The Microsoft Entertainment Pack for Windows wiki last edited by eccentrix on 10/11/14 04:12PM View full history

Overview

The Microsoft Entertainment Pack for Windows is a 16-bit game collection intended to provide entertainment for Windows users that found they could not run their DOS based games on 16-bit Windows 3.1 computers. Some of the games included in the pack were popular games on DOS computers licensed by Microsoft, and programmed into the pack to show the prowess and superiority of Windows 3.1 over DOS based operating systems. However, most of the games in the pack were original creations developed in house at Microsoft. After the first game pack proved to be a massive financial success three additional game packs (all of which were titled Microsoft Entertainment Pack for Windows) were released. All of the games in these packs were 16-bit games that used Windows software to run on NT based computers and as a result were exclusive to Microsoft's Windows Operating System. Today all of the game packs are compatible up to Windows XP and all other 32-bit Windows Operating Systems. For 64-bit versions of Windows users have to use virtual emulators in order to play the game packs.

Many of the games included in the Windows Entertainment Pack were programmed into later versions of Windows, and are still programmed into versions of Windows to this day. Even more notable is that many of the games that made their debut on the Entertainment Pack went on to spawn dedicated fanbases that have emulated the games for newer versions of Windows and other non-Windows desktops. The game compilation also introduced numerous people to casual computer staples such as FreeCell and Minesweeper for the very first time.

Games Included:

Chess

Chip's Challenge

Included in the first Windows Entertainment Pack. Chip’s Challenge was and an extremely popular tile based puzzle game originally designed for the Atari Lynx and ported to other platforms. The Windows version includes an extra level on top of the original 148 levels for the Atari Lynx. Worth noting is that the Windows Entertainment Pack version includes auto-saving making it one of the first Windows games to feature auto-saving as a mechanic. The Windows version also featured a new looping soundtrack.

The popularity of Chip’s Challenge on the Windows Entertainment Pack encouraged the original game designer, Chuck Sommerville, to announce development on a sequel despite the original platform for the game (Atari Lynx) selling poorly. The sequel for the game was to be called Chip’s Challenge 2, but was never released to the public despite assurances from Sommerville to this day that the game is still being developed.

Cruel

A type of solitaire that was popularized by the Windows Entertainment Pack that resembles the version of solitaire known as “Perseverance.” Using 52 cards the player must four piles of twelve cards and with one card in each pile facing up and the aces of all the suits in a foundation. The player then has to move their cards by building up to the King of a suit in the respective foundation.

Due to the popularity of Cruel in the Windows Pack Microsoft still offers a downloadable version of the card game on their site for Windows XP.

Dr. Black Jack

A version of Black Jack or Pontoon specifically designed for the Window Entertainment Pack. It was solely programmed and designed by Mike Blaylock.

FreeCell

While based off of the popular card game “Eight Off,” FreeCell made its first appearance to the world on the Microsoft Entertainment Pack and has gone on to become one of the most popular variants of solitaire in the world. The game proved so popular that not only was it quickly designed into later versions of Windows NT, but it has been designed into every single version of Windows since its introduction.In the Microsoft Entertainment Pack there are 32,000 possible games of FreeCell. In the game the goal is to build each of the four foundations up in ascending sequence, from Ace to King, for each of the four suits of cards. Players are allowed to move any single card to another column if it makes a descending sequence of alternating colors. An ordered sequence of alternating ascending cards can be moved so long as a sufficient number of cells are free. If a player feels there are no moves they can move any single card to a cell.

Despite being a rather innocent version of solitaire the game oddly enough attracted the attention of computer programmers and mathematicians around the world. For one mathematicians have calculated that there are approximately 1.75×10^64 unique versions of FreeCell. Computer programmers on the other hand have designed computer engines to complete FreeCell as fast as possible. These engines known as “solvers” compete against one another to see which engine can complete the game the fastest. Oddly enough these computer designers found that game #11982 on the Entertainment Pack is impossible to complete.

