[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Space Bucks

September 1st, 2014 by Benj Edwards

Sierra Space Bucks advertisement - 1995So now we’ve entered the 3D font era.

I’ve never played Sierra’s Space Bucks, but it looks like a fascinating strategy game. I was a big fan of SunDog: Frozen Legacy on the Atari ST, so I’m a sucker for any game that shows the inside of your spaceship from a top-down view (even if only in a non-functional splash screen). Has anyone out there played it?

(As an aside, when I started this blog in 2005, I could just say “I’ve never played this game, does anyone out there know anything about it?” And get away with it. That’s because very little game info was out there; Wikipedia had very few video and computer game entries — especially obscure ones — and MobyGames was incomplete. Now I have no excuse for not looking it up myself. And what do you know: here’s a Wikipedia entry on Space Bucks, first created in 2012.)

I have this feeling that most Windows games from the 1995 era slipped through the cracks and were mostly forgotten. It’s my impression that not many people played early games created for Windows 95 and late-period games made for Windows 3.11. Maybe it’s because the IBM PC world was in the middle of a big transition from MS-DOS / Win 3.11 to Windows 95. I remember still buying MS-DOS games well into 1997, for example.

[ From Computer Gaming World – September 1995, p.55]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What was the earliest game you bought that ran exclusively on Windows 95/98?

10 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Space Bucks”

  1. Philip Says:

    I was a Lucasarts fan, so I think the first 95-exclusive title I bought was either The Curse of Monkey Island or Outlaws, the cowboy first-person shooter. I noticed that both of these came out in 97, but I was a late adopter of 95 since the first computer I bought for myself was purchased at the very end of Win3.1’s life and I wasn’t going to shell out more bucks to upgrade the OS right away.

  2. Bean Says:

    The description of the game reminds me a lot of what Space Engineers is shaping up to be. http://www.spaceengineersgame.com/

  3. Eagles409 Says:

    I think it was probably Sim City 2000, that’s the earliest game I remember playing on Windows 95

  4. Rowan Lipkovits Says:

    “Slipped through the cracks”

    Two major factors why the “early multimedia” games around this generation never made it to the canon:

    1) Hard to pirate. Once you’re used to warezing “King’s Quest 4 disk 1/4”, it’s hard to wrap your head around “King’s Quest 7 disk 16/122”. A game that is harder to casually steal has many fewer opportunities to make an impression in formative brains.

    2) Awkward to emulate! Plenty of these games rely on early versions of supporting software which are either unintelligible to modern platforms or require positively antique versions to be installed in order to run. Are you really going to uninstall your current version of QuickTime only to install version 1 to allow yourself to enjoy playing Starship Titanic? Unlikely.

    (Why unlikely? 3 – growing pains: The storage media expanded much faster than game design sensibilities did, so you usually ended up with an MS-DOS calibre game jam packed with bonus assets, aka ugly mid-’90s FMV or 3D animation. Maybe Redbook audio or terrible voice acting if you were lucky.)

  5. Asterisk Says:

    SimCity 2000 was definitely available for DOS. I remember getting it bundled with a Sound Blaster card around 1994 or so; I still have my original boxed copy, and load it up in DOSBox every now and then.

    IIRC the first Win9x-only title I played was probably Fallout 2 in 1998. The original Fallout, from a year earlier, shipped with both DOS and Windows executables on the same CD, but despite using the same engine, Fallout 2 was Windows-only, and I think might have been the first game I ever played that used DirectX.

    But I also remember playing a few Win3.1-only games as well, apart from the ubiquitous MS Windows Entertainment Pack games (which I remember accumulating via bonus disks that came with packages of Verbatim floppies in the mid ’90s). One particularly weird and unique adventure game for Win3.1 was “Dare to Dream”, which was published by Epic Megagames in the early ’90s. It was one of the only “real” games I ever played that actually used standard Win3.1 GUI widgets and cursors to generate the game’s interface, which was almost as surreal as the plot and graphics.

  6. Alexander Says:

    While technically it was purchased for me, I think it was LEGO Island. It explicitly states that it won’t work on Windows 3.1 or Macintosh, and requires Windows 95. I love LEGO Island quite a bit, and it brings back a lot of fond memories, hence why I’ve mentioned it here before.

  7. Moondog Says:

    I think my first Win95 game was Mechwarrior 2

  8. Stefan Says:

    Speaking of top-down spaceship views, have you played “FTL: Fast than Light”? It’s a lot of fun and the first time I played it, the interface immediately reminded me of SunDog.

  9. Benj Edwards Says:

    Yes, I’ve played FTL. I am almost certain the developers of FTL were inspired by SunDog — not only because of the top-down view, but because the publisher of SunDog was called FTL Games (for Faster Than Light Games).

    I’m honestly surprised that, so far (that I know of anyway), no one has brought up the connection between the two games in a prominent publication.

    By the way, great analysis, Rowan!

  10. Chris Says:

    This was one of the first games that I bought (or rather made my dad buy for me). I remember being so excited about this game. After I got it, I installed it on my dad’s computer and he didn’t have a sound card, so I convinced him to buy a sound card, haha. I played quite a bit, but was never very good at it. It started my love for sim type games. I still have the original copy and I tried to play it but I had a hard time finding a Windows 95 emulator that worked with this game.

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