Here’s a cutesy, but brilliant, strategy game from 1998. German developer Blue Byte (now Ubisoft Blue Byte GmbH) is behind it—you can still pick it up on GOG, too. Is it worth a go?! Yes.
The Settlers III
Believe it or not, back in 1998 the above thing was all cutting edge. In the absence of a trailer for this one, you’ll have to make do with that.
The game is split across three campaign types:
Typically, you start out with the Romans as it’s an easier campaign. Below is the first level.
You’re ditched in and, as is traditional for strategy games, you must learn how to manage the basic socioeconomic infrastructures.
What you need to do is source wood and stone. You set up a woodcutter and stone mason’s building and employees chop and whack the local vicinity for resources.
After that, you can start sourcing food (fishing, pig farm, rice etc.) and improving your military operations.
Add into that mining. You need to head to a local mountain range to find coal and iron. You can then smelt that down to build weapons and whatnot.
All this plays out to a cutesy aesthetic, with a rather chilled out soundtrack interspersing to the sounds of bird song.
It’s more relaxing that you’d expect, given the objective. Kind of a ’90s version of ISLANDERS. But with war.
Reading the rave reviews for Settlers III in late 1998, the magazine (we forget which one) praised the cute little archers.
They can stand on your watch towers and they heroically defend your base from the enemy.
As the ultimate goal is to invade the opposition located somewhere on the map. Or they can invade you, which means you must prepare for either eventuality.
And it’s great! Okay, so it’s not as engaging now as 20 years ago since many strategy games are now astonishingly complex.
But the series was a hit during its era, even if modern entries aren’t worthy of your time.
One of our overriding memories of the experience is purchasing (well, Mr. Wapojif’s parents purchasing) the game in Preston Fishergate shopping centre in early 1999.
In Game, as we stood staring at the box looking for review scores, one of the shop assistants mumbled to his colleague: “He comes out here to buy the game and just looks at the box.”
His colleague mumbled, “What?” And the other one, so we couldn’t potentially hear, mumbled, “Nevermind.”
Being polite, we let that one go. But if you’re reading this, former Game employees circa January 1999 in Preston’s Fishergate shopping centre…
We very much bloody well did hear you! And we were looking… for the GAME SCORES!
But yes, you can get this on Good Old Games (like Steam, but with a retro focus) for a few quid. Totally worth it.