6. Impossible Mission 2 (1988)
Purists might argue that you should only ever play the original Impossible Mission, but that’s not on Internet Archive, and we really like the sequel — so there. The game involves you, as a super-fit somersaulting secret agent, trying to prevent Professor Elvin Atombender from blowing up the world, for Evil Bad Guy reasons. You infiltrate his tower fortress, avoid his deadly droids, and search objects to find security combinations. Get the right numbers and you can record a musical sequence on your tape deck; get six different ones and you access the central control room, giving you a fighting chance to prevent the baldy mad scientist from very much wrecking everyone’s weekend plans.
7. Shufflepuck Café (1989)
*Mice.* They’re great for moving a cursor around the screen and clicking menus and icons, clearly, but it took developer Christopher Gross to look and one and think: ‘air hockey puck’. And so the game the mouse was created for, Shufflepuck Café, came into being, with you facing off against a seriously motley crew of miscreants. Ideally, we’d be pointing you at the superb Mac original, but the DOS port still does the business as you smack the puck at drunkard alien playboy lizard Lexan Smythe-Worthington, and cheating telekine Princess Bejin, who occasionally floats the puck to the side of the table, before aiming it at your face.
8. Prince of Persia (1990)
Before Prince of Persia headed to 3D on modern consoles and then to movie theatres, wearing Jake Gyllenhaal’s face, it was an elegant, considered Jordan Mechner creation for Brøderbund. Much like predecessor Karateka, Prince of Persia aimed to bring a cinematic feel to home computers, and it’s chock full of fluid animation and cut-scenes. It’s similarly thoughtful too — Prince of Persia might look like a platform game, but it’s really a slow-burn puzzler, with you figuring out how to carefully pick your way through a trap-filled dungeon, without getting horribly impaled on spikes or a guard’s sword.
9. Wolfenstein 3D (1992)
It wasn’t the first 3D shooter, but Wolfenstein 3D defined the template for pretty much everything that followed it. Spy William ‘B.J.’ Blazkowicz wants to bring down the Nazis, although the idiot’s gone and got himself captured. You must therefore help him escape from his cell, and work his way to each floor’s elevator. In his way: lots of Nazis to shoot, vicious dogs to shoot, and a big boss to shoot — you get the idea.
In fact, for a 1992 game, it’s surprisingly bloody, with death screams aplenty. It’s a bit surreal, too, notably with the suspicious number of chicken dinners peppered about the floor, ready for you to munch. (These Nazis wouldn’t be picking up many points on Come Dine With Me.)
10. Speedball 2
‘Ice cream! Ice cream!’ That’s what the players of Speedball 2 hear all the time from a nagging, insistent vendor in the crowd, but they’ll probably need some after getting their teeth punched out in this violent futuristic take on handball. Naturally, you start out at the bottom of the heap, managing the notoriously rubbish Brutal Deluxe. But be shrewd on the transfer market, pick up loads of coins in-game, and try not to concede too many goals, and you’ll swiftly climb the ranks. That is if your hands don’t rebel by being forced to use QAOP controls.
Bonus: Night Mission (1988)
OK — one extra entry, just because. In 1982, Bruce Artwick (the man behind the hugely successful Flight Simulator series) briefly went pinball crazy, and the result was Night Mission, a fast and furious digital table. Next to the likes of Pinball Arcade and Zen Pinball, Night Mission of course looks positively archaic, but this update for DOS overhauls the very rough visuals of the original and retains its breakneck gameplay. The physics is a tad suspect, but we’d argue Night Mission is the best retro ball-spanger around.
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