Games Journal 22/11/2021
Updated: Jun 11, 2022
Hi, it's your friendly neighbourhood Lounge Knight here! Welcome to my first ever blog post here on travelsthroughgaming.com! I want to use this first post to introduce myself and provide some autobiographical details as they pertain to videogames. And I love playing videogames. I mainly focus on retro games (just like the rest of the world these days it seems). However, I've been retro-gaming for years now, long before it became fashionable and games and hardware became ridiculously expensive. My favourite eras are the 8 and 16 bit ones.
My first computer was a ZX Spectrum 128K with an in-built tape deck (so I missed out on the old 48K model with the rubber keys and external cassette player). It came with some games: Disco Dan, Oh Mummy, Treasure Island, Punchy among others. I played these to death, managing even to complete Treasure Island (what a game, I still love it to this day). I And that was it, I was hooked after a while. And I've never looked back since.
My first console was a Megadrive, so we went the Sega route in our household. Sonic and Sonic 2 were staples. We had Street Fighter II: Championship Edition, Fatal Fury, Earthworm Jim, Mega Games I, Castlevania Bloodlines among others. So Castlevania: Bloodlines was the first game of that illustrious franchise that I ever played. So it has a special place in my heart. And it's still in my favourite top three Castlevania games of all time; the other two are Rondo of Blood and of course Symphony of the Night. Earthworm Jim, well, I've never played anything quite like it. And who wasn't playing Street Fighter II back in the day? That franchise is still dear to me, although I've lost a bit of the zest I had for it (I can no longer spend hours and hours mastering combos or special moves).
One Christmas we were gifted with both a Commodore Amiga 500+ (one MB of RAM, baby!) and the Atari Lynx. We only ever had three games for the latter, Viking Child, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and The Gates of Zendocon. The latter was a very good shooter, and I actually managed to finish it. Bundled with the Commodore Amiga was the Cartoon Classics pack: Lemmings, Captain Planet, Deluxe Paint III, The Simpsons: Bart vs the Space Mutants. Lemmings was and still is a great game. Deluxe Paint III showcased the beautiful rendition of Tutankhamen's death mask. Captain Planet was a bit rubbish to be honest. But I'd never seen anything like the intro cutscene of Bart vs the Space Mutants. It looked just like the cartoon! Of course, it doesn't quite look like the cartoon nowadays (well maybe if you squint) but it was mighty impressive for the time and a great example of what the Amiga was capable of...
The Commodore Amiga was also my introduction to piracy. Pirated disks were in constant circulation, and I even had a program (remember X-Copy Pro?) and external disk drive just so I could copy games myself. I must have ended up with well over 100 pirated disks. I had original games too of course: Cruise for a Corpse, Monkey Island 1 and 2, Civilization, Cannon Fodder, D/Generation, Dune 1 and 2. The Secret of Monkey Island and it's sequel among others. However, piracy ultimately rang the death knell for the old Amiga; by 1995 the whole line of Amiga computers was all but discontinued.
A whole host of consoles followed: the Nintendo 64, PlayStation 1, PlayStation 2 and finally the OG Xbox. Wave Race 64 was a revelation. Not only was it the first 3D game I remember seeing, the water effects (for the time) were mind-blowing. And the game wasn't too shabby either. The N64 gave way to the PS1, and on this console I experienced such games as Grand Turismo, Metal Gear Solid and Spider-Man. We actually had our PS1 modded, so we had a bunch of pirated discs. The PS1 was replaced by the PS2 and my mind was blown all over again by Grand Turismo 3; the graphics were the most photorealistic I had ever seen to that point and the gameplay matched the visuals. One of the last games I owned/played on the system was Escape from Monkey Island, the fourth instalment in the franchise. Soon after that the PS2 was superseded by the OG Xbox, a fantastic machine in its own right.
In 1997 as well, we were lucky enough to get a Pentium 133MHz PC rig, and with internet no less, I had already heard about Doom of course. The first game we had for our brand spanking new computer was Quake. We also had the FPS game Warcraft II: The Tides of Darkness. That started a brief, albeit intense love affair with FPS and RTS games in particular. During the course of 1997 and beyond I dabbled in Warcraft II, Total Annihilation, Command & Conquer, StarCraft II, Dune 2000 etc.
In the Autumn of 1997, I went to Uni and I lost touch with videogaming for a while. I dabbled in PC gaming every now and again (including playing emulators on the library PCs) but nothing too extensive. It wasn't until I got a job at a video games company that my love of videogaming was properly rekindled. At the time of my interview I was very rusty when it came to console games. Part of the interview process was a test session on a PS2 title to test my video gaming skills. The aim was to get through the first three levels of the game, I almost didn't make it. Thankfully the videogame gods must have been smiling on me that day. I landed the job.
From there (and having a steady income) I was able to acquire a couple of retro machines, namely the N64 and Megadrive. Stupidly, I sold them not too long afterwards. I was also able to get my hands on a PS3, though unfortunately not the PS2 backwards compatible model. Soon I was playing titles like Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and Street Fighter IV. My mind was blown all over again. But more was to come. At a friend's house, I was introduced to a game that would lead me down the path of my burgeoning love affair with RPGs. That game was Demon's Souls. After only playing ten minutes, I was hooked. I went down to the local games shop and bought myself a copy the very next day. Eventually I sold my PS3 fat model for a white PS3, a console that I have to this day. More PS3 gaming goodness continued. I completed the Uncharted trilogy, Demon's Souls, Dark Souls among others.
I still play videogames to this day. To my PS3 and I have since added the following consoles:
Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
Super Nintendo (SNES)
PlayStation 2 slim
I used to have a PS4 that I then exchanged for a PS4 Pro, but alas I had to sell that too. I had a blast playing through Assassin's Creed: Black Flag on that system. At the moment I am waiting for the perfect opportunity to purchase a PS5, thereby forgoing having to buy another PS4 Pro.
The aim is to showcase games from all eras, with a particular emphasis on the 8 bit videogaming and computer gaming era. I will, in time, be reviewing, comparing and discussing some of my favourite videogames of all time on all the platforms I own and more. Meanwhile, I will try to keep the blog updated on a regular basis. I hope you will join me on this journey. Thank you very much for reading!