You Can Now Play Video Games Developed Behind the Iron Curtain

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: The Cold War couldn't stop gaming from thriving in the Eastern Bloc. From the late 1980s through the early 1990s, a generation of young people living behind the Iron Curtain designed and released their own video games and arcade cabinets. Now, you can play English translations of some of these lost classics of early gaming. One is a text adventure where a Soviet military officer hunts and kills Rambo. The translated games all come from Slovakia and are a collaboration between the Slovak Game Developers Association and the Slovak Design Museum. According to Stanislav Hrda, one of the programmers who created the games on offer, making video games was something only kids did. "The games were not sold in shops and the authors were not entitled to remuneration," he said in the post explaining the project. "Therefore, practically no one could engage in video game programming as a business activity, and adult programmers worked at most in state institutions on large mainframe computers. Thus, video game programmers became mainly teenagers." The computing power was limited and the teenagers' technological knowhow almost non-existent so many of these early games were text adventures. "These could also be programmed in the simpler Basic language that every home computer had built in," Hrda said. "Text-based games offered the opportunity to imprint one's fantasies into a world of characters, locations, descriptions of reality or fantasy at will. That is why hundreds of such video games were created in the 1980s in Czechoslovakia. The authors from the ranks of teenagers portrayed their friends, but also heroes from films that were distributed on VHS tapes or from the pop-cultural world of the West from the occasionally available comics, films, TV series and books." Hrda loved American action movies and programmed the video game Satochin, a text adventure where a Soviet officer hunts John Rambo. "The game was very hard to win," Hrda told Ars Technica. "Whenever you made a small mistake, you would die. So before you win, you are killed ten times by Rambo." [...] The project has localized ten games for Western audiences, including Satochin, with plans to tackle more over the next few years. "The games translated over the next 2-3 years after the end of the project will represent almost the complete video game production from the period of 8-bit computers in Slovakia, with an emphasis on text adventure games," the site said. English versions are available here and can be played in the Fuse emulator. The Slovak versions can be played online through the project's website.

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