Just Play the Classics!

In 1994, Electronic Arts hit on a sales trick that has since become commonplace: re-release your recent back catalog as budget 'classic' titles using simple packaging and digitized manuals to lower printing costs. The original cost of producing these games could be further amortized, ultimately helping further support the ever-growing game development budgets needed for new titles to stand up. You could call it GOG's great, great grandson!

Initially priced between $7.99 and $14.99 each, the first wave of 'Electronic Arts presents CD-ROM Classics' contained a host of mid-1990s Origin titles alongside other EA favorites such as Chuck Yeager's Air Combat. The idea was a hit, and these and other Origin classics would go on to be re-released in several series over the years, with some Wing Commander games still being available at retail today! A simple collector's guide to these releases follows.

Black Series: Also known as the original or black series, these classics came in a one-piece cardboard package similar to Origin's add-on disks. Each box included a printed install guide booklet and a CD-ROM containing the game and digital copies of the original manuals. The black series were released in several waves over multiple years. Wing Commander games represented are Wing Commander II Deluxe, Privateer, Academy and Armada. Other Origin games in the black line included Strike Commander, Shadowcaster, System Shock, Ultima Underworld I & II and the Complete Ultima VII. The Wing Commander Academy release is among the harder classics to find.

Gold Series: In 1996, Electronic Arts began issuing the CD-ROM Classics in gold bordered boxes. These versions came in more traditional two-piece boxes made of a heavier cardboard. In some cases, these versions of the games were updated with scripts to assist in running older titles using Windows 95. Wing Commander II Deluxe, Wing Commander Privateer and Wing Commander III were released in this series. Other Origin titles included the Crusader: No Regret, CyberMage, Bioforge, Complete Ultima VII, Ultima Underworld I & II and Ultima VIII: Pagan. Completists take note: the gold series version of Privateer's cover promoted a $10 rebate for the newly-released Privateer 2: The Darkening in some printings!

Gold II Series: The second gold series of EA classics began in 1997 and ran for several years. These releases included slightly larger two-piece boxes distinguished from the earlier gold series by having only a single band at the bottom of the game box art rather than a full border. The only Wing Commander games released in this series were Privateer and Wing Commander III. Other Origin titles included the Ultima Collection, Ultima VIII: Pagan, Crusader: No Remorse and Jane's AH-64 Longbow. Other release continued into the 21st century in a similar box design dropping the 'CD-ROM' from the label; no Origin games were reissued this way.

Silver Series: The Silver Series of EA classics launched in 1997 and is, improbably, the one you are most likely to discover in stores today. These minimalist releases included only a single, silver-bordered jewel case, designed for sale in the walls of budget video game options at places like Office Depot. Three Wing Commander games appear in this format: Wing Commander II Deluxe, Academy and Armada. Keep an eye out!

Orange Series: Meanwhile, in Europe Electronic released two equivalent lines of CD-ROM classics. The first was the orange' series, a which were released in individual jewel cases. These were traditional 'English/French/German' releases with all three languages represented on the back of the box. Three Wing Commander games were included: Wing Commander II Deluxe, Armada and Privateer. Other Origin games represented include System Shock, Crusader: No Remorse, Strike Commander, Ultima Underworld I & II and the Complete Ultima VII. Depending on the country, a different install guide was included (making a total of nine total versions for anyone interested in catching them all.)

Blue Series: While the later, multi-disc Wing Commander games were generally not released as classics in the United States, they were re-released in Europe. 'Blue' packaging includes a smaller generic two-part box with a slip cover for the relevant game. Like the orange jewel cases, these are English/French/German boxes with region-specific manuals in each country. Most impressively, these versions included printed manuals rather than PDFs! FOUR later Wing Commander titles were included: Wing Commander III, IV, Prophecy and Privateer 2! Other Origin games include System Shock, Bioforge and Ultima VIII: Pagain.

Did we miss any EA classics? Have you collected them all? Let us know on the forums!


Wing Commander CIC - Visit the front page

Official news, fan projects and topics of particular interest to Wing Commander fans. Recent updates:


We've Got This Sector Bottled Tight, Friend...
2017-11-18 -- We've got a new poll out today that asks which of the the galactic sectors in Wing Commander is your favorite. This obviously isn't an exhaustive list, and there are some omissions like the Landreich or Hari Sectors that have quite a mystique about them, but we went with eight mainline areas that are particularly noteworthy. Sometimes sectors are short-hand named after the stars and quadrants within them, so if you're looking for Antares or Deneb, you can find them within the larger Epsilon cluster.

I Like This A Hole Lot
2017-11-17 -- LOAF was poking around in Wing Commander 2's background files and discovered a hilarious easter egg that would ordinarily never be seen by the player. The game frequently uses a red and green communications interface for dialogue sequences between a fighter and larger carrier or base. A small rectangle on the right features a graph intended to depict signal strength or something like that.

Taste That Synthi Meat
2017-11-16 -- The Wing Commander series has had quite a few large and elaborate print advertisements over the years, but even by the franchise's often lofty standards, this one's a whopper. This ad is spread across six full pages and follows a "five senses" theme with a late '90s vibe. Sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch are all emphasized along with a smattering of FMV screenshots, gameplay scenes and a handful of commodities.

