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Midwinter (video game): Wikis


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Midwinter cover.jpg
Atari ST cover art
Developer(s) Maelstrom Games
Publisher(s) Microplay/Rainbird
Designer(s) Mike Singleton
Platform(s) MS-DOS, Amiga, Atari ST
Release date(s) 1989
Genre(s) Action role-playing game, simulation game, strategy game
Mode(s) Single-player
Title screen

Midwinter is a first-person action role-playing game with strategy elements for the Atari ST, Amiga and PC. It was released in 1989 by Microplay/Rainbird, and was designed by Mike Singleton. The game was successful enough to spawn a sequel, Midwinter II: Flames of Freedom.



The game is set on the 160,000-square-mile (410,000 km2) isle of Midwinter, in a post apocalyptic nuclear winter: the entire island is covered in snow and ice. Midwinter island has been formed following massive volcanic activity in the Azores island group, which the game's accompanying manual describes as having occurred several years after a cataclysmic meteorite strike in Burma which caused the nuclear winter.

General Masters is attempting to take over the island by force from his HQ in Shining Hollow, in the extreme south-east of the island. At the start of the game, the player has control of Captain John Stark, the commander of local militia called Free Villages Police Force (FVPF). The player takes control as Stark is ambushed by one of Masters' units of missile armed snowmobiles. Stark, initially armed only with a handful of grenades, a sniper rifle and a pair of skis, must initially make his escape and alert the rest of islanders, and resist the invasion. This is done by travelling around Midwinter, recruiting civilians and other members of FVPF available, and mounting a guerrilla warfare campaign to stem the tide of Masters' troops and eventually over throw him by destroying his headquarters, winning the game.




Each of the 32 recruits has a history of their own, which decides their allegiances and skills. This history provides clues on whether or not a given recruit will be able to recruit any other given recruit. For example, Stark can recruit Nurse Maddocks, as they are engaged. However, Stark cannot recruit Grazzini, as he is jealous of Stark's relationship with Maddocks. Some of the more useful recruits are only recruitable by a couple of other characters, and a successful strategy involves recruiting these people as swiftly as possible. For example, Prof Kristiansen (an excellent saboteur and the only person who can work the radio) can only be recruited by his grandson, Davy Hart, or Adams, Hart's girlfriend, who in turn, are only recruitable by a handful of other characters.


Character attributes are graded Abysmal > Poor > Average > Fairly Good > Good > Excellent and can be classified into three categories:

  • Skills. These determine how good a character is at Skiing, Driving, Gliding, Shooting and Sabotage. An excellent Saboteur will use less dynamite and take less time to blow up an enemy-held building than a poor one; an excellent Driver with have a higher top speed and be less likely to lose control of his vehicle than an average one. In addition to this, certain characters have other skills which are not immediately obvious: e.g. Prof Kristiansen using the Radio, Nurse Maddocks' first aid skill.
  • Status. Morale, energy, alertness, endurance, are effected by what is happening in the game, both in terms of the campaign and the progress of an individual recruit.
  • Attributes such as sturdiness, strength, stamina, optimism and sharpness. Determine how quickly a character injures, tires and heals.


During the game, recruits can pick up injuries (but not be killed). Injuries can be either slight or severe, and can be sustained on different body areas: head, torso, either arm or either leg. Injuries heal over time (accelerated by first aid and sleep), but different injuries affect a character in different ways; for example, an injured arm reduces sniping accuracy, whereas an injured leg reduces skiing top speed, stamina and increases the likelihood of a crash. Head and torso injuries affect all activities.


Midwinter is covered in snow, and has some nigh-impassable mountainous regions as well as some flat rolling plains. Getting around Midwinter is a very important part of the game, but can be tedious as the occasionally long journeys have no speed-up option.


Enemy units consist of a variety of missile-armed snowbuggies and unarmed transports. The average unit consists of around 50 vehicles, and four units make up one squadron. Individual vehicles can be destroyed by rifle fire, grenades or missiles. Units can be eliminated by killing the unit/squadron commander, or by destroying a certain proportion of the unit's vehicles, effectively routing the unit. Due to computing limitations at the time of development, only one enemy vehicle is faced at a time.

The difficulty level of the game is modified by enabling the enemy to use mortars and/or bombers If mortars are enabled, enemy spotter planes are visible which then call in mortar salvoes on the player's position. Spotter planes can be downed by surface-to-air missile fire from snowmobiles. Bombers, when enabled, can also be destroyed this way.

Critical reception

The game was well received at the time of release, although the learning curve was quite steep, and keeping track of agents and mastering the tricky controls put off all but the most determined of gamers. There were many different variables to take into account (character skill level, terrain, etc.) when even deciding how to move around - and having to then factor in combat made the game quite tough. The entire island was rendered with shaded 3D polygons, and a such a large gameplay area was unheard of in 1989. This gave the player large scope for trying different approaches and strategies.



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