Yes it’s the 30th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. Basically everybody’s already talking about it and I don’t know that there’s a whole lot I could contribute. It was one of the first games I played as a toddler and was obviously a founding influence in my experience with the medium. That’s about it. Whatever. What I am here to write about today is another anniversary that slipped by me a couple weeks ago at the end of August.
What I’m here to write about, is Microsoft Fury3, which just turned 20.
To my understanding Fury3 is not a well-known game. Basically, it’s a sci-fi flight action game. In it you visit eight planets and pretty much just blow things up with a bunch of different weapons. In 1995 it felt really cool because it was an early entry in the era of 3D CD-ROM video games, pretty much having the same effect as a lot of early games for the original PlayStation.
Different from the games you got on PlayStation however (and really most console games ever made), Fury3 was a mid-90’s PC game and that meant a simulation-like feel. The description in the above paragraph makes it sound like a lot of arcade shoot-em-ups or at most a Crimson Skies type of game, but it has you blowing stuff up while flying over massive landscapes that at the time looked like realistically topography. Even today I don’t even know if those landscapes are infinite or not. You fly over mountain ranges and seas to destroy what looked like cities in those 1995 graphics. You can even fly above the clouds. It was all quite liberating compared to Super NES games and cleanly separated PC games from console games in my mind.
As little-known as Fury3 apparently is, it is important to me because it’s probably the first PC game I ever cared about. You could say it had a founding influence on my experience with PC gaming compared to my experience with Mario and console gaming. Well, I’d go as far as to say Fury3 was one of my first memorable experiences with using a personal computer at all.
Prior to 1995 I hadn’t done much at all with computers other than typing class in school and messing with graphics programs in some system so old I don’t even remember what operating system it ran. Windows 95 was the point where my dad actually sat me down and walked me through the basics of launching and operating programs as well as navigating drives. I had this experience in lock-step with my friends who were around the same age. Some of them owned Fury3 which became one of the main reasons for kids our age to even use Windows in the period between the debut of Windows 95 and most people getting their first internet connections.
I guess this is how Microsoft intended things to go. It wasn’t until relatively recently that I read the true story of Fury3, that Microsoft took aside developer Terminal Reality and told them to make something just like their then-recent game Terminal Velocity for Windows. Fury3 was basically the launch exclusive for Windows 95, and the marketing worked on myself and a few of my friends. Maybe it only worked on kids who primarily played consoles at the time and didn’t know how to boot up DOS games like Wing Commander or Frontier: Elite II (which I still can’t do without D-Fend Reloaded).
In 1995, almost in-step with the launch of the original PlayStation, Fury3 is also probably the first CD-ROM game I had a lot of access to (I never got a PlayStation back then). The opening cinematic of that game is probably to me what a lot of early PS1 CG cut scenes were to others. Fury3 is also probably one of the first 3D games I got to play a lot — about a year before my experience with Super Mario 64. Mario 64 probably still had the bigger impact on me due to its accessible development of on-foot 3D controls, but Fury3’s simulation-driven pilot action along with its CD-ROM cinematic presentation made it feel like a new step forward in video games at the time.
Eventually I got a hold of the sequel, Hellbender, which is a much more complex game. I still have the discs for both, but unfortunately I can’t get the second one to install on anything beyond around Windows 98. Fury3 however still installs pretty cleanly on everything up to Windows 7 as far as I know. I just don’t have a flight stick anymore, but am thinking of getting an old style one for all the classic PC flight games I’ve been investigating.
- Speaking of simulation-oriented games… http://thesto.mp/blog/2015/9/13/onvirtualrealism
- Good analysis of Nintendo’s choice for a new CEO: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2015-09-14-what-path-now-for-kimishimas-nintendo
- Global warming is uncovering ancient viruses that have been sealed in ice caps for tens of thousands of years: http://bit.ly/1KgULQg
- Robot journalism takes another step forward: http://www.scmp.com/tech/china-tech/article/1857196/end-road-journalists-robot-reporter-dreamwriter-chinas-tencent