Looking back on fps football pro recently made me think about my earliest experiences with computer games.
My earliest memories of playing games on a computer, not a console, but an actual home computer, are of the Commodore VIC=20 we had when I was a small, small child.
It had a cartridge port in the back, for fast-loading games.
Gorf, Omega Race, and Pirate’s Cove are the three that I remember best.
The VIC was also one of the computers at the time that used audio cassettes to hold data.
It involved using a BASIC interpreter to load the files from the tape.
10 LOAD “*” ,1
I have pretty vivid memories of a text-based adventure game called Mystery at Marple Manor, and a collection of games that came on ten cassettes or something. Vic-Man, Dam Buster, some version of Breakout, and Tank vs. UFO are the only ones from there that come to mind.
After the VIC=20 was a memory, we got the Coleco ADAM. It had the prestige of being able to play ColecoVision games like Defender, Venture, and the Donkey Kong that had the extra level, also with a cartridge. It was also one of the machines that had a cassette data reader. The only game I remember (did we have any other games for that thing?) was Buck Rogers. My brother and I played the living hell out of that game. I was never able to beat it, but I think he did.
VIC 20- cart games, tape games. Noodling in basic. Run-return.
In school, we had the thinky games on the Apple ][ series: Oregon Trail, Mathblaster Plus, Think Quick, Cross Country Canada, Carmen San Diego, and the like. I remember playing a typing game, the memory of which would, years later, persuade me to give touch-typing a go.
Fast-forward to high school and Sean W’s 386 computer. We played a lot of games on that thing, like Jetfighter 2, 4d boxing, Wing Commander, Betrayal at Krondor, Return to Zork, and a million or so others. Lots and lots of late nights and sleepovers playing computer games.
After high school, I finally bought my first couple of computers. The first was a 286 that was not good for gaming. I remember buying one game, though I can’t remember what it was called, and I don’t remember actually playing it. That computer was used, almost exclusively, for BBSes, though I think I first cut my teeth with Turbo C on it.
My first good computer was a 486 and that had a massive, massive amount of games bought for it. It helps (or doesn’t help, depending on your perspective — nah, it just doesn’t help) that I had just gotten my first job and all of that, besides a car payment, a computer payment, and gas to and from work, was disposable income. The good from that era includes Deathgate, Critical Path, Under a Killing Moon, and the aforementioned Front Page Sports series.
I never got into RTS games or really any strategy games. I also left out games that were better on the console — sports simulations, platformers, and the like.
As I said, I bought a lot of games. Certainly too many. But here are the worst: Maabus, Unnecessary Roughness ’95, Daemonsgate, some game that was notable at the time for having SVGA graphics, and while I’m sure there are myriad other shameful games in my collection, they’ve been buried in my memories like they were buried under Journey, Foreigner, and Styx CDs.
I don’t play many games anymore, but the outstanding members of my list tempt me to go back and relive my late teens and early twenties.