Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven – Compatibility

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Title Screen

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Title Screen

System Requirements

Operating System: Windows 95
Processor: Intel Pentium compatible 133MHz
Memory: 32MB RAM
Video: 1MB PCI Graphics Card, supports DirectX
Sound: “All major sound cards” says it right on the packaging. Not sure what “major” means in this case.
Optical Drive: 4x CD-ROM
Hard Drive: 170MB

Windows 10

Installs – Yes
Runs – Yes
Uninstalls – Yes

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven appears to run flawlessly in Windows 10.

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven – Windows 95 Game First Impressions

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Title Screen

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Title Screen

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven is a Windows 95 role-playing game released in 1998. It was developed by New World Computing and published by 3DO. The game has a Doom-like 2.5D graphics engine the player may use to traverse and interact with the in-game world. The beginning cutscene’s story is simple. All sorts of monsters are invading and terrorizing the land. Some heroes run away from certain doom and are aided by a wizard. These are dire times, and those who are able to stand must somehow be part of the Mandate of Heaven. Obviously I will need to play further into the game to unveil the mystery of these things.

Create Party Screen

Create Party Screen

After character selection is completed, the party begins their quest in front of a town. There are a great number of townsfolk there that can be talked to as in most RPGs. I went to talk to a peasant who said they didn’t want to talk to my party and I discovered there is a “Beg” mechanic. Apparently you can beg a person to talk to you. Even stranger was that while I was having Serena, my party’s most diplomatic and charismatic member do all the talking, she often had to beg too. With a goddess-like personality rating of 18, she did receive far more positive responses. Funny enough, whenever she would approach anyone she would say, “Hey you!” I guess when you have a personality of 18 you can just say anything and people will want to please you.

Talk to this guy in the local inn. He'll give you some gold.

Talk to this guy in the local inn. He’ll give you some gold.

The first thing you will want to do when playing Might and Magic VI is enter the local inn. It is to the right just as you enter town. There you’ll want to talk to a Andover Potbello and tell him about a letter. He will give you 1,000 gold pieces and tell you to scram. Spend this money quickly, because you will lose it when you die.

I decided to adventure around the outskirts of town to check out the goblin critters the townsfolk had been complaining about. Once an enemy is triggered to spot and follow you, I don’t know how you can get them to ever stop following you unless you have killed them or they are dead. I went a little too close to the goblin camp outside of town and around ten goblins followed me back into the city. I did what any sane role-playing game adventurer would in my predicament and hid behind the peasants hoping the goblins would be distracted and attack them. No dice. I ran all over town trying to get away from the goblins. They would completely ignore the townspeople and come directly for my party. Even ducking into a building for a few minutes and then coming back out had no effect. The party vs. one goblin has an easy enough time. Three goblins on an open field are not too great a challenge for the party either. But much more than that and the party is overwhelmed and succumbs to death. When you die, the grim reaper himself greets your party and says (I’m paraphrasing), “You’re done when I say you’re done!” and the party is resurrected to the entrance of town penniless.

At least Alexis is having fun.

At least Alexis is having fun.

I went out the north, south, west, and east sides of town, and found them all covered by goblins. The only theory I have to adequately begin this game is to get the 1,000 gold pieces and figure out how to smartly equip the entire party for battling a small army of goblins. There are those in the town who will allow you to join the local spell casting guilds for 100 gold each and others who will sell some items to the party.

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Game Disc

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Game Disc

Might and Magic VI has been an almost comical experience for me thus far. This game is polished and really what I would expect from an early role-playing game from the first person 2.5D game engine perspective era. From what I have read, this game was originally released to critical acclaim. The graphics are decent for 1998, and it seems to have in many ways aged quite well. But it seems like I fumble through the game at every turn in ways that I haven’t experienced in any other RPG. It makes the experience feel so terrible it’s great. This is a title I will need to explore further in a Twitch stream segment. To be continued.

Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee – Compatibility

Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee Title Screen

Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee Title Screen

System Requirements

Operating System: Windows 95
Processor: Pentium 166MHz
Memory: 16MB RAM
Optical Drive: 4x CD-ROM
Video: SVGA 16-bit compatible graphics card
Sound: Sound Blaster compatible sound card

Windows 10

  • Installs – Yes
  • Runs – Yes
  • Uninstalls – Kind of. Creates an Uninst.isu file for uninstallation via the Windows operating system that works with varied success. Files are copied to “C:\Program Files (x86)\Abe’s Oddysee\”. If you delete this directory and the shortcuts in the start menu, you will have uninstalled the game.

Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee – Windows 95 Game First Impressions

Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee Title Screen

Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee Title Screen

Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee is a cinematic platformer developed by Oddworld Inhabitants and Digital Dialect and published by GT Interactive for the PC in 1997. This is one of the games I got excited about and played nearly right when it first came out. I put a lot of time in on this game back in my middle school days, and it’s been a treat to play it again after so long.

Abe's wanted for his meat. Help him escape.

Abe’s wanted for his meat. Help him escape.

A friend of mine informed me that GOG.com is currently handing out free copies of the original Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee to promote the newer remake Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty! that came out in 2014. At the time this article was published, there were several more hours left on the GOG.com promotion, so go to their site to see if you can pick up a free copy for yourself. If you have the original disc, it does work natively in Windows 10, but the GOG copy is DRM free and will run without the original CD-ROM.

"We used to make Meech Munchies, till the Meeches were through."

“We used to make Meech Munchies, till the Meeches were through.”

Having run both versions, I found it interesting that the cutscenes in Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee are manufactured to run off of a slower CD-ROM drive and as a result a lower frame rate. I thought I would get a significant boost in cutscene frame rates by running the GOG version, but it appears the development team realizing the limitations of running cinematic high-resolution video off of a 4x CD-ROM drive opted instead to simply display a dark slide show with fade-out effects and sound superimposed. The result is a cutscene of superb graphics and sound quality for the time that you can’t understand why your computer can’t handle to make it less choppy 20 years later.

Chanting a Mudokon to freedom.

Chanting a Mudokon to freedom.

In the game’s first cutscene the player meets Abe, the lovable Mudokon protagonist, who narrates the story and around whom the story is based. While working late one night at Rupture Farms, a meat processing facility, he pokes his head into a corporate board meeting to satisfy his curiosity. The player learns from Abe’s narration that Rupture Farms had been harvesting the ingredients of their products to extinction and are running low on sources of revenue. Their solution to get profits back up was to make Abe and his fellow Mudokons into a new snack on their product line. When Abe hears the news, he is understandably frightened and works to make his escape.

Scoreboards are spaced throughout the game to show you how you're doing.

Scoreboards are spaced throughout the game to show you how you’re doing.

The objective of Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee then is to help Abe and as many of his fellow Mudokons escape Rupture Farms. The first level provides a tutorial for the player to help them learn how the game is played. Following the tutorial’s instructions to the letter will not give the player a perfect score in the beginning level, however. The player is scored positively by how many Mudokons Abe is able to free from Rupture Farms. The player is scored negatively for each Mudokon Abe kills throughout the game. This final score will determine Abe’s fate at the end of the game. Abe has the ability to chant to possess Sligs, the guards that keep the Mudokons captive, and to open portals to send fellow Mudokons home to safety. The tutorial goes over all of these mechanics, but if you want to play a perfect game, it is best to study the controls prior to beginning the game.

Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee Game Disc

Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee Game Disc

While Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee is a cinematic platformer, more emphasis is placed on puzzle solving than jumping and action. Many situations will call for quick action, but each time the player screws up resulting in death, they are respawned back to the safest location at the beginning of the immediate puzzle area. The game is very much like the classics Flashback: The Quest for Identity or Another World both by Delphine Software. The graphics and sound are impressive for the time it was released, and while the game can be quite challenging and frustrating, there is a intense satisfaction from figuring out how to solve the immediate puzzle and moving on to the next screen. The game can be saved on any screen, so once you have gotten past a difficult spot, save early and save often. Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee is one of the gems of the late 90s. If you’re reading this on the day I published this article, head over to GOG and pick up a free copy of this game for yourself.

