X-Com, old and new

Seen as you love X-Com and I recently (Easter) picked up X-Com UFO Defense off Steam… You automatically win. It’s became my favourite franchise (Aside from Apocalypse, I keep watching LPers play it but it just doesn’t catch my interest in the slightest) I cannot wait for Xenonauts and the XCOM Enemy Unknown game made by Firaxis! What upsets me is there is not enough people who know what X-Com is. :(

I know, right?  It’s the best game.  The best game.  And such a tricky one to help first-timer folks cross the gap on once you’ve gotten their attention, because as fantastic a game as it is, it was still sort of a quirky budget title from 1994 with lots of weird little idiosyncrasies and basically zero tutorial or hand-holding: just, okay, here you are, in charge of an upstart agency with limited resources against an unspecified threat.  Aaaaand go.

Which, as a long-time fan, it’s easy to forgive or even to just forget about.  And I’ve tried a couple times to get friends into it after the fact with mixed results. 

If you’ve got someone who already has that oldschool PC gaming background, who is sort of simpatico already about the level of expectations for these older games, it’s not so bad.  They sort of know what they’re getting into, they’ll put up with some “what is even happening here?” bullshit for an hour or two on the strength of your recommendation.

But someone raised on more modern, mature game productions where nobody reads the manual (what manual?) and everybody plays through the tutorial because that’s how the game teaches you about itself, X-Com is just a brick wall, a total slap in the face.  And it runs at a horrible low resolution that doesn’t even scale right on a widescreen monitor.  And it is paced weird.  And it is really hard.  And so on.  It can be a tough sell.

So I’m pretty excited about both Xenonauts and Firaxis’ Enemy Unknown.  Not just for myself (though I’m am ridiculously excited, especially about the former) but for all the folks who I’d like to introduce X-Com to but who I suspect don’t have the patience or the context to dig into the weird dated wonderful lo-res gem that is the original.  These newer games should be a whole lot more accessible to J. Random Gamer, and that’s great.  And then maybe they’ll want to go back for the original!

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Also, folks?  You wonderful Mapstalgia readers?  The queue is empty!  Forever it is in danger of emptiness, and lately that danger has been sitting around mostly being realized.

So, time to draw something.  Time to draw it up and save it or scan it or photograph it or describe it in a short written essay and submit it to Mapstalgia.  You’re the engine that makes this car go, so let’s hit the road!

– Josh

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