Deep In The Heart Of Texas – Part 1

Here are some scans that have been a seriously long time coming. 7 years ago, I uploaded Part 2 of PC Zone’s article on their trip to the Origin offices but I’ve been unable to see the first part until today when Ian sent through his photos of PC Zone Issue 10 (January 1994). I’ll be uploading the full issue shortly but I’m pulling out a few Origin articles for the site first. This part mainly concentrates on the forthcoming Ultima 8 and Wings Of Glory (going by the name Warbirds at the time). There is also a nice photo of the Origin offices which has got me wondering if anyone still has that sign from the front wall…

PC Zone #13 – April 1994

Thanks to the efforts of Ian Williams, I’ve been able to add one of the missing early PC Zone issues to the rest of the archive at http://62.210.205.110/PCZone

These early issues are fairly large and Ian’s scanner wasn’t big enough unfortunately so it has been photographed instead and is slightly lower quality than usual. It is still perfectly legible and a whole lot better than no scan at all. Ian is hopefully going to be able to supply the rest of the early missing issues so we have those to look forward to. I for one will be reading them all cover to cover.

This April 94 issue covers plenty of classic games including Doom, Sim City 2000, Beneath A Steel Sky, Star Trek 25th Anniversary and an Origin game in the shape of the CD release of Strike Commander. I’m particularly intrigued by Wizard (aka Hexx) which I would have snapped up at the time in my quest for something to fill the Ultima Underworld gap. I recognise the cover art from Future Crew’s 2nd Reality demo but the game passed me by until now. I’ll be on the hunt for a boxed copy if anyone has one to spare.

System Shock Review – PC Zone (November 1994)

I’ve been meaning to post this for ages but at long last here is Charlie Brooker’s review of System Shock from PC Zone issue 20. He absolutely loves it of course giving it a whopping 95% in an issue shared with Doom 2 which only scored 90%. I gather it never sold as well as it should at the time and I’m wondering if going up against Doom 2 wasn’t the best idea. The CD version didn’t follow for another year or so of course so the version we are all familiar with is even better than the one reviewed here.

Wing Commander – The Jazz Album

There have been quite a few Origin related Kickstarters over recent months that should be delivering the finished goodies imminently. One that arrived a few weeks back was the latest Wing Commander CD from Wing Commander 3-5 composer George Oldziey. His original CD was a full orchestral recording of some of his Wing Commander music and very good it was too. This latest one is a more modest jazz interpretation of some of the Wing Commander themes recorded with his Latin jazz band for the first half of the album, along with some more conventionally re-orchestrated versions (recorded on a high end synthesizer) in the second half.

I wasn’t sure the world was ready for jazzed up versions of Wing Commander music but I was clearly always going to back the campaign. The CD starts with a swinging version of the Kilrathi theme music. Listening to such a familiar tune altered like this does bring the disco version of the Star Wars theme to mind and I’ll confess to finding the whole notion a little amusing. It really shouldn’t work but somehow does, it’s actually not bad at all. The other jazz tracks center around the Wing 3 bar music which is a more obvious target for a jazz group and it all fits quite nicely.

The re-orchestrated tracks are more up my street if I’m honest all sounding much better than the original recordings. The Wing Commander 3 & 4 music is some of the best of the era. Chris Roberts should have got George to write the music for the movie if you ask me – I might have liked it a bit more. I can’t see me listening to this all that often but it’s certainly a bit of fun and George has delivered everything he promised once again. I’m very much looking forward to backing the next one if there is one.

The Hoard – Feb 2019

It’s been over a year since the last one so it’s time for another of my semi-regular looks at the hoard of gaming stuff I’m storing round here. I’ve been actively collecting for something like 20 years now but the oldest bits date back to when I first bought them around the end of the 80’s. I’ll keep it shortish as there aren’t massive changes to the last time. The main difference is that I’ve replaced all the bookcases holding the big boxes for much larger and smarter Ikea equivalents. Other than that I’ve added a good few big box games, and a whole lot of PC Zones in my efforts to get them all scanned.

The big boxes are in what would probably be a dining room in a more normal house but I’ve dedicated it to PC gaming (plus the occasional bit of work). Starting on the left, I’ve got a load of posters and a repro Crusader standee on the wall with the radiator. The glass desk is an oddity I’ve had since early 2000’s where someone had the bright idea of putting the CRT monitor underneath so that it doesn’t take up all your desk space. It’s great for that purpose but I really should get something a bit bigger one of these days for my main PC.

Onto the big boxes. I still haven’t organised them particularly well but they are loosely clumped by company or theme. It has on occasion taken me 10 minutes to find something when I can’t remember what the side of the box looked like. Most of the Origin stuff is in that first bookcase. There are Star Trek, Infocom, Access, Westwood and SCI clumps in the other cases.

Next is Sierra corner with everything AGI and SCI. After that, it’s Lucasarts, guide books too big to fit into their boxes, FPS’s and Legend adventure games.

The final case is extremely random, a little bit of an Interplay theme going on but it’s basically everything else. I may thin some of this out this year of the bits I’m not too worried about.

On to the upstairs, the box room is currently storing all the old PC magazines. These are way better organised than the games and all in chronological order – if they weren’t I would never be able to find anything. The PC Zone coverdisks are neatly stored here in order as of about a week ago when I plugged all the gaps in the archive. The drawers on the right are largely full of Origin design docs most of which I’ve shared on this site over the years.

Finally up another floor to the attic room which is where all the consoles and computers go. The stairway up has all the really big Origin posters that I can’t fit anywhere else. I’ve a few old books and the like shoved in the first corner. I expect my guide books may end up in here before much longer.

Going round, most of my old systems are plugged into the B&O TV in the corner via an impenetrable nest of SCART switches and cables.

I don’t especially collect games for any of these systems relying largely on multi-carts instead but I have added a load of Ultimate – Play The Game boxes this last year. My old TV from student days is on the right which is a bit more basic than the B&O. I’ve found that not all the systems will work on the B&O for whatever reason. The picture on the C128 is fairly patchy also and may end up moving to this corner in the foreseeable future.

My favourite bit up here is the collection of old PC’s with a IIGS, Tandy 1000 TX, FM Towns 2, 286 (set up for composite CGA) and the Amstrad CPC at the end. You may spot that the monitors don’t actually match the machine they are sat on (for space reasons). The IIGS actually outputs to the TV in the corner. The rest of the magazine cover disks are nestled in an alcove on the right in a slightly disheveled state having extracted all the PC Zone disks the other week.

I’ve got the heart of the tiger up here at the moment. He was supposed to go on the wall downstairs but is too wide to actually fit. I could move all the pictures around if I was keen enough but for now he lives up here next to the Vectrex and spare controllers.

That’s the lot. The collection isn’t likely to grow a whole lot bigger from here on out. I’d like to keep the rest of the house relatively normal and two games rooms is kind of excessive as it is. I’d rather enjoy what I’ve got at this point and most of these systems haven’t seen anywhere near enough use as it is. There is always room for a few more big boxes though and maybe a 386/486 this next year.

Addendum¬†–¬†By request, here are closeups of all the shelves:-