Archive for Media

Congolese Negroes: Beautiful But Stupid?

Investigating Belgian Colonial Attitudes through Reactions to the Congolese Village in the 1885 Antwerp World Expo

Thanks to its low-frequency, high-quality content, the newsfeed of the Vlaamse Erfgoedbibliotheek (Flemish Heritage Library) is among my favorite library feeds. Where else are you going to find out about awesome stuff like this newly digitized 19th century book about the 1885 Antwerp Universal Expo? My attention was particularly drawn to the fact that the 1885 expo featured a living Congolese display village.

According to the few paragraphs dedicated to the village, this living exhibition was the first of its kind. Exactly what is meant by that remains unclear, keeping in mind that shows like Buffalo Bill’s Wild West certainly precede it. Several Congolese-style huts were constructed for the Congolese people meant to inhabit the exhibit. Following those introductory words it truly starts to get interesting, with a description of the people.

These Congolese certainly form one of the finest African tribes.

The men are handsome, muscular, and they walk straight and firm; the liveliness of their eyes betrays a very great mental activity; the women, much smaller, have a look of great sweetness, and would have given us a fairly high opinion of negro beauties, if it were not for the supreme elegance of their duck walk.

So far, so good, right? It ends with a tasteless racist joke, but all in all it’s not even half as bad as I was expecting. Unfortunately the next paragraph makes a 180° turnaround.

King Massala, who in his country occupied the functions of chieftain of the tribe (or of the village), had in his numerous retinue an interpreter, Congolese like himself, and very fluent in English. That man, the only one with whom it was possible to talk seriously, possessed a remarkable intelligence: his ease of assimilation was such that he understood at the first explanation the goal and the movement of a machine too complicated for a student of our middle schools.

If all of his compatriots are also as happily gifted as him, it will not be difficult to penetrate their country with the civilization of which we are so proud.

You could say it’s a matter of interpretation. Perhaps this can be read innocuously, but I read it as an expression of wonder at the fact that these people might actually be intelligent. That aside, my curiosity about this particular subject hadn’t yet been satisfied, no matter how interesting as the book as a whole was. This was all they had to say about it? How did the presumably less polished regular press react to Massala? Luckily that question can be answered without even leaving your home. At its simplest you can just toss Massala into the search box over at BelgicaPress.

Pavillon Congolais. Massala et sa suite.

A quick perusal of the results tells us that to be made into a Massala was a cultural reference that any newspaper writer would expect their audience to understand in the 1880s and ’90s. It meant, of course, to be painted black (e.g., Het Handelsblad, 1889-12-17, p. 2 and 1891-03-07, p.1). We also learn of the unfortunate event of Massala’s death in 1895, one of the first negerkoninkskens (little negro kings) to open up his domain to the Assosiation [sic.] internationale, Belgian king Leopold II’s personal exploitation business (Het Handelsblad, 1895-10-25, p.2). Curiously, Massala’s hut from the expo was displayed on the Keyserlei in 1909 for the purpose of colonial week (Het Handelsblad, 1909-06-02, p. 3). But the most interesting article among the bunch that I looked through more or less at random is actually the oldest, from 14 May 1885.

The newspaper opens by saying that one of the group of Congolese answers to the description in a poem by “onze Door” (our Door, popularly known as “den Door”). Theodoor van Rijswijck is a writer who died in 1849, at only thirty-seven years old. He is perhaps best-known for his satirical poems, which served as biting commentaries on the relevant political issues of his day. An example is Santo-Thomas de Guatimala, which deals with a failed Belgian affair in Guatemala. “All who can’t earn their bread in Flanders, because the laws of foreigners hit us so, have the inclination to go to Sint-Thomas.” This refers to an emigration policy to send impoverished Flemish people in that direction, implemented during 1843–1844 by the “foreign”, French-speaking Belgian state. In any case, among all other kinds of ills that might befall you in Guatemala, there is also the local dictator, Carrera.

Ook heerscht daer Carrera, een specie van koning,
Zoo zwart als de satan, zoo naakt als een vorsch;
Die niets dan een suikerkist heeft voor zyn wooning,
Voor rykskroon, een hoed van mahonihout' schors.

