Good morning! Your boss probably can’t see your screen while you’re working from home, which means you have my permission to ignore those spreadsheets and play video games.
Today’s newsletter is all about some of my favorite childhood games. I always loved the chance to visit the computer in my parent’s bedroom. It was like witnessing alchemy; a giant IBM-compatible box of metal and plastic turned electricity and big floppy disks into sharp synths and colorful scenes.
Thanks to the Internet Archive, all of these games are now available for free and can be played in the browser. So, in no particular order, here’s a little playlist to get you through the week.
Treasure Mountain! (1990)
Super Solvers Treasure Mountain, by The Learning Company, is a game about stealing precious artifacts from a peaceful society of elves who you must imprison to steal secrets from. I don’t remember actually learning much from this game except for how to oppress a joyful species of diminutive humanoids, but it has a banging soundtrack, and can keep you occupied for quite a while.
The Colonel’s Bequest (1989)
This game straight up gave me nightmares for years. It’s sort of like a playable version of Knives Out, except the mansion is trying to kill you. I died a lot, including in a scene where I got murdered in the shower, Psycho style. Nope. Close program. Time for more Treasure Mountain!
This is the first rougelike game I ever played, and it was captivating — though brutally difficult. Set in a distant post-apocalyptic future, you must delve dungeons and find artifacts to defeat various bosses with curious names, including Gilligan, Buzz Aldrin, and the Grinch. If the mutant alligators don’t get you, the radiation will.
The Adventures of Captain Comic (1988)
I think my dad liked this game because it inexplicably begins with a synth version of the Marines’ Hymn. The game has nothing to do with the US Marines; it’s a side-scrolling platformer where you have to recover treasure (sound familiar?) and defend yourself from space birds. Anyway, my mom loved it.
Hero’s Quest (1989)
Later renamed Quest for Glory, this is probably the first D&D-like roleplaying game I got sucked into, long before I knew what Dungeons & Dragons was. Filled with pitfalls and danger that scared the living daylights out of me, I was nonetheless amazed by the game’s apparent depth.
(Note: this one I couldn’t find on the Internet Archive, but it is available on Playclassic.)