Fuji Golf

Fuji Golf is an early golf game completely designed and created by computer programmer Chiki Nagi. Other than being a golf game with eighteen holes Fuji Golf is notoriously well known for being incredibly difficult to beat. The game not only features rubber band AI but also has weather effects sometimes preventing the player from winning. Enthusiasts of the game have however found that the AI’s score maxes out at -15 and as long as the player exceeds this, which is already not an easy task, they will win the game. The cheat code “fujiwallop" which allows the player to hit longer shots is almost a necessity to use in order to beat the game.

Go Figure!

An educational game where the player must match various computations (ie addition, subtraction, multiplication, ect) to the correct answer.

Golf

This is a well known variant of solitaire and not a game based on the sport. In Golf the goal is to send all of the cards to the foundation. The player can send any card that is greater or lesser than the current card in the foundation. If the player is stuck they can deal a card in the stock to change the foundation card to something new.

Idlewild

Does this Screensaver Look Familiar?

Is a collection of specially designed screensavers. Many of these screensavers such as the “Dancing Lines” are still used today.

Jezzball

Jezzball is a variant of the popular arcade game QIX and was programmed by Dima Pavlovsky. Like QIX the player must contain the various “atoms” to a minimum of 25% of the original grid size. The player uses the left mouse click to erect walls and the right mouse click to rotate the direction of their wall building device. Every time the player accomplishes their goal another atom is added to the grid making the game harder. The maximum level is 49 which includes 50 atoms.

Level 50 of Jezzball Takes No Prisoners

As with many of the other Entertainment Pack games JezzBall has accrued a cult following that has designed hombrew versions of the game. Since Windows has dropped support for the game after the release of Windows 95 the homebrew scene has developed versions of the game that play on numerous operating systems and PDA formats. These dedicated fans have also found that the highest possible score in the game is 99.6 on the first level.

Klotski

Klotski is a Polish wood block puzzle that was included in the third version of the Windows Entertainment Pack. This was one of the first computerized versions of the game. In the game a red color block must be moved from the top of the screen to the bottom of the screen by moving various sized yellow blocks surrounding it in a confined space.

Life Genesis

An original Microsoft game based on John Conway’s Game of Life; which at the time was well known zero player evolution algorithm game. In Microsoft’s version the player can compete against a computer which they had to outlive.

Maxwell’s Maniac

Maxwell's Maniac was also programmed by Dima Pavlovsky who used the same grid from JezzBall for this game. Based on the thought experiment “Maxwell’s Demon,” the player must move blue and red balls to their respective quadrants. If the player takes to log grey balls appear and if they reach any of the walls the game ends and the player loses a life. This game was re-tooled and re-designed into the Windows Vista game InkBall.

Minesweeper

A Very Familiar Smile

Minesweeper is one of the most popular games ever made and the well known time killer made its Windows debut on the first Microsoft Entertainment Pack. Since then it has been programmed into every single version of the Windows Operating system release. The game has three sizes/difficulties: beginner (8 x 8 with ten mines), Intermediate (16 x 16 with 40 mines), and finally Expert (30 x 16 with 100 mines). The goal of the game is to uncover every square that isn’t a mine with the left click without hitting a mine. On the borders of uncovered squares numbers appear to designate how many mines there are and the player can right click to designate a square as being a mine.

Pipe Dream

Pipe Dream is a game developed by LucasFilm Games ported for the Microsoft Entertainment Pack and based on a game called Pipe Mania which was originally programmed for the Amiga. In the game players must arrange a random collection of pipe pieces to a give length in a certain amount of time.

Rattler Race

Rattler Race is a variant of the arcade and phone game Snake designed by Christopher Lee Fraley. In the game the player controls a yellow snake and must eat all of the apples on a map to continue to the next level without touching the walls of the map. The player must also avoid green snakes which take a life in the player comes into contact with one. If an enemy snake reaches an exit hole the game resets. The player must also avoid balls which bounce around the walls but are only lethal if they land on the player’s snakes’ head. The game has three difficulties (Easy, Intermediate, and Expert) and can be customized to allow for a varying number of hazards.

