Let me take you back; hold on tight – nostalgic rides are often the most bumpy. Imagine the 1980s, yourself as a child. Endless summer afternoons and sunsets which clung onto the last shards of day like slime on Man-E-Faces many faces.
Every Sunday evening you were guaranteed to catch The Goonies, one of the Karate Kid movies, or Temple Of Doom between episodes of Blockbusters and Bullseye. Those were family moments, sitting down on the bean-bag and imagining you could swing your legs like Short-Round and Daniel-san, and knowing that the following day after school you would be trying to swing between branches like Indiana Jones with a whip fashioned from your friend’s sister’s skipping rope.
But the 80s wasn’t all about emulating your big screen idols by barreling down hills on your skateboard/bmx, taking out countless baddies like Commando, or convincing your friend’s sister to steal pic’n’mix from Woolworth’s for you. No, the 80s was also the decade when everyone’s favourite wife-avoiding past-time of today was truly born – video games. Arcades sprung up like a Piranha Plant from a pipe, and slots were filled like a Shannon Tweed movie. Everyone I knew had a Master System or a NES, but most of my friends also had an Amiga, an Amstrad, an Atari, a Commodore 64. I had a Spectrum. A Spectrum +3 128k to be precise.
Or more accurately, my older brother had one. I was allowed to watch, and help out with the 2 player games. Over time I worked out how to switch the thing on myself, and entered a world of a thousand games, a million dreams, and a billion loading-failed nightmares. Rainy weekends were spent in front of this thing, experimenting with primitive programming, cursing the unforgiving loading times and difficulty of some games, and playing hour after hour of games both wonderful and awful. Waiting for the new edition of Crash or Your Sinclair to see what free games were included, heading down to the Saturday Market to hunt through the cardboard boxes of 2nd hand Spectrum Cassettes, or screaming until Daddy drove you over to the next town where they had an actual ‘Computer Games Shop’ to pick up some of the newer releases. All you Call Of Duty, High Definiton, online-gaming chumps of today don’t know what you’re missing.
Over the next few weeks, months, and years, I’m going to ‘review’ some of my most fondly related Spectrum experiences and hopefully will spark a few memories in some of you. And for the younger reader, I’m also going to cover all the other consoles of my youth from 8-bit era to today. Feel free to share your gaming memories, whether they be about the games themselves, or even your memories of buying them, sharing them, talking about them.