St. Patty’s Retro Ramblings – SimCity, Monster Bash, Shatner

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

First things first, Happy Drunken Irish-Wannabe Day! I don’t partake in this “holiday” but whatever, if you do more power to ya.

Seconds things second, I’ve found another Maxis rarity on eBay – from the same guy who sold me the original version of the SimCity Terrain Editor! This time, it’s the MCGA Special Edition of SimCity for MS-DOS.

SimCity MS-DOS MCGA Special Edition 5.25''

What makes this special is that fact that it’s bloody awesome. Well, that and the fact that the original SimCity for DOS only went up through EGA as far as graphical capability. MCGA/VGA didn’t come until later, and even then only through a special disk. A rare disk, nowadays. As far as I know, this version of MCGA is the high-res monochrome mode. SimCity Classic for DOS came with MCGA graphics (possibly also color) and I think certain later editions of the vanilla SimCity for DOS did as well, but finding this original disk is quite special as it was a mail-order-online disk. At least, to a Maxis geek such as this guy. That would be me, in case you were confused.

Next up is my recent purchase of Apogee’s Monster Bash, which I made through Amazon. It arrived today. Take a look at the disks here and ponder their labels.

It was described as being three 3.5″ floppies containing all three episodes. The price was too good to pass up so I bought them, as the game is really hard to come by (stupidly inflated prices) especially in original floppy form. I thought it was strange that it came on three disks since the registered came on two to my knowledge, but whatever. So it arrived and I was shocked to see what appeared to be a shareware distributor label on the disks – “Software Labs” out of Culver City, California. Perhaps it was registered though, even if the labels seemed fishy. After all, it lists Episode 1 – 3 on the disks, precisely the number of episodes in the full, registered game. But then I noticed the disks… they had no hole to specify high density. Uh-oh. Monster Bash is a big game, too small to fit on 720K floppies.

Popped ’em in, installed and of course! Shareware version, episode 1 only.
What. The. Crap.

The disks say episodes one through three! What the frick does that mean to anyone with half a brain? That it contains three episodes. But no, what they really mean is DISKS one through three for episode one only. The disks are actually not even 720K disks, but daggone 360K 3.5″ disks! I’ve seen very few of these and I have no idea what the purpose was. 720K disks were practically where 3.5″ floppies started, and yet, many years later, you saw these 360K 3.5″ disks show up – the same capacity as double-density 5.25″ floppies. Were they really that much cheaper? I mean, I just don’t get it. You’d think THREE disks instead of just one high-density would be more costly, not to mention a higher rate to mail out to your customers. Such a rip-off, such deception. Software Labs, I hope you died a cruel death as a company.

Bill Shatner 1976 AT&T Video

Lastly, we have a totally AWESOME video here that I stumbled across. It’s a video from AT&T from 1976 with none other than William Freakin’ Shatner. Yes, Freakin’ is his middle name (to me). It’s 15 minutes of him going on about the coming micro revolution and the friggin’ future. Yes, it is amazing. Did you really have to ask? Just click the Shat’s sexy mug above and bask in the retro wonder.

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6 comments on “St. Patty’s Retro Ramblings – SimCity, Monster Bash, Shatner

  1. Foxhack says:

    A shareware company being shady? SAY IT AIN’T SO, MAN, SAY IT AIN’T SO!

    • Foxhack says:

      Also, I hope you’re asking for a refund on those floppies at least.

    • I’ve known some shady shareware dealers back in the day, but this one takes the cake. Maddeningly BLATANT rip-off. Going so far as to use dirt-cheap floppies to needlessly split an install to make it appear to be the full version is just… amazing.

      And yes, I’m contacting the guy who sold these to me. Though the dude never explicitly stated that this was the full version, just that it was labeled “three episodes” and untested, it was listed under the full version’s Amazon page. EDIT: I got a refund and the seller was very understanding, thankfully.

  2. Sam says:

    SimCity Classic did indeed support MCGA and VGA out of the box (at least, my copy has it). Interestingly, MCGA 320×200 is the only mode in which it supports 256 colors (all other modes are 16 colors or monochrome). This mode does work with a VGA monitor. These graphics look a lot better than the 16 color VGA mode, but the reduced resolution badly hurts gameplay (lots of tedious scrolling with the map window, as unfortunately, it scrolls too far if you just move the cursor to the edge of the screen). I can’t figure out why they didn’t support a higher resolution 256 color mode — this didn’t happen until Interplay released SimCity Enhanced, which only supported 256 color SVGA and had annoying videos and no music.

    • Yeah, the low-res color MCGA mode SimCity Classic came with is a pain to use because of its decreased screen real estate. Supposedly, this version I just bought is the high-res (640×480) monochrome MCGA mode. Although lacking color, I’d imagine it would be pretty awesome to use gameplay-wise.

      • Sam says:

        Well, the pictured “MCGA Info Sheet” clearly says “This MCGA SPECIAL EDITION only runs the MCGA color graphics [and will?] not run the MCGA Hi-Res 640×480 monochrome graphics set,” so if that corresponds to what you bought, it looks like you got the color version only.

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