RTS Nostalgia


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I’ve been recently playing some old RTS(real time strategy) games that I enjoyed a lot in the past, and I thought it’d be nice to share with the rest of the world my favourites.

This is not a complete list, neither is it chronologically arranged, but most of the strategy games I will post here are quite old now.

So let’s start with the first one:

Dune 2

It’s quite obvious that I should place Dune 2 first on the list. I am sure about this one being the first game that can be called the father of all RTS games. It was released in 1992( it’s now 19 years old). Interestingly, I’ve played it for the first time only about 3 years ago, but I still appreciated it, considering the fact that the gameplay resembled so much at a basic level with modern RTS games.

I admit that this game doesn’t have any more replayability left these days, especially because of technical problems. If you still have Windows XP, you can just run the .exe in Windows 95 compatibility mode. If you have Windows 7 x64, you will require a well known and cool emulator named DosBox. I think you can download Dune 2 for free from several Abandonware sites. (such as this one). Well, even if you can play it, the resolution is just awful on big monitors.

Command and Conquer: Red Alert

The famous Red Alert… I have wasted so many hours playing this game as a child. I absolutely loved it. One thing I remember is that it was damn hard to quickly establish a good defense in skirmish mode. I am convinced the AI was cheating. Sometimes, even though it was a “Free for All” mode, computer enemies would team up to destroy me, if I remember correctly. I was charmed by the style of play this game had. I remember how much I enjoyed building Tesla Tower defenses and watch how ridiculously well they defended my base.

This game still has some replayability today, but it mainly suffers from the old graphics( the graphics wouldn’t be a problem, I personally like 2D games, but the resolution is to blame). Fortunately, somebody is working on a remake that is ought to be released this summer. The fun fact is that it’s a mod for Red Alert 3. Here’s a link on ModDB.

Again, there are some technical problems. I think it runs fine in Windows 95 compatibility on 32bit systems. But if you have Windows 7 x64, for example, it’s hard or next to impossible to run the game. The only way around this is to get VirtualBox( a virtualization software) and install Windows XP 32bit on it. Then install the game there and run it in Windows 95 compatibility mode. Actually, the game is free and you can download the CD ISOs from the C&C site. It includes a patch. I suggest you follow this tutorial if you encounter problems opening the game.

Dark Reign

This was a game that a friend showed to me, I fell in love with it, played it a lot for about a year, accidentally lost it during a computer format, and then forgot the name for 7 years. The annoying part is that I totally forgot even how it looks. I just remembered that it was cool, and I really have to replay it again. I basically scrolled and checked through long lists of RTS games, without success. After some time I got tired and just posted a description on some forums. Then, somebody pointed me to this game and I found it.

This is another wonderful RTS that has KKND2 and Red Alert gameplay style. It features a lot of units, and upgradeability of buildings. I can’t offer a good description since I have just “rediscovered” it and haven’t had enough time to replay it.

Although it’s repayable, it again suffers from low resolution. It doesn’t run very well on modern operating systems, the game has some color bugs and it’s unplayable. The solution is to run it on a Virtual Windows Xp.

There’s even a community, and I am quite amazed that it is still alive, where you can download this game(they say the game is not considered abandonware yet, but they offer it “as a patch”- well I do consider the game abandonware, it was released in 1997). I’m not quite sure, but it seems that the community is waiting for the source code to be released. That would mean only one thing: the resurrection of this game.(best example: OpenTTD).

KKND 2

I haven’t played a lot this game, but I enjoyed it. I mostly played it in “skirmish”. This RTS was released in 1998 and it features 3 factions: Survivors, Evolved and Series9, each having unique units. It has only one type of resource, and that is oil or petrol or something, making it a fast RTS.

A cool feature is that after you build a “Research Lab”, you can start upgrading every building(including the research lab, for a faster upgrade). When I first played the game I was quite confused how to advance through the tech tree until I discovered I had to research each building. You can even upgrade the Power Station, although I don’t know what’s that useful for… probably for faster oil unloading?

I think you can get this game for free nowadays, I’ve seen it on a couple of sites. It is replayable and has slightly better graphics than anything I’ve shown you so far. Be sure to run it in Windows Xp compatibility mode.

Caesar 3


Yet another RTS( not 100% RTS, but meh… fits into the general description) that I enjoyed. This one was hard to master, I knew it since I was very young. I generally left the game immediately after a couple of problems appeared: sporadic fires in the city, buildings collapsing, people dieing of diseases, and all because of me! But how could it be me? Arghh! At first I didn’t understand that it’s a pretentious game. The level of micromanagement was overwhelming for me. I was expecting to build big cities extremely fast. But I got used to it. Oh, what a joy it was to watch the tents evolve to “casa”s and then villas….

The game was released in 1999, and I don’t know if it’s available for free yet.

Dune 2000

This was a remake of the original Dune 2, released by Westwood Studios in 1998. The interface clearly resembles that of several C&C games, but then C&C games got inspired from Dune 2. I haven’t played a lot this one, probably a couple of hours, it wasn’t so special. It’s basically Dune 2 with better graphics and improved gameplay. You still have to build concrete blocks and you still can’t queue more than one unit production. The campaign is in the same fashion as Dune 2, you select your “house”(Atreides, Ordos or Harkonnen),  you are presented a brief and then proceed to select the next territory on the map. The major improvement is that it allows you to play in “skirmish” mode.

