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!


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


New Unboxing Series Kicks Off With Wing Commander Amiga
2018-01-19 -- Unboxing Hands has a massive collection of classic PC and other video games, and they're starting to go through and unbox them all. Wing Commander Amiga was lucky enough to be one of the first titles up. Most Wingnuts are pretty familiar with Claw Marks, the blueprints and so forth, but there are minor and major differences between editions that are really cool for collectors and diehard fans to see.

TCS Wolfhound Gets Tag Teamed
2018-01-18 -- Deathsnake has a new video showing a Confed vs Kilrathi engagement in his Last Line of Defense project. It was announced last year that the endeavor was transitioning from a playable game to a more cinematic adventure using the mod's assets, and this video shows how that has progressed. It's certainly a pretty awesome battle captured here, and we're eager to see more!

Video Tutorial Shows Birth Of A WC Fan Project
2018-01-17 -- Longtime Wing Commander fan centaurianmudpig has posted something a little different. Lots of talented Wingnuts upload videos of the works in progress, but CMP recently livestreamed the entire creative process. He goes through bit-by-bit looking up tutorials, sampling graphics and writing Unity code.

Homeworld Mod Testing Fighter Visibility Updates
2018-01-16 -- L.I.F.

Vega Super Star Back In Action
2018-01-15 -- DefianceIndustries is back from a well deserved holiday break with a slick new wallpaper image. It features a cool new Rapier model first teased last October. This is the variant featured in Super Wing Commander and Arena, so it's a bit more flat and round than DOS or GOG players might be familiar with.

Rapier Research Leads To New Sighting
2018-01-14 -- Lilja saw our post a while back about one of the Lightning fighters that became a Wing Commander Movie Rapier at Pinewood Studios and decided to do some digging of his own. Finding where they've all ended up over the years has been an interesting endeavor, and through some clever investigation, he managed to track down some new information on the afterlife of these exotics birds. Immediately after the film's debut in 1999, fans spotted one Rapier at a Planet Hollywood in Ohio, and then a couple showed up for auction/rental/sale in the early 2000s.

Lego Darket Built Out Of Digital Bricks
2018-01-13 -- Lego Digital Designers Club has posted a neat virtual Darket made with Lego brand activity bricks. The color could probably go a bit more brown, but otherwise it's a pretty good design. All of the crazy Star Wars Legos out there sure make me wish we got these for real!

Annual Awards Voting In Full Swing
2018-01-12 -- Our annual community voting is now in progress, and Wingnuts like you are helping choose the Wing Commander Fan Project of the Year for 2017! Here are the nominees one more time. It's hard to choose because there's so many great projects going on, but vote below and help pick the winner!

Star Wars Excitement Spills Over Into Wing Commander
2018-01-11 -- Mark Hamill's return to the Star Wars series and starring role in The Last Jedi has also sparked a wave of interest in his work between epic film projects. The gaming press has largely already done this thanks to Mr. Hamill's role in Star Citizen, but now it's spreading to a more mainstream audience.

Catch Up On Everything Wing Commander Amiga
2018-01-10 -- Shot97 has put together an absolutely massive review of Wing Commander for Amiga systems. He covers every inch from top to bottom. Shot goes over what the game meant to him and then proceeds to cover the backstory, the impact of the characters, the depth of the manual, the significance of the Kilrathi, and that's just getting started.

Casper Van Dien On Wing Commander 4, Starship Troopers & Much More
2018-01-09 -- GeekScape has posted a podcast episode with Starship Troopers star Casper Van Dien. The actor is well known for his sci-fi acting, but he's also a director with a diverse variety of projects under his belt. He also had a brief cameo in Wing Commander 4, which is mentioned in the show.

Privateer Model Exploration Continues
2018-01-08 -- A lot of people have done some pretty nifty things with the Privateer 3D model archive over the years, but it can still be a slightly daunting task to dig into if you're an artistic novice. This is where fans come into play, and Wingnuts have continued to help their fellow Wingnuts learn how to navigate these waters. bai recently got some assistance unpacking some of the texture files and finding out how to convert and read them.

WC1&2 Audio Sound Comparison Presented In Easy Playlist Form
2018-01-07 -- pcuser1541 has put together a number of videos that showcase the wide variety of audio setups supported by the original Wing Commander games. SoundBlaster was the most common card of the day, but the Roland MT-32 was highly sought after early on and new variants continued to be released through numerous ports over nearly half a dozen years. There are examples from the Microsoft GS, FM Towns, Amiga, Macintosh, Super Nintendo and Sega CD.

GPD Win Is Latest Handheld To Showcase Wing Commander Emulation
2018-01-06 -- Alien Gray has posted a nifty video of the GPD Win playing the 3DO version of Super Wing Commander. This device actually runs Windows 10, but it's using the Project Phoenix emulator to get the game running. This is just the latest in a fascinating string of modern handheld devices that have managed to get various WC games running.

IMDB Takes Video Games To The Movies
2018-01-05 -- The Internet Movie Database has posted a photo gallery collage to highlight the history of video games crossing over to movies. There are 96 examples highlighted (a significant fraction of which are Resident Evil films), which is surprising in itself. Even more so, Wing Commander is chronologically listed in the first fifteen movies, so the genre has really exploded in recent years.

Childhood Adventures Explored On YouTube
2018-01-04 -- Claude Blair has put together an interesting video that reviews a large pile of Wing Commander documentation. After some initial introduction, he spends more than a half hour lovingly detailing the material on every page of Claw Marks. Obviously most of you are quite familiar with what's in the WC1 manual, but it's always fun to hear the perspective of someone who's so excited about it.

Happy New Year From George Oldziey
2018-01-03 -- George Oldziey is back with a New Year's message and Wing Commander album status update. He's anxiously preparing for the Wing Commander bar music recording happening next month as well as planning out the next steps for the orchestral portions of the album. He's also dug up a vintage interview that was published in the January 1999 edition of Film Score Monthly.

Kick Off 2018 With Some Slick Sketches
2018-01-02 -- Arne from Android Arts is currently putting together some awesome Wing Commander sketches. He started with an Exeter and has drawn a contemporary flotilla around it. There's also a gun mockup and fighter concept art, plus a really cute 'Dralthi Commander' diskette.

Happy New Year!
2018-01-01 -- The confetti is starting to settle, and those of us who had time off for the holidays are getting ready to go back to work now. We're all inspired by the last two days' worth of 2017 recaps. When it's all summed up like that, it's really astounding, and these are just the condensed highlights.

A Look Back At 2017
2017-12-31 -- The year 2017 is on the way out as I write this, so it's time to review what a wonderful year it's been. We got a taste of the action in yesterday's Fan Project of the Year roundup. There were lots projects that released some great things for the community over the past twelve months, including many playable adventures and multiplayer games.

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