Or in an impromptu English translation, where you’ll just have to accept the somewhat awkward second line for the sake of preserving rhyme and meter.

Also there rules Carrera, a species of king,
Black as satan, as a frog naked so stark;
Who has naught but a sugarcase for a dwelling,
For a crown, a hat of mahogany bark.

I imagine that Carrera was called black as Satan because of his many crimes, not because of the color of his skin. But with regard to Massala, Het Handelsblad seems to be of the opinion that inside and outside support each other. “It is him who sold his area to the African Society. In our history we would see him as a kind of traitor; but in the land of little blacks such a sale is not seen as bad, and because it is to our advantage, we find good there what we would find ugly here.” His clothing isn’t up to spec, either.

This Majesty, without pants, is called Massala; he wasn’t wearing any kind of royal cloak when he arrived. On the contrary, he was bundled in old clothing to protect against the cold May weather; but he didn’t lack a certain royal miens. […] Further in his group there are three women, not exactly outstanding in beauty […] and having reached their destination they started smoking like Turks.

[…]

Massala is a well-built guy, whose hair is almost starting to turn gray. […] One of the negroes wore […] a cord around his middle, from which hung a… smoked pipe.

[…]

A peculiarity: the Congo men brought their own fetish, their idol, to protect them in the foreign country. Whether it is a bad or a good god, we do not know. Until now, they’ve been keeping the negroes inside as much as possible; the weather is not favorable to them and they are certainly not fit to stand our climate, just as little as we could stand theirs.

If you want to know more about this subject and then some, there’s a 1993 study available online. It was published in Afrika Focus (Vol. 9, Nr. 3, 1993, pp. 215–237).

Perhaps now you understand why I like books like Anvers et l’Exposition Universelle de 1885. The book itself is of moderate interest, but when you flip through for the pictures and skim the text for interesting tidbits, they provide a marvelous starting point for further explorations of our past.

René Corneli, Pierre Mussely (1886), Anvers et l’Exposition Universelle de 1885.
★★★½

On the Living Congolese Village

Cette exposition, unique en son genre, et dont Anvers a eu la primeur, était organisée sous la direction intelligente du savant général Wouwermans, le sympathique président de la dite Société.

On y a rassemblé tous les produits de l’Etat libre du Congo : des armes, des outils, des instruments de musique et divers échantillons de l’industrie du pays.

Le visiteur sérieux peut y recueillir des renseignements précieux sur la topographie, l’état actuel de la civiliution et les ressources de ces contrées, hier encore barbares, et auxquelles un généreux courant de civilisation ouvre un avenir de travail intelligent et de prospérité.

Quelques huttes congolaises ont été construites à proximité du Sanitarium et servent de cadre au groupe de nègres qui a séjourné à Anvers pendant l’Exposition.

Ces Congolais forment certes une des plus belles tribus africaines.

Les hommes sont beaux, bien musclés, marchant droit et ferme ; la vivacité de l’œil trahit une activité mentale très-grande ; les femmes, beaucoup plus petites, ont le regard d’une grande douceur, et nous donneraient une assez haute idée des beautés nègres, n’était la suprême élégance de leur marche de canard.

Le roi Massala, qui dans son pays occupait les hautes fonctions de chef de tribu (ou de village), comptait dans sa nombreuse suite un interprète, Congolais comme lui, parlant très-couramment l’anglais. Cet homme, le seul avec lequel il fut possible de s‘entretenir sérieusement, était d’une intelligence remarquable : sa facilité
d’assimilation était telle qu’il comprenait, à la première explication, le but et le mouvement d‘une machine assez compliquée pour rebuter un élève de nos écoles moyennes.

Si tous ses compatriotes sont aussi heureusement doués que lui, il ne sera pas difficile de faire pénétrer dans leur pays, la civilisation dont nous sommes si fiers.

Source: René Corneli, Pierre Mussely (1885), Anvers et l’Exposition Universelle de 1885, p. 158.

