Tuesday, 18 January 2011

I’m talking 4bit… 8bit & 12kilobytes!

I always thought something was missing from current games, so now I don’t bother; they’re almost too pretty, missing something, that the magazines and users deemed critical, and some smarty pants aptly labeled “playability”.  Now see this story here?, it’s about a onetime passion of mine, a passion concerning a certain age bracket primarily, and people… I use this word passion, with care.  
  In 84’ (coz I can’t really remember 83) when I was expanding, the pinball market was contracting, being replaced by coin-op videogames - for today’s young thirty something’s this was our formative era - the now receding elements of hip-hop culture: from graffiti, turntables & mic’s, to BMX tracks - and money permitting… videogames. 
  So, imagine up west, a bright and pale open-plan store, and seeing such videogames and obsolete computers your eyes thought they’d never again lay sight upon?  Tourists, commuters, shoppers, all in disbelief, like, “Oh sh-t, my eyes are deceiving me…? Is that Way of the Exploding Fist I can see in there… on an Amstrad…! 464…? Holy Rama!!!”  
  Guided by curiosity they’d step inside, to long white counters lynched onto blank walls like a gallery, strong benches running parallel, clashed boldly with the brown and beige plastic of commodores, spectrums, Amstrads, and Atari’s… like time travel… early machines a whole generation of kids used to wag school to go play on, or, if you never owned one, befriend richer kids on your street until their teatime, before trudging back to your lame-arse bedroom wishing you had their parents.

There were two richer boys on my street, nice houses, cuter gardens, better presents etc.  Needless to say they became good friends and at every opportunity I’d go to play on their computers.  One kid died on his paper round, Merrick, he had an Atari ST, his big bro next door had a Commodore Amiga, across the street was Christopher Groombridge with his Amstrad - cassette reader - twenty minuet loading times ‘n all that.  In time I got my hands on my own hand-me-down machines, can’t remember how, but I never paid for them, I know that much.

Now for my next trick! I’ll excite your brain cells into nostalgic motion – let’s take it back, and I’m not even gonna bother with those crossover games even my sisters would play, like Packman Mario and Tetris… Maaan I’m talking Bionic Commando, Bombjack, Rolling Thunder, Shinobi, Ninja Gaiden, tell me you feel me.

School was way out in the burbs, evergreen poplar trees everywhere, with a thriving high street.  And at home time, I’d go to the little CPU store just to window shop.  When I was coming up, (as your own perspective may recall), videogames were in cafeterias, chip shops, youth clubs, but, in Birmingham, if the fair wasn’t in town then, the jewel in the imaginary crown was Davilles Frozen Yogurt joint on New Street, slap bang in the Citycentre.  It had its rivals for supremacy though: Funspot nearer the bullring, and one with Operation Wolf in the Oasis shopping centre, but the layout for this world, our world, was always similar: pretty fruit machines for the smoky clientèle and then, in the case of Davilles, you go downstairs to like fifty machines old and new, changing over years of time, right up until consoles went to Hollywood where only fruit machines and ashtrays remain. 
  But before killer applications killed early innovations, youthful greed for these arcades had me spending school fares and secretly walking home; such was my love for culture waves I felt, we felt, ourselves surfing upon. 
  Holidays and weekends we’d peddle, and when DIY BMX’s, then mountain bikes fell off from favor we’d bus or walk, often penniless, to either hangout, or follow schoolmates professing to hold sway over money, past your own house (where you’re expected in at 4:30) head into town to watch them blitz a few credits on games it seemed only nameless oriental kids could ever clock (to “clock” a game was to complete it). 
  Word of mouth produced info on “routes” (to route a game meant to purposely cause a glitch: crash or jam the game, then call someone to lobby for fresh credits - and if it was big place the man in charge usually had key asking, ‘How many credits did you have in there son?’, with his hand behind the coin slot, tripping wires to the number of credits you, of course, exaggerated)

Remember computer mags would rate games including this thing “playability?” a store with classics.  Now I propose such a store – internet services would be a side issue, and possibly a side room. 

Think of games for:
Atari 2600, ST (International-Karate-Plus, Supersprtint)
Commodore 16, 64, Amiga (Xenon Megablast-rember the music)
Amstrad464-6128... (Ye-Yar-Kung-Fu)
Sega, master system, mega drive, Saturn (Space Harrier, After Burner,
SNES (Castlevania, Super Ghouls n’Ghosts, F-Zero)
Altered Beast, Golden Axe)
Handhelds, hand me down lynx-California games, game boy, gamegear)
Coin-ops (vigilante, double dragon, hypersports, asteroids)
PC Engine (R-type)
SNK (P.O.W. Art of Fighting)


facebook.com/Shaun Flux

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