I’ve been covering some gaming stuff more of late, branching out from my laptop reviews to look at the various Humble Bundle offerings and a few other titles. I’ve also got several new releases on my plate, like Batman: Arkham Origins (a prequel to the earlier games) and Call of Duty: Ghosts (which I haven’t even launched). Instead, I just started playing something else (again). Consider this a short fanboy letter for one of my all-time favorite games, Wasteland.

I mentioned in the latest Humble Weekly how I started playing computer games back in the halcyon days of yore, when Sierra Online and Origin Systems were a couple of the biggest names in the business. Electronic Arts (with its square-circle-triangle logo) was around as well, and there was another company called Interplay Productions (then a developer as opposed to a publisher). Interplay created the Bard’s Tale series (which I’ll be honest hasn’t aged very well), and then in 1988 they released the granddaddy of post-apocalyptic RPGs, Wasteland (published by EA).

I first played Wasteland on a Commodore 64, swapping floppies and dealing with level load times measured in minutes. Ah yes, the good old days of LOAD “*”,8,1 how I miss them…. I finished the game, then I went back and played it again, and again. Then I got an IBM compatible computer (thanks, dad!) and played the game again (more than once). I yearned for a sequel for a very long time, and when the Fallout games came out I was thrilled and enjoyed those as much as Wasteland, though they weren’t quite the same. Later we got Fallout 3 and New Vegas, which while excellent games in their own right continue to be quite different from the original. Eventually Wasteland was even given away for free, on a magazine CD if memory serves, and I think I’ve gone back and played it at least a couple more times over the past 25 years. So it’s perhaps only fitting that as we pass its 25th anniversary, Wasteland is getting a new release.

No, I’m not talking about Wasteland 2 – well, not entirely, though I backed that Kickstarter, and I’m really excited to return to the wastes. What I’m talking about is Wasteland 1 – The Original Classic, which is an updated version of the original Wasteland with some improved graphics, integrated journal entries (no more spiral bound book containing descriptions of areas!), new music, and even some voiceover work for good measure, plus there’s the ability to have multiple save games. The game is free to all backers of Wasteland 2 as well as Torment: Tides of Numenera, and if for some reason you missed both of those but still want in on the action, you can go hit up the Wasteland 2 Late Backer Store. I’d assume it will eventually show up as a game you can buy on Steam or GOG as well. I just received my Steam code in the mail today, and I’ve downloaded the 300MB (!) game and fired it up.

As for the gameplay, it’s definitely from a different era, but it’s still a fun way to see the precursor to the Fallout series, not to mention a good way to get you ready for the eventual release of Wasteland 2. So if you don’t have anything else going on this weekend, why not revisit the wastes and brush up on your toaster repair skill – you never know when you’re going to need it!

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  • dylan522p - Friday, November 08, 2013 - link

    I guess I have no excuse but to finnaly play this legendary game. Reply
  • Aegeon - Friday, November 08, 2013 - link

    As far as availability for the general public is concerned, GOG and presumably Steam as well are releasing the game on November 12th.
    http://www.gog.com/game/wasteland_the_classic_orig...

    (I'm another backer who is taking advantage of my free copy this weekend.)
    Reply
  • nerd1 - Friday, November 08, 2013 - link

    I always envied my friends who had better machines and can play the latest origin games Reply
  • IanCutress - Saturday, November 09, 2013 - link

    Load "*",8,1 ? You were spoiled... "Press play on tape!" Reply
  • dac7nco - Saturday, November 09, 2013 - link

    Jesus, I last typed that 25-years ago... I have my C64 in storage for some reason... can't toss it. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, November 09, 2013 - link

    Hahaha... I remember the "Press play on tape" as well. Thankfully that only lasted a couple years before we got the floppies. I can't remember now how long it took to load a game from tape, but 15 minutes seems about right. Reply
  • dac7nco - Saturday, November 09, 2013 - link

    I could eat dinner with my Mom, and the tape would be loaded when the dishes were done... then I got a 1541 drive, and never waited again. Reply
  • ostrand - Monday, November 11, 2013 - link

    Wasteland wasn't available on tape for C64 afaik. I just regret I sold the computer together with all the games - I absolutely loved the artwork on the Wasteland floppy package and the stories in the hint book. Reply
  • risa2000 - Saturday, November 09, 2013 - link

    Never played the original (though I played many Sierra and Origin games back then), so reading the last screenshot reminds me The Magnificent Seven rather than any game :) Reply
  • LordHaHa - Saturday, November 09, 2013 - link

    Didn't have a C64, had an Atari 800XL. Still remember flipping sides on the 5.25 floppies.

    Didn't have Wasteland on the XL but I did get around to playing it in the early 90s, when Interplay released a "10th Anniversary" CD with it and 9 other titles on it (including Bard's Tale 1). It took a few tries...one fun way of dying early on was walking into Darwin from the south (getting nuked in the process) and then getting SMGed by the cops in town. I got fairly decent at it eventually, getting to Vegas without a hitch but getting past the sewers were killer. Took a long time before I finally got by that part.

    I'm really happy Fargo and co. are doing an updated re-release of WL1 as a part of their recent efforts. I realize there are budget, time in many cases and occasionally legal limitations, but it'd be great if more companies took the time to do that for classic titles. A lot of people simply won't even touch a DOS game even though you many times just need to drag the EXE to a DOSBox shortcut, let alone the pain trying to get some Win9x titles to run with modern hardware and/or WinXP+ systems.

    Anyway, here's hoping that WL2 is another 1000lb-er. Might not run on an IBM AT like originally advertised but I'm still excited.

    PS: I'd agree with Jarred in his sentiments that BT is a little crusty, once you get a powerful party its quite fun but getting to that point is fairly difficult (if for no other reason than the location that levels you up is hidden, for a start).
    Reply

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