10

I played a sci-fi themed MS-DOS game at a friend's house in the very early 90's that I have been trying to identify. Here are the details about it that I remember:

  • At the beginning of the game you play as an astronaut or similar, and you walk around an introductory area which looked like a space station or moon base. The player character was fairly small compared to the screen size. It had a top-down perspective, but it was not a top-down space shooter/SHMUP. You walked around from place to place.
  • I seem to remember a futuristic city-like theme for the buildings in the opening area with skyscrapers and highways (and maybe enemy tanks).
  • Very early in the game, you cross a bridge that crumbles behind you as you walk across it. The bridge may have been made of hexagon-shaped tiles. After having the bridge crumble under me a number of times, I gave up and never played the game again.
  • The game's intro showed ghost-like aliens which were holding/stealing... something... possibly floppy disks. The aliens sort of looked like the ghosts from Pac-Man.
  • It had very simplistic graphics (maybe CGA, but I'm not sure), and the sound came from the internal PC speaker. It was probably installed via 3.5" floppy disks but could have even been on 5.25" floppies. It was definitely made before 1995, but I would estimate that it was probably made before 1990.

I initially thought that it may be Space Rogue (1989), but that's not it as far as I can tell. However, the space station sections of Space Rogue have similar look to the game I played. (Although the graphics in Space Rogue may have more detail than the game I played.) The player movement reminded me of the overworlds in the older Commander Keen games, but it was not Commander Keen either.

8

After digging through tons of MS-DOS game screenshots, I found it!

It's Engineering Jones and the Time Thieves of DSPea.

Engineering Jones and the Time Thieves of DSPea splash screen image showing the word engineering in blue across the top on a black background; Jones in a white semi-circle at the bottom in red with a white cowboy hat over the top and then a black banner with yellow writing and the rest of the name

The story behind this game's development is interesting. It's actually a 1991 advertisement for Harris Semiconductor DSP chips. The game was apparently mailed to customers, and those who completed it had the opportunity to enter a drawing for a Sony CCD-TR4 Handycam CamCorder. It was distributed on a floppy disk (not sure what size), and Harris encouraged customers to share it with their colleagues. This may by how my friend got it - someone may have given him a copy. Very interesting find overall. I am impressed with the quality even though it is an advertisement.

Here is the Mobygames description:

In Engineering Jones and the Time Thieves of DSPea the Time Thieves, plunderers of time-changing technology throughout history, have hit the city of DSPea and stolen their cutting edge image processing technology. Engineering Jones, Senior Time Warden of the sector, along with his robot buddy CirQuet, is charged with setting history back on track and stopping the Time Thieves.

Engineering Jones is a first-person maze game meant to advertise Harris Semiconductor products. There are also puzzles or mini-games with a different type of gameplay. People who managed to beat the game could participate in a contest to win a Sony Camcorder.

Here is a video of a full playthrough:

And here are relevant screenshots from my memories (courtesy of Mobygames).

The futuristic city:

A screenshot of space showing two planets and a large planet-sized floating city

The interior of the futuristic city:

A street in the city with tall buildings on either side and a transparent floor in the centre showing space and a ringed planet

The Time Thief aliens stealing a DSP chip (not a floppy disk) in the game's introduction (not exactly Pac-Man ghosts, but I did remember a wraith-like design at the bottom):

The time thieves wearing blue robes and American Civil War era helmets flying through space with the lead one holding the DSP chip

And the top-down section with a crumbling bridge made of octagon-shaped tiles:

A crumbling bridge in space made out of blue hexagons with coloured sides; one of them has a large red arrow on it indicating which direction to go

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2

It does not match in every respect, but a game with an overworld like the one found in Commander Keen, which you use to traverse between levels, as well as ghost like the ones from Pac Man is Jill of the Jungle. The game was released in 1992 on disks. It had three parts, the first being shareware, which can still be played in a browser; parts 2 and 3 are free at GOG.com.

Here is a review, cued up to an appearance of the ghosts.

There were both futuristic and more arcadian areas in the game. I don't recall any collapsing bridges specifically, but they would be in line with the kind of platforming challenges the game presented.

The later (and very similar) game Xargon by the same creators also included 3.5" disks as collectable items.

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  • Thanks for the suggestions, but it was unfortunately neither of these games. The one that I played had a definite outer space theme and no jungles. I also do not recall any side-scroller sections - just top-down ones like the Xargon overworld (at least in the sections that I played). The ghosts/aliens were only present in the intro scenes as far as I know. – RoamingShroob Mar 17 at 11:15

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