Claiming to be the “Mother of All Games” upon it’s release (in reference to the then topical declaration of a forthcoming “Mother of all Battles” by Saddam Hussein after his invasion of Kuwait), Scorched Earth is a simple artillery game originally released in 1991.
So how does this game live up to it’s claim of being the “Mother of all Games?” How does it hold up today? Read on, and learn more about the shareware classic, Scorched Earth!
To fully understand the game, we must realize that the “artillery” genre existed well before Scorched Earth. Games like Artillery for the Comodore PET, and even homebrew games for computers in the 70’s, were all attempts at basic artillery simulation. The genre is at it’s core, two tanks facing off in combat, in a bid to destroy one another quickly. Scorched Earth however can be considered the game that crafted artillery games into what we know today. Series such as the continuingly popular Worms would not exist without this small shareware game.
Surprisingly, Scorched Earth is full of mechanics that we take for granted, and in some cases we are still surprised by, today. To start, the entire playing field is fully destructible. Even if you don’t score a direct hit on your enemy, you still have a chance of collapsing the ground below them, possibly trapping, or destroying them in their fall. Weaponry is affected by wind, which forces you to adjust your shots depending on in-game weather conditions. You can also adjust things such as gravity, and even include meteor showers to add a sense of urgency to the gameplay.
Weapons are separated into four groups: standard, earth destroying, earth producing, and energy. Here, the earth producing weapons are the most interesting. They allow you to bury your enemy under a mountain of dirt, or even create a barrier between you and your enemy, so that they cannot make an easy shot. The weapons list is incredibly extensive, offering a plethora of options to keep the gameplay fresh and exciting.There are burrowing weapons, laser weapons, missiles, and even napalm in the extensive selection of artillery types.
The game also allow you to equip your tank with a number of defensive accessories. Parachutes (which allows you to float to safety if your enemy destroys the ground below them), fuel tanks (allowing you to move around the battlefields), shields, heat seeking guidance systems, etc. are all featured within the game. For a game release in 1991, this was an overwhelming, and welcome, number of options to include.
I should mention that since it’s initial 1991 release, there have been several subsequent versions and remakes of the game. While the last official release was in 1995 (Scorched Earth 1.5), there have been a number of clones from dedicated fans over the years. The most notable of these is Scortched Earth 3D, which is now on version 43.3d!
Overall I have to recommend Scorched Earth on both a historical basis and for the simple fun that it is. As mentioned, game series such as Worms would not exist today without, and it’s simply a blast to play. Did I mention that the game also an economic simulator of sorts built into it?