World of Xeen - one of my favorite ever RPGsWe all have that one thing that takes us back.  Maybe it’s hearing the synthesizer jamming on the first song you remember hearing; maybe it’s the smell of your first girlfriend’s perfume; maybe it’s seeing a clip from the first rated-R movie you snuck into when you were 15.

I was wandering the 1s and 0s of the Internet this evening (the Ravens-Steelers game is at the half) and somehow stumbled onto a screenshot from one of my favorite games ever – World of Xeen (technically “World of Xeen” is a combination of “Clouds of Xeen” and “Darkside of Xeen”).

That instantly threw me back to the days of classic computer-based Role-Playing Games (RPGs).  I grew up enjoying the concept of Dungeons and Dragons (the ultimate RPG) but never actually played it (although I created dozens of characters, scoped out a plethora of adventures in my mind and drew who knows how many maps on graph paper…remember those days?), so when I got my first PC-based computer (a 486) I was enthralled with the idea that I could actually play an RPG by myself (part of my reluctance to join a D&D game was my severe lack of social skills at that point in my life), in the comfort of my own room and pretty much whenever I wanted.

There were many – Bards Tale, Ultima V and Pool of Radiance to name a few.  There was also Zork, Rogue and some of the other text-based games – can’t forget those.  But when I got ahold of Might & Magic IV: Clouds of Xeen I was in heaven.  It had (for the time) good graphics, a fun storyline and excellent turn-based gameplay (my favorite – I don’t like real-time RPGs nearly as much).

It was also the first game I actually beat in its entirety legitimately (i.e., no cheat codes, hacks, etc.).  Which prompted me to invest in the next installment:  Darkside of Xeen – an “extension”, if you will, of Clouds.  But it had an added feature – you could combine Darkside and Clouds together to get World of Xeen…which had a third endgame to it.

It took me back to a time when life was simpler.  I’d already graduated and had a few years of work experience under my belt (I started working when I was 16 and never really stopped), but I didn’t have the overhead of a car payment, a mortgage or having to buy food for a handful of freakishly-hungry teenagers.

So on this Thanksgiving post I’m going to throw out one of those things I’m thankful for: Good Old Games (GOG.com) – the site where I can find relics of my childhood for those times when life needs to skip back a few chapters.  Like today.

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