Not being American, I have no personal affinity towards 4th of July celebrations. If I were, though, you can bet your arse I’d be spending the day playing Sid Meier’s Colonization over and over and over again.
First released in 1994, Colonization remains something of a cult favourite amongst PC gamers, never reaching the heights of popularity or critical acclaim its “father” Civilization or its science fiction sibling Alpha Centauri managed.
Still, it’s my favourite game of the three. Here’s why.
I’m a history buff and a video game buff. Twice the buff, twice the man, as I wish my mother had always said. Being able to enjoy both those things in the one product is something of a rarity, though, as those few games that are set in a previous time period are rarely, genuinely historical.
They may include muskets or swords, gladiators or samurai, but those are usually simple window-dressing to an action game. They rarely explore the themes of the time, the politics, the things that drove men (and women) to do what they did and which helped shape the world we live in today.
Sid Meier’s Colonization did this, and it did it in spades.
If you’ve got the day off and are looking to get in touch with the origins of the American nation, the original PC version is readily available online as abandonware, and there’s also an open source version out there called FreeCol. Firaxis released a a remake of the game a few years back, but it’s a cold and sterile affair; you’d be better looking for the original, its art style still holds up well today.
Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.