You basically travel on a small dungeon grid, and the game gives you a text description of the area along with any objects you can grab or any enemies in the room. Battles are won and lost using the traditional RPG random die rolls and hit points.

Maps: The maps are randomly generated, and each unique game is made to be beaten in about an hour, so the replay value is fairly high. I'm not saying it WILL be beaten in an hour because, well, you'll die a lot.

Enemies: The enemy icons remind me once again of Castle of the Winds, in the fact that they are 32x32 icons. There aren't very many enemy types as far as I can tell. 

Bullets: Here's the part where I get lazy. Instead of writing a "real" review like a "normal person", I've decided to just play the game. I'll make bullet points as I go.

  • If you don't think you can defeat a monster, you can try to bribe them into letting you go, which isn't often seen in games. This adds an element of strategy. I encountered a bug, however. I offered a Giant 0 gold pieces. That's right, none. No money for you, Giant. I expected him to get angry, but no. I received a message "You have successfully negotiated with the giant." Maybe it has something to do with the giant's intelligence?
  • I keep stepping into magical traps. It's been several years since I've played this game, so I can't recall if there's a way to check for traps or not. I hope I don't end up having to read the instructions or anything. That would be humiliating.
  • The very next room, I actually notice a "Falling Rock Trap" and the game asks me if I want to disarm it. No. I like being buried in rubble. Of course I want to disarm it! Ooh. Now I have a mirrored helmet. Shiny! I am now harder to hit!
  • I casually step into the next room, and I get this message box!


  • That was cheap. So I click Replay.
  • When you find Quenzar's Sanctum, you get a message: "The stairway down to Quenzar's sanctum is here. Do you wish to enter the sanctum?" This is important, because if you're not ready, Quenzar with beat the snot out of you. You'll also need the key, which is located somewhere on the grid.
  • The game will not let you search furniture or move if a monster is in the room. Hey, sounds fair.
  • You can equip and unequip items on the fly using a straightforward inventory system.
  • The game also earns major geek points by including the "Holy Hand Grenade" as an item. Good job! Ni! (Hoarse nerd laugh)
  • You can use your gold to pay Healing Spirits to heal your wounds. One gold coin can heal one hit point's worth of damage.
  • I am currently afraid of the Slithering Horror. A black shape, surrounded by shadows, red eyes penetrating the gloom. He cannot be reasoned with. He cannot be bribed. Oh, he can be killed with grenades. Okay. Never mind what I just wrote.
  • Potions are identified by color. If you play the game for a while, you begin to understand what each one is. I won't give them away here.
  • I'm not sure if there is an Identify spell in this game. I just found an amulet. I thought to myself "Cool. I'll try it on." It's an Amulet of Life Drain. Darn.
  • You can find a compass of Guiding which will tell you the exact grid location of Quenzar's sanctum.
  • Spiders are hard to hit.
  • Your weapons and armor can break. Uh oh. I found this out right in the middle of a battle with a Giant Lizard. 
  • Damnit! My sword broke again, this time on a Cave Troll's head!
  • Note: If you find an Amulet of Life, be sure to equip it!
  • I found a lens of Identity! It tells me what these items actually are! No more cursed necklaces for me! No more Death Potions!
  • The Pack of Carrying allows you to carry more items (duh).

Well, I beat the game after playing for about 45 minutes. I won't give away the climatic ending (I beat Quenzar. Oops). Quenzar's Caverns features simple yet addictive gameplay. It possesses a "board game-like" quality that will keep you playing despite its repetitive nature.

Download the shareware version here (373 KB). I'm out.






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