Lemmings Paintball – Compatibility

Lemmings Paintball Title Screen

Lemmings Paintball Title Screen

System Requirements

Operating System: Windows 95
Processor: 486 DX2 66MHz
Memory: 16MB RAM
Optical Drive: 2x CD-ROM
Sound: Sound Blaster or compatible, or Gravis Ultrasound
Video: 256 color VGA graphic capability

Windows 10

  • Installs – Yes
  • Runs – Yes
  • Uninstalls – There is no uninstall utility. Just delete game files in C:\Games\LemBall

This game works nearly flawlessly on Windows 10. It runs at a low resolution in windowed mode. Attempting to make the game full screen will not work.

Lemmings Paintball – Windows 95 Game First Impressions

Lemmings Paintball Title Screen

Lemmings Paintball Title Screen

Few games have left a more lasting impression on me than Lemmings, the puzzle sensation that came out on nearly every platform starting with the Commodore Amiga and the Atari ST in 1991. My dad got one of the early Atari ST copies through the Atari User’s Group he was a member of. Lemmings was a game of great fun and great frustration for me. I loved and hated how hard the puzzles were.

I was just starting to learn how to read in grade school at the time, so reading manuals was a struggle. Lemmings had a manual that was in comic book format, so it was pretty easy to read for children like me. It didn’t matter if you had no manual though, Lemmings started you off easy. Level one taught a simple concept; just dig. Each level built on the one before it, spoon feeding you as you went. By the time you beat Lemmings you were ready for the expansion pack, Oh No! More Lemmings! that came out in the same year. That was the puzzle game that really kicked my butt.

Pull the lever Kronk.

Pull the lever Kronk!

When I first saw Lemmings Paintball in the stores in 1996, it was at a time when paintball was becoming a popular sport. My friends and I would go play paintball in the new paintball arenas that were popping up at the time. There were all sorts of other video games attempting to simulate paintball; though they were primarily first person shooters. Judging by the box, it looked like Lemmings Paintball was an isometric action title departing from the spirit of Lemmings games past and Lemmings games to come. I recall attempting to bill it as a puzzle game to my parents to get them to buy it for me as an edutainment title. I thought if I could associate it with its Lemmings heritage, they might purchase it for me. But based on the same packaging, they also believed Lemmings Paintball had to be an arcade action game (a.k.a. a waste of my parent’s money).

You can fly a balloon over obstacles.

You can fly a balloon over obstacles.

This was a real shame because in the brief time I have played Lemmings Paintball I have found it has offered me an experience that was closest to the fun I had playing Lemmings on the Atari ST. Playing Lemmings on the Atari ST now isn’t the same as it was. I have been spoiled by better computer mice on the PC. Going back to the Atari ST mouse is cumbersome and frustrating. Playing Lemmings on MS-DOS isn’t the same experience either. The graphics are far inferior and the sound quality is abysmal in comparison to the rich MIDI music of the Atari ST. Lemmings Paintball seems to be the compromise. With the release of Windows 95, the PC had finally come into its own for gaming. This game seems to showcase this for me, acting as a bridge between the Atari world I came from and the PC world I entered into.

Lemmings Paintball Main Menu

Lemmings Paintball Main Menu

After Lemmings Paintball’s initial opening cutscene, the game enters a menu system that is modeled after the ones familiar to Lemmings players complete with large square buttons and the lemmings hand used as the mouse cursor. It appears there is a two-player mode, but I have yet to try it. Entering single-player mode starts the game at the first level. Just like Lemmings games past, Lemmings Paintball has a password system by which you can jump to any level using its password.

Great success!

Great success!

The levels start out easy, teaching a new concept each level. The controls are a little different from past Lemmings games, however. Whereas in the original games you would click on an ability and assign it to a lemming to lead all the lemmings to the promised land, in Lemmings Paintball all lemmings have equal ability and the objective is to take the flag in each level without losing your last lemming. The puzzle is in guiding the lemming or lemmings to interact with their environment to get to the flag instead of changing a lemming here or a lemming there to enable a certain percentage of lemmings to exit the level.

