Hi there, I'm a 50 years old guy, who has been playing videogames since the mid 1970's, though it was not until around 1980, when my family and I moved to a small town, that had a local takeaway with 3 or 4 arcade cabinets stashed away at the end wall, before I was really intrigued by the concept of videogames and even then I didn't get to play much, because I thought it was to expensive.
I got very interested in videogames though and as I liked the concept of owning the videogames myself, I bought my first videogame handheld console in late 1981 – a very simple LED powered Galaxians/Space Invaders clone, which I became bored with rather quickly.
After my confirmation in 1982 I had some money from gifts I had recieved, and my dad who knew about my obsession with videogames suggested, that I'd buy a Phillips Videopac G7000 (known as the Magnavox Odyssey² in the US) home console, which I did.
It was a very simple machine, which originated all the way back to 1978, and thus had nowhere near the graphical and sonical capabilities of the arcade games I had played (and still played from time to time) at the local takeaway and at various amusement parks during summertime.
Some of the games were quite fun for a while in all their simplicity, and I did have some good times playing a couple of 2 player games (a minigolf game and a tank vs tank game) with my father (btw the only time he ever played videogames in his life, I believe).
The best game on the G7000 was in IMO a Pacman clone, which was what I'd call a 2. generation game on the system (with more memory on the game card being the only difference from 2. to 1. generation). You could even make your own levels the game in a level editor.
I did rather quickly grow bored with the G7000 though, starting again to dream about acquiring a gaming device capable of something closer to the arcade games I loved so much.
At the time my favourite arcade game was Donkey Kong, which I absolutly loved, although I sucked at it (never making it past level 2 or 3) because I never got to play it much, because of the aforementioned economical stinginess/tightfistedness.
And when I went on holiday to London in that summer, I managed to buck myself enough up when visiting a department store to ask a salesman, whether they had any ”computer plays” and in particular games resembling Donkey Kong, to which he answered that if I meant computer games, then yes.
In fact they had a LCD game called Crazy Kong made by a British company called Grandstand, who had licensed it from a Japanese company called Epoch, who had made the original version of the game called Monster Panic. So wanting a Donkey Kong like game I bought it instantly.
Crazy Kong did have some similarities to Donkey Kong in it being a game about getting from the bottom of the screen to the top of the screen traversing a latter and some stairs, jumping over obstacles (not barrels like in Donkey Kong, but bombs thrown by one of the adversaries) and even fighting some of the adverseries on your way with either a cross and a sword.
Thematically Crazy Kong didn't resemble Donkey Kong at all, being a horror themed gamed with the adversaries being the Frankenstein monster, Dracula, some reptillian monster, a mummy and a skeleton. You could suspect Grandstand for the name Crazy Kong being an attempt to try and capitalize from Donkey Kong's success (Epoch's original name seems much more fitting for the game it represents IMO).
Either way it was a really good game that really fast got very frantic, with good timing being paramount if you wanted to get a good score. Furthermore the game was very varied for a Game & Watch type game: You had the aforementioned five enemies (of which you could fight 3), you could move in 4 directions and jump and the screen couldn't be packed with more areas to traverse.
All in all it was quite amazing how much the developers of the game managed cram in to such a tiny screen, and the gameplay was really good with tight controls and really challenging. In my opinion Crazy Kong/Monster Panic is just as good as what many regards as the best Game & Watch game, namely Donkey Kong Jr.
On to late 1982.
I guess I had gotten really tired with the G7000 at this point and with Crazy Kong being a successfull purchase, I wanted another LCD handheld. Still very obsessed with Donkey Kong it came to my knowledge that there in fact excisted a couple of genuine Donkey Kong games in Nintendo's Game & Watch series of LCD videogames.
There was a double screen version of Donkey Kong itself and then there was a version of its succesor, Donkey Kong Jr. Both were of course very simplified versions of their arcade brethrens, with only the first level of the arcade games being featured (and in the case of Donkey Jr in a quite different layout).
Donkey Kong itself for some reason didn't really appeal to me (and was also considerably more expensive than Donkey Kong Jr., because of it featuring 2 screens instead of one), but I thought Donkey Kong Jr. looked kinda cute and the green colour of the metalplate around the screen also appealed to me (always liked the calming effect of green) and then there of course were the price; Donkey Kong was about 70% more expensive than Donkey Kong Jr., so I went for the latter.
Donkey Kong Jr. was as I´ve mentioned prior a really good game and I played it intensely for a good while, before I, as it of course happens with even the very best games, got bored with it.
And as I had, as mentioned, all ready got bored with the G7000, I was on the hunt again for some hardware that could provide me with the good gaming experiences I felt I needed so desperatly, so one day in early 1983 i took my bike for a ride to a nearby town, where I knew they had a very wellassorted newsagent's with lots of english language magazines.
I bought, I belive, a copy of the latest edition of Personal Computer World (frankly I chose it because it was the one with the most pages in it). It was mostly business related stuff which I didn't have the faintest interest in, but there was a small article or review of a rather odd Pac-man clone called Hungry Horace for a home computer called the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, which intrigued me in a major way.
