Ahh, 1993. The first person shooter was bursting forth in popularity with Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. We sped through command prompts and wrote our own config.sys and autoexec.bat files to make sure we had the free memory to run our new games. The biggest challenge: was it worth the memory sacrifice to enable the mouse?
One week before id Software took over the world with the shareware release of Doom, Apogee followed the monumental success of Wolf 3D with their next action shooter, Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold. Doom squashed it; Blake Stone sold poorly despite positive reviews. id even had a stake in Blake Stone, it build the texture mapping engine for the game. But Doom was destined for icon status.
“We had decent pre-orders and the first couple of months were pretty good but sales dropped pretty quickly,” said Mike Maynard, in a 1996 interview. His company, Jam Productions, put out Blake Stone. “Had we gotten more input from Apogee earlier on in the development process I think we could’ve released the game 3-4 months earlier than we did.”
The game set in the year 2140. Robert Wills Stone III — Blake — is an agent of the British Intelligence, recruited after a highly successful career in the Royal Navy. He was sent out to investigate Dr. Phrus Goldfire, a mad geneticist whose criminal organization, STAR, is set out to conquer the world. Stone has to fight through six campaigns, representing six different STAR facilities, to destroy Goldfire’s mutant and human army before it can invade.
This was a big game, built on an engine that was based on the original Wolfenstein 3D engine. The six campaigns provided many hours of gameplay.
The game has a lot of features including food tokens to increase health, friendly “informant” scientists who give you items, and the previews of the main boss, Dr. Goldfire, appearing throughout the campaigns to fight you, only to retreat once you hit him enough times.
This was another game I found on the old, red Aztech’s Super Shareware Games CD that came with my first CD-ROM drive. It’s a permanent fixture in The Old Shoebox.
The full version is available from Apogee/3D Realms for $10. Apogee and Jam would follow with a sequel in 1994.
Download Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold shareware FREE from Blast Magazine.
I really loved Blake Stone and the sequel, Planet Strike. I found Doom so self-serious that it just wasn’t as fun for me as Wolfenstein and Spear of Destiny were. Blake Stone and Planet Strike offered profoundly weird worlds and just had a lot more personality than Doom.
I love Doom, but there was something always so comfortable about this game — the cartoon graphics, the sounds. I really enjoyed this game and still do sometimes–glad to see people are still reading this after four years!