Hi there!

So, my friend and colleague kicked us off with an interesting idea: what would the DOS equivalent of the NES Mini look like, a) if it existed and b) in the unlikely event that we were put in charge of selecting the games.

In choosing 30 to be bundled with this device, I guess the aim would be to showcase the very best of PC gaming in the early 90s. Stoo has already put forward 22 titles and, though you might quibble with some of his selection (all part of the fun of this kind of thing), I’d humbly suggest that he’s got most bases covered.

Stoo’s areas of interest and expertise cover the kinds of games that were really only made possible by the PC’s setup and extra technical oomph, so of course his list includes all the wonderful FPS, space combat and talkie adventure games that made it become such an interesting and viable gaming option. On the other hand, my areas of interest and “expertise” tend to be in areas in which multi-format releases were more likely, where the DOS version wouldn’t necessarily be the best.

Even if we’d planned this as a joint feature (which we hadn’t) then I guess his list of 22, leaving me with only 8, might have seemed a bit uneven. But as things stand I already have the feeling that some of my suggestions might be too lightweight and frivolous, so I’m perfectly happy with my lot (and the opportunity to piggy-back onto Stoo’s idea). I’m also prepared to have any of my list bumped off for more worthy suggestions from other genres. But, for the record, this is what I’m going to put forward:

Two enter the arena
As Stoo already pointed out, the PC wasn’t exactly the natural choice for old-school platform gaming, and – the first-person shooter aside – there’s not much from the action genre that you’d make a convincing argument for including on a DOS-focused compilation. Another World is an important game that stands the test of time, but it was released on every system under the sun. I also have a soft spot for the original Worms, but the same could be said for that. I could make an argument for a 90s pinball game, too, but that’d be a stretch, and my favourite – Pinball Illusions – was also released on the Amiga.

I will however suggest a PC-exclusive beat ‘em up – One Must Fall 2097. I have no idea if it’s actually a good fighting game, but it looks and plays a lot better than any of the sub-standard arcade conversions that were around at the time. Plus the music is ace.


Touch my tissue
I won’t argue with Stoo’s adventure selections, and we even managed to include a couple of Sierra games that were sort of alright. I always kind of liked DreamWeb (again, released on the Amiga and also possibly not as good as I remember) and a case could be made for including one of the technically-sharper mid-90s adventures like Broken Sword or Toonstruck.

But, even though I haven’t played it in a long time, and we sort of have this area covered through Wing Commander III, I’ll suggest Under a Killing Moon as an example of a good use of video and an ambitious game that actually delivered.

I feel the need
If we’re going to include racing games, then the first one has to be 4D Sports: Driving (Stunts). Ok, so there might be an element of personal bias here, but how many other DOS-based racing games from the 90s still have anything like the same following?

Stunts developers Distinctive Software also produced one of the other notable racers of the time: Test Drive II: The Duel. I was tempted to include this one, even though it was – again – released on a thousand different platforms, but it can all be over quite quickly, and I don’t think the various car and scenery packs would be adequate compensation.


Instead I’ll include a game that updated the Test Drive template: The Need for Speed. Ok, it was first released on 3DO and, later, the PlayStation, but the DOS version was superior. I could also have gone for Screamer, Ridge Racer’s dorky PC-only cousin, to show that the PC could do a console-style racer, but the road-racing element of TNFS swings it for me.

We should also put forward a more serious racing sim, something that only the PC could do at the time. I’ll go for Geoff Crammond’s Grand Prix 2, ahead of Papyrus’s IndyCar and NASCAR games.


We like sports
Much as I’d like to get an arcade football game in here, I’m not really sure any of them are worthy. Although FIFA International Soccer was a multi-format release, the version with commentary from Tony Gubba was a DOS exclusive, but it’s pretty dreadful to play now. FIFA ’96 stands up better but it’s still not quite good enough.

Although I was never a fan of Sensible Soccer, I’d happily put that in, but again I think both the original and Sensible World of Soccer are best enjoyed on the Amiga. The same goes for Speedball 2, I think.

Instead we’ll have football represented by Championship Manager 2. It may seem quite basic now but at least you’d be able to live out those impossible dreams of taking Swindon Town to the Premier League title, all thanks to Neil Lennon.

We need another sports game, but they were frequently better on console, or the Amiga. Or just not released on PC. I’ll go for Virtual Pool – a technical marvel at the time, introducing the mouse-as-a-cue system that did away with all those confusing power bars.


Rebellious Dogs!
So I’ve got one more. And, having contorted myself around the various restrictions in place earlier in the list, I’m going to ignore the fact that this one was better known on the Atari ST and Amiga. It doesn’t showcase the power of the PC, and it doesn’t even have to be best enjoyed on a PC, but I think more people should play Mike Singleton’s Midwinter.

There you have it – our first stab at the 30-game DOS bundle. Suggestions/amendments welcome below!