On Massala and the Congolese

Het is hij die zijne landstreek aan de Afrikaansche Vereeniging heeft verkocht. In onze geschiedenis zou men hem als een soort van verrader aanzien; maar in het land der zwartjes wordt zoo’n verkoop niet kwalijk genomen, en dewijl het ten onzen voordeele is, vinden wij ginder goed wat wij hier al heel leelijk zouden vinden.

Die Majesteit, zonder broek, noemt men Massala; hij had precies geen koninklijken mantel om, toen hij aankwam. Wel integendeel, hij was in vodden en lompen gedraaid om zich te beschermen tegen het koude meiweer; doch het ontbrak hem niet aan eene zekere koninklijke houding. Overigens, Massala heeft reeds veel met blanken omgegaan, en zal hier en daar zoo al iets gezien hebben van europische beschaving.

Verder zijn er in de groep, drie vrouwen, die precies niet uitblinken door schoonheid; deze waren nogal warm ingebakeld, en op hare bestemming gekomen begonnen zij te rooken als Turken. Deze dames, die hier geen fortuin zullen maken, noemt men Zonimbo, Zola — geen familie van den schrijver van Germinal — Zouboudo en juffer Mabotee; verder telt men drie jongens, een meisje en een taalman, Tatee genoemd, die engelsch en portugeesch spreekt en naar europische manier gekleed is.

Massala is een sterk gebouwde kerel, wiens haar zoowat begint grijs te worden. Men zal wel doen die Majesteit en zijne volgelingen, een warm slaaplijf te geven. Een der negers had eene plaid omgeslagen, doch deze deken daargelaten, bestond zijne kleeding in eenige armbanden, eene koord om het middel, waarin eene… doorgerookte pijp stak.

De groep is in eenen omnibus naar de Boomschepoort gereden. Dat rijden kwam Massala heel koninklijk voor, en hij zal thuis gekomen, den tocht in dezen triomfwagen zonder twijfel wijdloopig vertellen. De vertrekken, waar de negers geplaatst werden, zijn boven de militaire bakkerij uitgekozen, zoodat als het zonneke nu wat wil beginnen te warmen, zij van onder en van boven zullen gestoofd worden.

Aan dat goed verwarmde vertrek is eene verandah, waarin zijn, als de zon ook warmte geeft, de frissche lucht komen inasemen. Rooken (cigaren en pijpen) is een groot genoegen voor allen. Overigens zijn die negers niet lui; integendeel, zij zijn altijd met iets bezig. De hutten, die zij in de Tentoonstelling zullen bewonen, ten minste bij dag, hebben zij zelf gereed gemaakt, en zij zullen ook zelf opslaan.

Een bijzonderheid: de Congo-mannen hebben hunnen fetiche, hun afgodsbeeld, meêgebracht, om hen in het vreemde land te beschermen. Of het een kwade of een goede god is, weten wij niet. Tot nu toe houdt men de negers zooveel mogelijk binnen; het weer is voor hen niet gunstig en zij zijn zeker tegen ons klimaat niet bestand, zoo min als wij tegen het hunne.

Bij deze Tentoonstelling zal men de voortbrengsels voegen van Congo-land, die op last van den Koning der Belgen zijn bijeen gezameld. Deze zullen vereenigd zijn in een gebouw, dat te Braine-le-Comte gemaakt wordt. Het is een model van de zoogezegde – standplaatsgebouwen,– die men in Congo opricht.

Source: “De negers van Congo,” in: Het Handelsblad van Antwerpen, 15 May 1885, p. 1.

CommentsTags: ,

Je suis faite comme ça

La première partie de ce livre était vraiment intéressant, à propos de sa jeunesse et la deuxième guerre mondiale. Le milieu tourné parfois dans un grand mot de remerciement, que je trouvais un peu ennuyeux. La fin ramassée à nouveau, par exemple révélant qu’elle a eu deux avortements. Juliette Gréco est une personne très intéressante, et elle fait de bonnes chansons. « Sans musique, pas de vie. »

Juliette Gréco (2012), Je suis faite comme ça: mémoires.