Mmmm, right in the face!

Mmmm, right in the face!

Each level starts with the available lemmings being dropped into the puzzle just like in the original games, but this time in a three-dimensional, isometric view. When a player clicks on a position on the playfield, the activated lemmings will walk in a line as straight as possible to that location. If there is fire in the path they are walking they will walk into it and burn up, so if there are dangers it is best to carefully avoid them by clicking with small baby steps where the lemmings need to go. If there are multiple lemmings available to the player at the beginning of the level, then each lemming can be selected individually and moved separately from each other. Sometimes a player will find that they no longer have enough lemmings to complete a level because the lemming or lemmings they needed died or got stuck. When this happens, you can click the pause button to pull up a menu to restart the level.

Click pause button in lower left corner to restart.

Click pause button in lower left corner to restart.

There is paintball ammo that may be picked up to equip the lemmings’ paintball guns. Lemmings shoot at the position of the mouse cursor when the right mouse button is clicked. In a sense, given that the lemmings do have enemies in the level, this component to the gameplay is an action game element. However, the action game element I experienced was never any more reflex dependent than being absolutely ready to click on the bridge-builder lemming at just the right time to keep him from shrugging his shoulders and stepping off his bridge into oblivion as I have already experienced many times in the original Lemmings game.

Lemmings Painball game disc.

Lemmings Paintball game disc.

Lemmings Paintball is truly a puzzle title. The player must flick switches, figure out how to raise and lower platforms, avoid dangerous obstacles, ride balloons away from danger and effectively neutralize enemies between themselves and the flag they are attempting to seize. On one hand, there are paintballs and paintball guns in this game, so it is aptly named. On the other hand, it is a shame they named the game the way they did, because I am certain more people would have given this game a second look if it had been advertised more as a Lemmings title and less like another mid-nineties action title. Given that it works well in Windows 10 as a desktop game, maybe fans of the older lemmings games will take note and give this one the shot it deserves.

Jazz Jackrabbit 2 – Compatibility

Jazz Jackrabbit 2 Title Screen

Jazz Jackrabbit 2 Title Screen

System Requirements

Operating System: Windows 95
Processor: Pentium or compatible
Memory: 16MB
Hard Drive: 45MB
Optical Drive: 2x CD-ROM

Windows 10

  • Installs – Yes
  • Runs – Yes
  • Uninstalls – Yes

Jazz Jackrabbit 2 seems to work flawlessly on Windows 10.

Jazz Jackrabbit 2 – Windows 95 Game First Impressions

Jazz Jackrabbit 2 Title Screen

Jazz Jackrabbit 2 Title Screen

As I alluded to in a recent “Ask Me Anything” article, my parents did not allow me to own a video game console when I was growing up. Atari made computers, of which my father was a big fan. I still have the Atari 800 and Atari ST I played on when I was little. When Atari got sold off in 1995 after the failure of their Jaguar console, my dad purchased a new PC that ran Windows.

Gaming between PCs and consoles has always been a separate experience. While my friends at school were talking about Super Mario World, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Donkey Kong Country, there was no significant Atari counterpart. I used to pass Rick Dangerous 2 off as a contender; I’ll get around to reviewing that one later. When I finally started getting into PC gaming, there were a few well known shareware titles: Commander Keen, Jill of the Jungle, and Duke Nukem. All were worthy titles for the IBM compatible computer, but with awful sound and graphics in comparison to the Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis.

One day in the lunch room at school, the new kid in our class revealed himself as a PC gamer. He talked about a game called Jazz Jackrabbit and said it was faster than Sonic the Hedgehog and had better graphics too. I had never heard of this Jazz Jackrabbit before. I really didn’t know whether to defend him or join in the mob that had formed against him because he had publicly blasphemed Sonic. Eventually he invited me over and I got to see it. A little while later I got my own copy of the shareware episode.