Not because of the game featured, but because of the graphics displayed in the article's screen dumps from the game. I just thought wow this looks pretty close to an arcade game, not because it was very colourful, because it wasn't (in fact I think it was a black and white photo), but because this Horace character featured in the game looked like something taken from an arcade game or a comic book for children.
I all ready new about the Sinclair brand from my best friend in school as he had bought a Sinclair ZX 81 some month before, but I hadn't been impressed with what he had shown me, because the games graphics had consisted only of characters from the predetermined character set and the only way of controlling the games had been a very lousy keyboard, which had made it virtually impossible to actually play the games he had shown me (besides the games had had no sound or color whatsoever).
I decided immidiately that I had to get one of these Sinclair ZX Spectrums, but found out they were quite expensive (at least were I live - in England, from where they originated, they were regarded as being the cheapest way to get a home computer with colour graphics and sound) so I decided to wait and see if they'd go down in price.
I had other interest, like comics, and in spring and summer I enjoyed being outdoor playing football or going on bike trips etc., so I felt I could wait for quite while, without becoming to desperate. So spring and summer went, but then school started again and although the ZX Spectrum's price hadn´t really gone down, I felt I couldn't wait any longer and had to bite the sour apple and buy it at, what I considered, a high price.
I did cheap out though and bought only the 16K model and not the 48K, which of course meant I couldn't play all of the games available for it, but only those that could run on the 16K model. It wasn't a big problem as I knew I could always upgrade to the 48K model just by returning to the shop with a set amount of money.
I bought a game called Ah Diddums with the machine for around 15$, which was in fact very cheap compared to the game roms I had bought to my G7000 (1. generation games had cost like 25$ each and 2. generation games more like 40$), but then the game also came on a Compact Cassette only, which meant you had to have a capable cassette player (which I luckily did).
Ah Diddums was in fact a pretty good game, although it took me a hell of a time figuring out what I was supposed to do. The graphics was quite nice, although there was lot of flickering (and of course the infamous ”color clash” - a ZX Spectrum ”trademark” most games suffered from in the early years of the ZX Spectrum) and there was a bit of sound in the game as well, so I was quite happy.
Not long after I traveled to a larger commercial town and managed by coincidence to buy one of the most iconic ZX Spectrum games, Jetpac, along with Tranz Am from the same company (I think it was the very professional looking boxart of the games that lured me into buying exactly those 2).
I didn't really buy anymore games for my ZX Spectrum for the next 2 years, not that I didn´t get to try out a lot of games for it, because it happened that down the road from where I lived, there was a family who also had a ZX Spectrum. I had played a lot of football on the street with their oldest son along with few other boys from the neighbourhood.
Thomas was a couple of years younger than me, but had a real talent for football, I don't know why, but his parents let me borrow a lot of ZX Spectrum games his dad bought when he was in England on business trips. Maybe it was because we older boys let their son play football with us, I don´t really know. We had nicknamed him ”Spirrevip”, which where I live is slang for a person who is not very big physically, but courageous and pretty bright for his age.
I never asked them if I could borrow games; they just said: ”We got some new games, would you like to borrow them?” And that way I got to play a lot of the early ZX Spectrum games (although I had quite a short attention span at the time, so I probably never played each of them for more than a few hours).
Of notable games I played from what I would call the ”Bedroom Programmer Era” of ZX Spectrum games (1982, 1983 and most of 1984) were the aforementioned Jetpac, but of course also the very well known Matthew Smith games Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy (though I never liked Jet Set Willy much – Manic Miner on the other hand was great).
I also played the other early Ultimate Play the Game (the publisher of Jetpac – or better known as Rare) and in particular liked Atic Atac and Sabre Wulf.
The Melbourne House/Beam Software games like The Hobbit, Penetrator (a very good Scramble clone, with level editor, although the graphichs did flicker), Terror-Daktil 4D and Mugsy were also good, and I especially liked the former 2 and thought the latter 2 were very ambitious games for the time (but also maybe a bit to ambitious).
Other games of that era that I remember I enjoyed, were Harrier Attack, Fred, Zzoom, The Birds and the Bees, Deathchase, Daley Thompson's Decathlon and Scuba Dive.
However in late 1984 I was a bit burned out on the ZX Spectrum and a couple of guys from school had gotten Commodore 64s and I was a bit impressed with its graphical and sonical capabilities (not so much with the graphics to be honest, yes they were more colourful – although with kinda washed out colours – but at the same time quite blocky compared to the ZX spectrum).
More important Turbo loading of Commodore 64 games (aka piracy) had become a thing and I could gain access to a lot of games from these school mates, so I bought a C64 around christmas to try and delve into a hopefully new and exciting world of gaming. I didn´t sell my ZX Spectrum but stored it away in the back of a cupboard (a pretty good decision it turned out).
Anyway I borrowed (or got them copied, I don´t remember) the aforementioned Turbo tapes and started delving into what the C64 had to offer, and frankly I was utterly disappointed; I think there were 2 games that I thought were pretty good: The one was a real classic C64 game I've learned later and it was kinda good, it was like a horror game with really good atmosphere for the time, like you're in the woods and there is lightning and thunder and you're attacked by monsters from the air, you have to kill. It´s just not a game with especially good gameplay (IMO), which meant I got bored with it very quickly. The other was a kind of arcade shooter with really good colourful graphics.
