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1990 Winners





SSI, 1990


Cinemaware, 1990

Wing Commander


Publisher: Origin Systems

Developer: Chris Roberts/Origin

Original PC Platform: Intel/DOS PC 5.25 LD, 5.25 HD-3.5 LD, 3,5 HD

Ported Platforms: Amiga, SNES

Collecting Fact: The original package came with an advertisement for a Wing Commander hat. Fewer than 500 were sold, making this the ultimate Wing Commander collectible.

Summary: " the distant future, mankind is locked in a deadly war..."  These were the words that first introduced us to the world of Wing Commander.  This epic space shooter was the most challenging, and engaging game to come out of Origin since Ultima.  Written by Chris Roberts, a relative newcomer to the computer game industry, this action-packed thrill ride drew us into the war between the human Confederation, and the evil empire of the cat-like Kilrathi.  Being a conquering race, the Kilrathi have violently and maliciously attacked the human outposts and thrust the universe into a bloody war, in which you must succeed or see mankind exterminated.

To aid you in your fight are a host of ships at your command with which you fly patrols, perform all-out attacks, and defend your carrier from wing after wing of Kilrathi fighters, destroyers, and cruisers.  One of the most amazing features of the game is the cockpit.  A full view of your pseudo-surroundings is viewable on screen as you careen your way through enemy space,, and when you move your joystick, the hand on the screen mimics your movements precisely, drawing you ever closer into the action.  Get damaged, and your cockpit shows the wear, with sparks, loss of scanners, and hanging wires.  In contrast, when you score a hit on an enemy, you actually see pieces breaking off of your target, and ending in some of the best explosions seen in 1990.  Push the view keys, and you can actually turn your head--looking out the left, right, or rear windows to see who might be on your wing, or on your '6'!  The enemy AI was very good for a game of this era, with enemies jinking and tailing at every turn.  Missions only ended when you asked for landing clearance, giving an even closer feeling of 'being there'.  The soundtrack to the game is also worthy of note, being not only spectacular, but truly dynamic.  Written by the infamous 'Fat Man', the music actually changes depending upon your situation.  From the desperate sounding score when you're trying to 'shake' an enemy, to the victorious salutes when you've defeated your foe, the music transitions smoothly from one situation to the next. 

In addition to the action, Wing Commander was one of the first games to add between-mission plotlines.  You talk to people on the ship, and they convey information, unfolding the storyline, or just give you a pep talk (or a dressing down if you flew poorly).  Mission briefings give you more information on the state of the war.  After which, you are treated to a cinematic cut scene as you and your fellow wingmen race to your fighters for another round of combat!  After playing for a while, you start to become emotionally attached to the characters--their feelings about the war and about each other all aid in endearing you to their various personalities.  From Paladin, the Scottish father-figure, to Maniac, the crazy hotshot, all of the characters make you WANT to help--and WANT to win!  

-- Joe Garrity

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Last modified: May 01, 2002
Copyright 1998 - 2004 Hugh Falk International Interactive Enterprises Industries Incorporated Limited Etceteras.  All rights reserved.