Kingdom Commander…

Kingdom Commander… after the break…

Kingdom Commander…

Anyone who has read this blog knows that I bemoan the loss of buying PC games at mainstream stores. The state of PC gaming is not just dead – It’s UNdead. Nowadays, you’re expected to enjoy “buying” games that you don’t own (because you need the magical always-on, Internet DRM) on-line, meaning that all you get are a bunch of fancy 1’s and 0’s for your money – No more instruction manuals, no more cloth maps, no more game disc… No more game.

An interim step between buying games at retail stores and scrounging for games at tag sales and flea markets was buying games at dollar stores. For a time, “dollar stores” were the new bargain bin for PC games. I remember buying a lot of games from dollar stores such as Sub-Culture & Total Annihilation: Kingdoms.

One game in particular that I bought at a dollar store was called “Moonbase Commander.” Moonbase Commander was a peculiar sort of game – It was part turn-based strategy, part “Scorched Earth” in that you needed to ‘launch’ your units in a direction (much like launching a projectile) and that the maps were wrap-around, meaning that shooting off the screen towards the left meant that your projectile or unit would appear on the right of the screen (or map).

Moonbase Commander might not have been the “Best Game That No One Played” (as one magazine dubbed it) but it was a pretty good game and it never felt fully formed; As though someone thought of a good idea, fleshed it out enough to make it an OK product and then rushed it out the door before they could really polish and shine it up to (then) modern gaming standards. I always remembered that the game was essentially rendered sprites in an era where 3D polygon units were fairly common at that point and that there was essentially no storyline. Start the game, start fighting. Sure, some people just need to punch each other silly for no other particular reason but the rest of us would like a plot of some type to motivate us. Also, all four sides had the exact same units except for cosmetic differences so, really, when you chose a side, you were choosing a color pattern more then a strategy.

There are many games where I would love to see a modern-day remake. I have been fortunate in my life to have seen at least one – Thief has been remade into “The Dark Mod” and I am ever thankful for that. Yet there are several other games that deserve a loving and caring make over as well – I would deeply consider quitting my day job to be “coffee gopher” for the team that decides to remake “Project: EDEN.” The upcoming “Pandora: First Contact” is about as close to a modern remake of “Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri” as one can get without running into legal problems. Whomever decides to make a faithful modern-day remake of System Shock 1 and/or 2 will have my everlasting appreciation (even if I can’t play it because of nasty Steam and/or Internet DRM).

Now, thankfully, I can cross another game off of that list… Maybe.

Some kind people called “Old Owl Games” have decided to make a spiritual successor to Moonbase Commander called “Kingdom Commander.” Gameplay is essentially the same but now the graphics have been updated. Unfortunately, the game hasn’t been updated from it’s pre-alpha and indications are that it has been abandoned. However, I hope that this is not the case and that, for whatever reason, they are merely taking a nice, refreshing break before finishing the game up. Perhaps they had to stop because the intellectual property of Moonbase Commander was bought up by Rebellion Interactive and Old Owl Games were given a cease and desist letter. Who knows.

Not many games get a second chance to find an audience. Moonbase Commander was a nice game that deserved a nicer execution then what it got and “Kingdom Commander” looks to be the suit and tie that Moonbase Commander could never afford to wear. I hope that progress on this game is restarted again. Good games don’t deserve to fade away into obscurity and I am glad that Old Owl Games has taken the time to attempt to update this one.

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