I was attending high school at the time and was so stupid that I had commited to a job as a paperboy, where I had get up 3 o'clock in the night and deliver newspapers and then go to school directly afterwards. Luckily for me though, there was a newspaper strike only one month after I had started the job and I only had to ring the newspaper deliverance office at 3 o'clock to hear if the strike had been cancelled.
After 3 weeks the strike was still going and I simply got fired, which in the end suited me well enough, but either way I didn't really play many videogames in the first half of 1985 (and certainly not the Commodore 64 - in fact I sold it in the the summer).
As a matter of fact I was quite depressed at the time for various personal reasons, but around september my family and I went and visited my moms sister. My cousin also had a ZX Spectrum which he had already had the year before, but this year he also had some issues of an english magazine called ”Crash” focusing entirely on the ZX Spectrum and its gaming scene.
The content of his issues of Crash quite literally blew me away; the ZX Spectrum games scene had really matured in the 9 month I had been away from it. Crash was an extremely appealing magazine with loads of reviews and with games that I had only could dream of 9 month before being advertised in very colourful and professional ads.
Suddenly there were loads of official arcade conversions coming for the ZX Spectrum (or already out) and the first thing I did when I returned back home from my cousin, was to find my ZX Spectrum in the back of the cupboard and hook it up to the 14” black and white TV in my room.
Soon I started buying Crash every month and got my hands on some of the games featured in it (Hyper Sports, Tapper, Bruce Lee, Beach Head, Raid Over Moscow, Wizard´s Lair, Spy Hunter, T.L.L., Highway Encounter and Frankie Goes to Hollywood stood out as noteworthy releases). I even bought some games myself; Frank Bruno´s Boxing, The NeverEnding Story and Commando of which I played the latter so much that ended up ”finishing” it.
In april 1986 my parents finally divorced and my sister, my mother and I moved to a flat situated in the same smal town we had lived in for some years now. Just before we moved I however sold my ZX Spectrum to one of the kids in the neighbourhood's older brother; I had once again gotten a bit tired of the ZX Spectrum lack of colour and sound and had discovered a new home computer: The Amstrad CPC 464.
The Amstrad was interesting for me, because it had better more vivid colors than the Commodore 64 had had (though I ended up buying the model with a green monitor, so it was actually pretty stupid focusing on its colors) and also had quite good sound capabilities (it still had blocky graphics in most games though). It also had a good BASIC interpreter (a good bit better than the ZX Spectrum's ZX Basic, which I had used quite a bit in the first year or so I had had the ZX Spectrum – in fact I did manage to program a simple working ”space shooter” game with user defined graphics and score table and all).
The Amstrad was quite expensive as it came with a monitor (either green or color) and build-in cassette player/recorder. I of course opted for a second hand unit of the cheapest model with green monitor (which I still felt was expensive).
For games I must admit that I found an ad in the local version the Yellow Pages, where I could get pirated copies for like 1.5 $ a piece making a cassette tape with 20 games cost around 30 $. I had started buying ”Amtix” a sister magazine to Crash covering the Amstrad gaming scene to determine what games I wanted.
Again as with the Commodore 64 though I quickly got dissatisfied with purchase; not to the same degree as with the C64 as there was actually one game that really impressed me on the Amstrad: It was not really the type of game I used to play (action games - this is a blog about action games after all), but more like an action adventure with quite impressive graphics about a prisoner in some sort of prison or jail trying to escape. Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the game, but it was developed and published from France.
What didn't impress me at all was the Amstrad's conversion of the arcade game Green Beret (or Rush 'n' Attack as it's known in the U.S.); it was terrible, not even featuring proper scrolling.
I can't recall any of the other games I played on the Amstrad, so they can't exactly have been mindblowing. And so in the fall I was fed up with the Amstrad and sold it and bought a ZX Spectrum 48k second hand (this time with a ”real” keyboard and a Interface 1 and a single Microdrive – and loads of software, mostly of the more ”serious” kind like the Tasword wordprocessor – and even a joystick).
I felt that I´d once more come ”home” and the ZX Spectrum version of the aforementioned Green Beret was fantastic (and still is). In fact it's my favourite ZX Spectrum game of all time and the only game I played on the original hardware for more than 10 hours (in fact I spend more time reading Crash and its competitor "Sinclair User", than actually playing the games - always following the progressions in programming techniques the ZX Spectrum programmers made).
Other noteworthy ZX Spectrum games from this period (late 1986 to late 1988) were Space Harrier, Uridium Plus, Druid, Dan Dare – Pilote of the Future, Arkanoid (and its sequel), Bomb Jack, Paperboy, Firelord, Zynaps, Exolon, Cybernoid (and its sequel), Enduro Racer, Ghost 'n' Goblins, Gryzor, Operation Wolf, Renegade, (and its sequel Target Renegade), Terra Cresta, Cobra, Hysteria, Light Force and Thundercats.
Around the time my sister, my mother and I had moved to the aforementioned flat, there was also an upturn in my personal life as I had found some new friends. We were all a bit of outsiders, but all in all we were fundamentally sound in the way we approached life, as far as I know we're all still alive.
This may seem like a strange thing to point as something special, but the fact is that I've known quite a few people, that were not what I would call friends, but more like acquaintances, that didn´t make it into their 50´s. Some commited suicide because they couldn't see any other ways out of their problems and others died from side effects from various medicine they were taking.
