Games have been, and continue to be, a big part of my life.
Atari, Xbox, Nintendo, Playstation, Civilization, Oddworld…oh the things that spring to mind that could fill endless blogs, and for almost as far back as I can recall there has been something pinging away as a soundtrack to my life.
In the early days that soundtrack was a blissful 8-Bit, and so, for the next 26 posts, I am going to explore an A-Z of those early games that I continue to play today, and the memories that accompany them.
I have the pleasure of owning an arcade machine, and inside it sits a rather old laptop. And on that laptop sit about 4000 games, stretching back nearly 50 years.
Ready for A?
Well without a doubt the game that stood out for me was ALTERED BEAST! It was a side scrolling monster horror kinda vibe with a Greek god thing going on, and you played a loin cloth wearing chap who would transform to a variety of curious overpowered creatures as you punch and kick your way through the levels. It was almost impossible to defeat as you progressed through the levels, unless of course you pumped in coin after coin…
What makes this so special though was where and when I played it. I grew up in South Africa you seem, and I played it on a trip with my friend’s family to Sun City. Sun City was this entertainment and holiday paradise set up to allow international acts to bypass the international restrictions associated with anti apartheid bans. Or that is how I remember it, I don’t plan on doing too much research here, we all know how the truth can spoil a good story.
I remember it like it was yesterday, me and Granville pumping in 20cent coins and pressing ‘continue’ in an attempt to progress further and further. The levels became more and more ludicrous, the enemies more difficult, and by the time we realised we were never going to defeat the game the money had ran out. But god what a glorious failure it seemed at the time. Nearly 40 years later I remember it more clearly than the birth of my kids. Seriously…
A notable mention must also go to Amidar, which I played in Durban in 1982 at the age of 11 on our first holiday down to the coast. It was hard, despite seemingly simple demands of moving your character over a series of lines to enclose squares to clear the level. Again, such insanely vivid memories still from 4 decades ago, and the smell of beach ball plastic still reminds me of that holiday. Take a kid from Hull to Africa and show him the Indian Ocean and those kind of things stick with you forever. I still find it impossible to this day, and when I pressed start earlier today so many memories came flooding back.
Oh and god this one…it very nearly won top slot. It was a close call.
The endless hours me, Granville and Mouse spent playing this at Fotis Cafe in Secunda. The TV show was out at the time, remember that? Stringfellow Hawk (Jan Michal Vincent) tearing up the skies and defeating all manner of Foe in his helicopter. So very badass. And at the end of the show Stringfellow Hawk would often be seen playing the strings of his cello on the edge of a lake as a Hawk flew by. I kid you fucking not. Literally stringfellow hawk being a fellow playing strings to a hawk.
Oh and don’t forget Afterburner. But Ill shut up now. But you remember it right?
And I know I didn’t mention Asteroids. It deserves a place right? Well not with me. It is a game I found so difficult that even no I cannot bring myself to play it. From the off you know you are doomed, and I could never get into it because it offered me no hope at all. So I simply declined to allow it to tempt me, because it was better than me. I know that.
Good times indeed!