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Thread: "Digital only" before "Digital Only" was a thing: A Retrospective

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    Default "Digital only" before "Digital Only" was a thing: A Retrospective

    Im probably younger than most here (29 as of this typing) so bear that in mind when I say that I have a good idea of what gaming was like for titles that werent on a physical format LOOOONG before anyone complained about publishers not releasing titles on physical media. My earliest experience was gaming on my dad's work computer which had Windows 3.11 on it. The games I remember were JezzBall, Chip's Challenge, and I believe Solitare and Minesweeper. There may have been a couple others but those are the ones I remember. These games to the best of my knowledge came built into the operating system. My dad has always been against video games so I know he didnt go out of his way to buy them, nor did my mom, and no one in my family had any idea how to "install" a game.

    JezzBall was the one I spent the most amount of time with. There is something to be said about the simplistic gameplay, lack of sound, yet razor sharp resolution and beautiful contrasting of these games that I just have not seen on any other console except perhaps the Master System. Windows 3.11 really had some potential to be a great retro computer gaming experience that its a shame I wasnt able to take full advantage of it.

    In school, if a kid had a Texas Instruments graphing calculator, there was a 95% chance that it had games on it. The one I remember the most was Fall Down. It was a very simple game that the closest thing I can compare to is the mini game in Wario Ware where it just says "Tilt!" But the screen scrolls. The games AfAIK were downloaded from the internet but at the time it was a mystery how these games got on there to begin with.

    Shareware games were very popular in my household. Zulula, Mortal Pong, Cheesey Invaders, Cycl Warz, Aldos Adventure, Super Sales Acer, Super Sled Acer. These games were hilarious but still very playable despite being developed by high school students in some cases.

    Years later, a website I frequented often was Candystand.com. there were some mini golf games with candy themes as well as a BMX game. This website has since been shut down but a few years ago I found a site where I could download the mini golf game. That brought back some good memories.

    Unfortunately a lot of these games are much less accessible now, and impossible in some cases to play in their original state. It makes one realize how important it is for physical media to exist. Many of the games made back then were so basic in nature that obviously they couldnt have been manufactured on a massive scale but if they had made them available as Manufactured on Demand similar to many DVD releases, it couldve been a viable way to keep the games alive.

    Besides those mentioned, I cant think of many other video games from the 90s that were digital only. Can anyone else think of any others from the 90s or even the 80s that didnt have physical releases?

    Edit: oh yeah forgot one more- The Games Factory 3. It had an RPG built into it that was actually really fun. I made a Galaga ripoff with cutscenes in between. The final boss was the guy who was supposedly trying to help you the whole time. Wish I still had that
    Last edited by gbpxl; 10-12-2019 at 11:00 PM.
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    Great Puma (Level 12) jb143's Avatar
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    Well, there were the early digital distribution platforms...Intellivision PlayCable, Sega Channel, Satellaview, etc... Those had some exclusives. The BS Zelda games being obvious examples.

    As far as computers, I'm sure there were a lot of shareware games that only got distributed on bulletin board systems, but anything popular would have been on those shareware discs.
    "Game programmers are generally lazy individuals. That's right. It's true. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Since the dawn of computer games, game programmers have looked for shortcuts to coolness." Kurt Arnlund - Game programmer for Activision, Accolade...

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    Great Puma (Level 12) YoshiM's Avatar
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    JB pretty much answered that. Computers were more into the digital download realm back even before the Web was available to the masses.

    One of the first games I ever downloaded was Doom on my then girlfriend's (who years later became my first wife) 486 SX-33 Packard Bell over Prodigy. That took a while...typing up her parents' phone line and keeping her sister from being able to call home to be picked up from somewhere. Good times...good times. I didn't download much at home as I had AOL followed by a local ISP that I worked at, so at work if there's something I REALLY wanted, I'd download it there with their fast (for the time) Internet and back the files up onto a bunch of floppies. Among other things (my co-worker accepted a return for Duke Nukem 3D and backed the CD up to about 20 or so floppies...but that's another story).

    When broadband became available, I did more downloading of software and haven't really looked back. These days if I have a game on CD, I have to try and find it. I've got a legit copy of Warcraft II I'd like to play and do the clone install on my kids' computers but I don't know where it went. I think I can buy the game online, but since I own it...I don't want to spend the cash. Of course I'd used to bump into CDs of the game at the thrift stores regularly. Now that I want/need the disc....I haven't seen one in the wild since. One could argue that I could lose the files too but honestly, I've got most of the software I've downloaded and some documents since the late 90's backed up on CDs and hard drives. I've not as of yet run into a lost file situation as of late as I'm a digital pack rat.

    As a side note...it's a funny dichotomy- I have no problems with downloads and updates regarding games on PC. However I'm not super keen on it on consoles. However I think that general disdain comes along when every piece of technology in my house seems to decide to require updates ALL AT THE SAME TIME. I can't use my PC...updates. I'll play a game...wait...updates. I want to read a book...wait..updates?!

    Joking aside, I think I have the mentality that having consoles should equal instant play with no online shenanigans to slow me down. I've worked with PCs as a profession for over twenty-five years, so I'm kinda used to (a least to a degree, except when I need a computer the most) the update game. However I've been playing console games for most of my life and they really didn't start doing updates and such regularly until the Xbox 360, PS 3 and such. So my expectations for consoles are slow to shift.

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    Yeah console games are becoming PC gamings now. Put the disc in and the contents transfer from disc to console. The disc is only there as a "key"
    "I used to think my life was a tragedy, but now I realize it's a comedy." - Joker

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