★★★½

CommentsTags: ,

Prince of Persia (2008): A Very Decent Platformer

The 2008 reimagining of Prince of Persia is much better than the Sands of Time. The platforming is on the whole more graceful, there aren’t as many fights, those that are there are aren’t nearly as annoying, and it looks fantastic.

By default the characters voices are barely audible over the music. It’s possible that this is an issue with the French localization, which I played to increase my exposure to the language, but I had to turn the music down quite a bit. The localization was well done and there’s quite a bit of backstory and banter, provided you actively look for it with the left trigger.

My biggest gripe with the game are the fights. For some reason it insists on not telling me the easy to remember A/B/X/Y controller buttons, but to work exclusively with the colors. Even having finished the game, I can still only just about place blue. Occasionally the fights look quite epic, but mostly they turn monotonous. Luckily you can end about half the fights quickly by pushing your adversaries over the edge, and many semi-random spawns you can even prevent from appearing at all if you get there fast enough.

There are a few puzzles to be solved, but there’s really only one or two that I had to reflect on for a minute. This game is all about the platforming. One thing I love in that regard is that the levels become quite different after defeating the local boss, enabling you to discover the beautiful areas all over again while collecting (obligatory) orbs.

Another review mentioned there’s a missing DLC and that this leaves the story unfinished, but actually I was very pleasantly surprised by the indeterminate ending. I fear a DLC could only detract from it.

Oh yeah, one last thing. That not being able to die thing you might’ve read about this game is complete bogus. Especially as you progress there are plenty of annoying opportunities to have to have to redo larger amounts of jumping and running just because you mess up near the end. Only you get a helping hand animation instead of gruesome death porn.

★★★★☆

CommentsTags: ,

Down With Democracy

The first few pages were interesting. That’s what the first few pages were. The rest of part one was a veritable bore, in spite of the chopped up narrative, never living up to what seemed to be its promise. Most memorable was the misspelling of rijsttafel as rijstaffel. Was it on purpose? Does it mean anything? Does a rice table undermine the grand narrative in ways the rest of the book tries but fails? Part two and three decided to change into something akin to a normal narrative, but that didn’t improve the book any. Still, at least my enjoyment of the book oscillated by this point, perhaps even with a vaguely upward trend.

In the end, Democracy is a quick, boring read with a mildly interesting ironic narrative gimmick. The constant false starts and repetitions are presumably meant to undermine the grand narratives of modernity, those of the American democracy in particular. Instead we get a dull soap opera with lifeless characters dressed up in a thin veneer of literary play.

Joan Didion (1984), Democracy.

★★½

CommentsTags: , ,

Take Me Home

I first came across Toni Morrison a few years ago when I read Beloved, a book that positively blew me away. Although I haven’t read anything else by her since, picking up Home when I noticed it on sale was a no-brainer. I didn’t realize my copy of the book came out of the printer’s cut crooked, but I think it adds to the experience.

This book definitely succeeded in shocking me, someone who considers themselves a fairly well-informed European Americanophile. While I’ve read non-fiction literature like the maddeningly complacent Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washinton as well as Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, it still failed to register with me just how persistent such attitudes were across the entire country. Segregation was not just a southern thing. This isn’t something I grasped from, say, Pynchon’s V., which I’d argue draws attention away from the racial and social problems in order to focus on some kind of crisis of modernity. I bring this up because the PTSD-suffering protagonist sees “black flames shooting out of the V” of the logo of a Chevron station. Morrison clearly isn’t Pynchon, but when your nose is singing from being pushed into flamey V-related imagery you can’t help but make a connection.

The interaction between the global narrator and the Frank narrator is interesting, but I shouldn’t spoil it. If you’ve read Beloved you kind of know the shtick, but it’s different enough not to feel like repetition. In brief, Home is a story of broken people jerkily healing themselves, overcoming not only their shattered selves but also the malfunctioning society that made them. Recommended.

Toni Morrison (2012), Home.

