Games of the Twentieth Century. The year 1991

It was a turbulent year, nothing to say. In this year the World Wide Web was invented. But in terms of games the year was not the most fruitful, if you compare it to the neighboring ones... But it was marked by at least four new subgenres - or, if you like, genre revolutions.

It was also the first year in which games such as... Fallout and Battlefield. But not those.

Another World

  • Genre: arcade
  • Developer: Delphine Software
  • Publisher: Interplay

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock... Now comes the great experiment. There's a 99% chance of success. Tick-tock... What, you think he's gonna fail? No, much worse. It will succeed.

And so the talented scientist Lester is already shaking the paw of an obscene-looking octopus, kicking leeches with his heel and organizing his own prison break. It all works out, though not exactly as planned. Good luck in the Other World, Lester. Say hello to your younger colleague Freeman.

Another World Screenshot

A physicist's journey through an alien planet is essentially similar to the activities of the Persian prince, declassified by J. Mechner a couple of years earlier. Jumping through traps, crawling through tentacles, occasional combat - only mostly not hand-to-hand combat, but piff-paff from a battle laser pointer. And there's something very familiar in the animation. That's because Eric Chayi, like Mechner, used homemade motion capture - and even, just like Mechner, brought in his younger brother as a model...

But the prince was alone, and Lester had a mate - found in the Otherworld. He's not a talkative one, but he has a shoulder to lean on. And you to him. In action movies, they have only recently begun to develop this idea...

Another World Screenshot

The beauty of Another World is that there is no "conveyor" of enemies and obstacles: each piece of the level is unique and requires a different approach. Swing the cage you're sitting in - and drop it on the head of a guardian. Place a protective field so that the guard starts throwing grenades - and break the floor. Shoot the third of their colleague... ...with a laser shot through a swinging mirror. Don't get bored.

And behind it all is an almost mute but damn touching story.

What Happened Next: Two and a bit years ago, on its fifteenth anniversary, the game came out again--all with the same graphics, only reworked for modern computers. And, rightly so, it's a classic worth touching in person.


  • Genre: quest
  • Developer: Coktel Vision
  • Publisher: Coktel Vision

Woah, the goblin king has lost his mind! It's an evil sorcery! We must save our beloved monarch! We'll send a goblin... or two... No, better three goblins!

You know the joke about "I can dig, I can not dig"? It's just about goblins. Each of them can do very little. One likes commands like "in the name of the gibberish king, break down the door!", the other does magic (and what happens - hmmm... what grew is what grew), the third - the smartest - is able to use objects plus or minus its intended purpose. By commanding the dashing trio alternately, we'll get whatever we want.

Gobliiins Screenshot

No ladder? But we have a snake. The magician will make us flute out of a skeleton bone, the clever one will play, the snake will crawl out and freeze in front of the "fakir", and the fighter will crawl up it. By complicated manipulations we'll shoot the dangling carrot from the cannon - and with the same cannon we will knock it right into the pot. Goblins don't look for easy ways out.

Riddles, of course, are not difficult, but how funny heroes do it all! And if one of them isn't busy, he'll start doing tricks just for fun.

Gobliiins Screenshot

What happened next: The goblins came back twice more - with new heroes (and each time the number of i's in the name changed - it means the number of goblins in your team). Then there was a long pause, and only recently Pierre Guillot returned to his favorite characters, sending them on a new adventure. By the way, it seems to me that the Lost Vikings, which won the first recognition for Blizzard, also have a goblin in their pedigreeā€¦

Might & Magic III: Isles of Terra

  • Genre: RPG
  • Developer: World Computing
  • Publisher: World Computing

According to leading futurists, for the next few centuries we will have to intensively build space stations with Earth quasi-ecology. We need to hurry, because in about three hundred years they should be in decline and start to be populated by orcs, dwarves and other barbarians. Otherwise they won't have time to invent magic!

Might & Magic III: Isles of Terra Screenshot

Yeah, that's the popular belief in RPGs circa '90: Wizardry showed decadent space races fighting over musketons and cleavers, while Might & Magic showed fierce wars over the Xing world, which is really just a small starbase as flat as a dime. Good thing it doesn't stand on three elephants. Although in the dungeons there are sometimes found high-tech robots with laser eyes.

The author of the game personally leads us on a campaign to the islands of Terra: the main character (from the default offerings) is called Sir Kanegem. Does anyone think that he and Van Kaneghem are just namesakes? By the way, the starting team also includes someone else famous - Castore, the one who will later dethrone Archibald himself, and the dashing barbarian Craig Heck.

The role system is simple and pleasant: there are basic classes (knight, brigand, priest and sorcerer) and hybrids between any two. For example, sorcerer + knight = archer, brigand + knight = ninja, sorcerer + priest = druid...

Might & Magic III: Isles of Terra Screenshot

And in those years Might & Magic III struck me... with riddles. Doors, chests, and so on in Xin were usually locked with a verbal answer. And these weren't the "puzzles" that are rife with new-age quests, or the dumbed-down "pick the right answer," but honest riddles.

