The completely new cockpit art is just one of the many fantastic additions you get in LucasArts' super space-combat simulation TIE Fighter CD-ROM Collectors' Edition.

After receiving the highest rating ever given by PC Gamer and earning 1994 PC Gamer Awards for Best Action Game and Best Achievement in Musical Score, you'd think we would run out of good things to say about TIE Fighter. Not so. This is simply one of the best space-combat simulations ever created. While we loved fighting for the rebels in LucasArts' first Star Wars simulation - X-Wing - the lure of the Dark Side proved too strong, and we, like garners everywhere, were seduced by its power.

Now, we're starting to feel the pull of the Emperor again as LucasArts has made a great game even better in this must-have collectors edition. This all-in- one CD-ROM will include the missions from the original TIE Fighter game, the add-on disc Defender of the Empire, and 20 new missions that'll let you win favor with the Emperor as you wage war against the rebellion.

The space-flight scenes aren't the only ones that have gone SVGA in the TIE Collectors CD-ROM, so have these cut scenes.

If that were all there was to the TIE Collector's Edition, we'd be as happy as a Wookie in Ton-Ton guano; but there's much, much more. In addition to enhanced sound and music, LucasArts has gone back through the animated cutscene sequences and added SVGA animations and extra scenes that add volumes to the tale of the Empire. Best of all, the flight sequences can now be played in a very detailed SVGA mode, giving you the feel of actually starring in your favorite Star Wars film.

If you haven't picked up a copy of the original TIE Fighter, this CD-ROM collection is the perfect opportunity to embrace the Darkside of the Force and begin whipping some rebel butt.


Video footage like this adds realism and excitement to the battle at Ardennes.

With Battleground: Ardennes, Talon Soft has shown what Windows can do for a war simulation. Incorporating live footage of the weapons and vehicles used in World War Two, this is a game of magnificent proportion and realism.

You can choose to play either as Axis or Allies. When you start the demo, you’ll be presented with a box that will let you choose which side is played which way. You can choose from Manual, Semi-Automatic, Automatic, and Automatic Field Of View. Manual will allow you to control all movement and firing. Semi-Automatic puts you in charge of only the important decisions, like whether or not to attack, and lets the computer do the rest. In Automatic, the computer takes control. You would use this to play a game against the computer.

Automatic FOV is the same as Automatic, but in FOV, you only see units that are nearby. When you first see them, they will appear as boxes with a question mark, but at the beginning of the next phase, they will be identified.

The demo lasts for 11 turns, each of which has several phases. You play with the mouse, selecting the piece to move or fire, and then moving them. Since you can stack units in one hex, click on the stack of units you want to perform an action, and choose from the unit list at the bottom of the screen which units you want to perform the action. This applies to firing or moving.

Since gameplay is highly involved and complex, you might want to read the online help. However, the control is simple enough that you should have no trouble jumping right in and playing. If you have a slower computer or 4MB RAM, you might want to turn off the video segments or the 3D map to speed the action up.


In recent years, we have seen the explosion of many video games but perhaps none more so than Minecraft. Not only are kids having fun building crazy castles and playing with friends, many teens and adults are also seeing the benefit of the game. When we talk about video games, there is often a negative perception and judgment that comes instantly but we have some key reasons why we think this shouldn’t be the case with Minecraft.

If you haven't yet seen or even heard of it, Minecraft is a world created purely from blocks. Wherever you look, you will see blocks whether it is the floor, the trees, and even the character that you control. By using your hands, you can gather resources and progress as you gather more valuable mining blocks such as stone, iron, and diamond. Over time, you can craft more impressive tools and therefore structures. You can even play Minecraft online with other players by joining servers.

Since the game has been out for a few years, there have been some truly astonishing creations from huge vehicles to whole cities, and computers to massive skyscrapers. Furthermore, there are some modifications or ‘mods’ that can be added to the game to add more advanced items. As long as you have the imagination, Minecraft offers endless opportunities and hours of fun. 

With this in mind, the first skill that players can learn is resource management. As there is only a finite amount of each material, players have to decide what is most important and choose a strategy to utilize each block that they gather. Should you use the block now to make a wooden pick-axe or wait to craft a better one from stone? Should you make more tools or save the wood to build a home?

As you can see, this means that kids are learning all about saving and spending without even releasing it. Later in life, this type of budgeting will come in handy. Suddenly, they will debate whether to spend now on a new car or wait to put down a deposit for a house. Of course, this is an extreme example but it can also be used for smaller decisions each day. As the resources take a while to gather and earn, there is no cheating and having both.

Additionally, they will learn the importance of picking themselves up and trying again if the first time fails. When building a house and it goes wrong, all those resources will be wasted but they will have to start afresh and just start gathering those materials once more. As well as solo play, Minecraft can also be played with others which teach children how to work as a team to create something special. Instantly, they will realize that, rather than building a small house each, they could combine their resources with others and make something awesome.

