Helloo! .. Memories & early experiences with our favourite machines

Hi all

I know I'm new here and I'm not chocked full of useful information or own a roy_bates sized collection, but I do have a passion, a love of old school machines and gaming, and old school coding too. I'm only really starting a blog because I think the new site's facility to blog is so easy it should be used, and I hope to see it used a lot more. I for one would enjoy reading peoples entries. I'm also only posting because I'd love to hear from others about their early experiences, fist contact with machines and gaming, right through to their current position. I hope to stir peoples memories and hear from them!

When I buy machines, I try if possible, to pickup from the original owners. I'm as much interested in the machine as I am in other peoples experiences. Take for example my Atari 2600. I bought it at a car boot for £5 with 5 VGC boxed games with 2 controllers and 2 paddles and a PSU in the box. It's in fantastic well looked after condition, and I when the original owners look after it, it makes it much more special to me as it's obviously special to them. I also bought an Atari 800, 800XL, a 1040stfm and a 520 from a chap who was originally in an old school Atari club. He told me all about how they ordered machines and disk drives, copying games and dabbling in coding. With that, I also inherited his memories, his stories and his old code too. Although I must admit I have sold the original 800. I still have the XL tho.

If I make a mistake with dates, like saying I owned something before it was released, please let me know, it's only from memory!

I'm probably like most out there, I can never remember dates at all. But I started out with a Sega Megadrive Model 1, probably around 1991 when I was around 10 or so. My parents were never rich by any means, but they bought me a Megadrive model 1 with Sonic pack-in for Christmas. I kept on, as kids do, that I really wanted one, and without knowing they bought me one. I remember opening it up with such excitement it was unbelievable. I still play Sonic today, and I still feel excited by it. Over a few years I had a few games for birthdays and Christmas, such as Sonic 2, Micro Machines, Double Dragon, James Pond 2 etc. I feel lucky to have memories as clear as day of the Megadrive release, and looking at new games on the shelves, those weighty boxes sealed with that glorious oval Sega sticker. I stupidly sold my original Megadrive and all my games (probably 20 of them) to my sisters then boyfriend for £50. My current MD collection, be it not very large, I'm very proud of, and would never part with. Around this time I use to go to a Youth Club at my school in the evening and there we could play table tennis, darts, buy sweets etc. But there was also one awesome thing to play there - the Gamegear! I still remember going to Dixons (or Currys) and seeing all the Megadrives, Gamegears, Gameboys and Lynx's for sale. They were lined up with games plugged in so you could play them. I was so amazed by handhelds back then. At the youth club no one was interested in it! I use to play Sonic all the damn time. I never owned a Gamegear back then, only years later.

My friends owned a range of machines at this time, Spectrums and C64's. One of my friends had a brother and they use to join their Christmas presents, so they had a Megadrive, Mega-CD, 32X and a load of games. I couldn't believe playing Doom on the 32X, and Virtua Fighter was amazing. I also remember playing Gauntlet and Mercs.

After that I think came the Amiga 500+, Cartoon Classics set! This was a few years later as we started doing IT in school and my parents thought we should have a computer. I couldn't believe it when we got one. That first night, we all stayed up playing Lemmings till 2am. Loading up Lemmings, Captain Planet and Bart Vs Space Mutants is still a cherished memory of mine - the disk access noise, the music! My Dad was a printer engineer and we bought a dot matrix printer back then and created all sorts of pictures using Deluxe Paint 3. This was the first machine I started buying magazines for - mostly Amiga Format. Buying these was just as exciting as buying games for me. Just holding a disk brings back memories. All the demos, reviews and awesome graphics within those pages. My main memories come from browsing big box Amiga games in Electronics Boutique (rip!). I love big box games, I think game packaging nowadays is really poor, but hey, profit comes first I suppose. I remember getting Titan the Fox and Dojo Dan for my Birthday. Wow, seriously, over the moon doesn't cut it! Is anyone else as passionate as me? Call me sad I don't care. I also loved going into the market in out town center to a computer stall there - they use to have a £7.99 small box section. Picked up James Pond, Chase HQ, Project X, and Voodoo Nightmare to name a few. I still can't get over how exciting it was to buy these.

