Thursday, January 04, 2007

The game is the same - it's just up on a different level

My housemate went mad and has bought an XBOX 360. He has the game ‘Gears of War’. It is an amazing piece of computer game wizardry, a full frontal assault on the senses. You and a crack team of soldiers are running through a city while vile alien soldiers are coming at you from all angles. The graphics are so absolutely gobsmakingly brilliant and the soundtrack would not feel out of place in a action film. It is so incredibly intense that after you’ve played it for a while it feels as if you’ve been lobotomised.

But it got me thinking about computer games (I hate the term ‘video games’) and my history with them. The first computer I got on which I seriously played games was the Amstrad CPC 6128 (you can see it in all its 80s glory in the photo below).

I had some great games on it including Elite, which was possibly the most complex game at the time. You flew a spaceship across the universe trading goods, but it had complete freedom, you could even decide to become a pirate and shoot people down and steal their cargos. With money you could upgrade your ship with bigger engines, a larger cargo hold or even loads of missiles. I loved that game so much. Funnily enough some nutters have relaunched the game on PC and Mac as Oolite and have improved on it with new ships and stuff and even an online environment.

Another good game was Operation Wolf which came with a ‘gun’. You used the gun to shoot at the screen. Just like in the arcade! That was cool. Think of it as a kind of primitive Nintendo Wii.

I eventually upgraded to a Commodore Amiga 500+, which at the time was such an improvement on the old 8-bit, it was untrue. My favourite game of the Amiga was Sensible Soccer, which to this day remains the greatest footballing game of all time. It was instinctive with a one touch button control style and the soundtrack was Captain Sensible! Eventually they released Sensible World of Soccer which featured more teams from around the world. I used to set up so many leagues with friends and my brothers and play it for days on end. I could still play that one today, and you can even buy it as a direct plug into the TV and as a mobile phone game.

There were thousands of great Amiga games, but another one which stood out was a racing game called Skidmarks which had little cars race around dirt tracks. Amazingly fun and you could play four at the same time, which again produced many fun tournaments among friends.

Then I got bored with the Amiga and bought a Super Nintendo and eventually owned a Megadrive as well. Later on a playstation and a PS2. But everyone knows about those games. I played computer games intensively until I found better things to do like going down to the pub and meeting girls. But I still enjoy the odd gaming session now and again.

The earlier games were simple and playable, and enjoyable among friends. With new technology computer game developers have kind of lost sight of what’s important in a game: having fun. They should be less about full-frontal lobotomies and assults on the senses and more about enjoyment, playability and having simple fun.

Po' Boy


Paolo Vites said...

i think i spent a fortune on bar videogames, starting at the end of the 70s with that (now) very silly Mars invasion

one day it was pinball and the next day we all went to videogames

Daniel said...

I was never much of a gamer (although I did own and love an Astrad CPC464). Although coming back from the pub and playing Playstation completely pisses is a nice memory I have from Uni.

Brian Lara Cricket, anyone?

Will said...

James, I disagree with your last point. What's so good about the Wii is that they're using new technology but also taking it back to the old school - it seems less about serious competitive gaming and much more about having fun and mucking around. Nintendo know their shit.

That Gears of War advert though. Wow.

Check me out, if you dare