Corncob 3D, where do I start? In an alternate dimension, Hitler died in childhood and thus World War II never happened. Instead, aliens invaded the Earth. Linger on that now, will you?
As one of the earliest shareware flight simulators available, it’s time we look back at a game that is both ambitious and somewhat perplexing. Read on after the break for the history, and my thoughts on a game that drove me mad as a child.
As I mentioned, Corncob 3D was one of the first shareware flight simulators available, so there is some historical significance to the game. In 1992, one could logon to their local BBS system and download a copy, or eventually walk into a K-Mart and buy it for $5.95. Released by Pie in the Sky Software, it would be one of their only successful releases.
Built by a physics graduate, and a post-doctorate, from Duke University, the game was technically impressive. Utilizing then-modern 16-bit processors, the game accurately presented a 3D world in which you could fly around. Looking back to 1992, most games were still utilizing 2D graphics, so this was an impressive technical achievement indeed. The game even allows you to bail out of your plane, parachute to safety, and then try to make it back to base before the aliens capture you on the ground.
As technically impressive as it was, it lacked greatly in terms of artistry. Everything in the game is solid (often blinking) colours, with no detail to be found. The game completely lacks textures. From a visual standpoint, this proves somewhat puzzling for a flight simulator, as the earth below you is a vast expanse of green. There are time you can’t tell how far away from the earth you are, which as you may guess, proves somewhat irksome in a flight simulator.
From a mission standpoint, you often don’t really know what you’re doing. Each mission starts you on a landing strip, but you’re not 100% sure where to go from there, or even what to do. With the simple modelling and graphics of the game, you’re really not even sure what the objects are surrounding you. Yes, you can tell what the alien spaceship looks like (a classic UFO design), but you’re not really sure about anything else? What are all these blinking objects scattered across the landscape? Are they friends? Enemies? Just random things to fill the game up? In the end, it’s really a crapshoot of what you’ll find below you.
As I previously stated, this game drove me mad as a kid. Playing it around the age of four, with very little instructions available in game, made me very frustrated. I won’t argue that the game isn’t fun, but it’s entertainment value usually stems from the fact you’re navigating through the absurdity of an epileptic nightmare. It can the the dancing seizure robots (don’t click if epileptic) of games at times. However, as like when I was four, the game is somewhat frustrating.
All in all, it’s worth a shot if you’re curious at what an early 90’s shareware flight simulator looked like. While technically impressive for the time, you may find the simplistic graphics (MS-Paint esque) lacking. If you’re wondering what the hell the name of the game means (I sure did), it’s actually a reference to the F4U Corsair you fly in the game. It was nicknamed the Corncob Corsair due to it’s engine looking like corn on the cob from the side!