He wasn’t wrong. Jazz Jackrabbit was top notch gaming for the time. It was so good it may have contributed to its designers being recognized for their achievement and going on to create more great games. You’ve probably heard of their company; they are now called Epic Games.

But in 1998, when Jazz Jackrabbit 2 was released by then named Epic Mega Games, they were attempting to answer a many years long call to create a Cadillac platforming experience, the last word in platformers. When I first got my copy and played Jazz Jackrabbit 2, it seemed like it was all I had hoped for in a computer platformer. The designers made full use of the expanded screen resolution available to them on modern computers. There is so much real estate to play in, the game feels huge. When Jazz is running fast, I can still see what’s in front of him and have more time to react than I ever did with Sonic. The graphics are crisp and I don’t think I would be wrong to say this title has the most impressive parallax I saw during the era.

Yo dawg, I heard you like parallax.

Yo dawg, I heard you like parallax.

I stayed in contact with my PC gaming friend and we talked on the phone about Jazz Jackrabbit 2 after we both got it. We talked smugly as if we had finally been vindicated. If only all of those kids around the lunch table could see this game, they’d finally agree PC gaming is better. We were such losers.

It was 1998. The N64 had come out in 1996. We had all played Super Mario 64 by then, a great platformer in 3D! The last great 2D platformer of the era, Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble! came out in 1996 as well. Jazz Jackrabbit 2 was too late; it was the last word in a debate most no one had broached for two years.

These walls are filled with hidden spikes, and this hoverboard sucks.

These walls are filled with hidden spikes, and this hoverboard sucks.

It was exciting for me when I reinstalled Jazz Jackrabbit 2 and realized it runs successfully on Windows 10 without any additional tweaking. I had so many fond memories surrounding this platformer. After all, it was the chosen one to save us from the PC platformer darkness those few decades ago. It was in playing through this time that I suddenly had some objective clarity.

You can choose to play as Jazz or Jazz’s brother Spaz, or if you want to play with a friend you can play with Jazz and Spaz locally or over LAN. Both Jazz and Spaz have slightly different abilities that get triggered when pressing the jump button immediately after jumping. Jazz’s ears turn into helicopter wings and help him glide down softly at a reduced rate of descent. Spaz can jump an extra half jump into the air. Spaz is fun to watch when left idle. He shoots UFOs out of the sky and eats birds that land on his finger.

The first level is a tutorial of sorts, helping you get familiar with the character chosen. So far so good. Everything is as colorful, bright, and fun as I remembered it. The catchy chiptunes that were such a staple of PC gaming are here. I’m in my happy place. I jump, skip, and most importantly hop through the first few levels and past the first boss. On to the rest of the game.

I found a friend.

I found a friend.

It was at this point I realized Jazz Jackrabbit 2 isn’t the bed of roses I remembered. While the increase in screen resolution was welcomed as it makes the game feel bigger and easier to navigate, the collision detection was not increased to compensate. It seems like pixel precision is required to land on some of the tiny platforms. This is not a complaint about the game being too hard, it’s more a complaint of the game not allowing me to progress until I have jumped perfectly across these in game objects that I won’t land on or grab on to if I am not at the precise position and angle to do so. It often looks like you are falling through objects because you are just slightly off from them. It’s time consuming and greatly frustrating. Also, given that the characters move quickly, there are some places they will not occupy when jumping from a particular starting position. Imagine a knight moving in the game of chess. A knight will only move in an “L” shape and all at once when it does. This is the same idea with Jazz. Just because there is a platform right next to him, this does not mean the game intended for you to jump on that immediately close position. I think the game developers strategically placed many platforms in many places so you could hop over some to easily get through to others further beyond in the places you wish to go. If you are having problems hopping onto something directly next to you, try to hop onto something beyond it instead.

Jumping to the hook on the immediate right may be impossible, but easy for the one beyond it.

Jumping to the hook on the immediate right may be impossible, but easy for the one beyond it.

