Welcome to vernonchan.com’s first Blast from the Past! While Ziwen takes us forward with new game releases, I’m going to pause for a bit and take a breather and while I’m at it, throw in an article of one of my favorites from the 90’s. If you’re a huge fan of Sid Meier’s games like I am, you’ve probably heard of Colonization – Microprose’s turn-based strategy game, released in 1994 on DOS (holy crap!) which was later ported to Windows 3.1 (oh my!), the Amiga and Macintosh in 1995. Although Civilization 4 attempted to “remake” Colonization with their expansion under the same name, (Civilization 4: Colonization – 2008) it never captured the simplicity and fun of its predecessor.
Amongst the Sid Meier titles, Colonization remains to be my personal favorite till this day (right next to Alpha Centauri). Despite having more variants of RTS, strategy and newer Sid Meier titles to choose from, I find myself going back to this game’s simple, unique and challenging gameplay. Very much like their previous title Civilization (1991), players of Colonization are able to create random maps at every start of a new game, start off with user designed maps or the actual new world “America” giving extremely high replay value.
Players start off by selecting the design of their world, albeit a very vague interpretation of what the game world will be like, in nine equally vague choices (still vague in Civ 5). After that, it’s the difficulty settings and your choice of any of the four available European powers.
You start off with in 1492 with a caravel (Merchantman if you’re Dutch) and two basic units, a pioneer (Hardy Pioneer if you’re French) and a soldier (a veteran if you’re Spanish) with (depending on the difficulty level) some gold. As you get richer, you get to buy, recruit and train better or more specialized units – either through your colonies or from Europe. Unlike Civilization, starting colonies is made simple where any colonist unit may perform it, with some minor restrictions. Each colonist may play different roles throughout the game ranging from soldiers to scouts, farmers to tobacconists regardless of their specialization. Aside from this, some colonists have very specific roles, such as Missionaries which can spread your European power’s version of Christianity to gain local support, invoke the wrath of the natives on your enemies(costing you tons of gold) or gaining extra support as converts. This generally means gameplay is constant and much faster than other civ type games.
These pixelated colonists are important in winning the game, pummeling your enemies, expanding, defending and eventually declaring your independence from your European power which is the ultimate goal of the game (declaring of Independence and winning by 1850). Throughout the game, you are given the opportunity to work with or against natives and other European powers by trading, participating in basic diplomacy (or lack of thereof- just attack everything) while attempting to run your colonies efficiently. Build up your trade routes, trade between your own colonies to create a streamline of products to be sold for gold in Europe or bartered with the locals for other goods.
The other portion of the game is politics which basically entails the gaining of support from “founding fathers” of liberty, which requires you to constantly create “liberty bells” in your colonies. Each Founding father has a unique ability which can aid in your conquest of the new world. This may sound simple, but with every activity you have in your colony, it may be difficult to sacrifice one or two colonists to create bells.
True to the tradition of Civ games, your score is calculated at the end of the game with a very complicated formula. How well you do in the game is reflected by how your colonists remember you, through a simple ranking process. Ever want to be remembered as a disease or continent? In the end, your score reflects how well you did in the new world.
Conquering a new world or the Americas in Colonization! Say hello to my favorite strategic OLDIE! So, what’s your favourite oldie?
If you’re feeling nostalgic, this game can be found on Amazon.com for extremely low prices or through abandonware sites. Do note that downloading “abandonware” isn’t exactly legal.
Having trouble running the game on new platforms? Try Colonizationfans.com.
Fan of Sid Meier’s Civilization series? More on their upcoming expansion Civilization V: God & Kings can be seen here.
Image Sources: www.colonizationfans.com