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1993: Despite Sucking, Myst is a Hit!
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 11, 2002   |   Episode 16 (Show Archive)  

The Scoop: Let's face it, sometimes you're just at the right place at the right time. So is the case with Myst, one of the best selling computer games of all time. This game, this Myst, is considered by many to be one of the worst video game experiences ever, yet it sold more than just about any other game in history. How can that be?

Well, in 1993 CD-ROM titles had a tendency of being a tad unpredictable, especially when running under DOS. Myst was simple enough, and stable enough, to attract gamers and non-gamers alike. A businessman may have been just as likely, if not more, to show off Myst's gorgeous graphics, than your traditional computer gamer. These additional sales were based less on the quality of the product, and more on the timing.

Myst was really less a game than it was a slideshow sewn together by illogical puzzles. It offered an extremely shallow story wrapped in a shell that made it seem a lot more important than it actually was. And had the game been released with sub-standard graphics or on a standard floppy disc, it's like the game would have never been heard from again.

The Other Side: It's no easy task defending a game like Myst. But it's easy to make fun of SunSoft, who made one of the greatest video game blunders of all time. Funded by SunSoft, Myst took an unprecedented three years to make. But SunSoft chose not to distribute the game on the PC and Mac . instead they opted to only publish the console versions.

Of course, looking back, it's the PC and Mac version that everybody ended up buying, and not the PlayStation or Saturn version. It's unknown whether SunSoft ever broke even on the venture, but I have a feeling that they didn't even come close.

The Impact: It's easy to hate Myst. After all, its unexpected, and undeserved, success prompted numerous companies to attempt similar games, dragging our industry into a terribly non-interactive era. Games like Lighthouse and TimeLapse not only imitated Myst in every single way (including the terrible puzzles), but also mucked up the perception of games enough to keep people away from actual GOOD games, like Last Express. Of course, without the huge sales of Myst, the computer market may not be quite as big as it is now. So, maybe some good, however limited, came out of it.

Where Are They Now?: Companies are still milking Myst, even though the sales haven't even come close to matching that of the original title. Myst III managed to win over the critics, even though it sold only marginally well. Myst Online has been announced, however, information on it is rare at the moment. Like so many other franchises, Myst will likely be around long after it's worn out its welcome. Especially since Myst wore out its welcome nine years ago.


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