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Some background on these two games, hopefully will help explain why we think these two games as so important. Look for updates in the near future as we bring these games up to date with the latest updates and expansions.

The Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter has fascinated military and flight enthusiasts since it first went into initial production in 1981. The dedicated helicopter has a unique two-person cockpit, with the pilot sitting behind and above the gunner. A near-ground battlefield weapon designed for low-flying attack, and only attack, the Apache has an advanced fire control system, mounted sensors for acquiring targets and night vision. Both crew members can fly the Apache, but the gunner is usually busy with the massive array of weapons, which includes a devastating 30 mm M230 chain gun and mounts for missiles and rockets, often Hellfire anti-tank missiles and Hydra 70 mm rockets.

An iconic military aircraft from day one, the Apache was an ideal candidate for the team at UK game publisher and developer Microprose. Led by retired military pilot Bill Stealey, Miroprose built a reputation for remarkably accurate and enjoyable combat flight simulation games. Stealy’s first programmer was none other than Sid Meier.

Microprose made quick work of the original Gunship, starting in 1984 and publishing in 1986 to Atari ST and Commodore, and to DOS, ZX Spectrum and Amiga in 1987. The simulation game recreates the weapons, flight systems, and performance of the AH-64 Apache. Players control an arsenal that includes laser-guided Hellfire missiles, a 30mm cannon controlled by helmet gunsights, clusters of bombardment rockets, and air-to-air missiles for duels with enemy helicopters.

Gunship received some eye-watering review scores at launch. Commodore Format gave it a score of 100, saying “It's the attention to detail which makes this stand out from the crowd; the way missiles disappear into the distance, the genuine variety in the five missions, and the sheer weight of information crammed into the game … Gunship is a vital part of any flight sim fan's collection.”

Info, also delivering a perfect 100 score, said “This is, without qualification, the best combat flight simulation ever released for an 8-bit computer! WOW! Solid-modeled terrain graphics, incredible weapons and targeting systems implementation, good sound effects, and convincing physics. Controls are smooth and easy to learn without sacrificing realism. The manual is also a masterpiece, with detailed illustrations and excellent discussions of helicopter theory and tactics. PRIME!”

The venerable Computer and Video Games (CVG) also handed out a 100 review score, saying “These are people now who believe that the attack helicopter is the weapon of the future … Gunship is about as close as you will ever get to finding out if that is true. It comes with my highest recommendation.”

The positive reviews were matched with equally positive sales. Gunship sold more than one million copies and won a number of awards.

Gunship 2000

The success of Gunship led the studio to get a sequel in the works. First released in 1991 on DOS (Amiga followed in 1993) Gunship 2000 leaned into the combat simulation, expanded the game, including adding more types of helicopters, updated the graphics engine for more realism in the landscape and cockpit, and added film-like cutscenes. The team even bulked up the user manual, clocking in at 166 pages.

Along with the original Apache, players can now select the Longbow Apache, the Blackhawk, Comanche Scout, Comanche Gunship, or the MD-500 Defender. You also must select which weapons to mount, from the latest Hellfire missiles and Sidearm anti-radar missiles to the OG chain gun that established the Apache’s reputation for devastating firepower. What you select matters, as each mission can require a different set of attributes, and success requires the mix of weapons and capabilities.

The variety of combat foes was also expanded Expect a lot of inbound fire, and prepare to tangle with the Russian multi-purpose Mil Mi-24 HIND, or “flying-tank” as it is known by soviet pilots, and you’ll also have to contend with Russia’s cold-war era battle tank, the T-72.

It isn’t all simulation meets arcade action, launch the game and you have a career ahead of you. You start as a Warrant Officer candidate and you will need to rank up, getting awarded with a commission through performance in the field in order to progress your career as an American Army helicopter pilot.

The Microprose team added wingmen to the game, allowing you to select four pilots and choppers to your squadron (once you have gained enough rank to lead them). In debriefing sessions after each mission you use accumulated points to rank up your pilots and award medals. You can also rotate your crew assignments and rest overworked pilots.

You will lead your squadron of pilots in the Campaign, which places you in continuous combat where mission after mission is thrown at you. While you can’t win the campaign on your own, your success (or failure) does have an impact on its ultimate outcome. The two theaters of operation shipped with the original release: Central Europe and the Persian Gulf, but the team left the door open to additional theaters through future expansion.