After that came my PC years - and our AST Advantage Cyris 686 100Mhz with 4Mb ram. Ahh that AST shop next to Asda. Jeez, all those PC's on the shelves all turned on for you to play with. BUT - I'll continue that later, along with null-modem multiplayer, HTML, Duke Nukem 3D, Quake (and Quake C) more PC hardware than you can shake a stick at and a lost youth playing Half-life clan games on Wireplay!

I hope people can join me on a trip down memory lane and share their stories via comments or via their own blog, I'd love to read it. I suppose no one may even read this, but, in that case, you'll have to excuse me because it sure is fun just remembering.

Comments

Wow, what a post to get stuck into, and one very much in line with my interests, because the sharing of memories like these are what helps to preserve our computing and gaming culture - and I often feel that British gaming culture's history in particular is endangered due to hybrid-storm via the internet with other English-speaking countries' tales of old. I actually saw an article in a magazine a year or two ago, in which the author bemoaned how he'd felt that the Mega Drive was Sega's "last chance" in Nintendo-dominated early-90s gaming Britain, with no regard for the fact that the Master System and Mega Drive were the dominant consoles here, and the fact that Nintendo never really gained much traction or recognition in the UK until the mid-90s - evidently the guy was just making stuff up whilst referencing online stories relating to the US market of that time! But we all know that games "journalism" has been incredibly poor for an incredibly long time. ;)

Anyway, my start was with a few tabletop games, and, not too long later, a Commodore 64 C.

The tabletops were Grandstand's Munchman (identical to the official Pac-Man one which, as far as I know, wasn't released in the UK with that branding), and Frogger, and Tomy's Caveman. Unfortunately, I no longer have those. I remember that my family used to bring them with us on holidays, though, and distinctly remember wishing during one trip that I could play the full-sized arcade cabinets at the seaside near to where we were staying, as well! Alas, due to the high difficulty-level for a six/seven-year-old, I usually wasn't allowed to do so. I did get to play Pac-Land a couple of times, though, since Pac-Man was my hero at the time - that still remains a favourite today. 👍

I still have my C64C, and it still works. I'm hoping to pick up an SD2IEC (a drive which uses SD Cards, but acts as a floppy disk drive as far as the C64 is concerned) for it when I can. Though I actually don't mind the loading times from tapes, I don't want to wear out my original tapes before I've had a chance to dump them using my USB tape-deck first! They're part of my heritage, and thankfully most of them currently still retain their data (I've only found one corrupted one so far, which was a Commodore Format cover-tape containing the full game, Zamzara). I had a lot of the licensed Hanna-Barbera games that were released by Hi-Tec in the early 90s, and I really enjoyed them (Scooby-Doo & Scrappy-Doo remains one of my favourite games for the system), and was really surprised years later when I started seeing folks decrying all TV/movie/comic/etc.-licensed games as bad - I'm pretty sure that there are more good ones overall, across all systems, than bad ones. I also liked the Dizzy games, too, both the puzzley-adventure titles, and the arcade-style spin-offs; The C64 version of Kwik Snax is a totally different (and, in my opinion, better) game than the Spectrum and Amstrad versions, and is well worth checking out.

I love handhelds, myself. They've always been my favoured way of playing video games, and remain so; My first was a Game Gear, followed a few years later by a Game Boy (a yellow one), and then by most handhelds ever since. I'll spare you the ludicrously long list of memories and favourites, there, though - you'd be better off just diving into the various software libraries of those sorts of machines. :LOL: It's sad that the influence of LCD games in all forms (handhelds, watches, tabletops, etc.) seems to have been all but forgotten, now, though - they were a breed unto themselves, and some fantastic examples of arcade-style game-design exist within that category.

