Games of the Twentieth Century. The year 1989

It was a tumultuous and surprising year. A lot of blood was spilled, but there were also plenty of happy events. And the players especially had.


  • Genre: urban planning manager
  • Developer: Maxis
  • Publisher: Maxis

If you build a residential area next to a factory, no one will want to live there - it's stuffy and noisy. If you are far away - even less will not: that, to get to work a whole hour? But if it is not far and not close ... ...and a road... and the rails... and a school nearby... And the department store, forgot the department store? Ugh, I think that's it... And why are there two shacks on the block anyway, is it a metropolis or a farmhouse? Ah, that's it: the police are far away, these bastards don't feel protected. Can't you put the fire department next door? I was just kidding, and now you're seriously demanding them!

SimCity Screenshot

This is roughly what everyday life as mayor looks like according to Will Wright. This is his second game, with the first being unfamiliar to very few people. Plan neighborhoods, highways, power lines, utilities, parks, manage not to fall off the budget and make the city attractive to residents, industry and commerce, not who will pay municipal taxes? To solve the problems of traffic congestion and rising crime, to eliminate fires (and their consequences), to organize jobs.

And if everything goes too well, it won't last long. There could be a tornado, a thunderstorm, a shipwreck right by the city's waterfront. Those are minor disasters. And then there are earthquakes, floods, a volcano erupts under particularly unlucky cities... Some get particularly interesting times: Godzilla crawls out of the nearby Stinky River and goes to smash everything in its path. I still remember the sad derailment of the train, when the dinosaur kicked the locomotive.

SimCity Screenshot

The game doesn't have a good ending like Tetris does. Rule the city until it takes up the whole map. And after that, too. A city is eternal, like Rome. And mayors are sometimes transient. If they're out of the budget.

What happened next: City Planning Manager took shape as a genre, traveled to the distant future and the even more distant past. And Will Wright continued his victorious march - to The Sims.


  • Genre: racing (action)
  • Developer: Dynamix
  • Publisher: Activision

In the future, of course, the abomination of desolation is imminent. This is what Fallout teaches us with chads and households. Maybe civilization will not collapse completely, but the cruel laws that prevent us from killing our neighbors will definitely disappear. Among others DeathTrack promises this to us - the most combat racing game of all time.

As you know, there are two ways to win a race:

  • come in first
  • to be the only one

And while most races sanctimoniously require us to only the first, DeathTrack is quite capable of the second. And it even encourages it. Would you like to equip your race car with a machine gun? Or prefer a more modern rocket? A fancy laser? Or maybe you do not want to get your hands dirty? Although actually mines work more spectacularly.

DeathTrack Screenshot

You don't have to win, by the way: there are also prizes for places in the middle of the list. But you'd better pay for the car's repairs, otherwise the next race could be impossible.

It is possible to choose a fast car, it is possible - with a good weapon or an armor. And then - as you ride, so you get the money. As will be with the money, so with the equipment. Lasers or machine guns are not all the same, both in price and in combat performance.

All this paraphernalia - unheard of at the time - was honestly displayed on your vehicle. Ten completely different cities to race in, detailed and amusing descriptions of weapons and opponents - we haven't forgotten that in twenty years and won't forget it in thirty.

DeathTrack Screenshot

What happened next: The great game remained childless until Death Track: Rebirth appeared in 2008. The revival did not succeed to the end: by removing the repairs and replacing the great descriptive text with something incomprehensible, the developers dealt the game a painful blow. But worst of all, the online game was never born. In 1989 it was understandable, but in 2008?!


  • Genre: robot simulator (role-playing game)
  • Developer: Dynamix, Activision
  • Publisher: Activision

At first glance it's something like "Abrams": we have radar in front of us, enemies can be seen in the window opposite, and the faithful cannon of our "Mech" is ready to put them under the turret... or whatever else they've got. The enemies, though, are all more bipedal and iron, but that's the details.

MechWarrior Screenshot

And the second one... This is a typical role-playing game, and of noble blood. We receive missions from conversations and newspaper articles (!), fulfill contracts as hired gun, regularly visit the bar, order a drink and listen carefully and attentively to the bartender, he is a treasure trove of valuable information. We get involved in a squabble of the five great houses, find out that not all contracts pay, and assignments have unobvious consequences, and choose our way in the iron world.

