The Gaming Memories of Paul: The 8Bit Years
Welcome fellow gamers, and thank you for joining me on my trip down memory lane. This is the second part of my gaming memories (the first can be found here), a time for me to remember why I fell in love with games and the impact that the industry has had on me. Now time for a disclaimer! I’m not after sympathy, or to be judged. I’m simply sharing my memories with you my fellow gamers – opening myself up so you can know me that little better. Intrigued? Then read on….
My Amstrad CPC 464 kept me amused for several years; it was my first computer and gave me some very fond memories. Yet as stated in part one, it was simply a machine to keep my boredom at bay. Gaming was a tiny part of my life at this point, a basic form of entertainment. It was when I headed up to high school, where looking back gaming became more to me.
High school changes people, there’s a distinct hierarchy that is followed, with the cool people running the school like their own private mafia. Unfortunately for me I was very chubby; I was probably the uncoolest person there – showing myself as a geek, before geeks were cool. Therefore I spent a lot of time trying my best to fit in with disastrous results. Yes I was picked on, bullied on a daily basis and to be honest most of my time was spent trying to ignore the insults, the jibes, the silly childhood pranks that were all aimed at me. I know I wasn’t the only one, and to be honest when I look back it helped make me what I am today. Gaming on the other hand played a big part in letting me deal with this…
At the age of twelve, I managed to get myself a job as a paperboy; my CPC 464 was pretty much discontinued. The amount of games being released were dwindling. I wanted a new system, but at this point I didn’t quite know what to go for. Then one night I was watching telly and an advert appeared, showing a slick black console – promising the best games, that the 8bit generation could get and it followed with the famous blue letters SEGA! The Master System II was being heavily advertised on the telly, and I wanted one! So after a few months of saving, I finally had the £49.99 to head into the city with and buy one.
It came with Alex Kidd in Miracle World preloaded, a platforming game, which I instantly fell in love with. The over the top big-headed graphics seemed to be a breath of fresh air. The levels were for the time well designed and I loved the big red hand you could hit your enemies with. It seemed to be a massive game at the time, with loads of variety, compared to what I was used to playing. I admit I quickly tuned into a SEGA addict, dissing other systems such as the NES. This became even more apparent when a certain blue hedgehog appeared on the system! Sonic was the must have game for me, I wanted to be a super, fast, cool, blue hedgehog with style. At the time Mario to me was a plump plumber; sure he saved the Princess but to me Sonic was just way cooler!
So Sonic was my second game on the Master System; a fun platformer, which seemed to runs so smoothly and quickly – I was mesmerised. It helped me escape into a new world, a world where I was accepted and the coolest kid on the block. Looking back, a lot of my game choices pointed towards these attributes! It was my break from reality. Gaming was beginning to become more than just a hobby; it was my way of life. Shite day at school, go home and kick Dr Robotnik’s (Eggman is such a lame bloody name!) goons, save a few animals, the day was better. Other games were purchased to boost my choice of world to escape to.
Even my parents were beginning to realise that gaming was becoming a big part of my life; one of my fondest memories occurred one Christmas. I was always a sod when it came to Christmas, waking at 4-5 in the morning – getting so excited that I couldn’t wait to wake the rest of the household. Obviously for my folks being woken at this time was a little on the early side. This year was different though, they had been rather clever. In my stocking they had placed a copy of Sonic 2 and the Freddie Mercury album on cassette.
I was set for the day, so instead of charging around the house waking everyone I simply inserted the Sonic 2 cartridge into my Master System, put Freddie on in the background and started playing. God I loved Sonic 2, especially the hang glider levels, which I would deliberately play over and over just to see if I could glide to the very end of the level.
Yet it wasn’t just the Master System that allowed me to escape, my sister decided that she wanted a ‘games console.’ So my folks went out and bought her a NES. Yep that’s right we had both SEGA and Nintendo in the house now. Yet the NES managed to accomplish something that my sleek black Master System never did. It became more of a family console, thanks to one game in particular – Duck Hunt.
The NES came with a light gun, and this simple ingenious game where you could literally shoot ducks. The evenings became a time when all the family gathered around, and for the next couple of hours we would bond, trying to beat each other’s scores. I’d had my first taste of family gaming and it made for some great childhood memories. We were also blessed with a mobile video rental van, which would come around every Friday. The guy who owned the van kept up with new ‘entertainment’ and began to rent out video games. Soon my time was split equally between the two systems, with spending some of my paper round money to rent titles such as Duck Tales and Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers. I loved Duck Tales, even though to this day it was one of the most difficult games I have ever had the privilege to play.
My 8bit haven lasted for roughly another 12-14 months, before my urge to find something new hit me. The 16bit generation was in full swing with the arrival of the MegaDrive. For me it was the next logical step in my gaming life. It became my mission to own one of these sexy beasts. I wanted to play Sonic in all of his 16bit glory! So I saved and saved until I had managed to scrape together the money. Driving into the city to claim my prize, I couldn’t help but feel a new era was about to unfold…