Dune 2000 seems to be abandonware, so it is free to download. Here’s a link. It should run fine on newer versions of windows. Still, I suggest running it in Windows XP compatibility.

7 Years War

Go on and search about this game on the internet. You’ll probably find 2 or 3 sites mentioning about it. I don’t know if this is a Warcraft 2 mod or clone, but I played it from time to time in the past. And I say “from time to time” because as much as I loved the gameplay and the simple mechanics of the game, it was too annoying to let me enjoy it. The AI was recklessly cheating. I often had to restart a game so I can build my defenses faster. By the time I had 2 or 3 tanks, the enemy AI could wipe me off the map. Frankly, it was almost impossible to play if you didn’t spawn on an “island”, if the selected map had any. There’s not a lot of trouble with the resources, there’s only one type: food. This food is present in 2 forms: rice or something green, I don”t know maybe it’s lettuce or something :D. The important part is that rice doesn’t regrow, while the “lettuce” regrows after several rains.

This RTS is based on the seven years war between the Japanesse and Korea(1592 and 1598). There are 2 factions in game: Japan and Chosun. I think Chosun has less types of units, but increased firepower, and the Japan have a wider range of units.

Frankly, it’s still replayable, but it won’t run on newer windows versions. You have to run it on Windows XP(as I said, you can install it on VirtualBox) in Windows 95 compatibility mode. You can download it for free here.

Starcraft

Description unavailable. Ask your grandparents about it.

Settlers II

Settlers 2 was a RTS that I enjoyed very much, playing it hours after hours. Unlike the other strategy games, this one is slow-paced, requiring a lot of micromanagement. But that micromanagement is what makes this game very fun. There are a ton of resources, and sometimes you can progress without a specific type, but that doesn’t mean you will be the best. For example, you can progress without mining gold(and it’s sometimes hard to find gold), but that means you will have less powerfull soldiers, meaning that the enemy will beat you. Oh but mining gold is useless without a gold smelter, and a gold smelter is useless without some coal, meaning that you have to build a coal mine. But then you need a gold smelter that needs its specific tool, which is made from iron in another type of house. And mining without food is impossible. Food is produced from several methods, such as fishing, hunting, or making your own food from pig farms.  But Pigs need water from a well house and wheat from a wheat farm. And then pigs have to be processed in a butcher’s house and…

Well you get the idea, micromanagement is what makes this game extremely fun. There are 4 “factions” in this game, but there’s no difference between them: only the visuals. I think they are the Romans, Vikings, Japanese and Africans.

I guess it’s abandonware . You can download it from bestoldgames.net. You will need DosBox to run it, but it runs quite well and with sound too.

The remake

There is an opensource project though(but you still need the original game), which improved it(I think it’s rewritten in C++ or something) and made it possible to run on modern versions of windows. And it increased its resolution of course. I don’t know very much about it, the authors are kind of odd not including an english description. The project site is Siedler25.org(Settler II: Return to the Roots). It’s in german but if you use Google Chrome it’s easy to translate it in English. The current version as we speak is 0.7.2. The last version that I played was 0.6 and didn’t include AI, I used it to play with a friend in multiplayer(it supports a few multiplayer modes, which is really cool!). The newer versions ( at least 0.7.2) include AI, but to be able to play in “singleplayer” with the AI, you actually have to create a Direct IP game and include AI instead of open slots.

Installing SII:RTTR:

After downloading the archive from the above link, extract it where you like. Then copy the “Data” and “Gfx” folders from the original game installation to the RTTR folder. Finally, download and install the Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 Redistributable package(x86, even if you have x64 system). Now you can play it!


Alternative

And then there’s Widelands, a free opensource project that is intended to be a remake of the original Settlers 2. It doesn’t resemble a lot the original, but at least there’s no headache installing and running it.

I also found a site, Settler2.net, that is basically a portal to all settlers2 sites.

Well, that’s about all I can write in this article. Yes, I know I haven’t included several other well-known games, but I didn’t because I either didn’t play them or like them. For example, I played Warcraft 2 but didn’t enjoy it.

Have a nice day everyone!


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8 thoughts on “RTS Nostalgia

  1. this article brings back so many memories the good ol’ days when computer games were just awesome. that’s the truth. oldschool gamers understand my point of view. 🙂

  2. There is a patch for Dune II that allows you to select two different sound devices for speech and music. Be sure to get it, or you’ll only have the choice of speech with cheesy OPL music, or wavetable music with no speech.

  3. mijto. red alert 2 imi place mult, dune II iar si setlers 2 , nu am jucat restul dar voi incerca . Dune 2000 mi se pare nasol … nu poti sa iti dai seama care unitate e cladire si care e unitate …

    1. Pfoai ma, da trebuie sa jucam settlers 2 in multiplayer urgent atunci :). ((“urgent” in timpul liber(timpul liber din timpul liber =]))

  4. In ‘7 Years War’ (A Korean game named ‘임진록’), the resource does regrow is potato :-).

    It had been developed by a Korean company, and published by Samsung Elctronics(At that time Samsung was pretty domestic company hahaha)

  5. An old RTS game that I can’t remember the name to. The main goal is to complete various tasks and meet resource(gold) requirements in order to advance in the storyline. In the game you build a village and soldiers to fend off attacks from wolves bees and zombie. You can also collect gold goblets hidden in the fog of war to speed up the process. Maybe you can help me?

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