Tag Archives: physics

Portal, PC

Portal is a legendary first-person puzzle/gravity game developed and published by Valve in 2007.

I say “gravity game” because Portal combines basic physics (acceleration, velocity, gravity, and inertia), with the ability to open up entry and exit portals, to create a game so beautifully simple-yet-complex that it is almost beyond belief…

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SpaceEngine, PC

Vladimir Romanyuk‘s incredible SpaceEngine is a simulation of the entire observable universe, with the goal being “scientific realism”, and to reproduce every known type of astronomical phenomenon.

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Zany Golf, Atari ST

Zany Golf was released by Electronic Arts in 1988. It originated on the Apple IIGS but was quickly ported to 16-bit computers, including this fine Atari ST version.

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Frontier: Elite II, Atari ST

While all the other space exploration and combat games on 16-bit home computers flail around in their own mucky diapers, Frontier: Elite II makes a mockery of everything else in its class by not only being a staggering piece of programming, but also a damn fine, playable game too.

Being the sequel to one of the greatest games ever written, Frontier always had its work cut out. One half of the original Elite team, David Braben, pushed out Ian Bell and sat down to code a galaxy inside a game. Once he did that, he then made it playable.

Just like the original Elite, Frontier is mostly about trading. You buy goods from one planet and sell them to another for a profit. Knowing where the good markets are helps. Knowing how to get around also helps. As does having the firepower and the skill to take care of yourself, because it’s not all plain sailing when there are pirates around.

Frontier: Elite II doesn’t have a central story as such, but it does have a war going on between two sides and missions available for either, should you want to live out your very own Star Wars dreams.

Frontier uses realistic Newtonian physics for movement, but the game is fairly gentle on the realism when it comes to craft control. As long as you remember to request permission to take off when leaving a civilized planet you can easily zoom around on manual and hover safely and look around by pressing Enter and Right Shift. Travelling using Hyperspace is a little tricker, but easy enough once figured out.

Graphically, Frontier: Elite II is incredible. Considering how small the game is (in terms of code/file size), the variety in the planets, stellar visuals, and 3D models is quite amazing. Watching the clouds get smaller as you leave the atmosphere of a planet never gets old, because it feels so real.

Space, in Frontier, feels very, very big. Distances very, very far. As they should. Thankfully designer David Braben managed to fit a decent game into it as well. Not to mention a very useful time acceleration mode.

Frontier: Elite II is a quite remarkable game that should fascinate anyone with an interest in the universe and space travel, or David Braben‘s later games. Elite is good, but Frontier is just mind-blowing.

Frontier: Elite II was published by GameTek in 1993. Nine years after the original Elite came out.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frontier:_Elite_II

Exile, Amiga (AGA version)

Jeremy Smith and Peter Irvin‘s groundbreaking Exile first came out on the BBC Model B in 1988 and was later converted to other systems.

The Amiga AGA version of Exile was handled by Audiogenic and came out in 1995.

Of the three versions of Amiga Exile available, two are notably different.

The earlier OCS version is more of a remake of the original Exile, with smaller sprites thoughout the game, and no grey background rocks. You can also easily identify the OCS version due to the purple panel at the bottom of the game screen.

The later AGA version (shown here) dispenses with the panel and uses overlays and on-screen messages instead. And – instead of a small guy in a space suit – you start as a large, blonde tough guy with a jet pack.

In fact: all the main sprites and backgrounds in AGA Exile have been given a size and a colour boost, although the playing area seems smaller than in the original Amiga version. Which is not ideal.

The gameplay is essentially the same as the OCS version though.

No idea why there are two versions. To make this version of Exile more like a console game for the CD32 is probably the reason.

Remember: if you want to play Exile in its original form on the Amiga, try the OCS version. If you want the suped-up, ‘Duke Nukem’ version, go for the AGA version. Or: just play both if you’re clever enough to get them both working.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exile_(1988_video_game)

Exile, Amiga (OCS version)

Jeremy Smith and Peter Irvin‘s groundbreaking Exile first came out on the BBC Model B in 1988 and was later converted to other systems.

