Retrospective- What was Shareware?

I remember, back in the late 80’s and early 90’s we had  Shareware and Freeware that allowed people to have one episode of a full games allowing you to get a feel for the game and the content. One could say that us kids without much money and no system had but 1 hope…SHAREWARE. Some games were only obtainable through CDs included in PC Gamer Magazine or the CDs included in the “Strategy Guides” but many publishers would release the licenses to their first “Episode” of a game or first few dozen levels.

These were popularized by games like:

Duke Nukem
Jill of the Jungle
Word Rescue
Math Rescue
Commander Keen
Haunted House 3D
Wolfenstine 3D
One Must Fall 20XX
And many other Titles from Sunsoft, Apogee, id, and the like..

These games killed the time we had when there was nothing to do. When one says “You have the demo?” I think the days of Shareware. Where games were only a few megs and you didn’t need the internet just to play demos (As a matter of fact, the internet was not even common back then). In contrast in the later years Shareware faded. Custom expansions and fan-made content would be more popular through the distribution of PC Gamer and the “Planets” websites (or various fan hubs hosting files).

Now adays mods are common and some publishers, like Blizzard, include tools to make custom versions, mods, and even arcade games built on their platform for various franchises ala Starcraft 2 Map/Game Editor or the newest incarnation of DooM with the level editor. Robust content and AAA titles have demos readily downloadable through Hubs like Steam, Origin, and their own sites. There were a LOT of games out there to pick up…

Retro Game Review Sonic and Knuckles on the Sega

System: Sega Genesis
Overall: **** 4/5
Game Summary:Though pushing the processing of sprites on a screen at once Sonic lacked much of the display gloss of later games on the Genisis. The first game itself was a launch title. The rest were sequels that added something new with each update. Sonic has become a large part of both Anime and “Fur” culture. Though the story was simple and the gameplay lacking little more then “Jump on the enemies or run into them with your spikes” it kept us entertained. Sonic has moved into the new age with console games. The fusion of Nintendo and Sega has brought to us Sonic on the NES of today.

Graphics: Sonic wasn’t realistic but we were given much expression with the cartoon sprites that was him and his companions. The game lacked polish in the first 2 but the third and forth installments made up for in both background and foreground effects. You were moving so fast most of the time you didn’t have the seconds to critique most of the area anyways. It was Sega’s “BLAST PROCESSING”, right?

Music: The highlight of the sonic games was the composition of in game songs and the ever so classic ring gain and ring loss sound. We enjoyed it. And sometimes when you close your eyes after playing, you can hear the Green Hill Zone theme.

Replay: Sonic was a set of time trials. You’ve always got to get the best time. Points and time and rings. That’s all you really worried about until you got to the boss, ahh Beating Robotnik was always fun.

In the End: Go and play this game. Even if you have to buy an old used Genesis and the games to do it. Its worth it. These are the games that kept Nintendo grinding away at production for stronger systems. Mario was slow and hopping while Sonic was spin Dashing his way through robots. The worst thing Mario took on was a freaking fire breathing lizard! C’mon guys (well, Sonic and his pals did fight the “True Perfect Being” which was a fire-bubble Lizard but we’re not talking about that, today).

Retro Game Review- Jill of the Jungle

System: PC (DOS)
Overall: *** (3/5)
Game Summary: When you think “Laura Croft” or “The Night Elves” from WoW did you ever wonder where it all came from? Well for those who remember the contender: Jill! To keep pace with Keen and Duke, Jill was produced to offer another romp through a DOS Coded wonderland. Jill never engaged any bosses in combat. And for a game like this the puzzles were enough…

Graphics: DOS is DOS. Colors were standard. Jill had a nitch though- one of the few females you could adventure as in the early 90s. This was done by Epic Megagames (One Must Fall…UNREAL) so this was one of their little steps on the way to stardom. Not too flashy but didn’t ever give me a headache. So it worked for what it was- at the time.

Music: Jill had little to nothing. Sounds were stock. And little was “new” for its production. Appogee used quite a bit of this in their other games- nominal amount of sounds- but structure to give it a solid feeling.

Replay:There was none. No skill level, no different maps after the main ones. If you wanted to see how fast you could o through it you could!

In the End: Jill was fun for its time. Back then all three games were like 15 bucks. Roughly a month of saved chore money. Now a days it lurks in various torrents and floats around nearly forgotten.

-From No Deal Forum, Circa 2007
-Robert R.