What Happened Next: In my opinion, M&M 3 was the pinnacle of the series; but many more sequels arrived. Soon the flat space station became a normal planet; spinoff series appeared - Heroes, Crusaders, Dark Messiah; and the main series died of old age in 2002 in its, oh my, sixteenth year and after nine incarnations.

Neverwinter Nights

  • Genre: MMORPG
  • Developer: Stormfront
  • Publisher: AOL, SSI

Well, gentlemen, shall we take a stroll to Port Llast? Or go kick the gills off the Luscan pirates? I'll be at Neverwinter at ten, what about you?

Neverwinter Nights - not the one from Bioware, but the one from Stormfront - was the world's first graphical MMORPG. The graphics there were mediocre, of course, even for '91 - it was the perennial Goldbox engine born in the '80s - but there it was. "Massive" this online was also very conventional - initially the server was allowed up to fifty players. But it was. And that's the main thing.

Neverwinter Nights Screenshot

In '91, there was no internet at all-it was still in its infancy; the "web" had barely been invented and was only going to be implemented. The power over the net belongs to the service providers. This is now - we had a fight with one provider, took an account from another, and we don't know a thing; back then the providers were almost monopolists in their regions and they charged for their services not by traffic and not by months - but by every hour of being online.

That is why NWN was published not by anyone, but by the largest ISP in the US, AOL. Its interest was simple and obvious. Do you know how much one hour of play costs a player? Between $4 and $8. And that's in '91 dollars... That's why the early 90's was not the boom online: as soon as communication prices have fallen down, AOL had to let up to five hundred players on the server, and there - the decline and desolation.

Neverwinter Nights Screenshot

What happened next: The newly born genre froze in development for six years - until Ultima Online. And just in 1997, the server Neverwinter Nights ceased. And that - only the official, and on the unofficial, your humble servant played back in 2005, and they were not so little.

While we played Might & Magic III and Neverwinter Nights.

  • Iraq lost the Kuwaiti war with a bang.
  • The first time Schumacher was heard of in a Formula One race.

Sid Meier's Civilization

  • Genre: global strategy
  • Developer: MPS Labs
  • Publisher: Microprose

What can Alexander the Great and Stalin talk about? Well, for example, about exchanging the alphabet for the wheel or about a joint war with Washington. They have so many topics in common...

Did you know that the invention of the steam engine required mysticism and a funeral ceremony? Sure, you'd need one to jump around with a tambourine while you build it, and you'll need the other when it finally blows up.

Sid Meier's Civilization Screenshot

Just imagine: if Sid Meier hadn't invented a "game about the whole world" thirty-one years ago, these fundamental truths would still be the mystery of the universe. The Egyptians, for example, could have built communism four millennia ago. But they were content with pre-flooded monarchy - and all because they didn't know the purpose of decent leaders building pyramids. So they built them for nothing. And they buried the dead in them. Savages.

However, even now not everyone has understood the essence of his revolutionary discoveries. To this day, for example, the railroad journey from NYC to LA takes almost a whole week. But it should be instantaneous!

And philosophers? How many centuries they argue about the nature of higher beings, about what and who rules humanity ... But we know this: over the prince and the king, over the emperor and even over the demigod - Sid. The highest level of complexity.

Sid Meier's Civilization Screenshot

What Happened Next: To the roar of the drumbeat, Colonization and Alpha Centauri, Master of Orion and Master of Magic, Galactic Civilizations and Age of Wonders, not to mention daughters and granddaughters of the family, marched down the road treaded by Civilization. And let the gamemakers come up with the ridiculous "4X" formula, Sid Meyer explained to everyone that it's not what makes them happy!


  • Genre: logic game
  • Developer: DMA Design
  • Publisher: Psygnosis

And if you're too scared to become a leader of world empires, you can try yourself as a shepherd of small but extremely clueless people.

A herd of upright lemmings scurries out of the entrance hatch and stomps onward. It doesn't care at all what's up ahead; it's supposed to have a bright future, but if there's a chasm or a fryer... well, that's fate. If there is an obstacle ahead? Consequently, the front is behind us from now on. Around the back, march!

Lemmings Screenshot

In the mess tent there's equipment to hand out to the two-legged rodents. Such as: climbing "cats," parachute umbrella, drills (each digging at a strictly set angle), a ladder construction kit, and, as a last resort, a petrifying agent and a bomb. The lemming uncomplainingly turns into an obstacle post and also uncomplainingly says "boom!"

Lemming can be given a tool, but not a brain. Therefore, give him a drill, and he immediately goes to wreck the floor, not hesitating for a moment. And everyone else will follow him, get to the end of the face, and then stroll back in a phlegmatic manner.

Lemmings Screenshot

Isn't that the dream of any ruler?

What Happened Next: the lemming host have conquered all existing platforms, from PCs and consoles to juicers and vacuum cleaners. And if your washing machine makes an unaccustomed rumbling noise, it's probably the lemmings that have carried out their usual mass suicide...

While we were playing Civilization and Lemmings...

  • The Linux source code was published.