(This is part of my journey playing through Wing Commander. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)
I’m back in the cockpit as Ace Acerton, Space Ace, after a few days off and some tweaking to the game’s DOSbox settings that I found in this guide. I also looked up some of the keyboard commands so that I’m not a total star noob (maybe one day I’ll be a citizen?). OK. Let’s give this another shot.
So this was a very instructional session with the game as I ran the first mission over… and over… and over… and over again. I think it took me six tries? You die once during it (which is surprisingly easy to do) and you have to start all over again. It’s definitely not a cakewalk tutorial, let’s just say. But at the end of it, I walked away knowing a lot more of the commands and could actually fight worth something. The DOSbox tweaking helped a lot, too.
OK, so the first mission involves flying around to several waypoints, two of which involve fights and the other two involve navigating asteroid fields. Frankly, I prefer the fights. At least those are kind of exciting, even if it requires a lot of patience and fine motor control to line up the right shots. Sure, it would probably be easier to buy a joystick but this is not 1990 and I am not that kind of guy.
I acquit myself during these fights, taking down two “hairballs” in the mission where I finally succeed. The ship I’m flying has all of the defensive capabilities of a TIE fighter and is armed with a blaster cannon that shoots (as far as I can tell) dodge balls, two missiles that do nothing unless you fire them at point-blank range, and a single heat-seeker missile that is good for a kill.
My wingman, Spirit, makes the occasional kill as well. Mostly she just gets in my way and then acts all offended that I’m blowing chunks out of her canopy and engines. But no matter how much I attack, she still gives me a glowing report at the end of the ride.
On my sixth try I was so tense just trying to get to the end. Those asteroid fields can smack the death out of you in just a couple of hits, which definitely happened to me more than once. So what a relief to see the Tiger Claw and know that I was back safely.
Uh… how do you land? Crud, that’s not in my notes.
/tab out… Google search
So to land you have to face the carrier deck head-on, hit C to open up a comm channel, select the Tiger Claw, and then request landing. After that, I got close enough and a cutscene took me home.
Woo! I did it! I… beat the very easiest level in the game. Fine. Whatever. I’ll take my victories where I can get them.