The Amiga OCS version of Exile was handled by Audiogenic and came out in 1991.

Actually, three versions of Amiga Exile were released… An OCS version in 1991 (purple panel at the bottom), and an AGA version (with no bottom panel), and a CD32 version in 1995. Each took advantage of the Amiga‘s different graphics capabilities.

Exile‘s 2D, side-scrolling, underground exploration/shooting gameplay translates very well to the Amiga too. The scrolling is fast and smooth and the inertia is very good.

The 1991 Amiga version of Exile is much more like the original 8-bit versions than the later AGA version. All the usual tricks work, like using the Record function to Teleport past immovable robots. Picking up guns and shooting angry birds. It’s all there…

Exile is not a particularly well known Amiga game, but it is definitely up there with the best of them.

Flying around on a jetpack, blasting things to pieces inside a big cavern is a whole world of fun, and the core of the original Exile.

The physics. Exile is all about the physics.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exile_(1988_video_game)

Exile, BBC Micro

The BBC Micro version was the very first version of Jeremy Smith and Peter Irvin‘s classic Exile, released through Superior Software in 1988.

Yes, it has gaudy graphics, and yes: the gameplay takes some getting your head around, but Exile is undoubtedly a stunning piece of game design and world-building. Considering the limitations of the host machine.

At its core is a simple gravity game where you control a small spaceman. When you start exploring the caverns you begin to realise that there’s a whole ‘nother world out there. And some very annoying birds…

Exile is an extraordinary gaming achievement for a 32K machine. BBC Model B’s with more RAM could load an enhanced version of the game, with a larger playing area, sampled sound effects and digitised speech.

This classic BBC game inspired a whole series of side-scrolling shooters throughout the 1990s, and was re-made by its original creators several times for other platforms.

The even better Commodore 64 version, by the original programmers (with graphics by Paul Docherty), can be seen here.

There are two Amiga versions: the OCS version and the AGA version.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exile_(1988_video_game)

Championship Pool, Super Nintendo

Bitmasters1993 title Championship Pool for the SNES is – I think – arguably the best pool game of all time. On any system.

Championship Pool dispenses with flashy visuals and 3D graphics, and gives you a set of limited viewpoints and solid physics, and delivers an almost perfect game. Under any type of rules, including (in the European version) English pub rules.

The feel of the weight of the balls as you hit them is fantastic. You can make subtle shots, and whomping hard-hitters, with aplomb, and Championship Pool allows bold, risky play because the on-screen visual aids make judging shots easier (than playing in real life).

Yes, the graphics are a bit rubbish in places, and – yes – the music can get on your tits after a bit (especially if you don’t like blues, but thankfully it can be switched off), but Championship Pool really delivers where it matters.

I can’t think of a better pool game, and I’ve played most of them. If you know of a better pool game: please let me know. And if you love pool, and haven’t played Championship Pool, then you’d be well advised to check it out.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Championship_Pool

Exile, Commodore 64

Jeremy Smith and Peter Irvin‘s groundbreaking Exile first came out on the BBC Model B in 1988 and was later converted to other systems.

Including the Commodore 64.

Of all the versions of Exile I’ve played I’d have to say that the Commodore 64 version is arguably the best. Because the graphics are so nice. Because the gravity, inertia and feeling of flying around on a jet pack, in a free form, windy world, are just so good – so ahead of their time.

The controls are a bit weird (for picking up and using objects), granted, but the speed with which your man zips around, and the control you can take over him (if you know what you’re doing) is absolutely tremendous.

Descending lower and lower into the caverns, the adversaries become more vociferous in their aggressiveness, many can fire rockets at you, so you’ve got to be on your toes. A quicksave slot in a emulator helps, because playing Exile without reloading is marginally less fun than messing around and experimenting with the in-game physics.

Exile is actually one of the first really sophisticated gravity games ever released on home computer systems. The two designers, Smith and Irvin, definitely created gaming brilliance.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exile_(1988_video_game)
Guide: http://tin.at/c64/exile/exile.sol.htm