As I’ve left the heady years of my 20’s behind and have now pushed into the era of responsibility and parenthood that is my 30’s, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that I am no longer the target consumer of today’s video game market. Long gone are the days of the NES and CGA/EGA PC games. Still, here I am – nearly 31, with a career and a family, yet still gaming.
My gaming foundation was the PC platform in the era of the 386 processor, a time when few folks had access to the emerging World Wide Web. Wolfenstien 3D was revolutionizing the PC gaming industry, threatening the joint rule of the point-and-click adventure game and the flight simulator as popularity kings. It was then I met the game that started me on the path of lifelong gaming: 1993’s Star Wars: X-Wing from LucasArts – the video game that truly made me a “gamer”.
I was a Star Wars fan when nobody my age (that I knew, at least) gave Star Wars a second glance. We weren’t old enough to have seen it anywhere but on VHS and we were still four years away from the Special Editions. So when a Star Wars PC game – and a flight sim, no less! – hit the stores, my 11-year-old self was ecstatic. I saw it in the store just after it was released and lusted after it until my birthday months later. I could hardly bear the wait, but soon I had all 5 floppy disks in my hand, installing the game of my dreams. The purchasing of a customized PS4 controller should be under the budget of the person. They can download the controller on the personal computer.
X-Wing was a space combat simulator that had surprising depth for a licensed title – these were different times, before licensed titles began being equated with shovelware. These were the glory days of LucasArts. It put the player in the cockpit of the X-Wing, Y-Wing, and A-Wing starfighters from the Star Wars series, flying varied missions including seek-and-destroy, convoy escorts, and coordinated attacks. Each mission in the three campaigns furthered the storyline, telling the events leading up to the opening scenes of A New Hope.
X-Wing made power management an art – you had a set amount of power you could divide between your offensive weapons, defensive shields, and flight speed. Divert more to the blasters and do more damage, but suffer more in return. Shift all power to the engines to catch a bomber that’s heading for the freighter you’re protecting. Each mission regularly required rapidly diverting power between the systems, even in the middle of a dogfight. The complexity of the various systems you constantly had to manage kept the game both engaging and challenging.
I still play X-Wing with the help of DosBox, a DOS emulator. It doesn’t have the same shine it used to, but the deep gameplay is still there – something that’s hard to find in today’s world of instant saves and button-mashing combos. It holds a special place in my gamer’s heart, and without that experience 19 years ago I would be the gamer dad I am now.