Life is not exactly easy for many people (if for any), and if you don't get some kind of good ballast with you from your parents and generally approach life in a sound way (which basically means that you treat other people fair, like you want them to treat you), then you ultimately can end up burning so many bridges behind you that life becomes unbearable in the end.
Most of the people I'm referring to were of course ill in some way or another (especially the ones who committed suicide) and by large they were they all kind people, but didn't have the aforementioned ballast that get could them safe through the storms of their life which is why they, yes, end up ”drowning”. No more on this subject, this is after all a blog about videogames.
The new friends that I'd met all had a strong interest in music and through them I discovered a lot of new music. It was mainly the synth pop and techno pop of the time (Depeche Mode, Yazoo, OMD, New Order, Soft Cell, Pet Shop Boys, Alphaville and various artists from the Italo pop genre plus quite a few german acts in the same genre).
These artists all had in common that they primarily used synthezisers, drum machines and samplers when making their music. I had a great time with my new friends for a couple of years, listening to music, partying, dancing and discussing music in general.
My new friends all had experiences in actually making music and I got very hooked on the idea of making my own music (especially becoming a member of band) and I started with buying a sampling interface for my ZX Spectrum called the ”Ram Music Machine”.
It was basically a sampler that utilised the ZX Spectrum's internal ram as memory (but also featured midi ports, though I never used these) and I borrowed one of my new friend's drum machine and sampled some of the drum sound in it (the factory sounds provided with the Ram Music Machine were not very good) and got some decent sounding drum sounds out of it and started to learn the basics of drum pattern programming from said friend (in the fact this friend basically taught me all I know about making and producing music through literally thousands of conversations about music making and production over a period of more than 25 years).
I still used my ZX Spectrum for playing games in this period, but around christmas 1986 it was like the ZX Spectrum gaming scene reached its peak of popularity (I remember the christmas edition of Crash that year being the thickest ever, to the point the publishers had to ditch the staples that normally held it together in favour of a glued together spine like in a paperback – it featured close to 200 pages and was filled with full page colour ads advertising a very large amount of very exciting looking games).
It was the height of the ZX Spectrums popularity as a games machine and although 1987 and 1988 were also very strong in terms of really good games being released, the ZX Spectrum's (and 8 bit home computers in general) popularity had started to slowly dwindle and by 1989 the general quality of the games being released was really falling.
This was of course the ”doing” of the 16 bit machines (mostly the Commodore Amiga, the Atari ST and PC), but also to some extent the success of the Nintendo Entertainment System (an 8 bit home console), and by 1989 most of the ZX Spectrum games released began to play pretty poorly (IMO) as they were most of the time Amiga and/or Atari ST titles (or arcade games of the time) being shoehorned into the ZX Spectrum's weaker hardware.
Graphics were also generally becoming increasingly detailed as computer technology became more advanced, and it meant that there was no way to get past the ZX Spectrum's colour clash issue, so the ZX Spectrum games graphics became more and more monocrome (and thus, IMO, boring to look at as I've always demanded at least a minimum of colour in my games, even on the ZX Spectrum).
There were quite a number of really colorful games by any standards released for the ZX Spectrum in its twilight years, but they used a technique refered to as ”character scrolling” which basically means that when the playing field on the screen scrolls, it does so in increments of 8 pixels at a time, making the gameplay feel not very smooth (in practise rendering the games almost unplayable IMO).
The ZX Spectrum did however not become totally (commercially) obsolete until around 1992 for various reasons. First of all the hardware was inexpensive compared to the 16 bit machines and the NES, and second the ”install base” of the ZX Spectrum was large (it ended up selling around 5 million units), but maybe most important there was a large amount of budget titles released for it from around 1987 and onwards.
These budget games cost as little 3 dollars each and kept the ZX Spectrum commercially alive along with a few really good full price titles (though still mostly monocrome) until the early 1990's. But the monocrome graphics and the lack games that played really good on the ZX Spectrum (and the fact that I wasn't impressed with how the 16 bit Amiga and Atari ST games generally played) paired with my new interest for music meant that sometime in 1988 I lost my interest in gaming alltogether.
I was now very commited to playing and making music and dreamt of making a career out of my new hobby, and from 1988 to 1995 I followed that dream very persistently (even to the extent that it cost me an extreme lot on a personally level) and didn't really play many games from 1989 to 1999.
I did buy a second hand ZX Spectrum 128 and a disc drive and interface in 1991, and it did briefly reignite my interest in ZX Spectrum gaming (Chase H.Q. 128k was excellent!), but soon I was back to making music fooling myself into believing that I actually wanted a career in the music industry.
Otherwise my gaming life of most of the 90's consisted of occasionally playing a few hours here and there of titles such as Command and Conquer, Red Alert, Doom 1 and 2, Sid Meier´s Railroad Tycoon and the first Need for Speed on my landlords PC. When I finally bought my own ”PC”, an Apple Performa 6400, around august 1996, I played a good part of the point and click game Full Throttle which came with the computer for free.
