I have been in various times throughout my life, a flight simulator junkie. When the urge hits me, it hits big time and I re-install some of my favorite flight simulators. Back in the day, some of my favorites were created by a company called Dynamix. Their flight simulator game was strong. From Red Baron, to Aces of the Pacific, and Aces over Europe, they set the standards for such games. So much in fact that til this day, they are ranked amongst the best of all time. So let’s examine some of their handiwork.
World War I was a popular genre for flight simulators. Games like Wings of Glory by Origin Systems and Knights of the Sky by Microprose we’re battling it out for supremacy in the skies and on players PC’s. But when Dynamix introduced Red Baron, they set a standard that was hard to beat.
Set on the Western Front of World War I, players would engage in single missions or a prolonged career mode. They could choose to fly for either the German Air Service or the Royal Flying Corps. While trying to dominate the skies, depending on which side you chose, the player might find themselves flying in the Red Baron’s squadron Jasta 11. Alternatively, picking the Royal Flying Corps could bring you muzzle to muzzle with Baron Von Richthofen or as he was more popularly known, the Red Baron.
Red Baron Reviews
Red Baron was highly regarded by critics and won Computer Gaming World’s 1991 Simulation of the Year award. Two years later the magazine named the game to its Hall of Fame. In 1996, the magazine named Red Baron as #4 on its list of the best PC games of all time, positively comparing it to Spectrum HoloByte’s Falcon 3.0. (Spectrum Holobyte will be discussed in a future article). Red Baron’s success established Dynamix’s reputation for high quality flight games.
Aces of the Pacific
Following its success with Red Baron, Dynamix developed this WWII version. By this time however, Dynamix was purchased and published by Sierra On-Line in 1992. Just like in Red Baron, the player can choose single or instant missions, or choose to take a career path in the different services. Choose from the United States Army Air Forces, United States Navy, United States Marines, Imperial Japanese Army or Imperial Japanese Navy.
Just like in Red Baron, numerous known aces of that time period make their appearance in the game. The player can choose to fly either with them or against them through the course of his or her career. Pilots such as Dick Bong, Thomas McGuire, David McCampbell, Joe Foss, and Pappy Boyington (of Black Sheep Squadron fame) are some of the American aces that appear in the game. While aces of the Imperial Japanese Navy such as Hiroyoshi Nishizawa, Tetsuzo Iwamoto, and Saburo Sakai are also available in the game.
Aces of the Pacific Reviews
Aces of the Pacific was both a financial and critical success being called, after some updates were made, ”THE flight simulator of World War II.” In 1994 PC Gamer named Aces of the Pacific the 12th best computer game ever. With its success, there was little doubt that a follow up would be made. That would be Aces over Europe.
Aces Over Europe
With the great success of Aces of the Pacific, it was natural for fans of the European theater of aircraft to demand equal time. This is when Aces over Europe was announced, fans were understandably excited. Dynamix had proven their mettle in such games. So they waited in anticipation of what was to come.
Aces over Europe takes place in the Western Theater of Operations during WW2. Computer pilots could fly fighters and fighter-bombers for either England, Germany, or the United States. Their missions included escorting heavy bombers, attacking ground troops, or just taking control of the skies over Europe. The opportunity to fly for or against the Luftwaffe made for a natural draw for the game. Done in the proven quality of Dynamix.
Just as fans were expecting, Aces over Europe features improved graphics over its predecessor, including smoother models and individual squadron markings on planes. Terrain graphics have also been slightly enhanced to aid in navigation. Just as in previous games, AOE featured campaign modes for all three sides. The campaigns featured random missions based on your plane type and squadron. This made each campaign different, increasing replay ability.
Aces Over Europe
AOE was well received by various critics with an average score of 88. However, it didn’t quite reach the heights of the previous games of the series. It did receive an honorable mention in Den of Geeks list of 50 most underrated DOS games. If you want to try these three games you can find them in a box set called Aces the Complete Collection.
Betrayal at Krondor
While Dynamix was best known for their historical flight sims, that wasn’t all that they produced. Games like Betrayal at Krondor, based on the Riftwar novels by Raymond E. Feist set standards for that genre of RPG as well. Betrayal at Krondor was named 1993’s best role-playing game and overall “Game of the Year” by Computer Games Strategy Plus. It also was named by numerous publications as one of the best PC games of all time.
So obviously, Dynamix knew what they were doing. But as things tend to happen, great content doesn’t necessarily mean business success. The Dynamix studio was closed by Sierra On-Line on August 14, 2001. This came as part of Sierra’s restructuring under Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing. However, their legacy lives on as their games were essentially part of many players gaming lives. Myself included.
Were any of these games a part of your gaming past? If not, by using DOSBox to simulate the older DOS style architecture, you can still play these classic games. Just don’t expect the kind of state of the art graphics that is commonplace now. Far from it. But if you want to relive a gaming moment or see what the fuss was about back then, check them out. Most can be downloaded for free by just doing a search. And be sure to share your memories about these and other older games with us at GeekVibesNation.
I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 17 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.