Some folks just really wanted to pretend to fly for the Imperial navy in the 90s, and this old-school, lo-fi PC video game let us have a blast while doing it.
First, though, let's set the scene.
POV: 13-year-old me, obsessed with flying (for years I wanted to grow up to be a naval aviator, and I so much spent time playing Jane's US Navy Fighters video game, another fun romp) and finally getting to pilot a space fighter! (I sometimes jokingly say that the great tragedy of my life is that I'll never be able to join a spacy navy. Thank god for Battlestar Galactica Reruns).
How was I playing this game? In my bedroom, on a huge clunky Compaq desktop. It ran through MS-DOS (ancient technology). The graphics? A few steps above 8-bit. The sound? Oh the sound card was MIDI, most definitely.
But it was fun.
More Than Just a Space Shooter
TIE Fighter, on the other hand, actually made you a pilot. You used an actual joystick. You know, like a pilot.
But the fun and strategy of this particular game lies in how much control you have over the tools in your cockpit—and you have a lot of it.
In the top corners, you have scanner screens that tell you who's in front and behind you, so you can juke at opportune times to evade laser fire.
You have shield and engine gauges, and if you want to go faster, say, you can shunt power from the shields to the engines for an extra boost — and vice versa. Granted, not every ship in the game even has shields, but there are some fun advanced ships that do.
In the center of your screen is a display that lets you toggle through nearby ships, both friendly and enemy. You can see how much damage they've taken, how far away they are, and their name and cargo, if you get close enough to scan it.
When you're in the pilot's chair, you have to make a ton of small adjustments and decisions to gain that competitive edge, and you actually feel like you're keeping the wheels on the damn thing just to make it to the end.
You're Just a Hardworking Pilot Trying to Make Their Way in the Galaxy
A Glimpse into the EU
POSTED BY: Haley Zapal, NoaF contributor and lawyer-turned-copywriter living in Atlanta, Georgia. A co-host of Hugo Award-winning podcast Hugo, Girl!, she posts on Instagram as @cestlahaley. She loves nautical fiction, Vidalia onions, and growing corn and giving them pun names like Anacorn Skywalker.