Iain Plays
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My Life in Gaming (1985 to 2019)

I had a Commodore 64 from around 5 years old. Before that we had a C16, but I hardly remember it. I believe the C16 was a cast-off from my father’s work. Around the same time as the C64 we had a 286 PC, which I can’t remember much about, other than a CGA Breakout clone.

The C64 was miles ahead of the Spectrum. Burned in my memory is the silky smooth synth sounds, and gorgeous, colourful sprites. It put my Master System to shame (in all except loading times). In fact, I would often play the Master System while I waited for a Dizzy game, or Pitstop II, or Silkworm to load.

I still have that C64, and it still works. Occasionally, I will take it down from the loft, fire it up and play some old classics. I have so many cassettes with games that I cannot remember, or were incomprehensible to me as a child. So I try these out too; see what the designer was reaching for; how they managed to embrace and stretch the contsraints of the hardware. High concepts translated into simple games, often wonderfully executed and with timeless gameplay. IK+, here I come again.

You see, I grew up on hand-me-downs from a better-off cousin, so at Christmas or on my birthday, I’d always get a game, or if I was really lucky a new second-hand machine. Because of this, the original Gameboy and Master System have a special place in my heart.

Then I got a first-hand Mega Drive II one Christmas and it was Streets of Rage almost every day that I’d played a year or two prior at his house. He had SNES, Mega CD, basically everything!

We got a 486 PC when I was 8 that I essentially commandeered, so lots of DOS and then Windows games.

I’ve never bought a system at launch, and I scooped up N64 and Dreamcast from the bargain bin.

When we got an internet-capable PC for Christmas 1999 I quickly discovered emulators and I was in heaven! I went from being very poor and limited choice to researching which systems and games to play on PC, especially SNES.

Although I had a GBA, 2003–2008 weren’t gaming years for me, so I missed out on the DS and whatever was going on then. Then I bought into PS3 and XBOX360.

Nowadays, I still love going back to older consoles to discover amazing treasures that I missed at the time.

A lot of really good games will always be really good. For me it’s a bonus that games that haven’t aged so well still activate broader memories in proximity to when I played them.