Finally, they will also learn that not all kids play nice and this is where parents should step in. If you are worried about other children or older kids, parents can set up a dedicated server where rules can be set and you can limit it to just them and their friends!

See this short video of how Minecraft can help kids with autism.


Call me strange if you like, but I used to think that if you cleared enough levels of Donkey Kong you actually got to meet the Donkey. Sixteen years and three-thousand-pounds-worth of 10p's later, I realize there is no donkey, and quite frankly I feel cheated.

But, considering the game’s popularity, perhaps I wasn’t the only one expecting more from it. Donkey Kong has probably done more for Nintendo than Mario and his whole dysfunctional family put together. In 1981, Shigeru Miyamoto's classic coin-op took the industry by storm. To many the game remains the definitive platformer, frustratingly addictive with distinctive graphics and packed full of variety unmatched by other games of the era.

The machine’s huge popularity meant it quickly spawned a sequel. Donkey Kong Junior may look similar, but the, barrel-jumping is exchanged for rope-swinging, the levels are even more varied, and for the first time Mario is depicted as an enemy as he guards the locked cage housing Junior's dad from the first game.

Nintendo were the first to release home versions, in the form of their Game & Watch machines in 1982, and, following huge sales, Donkey Kong 2 and color versions in 1983.

It didn't take long for the rest of the games industry to try to cash in. Handheld and console manufacturer Coleco needed a flagship title to launch their new Colecovision machine, and Nintendo's license was their first choice. Released in 1983, the Coleco's hi-res color and powerful architecture meant the conversion came as close to the arcade original as you could get. The packaging depicted a particularly scary fanged Donkey Kong looking down at the first ever artist's impression of Mario. Dressed in a Lycra suit complete with 'M' armbands, black slicked-back hair and gritted teeth, he looks more like Tom Selic that the plump dungarees fan we're used to. Released as a pack-in game with the machine, significantly it was the first Nintendo game actually to sell a console, and by the bucket load too. There's little doubt that, if it wasn't for the DK license, and subsequent conversions fron Nintendo's soon-to-be enemy, Sega, the highly priced Coloecovision would have sunk without trace.

The success of both Donkey Kong and the Colecovision quickly spilled out into the rest of the industry. The threat of impending 'copy cat' imitations forced Coleco to make possibly their biggest mistake: sub-licensing the game to others. A torrent of released ensued - DK Jnr on the Colecovision, and DK and DK Jnr conversions on both the Mattel Intellivision and Atari 2600, the Colecovision's biggest rivals.

While the Coleco original remained definitive, sales of  all the conversions were high and the thirst for Donkey Kong could be quenched on far cheaper consoles, or even computers thanks to an Atari 400/800 version.

Perhaps this is where Nintendo learned their most valuable marketing lesson. Mario Bros sold the NES, Mario World sold the SNES, and Mario 64 was selling the N64. DK sold the Coleco until exclusivity was revoked.

Meanwhile, in the UK, Donkey Kong could really go home, and Nintendo's conversion of the two original games helped to sell the NES into countless US households. Donkey Kong 3 followed a year later, along with Donkey Kong Jnr Math, the ape's first stab at an educational title. And, as if that wasn't enough, Nintendo eventually released the original games on the cartridge. Further Game & Watch inventiveness saw the release of Donkey Kong 3, Donkey Kong Circus, and even Donkey Kong Hockey, but by now our hero was looking exploited.

In 1988, in a relatively shocking move, Nintendo granted the ex-giant Atari the rights to release their original games on their 7800 machine. While it was a valuable license for Atari, the games were by now too tired to have any effect on hardware sales, and the 7800 was stillborn. Donkey Kong's popularity began to wane for the first time. Nintendo's own next installment in the NES series, The Return of Donkey Kong, was completed but never released.

It wasn't until 1991 that our hero was awakened from hibernation, this time quietly in the highly underrated Game Boy version of the game. Though never a huge seller, Game Boy DK is based on the arcade original, a single-screen game packed with hundreds of deviously cunning levels, batter back-up, great music and hours of challenging entertainment. A guest slot in Mario Kart followed, but this was like a torch with dead batteries compared with the limelight that was around the corner.

Enter Rare with their Donkey Kong Country series, games that would propel Donkey Kong back to the dizzy heights of Nintendo stardom. DKC not only revitalized the ebbing SNES and Game Boy markets, and not only gave him an entire family, but got DK's face on lunch boxes, cereal packets... even his own set of Pogs. Nintendo even re-released the original Game & Watch machine that helped to make him famous. Since then things have been getting quieter. Mario has dominated the N64 so far, but DK is on his way.

It's just a shame about that donkey...


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