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Pacific General is the fifth game in the line of 5 Star General games created by Strategic Simulations, Inc. The game takes the best of the first four, Panzer General, Allied General, Fantasy General, and Star General, and combines them excellently.
As its name implies, Pacific General is about the fight for the Pacific between the U. S. and the Japanese during World War 2, both on land and out at sea. You take control over the naval and land forces of the respective nations as you play through the campaigns or the various scenarios, which consist of key battles and a couple of what-if scenarios.
If you have never played a 5 Star General series game, the interface is easy to figure out. Point-and-click, a little experimenting, and some common sense are all you need to figure out what the various buttons do. Any beginner can play this game, while veterans will still love it.
The key interface difference between Pacific General and Panzer General is that a unit's strength number changes color when the unit has finished its turn, which is a much better system than a flashing white pixel showing which units haven't been used yet. Also, the ability to move, deselect, reselect, and finish your move and/or attack has been added. Along the top of the screen you will see the words "Prestige X" and "Turn X (XX)." Hover your mouse cursor over these words to reveal drop-down game menus. The control interface is no different from Panzer General's interface, with a couple of exceptions: a Repair Ship button, the Weather Forecast in the corner, and a little warning if moving a plane to the hex your mouse cursor is hovering over will result in your plane not having enough fuel to get back to an airfield or carrier. If you have ever played Panzer General, Allied General, or even Star General, you can successfully work the interface with no problems, but you may have some minor difficulties if you have only played Fantasy General.
Selecting a unit, then left-clicking on it again while selected will open up a unit menu for getting into a carrier's flight deck, submerge submarines, get replacements, etc.
Pacific General has background music during the game. The music is a short list of 1940's American instrumentals and classical Japanese music. The graphics are slightly improved over Panzer General, and the combat animations don't exist.
Pacific General has multiplayer capability. This includes your typical Hotseat mode with both players at the same computer, network mode, and a play-by-E-Mail method.
The most important change is that units can be deselected after moving/attacking and still be able to move/attack later during the same turn. If a unit doesn't use all its movement points when moved, it can be selected later during the same turn to finish using those movement points; it can also attack and then move, or move and then attack even after being de-selected and re-selected. This was first used in Star General and was a significant improvement over the other games in the 5 Star General series.
There are a few key differences between Pacific General and its predecessor Panzer General, mostly because of the new naval units. The gameplay itself remains the same as in Panzer General: move units and attack the enemy while trying to capture a select few cities and airfields. The naval scenarios are slightly different. Instead of capturing locations, you are asked to destroy a certain number of various ship types: carriers, battleships, cruisers, destroyers, etc.
Some other changes:
You have TWO core army groups. The first is made up of ships and carrier-based airplanes, while the second is made up of infantry, tanks, land-based planes, artillery, etc. just like in Panzer General.
There are now two different kinds of airfields: paved airfields, which work the same as airfields in Panzer General, and new dirt airfields, which cannot replace losses. New planes cannot be placed at dirt airfields, but dirt airfields still refuel and rearm planes as normal. Also worth noting is the two different airplane types: land-based and carrier-based; this is important because only carrier-based planes can land on, or be placed at, aircraft carriers, while land-based planes can only use airfields. Carrier-based planes also count as land-based planes, so they can use airfields as well.
Aircraft carriers work differently from airfields. The plane has to end its move in the hex with the aircraft carrier and is moved into the carrier's hangar, which is where planes have to be in order to be refueled, rearmed, and receive replacements. The exception to this is for any fighter planes assigned as Combat Air Patrol protecting the carrier, which are automatically refueled and rearmed each turn, but must still land to get replacements. Each carrier has a limited number of slots for planes in its hangar, so you will need more than one carrier. If you lose a carrier, all planes in the carrier's hangar are lost as well.
Ships can receive damage during a battle. The damage taken can do any number of things, from making the ship unable to move or fight, to the ship being unable to see, to the ship being on fire which causes more losses each turn, to the carrier's hangar being unusable, etc. Buying replacements does remove the damage, as you are receiving undamaged ships, but you can also use the Repair Ship button, which removes damage for free and sometimes replaces a couple of losses for free at the cost of the ship's turn. There will be a red symbol next to the ship's strength number to show that a ship has been damaged.
There is also a new plane category, the torpedo bomber, which can attack ships from an adjacent hex instead of entering the ship's hex to attack.
For everyone who always hates to see the Rugged Defense result, even that has been modified. Rugged Defense almost never appears. Instead, there are a few new combat effects: Tenacious Defense, which is a weaker form of Rugged Defense; Tenacious Attack, which makes the attacker more powerful; and Banzai, which makes both units take more losses than normal. Yes, it is possible to have all those happen at once.
As is typical in SSI games, the AI is exceptional, and tougher than in the previous games. Protect your carriers at all costs, as the AI will do everything it can to locate and destroy them.
There is one mission that is only playable at the end of the American campaign; you have to get only decisive victories throughout the entire campaign to get this mission. There is also a mission that is only playable as a scenario and is not in either the Japanese or American campaigns.
Aside from gameplay changes, Pacific General is Panzer General with naval forces. Anyone can learn to play Pacific General within an hour or two at most through experimentation.
If you are a fan of Panzer General, or you wish to control a navy as opposed to an army, consider Pacific General as your choice. Once you get over the low learning curve, you will enjoy this gem from the 5 Star General series. The only fault with Pacific General is that the campaign is shorter than Panzer General, and there are fewer scenarios to play. Instead of having special missions available for doing well during the campaign, you get the option to buy new versions of ships, planes, and land forces earlier than normal.
This is a rip of the full game, the music and some animations have been removed. The game runs in Windows XP and Vista, it has to be extracted to a folder without any spaces in it's name, however. (e.g. C:\GAMES\PACIFIC\)
I recommend that the first time you play Pacific General, you play the scenario "Midway" with both sides human-controlled, instead of the tutorial. Midway is an all-naval scenario so that you can learn the new features and control of ships and carrier-based planes in order to avoid any possible problems/mistakes during your first couple of naval missions in the campaign game.