It wasn't until early 1999 that I, after having experienced some extremely tough time during parts of the prior 3 or 4 years, truly became a gamer (I had never really percieved myself as gamer before, frankly always having had more interest in the more technical aspects of computers – programming techniques, graphics techniques and the general architecture of computers – and mostly of the ZX Spectrum, always more dreaming about what gaming could evolve into than actually really enjoying the games that existed).
Basically I was in a very bad shape both mentally and physically at this point of my life, but one of my ”music” friends invited me to join him in a visit to one of his other friends and they put a Playstation (the original one) game on the TV called ”Resident Evil 2”. I had played games on the the Playstation (and the Nintendo 64) at said friends flat before, but I hadn't been particularly impressed with any of them.
Resident Evil is a franchise that most reasonably young people probably have heard about either through the games or the movie adaptions of the games universe, but for those who don't know it, it´s a franchise that basically resolves around the protagonists fighting B.O.W.´s (Bio Organic Weapons,) mainly various variations of zombies, but also many other types of monsters.
The monsters/zombies in Resident Evil have come into existence by the hands of various evil corporations/ organisations led by extremely morally corrupt individuals experimenting with different forms of viruses on various test subject, whether they are animals or actual human beings, to try to make them into some kind of bio organic killing machines without a mind of their own.
I had on one occasion heard about the original Resident Evil before, but knew nothing about it other than it was supposed to be good, so I didn't really know what to expect when Resident Evil 2 was put on the TV, but I instanly thought it was really, really good. In fact I had never seen anything like it before, it was like being in a movie yourself; the graphics and the overall execution were just that good.
It wasn't until a little way into the game that I was really sold though: The moment we entered the main location of the game, the Racoon City Police Station through the main entrance and the camera panned upward showing this hall with its beautiful interiour in all its might, while this almost majestic music played in the background, it was literally like a revelation for me (and an almost divine one if I may dare say so).
As I said I was sold and I purchased a Playstation along with Resident Evil 2 as soon as I could, and the rest of the game was just as good as the start; in fact it was the only game ever my dad was really impressed with, when I brought my Playstation with me when I visited him during weekends. His impression of the game was, like mine, that it was like watching a movie, just that in this movie you actually participated yourself (and my dad didn't even play the game, he just watched me playing with a half an eye while watching TV).
So I began to play a lot of games on my Playstation for the next 2½ years. I bought the Official Playstation Magazine every month (plus a few others Playstation magazines occasionally) and from reading them I decided which games I wanted to buy. I mainly played action adventures like the first 3 Resident Evil games, Parasite Eve 2, the first 5 Tomb Raider games, the Fear Effect games, the Dino Crisis games, Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare, Nightmare Creatures II, Shadow Man, Evil Dead: Hail to the King, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill and Duke Nukem (a hybrid of a first person shooter and an action adventure IMO).
The games I liked the most were of course the Resident Evil games (and games that resembled them in one way or another, which at the time meant games that belonged to the action adventure sub genre ”survival horror”), but I also did really like the point and click adventure Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars (and to lesser degree its sequel).
I didn't have a lot of money at the time and at the same time had a rather ”luxury” approach to the games I played; when I finished a game I thought I'd seen all it had to offer, because I now knew its storyline, so I sold it to get money to buy a new game (and I couldn't really have afforded to do otherwise anyway, because of my financial situation).
I was unemployed at the time and thus had a lot of free time on my hands, so many nights I played games for very long sessions from like 8 o'clock in the evening until 4 o'clock in the night. Especially the Tomb Raider games I played for many, many hours, both because they are very long games, but also because I wasn't a very good gamer at the time and could be stuck in the games running around the maps for hours, not knowing how proceed.
If I was really stuck though, I called the official Playstation hot line for advice or bought gaming magazines with guides and walkthroughs. In general I would say that the first 2 years of this period was the pinnacle of my gaming life, I just had such a fun and exiting time that in my opinion it helped me to gradually recover mentally.
And because I recovered a bit mentally I got a part time job in early 2001; it was a bit harsh coming back to ”reality” after being used to living in this wonderful world of videogames (and not being able to play as many games before, because I had to get up early in the morning), but in the end I think it was good, as I had essentially played all the good games available on the Playstation at this time (I was late to the "Playstation party” after all and therefore there had been a large ”backlog” of games for me to dive into.
I did hold onto gaming on the Playstation for half a year longer though, until there were no more games that I was interested in released for it (the last game I bought for it was Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare in spring 2001) and so I began to look for other options of getting my gaming fix.
The obvious solution was to buy the Playstation's succesor the Playstation 2 and so I did in july 2001, when I had 3 weeks of work while transitioning from my first job to another. The Playstation 2 was to me honestly a disappointment compared to the original Playstation, there simply wasn't many games I was interested in and the sequel to the first 3 Resident Evils, Resident Evil: Code Veronica X was for me (initially) a bit of a disappointment (I thought the real-time rendered graphics was a step back from the 3 first games pre-rendered graphics).
The sequel to Shadow Man was an utter disappointment, not only it was not as open-ended as the first, but it was full of bugs making it literally unplayable. I did like the Playstation 2 port of Half-Life, the first 3D Spy Hunter game and Silent Hill 2 and 3, but they were only small lights in the darkness, so around spring 2002 I got desperate and sold my Playstation 2 and bought an Xbox along with a copy of Halo: Combat Evolved instead.
