There is a generation for whom Amiga and C64 belonged to a golden age of video games. It was their first contact with a new type of media which was still very young at that time. Such a love usually lasts a lifetime. But while probably the vast majority of this generation rave with bright eyes about Giana Sisters, Rainbow Islands and Lemmings, I got stuck on a completely different game that had a lasting impact on me as well.
It contains all the elements that are attracting to me to this day. There is a strategic, logical-like foundation so that the head has something to do, but the mind is still not too challenged due to the repetitive patterns. This is paired with absurd and sometimes unfairly difficult mechanics. I would describe this aspect as carrot and stick. Germans are said to have a certain favour for sadomasochism anyway. It is not without reason that Excel continues to be one of the most popular playful pursuits in this country and FIFA is the best-selling game every year, followed by last year’s version in second place.
But back to the Amiga and my delusional love from that time. In Oil Imperium, I had to drill for oil politically-incorrectly and lead my company to the road of success in young America. I describe the game as politically incorrect because in the event of an incident, it wasn’t the environmental disaster that became a problem for my company, but the financial loss when all the oil seeped back into the ground. And actually, that happened to me quite often. It was a love-hate relationship. In Oil Imperium, drilling consisted of a mini-game where I had to keep the drill head as centred as possible.
To keep the drill head centred, at least I had a joystick at my disposal. This is an accessory that probably only really old people remember by now. The joystick is reminiscent of that of an aeroplane pilot and enables precise steering in a shooter or even when drilling for oil. At least in my memory it felt good to play with it. However, I also know very well that I was rarely successful when I drilled myself and did not rely on the computer. As a consequence, I was bankrupt after one or two business years and happily started all over again.
I don’t know what was pushing me back then to stoically ruin companies and at the same time thoughtlessly pollute the environment – if it’s really in the genes or just a malfunction in my brain. But after all, all is fair in love.
Oil Imperium by Reline Software was published on floppy disc in 1989 for all the typical platforms of that time – Amiga, Commodore, Atari and PC. The small team from Hanover also developed the frivolous hospital simulation Biing! in the nineties, among other games. The studio was closed in 2002. The rights for Oil Imperium are now held by Archangel Studios.
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