Early Space Games Using 3D Polygon Graphics

Scott Manley
After noticing the number of news articles which claimed that X-Wing was innovative in its use of 3d polygon graphics I decided it was a good excuse to look back in time at some earlier examples of games which used this. I dig out the earliest titles I could find, a prototype which was remade by fans and 3 of my favourite 16bit titles.


  1. 9:20, I've heard that sampled in a song somewhere, but I can't put my finger on it.

  2. I enjoyed this video, history lesson for the win.

  3. The only program with Ben Hecks Spectrum mod is that he kept on calling it the "Zee X Spectrum"!

  4. Interesting video, I had no idea 3D graphics are this old. Btw, the oldest I could think of that had 3D graphics, is Stunts, which is apparently from 1990. A solid 3 years older than X-Wing.

  5. Perhaps not entirely relevant to the matter at hand, but there was, some odd 15 years ago, a remake called "The sentinel returns" which i think made a fascinating reconstruction of the original product, for posterity's sake.

    Really good game for what it did. The concept held up well as a puzzle game, would probably make a great mobile title.

  6. Another great video also appreciate that you are genre specific (space sims).  Just wanted to bring up a non-space sim game that used Polygon graphics which was part of the "flood gates" mentioned in the video.  Dragonstrike (RPG game) which came out in 1990 utilized polygon graphics.  I played this when it came out for the Amiga and at the time was a huge Dragonlance fanboy.

  7. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. It has been really cool to observe the huge advancements in technology the passed few decades.

  8. I loved the game Privateer which is based in Wing Commander universe and loved it so much, bought the updated version. And I still fire it up.

  9. Hey Mr. Manley, have you seen a series of videos from Ahoy called "A Brief History of Video Games Graphics"? They are pretty interesting and I recommend you to check them out!

  10. Why do so many games love spinning docking ports?

  11. The guns in Starstriker II sounds like really wet farts

  12. OMFG! one of my life's unanswered questions answered in Dec 2014.
    Many years ago, in my early teens, i remember watching people in an arcade play Space Ace, also in the same arcade was another game I watched people play and the name of this game as alluded me since. Thanks @Scott Manley ! I now know the name of that game "I Robot"

  13. The Sentinel was ported to the C64 by the original author (I remember playing it back in the day too!), so it's not true that there was no polygon graphics on that system… 🙂 With the SuperCPU hardware extension, The Sentinel even ran smooth on a C64…

  14. Released a few months before Wolfenstein 3D was Ultima Underworld, a realtime textured non-orthognal (non-square walls) multi-layer (i.e. bridges over traversable water) RPG with basic physics (you can throw and otherwise manipulate objects in the environment), realtime lighting, magic system, hunger/thirst, sleep, dialog trees, barter, etc.

    It truly rocked the socks off what people thought 3D could do.

  15. I'm really surprised you don't mention David Braben's Frontier: Elite II. With its filled polygon graphics and simulation of celestial mechanics, it seems like something worth at least a passing mention.

  16. Gawd I hated flying the Scimitar in WC… Utter piece of c of a ship.

  17. So many hours of my childhood spent on X-Wing.  Definitely going to download them again… fantastic games and fantastically difficult!

  18. I would like to hope that if this was a GOG sponsored post, you would disclose it 😉

  19. I know this isn't a space sim genre. But didn't TF1 (Team Fortress 1) Have these graphics? (I'm certain it was something like 1996)

  20. Hi Scott interesting video thanks! I can remember playing a game on my Amiga 500 back in the day that looked like very similar to these but you flew around inside a computer shooting stuff. Any ideas what that was called? Been looking for the name of it for ages!!

  21. I love all the younger people on here that are bringing up games they think are ancient but they came out in the 90's.  Some of them in the late 90's.  Check Wikipedia people!  Anyway, this was a great roundup of early 3d poly graphics with a lot of games I have never heard of, probably since my gaming "career" started around '89.  Thanks again @Scott Manley 🙂

  22. Scott, I'm really interested in languages and pronunciation and I just have to ask you:
    What kind of accent is that, that you are speaking?
    Is it maybe some kind of british accent?
    I'm obviously not a native english speaker, so I'm just curious about it

  23. I just noticed that there's a remake of an old 3D classic, "Carrier Command", on Steam. No idea how good or how similar to the original it is, though.

  24. It's sort of interesting how much of Starglider turned up in the Star Fox series (Especially the unreleased SF2.)

  25. He mentioned the 6809 cpu. That think was clocked at 2mhz! MHZ! And now a days there are processors that come at a stock 4.2 ghz! Thats 4200mhz! Gosh technology is amazing. 

  26. Thanks for the video, Scott. The Damocles section brought back a lot of memories. Those primitive sound effects are obviously lodged deep in my brain somewhere.

  27. On the C64 Stunt Car Racer had filled polygons.

  28. I know that Descent was late to the game, being up in the doom era, but I would call it pretty innovative with it's six degrees of freedom, and multiplayer.

  29. Aaaah… StarGlider 2. It always had special place in my heart. The only game that managed to replace it was Frontier but really it was unique experience for me.

  30. Warhead one of the ugliest craft in gaming history? Come on Scott, you play EVE Online! You've seen plenty of uglier ships!

  31. Yep that was it!! Thanks dude been searching for so long!

  32. My favourite was always X-Wing Vs TIE Fighter. I've still got the CD with the Balance Of Power expansion somewhere…I played the hell out of that game.

  33. Great video. Let's not further Driller and Total Eclipse, which were filled polygon games on e C64.

  34. Star Strike for the Intellivision seems a bit out of the realm of qualifying but it was the first one that came to mind to look at.

  35. The sentinel, a game about getting high on trees

  36. Rescue on Fractalus (1984) and Koronis Rift (1985) were, i believe, 3d polygon graphics, fractally generated. Both ran on the C64 (as well as other systems, of course) … and Ballblazer of course, tho not a space game it is 3d, and also Lucas Arts 😉

  37. Elite had a version with shaded polygons didn't it?

  38. I happened to find your channel through this video and I must say I really liked it. I would enjoy watching more videos like these on retro computer games etc.

  39. I have an irrational love of flat shaded polygons, to this day I seek out games that use them. That means lots of Amiga 500 titles, Atari Jaguar games and a few oddballs like lego Drome Racers for the GBA, a surprisingly good little 3D racer on the handheld. You can even find flat shaded polys in later games like Tekken, Cyber Sled and Starblade for the PSone.

  40. Wing Commander – you want to make millions just update the graphics and sell it!

  41. Tilt and Driller for the C64 were 3d games which didn't use vectors. Tilt is only kind-of 3d, but Driller is for real.

  42. 15:20 min. Warhead also invented the „Hans Zimmer inception brooooooommm Sound“

  43. I remember the cheese in Mercenary. It was actually designated the Casper-Hanley Eagle 8SE if memory serves…

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