★★★★

CommentsTags: , ,

Bespreking: Pallieter

Soms snuffel je eens in je eigen boekenkast rond om te zien wat voor leuke dingen daar zoal te vinden zijn. Op die manier kwam ik een vijfde editie van Pallieter tegen. Het boek is niet alleen geregeld te vinden op de lijst van 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, maar de marketing was indertijd subliem. In 1920 door de kerk verboden, en aangeprezen met amusante verwijzingen naar het comme il faut: “Vlaamsche boeken zijn in de kringen waar men op gehalte en letterkundig fatsoen gesteld is a priori verdacht, want men vreest als men ze openslaat een ranzig pallieterluchtje op te snuiven, hetgeen men niet zonder goede gronden schuwt gelijk den droes” (Jan Greshof, Forum, jaargang 1, 1932). Zo’n ranzig pallieterluchtje klinkt behoorlijk interessant, nietwaar?

Al die lof ten spijt is het verhaal geen havik die niet-aflatend op wolkenhoogte blijft rondzweven. Bedenk immers, dat ook een havik zo nu en dan verrekte hard omlaag moet duiken om zijn prooi te vangen. Niet Pallieter. Lijk het blije varken van Socrates blundert hij gelukzalig door het leven. Zijn karakter wordt uitstekend getypeerd tijdens het snoeien van een perenboom. Daardoor ziet hij “een rondeken jong spekvleesch van den [perelaar]. En Pallieter, die dat zag, lachte luid den gelukkigen lach van een kind.” Ook is het een wonder — pardon, een mirakel — dat dit overgroeide biggetje het geld heeft om al zijn extravagante uitspattingen te bekostigen. Zijn appeltje voor de dorst heeft hij ten slotte thuis al opgegeten.

In pakweg het eerste derde deel van het boek verlekkerde ik me aan het taalgebruik, maar de aardigheid nam na enige gewenning vrij snel af. Pallieter wordt omschreven als een streekroman, maar het heeft niets van doen met een Merijntje Gijzens of Bartje. Pallieter is een Adam in zijn Hof van Eden, of liever gezegd zijn Netheland — neen, toch liever het luilekkerland Arcadia. Het enige dat hij ooit geschreven heeft is carpe diem, zij het in het Nederlands: “Melk den dag!” Een vertelling vibreert gewoonlijk ietwat omhoog en omlaag, zij het emotioneel, zij het qua actie, maar Pallieter blijft als een storm zonder oog de lezer ranselen. Bijgevolg ervoer ik met name gedurende de laatste vijftig bladzijden een lineaire afname van het leesgenot, want de niet aflatende leutigheid en feeststemming zijn uiteindelijk bovenal vermoeiend.

Felix Timmermans (1916), Pallieter.

★★½

CommentsTags: , ,

Bespreking: Regenland, wo ai ni

Deze collectie van aansluitende miniverhaaltjes, of misschien is het toch eerder een novelle, laat op humoristische wijze zien hoe een gastvrij land een vreemdeling kan doen ontspruiten. De kunstig geïllustreerde, geestige situaties komen voort uit de voortdurend ondermijnde culturele verwachtingen van de Chinese ikverteller, oftewel die situaties laten zien hoe vreemd sommige zaken die we als vanzelfsprekend beschouwen eigenlijk zijn. Wat mij betreft is het hoogtepunt van het boek het bezoek aan de supermarkt en de daarmee samenhangende uiteenzettingen over melk in China en Nederland. Gelukkig lijkt mijn buik niet op een hangmat met inhoud!

Lulu Wang (2012), Regenland, wo ai ni.

★★★½

P.S. Er is hier ook nog een goed uitgevoerde korte film te bezichtigen, gebaseerd op een episode uit het boek. Het is eigenlijk bedoeld om na te genieten, maar als hors d’oeuvre misstaat het zeker niet.

P.P.S. Regenland, wo ai ni (regenland, ik hou van jou) is de Belgische titel; in Nederland heet het Nederland, wo ai ni.

