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POD: Planet of Death

This game came bundled with the first computer I (or my family, at least) ever owned, which was an old Windows 95 desktop PC sold by a company named Pionex that we bought most likely in 1999. As we didn't get our first video game console until 2003, POD has the distinction of being one of the first video games I ever played, and, in fact, is very likely the first game I ever played, either on PC or on a console; however, my memory gets very hazy when going that far back.

The game itself is a racing game with a futuristic visual style, but I have always found the overall look and feel of it to be very dark and unnerving: a lot of the racetracks look desolate, or lifelessly mechanical, or run-down, or creepy in some way; the game's only piece of music sounds very eerie at times; and even the game's menus (skip to the 4:05 mark), with their scraped, rusted backgrounds and buttons, as well as the complete silence other than that single weird noise that plays every time you click a button (notice that there is no background music at all, unlike a lot of other games I've played), also did their part to unsettle me all those years ago. The game's intro movie reveals that the various racers are racing for the last escape pod from the planet, as it's been ruined by a deadly virus and will soon kill everyone living on it. (Re-watching the intro movie today, it's really quite amazing just how much of it I can remember; I watched it repeatedly with undivided attention as a young kid, and so those images must have been permanently imprinted on my memory.)

As a little kid, I was very confused by the game's menus, and I would click around almost randomly until I managed to reach the screen where I had to select my car. Very rarely did I ever try to race seriously in this game; instead, oftentimes I would spend a great deal of time just exploring every corner of a racetrack, all the while taking in what I was seeing—the 3D graphics were absolutely mind-blowing for me back then.

The one unfortunate thing about POD is that it seems to be very hardware-dependent: I don't think I have ever gotten it to work properly on any computer besides the Pionex one. Because of this, I played it most frequently when that Pionex PC was still my main computer, or when, although it wasn't my main PC anymore, it was still set up in our house and thus still readily usable. I have kept that old Pionex computer with me all these years, but at some point in 2002/2003 we decided to unplug it and put it in storage, so since then I haven't played POD very much at all, other than a few times during the last 15+ years when, for nostalgia's sake, I decided to fire up that Pionex computer just to play this game.

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This page last modified on 28 March 2021.