For stuff I didn't have but still liked: I only experienced the Amiga via friends back in the day, but I enjoy collecting originals for it now. I just emulate them on portable devices, though, due to lacking the space for a machine. This is honestly fine with me as it lets me dodge the hassles of certain configurations having compatibility problems and the like. I liked the Atari ST too (again, I only got to use that via friends), and do the same with that system as well.

Lately, I'm finding that less games to my tastes are being released; I used to be a big video game spender just a few years ago, and now no longer am. I know that I haven't lost interest in video games, though - it's that the suits in charge have lost interest in customers like me. This seems to be due to either no longer being capable of producing games of the standard folks in my vein expect for our hard-earned money, or because they don't want to due to ego regarding who they want to be seen having as their customers, or even both - I've encountered all of these scenarios, unfortunately. I don't feel too bad about it, though, as I'm not missing out - there are still countless new-to-me discoveries just waiting to be made in the libraries of systems that passed me by during their time. :)
 
because the sharing of memories like these are what helps to preserve our computing and gaming culture

I couldn't agree more. It's stories that need to be told (well, not mine particularly!) in order to preserve history. Unfortunately, as is the natural order of things, individual pioneers aren't getting any younger. I have a few good computing history books, but there's obviously more I'd like to pick up. There's actually quite a good interview with Chuck Peddle on a retrobits podcast, you should check that out. I'm hoping to mention a few good podcasts & books at some point.

You're very lucky to have had a GG back then :( I'm just getting into it again lately. I bought my friends for £15 with a few games from him back in 1997 ish. Still have it but I have future plans for that, that and a Master System I have sitting here! More on that later!

I'm finding that less games to my tastes are being released... I don't feel too bad about it, though, as I'm not missing out - there are still countless new-to-me discoveries just waiting to be made in the libraries of systems that passed me by during their time.

You, me and a load of others I'm sure. I keep prowling top 100 lists and underrated lists for ideas! It's just annoying that some games from way-back-when cost almost the same as new games. When I think about the new Xbox generation (current era of younger gamers) all I can think of is Call of Duty! my 360 gets used for Doom and Perfect Dark :)
 
Speaking of books, there's a really good Kindle eBook that was released recently: The Ultimate Guide to Amiga PD Games. It got a mention by some of its authors over on Lemon Amiga, and I picked it up because I knew that the Amiga PD field was a wellspring of undiscovered-by-me games, but also found that it was a bit tricky to get into due to its vastness. The book's proving to be a godsend in finding new stuff - as well as learning more about games that I have briefly heard of and seen recommended by others before.

I find that top 100 lists can be a bit hit-or-miss, myself, though, as they're sometimes just cobbled together from popular beliefs, rather than people's own experiences. The same goes for lists of bad games, too, of course - how often do we see E.T. for the Atari 2600 in these lists, when it's actually not all that terrible, and in fact has an astounding amount in common with modern games? You can easily see the roots of a lot of generic modern games in it.

Actually, I might have to set aside some time to write up my personal top 100, at some point... Or at least some top tens for a few systems!
 
Jeez, £1.29, how cheap! I don't have a Kindle tho? Can I read this without one? the only PD games I have come across are ones from magazines, but I'm sure they're only the tip of the iceberg. thanks for mentioning that bud, I'm going to have to see how I can get to that. It's funny you mention books as it goes, I'm really hankering after a copy of Stan Veit's History of the Personal Computer, but moneys tight at the moment. I have listened to David Greenlish's audio book podcast of some of it but he hasn't done it all. I'd also be 100% interested in your top 100. Top 100's are quite a feat but please make it at least 20 heh :)
 
Haha, alright - top 20's, at least, it is! 👍

As for the eBook, I don't have a Kindle either - I actually use the Kindle app on a couple of Android devices. The full list of machines that have a Kindle application available is here, on the Amazon UK site, if that's of any help. :)
 

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