Daniel Thomas MacInnes - 09/05/2011
I'm a big fan of all the Microprose flight sims, and it's very interesting to see how the genre progressed from one title to another. Clearly, Sid Meier was refining his skills as a designer and programmer, and he was always getting better and better. Is this the one with the split-screen? Doesn't matter. Rock on.
One of the simplest flight sims out there. Just fire away and don't get caught up in the details. Not really much difference between the missions (other than a few set at night), but still plenty of dogfighting to be enjoyed.
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MicroProse Software (UK).
Many thanks to HOMESOFT for converting the original game to ATR format.
Some words by Sid Meier (found here):
'Bill Stealey and I were working for General Instrument Corporation. Bill was in business development and I was a systems analyst. I had finally gotten a personal computer - which was the Atari 800 - probably six months before. I had really held off on getting a personal computer because they were all very hardware oriented. But the Atari 800 came out, and it was finally a computer that didn't have switches and paper tape - you could actually program it - so I got into making some games on it.
I ran into Bill Stealey who is always telling his Air Force stories, so he started telling them. I said, "Well you know, I like computer games and I'm working on one with airplanes in it," and he said, "Oh? Let's start a business." And I said, "Well, that's an interesting idea."
We wandered around - this was in Las Vegas - and we dropped by this arcade which had a game called Red Baron, a World War I airplane game. Bill sat down and played it, and he shot down a couple planes, and then he kind of got wasted. Then I sat down and played it, and I shot down a lot more planes. He said, "How did you do that? I'm a hotshot Air Force fighter jockey. You can't be shooting down more planes than me." And I said, "Well, I noticed just watching the game that the key is you don't want to let them get behind you. When they get behind you, there's no way you can ever shoot them down." So he said, "Hey, that's pretty clever."
There was a bond made there. I think Bill respected the fact that there was maybe more to these computer games, but he was interested in the sales and marketing side, and he had kind of the drive and the personality, and I was interested in the creative side and how these games were put together and what made them tick and what the strategies were and things like that.
So we kind of shortly after that decided to form MicroProse, and it started off very small. The irony is we thought we were behind the curve, that the industry had already peaked, and we were just trying to catch up. This was like 1981, 1982. In hindsight, it was a great time, the timing was excellent. It was still a time when a couple guys in a basement could duplicate their own disks, put them in plastic baggies with a four-page photocopied manual, and actually sell a product like that. It was a great learning experience. I think a lot of what makes me kind of able to keep doing games is the fact that I was there at the beginning and that I don't have to play catch-up all the time. It's kind of like I've been there since the start, so I've seen the evolution and have a bit of a sense of history and perspective.'