Wasteland (computer game)

From Academic Kids

Missing image
The party explores a farm in Wasteland.

Wasteland is a post-apocalyptic computer role-playing game first released in 1988. The game was developed by Interplay Productions, and published by Electronic Arts.



The game is set in 2087, following a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. Earth has been turned into a 'wasteland' where survival is the paramount objective. Players control a party of "Desert Rangers" assigned to investigate a series of disturbances in the desert. The party begins with four characters, and through the course of the game can hold as many as seven characters.

Game description

Characters in Wasteland have various statistics (strength, intelligence, luck) that allow them to use different skills and weapons. Experience is gained through battle and solving puzzles in the game. The game would generally let players advance with a variety of tactics: to get through a locked gate, a player could use his Lockpick skill, his Climb skill, his Strength skill, or he could force the gate with a crowbar - or a LAW rocket.

Wasteland was probably the first RPG in which all the characters in the party were not mere puppets for the player to control. The initial band of Desert Rangers encountered a number of NPCs as the game progressed who could be recruited into the party. Unlike those of other computer RPGs of the time, these NPCs would refuse to give up their most treasured items if ordered to do so, and could be irritated to the point of attacking the Rangers.

One of the other notable features of this game was the inclusion of a printed collection of paragraphs which the game would instruct the player to read at the appropriate times. These paragraphs described encounters, conversations, contained clues, and added to the overall texture of the game. Such paragraph books were a common feature of computer Role Playing Games of the period. Because programming space was at a premium, it saved on resources to have most of the game's story printed out in a separate manual rather than store it within the game's code itself. The paragraph books also served as a rudimentary form of copy protection, as someone playing a copied version of the game would miss out on much of the story as well as clues necessary to progress. Additionally, the paragraphs included a dummy story line about a mission to mars intended to mislead those that read the paragraphs when not instructed to, and a bogus set of passwords that would trip up cheaters with results that ranged from character sex changes to detonating a nuke.

The game was also known for such combat prose as "Rabbit is reduced to a thin red paste" and "Thug explodes like a blood sausage", which prompted what was thought to be an unofficial PG-13 sticker on the game packaging in the United States. In fact, the sticker was a deliberate marketing gimmick intended to fire up the target core age group.


Wasteland was first distributed for the Apple II and ported to the Commodore 64 in 1988 - it is often (and erroneously) listed as being published in 1987. An IBM platform port followed in 1988. Wasteland was rereleased as part of Interplay's 10 Year Anthology: Classic Collection in 1995, and also included in the 1998 Ultimate RPG Archives through Interplay's DragonPlay division.


Wasteland was a successful game, and has been included on numerous "best game" and "hall of fame" lists. Computer Gaming World Magazine awarded it the Role-Playing Game of the Year award, and ten years later in 1996, it named Wasteland the #9 computer game of all time.

Wasteland was followed in 1990 by a less-successful intended sequel, Fountain of Dreams, set in post-war Florida. Electronic Arts got cold feet at the last moment, and did not advertise it as a sequel to Wasteland, and in fact, none of the creative cast from Wasteland worked on Fountain of Dreams. Interplay has described its game Fallout as the spiritual successor to Wasteland.

Interplay also worked on a game called Meantime for a while, which was based off of the Wasteland sourcecode but was not a continuation of the story. Production of the game was cancelled, howver, when the 8bit computer game marked went into decline.

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