Earnings will be the main task for a long time: you need to equip, to recruit comrades in arms, well, and the bartender and other informants will not forget - the information here is not cheap. But in the end you will be the main player in someone else's game. A hell of a game.

MechWarrior Screenshot

What happened next: The BattleTech universe the game is based on was embodied back in MechWarrior 1-5. True, fans have made modifications for Crysis and Battlefield.

While we played SimCity, Death Track and MechWarrior...

  • The Berlin Wall was torn down.
  • The European Union banned the production of Freons.
  • Gameboy and Sega Genesis consoles entered the American market.


  • Genre: TBS
  • Developer: Strategic Studios Group
  • Publisher: Strategic Studios Group

The oval world is surrounded by a brace of mountains and the sea. In the northeast corner, the mountains form something like Mordor, and for good reason - the Cursed Lord (Lord Bane) and his black soldiers live there. The swamps to the south of it are inhabited by wolf riders wearing the red cloaks of the orcs of Korah. A great river separates both from civilized lands; from it unknown but industrious diggers dug canals westward to the sea. The western side is inhabited by the Horse Lords under the blue banner (Horse Lords), the gray dwarves, who for some reason wear brown, the Celentines in blue-moon garb. The green Elvalli elves took a fancy to the southern forest, the storm giants (in yellow) settled in the mountain nest, and the white-minded Sirians got a well-protected but damn awkward corner in the south at the headwaters of the great river.

Warlords Screenshot

Such an idyll. In the meantime, there will only be one left...

Each fortress can produce troops; which ones and for how many moves depends on the fortress itself. For example, a Syrian capital can make light infantry (once per turn), heavy infantry (1/2 turn), cavalry (5 turns), or Pegasus (7 turns). There is no way to change this, we will live with it.

Troop types are not many, but they are all slightly different. For example, light infantry has "default" strength 4, but you can find one with strength 2, 3 or 5. The speed of movement also differs.

Combat is pretty damn simple: we go wall-to-wall and each turn we determine which side has a loss. This is determined by rolling a die; troop strength is taken into account, but even a single pedestrian can sometimes shut out a dragon. We have no effect on the battle.

Each warlord also has a hero. Initially there is one, but more can be added: each turn someone offers his services to the owner of a randomly chosen city. If the city is nobody's or its owner is not rich enough - the hero leaves with a proud shrug. We are buying a cat in a poke: our warrior can come alone as a finger, or can bring companions: say, demons, and even dragons!

The hero himself isn't very big - he doesn't even grow in levels! - But he can scour the ruins for magic trinkets or allies, those dragons and others. However, climbing the ruins is long (eats all the remaining turn points) and dangerous, especially if the hero is tired (ie, begins excavations not from the beginning of the turn). The inhabitants of the burial ground can eat the treasure hunter, and then the more cautious neighbors, whose hero dug in the ruins of someone useful, run over and do not say thank you. Among the allies the wizard stands out: he's not very strong, but runs as much as 50 units (for comparison: infantry - 8-12 units, cavalry - 14-18). And can manage to capture three or four towns in a turn if they're carelessly left uncovered.

You can put the hero to fly across seas and mountains - on a pegasus, griffin or dragon. Then he'll dig up such ruins that you can't reach on foot or crawl halfway through the game over the hills.

The task is traditional: to crush the opponents. And we have to crush the numbers carefully: every turn we pay gold not only for production, but also for the support of the army. We don't want to be in debt...

Warlords Screenshot

The game is done very economically, nothing extra: neither a tedious development of the base, nor mass movement of troops (you can set the production so that the soldiers immediately went to the right town in two moves). Suffice it to say that this turn-based strategy is convenient and quick to play in company - two, three, and even four. And not one evening we once spent doing it.

Additional charm is that all sides though play by the same rules, but require different tactics. For example, elves can spawn a myriad of archers in their woods (who can run fast in the woods and are stronger than ordinary light infantry), but there are no heavy troops - you need a blitzkrieg with large detachments. Whereas their neighbors - the giants have no troops that would be born every turn, but they produce a giant every two turns. The Damned Overlord is well protected by his mountains and can, for the time being, not waste his strength on defense... but how can he not lose the initial phase of land grabbing?

