Category Archives: Blast from the Past

From the creators of The Incredible Machine comes Contraption Maker

What does zis button do?

From their website:

The team that created the original Incredible Machine® is bringing all of the Rube Goldberg craziness to the modern age.

Solve puzzles involving ridiculous chain reactions full of hamster motors, trampolines, alligators, cats, and so much more. Then go to the powerful Maker Lab, where you can create your own contraptions. Everything you loved about the original game is back and improved with a new physics engine, high definition art, and new parts and programmability.

Our community features will allow you to share your creations with the world. Cooperative play, subassemblies, mods and more are coming soon. Keep a eye out for the Early Access (Alpha) release coming to PC & Mac this summer!

There are two possible reactions to this news. If you scratched your head in confusion and emitted something that sounded roughly like ‘buh?’, The Incredible Machine was a series of DOS games that came out in the early 1990s. They were puzzle-based – each level tasked you with accomplishing a goal of some sort (put a ball in a box, or pop all the balloons, for example) using a variety of levers, pulleys, boxing gloves and cats. Mostly cats. Yep, you basically had to make like Rube Goldberg and build some wacky machines. Are you starting to get it now? If you need more, worry not – I’ve embedded a video of the original The Incredible Machine after the break.

If, on the other hand, your reaction was something like this…


…then welcome, comrade! Also, you may not want to click past the break if:

a) You’re planning on doing anything productive in the near future.

b) Your nostalgia resistance is critically low.

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86-year-old grandmother plays GTA, brings back memories I’d rather forget

One of the most traumatic gaming experiences I’ve ever had occurred early in GTA III. I’ve forgotten the specific mission, but it was incredibly hard. Well, actually, all I recall is that I failed it on a number of occasions, in a wide variety of ways – I’m kinda inferring the difficulty of the mission, to be honest. Anyway, after about an hour of trying and trying again, I finally managed to complete the damn thing and I was on my way back to my safe-house. Both Claude (GTA III’s protagonist) and the car he/I was driving were the worse for wear, but I just needed to be done with it as soon as possible. Of course, it didn’t exactly go according to plan –  I got sideswiped by another car in a vicious, unprovoked attack, and hurtled towards the wall, barely missing a pedestrian on the way. Plowing into the wall was enough to make my battered car give up the ghost, so I dove out and ran for it. The explosion brought Claude down to under 10 health, which wasn’t ideal, but I could actually see the safe-house alleyway up ahead. The end was in sight.

At which point, the granny that I had just missed running over (through some fairly breathtaking driving skills, I might add), who was clearly overwrought that I had nudged her handbag or something, pulls out a frickin’ M16 and proceeds to go all Scarface on my ass.

It’s all very well Hilda Knott talking about how games keep her mentally active and that she’s been gaming for over 40 years, but I got a case of the shivers when I read ‘grandmother’ and ‘GTA’ in the same sentence. Those words should never be together, ever.

I want those hours of my life back.

Quake 3 Arena – still excellent after all these years


The beauty of Quake 3, and the reason it still enjoys a fanatical following today, lies in its simplicity. No matter how elite the opposition, you always felt like you had a chance; that you were only ever a respawn away from having things just click into place for you, like long-range rockets on Q3DM17.

And then you got railed/humiliated/gibbed.

Still, that glorious simplicity meant that hope sprang eternal, and you just had to keep coming back for more. Considering some of the luminaries I played with, I was usually little more than a free frag (think guppy in a pond of piranhas) but the temptation of hearing those wonderful words – YOU HAVE TAKEN THE LEAD – was irresistible.

Over on GamesRadar, David Houghton calls Quake 3 ‘one of the greatest games ever made‘; and, I have to say, the man’s got a point. Check it out!

The Evolution of PC Games – my, we’ve come a long way.

This video will have one of two effects on you:

  • You will stare at the screen in horror, thinking that there’s something wrong with your display, until it magically clears up around the 1:49 mark.
  • You will feel very, very old. *Player takes 999 points of Nostalgia damage and dies*

Personally, I love things like this – not only do they show us how far we’ve come, but they make me oh-so-eager for what lies in store. What kind of videos will they be making twenty years from now? I don’t know, but I’m sure as hell going to enjoy finding out!


If I’m honest, I’d share ‘Duty Calls’ for far flimsier excuses than this

Happy 4th of July, my American friends!

War never changes in 10-year old game of Civilization II

In the distant future, three superpowers are locked in an endless war with each other over the scant resources left on the planet. The communist Celts, the theocratic Americans and the theocratic Vikings are all that remain of the dozens of nations that once existed on the planet; with all the other civilizations having fallen before their military might and been assimilated into their burgeoning empires. The war has lasted almost 2,000 years, and the stalemate just about half that. Nuclear fallout has swept the world, rendering large swathes of land uninhabitable. What arable land wasn’t irradiated is now mostly swamp, because it was inundated by the melting of the ice caps. Between nuclear annihilation and famine, 90% of the world’s population is dead. The survivors live in hellish suffering, as military production takes priority over absolutely everything else. Guerrilla uprisings sporadically occur, and are ruthlessly suppressed. The year is 3991 AD, and there’s no end to the war in sight.

Very Orwellian, no? The above paragraph isn’t inspired by 1984, or indeed any other pillar of the dystopian community – it is the state of affairs in a Civilization II game that’s been going on for 10 years. As he describes in this thread on Reddit, user Lycerius kept at it well beyond the game’s usual end point in 2020; because, as he says, “I thought that it might be interesting to see just how far into the future I could get and see what the ramifications would be.”

While the ramifications undoubtedly turned out to be pretty grim, he’s doing everything he can to fix the world based on suggestions he’s received from other Reddit users; and, what’s more, he’s also uploaded the save-game so that others can try their luck. It’s even spawned an entire subreddit – titled, appropriately enough, The Eternal War – dedicated to ending the war; it’s devoted to strategies,  comparisons and, inevitably, fan-fiction. (Update – at least one player has managed to end the Eternal War already; check out inigos’ account of his victory here.)

It’s been 16 – sixteen! – years since Civilization II released, and it’s still giving us amazing stories like this. This is why I love gaming.

While I highly recommend you read the thread itself, it’s possible you may not have the time to go through it. So, if you’re interested, join me after the break where I’ve posted a few of the more brilliant bits.

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