There is not much original in Jazz Jackrabbit 2. There are two or three similarly themed levels and a boss for each episode for six episodes. The episodes are all a parody of something that was pop culture relevant in the 90s. The game itself appears to be a parody of the Sonic the Hedgehog series, though it seems to flatter rather than to poke fun. They even included their own pinball level. Jazz and Spaz can swim, however, so there are water levels as well.

There are a lot of collectible edibles strewn throughout all of the levels. Eating carrots will restore health. But eating enough of the other foods will make the Jazz’s sugar level increase. Once enough foods have been eaten, Jazz enters a Sugar Rush and becomes invulnerable for a countdown of seconds. Use this time to kill off as many enemies as you can, and don’t simply discount the collectible items throughout the game, they can be used to your advantage.

Sugar Rush!

Sugar Rush!

Be careful about what you do collect, however. Some of the items you pick up will provide power-up ammo to your weapon. I got really frustrated because I would pick up flamethrower ammo at the worst time to be using a flamethrower. It got to the point in some levels where I wish I hadn’t picked up any ammo at all and I could have just stuck with the default weapon with infinite ammo.

C'mon, don't be a loser. Be a stud.

C’mon, don’t be a loser. Be a stud.

Despite being let down by my outrageous expectations of nostalgia, would Jazz Jackrabbit 2 be worthwhile to a newcomer to PC gaming as a stand-alone platforming title? Yes, yes it would. It’s not the savior of the PC master race, but it’s a really good game that holds up today. It won’t win a modern or even historical beauty contest, but it is a clever platformer that offers a new challenge to fans of the genre who may have missed this one when it first came by provided they can get their hands on a copy. I was shocked to discover copies going for around $25 on Amazon and Ebay on the cheap end. I’m not sure I would pay that much. If I grabbed a working one for $15, I’d say I would have received my money’s worth at this point. I suppose I need to take real good care of my copy so I won’t have to replace it.

Jazz Jackrabbit 2 Game Disc

Jazz Jackrabbit 2 Game Disc

As I am already starting to come out of my nostalgic stupor, I’m seeing Jazz Jackrabbit 2 in a new light. It really is a charming game. While I probably placed greater stock in it when I was younger than I probably should have (so much was at stake!), I realize this game still resonates with me and, judging by the demand for it among PC gamers online, others as well. Like a good joke where you just had to be there, I can’t guarantee everyone will see this one with the same rose color glasses I do. The more I realize I have lots more to say about it, the more I’ll have to leave this first impression article stating that it’s certainly a wonderful game filled with wonderful memories for me.

3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent – Compatibility

3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent

3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent

Windows 10

  • Installs – Yes
  • Runs – Yes
  • Uninstalls – No, not automatically.
  • Requires CD-ROM to play.

Surprisingly, this game from 1997 installs and runs nearly flawlessly for me in Windows 10. There is some flicker or transparent artifact that can be seen surrounding the border of the video cut scenes, but the cut scene itself is unaffected and so is game play. This game requires the CD-ROM to play, even when installing the full game to the hard disk. Its consistent polling of the CD-ROM drive can cause the game to lag slightly. You will want to reconfigure the controls prior to playing this game since the default controls will trigger a “Sticky Keys” dialog to appear in Windows 10. The Sierra provided uninstaller program does not seem to work correctly in Windows 10.

3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent – Computer Game First Impressions

3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent Title Screen

Title Screen

It has probably been years since I last played a pinball game, let alone one on a computer. The last time was probably when I played Space Cadet Pinball as a pack-in game for Windows XP. Its 2D visuals were nice and crisp. Its sounds were sharp and futuristic. And it was fun. Computer pinball games in general have always been fun for me. The first computer pinball game I recall playing was Crystal Caliburn by Little Wing for Windows 3.x. Even though it came out in 1993, its sharp higher resolution bitmap artwork kept me enthralled with its medieval theme. I would play for hours as a grade school student when I should have been doing my homework.

For those who don’t know what pinball is, I’ll have to write a later article to do the subject justice. It should suffice currently to just imagine that there is a ball, falling down at an incline, and that the player can push it back up using one of two paddles on either side of a hole in the middle. If the ball falls into the hole too many times, the game ends. The object is to keep the ball up in the air and score points by knocking the ball into objects within the inclined playing field.

