Reminiscing about NetStorm

NetStorm screenshot from NetStormHQ

Netstorm is easily one of the best games ever made.  Releasing back in 1997 it was very clear that this was a game decades ahead of its time.  Designed for multiplayer and facing Age of Empires left NetStorm treading water, but the impact it made is evident by the fact that I still consider it a favorite game and one worth blogging about over a decade later.

Real-time Strategy gameplay was at the core of NetStorm but there’s more to it that has remained untapped by any other release.  Each game would start with players getting their own floating island in the sky where they could build their main building and then begin harvesting crystals.  To reach other islands, and more resources, players would have to build bridges using different shaped segments.

Players could choose their element (Sun, wind, etc) and use units/buildings from this tree.  The more you won the more you got to unlock and gain access to.  This is rather unheard of since it creates a disparity between the veterans and newer players.  It didn’t take much to unlock enough units to be competitive with anyone though.

Enormous levels of strategy and thinking ahead of your opponent were required.  Using bridges to trap and starve your opponent or using towers that countered what your opponent built meant constantly adapting.  It was really a mix of tower defense (but offense) and trying to maintain map superiority through twitch-like reflexes.

You can still play NetStorm (for free; abandonware) by downloading it from NetStormHQ but I can’t vouch for how it holds up to the past.  Personally, I’m waiting for something that I hope will be just as great….

NetStorm StarCraft 2 Custom Map

It’s one of many StarCraft 2 Custom maps that I’m following which show lots of promise.

Definitely youtube some videos of NetStorm if you never played to see what you missed out on.  Graev and I both hope that some day there’s going to be another NetStorm title from Activision or perhaps a game like it.

Any old NetStorm fans out there?

  • Wow, I thought I was the only person that ever played Netstorm. I still have my copy in my game collection. Even the instruction book was cool “The Book of Nimbus”.

  • I am not an old Netstorm fan. You may in fact just made a new one though.

    Played the first 4 training missions tonight. Even though the game has aged the style and feel still hold up pretty well. I am sure Netstorm will see some more playtime from me in the next few weeks.

    Thanks for pointing this out.

  • Seems like a neat game that would be popular if someone were to revive it.

  • I have been trying to think about where I even found the game. I think I got it at a used game store in 98′ thinking it would be an awful Warcraft 2 clone. Man was I surprised. Never did get to try the multiplayer part(AOL dial-up).

  • I remember the exact day that I went to Fry’s Electronics and picked up my copy (around the week it came out) because a friend mentioned it was awesome. We had to drive 40 miles because it was the only store carrying it.

  • Netstorm was a wonderful game, and does indeed hold up well. There were lots of custom campaigns made for it too, that you can download along with the full thing. It was a complete market flop though.

  • Isn’t that the one where your slave says the awesome-sounding “yes master”?

    Think I played the demo back in 96. I was poor as f’ck back then, so never bought it.