Wing Commander 3 – Today Show Feature

I see I got another mention on WCNews today. It’s certainly flattering but I’m not so sure about this place being called “one of the most fantastic websites on the entire Internet”. I can imagine some dashed hopes when people actually click the link. However, in honour of the occasion I thought I should post something Wing Commander.


This is a short feature I’ve got on VHS from The Today Show on Wing Commander III. It has some behind the scenes footage and also interviews with Mark Hamill, John Rhys Davis and Malcolm McDowell.

I can’t post anything these days without a short update on the VFX-1. I tried swapping to a floppy cable as a VESA connector and moving the graphics card to another slot and it has actually improved the picture slightly but it still doesn’t look as good as it should. I couldn’t find any other cards that worked at all but I did win the Trio64 for 99p so that is on the way and will hopefully do the job. However, I found a warning in my motherboard manual that old S3 cards could cause lockups so there is a strong possibility I won’t actually be able to use it. As a backup plan, I’m also going to buy an ET4000 if possible and have my eye on one on Ebay at a price I like. It’s in Papua New Guinea of all places but is still the cheapest option by a mile if I’m looking for one of the officially supported cards. Tempting as it is, I’m going to hold off actually playing anything on the VFX-1 until I get this sorted which could be some weeks if I’m waiting for a parcel from PNG.

That should give me time to play another game or two in the meanwhile. I’ve been hunting around on some more Japanese auction sites and have picked up Ultima 6 and Ultima 1-3 for FM-Towns as well as a pair of Japanese Ultima cluebooks but I won’t be getting any of those for a couple of weeks. I think Ultima 4 on the NES has to be next.

Wing Commander 3 3DO Demo – Attempt 2

I didn’t get too far when trying to run this demo on Freedo a couple of weeks back. I’ve got the real hardware now though so I burned it to a CD to give it another go. Capturing screenshots off a 3DO presents a problem. I did try running the console through a video capture card which worked but caused a lengthy delay which would have made it unplayable. A few extra cables and I suppose I could have routed it through that and the TV in parallel but for now I’ve resorted to taking a couple of pictures of my TV with my phone.


The demo starts with a familiar FMV trailer. I was hoping that the FMV would be much better quality than on the PC. WC3 was the first game I ever played that used full screen SVGA FMV with any sort of fluidity. With only 256 colours and early compression techniques, this came at a cost with major compression artifacts. It probably does look slightly better on 3DO but it’s marginal if there is a difference.


After the FMV, I get to play the start of the game. I can’t go into the lift but I can talk to Hobbes, attend the briefing, etc.. What I really want to get to is the flying thanks to rumours from Loaf that this is quite different to the PC.


There are definitely plenty of changes in the cockpit. Firstly it’s a lot more colourful including full colour FMV in the VDU. The 3D engine runs really well and a lot smoother than I was expecting with more detail on the Victory than normal if anything. Also, the cockpit slides around the screen slightly as I steer which could take some getting used to. There isn’t any music but I’m assuming that was just to keep the demo size down.

The maximum speed of my Hellcat is now only 188. This does mean I can adjust speed a lot more quickly and probably makes sense. Getting up to full speed on Sega CD WC1 took ages. I’d be lying if I said I knew what all the controls were when I finished playing this but I got the most important ones from the help screen and it wasn’t too hard to change weapons and command my wingman. How I lock onto an opponent remains a mystery.

The mission itself is a simple patrol in which I come up against a lot of Darkets and one small capship (which I can’t recall ever seeing outside of this demo). This capship is a sitting duck but the explosions do look good with all the extra colours when I’m shooting it. There is a whole lot more debris when things blow up here also which is satisfying if a little unrealistic. I’d have to say this version definitely wins over the PC in looks. Where I do have problems is actually shooting anything. There seems to be a steep learning curve getting to grips with the different control systems every time I swap Wing Commander ports. My missiles get me through but if I’d had to shoot the Darkets with lasers I could have been playing this for some time.


While I’m flailing around space trying to shoot them, these 3DO Darkets have a new taunt or two for me + a few manoeuvres I can’t recall seeing before. After clearing them from 3 nav points, I autopilot back to the Victory and the demo ends as soon as I ask to land. The flying in and out of the Victory at the start and end of missions appears to be missing completely presumably for performance reasons but it’s not a huge loss.

I expect there is nothing original to this demo over the full game but it does give a good idea as to whether it’s worth getting the full thing in the first place. Having recently bought it for 54p, I didn’t really need that question answering but I do think this looks good enough to justify hunting down a 3DO flightstick. I expect I could play it with the regular 3DO controller but if it’s really going to be fun this deserves to be played with a joystick. On that basis, I’ll save it for a while in favour of the PS1 version but with the VFX-1 arriving tomorrow, I won’t be looking at either of them for a while.

