Friday, March 18, 2011

Freebie Flashback Friday - Wing Commander

It's that time again, time to step back to an era of mediocre graphics, launching games from the command line, and having a blast. That's right, it's Freebie Flashback Friday, and today's game is a space combat sim classic.


Wing Commander is the first entry in a series of cinematic space combat games that spawned a terrible movie (I know, right?). It was a great game when it came out, and is still fun to play now. Face off against the Kilrathi, a race of aggressive space cats (much cooler than it sounds) as you fly a variety of ships, dogfighting, escorting, and creating general mayhem wherever you go.

Wing Commander features a branching storyline that depends on your performance as a pilot. A strong set of cinematic features including more than a dozen characters and a bunch of really cool cutscenes keeps things interesting, whether you are taking off, coming home, chatting with fellow pilots, ejecting, or dying in a fiery explosion. Here's a gallery of screenshots. Enjoy.

When I was a kid, I played through this game and enjoyed every minute of it. I even lost missions on purpose so I could explore every branch of the mission tree and I remember epic dogfights against Kilrathi aces. The best thing about Wing Commander (besides the combat) is it is abandonware and free to download. Go get it here!

Any Wing Commanders out there? Have fond (or not-so-fond) memories of this game? Sound off in the comments!

--Demo Gamer

PS - Wikipedia rocks: As development for Wing Commander came to a close, the EMM386 memory manager the game used would give an exception when the user exited the game. It would print out a message similar to "EMM386 Memory manager error..." with additional information. The team couldn't isolate and fix the error and they needed to ship it as soon as possible. As a work-around, Ken Demarest, a developer on the game, hex-edited the text so it displayed a different message. Instead of the error message, it instead printed "Thank you for playing Wing Commander."


  1. not only were the graphics and the controls ahead of their time, but the level of interactivity was unheard of! What other game at its time allowed to to crash/blow-up your own allies ships? It sounds weird, but seriously, this was in-depth stuff. The second game totally took the ball and ran with it: bomber gunner seats that were automated, or manned by you, more ships and fighters, tougher missions. Those were the days.

  2. Loved Wing Commander all the way from the original to Privateer, to 'Prophecy', which was one of my first 3Dfx-accelerated (RIP) games. Instead of the crappy Freddie Prince Junior movie you could just ignore it and think of as the first real movie (since it kind of was and you got to play in it).

    Some of the books weren't too bad either.

    Origin was was sad to see them go.