In my senior year of high school, a curious visitor joined our AP art class: a Windows 95 computer. No one knew why it was there—not the class, and especially not Mrs. Parker. For the whole semester, the machine kept to itself, endlessly remixing and solving 3D mazes.
Courtesy of itch.io’s Procedural Generation Game Jam, Microsoft’s iconic Windows 3D Maze screensaver has made a comeback—this time in the form of a hyper-nostalgic experience called Screensaver Subterfuge. No longer do you have to sit and watch an AI-controlled rat mindlessly pursue the smiley face at the end of the labyrinth. Now you can be that rat.
Admittedly, Screensaver Subterfuge is not a great game. It’s basically a maze game with bad voiceovers and choppy graphics. But as a piece of vintage Windows bricolage, it works nicely .
The game’s developer Cahoots Malone took great care in crafting a 3D maze with authentic Windows 95 feel. The textures for the bricks, carpet, and stones are the same standard Microsoft bitmaps found in the original screensaver, according to the game’s readme file.
Other assets had to be extracted from the screensaver’s ssmaze.scr file, such as the classic start button icon. Tile patterns for the game’s menu screens were excavated from old system files. And a later version of the screensaver, which let you swap out the walls with psychedelic patterns, is also represented here.
Even the chill music is distinctively vaporwave, having been ripped from the game demo for Hellbender, a nauseating whirl of grey and black polygons that was included on the 1996 Microsoft Interactive CD Sampler.
About the only thing here that goes against the Windows credo are the multiple ways you can play the game: Screensaver Subterfuge is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Here’s hoping Cahoots follows this up with a playable version of the 3D Pipes Screensaver.