A Localization Interrogation
2017-11-15 -- Most Wingnuts are familiar with all of the cool contents of a basic Wing Commander Prophecy box... but this one's a little different. Can you spot everything that makes this setup unique?

Upgraded Corvette Ready For Vision Engine
2017-11-14 -- Version 0.32B of the Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack was just released, but work continues at a rapid pace. The Kilrathi are the next focus, and they're led by the fearsome Corvette.

Catch Up On Strike Commander's History
2017-11-13 -- The DOS Game Club is a really cool place dedicated to gaming highlights of the '80s and '90s. Their community selects a game each month, and then they jointly play it together and discuss in their regular podcast. A recently selection was Origin's Strike Commander, and our own Bandit (LOAF) was able to participate in their episode on it.

Wing Commander Composer David Arnold Interviewed
2017-11-12 -- Modern Vinyl has posted an interesting interview with David Arnold, the composer behind the Wing Commander Movie's famous Overture theme. Much of the article focuses on the recent vinyl release of his work on Hot Fuzz, but it also notes his wide ranging involvement with films from James Bond to Stargate. Check out the full article here.

Homeworld Mod Removes Bugs & Fixes AI
2017-11-11 -- There's another new update to the Homeworld Remastered mod, Flag Commander. L.I.

OldiesGames Does Vengeance Of The Kilrathi
2017-11-10 -- We've been following the OldiesGamesTV series of Wing Commander reviews for a number of years, and now they've completed their three-part profile of Wing Commander 2. The videos are in French, but even if you can't speak the language, seeing all of the minor differences in the game are really cool if you originally played in another language. And where you understand their words or not, it's clear that they're big Wing Commander fans that we're happy to support!

Wing Commander Album Track List Complete!
2017-11-09 -- George Oldziey is back with another update on the progress of the second Wing Commander album. He's been quiet for a little bit, but there has been tons of progress on the orchestration front. The basic track list is complete and PDF scores will even be sent out soon.

Secret Ops Is All About Squashing Bugs!
2017-11-08 -- Fans have been running the new Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack through its paces hard since the latest version was released last week. As intended, the test managed to tease out a few bugs, and the team quickly responded. DefianceIndustries and PopsiclePete have already managed to put out a new version that resolves the issues identified so far.

Three Cheers For WC2 Manuals
2017-11-07 -- Wing Commander games can come in all shapes and sizes, and today we have a look at the different colored manuals of Wing Commander 2. WC2 was one of the most ubiquitous titles of the early '90s thanks to several factors: the popularity of WC1 was key, but it also was a major showcase for in-game speech and eventually mass-produced for inclusion in a large number of different OEM and budget CD-ROM releases. The red manual below was quite common and the black lesser so.

Shapely New Wing Commander 3D Prints Available
2017-11-06 -- Carter3D is a cool Shapeways outfit with a whole bunch of neat ships. There are quite a few Star Wars designs, but there are also about a dozen detailed Wing Commander models available to 3D print. Carter seems to be a Prophecy fan, but there are also a handful of ships from WC3&4 mixed in as well.

Wing Commander 3 Play-Through Remade At Nightmare Difficulty!
2017-11-05 -- It's been more than ten years since the legendary Queeg released his consolidated Wing Commander 3 movie. The original film set download records at the CIC and garnered hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. Now he's back with a brand new take on The Heart of the Tiger - this time he's completed the entire game on Nightmare difficulty!

GalCiv 3 Mod Continues To Expand
2017-11-04 -- Hellakazoo has posted some additional screenshots of his Galactic Civilizations 3 WC mod that highlight some of his latest additions, such as the Tarsus and Clarkson jammer. There's also a neat screenshot of one of the game's menus that feature the character portraits. Some of the recent CIC Forums discussion has been about what to add next.

Wing Commander Scores Lucky #7
2017-11-03 -- Here's a throwback to a twenty-one year old issue of Computer Gaming World. Back in November 1996, when we all were just getting into the Wingnut scene online, CGW posted a comprehensive "best 150" games feature. Wing Commander came in as the 7th best title of all time, just behind other famous contemporaries like Sid Meier's Civilization, Ultima IV, Doom & Sim City.

New Prophecy, Secret Ops Update Adds Ships & More!
2017-11-02 -- The newest version of the Prophecy and Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack has been released! It includes a whole pile of exciting ships that have been gracing the news over the last few months. There are additional bug fixes as well as some new features to smooth in-game graphical loading.

Kilrathi Invade #GamingHaikus
2017-11-01 -- We may have missed International Haiku Poetry Day by quite a bit, but idspispopz is there to make sure we're still covered with this simple yet elegant Wing Commander poem. Feel free to hit the comment link and add your own!

Arena Concept Art Inspires New Models
2017-10-31 -- After recently refining his slick Excalibur model, DefianceIndustries took a crack at turning it into the futuristic variant proposed in the Wing Commander Arena concept art. Its main vertical stabilizers have been moved inwards over the engine housings, and extended downswept winglets have also been added. The redesign really makes you think what new missions it might be called upon that would warrant these tweaks.

Waterloo Once Again
2017-10-30 -- Here's a new look at Klavs' groovy Waterloo class cruiser. Some of the most obvious detail is the addition of new windows and lighting, but there are also hull improvements throughout that give the ship a much more realistic facade. Additional gun emplacements are also present throughout that both fill in some of the blank spaces and give the ship some teeth.

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