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The best TI-83 RPGs ever

For some, nothing was more exhilarating in high school than playing a cool calculator game right in front of the teacher’s face while she thinks you’re graphing some crazy parabolic curve. Every kid who’s privy to the beat on the street knows that the first thing to do after persuading your parents to buy you a $100 Texas Instruments graphing calculator is to grab a link cable and get some Space Invaders and Final Fantasy on that sleek machine.

Some might ask, why play games on a graphing calculator with rudimentary graphics and no sound, when there are superior portable gaming options these days? That’s like asking a mountain climber why he climbs Mt Everest when there are easier mountains to climb. The climber will answer: because it is there. Thus we program and play TI-83 games because we can. Some do it for the sheer rush of subverting a learning tool for gaming purposes, while others revel in the glorious union between serious math and utter frivolity.

The TI-83 (including the TI-83+ and TI-83+ SE) is one of the most criminally overlooked gaming platforms in all of so-called games journalism, and its gaming powers aren’t just limited to the RPGs we’re covering today. For more TI resources, including basic tutorials and game downloads, head to ticalc.org.

And for the record, this article’s affiliation with GamesRadar’s so-called “Week of Geek” is tenuous at best, since the broad appeal of TI-83 gaming is undeniable.


5) DRUG WARS


Download

While not truly among the top five TI-83 RPGs of all time (other serious RPGs like The Verdante Forest or Shadow of Narkemen are technically superior), Drug Wars must be included here simply because it’s the quintessential TI-83 experience that everyone who’s anyone with a TI graphing calculator has played. As the drug dealer protagonist, your goal is simply to buy and sell enough drugs to pay off your loan from the loan shark with some cool change to spare.

Drug Wars has spawned many variations and clones, including Dope Wars, Drug Lord, Hobo Wars, Whore Wars, Nerd Wars and so forth. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars for DS even features a version of Drug Wars in the form of a persistent, interactive drug-based economy where the player must smuggle limited inventory while balancing a risk-to-reward ratio.


4) REUBEN QUEST SERIES


Reuben Quest: Ev Awakening – Download
Reuben Quest: The Lost Mirror – Download

This is one of two amazing series to make our list by BASIC programming mastermind Kevin Ouellet, who is truly a pioneer in his field. Not only do both of these grayscale marvels astound with their gorgeous graphics, but both boast thoughtful design as well, packed with tons of puzzles along with tense battles.


Above: Reuben Quest: The Lost Mirror - Final area (WARNING: SPOILERS)


3) DYING EYES


Download

With its open world, non-linear story and several possible endings, Dying Eyes could be called the Chrono Trigger of TI-83 games. Here’s a brief plot set-up in creator Alex Highland’s own words:

“You are Kurai, a horrible murderer who ravaged the countryside. You got thrown in prison, and expected to rot there forever. The only reason you didn’t take to the knife or noose and end it all, is your lover Akara, a single thread to the outside world. Then one day...”

Are you hooked yet? If not, you’re probably one of those people who doesn’t have any interests in life.


Above: Dying Eyes is available in English and French


2) THE REIGN OF LEGENDS SERIES


The Reign of Legends 1 - Download
The Reign of Legends 2 - Download
The Reign of Legends 3 - Download 

Another Kevin Ouellet masterpiece, the Reign of Legends series is still one of the most impressive examples of BASIC programming to date on the TI-83. Each entry in the ROL series is comprised of fairly typical RPG fare, but what makes the series so special is simply the robustness of the experience compared to other TI RPGs.


Above: The Reign of Legends 3 (WARNING: SPOILERS)


1) DESOLATE


Download

With its moody, Alien-esque sci-fi atmosphere and eerie sense of mystery, Desolate had to take top honors here. You start out waking from cryostasis after your spaceship was heavily damaged during a severe meteor shower, and while you seem physically unscathed, you were somehow left with total amnesia. The other passengers have perished gruesomely, and you must gather the courage to explore the ship to unravel clues about who you are and exactly what happened to the ship.


Above: Desolate - beginning



BONUS: Three ways to thwart your real-life enemies using a TI-83

1) Keep a special set of programs for when that insufferable meathead invariably comes up to you five minutes before the math test and asks you for a program that he thinks will magically allow him to ace the test. Instead of giving him the legit quadratic formula program, give him a special doctored one that only outputs the correct answer half the time (or none, if you’re brave). If he calls you out on it later, it should be easy to convince him that he inputted the numbers wrong. Ask to see his calculator under the guise of checking the program and delete the evidence.

2) If a jerk comes up to you in class and asks you how to use a particular calculator function, tell him you don’t know how even though you really do, just to be unhelpful.

