Due to the closing of geocities.com, this will be the new site for the History of SSI Games. There will be a transition period of link issues.Update (6/19/12): All game information has now been uploaded (A through Z). There are some missing games still to be added.
Once upon a time, each major game publisher had, or at least seemed to possess, its own unique identity; its games just felt different from others'. Back in the 1980s, SSI's games signified attention to detail, superlative documentation (especially the background material), boxes that were nothing short of art, and, most importantly, a high emphasis on playability. The foundation of this was wargaming, and wargames' influence expanded to the other genres dabbled in by the company.
Those features combined to cause me, for one, to play just about every SSI game that came out (for the Atari ST, anyway). If the box said "Strategic Simulations, Inc.," I would be virtually guaranteed a very good--usually great, occasionally extraordinary--gaming experience. That's hardly surprising when one browses through the old catalogs and looks at the list of names: Dan Bunten, Roger Keating, Paul Murray, David Landrey, Chuck Kroegel, and, of course, Gary Grigsby. In later (but still old) catalogs those names were joined by a couple of others: Norm Koger, Jr. and Westwood.
Sadly, those glory days are in the past. A changing market has destroyed those halcyon times of lore. Think about it: as late as 1985 SSI's first ever game, Computer Bismarck, published half a decade earlier, was still in print. In fact, nearly all of SSI's list was still in print. The Winter 1985 catalog, for example, listed 50 different titles available for (in varying amounts) four different platforms. Today, the ethereal fruit-fly life-spanned computer game lifespan has made such a commitment impossible.
However, in celebration of my favorite era of computing , I am pleased to put up this page detailing, as much as I can, the complete list of SSI works. We need to remember history, and that includes computer gaming history. There have been occasional works detailing the history of general computing or of video games, but histories of computer gaming are either a few paragraphs in those works or occasional magazine articles. Let us remember where computer gaming has been and where it is going!
There is no more internal development at SSI. (It halted in November 2000.) While SSI continued as a label under new owners, the French software giant Ubi Soft, it was phased out by the mid 2000s. I think we can safely say that the SSI of fame pretty much died with its purchase by Mindscape. Yes, there were still great titles (Steel Panthers, for example), but the glory days were behind it. (Even Panzer General pre-dated Mindscape!)
happier news, SSI founder Joel Billings has founded a new company with Gary
Grigsby and Keith Brors. 2by3 Games (not overly catchy) will be
publishing various Grigsby wargames under the auspices of Matrix Games. The first, Uncommon Valor was released to mixed reviews. There
have been some rumblings in the wargaming community about Billings' commitment to
wargames. I think such arguments are invalid. Yes, SSI did move away
from wargames in the wake of Pool of Radiance, but if you were selling
250,000 units vs. 50,000 what decision would you make? The fact is that
SSI continued to support wargames long after other former publishers (EA,
Broderbund, etc.) had halted. Panzer General was a solid attempt to make wargames appealing for a larger market, and Steel Panthers was an attempt to make a solid serious wargame. In reading reviews for the various 2by3 Games' games (I own a few, but admit that I haven't really played them much at all), it seems that those attempts never went to 2by3. While I appreciate the dedication to hard-core wargamers, I think the lack of interface improvements over the past decade is disappointing. There is really no concerted effort to create new hard-core wargamers.
|A through C||Amiga|
|D through K||Apple II|
|L through R||Apple IIgs|
|S through Z||Apple Macintosh|
|Other Stuff||Atari 8-bit|
(The background colors in the platform column are an attempt to recreate the color-coding used by SSI from the middle 1980s. Game headings in the listings pages in the back of its catalogs were given different colors that matched the colors of the platform stickers on their game boxes. Apple was red, natch. Games for the Apple IIGS and Mac were in offshoots of red, purple and orange. Commodore was dark brown; Amiga was light brown. Atari ST was light green (much like the default color of its desktop) and 8-bits were dark green. IBM, of course, was blue.)
The Best of SSI:
Education Pages (not yet brought over)
Ancient Egypt Westward Expansion Computer History
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