The contemporary reviews for Gunship 2000 were strong.

Amiga Format, one of the many Amiga-focused publications and newsletters available in the 90s, called Gunship 2000 “horribly addictive.” Their reviewer noted “I have literally played it for days and nights on end, and anticipate playing it for many, many more. It is that special.”

Amiga Computing joined in on the praise, adding “Gunship 2000 has got to be the best simulator ever produced for the Amiga. The action is totally engrossing and it looks absolutely fantastic. Months and months of challenging aeronautical frolics. Leaves other flight sims back in the hangar.”

CU Amiga said Gunship 2000 “has got stacks of action, plenty of visuals, more explosions than you actually need and you can machine gun camels. What more do you need?”

Amiga Power’s review praised the game’s destruction system: “Rather than flying till you start dying, the game has a gradual destruction system, so various things stop working as they are damaged, and should you get really shot up, you have to fight the controls to keep your battered crate on course. Just like the real thing.”

Computer and Video Games (CVG) gushed “The graphics are stunning. Not only are they detailed, they're also very fast, even on the A500. Gunship 2000 knocks spots off all existing helicopter sims.”

UK’s PC Format gave this honest assessment: “It's very easy to bandy around phrases like 'a great reason to own a PC' and 'the best flight sim ever', only to have the accolade made redundant a month later when something better comes on to the market. For this reason I'll simply say that I have yet to play a better flight simulator and I doubt if I'll come across another of this calibre in the next year at least.”

Microprose was not done with the initial release. The game is so complex, it was only natural a few patches would follow release. But not content to simply tweak the games, the team pushed a major expansion into development. Released in 1992, the Islands & Ice Scenario Disk introduced two new theaters, Antarctica and The Philippines, which significantly expands the variety of terrain and enemy hardware you can encounter. Computer Gaming World noted that the Antarctic region “can be particularly challenging, with heavy winds, haywire compasses and superb white out effects.”

Islands & Ice was more than just a campaign expansion, significant additions and changes were made to the title. The team expanded control compatibility for players that wanted two-joystick controls and foot pedals, and they added joystick emulation for keyboards. The team also expanded the fuel tanks of the choppers to allow for longer missions, added mast-mounted sights to improve targeting from the cockpit, improved the balancing of enemy capabilities, and added fire support. Fire support, in the form of both Close Air Support (CCAS) and artillery fire support, lets you assign targets that you are simply too busy to take on yourself. An enhanced rugged terrain model was introduced in the Middle East maps, and an urban terrain model in the Central European maps.

Another major upgrade in the Scenario Disk was a mission editor, that allows you to edit and create your own missions. The tools really open up game design to players. You can create terrain, stationary and moving targets, and a wide variety of objectives. You can even change the weather. If you are particularly satisfied with a mission you can even share it with friends.
I can send you the files for version needed as well as help with dosbox. Or you can just tell your guy to set cycles to 10000 instead of auto. Auto defaults to 3000 and is not enough for gunship 2000
majormaxxxx: I can send you the files for version needed as well as help with dosbox. Or you can just tell your guy to set cycles to 10000 instead of auto. Auto defaults to 3000 and is not enough for gunship 2000
Personally I run GS2000 at 30000 cycles, if memory serves (I last properly messed around with it about 2 years ago) somewhere between 10000 and 30000 the game starts crashing, so the natural (and probably sensible) response is to stop below the crashes, but for some reason I can't actually remember, I decided to 'Jeremy Clarkson' it, put a ton more cycles in and suddenly it was running smooth as anything and rock-solid. 30000 has run well on 2 different machines so far for me.

Also for preference, if you're ok with messing with dosbox a bit, try out dosbox-staging instead, it's a modernised fork of dosbox with some really nice new features, plus it can also work directly with old dosbox configs, so if you're not sure what you're doing, to start with you can just replace the old dosbox files in the game install with the dosbox-staging ones and it'll run as-is with the new one using the old config. Plus it's also under active development (OG dosbox is 'a bit slow' on that front)
Thanks, I didn't know about Staging. Appreciate the heads up!
Interesing, Trodgar, thank you.