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Where I Found It:

Computer Gaming World

February 1994, Number 115, Page 65


computer gaming world february 1994




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Time Capsule: Legends of Future Past


Old gaming magazines are like time capsules. Each issue (and sometimes individual pages) are snapshots of where technology and games were at that moment, which is what makes it worth going back to, how far we've come, and how little things have changed. This really jumped out at me recently after flipping through an old issue of Computer Gaming World. (My son recently unearthed my collection of computer magazines so they're all over the house at the moment.) With ads for "Man Enough" and peripherals such as "The Parallel Game Port" that's "compatible with more than 60 games!" I couldn't help but momentarily time travel to 1994.

In this issue, Sam & Max: Hit the Road was reviewed and Tie Fighter was previewed; and Johnny Wilson's write-up InterTainment '93 that looked at "interactive television." It was a different time! But let's take a hard look at the ad on page 65 for "Legends of Future Past."


legends of future past


It's a back and white ad that catches your eye with a big "Play the best for less." Well, hey, I want to play the best for less, so why wouldn't I check the rest of the ad?

I'm no math wiz, but the calculation for "Legends of Future Past" would be Today. That's the Today of 1994, which, as much as I can remember didn't include a



sword-wielding, bathing suit-wearing Amazon warrior with a six-shooter on her hip and Thor's winged helmet on her head. But lets keep reading.


Computer Gaming World is quoted as writing (in 1992) that Legends of Future Past is "...A remarkably rich playground for modem-owning role-players." Additionally, Computer Game Review said that "...no other game... captures the true


essence of roleplaying [sic] like this one." If you're a fan of role-playing games from 1994 you're probably saying to yourself, Hey, that sounds awesome! But how much is it?  Keep reading!

"New Lower Rates" it says. Even more awesome! Your inner role-playing geek from 1994 is close to apoplectic with anticipation. "$9.95 a month includes five (5) hours online time." Adjusting for inflation, that's about $14.00US per month. Or a dollar less than what Blizzard charges for a monthly subscription to World of WarCraft. NovaLink was really on the cutting edge!

But wait. What happens after five (5) hours? The ad states that "Additional hours charged at $1.80 hour total via direct dial and Internet, or $3.60 hour total fee via CNS local dial-ups. No surcharge for connecting at 9600 baud or during daytime hours." That's going to add up pretty quickly. Some people moan about paying $50US for a year of Xbox Live, but imagine if you were paying for that connection by the hour. Sure, the digital infrastructure is quite different now than it was in 1994, but it's hard for me to believe anyone ever paid by the hour to play a game.


Now read this excerpt very carefully:


legends of future past


The description of Legends of Future Past pretty much nails every single damn "Dungeons & Dragons" type MMO for the last decade. Again, NovaLink is ahead of its time here.


Another line that grabs my attention is that it's a "community of adventurers who have found reward, riches -- even romance" while playing the game, especially because the next column makes sure you know that Legends of Future Past is "All adult: You must be eighteen (18) or older to use NovaLink" in big, bold letters. The allusion to sex can't be ignored, especially by hardcore role-playing fans, who will take whatever they can get.


But the one line that makes me laugh every time I read it:


"There are no graphics, because only the power of the English language could capture the beauty of this world."


Hear that non-English speaking rest of the world? Your French, Mongolian, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Japanese, Russian? It's no good! Your language would only make an ugly world filled with buffets of spotted dick and giant mutant dogs, wherelegends of future past heroine romance is dead and buried under a mountain of elephant shit.


I suppose the reason Legends of Future Past was basically a text game is that the infrastructure to deliver graphics hadn't been built. I don't think it had anything to do with power of the English language.


Even without the graphics though, Legends of Future Past was ahead of its time. Every medieval fantasy MMO I can think of owes a debt to this game (just based on the ad copy) because what it was doing was groundbreaking, even if it was text and charged by the hour.


- Aaron Simmer

(March 13, 2010)


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