What happened next: Warlords spawned a whole genre of local strategies, including, for example, Heroes of Might & Magic. These are strategies with a minimum of construction - the main task of the player is to maneuver armies. There was, however, a direct continuation: Warlords II offered players a lot of maps and tools for creating scenarios (including, note, and troops can be changed: you want - make a war of the North with the South, want - pigs and rats ...). It had, however, one drawback: a problem with the balance, due to which most of the troops were not used at all. The third part, alas, turned out to be quite clumsy, and the fourth part contained interesting ideas, but the failed graphics killed it all.

Prince of Persia

  • Genre: arcade
  • Developer: Jordan Mehner
  • Publisher: Broderbund

The evil vizier Jafar has imprisoned the princess at the top of the tower, and only the escaped prince can help her. So he rushes through the corridors, jumps over traps-holes, dodges knives rising from the floor, fights with guards, jumps again, pulls himself up, floor by floor... Run, prince, run!

Prince of Persia Screenshot

"Prince" wasn't the first arcade game of its kind -- there were plenty of them back in the mid-'80s. But it was the first of those to be believed. To succeed at the game, you have to forget that you're pushing buttons and become that figure yourself - only then will it have the degree of nimbleness necessary to fence, to leap through slashers snapping in half in narrow stone corridors, jump over wells and run across falling slabs, each of which can only support the weight of a body for a second, though no body, much less the weight of a figure, has any, just as the tumbling slabs have none, if you think about it, no matter how convincing the clatter they make when they fall.

Prince of Persia Screenshot

Before launching Prince on his journey, Jordan Mechner spent a good deal of time with a video camera, filming stunts performed by his brother David, then spent hours sketching them. He would later put this on a grand scale, "drawing" a whole ensemble of actors in The Last Express, and it would be the most convincing acting in the history of computer games. It would be the most convincing acting ever in a PC game.

What happened next: In 1994, the sequel was released; in 1999, Prince looked into the third dimension, but not very successfully; in 2003, he conquered the three-dimensional world and learned to control time, and then... then the fairy tale ended. In 2004 he became brutal, loved to bathe in blood, and completely destroyed himself and his whole world. He may have been good... but the fairy tale died, and the prince along with it. Later they tried to revive something, but, as Fran├žois Villon said, "where is last year's snow?"


  • Genre: RPG (pseudo-graphics, rogue-like)
  • Developer: Angband Team
  • Publisher: Angband Team

A few years before that the world was over with Rogue, a wonderful dungeon-rollers game where the world was drawn in pseudographics (that is letters, numbers and other ASCII symbols), and our hero was represented by @ sign. And soon there was a wave of imitations; among them Angband is one of the most remarkable.

As the name suggests, it takes place in Angband - the fortress of Morgoth, the main villain of Tolkien's Middle-earth (Sauron is just his most capable servant, Morgoth was dealt with sixty-four centuries earlier in The Lord of the Rings). The task is to go through a huge maze of many levels, and on the last one... kill Morgoth.

Angband Screenshot

The mission is of course epic, in the Tolkien world even the greatest warriors of elves and humans could not cope with it; but do not think that any player can surpass them. Angband is the kind of game you can brag about in the company of understanding people. Not that you passed it in any unusual way, but that you passed it at all. It's quite realistic, but the road to victory is not an easy one.

There are at least five hundred levels to begin with. At least, because Morgoth may not show up at level 500, but later. And all these levels are randomly generated, so don't expect to find a walkthrough online. However, if you really don't like a level, you can solve this problem - just go back up (they are located under each other and the transition to the next stage is stairs down) and then go back down again. The map will be recreated...

Along the way you'll meet a lot of enemies, the fight with which in itself will be remembered for a long time. For example, all the same Sauron - the most dangerous after Morgoth mage in the game, he knows how to call the ancient dragons; incredibly poisonous spider Ungoliantha; nazguls (they seem to have time yet, but ...), lord of cats, Cerberus and other, often taken not from Middle-earth creatures. To get at least a chance to get a match with Morgoth, you have to not only get past them all, but also defend against a dozen special abilities of this extremely capable lord, as well as increase your speed at all costs - otherwise there will be eight morgoths for one of your hits. That's something you probably wouldn't survive.

