[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Windows 95 Gaming

August 24th, 2015 by Benj Edwards

Pitfall Mayan Adventure Windows 95 PC Game advertisement - 1995If swinging on vines was a good idea, everybody would do it

20 years ago today, Microsoft released Windows 95, the GUI-based operating system that launched Microsoft as a commercial Juggernaut into the mainstream consciousness. That’s because Windows 95 was accompanied by what was likely the largest marketing push for an OS to date (no sources cited, just my brain), and it created a minor media frenzy. People actually lined up to buy Windows 95.

Windows 95 initiated a new epoch in PC gaming, courtesy of the then-completely new DirectX system of gaming APIs. DirectX made it easy for developers to create powerful, hardware hungry games that ran natively (and smoothly, CPU permitting) on Windows. (Windows nerds will recall that it followed up on the similar, if under-utilized, WinG API for Windows 3.11.)

The very first third-party Windows 95 game ever released commercially (to my knowledge — at least, it was promoted this way) was Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure, a 1990s reboot of the classic Atari 2600-era platformer Pitfall!. Here is an ad for that game around the time of its debut in August 1995.

That being said, while I am a fan of Pitfall! and Pitfall II, I have never liked The Mayan Adventure. Seems too hard and not fun. Of course, your mileage may vary.

[ From Computer Gaming World, September 1995, p.117]

Discussion Topic of the Week: How did you feel about Windows 95 when it came out? Did you upgrade?

10 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Windows 95 Gaming”

  1. John Says:

    I was the last person at work to upgrade to Win 95 from Win 3.11, even though I was in IT. Shortly after that, I built my home computer to boot to a menu letting me decide if I wanted to boot either DOS, Win 3.11 or Win 95. Once I got used to it an accepted that it was going to eat up all my hardware resources, I learned to like it. That and I quickly realized all the cool new games required Win 95.

  2. spaceharrier Says:

    I used dos until ’99 when I upgraded to a pentium 1 with windows 95.

  3. Jistuce Says:

    I don’t recall feeling much of anything about Win95 when it came out.
    We were building our first IBM-compatible around that time(it was a 486, and the Pentium math bug was all over the news).

    And I thought DOS 6.22 with Win3.1 was quite enough. I mean, I could play Tyrian, Dark Forces, Duke Nukem 3D, TIE Fighter, Terminal Velocity, a whole WORLD of video games. I didn’t care about 95 until a few years later, when all the cool kids were making Win95 games and DOS gaming fell by the wayside.

    And then I fought to try and keep Program Manager working for a long time, because the Start menu was a twitchy abomination and I wanted to spend as little time with it as possible.

  4. Stan Says:

    I was a lot more excited about OS/2 Warp, which came out a year earlier. It featured real multitasking and protected memory, but suffered from poor performance and hardware support.

    I don’t think I used Win95 until the end of the year, when I helped a neighbor try to install a printer.

    And it would be a few more years before I could be convinced that Windows could run games as well as MS-DOS, and by that time I had already installed Win NT 4.0, which I got for free as a student.

  5. TNLongFellow Says:

    Yeah, I upgraded. The reason that I upgraded was that I worked in a local computer shop as a tech. I had to learn it to install it and help customers with it. One thing I was actually surprised about was that my copy of Tie Fighter needed a boot disc to play on my PC at the time, but after upgrading I didn’t need the disc and the game ran great!

    Also Benj, I have the Mayan Adventure for my GBA and it’s okay. It’s not really Pit Fall to me, but it’s okay.

  6. XCALIBR8 Says:

    My intro to the Windows 95 world was a Cyrix 6x86MX 188 MHz based Compaq Presario. I used DOS a good amount of time on that machine, and it was my intro to computer repair/upgrading. I distinctly remember editing CONFIG.SYS, and AUTOEXEC.BAT to set a higher limit for expanded memory (all to play the 3.5″ floppy version of X-Wing).

  7. Moondog Says:

    I didn’t upgrade until 1997. I was working at a small computer shop, and our manager gave us employees huge discounts on hardware and software. If it weren’t for the huge discount, I probably would’ve kept using DOS and Win 3.1 a bit longer

  8. Rob T Firefly Says:

    “Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure” was among the discs in a fat booklet of shovelware CD-ROMs which came with my first Windows 95 machine (an IBM Aptiva, purchased in 1995; the first and last time I bought rather than built my desktop). I still have that disc somewhere.

    The game was a little bit fun as a novelty, but not great; I remember it being very frustrating in the sense of having to be on juuuust the right pixel when jumping, etc. I had many far better games on the Super NES console next to my computer desk.

  9. Ant Says:

    I was in college and bought Windows 95 retail(?) CD from my local CompUSA store. 😀

  10. Bill S Says:

    I did. My first PC wasn’t so much a PC as it was a collection of hardware that was all broken in various ways.

    The CPU was a (terrible) Cyrix 6×86/PR166 CPU that had the FPU power of a piece of dried pasta, so most (all) of the games I wanted to run (3d, man, this was 1995!) ran around 50% slower than they would’ve on an equivalent Pentium 90 machine. The sound card was a Yamaha YST Soundblaster 16 clone that used some very flaky-weird drivers that were ALWAYS a pain to reinstall. Always.

    Additionally, the 170mb Connor hard drive had permanent bad sectors on it – including those where Windows liked to rest the registry. At one point I was reinstalling Windows on an almost weekly basis, what finally “saved” me was after creating a fresh install of Windows, I manually backed up the registry to my only other mass-storage device, a 100mb ZIP drive (parallel, so it too sucked). Then I made a custom boot floppy that I kept sitting not-quite-completely inserted in the A drive. When my system would start showing the telltale signs of registry corruption, I’d put the floppy in and shutdown and reboot. The disk automatically copied the registry backup to the C: drive and I’d sail on as if nothing happened. I backed the registry up regularly so it rarely made much of a difference.

    I was never so happy as when I was finally able to afford a 2.1gb Maxtor HD and a Pentium-200MMX CPU for that box. It went from absolute dud to the computer I really wanted in like a half hour. I created a 250mb partition and installed Windows 95 to it, and all of my games, apps, and so forth went on the other 1.9gb. From that day onward Win95 behaved more-or-less well, and I upgraded the hell out of that system (adding RAM, a second, 8gb hard drive and a CD-burner), finally retiring it in ’98 or so, before my new build, a Celeron 300A on an Abit motherboard, running Windows 98 by that point.

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