Wing Commander 3DO Demo

This is another demo from WCNews and out of all of them probably the one I’m most interested in, since I’ve not played the 3DO version of the game and am thinking about buying it. The WC3 demo is part of the 3DO sampler CD which contains demos for a host of other games also.

Unfortunately, the 3DO is one of the less well supported consoles as far as emulators go. As soon as I select WC3, I have to watch the psychedelic version of the trailer. Skipping this hangs the emulator altogether so if there is an interactive section after the FMV I don’t get to see it. I tried 4 or 5 different versions of Freedo without any success here. I think the bottom line is, if I want to play WC3 3DO I will have to do it on the real hardware.

I wouldn’t mind owning a 3DO for more than just this one game actually, and they aren’t especially expensive or hard to get hold of so I may well go for that but it will have to wait for the moment.

I thought I’d try the U9 demo again to see if I could reach the end but my Win 98 machine appears to have finally kicked the bucket as well. I’ve tried PSU number 3 and it’s still completely unstable so I think I can add a new old PC to the shopping list. I’m not going to put any more effort into getting this one fixed, as it isn’t really the hardware I want in the first place. Something along the lines of a Pentium 2 would be far more appropriate and I ought be able to pick a PC that ancient up for next to nothing. As far as both these demos go, I’ll have another look when I have the right hardware.

Wing Commander 3 Funny Tape

I managed to make the time for a speedy look through my parcel of Origin goodies before Xmas. Let’s face it, it had to be done. Going through it all properly is going to take ages but suffice to say I’m happy with the contents and there are a few real gems in there.

Among everything else there were half a dozen VHS tapes. The snag with this is that I’ve not had a VHS player in a long, long time. You’d have to be fairly out of date to own one these days really, which is where the parents come in. Since I was conveniently over there for Xmas, I took the opportunity to transfer all the tapes over to DVD and as a late Xmas present to WingNuts, I’ve re-encoded one of them and stuck it on Youtube:-

As far as I know this hasn’t made it onto the web before, although much of it will be familiar to anyone who has seen the bloopers video from the WC3 Special Edition. That ran for less than 9 minutes so there is a lot more footage here. The quality isn’t exactly perfect – it is after all a 15 year old tape but it’s not too bad. I should possibly mention that there is some strong language for those offended by it.

Wing Commander 3 Demo

This will be a short post, partly as it was a short demo but also because I couldn’t grab any screenshots. The WC3 Demo is available from WCNews, although I got my copy off the January 1995 PC Format coverdisk.

This came with an electronic Origin catalog which isn’t in the WCNews download so I’ve uploaded it here for anyone interested.

This has sales pitches and screenshots for loads of Origin games including Wing Commander 3. The catalog is a windows program but wouldn’t run on 64 bit Windows 7. It ran fine on my Windows 98 machine however, which is what I ended up using to play the demo.

Running the demo at all proved to be more difficult that I expected. It started up in Dosbox but crashed as soon as the initial speed test was finished. I tried tweaking memory setting and cpu types without getting anywhere. I had the same problem running it from the command prompt on my Win98 PC but it did run ok if I exited to DOS mode. The snag with that is that I haven’t set up sound drivers for DOS as the hardware in that PC is just a little too modern. I ought to follow Loaf’s example and set up a DOS machine at some point. I’ve got enough old hardware around here to knock something together without spending any cash, but it seems like overkill for the sake of a demo + I’ve not got room for a third box. For now, I took the easy option and played without sound.

The demo is in two parts. The first is a rolling movie of clips from the FMV. I didn’t spot anything new in here although I was watching it without any sound. The FMV was stuck at the top of the screen instead of the middle but I’ll blame this on my video card. Pressing escape brings up a demo mission.

The demo mission is nice and simple and just involved fighting a load of Dralthi in an Arrow at a single nav point. There are enough of them to be something of a challenge and it shows off the game engine well enough. Other than a message popping up telling me when my missiles had hit or missed, I didn’t notice much difference to the final game.

Playing this mission meant dusting off (literally) my Thrustmaster joystick which turned out to be far better behaved in DOS than it had been when I was trying to play Longbow 2 on the same machine. There was no drifting at all and it was as accurate as I could have wished. Another reason to build that DOS machine maybe. There is something incredibly retro about using one of these old joysticks that needs real force to move around.

After clearing out the NAV point, the demo returns to looping the movie so the whole demo only takes minutes to get through. It certainly leaves you wanting more and back in 95 persuaded me to buy WC3 the moment it came out even though my PC wasn’t up to the job.