Advisory: Contains long-winded Computer Game Geek content.

As a nostalgia buzzkill, there's nothing worse that dusting off a legendary old game from the Apple ][ era and realizing how primitive games were back then. The original 1988 Wasteland was a breakthrough game. Probably the first computer role-playing game (RPG) set in a post-nuclear apocalyptic setting, it was a smash hit and directly spawned the Fallout franchise, which continues to this day.

I have fond memories of wasting many hours in nuclear Vegas back when I should have been focusing more on my PhD studies. That's why I never went back to pull a Thomas Wolfe on my experiences in this old game.

I had heard a few years back that the original developer of this game (Brian Fargo) was doing a Kickstarter, hoping to raise $900,000 or so to seed a sequel. I didn't pay it much mind until I saw that Wasteland 2 was released last week after raising $2,933,252, plus operating for a few months as a paid early-access beta. They raised enough funds to polish the game for an additional year.

Anyway, I took the chance and downloaded it off of Steam for $29. It immediately grabbed me by my memories and sucked me in for pretty much 100% of my spare time.


It is a delightfully tough old-school approach to the classic turn-based RPG, and is one of the best games I've played in the last 25 years or so from a time-eating, I'm-having-fun perspective. The feel and wonder of the original Wasteland has been translated into a modern setting, without all the caveman feeling of playing older games. It's not for everyone however. My youngest son thinks the graphics suck and there's way too much reading (aka dialog) and why can't you just shoot instead of just waiting your turn. Heh.

So if your gaming vocabulary contains words and phrases like Ultima IV, Bards' Tale, hp, movement points, insert-side-two-of-disk-4, and oh-shit-I-forgot-to-save you will probably love Wasteland 2. If you are of an age where you think Halo is an old game then probably not so much.

It's also a triumph for large scale indie game development. Early sales figures peg it at about $1.5 million in the first four days, so suck it EA, Activision, et al. Of course it helps to have a legendary RPG game designer and an equally legendary game IP as assets, so unfortunately I don't expect an old-school RPG renaissance to bloom from this one triumph.


Now I'm going to spend a gloriously sunny and temperate Sunday afternoon in my office making the wasteland safe for survivors.