Jewel Case Art

Jewel Case Art

While working my way through my game collection, looking for games that will run natively in Windows 10, I found 3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent. It is the second in a series of pinball games created by Dynamix and published by Sierra in 1997. While I was impressed with how well the game runs on Windows 10, what is most impressive about this game is how cheezy it is.

CD-ROM Art

CD-ROM Art

The game’s plot appears to be that a passenger plane is damaged in a lightning storm and crash-lands on a deserted island filled with dinosaurs and a mad scientist. In the beginning cut scene, as the plane is going down, you can see the pinball playing field on the island. It looks like the plane actually crash-landed into a pinball table. The intro cut scene looks like something designed by my high school buddies using Microsoft Movie Maker. It was 1997 and Movie Maker did not come out until 2000. You can decide if I should cut them more slack. It looks like they had fun making this game what it is, and honestly its most redeeming quality is that it does not seem to take itself too seriously.

Pinball Table Lower Right

Pinball Table Lower Right

I can only imagine begging for my parents to buy me this game in the store when it was retailing upwards of 20 dollars and then getting it home and being incredibly disappointed. I got my copy for 3 dollars at Goodwill. That price was probably worth it just for the laughs I have gotten from watching the intro cut scene and listening to its terrible one-liners. I’m actually somewhat surprised that Sierra released this game at all.

While Sierra released some duds over the years, they generally kept the bar for their releases relatively high. A potentially little known fact about Sierra is that they provided a one hundred percent money-back satisfaction guarantee on all of their games, one that they stood behind. If for any reason you didn’t like the game, you could send it back within 30 days for a full refund. I wonder what percentage of these they received back after people complained demanding their money back.

T-Rex with Some Happy Little Trees

T-Rex with Some Happy Little Trees

The game play in my initial play-through was mediocre. Balls seemingly sometimes unfairly fall out of the play field immediately after being released. When this happens, the game would often toss me a free ball as if it knew it gave me a cheap shot. The free ball seems to come in at random though and blends in too much with all the dinosaurs moving across the screen. It’s hard to tell what the ball is doing when it’s doing it, or why I received certain points and bonuses. I read in another review that 3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent has 16 pinball table levels. When I hit a game over, it allowed me to continue. Hypothetically, if the player were to have unlimited continues, there is nothing stopping them from playing all the way through the game provided they had the patience to do so. 3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent can also be played by up to four players, so play with people you hope to bore that you don’t want coming to see you very often.

Multiball!!!

Multiball!!!

Apparently Windows 10 retained another pinball buzzkill I remembered from my Windows XP days. Whenever you press the shift key too many times in a row, a dialog box pops up asking if you would like to turn on Sticky Keys in Windows. Of course the shift key is a standard paddle key for most computer pinball games. It sure would have been nice if Microsoft had provided a checkbox on their dialog that said something on the order of, “Don’t display this dialog again.” Control keys can be configured in 3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent and game pads can also be enabled, but when all you have is a keyboard, using the shift key just feels natural.

Reconfigure Controls to Avoid this in Windows 10

Reconfigure Controls to Avoid this in Windows 10

Another frustration I have with 3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent is the way it continuously checks the CD-ROM drive for the disc during play. This is a game from 1997, and yet it is lagging on my computer from 2017 because it’s continuously polling the CD-ROM drive even after I chose the option to install the entire game to the hard disk. I figure this is some form of late nineties DRM. Someone at Sierra had a lot of pride in believing anyone would want to make pirated copies of this game.

T-Rex says, "Hi Guys!".

T-Rex says, “Hi Guys!”

3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent really does have a lot of charm. It’s worth installing and loading just to see the cut scenes if obtained at a reasonable price. As far as pinball games though, this just isn’t as fun as a lot of pinball titles that I recall playing prior to its release and pinball games that came after it hit the bargain bin and was largely forgotten.