Wing Commander I

Wing Commander I virtually created the space combat simulation genre when it arrived in the fall of 1990. It wasn't the first game where players flew a ship around in space, but it was the first to combine cutting edge graphics, a branching mission tree, complex characters and an exciting storyline. As a rookie pilot aboard the TCS Tiger's Claw, the player was introduced to the viscious feline Kilrathi. Over the course of dozens of missions, the Terran Confederation managed to force the Empire of Kilrah out of the Vega Sector. PC gamers used the original Wing Commander game to show off their powerful new 386 machines to their friends. The game exuded style and polish from the cockpit hand that followed players' joystick movements to the dripping bucket in the barracks.

You're a starfighter pilot, the best of the best, but nothing in your training prepared you for action this hot. Deepspace dogfights against Kilrathi aces are deadly, and the future of humanity is on the line each time you fly!

Wing Commander puts you in the middle of the most intense starship action you've ever experienced outside of a movie theater. But in Wing Commander, you're the star!

Expansions

Screenshots

Where to buy

The original can be found on various auction sites and works well in DOSBox. The easiest way to enjoy the game on a modern computer and operating system, is to buy it as a digital download from Origin or Good Old Games.

Playing the game

Don't know how to land your ship? Stuck on a particularly difficult mission? The following items may be of help:

Noteworthy game documentation

Claw Marks

Created by Aaron Allston, Claw Marks was an astonishing piece of in-universe fiction included in the box of the original Wing Commander. The booklet didn't tell you how to play the game, it treated you like you were a 27th century fighter pilot catching up on the news between missions. The ship specifications, pilot-of-the-month bios and in-universe editorials became the standard for the franchise going forward. Chris Roberts has always sought for an immersive game experience, and the inclusion of Claw Marks meant that Wing Commander offered it before the player could even insert the first disk. more...

Ship Blueprints

Wing Commander I continued an Origin tradition of including 'feelies' in the box. Ultima games would include an ankh or a rune stone, Auto Duel included a tiny tool kit... and Wing Commander I had a set of space fighter blueprints! more...

Quickstart Guide

This document walks the user through the installation process and illustrates how to move about the ship, talk to people and fly a mission. more...

Reference Card

Summarizes essential game mechanics and fighter operations, and lists keyboard, joystick and mouse controls. more...

Behind the scenes

Detailed release information

MS-DOS PC Original

  • Published by Origin
  • Released 1990-09-26
  • The original release.

Deluxe Edition

  • This (floppy) edition includes Wing Commander 1 and both Secret Missions addons.

Deluxe Edition CD

  • This edition includes Wing Commander 1 and both Secret Missions addons on a single CD-Rom.

Kilrathi Saga

  • A Windows 95 port of the MS-DOS original. The Secret Missions addons can be downloaded for free.

    more...

SNES

  • Published by Mindscape
  • Released 1992-11-20
  • Another low (16?) color version. The SNES version has a host of weird Nintendo-requested minor changes (the Blue Devils are the 'Blue Angels' - things like that). There's some obvious tricks to get around the low amount of memory on an SNES cart, too - for instance, SNES WC1 doesn't have unique graphics for the Jalthi... it's just a Salthi that's been turned green. There is also a seperate, stand-alone SNES version of the Secret Missions addon... it's fairly cool, as it includes a unique intro sequence (Kilrathi talking about the Sivar weapon) and an 'extended' Tiger's Claw takeoff scene that makes use of some Mode-7 landscaping stuff.

Amiga

  • Released 1992-11-20
  • Low (32?) color graphics version. The only real difference is that the fighters menu in the trainsim has 'rotating' images of the fighters instead of simple VDU line drawings. No one in the universe knows why this is. (People often say that the music sounds better in the Amiga version... but my experience is that it sounds fairly similar to the original game's music played on an MT-32 or LAPC-I.)

3DO

  • This is 'Super Wing Commander'. All of the graphics are redone in Privateer-level VGA. It has some new 'bridge' plot points (characters occasionally mention stealth fighters) and a 'middle' set of addon (SM1.5!) missions about blowing up the Sivar's base. Full speech, ships look different, people look different, etc. Amazingly, of all the ports this one *plays* most similar to the original game.

Macintosh

  • See 3DO.

FM Towns

  • Published by Fujitsu
  • Visually identical to the PC version - the only significant change is that it has a Redbook audio soundtrack instead of MIDIs and Japanese speech inflight. The FM Towns is a Japanese computer. They were the first computers to ship with CD-ROM drives standard -- so the FM Towns ports of many early Origin games have full speech (Ultima 6 is the famous one).

CD-32

  • Released 1994-03-01
  • Identical to the original A500 Amiga version, except with 256 color graphics.

SegaCD/MegaCD

  • Released 1994-03-24
  • The SegaCD version is visually similar to the original PC release, but it also includes full speech (and the requisite awkward console control scheme). The Sega CD was called the Mega CD in Europe and Japan.

EA Replay

  • Published by Electronic Arts
  • Released 2006-11-14

Good Old Games

  • Published by Good Old Games
  • Released 2011-08-25
  • Digital distribution, updated to run on modern computers.

Origin

  • Published by Electronic Arts
  • Released 2014-06-18
  • Digital distribution, updated to run on modern computers.

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