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Wing Commander (Amiga)

70
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.

Trivia

Amiga version

The standard Amiga version of Wing Commander has only 16 colors, as it was released just before the Amiga 1200 which added the 256-color AGA version. Some early demos were made in 32 colors, but the number of colors had to be reduced as the game was too slow on not accelerated Amigas. The only 256-color version is the one bundled with the CD32 system, which also runs on A1200s with CD drives.

Auto pilot

Due to the way the game has you auto-piloting to different nav points where the action takes place, most gamers would think that the engine simply has a generic "endless" space and it simply spawns the required objects when you use the autopilot feature. In reality the game actually generates the entire area you see on your nav computer with all its objects. This can be seen when actually flying to each of the nav points manually.

Campaign

Wing Commander features a full "winning" and "losing" branches of a campaign tree, with some "neither" branches where you can turn yourself around. Unfortunately, most players simply replay each mission until they win (or else they eject and reload the old savegame), thus NEVER experiencing the "losing" side of the campaign, thus wasting all the effort put in by Origin. Origin simplified the campaign flowchart in all later games (and the mission packs) so that they no longer need completely separate campaign paths for the "losing" branch, to save on development costs.

Copy protection

The original package came with blueprints for the 4 Confed fighters in the game: Hornet, Scimitar, Raptor, and Rapier. The copy protection ask you questions from those blueprints.

Cutscenes

Most of the major cutscenes are random in themselves (e.g. every time the briefing starts people sit down and stand up in different order).

Development

This game was almost canceled the quarter before it shipped. The sales & marketing director at Origin did not believe it would sell.

Maniac

When you fly a mission with "Maniac", there's the name "Joker" written on his helmet, however if you fly with the other pilots, the right name is on their helmets. Probably Origin changed this before the final release. At least this happens when you play the original Wing Commander Missions with the sm2.exe from Secret Missions 2: Crusade.

Manual

The game manual, like other Origin games, is written inside the universe and titled "Claw Marks: The Onboard Magazine of TCS Tiger's Claw". Inside is various stories and articles that might be interesting to an active pilot, including a set of ship's schematics under the heading "Joan's Spacecraft". This is a various obvious nod to the Jane's Information Group which for years published encyclopedic specifications of ships, aircraft, tanks and other machines of war. In the video game world, the Jane's branding has been attached to multiple products.

Novels

There have been eight novels written and published set in the Wing Commander universe; unusually, most of them have been at least partially written by the same author, and hence for game novel adaptations can be considered to contain extraordinary degrees of internal continuity:
  1. Freedom Flight (1992), by Ellen Guon and Mercedes Lackey;
  2. End Run (1993), by William R Forstchen and Christopher Stasheff;
  3. Fleet Action (1994), by William R Forstchen;
  4. Heart of the Tiger (1995), by William R Forstchen and Andrew Keith;
  5. The Price of Freedom (1996), by William R Forstchen and Ben Ohlander;
  6. Action Stations (1997), by William R Forstchen;
  7. False Colors (1998), by William R Forstchen and William H Keith; and
  8. Pilgrim Stars (1999), by Peter Telep -- a novel specifically inspired by the WC movie.

Packaging

There's a large blurb on the back of the original box that says "Every screenshot taken from this game - What You See is What You Play!" However, that's incorrect. Most of the shots on the back were taken from a beta version of the game, featuring weapons, names, and graphics not seen in the final version. Isn't it ironic?

PC Gamer release

A complete version of Wing Commander is available on Classic Games Collection CD featured in the July 2000 issue of PC Gamer Magazine.

Player character

In Wing Commander, the player character has no name and when he was created, his black hair was "highlighted" with lots of streaks of blue (there was a limited color palette). Within Origin, he came to be referred to as "BlueHair" when discussing him. It is possible that this was the basis when he was named "Blair" in later installments of the series.

References

If you look at the "weapons ratings" you will notice that some are rated in "ESK's". This stands for "Earth Shattering Kabooms!", as per the Marvin the Martian cartoon.

SEGA CD version

The Sega CD version of Wing Commander features voice acting for all the dialogue in the game. There are not even any subtitles.

Soundtrack

In 2002 Team Fat announced the release of a completely redone Soundtrack-CD. The bonus track of this CD - a surf-version of the WC-Theme - can be found at http://www.gamasutra.com/galleries/audio/george_sanger/index.htm

Technology

Unique for its time, Wing Commander used a hybrid 3D system that took place in true 3D space, but used bitmaps drawn from different angles for sprites. The end result was a 3D system that was fast without the speed penalty of rendering polygons in realtime (bitmap scaling and rotation was employed instead). A similar method was used in Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, but not until several years later.

Title

The game was originally going to be called Wingleader and had that name until very shortly before it was shipped. It was changed at the last minute when it was discovered a board game had the same name and they didn't want to risk trademark infringement. Some beta-test pictures can still be found which contain that name.

Awards

  • ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment)
    • March 1991 (issue #42) - Included in the list Greatest Games of all Time in category Simulations (editorial staff choice)
  • Amiga Joker
    • Issue 02/1994 – Best Simulation in 1993 (Readers' Vote)
  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1991 (Issue #88) – Game of the Year
    • April 1992 (Issue #93) – Introduced into the Hall of Fame
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #7 in the “150 Best Games of All Time” list
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #10 Best Way To Die In Computer Gaming (receiving a funeral)
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #12 Most Rewarding Ending of All Time
    • 200th anniversary issue - #4 in the "Best Game of All Time" list (Readers' vote)
  • FLUX
    • Issue #4 - #20 in the "Top 100 Video Games of All-Time" list
  • GameSpy
    • 2001 – #34 Top Game of All Time
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 12/1999 - #4 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
  • Power Play
    • Issue 01/1991 - Best Action Game in 1990 (DOS version)
Information also contributed by Adam Baratz, Big John WV, Felix Knoke, IJan, Kasey Chang, Martin Smith, PCGamer77, Pseudo_Intellectual, quizzles7, rstevenson, Steve Cantrell, Thomas Perl, weregamer, Windowskiller, WildKard, WizardX and Zovni

Contributed by Trixter (8734) on Mar 01, 1999. [revised by : Patrick Bregger (112035) and Jo ST (12710)]. -- edit trivia