CommentsTags: , ,

My Mini Dutch Literary Canon, or Just a Few Book Recommendations

When you have acquired a degree in Dutch and English literature and linguistics, you almost automatically become a kind of cultural ambassador. It’s a bit of an odd position to be in at times, because you could say I adore the foreign. I married it, and I live in it. I can’t even remember the last Dutch book I read. I think the last book I read in Dutch was Dien het volk, but that’s a translation from Chinese. Actually not too long before that I (finally!) read Karakter, so I do remember. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that I’m currently reading Pallieter, so it’s not all bad. In any case, I mostly read in English, and lately also a fair bit in French. To balance it out, I’ve also taken care to include some German because it was feeling left out. On a whim I picked up an anthology of Heinrich Heine for €1 and I’m absolutely loving Ideen. Das Buch Le Grand. But we don’t care about foreign literature in this blog post, even though Dutch literature obviously doesn’t exist in a cultural vacuum. No doubt, throughout the centuries it has been most strongly influenced by the cultural spaces of the very languages I myself still read. My basic interest in foreign literature probably makes me quite fundamentally Dutch.

My goal here is not to give an extensive overview of Dutch literature through the centuries, nor is my exclusion of works meant to imply that I don’t like them, for I probably do. Above all, my goal here is to make a selection that I consider enjoyable. If you want more, I recommend you to look at the literary canon from a Flemish perspective, the DBNL basic library, and the DBNL questionnaire among experts.

  1. Van den vos Reynaerde (13th century). Available in English translation as Of Reynaert the Fox, full PDF here. This work is rightfully considered a masterpiece. Inspired by a French original using the basic format of the Arthurian romance, it shows the whole world to be corrupt and egotistical. Its cleverness, its dark humor, its cruelty and its mix of genres make this the seminal text in the international Reynard tradition.
  2. Conscience, Hendrik (1838), De leeuw van Vlaenderen (The Lion of Flanders). Derided in the Netherlands by contemporaries who were writing Literature with a capital L, which has no place for silly nationalist works. Even Flemish people tend to barely consider him readable, but it’s not even half as bad as it’s cracked up to be. And besides, how many novels can claim to have had the same kind of cultural impact? Flanders probably wouldn’t exist in its present form if it weren’t for this book.
  3. Multatuli (1860), Max Havelaar. One of the best novels of the 19th century in any language, provided you can get past the first chapter or two. Even though Multatuli is clearly mocking the kind of then prevalent preachy, moralistic, long-winded narrator, it’s the kind of parody that is almost indistinguishable from what is being mocked, at least for a contemporary reader. I have previously quoted what I considered to be a particularly poignant passage.
  4. Elschot, Willem (1946), Het Dwaallicht (Will o’ the Wisp). Sex, religion, Biblical references… this novella has it all. In Elschot’s work, even failure is glorious.
  5. Maria Dermoût (1955), De tienduizend dingen (The Ten Thousand Things). This book lives and breathes the eastern, taoist world view. I suppose you could compare it to Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, although it’s nothing like it. This is a fully engrossing, almost mythical world.
  6. Hermans, Willem Frederik (1958, 1966), Nooit meer slapen (Beyond Sleep, 1966) and De donkere kamer van Damocles (The Darkroom of Damocles, 1958). Hermans wrote several other very worthwhile books, but those two are definitely the big ones. All of his work is very dark and not everybody likes it, but I call it Dutch postmodernism at its best.
  7. Michiels, Ivo (1963), Het boek Alfa. I have some doubts about including this book on this list, but it’s the closest equivalent I can think of to something by Joyce or The Sound and the Fury. Just like Finnegans Wake it isn’t necessarily about something but rather embodies it, but it isn’t even half as incomprehensible. This is an important book in Dutch literature for sure, but I prefer The Sound and the Fury.

Hopefully I’ve managed to spark some interest in these works. Enjoy your summer reading!

CommentsTags: , ,

Warlords II Deluxe

This post is recycled, and was originally published on WatchZine on Thursday 2004-05-27 at 19:34:38 CEST. I tweaked some grammar and spelling here and there, but I resisted the urge to rewrite this entry almost entirely. I did not, however, refrain from commenting on myself.


Warlords II was released in 1993 as the successor to the successful turn-based strategy game Warlords. In the following years there were other additions to the series, such as Warlords III, it’s stand-alone expansion pack Darklord’s Rising, and Warlords IV. But Warlords II Deluxe has always been my favorite entry in the series.

