Sunday, 14 December 2014

Chapter XXII: Manchester United Europe

I wrote before about certain games that had to “disappear”, in order for me to maintain my friendships, but most of all, my sanity. Unfortunately, not always my schemes went according to plan and some games just refused to die. Meet Manchester United Europe.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Chapter XXI: HeroQuest

While I could consider myself a gamer since the moment of my earliest memories, it wasn’t until I was about 10 that I discovered what kind of games I did really like. Since then, and throughout the next twenty years, almost every of my gaming hours were spent with RPG’s. The game that changed everything was Hero Quest.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Chapter XX: Sly Spy

Nowadays, every time we buy a new game there's an expectation to finish it. When that doesn't happen, it's usually because the game in question isn't good enough to make us waste our time, or because we got distracted by something else in our Steam backlog. Rarely a game is shelved because of difficulty issues. That wasn't the case a couple of decades ago.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Chapter XIX: North & South

Did you ever have a game that you had to get rid of because your friends wouldn’t shut up about wanting to play it all the time?

Well, I did have many of those, and while most of them weren’t necessarily bad, I had to set up an “accident” so I could preserve my sanity. Two of the unfortunate fatalities of these kinds of accidents were North & South and Dino Dini’s Goal! I will write about the former.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Chapter XVIII: The Gold of the Aztecs

It's very hard to feel the same sense of wonder as when we first started playing videogames. Growing up it’s obviously the main culprit but I'm sure there are other reasons. One of the most obvious ones is how easy and forgivable games have become. There are even games nowadays that let us skip parts of the games to just enjoy the story. What at first seems like a charitable thing to do, it just contributes to the feel that the game world isn't that big and while exploring everything the game has to offer we are emptying the mysterious space that used to be our imagination.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Chapter XVII: Mystical

One of the biggest life lessons that my cousin Walter the Baptist told me was: "when the first screen loads, always click first with the right mouse button". That "first screen” actually meant the crack intro, since we knew no games that didn't had it. The right mouse button was used to activate the cheat modes. And then it was that many decent games were ruined right on the day they were bought.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Chapter XVI: Satan

I remember my wife saying once: “I’m glad I was born a girl. Being a guy must be awful, with all the fighting and the need to show off all the time”. Even though I’m not going to agree with her, because I’m also pretty satisfied with my gender, I do understand those words. Every morning after waking up, we knew that there was a high chance that we were going to trade fists with some other kid at some point during that day. There was some sort of unspoken and unwritten hierarchy that every kid at school understood.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Chapter XV: Turrican II - The Final Fight

Last November I went to a concert. The band in question was Amorphis, in case you’re wondering. When I arrived at the venue I met an old acquaintance of mine, Mark Landmark. Mark is a guy I knew from college that I usually only meet at concerts, but it’s always a pleasure to talk to him after all this time. We have similar tastes in music and in games, so the conversation usually borders on these two topics. Eventually, but most of all inevitably, we started discussing Amiga games music and the usual suspects were mentioned like Apydia, Shadow of The Beast and Agony. The last game is of particularly interest to us metalheads as Dimmu Borgir ripped off the intro of that game in the 1996 release Stormblast. Needless to say that it was the best song on the entire album. Even if you didn’t knew what was the name of this chapter, it’s kind of obvious what would be the game most discussed on that evening.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Chapter XIV: Robocop

Back in second grade Robocop was THE shit. It was the hottest movie at the time, and luckily I had the game for the Spectrum, which was reason enough for me to be quite popular among my classmates. During those days, it was common for my friends to come with me after classes to my house where we would play the game. Among our group, besides my best friends Lil’John and Louie CF, another classmate was a regular of our play sessions. This kid shall be known from now on as “Crazy Charles”.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Chapter XIII: Saint Dragon

During my elementary school years, I had two classmates that used to fancy me. It didn’t mattered to me, not only my heart belonged to someone else, but I also much more interested in playing football and video games. One of these girls name was Bree, and she was very shy. Her looks just didn’t make her stand out; not that she was ugly, she was just plain. With her chubby looks, big glasses and oversized clothes, it’s easy to picture her as a young Ann from Arrested Development. Who’s Ann? You ask.


Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Chapter XII: Narco Police

During the eighties and early nineties there weren’t any Portuguese gaming magazines which meant that we had to resort to foreign magazines for our gaming related reading. The three most common gaming magazines on the newsstands at the time were the British Amiga Power, the French Joystick and the Spanish Micromania. The prices of these magazines were also comparable to their quality, with Amiga Power being by far the most expensive, while Micromania was the cheapest. If I remember correctly, one issue of Micromania was the equivalent 1.5€ which was quite cheap, even for 1991 standards.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Chapter XI: Sensible Soccer

The internet is filled with opinions about video games. One of the most prevalent ways to express those opinions is in the form or rankings, like Top 10 lists. Usually the games sitting on top of said “best-of” rankings are typical mainstream fodder like Mario, Sonic, Zelda, Halo, or even “press X simulators” like Final Fantasy VII. Whenever I read lists like those I wonder if I was born in a parallel universe, because for me the most important game of all time has always been Sensible Soccer.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Chapter X: Heimdall

It's fair to say that everybody has their dream trip, even if it's just to answer the cliché question "what's your dream trip?”. For me, my very own Shangri-La has always been Norway. I don't remember where this obsession originated. Maybe it was some old post card featuring a lovely picture of a fjord with its snow covered peaks, or some documentary about wildlife that I saw on TV. In 1991 all made sense after playing Heimdall, as I finally had a real, almost palpable reason why I wanted so much to go there.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Chapter IX: Voodoo Nightmare

While I was growing up, still in elementary school, I was known through my neighbourhood and school as “Computer”. Yes, that was my nickname, just “Computer”. It all started in first grade as I was the smartest kid in my class, but as we say here “In the land of the blind, who has an eye is king”. By second or third grade this nickname was getting more settled because I had an Amiga 500, which no other kid in school had.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Chapter VIII: The Carl Lewis Challenge

I did mentioned before that many of the stores that dealt with pirated copies of Amiga and Spectrum games organized regular tournaments of the most popular games. Before the Amiga became the platform of choice for most gamers, Decathlon was one of the default games when it came to these competitions. I do remember attending a Decathlon tournament while I was still in first or second grade, meaning that I was either 6 or 7 years old at the time. For some reason, that competition was preceded by a chess tournament, that I also participated in.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Chapter VII: Golden Axe

While growing up, my parents, in an effort to make me slightly less nerdy, tried to convince me to enroll in some extra activities besides school. I tried many sports including football, table tennis and hockey, but often I would lose interest after a few months. I still remember that the reason for not wanting to go to hockey practice was because it collided with Denver the Last Dinosaur cartoon TV broadcast. As any of you would do, I chose Denver and quit hockey.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Chapter VI: Metal Mutant

Kids these days have it easy. Yes, I could be talking about anything but I’m really talking about porn. Yes, porn. Many of you probably could remember how hard could it be get access to titillating material in your early teens. Even a page of some magazine or newspaper with exposed breasts was enough for it to be treasured like some sort of limited edition Optimus Prime action figure.