The Xbox is in my opinion one of the 2 worst home consoles I've ever owned, and after playing a fair amount of Halo I got tired of the Xbox. And having gotten internet for the second time in early 2002 (the first was back in 1996 to 1998 after buying the Apple Performa 6400 computer) I discovered the emulator scene (did have Mame back in the Performa 6400 days though) and downloaded a ZX Spectrum emulator and Mame once again.
There were several sites where you could download practically any ZX Spectrum game for free (and even legal) with ”worldofspectrum.org” being the most notable, and I started to download almost literally every game in the genres I like (which means mainly arcade conversions and action games naturally) and began trying them out on the ZX Specrtum emulator.
Most of them naturally weren't that good, but I found that I still liked many of the games that I had been playing back when I had the original ZX Spectrums. I did also find some good ones that I had never played before and had a good time for a couple of month downloading and playing ZX Spectrum games.
Late 2002 I did eventually get a bit tired of ZX Spectrum games and I returned to the Xbox, which became my main gaming device (believe it or not) for 2 years from early 2003 to late 2004. I think it was the stress of increasing my work hours continually (although it was something I wanted myself) and not sleeping to well that caused it.
I was simply put buying a lot of games for the Xbox by mail order at the time, and thus nearly always had something to look forward, when I got back from work really tired (you could say it was a some kind of psychological crutch always wanting something - hopefully good - to look forward to).
Most of the games (I once counted how many games I had actually bought for the Xbox in 2003 and 2004 and it was more than 70!) disappointed me the though (although there were exceptions like the first Splinter Cell, Silent Hill 4: The Room, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Indiana Jones and the Emperor´s and the 2 Max Payne games) and in late 2004 I was so fed up with the Xbox, that I really needed something new in my gaming life.
That ”new” in fact turned out be ”old” as I suddenly remembered, that I had a Nintendo 64 I had bought on impulse very cheap around 3 years earlier in the local wholesale store (and hadn´t bought more than 2 games for it at the time) in the back of a cupboard (where I also had stored my Playstation).
It occured to me that the Nintendo 64 might have some untapped potential when it came to games (afterall I had only purchased 2 games for initially) and I began to investigating its library of games via the internet. I knew it had faster hardware than the Playstation and I bought Duke Nukem 64 (the Nintendo 64 version of Duke Nukem 3D) and found it to be really good with much better graphics than the version I had played on the Playstation 3 or 4 years earlier (the Nintendo 64´s controller was rather weird though and not as good as the Playstation's – not for action games at least).
This was the start of what I call my ”retro period” of gaming and I soon bought quite a lot of old Nintendo 64 cartridges from Ebay. I´d never played any Nintendo first party games before (except the Donkey Kong arcade games) and so I bought Super Mario 64, the two N64 Zelda games and Diddy Kong Racing, but none of them really appealed to me (I've later realized that I´m mainly into more mature games with darker worlds, especially horror themed games).
I also bought Doom 64, because I'd read that it had unique levels not available in the original Doom I and II games and enjoyed it quite a lot despite the fact that I'm not the biggest Doom fan in the world. It also came to my knowledge that there existed an Indiana Jones game for the Nintendo 64, which resembled the Tomb Raider games I had really loved when playing them on my Playstation.
The Nintendo 64 Indiana Jones game (or Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine in full) has a bit strange story tied to it; in fact it was never available to purchase for normal consumers. The only way you could get your hands on it, was to rent it (and only in Blockbuster stores and only in the US).
The reason for this probably is that it was kind of an unfinished product, not that it was unplayable, but it was a bit cluncky the way it controlled (and a bit buggy as well). Other than that it was a really enjoyable action adventure with a great sense of adventure. It was, as said, not avalaible in Europe where I live, but I managed to find a copy on the US branch of Ebay and ordered an interface for the Nintendo 64 that enabled my PAL Nintendo 64 to play NTSC games from an internet shop in Asia.
Playing Infernal Machine reignited my interest in the Tomb Raider games and I re-bought some of them through the internet and took my Playstation out of cupboard and booted them up. To my surprise they were much better than Infernal Machine and I really fell in love with my Playstation once again and started re-buying all of the games that I had played and loved 3-5 years earlier.
My retro period of gaming continued for the next 3 and ½ years with me buying several old home consoles second hand (the Nintendo Gamecube – for the Resident Evil games it had, the Sega Saturn – for one game - a Resident Evil clone made by Sega themselves, a very battered (but cheap) Sega Dreamcast – for a couple of very obscure survival horror games, a Nintendo Entertainment System clone along with the 3 Mario Bros games, a second Nintendo 64 (the first I had given away to my nephew) and finally a new, but cheap, slim Playstation 2 in 2007 – for Resident Evil 4, Spy Hunter and a few others.
It was mainly my Playstation (and to a lesser extent the Gamecube and Playstation 2) I played in this period. I did try to get into the games I had bought for the other consoles, but they just didn't grab me.
In the summer of 2008 I began to get really tired of my retro consoles though and as I had followed the Xbox 360/Playstation 3 gaming scene on the internet since the Xbox 360 had been launched, I knew that a game in the Alone in the Dark series games had been released for the Xbox 360 and bought it together with a friend, who also let me borrow his Xbox 360.
