I received the Christmas gift of an Amstrad CPC464 colour screen computer from my parents upon its release and I've never looked back. Well, maybe once or twice!
The newly released all-in-one cybernetic Sugar-machine with colour coded keys and a toughened exo-skeleton (I might be deluded here) came with a gift pack of 12 Amsoft games ranging from Roland on the Ropes, which was pretty good, to Bridge-It (what the hell were they thinking?)!
Although these 12 new games were incredibly sophisticated (think Animal Vegetable Mineral and Hangman!), I quickly added other titles to the collection such as Elite, Gauntlet, Sorcery, and Way of the Exploding Fist - and played them to death. And deaths were usually quick!
Software houses such as US Gold/Epyx, Mastertronic, Ocean, Virgin, and Ultimate quickly became my favourite kind of people, producing the highest quality of games. Oh, ok, and Amsoft did a handful of decent games too!
Loading times for the Amstrad averaged 5 minutes, which never seemed to be a problem back then, whilst the screeching noise of the tape and the colourfully hypnotic lines of the loading screen eventually prepared me for the worst of High School Musical.
I did eventually, and perhaps a little unloyally, say goodbye to my CPC464 in the early 90s to make room for an Amiga. However, the golden memories always remain with my trusty 8-bit. █
**** The Commodore 64 ****
Whilst I had an awesome computer that could eventually churn out classics such as Get Dexter and Prince of Persia, I got to see another side of the gaming world through my school mate, and best friend, Scott's Commodore 64.
The unsexily-chunky-brown-and-beige-but-nevertheless-ultimately-functional-all-star-American computer was also pushing the limits of the 8-bit world.
One evening mucking around on Scott's Commodore, before my dad arrived to take me home, we decided to load one last game borrowed from a kid in our class. The loading screen didn't really provide any indication of what was to follow, and we were, to put it mildly, fairly unbothered about this new game. And then it happened. "Another visitor. Stay a while. Staaaaay foreveeerrrr!!". It was the gobsmacking "Impossible Mission"!
Other games that we played on the Commodore 64 were The Last V8, Kane, Ghostbusters, Realm of Impossibility, Summer/Winter Games, Gauntlet, Bruce Lee and Paperboy - to name but a few!
Even though it feels like a crime to say it, being an ex-CPC464 owner, a lot of laughs were to be had playing some excellent games on this computer. █
The Sinclair Spectrum
Just shy of the 80's home computer boom, my mum had gone for the plunge and purchased a Philips G7000 Videopac Computer, which was a machine similar to the style of the outrageously successful Atari VCS 2600 console. However, it wasn't until a few years later that this cartridge-based machine was becoming a little redundant, and so my mum upgraded to a Sinclair Spectrum 48k computer.
From the outset it was ridiculously compact in a black casing with a prism of light drawn across the bottom-right of the device. The other thing that caught my eyes was the rubber keys. Even before I learnt to be a touch typist at school, this was so obviously a big no-no to me for swift input. Also, each key had about five different functions assigned to it. It was all a bit messy and complicated for my simple mind!
Talking of which, my mind is a little foggy as to what games I played on the Speccy as I was only 11 at the time (I figure that's a good excuse?), but I clearly recall having a good blast on Horace Goes Skiing. I guess it must have really appealed to my inner Eddie The Eagle!
It's a shame that the Spectrum 48k ended up being reduced to becoming the engine inside Sinclair's C5 range (they didn't really, but how cool would that have been?), but Sir Clive had an instant classic in his little computer. More's the pity that he couldn't build upon its sweeping success. █
The BBC Microcomputer
In line with the UK government's subsidy to furnish schools with these new-fangled computer thingies, our secondary school received a fair number of BBC Micros in the early 80s. Sit down before you hear the next bit, though. One of the computers had a green screen monitor! Kids piled in to the after-classes computer club just to be first to sit at the BBC Micro with the green screen. How times have changed.
A lot of our efforts were spent working out how to draw boxes and the like using some kind of turtle. However, you wasn't truly accepted within the computing fraternity until you entered and ran the following tan-hidingly worthy code:
If you could reel that code off just before you left the school computer club then you walked out with a shaft of light from the gods guiding you home... and then a queue of teachers the next morning waiting for you with a cane!
It's also worth noting the Acorn Electron, a lite version of, and cousin to, the BBC Micro. A friend of mine had one of these, but it seemed no different to the capabilities of the BBC, meaning we could still play such wonderful classics as Blagger and... Elite. █
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