Selection of equipment here will be saltier than in most RPGs. Very large assortment - and unpredictable moment of appearance of things. In addition, many monsters spoil equipment, and you are not immediately able to find protection from these effects. As a result, when you find a helmet named Dragon of Dor-Lomin, Ringil's sword, or Seleborn's mithril armor, you rejoice like a conquistador at the sight of El Dorado.

The beauty of text-based games is that you can afford an extremely rich role-playing system and bestiary. But Angband is also one of the leaders in its weight class. It has all the races of Middle-earth and some from without ever been there, all the classes of basic D&D (strange, of course, to see a priest in Middle-earth, but okay), a good hundred spells and a huge number of special effects. Sometimes, in principle, there are more, but they are very well chosen and balanced; you can win with any class, although in some places you have to invent very unobvious tactics.

What happened next: The greatest followers of Angband are ADOM (Ancient Domains of Mystery) and Dwarf Fortress. However, text games don't get old - why not play it now?

Curse of Azure Bonds

  • Genre: RPG
  • Developer: Strategic Simulations
  • Publisher: Strategic Simulations

What would you do if you woke up and found five glowing indelible marks on your arm? And also found out that neither in your hometown, nor in your favorite tavern no one remembers or recognizes you?

In the meantime, the sequence of actions is well known. You must find out whose marks you have been branded with... and then deal with each of them in turn. Oh, one of them is a god? So much the worse for him, he has much to lose!

Curse of Azure Bonds Screenshot

"Azure Bonds" is the second game in the Goldbox series and the first to make itself known. By the way, it was allowed to import a character from the first Goldbox (Pool of Radiance, released the same year), or from the game Hillsfar, created by other developers (Westwood) on another engine. You have to agree, it's unusual!

It's "honest AD&D", with tactical battles on the checkered map, with a fair amount of spells and all the basic classes (moreover, to the warrior, mage, cleric and thief finally added a paladin and pathfinder). And also with a world map you can move around - about as they will do later in Neverwinter Nights 2 or Baldur's Gate. It's much more convenient than Pool of Radiance; what's the only opportunity to set the team "fully heal" in the parking lot, instead of having to manually conjure up all the healers...

Curse of Azure Bonds Screenshot

Actually, the curse of Azure Shackles has already been attempted by Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb: Elia (Alias), Akabar Bel-Akash, Olivia Raskettle, and others. Contrary to the obvious, we don't play as them, but as our own heroes - and we can meet Elia and the others along the way. Such an "alternate history of the Forgotten Realms". But the story did not suffer much from this - and was a head above the same Pool of Radiance.

What happened next: The Goldbox series continued with many games, and there was even a game construction engine - Forgotten Realms Unlimited Adventures, the forerunner of the Neverwinter Nights game construction engine. And in Neverwinter Nights 2 there was a scenario based on Curse of Azure Bonds, and a very decent one.

While we were playing Angband and Curse of Azure Bonds...

  • In Beijing, a student demonstration in Tiananmen Square was bloodily suppressed.
  • George W. Bush (Sr.) became the American president.
  • The great surrealist Salvador Dali died.


  • Genre: strategy ("god simulator")
  • Developer: Bullfrog
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts

In order for your subjects to build a base, you need to level the ground to a zero layer. And that's basically what you'll be doing: raising and lowering the landscape. No, it's not "Perimeter," it's Populous.

The first of the "god simulators" invites us to lead the entrusted people to victory over another deity and his worshippers. In doing so, the god's main tool is terraforming. In 1989? Yes, surprisingly enough!

Populous Screenshot

In addition to raising and lowering the landscape, we have natural cataclysms, but they generally don't really justify the cost in mana (and mana is formed by prayers of the people). You can also promote one of the worshippers to knight - and that will be a major trump card against the enemy. Because the stupid computer doesn't know the easiest way to get rid of knights. Do you remember this method? Archers? Dragons? No... Just lower the ground beneath him below sea level - these knights float like irons!

Right now it's not even clear why a few million people (that's a hell of a lot in 1989) were playing Populous like crazy. And it's simple: it never happened before. The first god simulator, the first almost indirect control strategy or, if you like, the first SimCity with military missions... And Peter Molyneux's first hour of fame.

