Great Moments in Shareware: Scorched Earth

July 12th, 2007 by Benj Edwards

Scorched Earth

Sixteen years after its humble emergence in the golden age of the BBS, Wendell Hicken’s timeless 1991 artillery simulation remains a hallmark in shareware history. Scorched Earth stands as nothing less than a masterpiece in the field of computer games.

With its numerous gameplay settings, variable computer AI, and an impressive variety of entertaining power-ups, Scorched Earth possesses nearly infinite replay value. It’s also one of the greatest party games ever devised: up to ten players can take turns plotting the explosive demise of their closest friends at the hands of a Nuke, MIRV, or Death’s Head over as many as 1000 rounds. As a testament to the pure strategy of the game, veterans skilled in the ways of Scorch know the best ways to dispatch foes — or merely survive as others duke it out — under any circumstance, rain or shine, springy walls or rubber.

Title Screen Tank Selection Screen Weapon Selection Screen Game Screen

Many of today’s game designers seem envious of Scorch’s ability to consistently entertain for over a decade. Fans of Hicken’s classic have attempted modern remakes of or improvements upon Scorched Earth, but to this day, none has even begun to approach the solid feel, intricate balance, or professional production values of the original. That’s how good it is.

Hicken didn’t invent the artillery game; he perfected it. And as long as our computers run without smoking, we’ll still be playing the original Scorched Earth as good Wendell intended.

Scorched Earth 1.5
Release Date: 1991 (1.0), 1995 (1.5)
Author: Wendell T. Hicken (aka “Sprig”)
Platform: MS-DOS
Runs Best On: Any 286 or 386 PC with 640K+ RAM and a VGA card
Amazingly, Scorched Earth runs pretty well on modern computers under Windows. If the game seems too fast, adjust the in-game “Firing Delay” setting (under “Hardware”). You might also want to try running the game under DOSBox. The game uses the PC speaker for sound.
– Download Scorched Earth 1.5 – (633KB)

13 Responses to “Great Moments in Shareware: Scorched Earth

  1. Dennis P Says:

    Just downloaded and played Scorched Earth with full sound through my sound card and speakers at normal speed under VDMSound, which is available here:

    VDMS adds “Open with VDMS” to your options when right-clicking on an executable. It runs most DOS games well.

    My box is running an AMD chip at 2GHz under WinXP Pro.

  2. Benj Edwards Says:

    Awesome. Thanks for the tip, Dennis.

  3. Mark Says:

    My brother and I used to get a huge kick out of this game. Thanks for the post. I love.

  4. Geoff V. Says:

    One of the best games, period. In the early to mid-90’s, this was the only computer game my whole family would play. It really did have something special. Only worms can hold a candle to this type of game.
    Thanks for the write-up!

  5. joel Says:

    There was a “clone” of this game called Genocide, using voxel graphics and isometric “3D” enviroments. Look it up on Mobygames, and you should be able to find it somewhere online.

  6. Coenie Says:

    Oh this brings back some good old memories from 1995…
    Feel the heat of my napalm!!
    Buhahahahaah uhm uhm i mean that was fun.

  7. Mike Says:

    Worms 2: Armageddon

  8. Zach Bell Says:

    So THAT’S what that game was called. Got so into game play that title seemed to mean nothing.

  9. foofdawg Says:

    Isn’t working on my windows 7 machine, even when I use compatability settings to use Win95 settings….advice?

  10. Benj Edwards Says:


    Download and install DOSBox.

    Scorched Earth will run perfectly in it on any OS that DOSBox supports.

  11. Aubrey Goodman Says:

    Scorched Earth is available free on the iPhone and coming soon to iPad.

    App Store link:

  12. Mac Says:

    Thank you so much for reminding me of the name of this awesome game! I had a blast playing it yesterday for about an hour but when I went to play it today it just goes to the menu but it’s just gray and there are no buttons. Doesn’t matter how many times I reinstall it. Why would the game work once but not again? Thanks!

  13. fuchikoma Says:

    This game was a favourite of mine as well. The best spinoff I’ve seen was a windows game called “Warheads”, where you had outposts on planets (or space stations near planets?) and scorch-like weapons, but each planet’s gravity would affect the trajectory, making for some awesome skill shots once you got a feel for it.

Leave a Reply