Thursday, April 26, 2012

Your Wayback Machines

You guys sent in some terrific e-mail in response to the Amiga 500/TV Sports: Football post yesterday.

First, from Dave Shcroeder, and this will be hard to top:
I bought my Amiga 500 closer to when it came out (around 1987). The game that made me have to have it was Cinemaware's Defender of the Crown. I distinctly remember the way some torches illuminated a brick wall...I had never seen anything like it. So I promptly sold my beloved 1983 Mustang GT in order to get one. It had the rear window louvers, the smoked headlight covers, the Lebra front end protector...all the gaudy add-ons that helped make the 80's Big. I was 21 and in my prime dating years (such as they were) but the draw of the Amiga 500 was such that I decided to drive my Mom's beat-up '79 Cutlass instead.

Man, I thought I wanted an Amiga. I was nothing!

Next is Jeremy Trim, and he has a wonderful memory as well:
 I have the same (or maybe greater) love for the Amiga as you described there. I too remember the first time I saw the Amiga on demo in a store called “Wizards” in the mall. It was showing a looping animation of one of those little contraptions with the balls hanging on strings, as one ball bounces into the group shooting the other ball swinging. I was mesmerized by the realism of those graphics. I probably spent countless hours standing in the hallway staring into the display window just watching whatever demo was currently running on those things. That store was an all Amiga shop, so going in I could find many Amigas, all running some sort of demo or other. I remember one showing still images in a sort of slide show.

I was in 8th grade, and I begged my parents all year for one. They finally gave in and I got my first Amiga 500. The first games I got the day I picked up the machine was “Space Ace” and “Impossible Mission”. I had to wait for my 1 meg RAM module upgrade to come in before I would be able to get Space Ace to run, but I booted Impossible Mission and when the disk finally stopped buzzing and whirring, I was greeted with “Another Visitor.... Stay awhile...... Stay FOREVER! HAHAHAHAHA!” That blew my freaking mind! My computer actually TALKED to me! it was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me up to that point in my life.

I can image the look on his face, because the first time I actually booted up TV Sports: Football, I'm sure my face looked the same way.

Next, from Jonathan:
Thanks for your write-up on TV Sports Football! I was 9, going on 10, when my Dad brought home our first IBM computer, along with TV Sports Football back in 1990. I was a gigantic football fan at that age and my only previous exposure to video game football was from Football on the Intellevision. Lets just say that TV Sports Football blew that game out of the water in every way. I was in football heaven. I played everyday after school and I remember walking to school the next morning and hearing the sound effects in my head. I have vague memories of editing the rosters many times and creating my own schedules and tournaments for all the different teams.

I played exclusively for a few years until my Dad picked up Joe Montana Football, but even then I always went back to TV Sports Football. I still have the box sitting on a shelf in the basement and I'm looking forward to telling my 2 year old son about the origins of my gaming career when he is old enough to appreciate it.

I remember the PC version, but it must have been hell to port, because IBM-compatibles were incredibly limited (at the time) compared to the Amiga.

TV Sports: Football was one of those games that was uniformly magical for anyone who played it.

One last story, and while this isn't an Amiga story, it's a terrific memory:
I'll never forget Star Control II. It was the first game I played with a SoundBlaster 16 card, and it absolutely blew me away. Gone were the beeps and bloops from the internal PC speakers. I'd never heard video games sound like that before (it didn't hurt that the game really DID have just an incredible score).

Of course, music was only part of what engrossed me. 'Engrossed' is a gross understatement: this game took my mind and imagination for ransom and heartily flipped off anyone who dared negotiate. The day I installed the game, I didn't leave the computer for something like 18 hours--not to eat, pee, anything. I kept a spiral-bound notebook full of notes, and by the end of the game I had scribbled secrets on every page, front and back. My character wasn't the only one on a crusade to save the galaxy from the Ur-Quan: that was ME in there, flying through quasi-space, discovering new worlds and freeing civilizations. If I found one of the fabled Rainbow Worlds, hot DAMN if that wasn't a discovery to get excited about!

By the end of the game I really felt like I'd completed a massive journey. My 14 year-old self had never played--no, ENDURED--anything quite like it. I know that's not rose-tinted glasses talking, either, because 20 years later I can honestly say I still haven't. And if that game had come out in this generation? I'm sure the temptation of the internet would be mighty hard to resist, when I got stuck. Would it be nice to have somewhere to turn? Sure, but it'd take away the triumphs of discovery. Online forums provide the camaraderie that only fellow geeks can share, but what if the journey is one you're meant to experience alone? And that awesome music? I'll admit it's awesome to live in the future where I can have that on my iPhone, but there was something to be said for having that tied to the game. Back then, if I wanted to hear the Yehat theme, that just meant getting to dive back in and immerse myself in the game again!

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