Populous Screenshot

What happened next: Molyneux picked up and developed the idea - in Dungeon Keeper and Black & White. In a way, Majesty and many other games with indirect control can be considered the successors of Populous.

Budokan: Martial Spirit

  • Genre: fighting
  • Developer: Electronic Arts
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts

So you, young man, want to win the Great Contest? That's commendable, but do you know yourself? You will have to. Don't you want to practice with a pole, nunchaku or a bamboo sword in the dojo first? No? Suit yourself...

Budokan is a classic martial art, but atypical. There are no "finishing blows" as you are used to from all sorts of Mortal Kombat, no bloodshed and other pleasures of a young maniac. There is a pure and rigorous competitive spirit in the Budokan (the hall where the tournament takes place). And you will definitely feel it.

Budokan: Martial Spirit Screenshot

Your task is to defeat all opponents using each fighting style (karate, nunchaku, pole, kendo) no more than four times. Opponents are a dozen, so that's like 4x4 - that's a lot to spare. True, if you lose a fight, you will return to the previous opponent, and "spent" on his victory style will not return.

The main beauty of "Budokan" - all twelve opponents have their own face and style. Not just a wild mountain grandpa with a chain-kusari gama, a simple American guy Jimmy with a pair of tonfas or a charming ninja Ayako Mariyama; even the karate fighters, who are two more in Budokan besides you, differ in everything: their favorite techniques, tactics, force of blow... You will be offered a brief summary about them before the fight, and it will come in handy. At Budokan, they do not take by force or onslaught!

Budokan: Martial Spirit Screenshot

Also, "Budokan" was a contender for "Prince" in the "Best Animated Feature of the Year" category. The others weren't even close to them.

What happened next: I'm afraid that no similar games have appeared on MS since then. All sorts of "death martial arts" games did appear, yes, but they lacked a bit of flavor and atmosphere compared to "Budokan". And then the genre went away to consoles for ten years and only now is slowly coming back.

Hero's Quest: So You Want to Be a Hero

  • Genre: quest (RPG)
  • Developer: Sierra
  • Publisher: Sierra

In the fairytale town of Spielburg, it's somewhere in the Alps, thirty-three misfortunes happened at once. Goblins, bandits, trolls and Baba Yaga appeared in the forest, the local baron was cursed, both of his children disappeared somewhere, the sorceress Erana, who guarded the town, hasn't been seen for years, and the guild of adventurers is in a sleepy desolation. So we will awaken them!

Sierra has produced quite a few quests, but most of them are "classic", with a single correct solution. Hero's Quest is something else entirely! Lots of paths to choose from, just go where you want. You don't have to do everything, you can steal from an old lady (hoping she's an interest-earner) and even the local sheriff, you can play a magic game with a wizard, learn some magic tricks...

Hero's Quest Screenshot

And - yes, there are classes in this "quest". Three of them: warrior, mage, and thief. You have to fight with goblins and other evil spirits - a warrior with his shield and sword, a magician with a flaming arrow here would be just right. A thief seems not to be a fighter, but he can learn everything little by little, and the cost of the teachers will pay off from the rich estates of the local townspeople.

You have a set of skills: fighting, magic, climbing, throwing, hacking, stealth, stealth (a thief can master them all, the rest will have to sacrifice something). These are trained as you use them. For example, at first you'll be belly flopping on a tree trunk, then you'll climb a little and fall down, and then you'll climb a branch and find a lost ring in a winged lizard's nest...

Hero's Quest Screenshot

I'm not afraid to say that Hero's Quest takes the best of both the RPG and the quest - and has a place of honor in the pantheon of either genre. Plus, it's just the beginning of a great story...

What happened next: The hero from So You Want to Be a Hero can be sent to Quest for Glory 2 (as the series was later renamed), where he will visit an eastern fairy tale, then in the third part he will visit Africa, in the fourth part he will visit a "gothic" story, and in the fifth part he will finally become a king and marry... to one of the ladies he saved in the previous stories. But there are no other games like Hero's Quest and we don't see any more.

While we've played Populous, Budokan, and Hero's Quest...

  • The Pope officially apologized for the church's persecution of Galileo.
  • The first season of "The Simpsons" was released.