When I think back to when I was young gamer there were 5 distinct experiences with 5 different machines that laid the foundation for my eternal love of Video Games.
It was these exposures to these legendary systems which meant that I am still a gamer today.
I grew up in the 80's, an era when the Commodore 64 and the ZX Spectrum ruled the UK.
A NES owner in our school was treated like royalty as we had never seen the like of such a machine within our gaming circles.
Everyone I knew at school owned 1 of the big 5 computers of the time. They owned an Amstrad, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro or in my case an Atari 800 XE/XL (also known as Atari 8 Bit).
I've recently been thinking back to these glory days of the tape cassette game to work out what moments shaped my gaming the most from this time.
When I mention the names of those systems there are immediate memories or stories that I recall immediately that take me straight back to those early days.
Take a wander down memory lane as I get all nostalgic and rose tinted as I recall those 5 moments that shaped my video gaming world!
Let's begin with a trip to school……
1. BBC Micro "Chuckie Egg"
School is where I first came across the BBC Micro. The BBC Micro was widely regarded as the computer of choice for schools due to it's educational range of video games. There were certain allotted times put aside for 2 pupils from our school to put themeselves in front of the BBC for a couple of hours. We only had one computer in the school and when it was wheeled out it was hard not to notice it!
The BBC had its very own trolley that it would get wheeled about the school on! If you recall the BBC Micro, it was far from Micro! It had an incredibly large Monitor made out of metal. The keyboard was huge as it housed the guts of the computer and the separate disk drive was the size of a small child.
The thing is I loved these few hours that I would get to spend with a friend trying to play Chuckie Egg or even the legendary Podd
From memory I wasn’t very good at the games, but it seemed like a new world to me and everything was so exciting. I didn't own a computer of any sort at this time and the simple action of putting disk into the drive almost felt like I was a pioneer of technology.
The BBC Micro was great and at the time I didn't realise it but it laid the foundations for my love of everything to do with video games from that moment onwards.
2. ZX Spectrum "Bombjack 2"
There was always a friend at school who had the latest gadget and bragged about it. My friend Navpal wasn't that kind of a mate. He was a top guy and would never brag. One day he invited me over to his house to play. Little did I know that he actually owned my dream machine…a Sinclair ZX Spectrum +3!
It would be a day I'd never forget as we played footy in his back garden he casually mentioned he had a Speccy in his house. I stopped what I was doing (probably trying to recreate a goal that I'd seen Glenn Hoddle score) and I insisted that we just ahd to play it…like NOW!!
Navpal had a really cool set up for his Speccy, a nice desk with the speccy and CRT TV all ready to play. The +3 had the built in disk drive and I'd never seen one of these in the flesh before until now. I was blown away just by how cool this computer was.
The game we played has stuck with me to this day and it's still a classic favourite of mine. It was BombJack 2. An amazing game on an amazing machine which also utilised a futuristic looking Quickshot joystick of the likes I had never seen.
Bomb Jack and the +3 made want to own a Speccy with a big tub of video games!
3. Commodore 64 "Midnight Resistance"
My mate Johnny owned a C64 with an absolute goldmine of games. He also owned a heap of C64 magazines and of course on these magazines were the beautiful demo tapes. A first level of this, a timed demo of that.
So many great games that were teased to us through the likes of Zzap! 64 and in this case it was the amazing Midnight Resistance that Johnny had got as a demo on the front of one of his magazines.
The demo was a timed one and we'd take it turns to plough through the first level as fast as we could and then we'd get as far as the weapon select screen that appeared at the end of every level before the timer would lapse.
These Midnight Resistance sessions set me up to be an avid lover of all things C64.
I'd regularly hot foot it over to Johnny's to play the latest great demo or a 4 hour session of International Soccer...or what about a game of Beach Head!
Oh C64 how I love thee!
4. Amstrad CPC "Football Manager 2"
For me the ultimate version of Football Manager 2 was on the Amstrad CPC.
The thing is, I didn't know this until I went and played it on my mate Briggsy's Amstrad.
The CPC was like no other computer at the time.
It looked so cool with it's colourful keyboard and brilliant looking monitor. No one else that I knew owned a CPC hence why it took me so long to find the ultimate version of FM2.
I was blown away by the brilliant built in tape player too. It was a gem of a computer that seemed to have all the best footy games available for it.
I never got to own a CPC but it most definitely lit the fire for my unconditional love for the Football Manager Simulation.
5. Atari 800 XE/XL "Flight Simulator II"
I've told the story of my initial disappointment at getting an Atari for Christmas when everyone else got a Speccy.
Well my Atari is THE single most important moment that shaped my video games world.
It made me appreciate all the different computers that were out there at the time and also led me to try out a whole host of different video games that i probably would never have played if i'd have just played Football Manager 2 all day every day!
The Atari introduced me to BASIC coding which meant that me and my dad would take it in turns to type in the lengthy code to create our own games (albeit these were games we were copying directly from a magazine).
The Atari was a machine of discovery for me and laid a base for me to go on and enjoy all video games without becoming an obnoxious brat of a fan boy over just the one system.
The game that typifies that for me is Flight Simulator II. I'd never have even imagined buying this game before I got my Atari. It came boxed with the system along with Bug Hunt. The manual was around about the same length as a Novel and the controls were tough to remember to say the least. But every night me and my dad would try and navigate a boeing 747 around the skies with not much success, but again it opened my eyes to the possibilities of video games that were beyond the platform and sports games.
Atari 800 my old chum, you are a legend!
Hopefully this has got you thinking......
What Were YOUR Moments That Shaped YOUR Video Games World?