Alone in the Dark (2008) was of course a horror themed game, but unfortunately a very flawed one (although it didn't keep me from playing it a lot, if not only for the very impressive graphics of the Xbox 360). Alone in the Dark and the fact that Resident Evil 5 was announced to be released in march 2009 for the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3, made me purchase a Xbox 360 around october 2008.
I bought the Xbox 360 (and not its direct competitor Playstation 3) because a large electronics shop had an offer where I could get it for little more than 200 $, while the Playstation 3 cost close to 500 $ (although that included a 40 GB hard disc and built-in Wifi, which the Xbox 360 didn't come with – something I wasn't aware of was important before I actually had the Xbox 360 booted up and connected to the internet).
There were never that many really good games on the Xbox 360 (or the Playstation 3 for that instance), but I thought it was way better than the original Xbox and Playstation 2. The action adventures (which was the genre I liked most at that time) had generally become more action orientated compared to earlier generations of home consoles, something I found offputting at first (but learned to live with/embraced later on).
One of the first games I bought for the Xbox 360 was a survival horror game called ”Condemned: Criminal Origins”, which I initially found extremely brutal and didn't like very much (but today regard as a classic after playing it again some years later).
Other games that I enjoyed on the Xbox 360 (and some of them also later on the Playstation 3 – I double dipped quite a lot when I moved onto the Playstation 3 a couple of years later) were Tomb Raider: Underworld (very underrated IMO), Resident Evil 5, Batman Arkham Asylum, Saw (also underrated), Dark Sector (very flawed in many ways – but also once in a while excellent) and Silent Hill: Homecoming.
Late 2009 I was becoming increasingly fed up with what the Xbox 360 had to offer and the Playstation 3 had a few exclusives that I wanted to try out, so I bought a Playstation 3 as it had come down in price with the introduction of first Slim model.
I bought the 2 first Uncharted games , Demon's Souls, Siren Blood Curse and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots along with the Playstation and was very disappointed with the Uncharted games, especially 2 (the first I did finish, but found it a bit boring). The graphics in the Uncharted games were great but the gameplay was IMO really boring.
Demon's Souls was a good game but just to punishing for my taste and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was pretty good, but with extremely long and not very interesting cut scenes. Siren Blood Curse was actually very good with those special japanese aesthestics that make japanese horror games something special (plus interesting gameplay).
So after a month or 2 I went back to the Xbox 360, not because the game selection on it was much better, but at least it had a better controller for action games. So the rest of 2010 I got by gaming wise by playing games as Alan Wake, Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas and Splinter Cell: Conviction plus a lot of hours of Resident Evil 5 on my Xbox 360.
I often felt bored with what the Xbox 360 (and the Playstation 3, although I didn't play that at all in this period) had to offer and a few days into 2011 I ordered a Playstation Portable (PSP). I had never had a handheld gaming console before (apart from the 3 LED or LCD ones in the early 80's), but was interested in mainly 2 games for it: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and The 3rd Birthday.
I had always liked the Metal Gear Solid games for their high production values and quirky japanese way of telling the story (not so much the gameplay with its over-reliance of gadgets) and Parasite Eve II was one of my favourite games on the original Playstation and The 3rd Birthday was supposed to be some sort of spin off/sequel to the Parasite Eve games so I gave it a go and bought the PSP.
Luckily I wasn't disappointed with my purchace. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is still my favourite MGS game and the only one in the series that I've really, really have enjoyed (in fact it's one of my favourite games ever - the boss fights are just amazing). The 3rd Birthday had a very ”special” story, but the gameplay was really great and intense (although you couldn't really control the camera easily on the PSP, because it lacked the right stick of a normal Playstation controller). The music in The 3rd Birthday was close to insane, but in a good way.
A thing I discovered when playing on the PSP was that I really enjoyed playing on it; it was in some way more intimate playing when the screen was so close to you and at the same time it was more cosy or relaxed playing it (to put correctly it wasn't as ”intimidating” as playing on a home console on a big screen - especially if you are playing with surround sound headphones on).
It felt good playing on the PSP so I played it exclusively for the next 4 month or so. Other games that I liked on the PSP were Silent Hill: Origins, Tomb Raider: Legend, Tomb Raider Anniversary, Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles and Splinter Cell: Essentials (although the latter did have a weird control scheme, because of the PSP's lacking right stick).
Around may 2011 I felt there wasn't really anymore PSP games that I wanted to buy or play, so I went back to playing some Resident Evil 5 (The Mercenaries mode) on the Xbox 360, which unfortunately resulted in it showing the dreaded Red Ring of Death message.
My Xbox 360 was "fried" only a little more than 2½ after I had bought it and I was furious and called the Xbox service hot line where I was told that I could have it refurbished in the Czech Republic for around 120 $. I refused and swore to myself that I would never buy another product from Microsoft, as I had never before in my life experienced one of my gaming devices stopping completely to function.
But I had still had my Playstation 3, so I figured why not start using that instead and I started by ordering the Resident Evil 5 Gold edition for like 30$ and found it great. It was like the colour coding in the Playstation 3 version was more natural so it looked a lot better than the Xbox 360 version (I know the Xbox 360 version runs better – if you remember to put Xbox 360 in 720p screen mode – but frankly I didn't care, the Playstation 3 version ran just fine IMO and just looked so much better).