Rodent’s Revenge

The Mouse has Already Turned Two Cats into Cheese

Rodent's Revenge is another game designed by Christopher Lee Fraley. In the game the player controls a mouse and must move green block in order to trap all of the cats on the screen. Once a cat is trapped it turns into a hunk of cheese which increases the player’s score. In more difficult levels the player will have to avoid mouse traps and flying balls of yarn that kill the player on contact as well as sink holes which trap players if they come in contact with each other. The game also has a clock where if the red clock hand hits the blue mark more cats will be spawned. The game saves high score data and factors in difficulty as well as quickness on top of the amount of cheese collected. There are 50 levels in total.

SkiFree

SkiFree was originally designed by Microsoft computer programmer Chris Pirih just to kill time. When the manager of the Microsoft Entertainment Pack development team saw Pirih playing around with SKiFree while working he immediately had Pirih design a final version to be released on the Entertainment Pack. In the game the player has a choice between four different play styles. The various modes are: Free-Style where the play is awarded points for performing tricks; Slalom where the player attempts to complete a slalom course in the shortest time possible; Tree Slalom which is a harder version of slalom with trees to avoid; or none which allows the player to “ski free.”

The Source of Many Childhood Nightmares Indeed

Arguably just as well known as the game itself is the game’s “kill screen” of sorts in the form of the Abominable Snow Monster. The Abominable Snow Monster chases after the player downhill after the player reaches the 1985m mark. If the play moves 125m upward or 500m to the left or right at the start of the game another Snow Monster will appear. If the Abominable Snow Monster reaches the player he eats their avatar and the game ends. However if the player succeeds in passing 20m past the 1985m mark another Snow Monster appears but this one moves towards the play uphill. It is however possible to avoid getting eaten by the Snow Monster by traveling diagonally and in fast mode. If the player reaches the 2000m mark the game loops over and all possible Snow Monsters disappear.

Ski Free has gone on to develop a large cult following. The original programmer for the game, Chris Pirih, has since reacquired the original source code for the game and has developed a version of the game that works on 32 bit systems. The game has also been ported to other OS and mobile formats via homebrew.

Stones

A tile puzzle game where the player is given 90 stone tiles and must arrange them in a format where each tile two out of three similar attributes.

Taipei

Better known as Mahjong solitaire. Due to the popularity of Taipei Microsoft included a free version of Taipei on premium versions of Windows Vista and a version called Mahjong Titans on Windows 7.

TetraVex

TetraVex is available via the third Microsoft Entertainment Pack TetraVex and is an edge matching puzzle. The game was designed and created by Scott Ferguson who is better known for being the lead designer of the first version of Visual Basic. After transferring into the Microsoft Entertainment Pack development team he wanted to create a game that played around with "the problem of tiling the plane” that famous computer scientist Donald Knut described in one of his books about computer algorithms. As to be expected the game has since been broken down into a mathematical equation by computer scientists and is sometimes used in computer math education.

Tetris

Tic Tac Drop

A variant of Connect Four. However players can customize what the winning pattern is.

TicTactics

A variant of tic-tac-toe.

Tut’s Tomb

Tut's Tomb is better known as "Pyramid Solitaire" where the objective is to send the cards that are assorted in a pyramid to the fountain. The player sends any pair of cards to the fountain as long as their sum is 13. For face cards Kings have a value of 13 (and do not need another card to be sent to the fountain), Aces 1, Queens 12, and Jacks 11. You can use the waste pile to pair them with cards in the pyramid in order to form extra pairs.

Other Versions

On top of publishing four packs Microsoft also published a "Best of" pack that included some games that weren't released in the original Entertainment Pack. Interestingly enough Microsoft went on to port this compilation to the Game Boy Color. To tap into the success of the Entertainment Pack of some of packs of Kellogg Cereal offered the "Best of" pack for free if consumers collected enough box tops.

The success of the Microsoft Entertainment Pack also led to Microsoft releasing Microsoft Entertainment Pack: The Puzzle Collection which was developed by Alexey Pajitnov for Windows 95. This puzzle pack also was later released on the Game Boy Color.

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.