Bits From my Personal Collection – The CGA Games, awkwardly beautiful

I grew up in an IBM/PC family, with both my mom and dad in technology. My dad had been working for IBM in the ’60s as a software engineer and when the personal computer revolution swept across in the late ’70s and early ’80 the original IBM PC quickly became an established part of our household. The mighty IBM Model 5150 was definitely not a machine meant for games nonetheless it was the most magical and fascinating device. While the 4-color CGA was hideous compared to other machines of the time it’s a lovely memory of a forgotten time, now nearly 40 years old. Today, the awkward color palette has a very special place in my heart.

A quick play of Dave Baskin’s Bouncing Babies, released for the IBM/PC in 1984 as freeware.
Bouncing Babies was a direct copy of the Nintendo Game & Watch title Fire, originally released as part of Nintendo’s LCD handheld Silver Series in 1980. Bouncing Babies was one of the earliest games I remember playing on my dad’s IBM PC, I was around 5 or 6 years old.
Baskin encouraged people who liked his game to mail him $5 so he could continue to make new games, to my knowledge, Bouncing Babies became his only game.

A quick play of Loriciels Mach 3, released for the IBM/PC in 1987.
By 1987 the IBM PC was still trailing behind other 8-bit and 16-bit machines when it came to games, graphics, and sounds. Only a few games had managed to really push and utilize the IBM PC hardware to showcase what could be done if done right. While the CGA graphics, technological, were more or less obsolete by 1987 Mach 3 still managed to be one of those few cases that would really surprise you. Most users had never heard music and sound effects like this on an IBM PC, and with exceptional fast-paced gameplay and quite sexy marketing, Mach 3 was definitely an enticing title.

A quick play of Gapper, released for the IBM/PC in 1986 as freeware.
Gapper was inspired by Konami’s Amidar, and was a small addictive, and challenging game, especially after the first handful of levels. Using the spacebar a gap could be created in the grid allowing for the chaser to get stuck (I have never used the “gapper” function but maybe I should).

A quick play of Columbia Data Products’ Space Commanders, released initially as part of the software bundle that came with the company’s IBM PC compatible 1600 VP portable computer from 1983. Space Commander was a clone of Taito’s hugely successful 1978 coin-op Space Invaders and was one of the earliest games I remember playing on my dad’s IBM PC, I was around 5 or 6 years old.

A quick play of Derek Williams’ Striker, released for the IBM/PC in 1985 as freeware.

A quick play of Digger, released for the IBM/PC in 1983 by Canadian Windmill Software.
Digger was developed by Rob Sleath, the primary developer at Windmill Software, and had elements from the two popular arcade games Dig Dug and Mr. Do!

A quick play of Sheng‑Chung Liu’s Pango, released for the IBM/PC in 1983 as freeware.
Pango was a clone of Sega’s popular Pengo coin-op video arcade game from 1982.

A quick play of Bill Williams’ adorable Alley Cat, released for the IBM/PC in 1984 by Synsoft/IBM.
Alley Cat was initially begun by John Harris who had just left Sierra On-Line for Synapse Software. Bill Williams took over and the game was released for the Atari 8-bit in 1983. The following year it was released under IBM’s Personal Developed Software label.

A short play of the first 10 levels of Spectrum Holobyte’s Soko-Ban, released for the IBM/PC in 1987.
Sokoban, meaning warehouse keeper in Japanese, is a classic puzzle game. The original Sokoban was written by Hiroyuki Imabayashi and published on cassette in December of 1982 for the Japanese NEC PC-8801 home computer.
While it’s been 25-30 years since I last played this great puzzler, I quickly got into the groove.

A quick play of the Donkey Kong clone, David’s Kong, released for the IBM/PC in 1984 as freeware.
David’s Kong was extremely simple and quite challenging because of the sluggish controls. It was programmed in Microsoft’s GW-BASIC, a language suitable for simple games and small business programs. Since GW-BASIC was included with most versions of MS-DOS, it was also an easy and low-cost entry for many aspiring programmers to learn the fundamentals of computer programming. Maybe David was a young aspiring programmer learning to program by copying one of the most popular game concepts of the time.

A short presentation of Ebenel Software’s Bushido: The Way of the Warrior, released for the IBM/PC in 1983 by Advanced Computer Products, Inc.
Created by John and Robert Lee as the first martial arts fighting game for the business-oriented IBM PC. Bushido was impressive for its time but its awkward control scheme definitely took some time to get used to. It was released by Advanced Computer Products, a computer business founded by Dave Freeman in the summer of 1976. Freeman had a background from Fairchild and National Semiconductor and had experienced the microprocessor revolution firsthand. In November of 1976, he opened up one of the earliest computer retail stores in the US to join the personal computer revolution.
I had a hard time getting the game to play well, keyboard presses kept stacking up, just like I remember it doing back in the days.

2 thoughts on “Bits From my Personal Collection – The CGA Games, awkwardly beautiful

  1. Pff, I love CGA games/palette so much…
    I prefer some versions like Battle Chess and Maniac Mansion with fewer colors because of the nostalgic factor (they are actually better to me like that, but maybe I have an enormous bias, ha)

    You mention some games I wasn’t familiar with, especially Mach 3 (!), which looks so rad.
    I just went on and played some Gapper right away, good one.

    3 years ago I did an entry on my blog about CGA games (trying to list them). I’ll recommend you check: You Have to Win the Game (2012)

    Videojuegos con paleta de colores CGA


    1. Thanks a lot for sharing and delighted to hear from another CGA appreciator:)
      Great entry on your blog, though I had to translate it. You cover a few games I never played, always exciting to see what other people enjoyed back in the day.
      There should be a multiplayer Gapper, that could be a lot of fun.
      Take care.

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