The game I choose to review is "Captive", which I played about fifteen years ago. I was unable to look up the release date or the author, and that's unfortunate, because he deserves for this remarkable game. To give you some Idea of the technology of the day, I spent about $200.00 to add ONE WHOLE MEGABYTE to the quarter megabyte hard drive that my Amiga came with. Despite having about 1/100th of the capacity of a pocket pc, this game had it all. The graphics were attractive even by today's standards.
The clean lines, not-quite-comic-book coloring, and basically strong visual designs made this an appealing game to look at even over the endless hours it stole from my life.
The addictive nature of the game came from the perfect balance of frustration and achievement. You'd start each new planet outdoors, find your way through dinosaur monsters to a hatch, and descend to a fairly large dungeon.
These outdoor missions were not long, but there were no sources of ammo or healing. You had to complete each without any recuperation. Still, you wanted to hunt down and defeat each dinosaur, because they dropped gold that you'd need later. The point being that there were good reasons to sprint for the hatch, and yet good reasons to push your luck outside
Plus, the dinosaurs were cool.
Inside, there was a grid-maze of three or four levels. You had a fair degree of freedom, but had to explore thoroughly for healing or energy stations, equipment upgrades, and ammo, and gold, of course. You also had to find codes to open various doors to move forward. This is a sticking point, actually, because on one of the early levels, on the Amiga, one of the codes was wrong. Fortunately, you could solve it by trial and error, but that was really tedious. That only happened to me one time, and I never had a single other bug. How many modern games can say that?
The second best thing about was the huge number of opponent types, and equipment upgrades, which were replacement parts for your own body! The BEST thing was the seemingly infinite number of "next planets" to explore. I think it could generate new and DIFFERENT planets (just the maps, the environments showed much less variation) forever. At least I never saw the same map twice.
You got killed a lot, especially at first, and the A.I. liked to set traps and to swarm. They'd really chase you a long way, but there were lots of opportunities for you to set traps and to use the environments to your own advantage yourself.
It's real-time, not turn-based, and console players will probably find it a bit sedate, but I'm an RPG guy, and I found the pace absorbing without being frustrating.
After all these years, the reason I'm writing this review is to get the credits to get the game for my laptop, so I can play something I know I'll like, when I have a few spare minutes between tasks here and there.
Incidentally, there was a "Captive 2" which tried to do in a science fiction genre what daggerfall attempted later, but it faired poorly. I think that the technology was not ready for the vision.
I would agree with another reviewers comment about this being sci-fi dungeon master sci-fi, except that dungeon master was one long tunnel, and finite. This was an unlimited of much smaller "dungeons", but an ongoing upgrade cycle. The upgrades do eventually max out, but it takes like a hundred dungeons.