I have just returned from exploring the Internet Archive. The Archive, which is also the home of the Wayback Machine, is a non-profit online library with millions of free books, movies, software, music, and websites. In particular, I have always been interested in their collection of old MS-DOS games and that is what I was looking at tonight. While I could have played Oregon Trail or maybe one of the many Leisure Suit Larry games available, I instead decided to check out four lesser known games.
The first game I played was Hidden Agenda (1988, Trans Fiction Systems, Inc.)
Hidden Agenda is a strategy game. You have just taken over as the president of a South American country and you have to decide how you are going to rule. Are you going to be a corrupt dictator or an idealistic reformer?
I played the game twice. The first time I played, I filled my cabinet with right-wingers, pardoned the leader of the former dictator’s death squad, and sanctioned the murder of a labor leader. The second time I played, I filled my cabinet with communists, jailed the leader of the death squad, and gave into every demand. Both times, my government was overthrown after a year and I was executed in my office.
Hidden Agenda has a learning curve that I have yet to master but it was still an interesting game. Some players will probably find it to be too dry but I appreciated that the game attempted to take a realistic approach to the trials and tribulations of leading a post-revolutionary society.
After getting executed for the second time, I decided to play a safer political simulation, President Elect (1987, Strategic Simulations, Inc.).
A perfect game for political junkies, President Elect allows you to manage a presidential campaign. You can either take part in a historical campaign, like Kennedy vs. Nixon in 1960, or you can create your own candidates by answering questions about their positions and their abilities as a campaigner. You get to decide everything your candidate does, from what states he visits to whether or not he agrees to a debate.
I decided to run a simulation based on the current election. Since the game does not include any candidates beyond 1988, I created versions of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Gary Johnson. I did my best to be fair and unbiased while determining their strengths and weaknesses as campaigners. For instance, I gave Hillary a low public speaking rating while rating her highly for her poise under pressure. I gave Trump a low score for poise under pressure but a high score for his ability to get and hold an audience’s attention. I then entered in the current economic conditions.
For 9 game weeks, I managed Gary Johnson’s campaign and got nowhere. I did not have as much money as Trump or Clinton, which meant I could not afford to campaign as extensively as they could, and I watched as my national support got smaller and smaller with each passing week. On election night, it was clear who was going to win.
I don’t want to panic anyone but here’s the final result of the simulation:
After watching Donald Trump win every state in the union (though he did lose the District of Columbia), I decided to give Kingmaker (1994, TM Games) a try.
Kingmaker opens with none other than William Shakespeare explaining the history behind the War of the Roses.
In Kingmaker, you are one of the claimants battling to become the king of England. After Shakespeare’s introduction, you are given a series of options regarding how difficult you want your game to be. This was my favorite:
Advanced plague? This was going to be fun!
Unfortunately, then the game started:
I spent a few minutes moving the arrow over England and clicking. Nothing happened. I clicked on the boxes at the bottom of the screen. Nothing happened. I clicked on the names over on the right side of the screen. Nothing happened.
I had run into the biggest potential problem with playing the games in the Internet Archive: none of the games come with their original instruction manual. Kingmaker looked like it could have been fun and I usually enjoy strategy games but I got frustrated trying to figure out how it worked. Perhaps if I can find a copy of the game’s manual, I will try to play it again.
Once it became clear that I was never going to figure out how to play Kingmaker, I decided to try Executive Suite (1982, Armonk Corporation).
Executive Suite is a largely text-based game in which you attempt to go from an entry-level job to being president of the Mighty Microcomputer Corporation.
The game starts with the receptionist, Angie, asking if your resume is on file or if you need to go through the interview process. Angie is so helpful! I bet MMC is going to be a great place to work!
Since I did not have a resume on file, I decided to submit to the interview process.
The interview started normally enough.
The interviewer then asked me what part of the country I was from. I selected the northeast.
The questions continued. The interviewer asked me where I went to college. He asked me if I had an advanced degree. He asked me what I majored in. I selected Girls. (That was an option.)
Then he asked me this:
I am sure that question violated some sort of law but I must have given the right answer because he then told me this:
Finally, I was allowed to apply for a job.
Once I was finally hired, I was presented with my first big decision:
Of course I’m going to go drinking with the boys! What could possibly go wrong?
That worked out well! This Bucky Carter seems to be a great guy. I wonder what other ideas he has.
Another chance to bond with the boys? Forget studying, let’s get down at the local house of ill-repute!
I made a mistake but I’m new here and it was just my first day. Surely, this will not still be held against me after I’ve been with the company for a year.
This doesn’t look good.
An envelope? Maybe I’m getting a promotion!
That’s not good.
It does not look like I am going to be the president of the Mighty Microcomputer Corporation any time soon. I’m not giving up though. I will definitely be playing Executive Suite again!
In fact, there are still many games in the archive that I am going check out. In fact, I just spotted something called Sex Olympics.
I shall return.