3) To thwart those ruffians who aim to steal your valuable calculator in order to sell it on the black market, decorate it with all manner of stickers and flair unappealing to thieves, like Sailor Moon stickers and educationally motivating stickers that say stuff like “COOL AND CALCULATING.” A calculator like that can rest easy sitting out in the open without fear of ending up like this.

Aug 13, 2009



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30 comments

  • FETALJUICE - August 13, 2009 6:53 p.m.

    Awww, I wish I had a link cable for my TI-83 Calculator. All of these games have me interested.
  • norid - August 13, 2009 7:04 p.m.

    lol "Three ways to thwart your real-life enemies using a TI-83" was genius
  • TeragRunner - August 13, 2009 9:29 p.m.

    I think my dad has one of those...I might have it take it for a test drive.
  • aatinko - August 13, 2009 11:34 p.m.

    Wow, there is just nothing like a good RPG now is there? RT www.anon-web-tools.net.tc
  • Silvermech - August 14, 2009 12:01 a.m.

    I bet the pipe is for draining information. or a quick way for you to destroy evidence.
  • GamesRadarCarolynGudmundson - August 14, 2009 12:55 a.m.

    @CH3BURASHKA It seems like teachers/schools are A LOT stricter these days with monitoring how you use your graphing calc. I was reading on the ticalc forums that many schools make the students line up once a week and the teacher erases ALL user programs in your calc memory - WTF?!? I would be so pissed if I had to go through that. When I was in high school, teachers always told us not to use "cheating" programs on your calc (they didn't care about games), but NOT ONCE did a teacher ever actually check my calculator. Crazy.
  • manaconda - August 14, 2009 2:09 a.m.

    pimp quest was my favorite. it even had crudely drawn animations of you being sodomized. some of these games are pretty deadly looking, i cant believe we were stupified with 'nibbles'
  • Hexar - August 14, 2009 7:52 a.m.

    It's been six years since I was in high school and back then we didn't spend much time with our calculators playing games. I had a few friends that Phoenix fiends and instead of doing calculus they'd play that. Eventually I passed and the AP test and they didn't. However in junior high it was all the rage, since we didn't need the damn things. Although few (if any) had the 83, most had an 85 and if you were cool you had an 86. I once bought a used 92 but it was fairly promptly stolen (I believe it had a big ass pokemon sticker on the case, but that didn't seem to deter the theft). Still that was a great article sure does bring back some good memories.
  • theschwartzb - August 14, 2009 9:16 a.m.

    @ Silvermech, or maybe the pipe was used for smokin some reefer?
  • TanookiMan - August 14, 2009 1:55 p.m.

    I actually did cover my calculator with stickers (although not Sailor Moon). My calculator disappeared one day, then I saw a kid using my calculator pulling stickers off. He said it was his, but than I pulled off the Link sticker to reveal my name engraved underneath it. Worked well for me.
  • Chronas - August 14, 2009 2:10 p.m.

    Such fun, and THEN i had to get a CAS calculator for the school curriculum, with fewer options for games :/
  • adadadad - August 14, 2009 4:03 p.m.

    FIRST! GD GD ARTECLE. MAY DONT LIK CALCULATORS. MAY SCARRED OF NUMBERS. BYE. AX
  • gatornation1254 - August 14, 2009 7:06 p.m.

    Holy shit I didn't know this was possible. I really don't need to be playing games during Math though. I have a hard enough time while paying attention.
  • SarcasticIrony - August 14, 2009 8:28 p.m.

    I have to buy one of those for my course this year!
  • TheWebSwinger - August 17, 2009 8:14 a.m.

    Good lord, all I had was that game where you make a ball fall. And uh, it gets progressively faster. I suck.
  • Narc780 - August 28, 2009 4:05 a.m.

    I had drug wars back in 2002...there was some AWESOME galaga like games back then, teachers got wise when half the class was looking at their calculators
  • SushiFTW - August 31, 2009 11:14 p.m.

    http://www.prizerebel.com/index.php?r=1587978 http://www.freemaplemesos.com/signup.php?ref=iSushiMonsta GET FREE STUFF!!!DO IT NOW OR BE SQUARE :D
  • Russianred90 - August 13, 2009 6:30 p.m.

    I remember drug lords lol amazing and maaayybe first
  • Jordo141 - August 13, 2009 6:35 p.m.

    Looks like I'll have to dig out the old TI-83
  • DanAmrich - August 13, 2009 7:34 p.m.

    I like Drug Wars on any format. I know it's not fancy, but it's still something I enjoy playing.

Showing 1-20 of 30 comments

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