I played quite a lot of Resident Evil 5 Gold edition but then turned my attention towards a new handheld console, the Nintendo 3DS. The Nintendo 3DS had just launched in Europe 3 month prior in march and I'd heard that there were 2 Resident Evil games coming for it (along with an enhanced port of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and a port of the classic Splinter Cell game Chaos Theory), so I thought "4 games is not bad this early in the Nintendo 3DS life cycle" and decided to buy it.
The first game on the Nintendo 3DS that in my opinion was a system seller was Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, so I preordered this and a black Nintendo 3DS for delivery on the 30th of june, the day Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D was to be released.
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D was an enhanced ”port” of a mix of the Mercenaries mini games found in Resident Evil 4 and 5 and though I had never really could get into Resident Evil 5's The Mercenaries mode (I thought it way to hard, but maybe it was because I always play solo – I don't know), I ordered it anyway (it being a Resident Evil game after all).
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D was thus a kind of an excuse to get myself a Nintendo 3DS and I had also begun to really dig the concept of handheld gaming consoles after experiencing the PSP and at the same time the Nintendo 3DS' glasses free 3D effect intrigued me.
I had been to my country's largest movie theater about one and a half a year earlier and watched the movie ”Avatar” which had had 3D effect added to its images (although not glasses free 3D – you had to use some cheap plastic glasses to obtain the effect) and had been very impressed.
I hardly ever watch any movies these day, neither at a movie theater nor on a TV, but the way the 3D effect had sucked me into Avatar had been amazing (although my brain did feel rather sped up afterwards, which I didn't like that much to be honest) and I was therefore quite pumped to see the effect on a videogame (which is after all the entertainment medium I prefer the most these days).
The Nintendo 3DS was a well made piece of hardware and the user interface was nice too with many nice little tunes accompanying the various applications. All in all a very good experience. The screen on the original Nintendo 3DS on the other hand was way to small for my liking. It hurt my eyes trying see what was going on on the screen over long sessions of gaming and the 3D effect itself would go out of sync way to easy, resulting in some really serious pain to your eyes (it sometimes literally felt like some was cutting in your eyes (on the original Nintendo 3DS (and later on the Nintendo 3DS XL) I never thought of the 3D effect as more than a gimmick, that you could turn on once in while just to see how it looked).
Besides Resident Evil: The Mercenaries I also initially bought Splinter Cell 3D which was already discounted only a couple of month after its release (it was a decent port – very well presented - but the graphics were a bit poor even for a handheld game) and some games from the Nintendo 3DS' Eshop (most notably 3D Classics Xevious – a great port of the classic arcade game - and my old LCD game love from the early 1980's – Donkey Kong Jr.).
After a couple of month I got a bit tired of my Nintendo 3DS and besides there were coming quite a few interesting games for the Playstation 3 from the end of august and a couple of month on.
The first of the titles was Deus Ex: Human Revolution which was great (innovative stealth gameplay - for the time – good story and really nice ambient syntheziser music), the next was Dark Souls, a spiritual succesor to Demon's Soul (but better IMO, because it was much more open-ended and therefore not as punishing as Demon's Souls).
Next was Batman: Arkham City the sequel to one of my favourite games from the Xbox 360/Playstation 3 era, Batman Arkham Asylum (a true classic IMO ). Batman Arkham City was a bit of a disappointment for me as it didn't feel quite as inspired as its predecessor and was to much open worldey for me personally (with boring side quests that took away the focus from the storyline). Not a bad game at all, but not quite there either IMO.
The last big new game that fall for me was The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim which was not bad at all, in fact it was the first game in the series that I really enjoyed (until it started to get serious performance issue after 30 hours playtime, that is). Elder Scrolls 3 and 4 (Morrowwind and Oblivion) always felt too insipid for me. Graphically and gameplay-wise Skyrim was also a big step up compared to its predecessors (the stealth gameplay was particular enjoyable).
The four month from the end of august to the end of december 2011 were in fact a really good period in my gaming life and was entirely dedicated to the Playstation 3 as I also re-bought a lot of the games I had liked most on the Xbox 360 (especially Batman Arkham Asylum I had an excellent second playthrough in – with solving all the Riddlers riddles after the campaign being the icing of the cake).
These four month were my prime time with the Playstation 3 except for very few periods of gaming later on (the HD port of the Nintendo 3DS game Resident Evil: Revelations – although I still prefer the Nintendo 3DS version by far- but also Castlevania: Lords of Shadows 2 had a really fun combat engine and at the same time really great graphics – a very underrated game IMO).
Around New Year 2011/2012 the Playstation 3 began to run out of steam; there simply wasn't any more games on the system that I wanted to play, so I reverted to my Nintendo 3DS starting with playing a lot of The Mercenaries 3D as a warm up to the end of january release of Resident Evil: Revelations, which I had preordered along with a Circle Pad Pro ”interface” (allowing me to play Revelations with a right stick also).
I played mainly the 2 Resident Evil games until around the end of
february (they honestly didn't really grab me at time – probably
because of the original Nintendo 3DS´ very smal screen) and then got
tired of the Nintendo 3DS once again.
Will be updated...