Genre: Artillery Combat
Developer: Fred's Friends Inc. + ionos Inc.
Year: 1996 + 1997
Platform: Windows 98
Moby: Blast Doors and WarHeads
Added to the lair: 9/12/22
Artillery Double Pack
Blast Doors and WarHeads
In the mid 90s it was a regular occurrence that my Dad and I would go to Walmart and pick up some mysterious shareware disc with 50 or 100 games on it. It was brilliant because it was essentially a marketing tool that they could sell people for cheap that would keep kids occupied for weeks. The same goes for Playstation demo discs, of which I had no shortage as a kid. Oftentimes these shareware discs would be filled with largely shovelware garbage but if you really dug in you could find all kinds of weird treasures too. Some of these stuck with me more than others; Blast Doors and WarHeads being prime examples.
There was a time when artillery combat games were quite the rage. Worms is still in the public consciousness today, even if the series has seen better days at this point. Long before Worms though were games like Scorched Earth and, a personal favorite on the C64 as a kid, Artillery Duel. The concept is simple - elevation, power, and often some additional X factor like wind or, in the case of WarHeads, gravity. You fire, make adjustments based on the previous attack, and go from there, in a race to beat opponents that are trying to do the same to you. There are innumerable games in this genre but these two have always been some of my favorites.
Both games benefit from having a wide array of weaponry at your disposal, some unique elements for the genre like Blast Doors having both horizontal and vertical space to take into consideration and purchasing your loadout of both offensive and defensive tools before a match, and WarHeads' use of planetary gravity to affect shot trajectory. Both of them have a very 90s vibe with each of the combatants making some strange quip or pop culture reference before firing weapons. Graphically I think they stand out from the rest of the pack at the time too.
If you enjoy this genre, I'd really recommend trying these two games out, they're a blast. Pun intended.