Whereas Warlords II came with a limited number of army sets and maps, trapping the storytelling within the same imaginary place, Warlords II Deluxe came with hundreds of army sets, several different terrain sets and hundreds of city sets. This allows you to dive into a fantasy version of WWI today, while playing a mighty pirate the next. Or you could just play some fantasy setting, like the game was originally intended to.

For some 1995 polish to a 1993 game, the graphics look quite well. Just like with the original C&C, you don’t really see the pixels. [You did see them less on CRT monitors. But what I meant was that they were very well-done pixels, so that you didn’t notice them in an intrusive manner.] This is made possible because the units exist of one image, never changing. This also is the reason it is possible to create the hundreds of different settings I spoke about before.

I am not sure if Warlords II already contained it, but WIIDELUXE also came with a feature later introduced as “revolutionary”, Play By E-Mail. [Later introduced as revolutionary by whom? I guess we’ll never know. My best guess is that I was referring to Civilization III.] This shows us one of the positive things about turn-based games. Do what you want and send it to your friend. Such a game can go on for a long time. [A very, very long time. Let alone if you’re trying to play with more than two people. That being said, it’s still a lot easier to coordinate than trying to get online at the same tmie.]

Also the diplomacy is nice. Have a peace treaty with one player and have war with the other. For the time it was great, though it doesn’t come close to more modern games like Alpha Centauri and Civilization III. Regardless whether you’re playing Warlords II, Alpha Centauri, Civ or one of the Total War games, the AI’s diplomacy stance is always stacked against you from the moment of booking even the tiniest military success.

This is probably the only game I have regularly played since 1995. Because it doesn’t run on computers created after about 1997/1998 (unless they run an NT based OS) this is the main reason I still have my Pentium 100. [Well, there’s actually a patch for faster CPUs if you can still find it, although DOSBox is probably your best best now.] Quite amazingly, I don’t feel like the gameplay of Warlords II Deluxe has ever been beaten, except perhaps by Warlords III. But sadly Warlords III didn’t feature the many different settings of Warlords II Deluxe. [Truly, the game is incredibly elegant and well conceived. You can enjoy its gameplay through the open-source reimagining LordsAWar!, play the very similar online game warbarons, or you can even play the original Warlords II (not Deluxe) in your browser (!) over at Archive.org.]

But I’ve probably praised the game too much already. Let’s continue with the bad things. The AI isn’t the best available. When you are a reasonably experienced player, the computer opponents aren’t really difficult to defeat, even on the highest difficulty setting. There is a setting which tries to undo this (called “I am the greatest”). When you use this setting you are constantly at war with all computer opponents. This is indeed very difficult, but it doesn’t give the same feeling as using the diplomacy. For optimal gameplay you should play it with 8 humans. [I don’t think I ever played it with more than 4, maybe 5 people. But the more the better, I guess?]

The units, the buildings, the terrain etcetera are completely editable. But you can’t skin the entire game with the standard settings. For example, on the start of a turn there is a dragon, with the turn number. It would’ve been nice if you simply could’ve selected a tank for that in, say, the WWI scenario. [A tank? You mean a zeppelin!]

I bought this game for about 5 Euro in 1996. [Meaning about ƒ10,- (10 Guilder).] You can now purchase it on SSG’s website for a small price. [Alas, I don’t think you can buy it anywhere anymore.] If you have a computer at home made before 1998, and after 1993, I assure you, you won’t be disappointed by this game. Even my friends who don’t like strategy like this game. [I probably meant RTS.] Or alternatively, if you have Windows 2000 or XP, get yourself VDMSound and play this game on your brand new computer![Nah, get yourself DOSBox. Works like a charm.]

CommentsTags:

Monkeh Bebbeh

Looking through my photo directories to eliminate some cruft, I was fairly unsuccessful. But I figured I’d share these two pictures.


  1. Holding on tight is a a monkeh bebbeh’s modus operandi.

  2. Surprise!

CommentsTags:

« Newer EntriesOlder Entries »