Saturday, 27 December 2008

Those who forget the games of the past...

As I was clearing out my old room in my parents' house yesterday, I came across a historical artifact of unrivalled importance. That artifact was the 1994 WWII-flight-simulator Overlord.

At first I failed to recognise the significance of this find; I thought: oh, here's another piece-of-shit DOS game from BAT (Before the Age of Terror) 7 for me to dispose of post-haste. Then I opened the box. Inside it there were nine 3.5" floppy disks -- six labeled 'SVGA GRAPHICS' and three labeled 'PROGRAM DISK' -- a little technical booklet, and a 228-page spiral-bound manual.

The manual is chock-full of historical information: tactical briefings; photographs from the D-Day landings; and quotations from notable military men such as Lt. General Adolph Galland of the Luftwaffe, Air Marshal J.E. 'Johnnie' Johnson of the RAF, and Major Robert S. Johnson of the USAAF.

Here's an excerpt from 'Overlord: The Campaign -- The Prelude'

The Allies, at the beginning of 1944, had a measure of numeric and technical superiority over the German forces. However, the upcoming 'invasion' of France required some sort of surprise as the whole operation could still end in catastrophe. Elaborate security precautions were thus taken and a comprehensive deception plan was worked out.

More work must have gone into this manual than went into the game itself. By way of comparison, the background for 2002's Medal of Honour: Allied Assault takes up one page.

Anyway, as I was saying, I'd intended to throw the game away -- no one's played it in over a decade, after all -- but now I'm concerned that I'd be committing an act of cultural vandalism; a bit like chucking out an original copy of Tacitus' Histories or the Domesday Book.

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