Adrian and Dylan had a nice long chat about the Amiga (Commodore Amiga as it was to them) and how it played a major part in their gaming upbringings back in March. It was so popular we thought we’d dig out an article Adrian wrote for the Amigos PDF magazine for your reading pleasure.
When I was growing up in Croydon (in outer London), I always looked forward to visiting my uncle (he lived 45 minutes away in Crawley); he was my first main influence into becoming addicted to gaming. He is still to this day really into his computers and would class himself as a ‘PC gamer’.
The first computer I ever laid eyes on was the classic ZX Spectrum Plus. I still remember the screeching (yet in some ways dulcet) tones of the cassettes whirring into action. The actual sensation of seeing as TV screen transform into a home arcade machine blew me away as a six year old kid! I was impressed by the Spectrum and it still holds a special place in my heart, however I didn’t have to wait long to hastily discard my first love like a spoilt teenager to fall head over heels for the prettier girl next door; the mighty Amiga 500!
You see, my uncle always wanted to invest in the best computer at the time, and quickly packed away his trusty Spectrum as soon as Commodore ripped up the rule book and changed the landscape of home computers forever. The Amiga 500 looked modern, the sleek white exterior and fancy disk drive quickly caught my eye, but it wasn’t until the first game was loaded up that I became insanely smitten with this computer. I remember thinking the graphics were so crisp and smooth, the gameplay was a big step up from the old Spectrum days and the sound quality still amazes me. I was hooked on the large array of quality games my uncle quickly added to his growing collection. My earliest Amiga game memories include playing Fire Power, Rainbow Islands, R-Type and Battle Chess. As soon as I knocked on my uncle’s door and exchanged our quick hello’s, my brothers and I would be allowed to storm upstairs and look through his continually growing collection of Amiga games.
One thing in life was certain; my brothers and I needed an Amiga in our homes. The fleeting chances to play on this beast round my uncle’s house would no longer suffice. Yes, by now we had our very own ZX Spectrum Plus at home, and yes, it had bought us many hours of fun and entertainment. However, it was clear that with every new Amiga release pushing the machine to new limits, we were in need of an upgrade.
The next few months my brothers and I colluded and put on our maximum charm offensive to hopefully persuade our parents to invest in a new Amiga. With limited funds, our parents couldn’t just pick us up a new Amiga for the sake of it. But with Christmas fast approaching we gave many hints on what we all wanted Father Christmas to deliver on the 25th December 1992! One wildcard strategy we played was explaining to our parents how the Amiga wasn’t just a games machine. It could be used for educational purposes to! We would remind our parents it could be used to type out documents, draw pictures using the amazing Deluxe Paint and even open our worlds to new information in the form of encyclopedia disks.
Christmas was quickly upon us and as my brothers and I rushed downstairs we could see a large wrapped present standing proudly on the living room table. This was our communal present, and I am sure I can speak for both my brothers Mike and Chris in what we hoped was hidden behind the wrapping paper. We tore it open and was greeted by a large Lemming holding an umbrella, Bart Simpson looking cool with his dark glasses and Captain Planet bursting through the box! Yup, you guessed it, in front of use was the Cartoon Classics Amiga 600 bundle.
Before you knew it we had setup the Amiga and were taking it in turns to guide Captain Planet and his team across numerous levels. It didn’t matter that we were playing a rather mediocre platformer, the fact that we now owned our very own Amiga was mind blowing and it probably is to this very day still my favourite ever Christmas present.
Our library of games for the Amiga quickly grew. It became the norm for me to visit my Amiga owning friends and “trade” our titles. I still vividly remember going to my friend Usman’s house and catching sight of a box that would later become one of my favourite games of all time; The Secret of Monkey Island. The lovely box art showing a large skull and a goofy looking pirate (I would later know him fondly as the loveable Guybrush Threepwood) drew me in. I needed to play this game! Initially my friend Usman was quite dismissive of my pleas. “You wouldn’t really enjoy this type of game”, “This game needs loads of hours to play properly, there is no point playing for half an hour” and “let’s play a game of Speedball instead”. Yep, Usman was holding firm. But I was adamant and my pleas got louder. He finally caved in! With 15 minutes to go before I had rush home for dinner, he finally succumbed and loaded up the unforgettable point-and-click classic. I was instantly blown away. The graphics were so inviting, the setting of Melee Island so beautiful yet moody and the games humour really struck a chord with me. I still remember to this day finding Otis locked in his jail cell and just talking to him and giving him coin after coin after coin. I finally rushed home, now very late for my dinner and expecting a clip around the ear, but I didn’t mind! I had witnessed one of my favourite games of all time and a new urge to own my own copy of this game had taken over. However, the clever designers at Lucasfilm Games had of course created the now infamous Dial-a-Pirate copy protection ring. This of course thwarted my initial efforts to obtain this title.
As luck would have it I didn’t have to wait long to finally play Monkey Island on my own Amiga. Like a knight in shining armour, my uncle soon visited us and gave my brothers and me our very own copy of the game. I wish I knew how many hours I put into Monkey Island, but what I do know is that it opened my eyes to a new genre of adventure games that quickly became one of my favourites and it wasn’t too long until I was playing the awesome Le Chuck’s revenge.
I also went through a self-confessed Zool phase where I was adamant that the cocky alien ant from the Nth dimension was the coolest platform hero to ever hit anyone’s screens. For roughly a two year period I would defend the ninja ant in front of my console owning fans and would put up great arguments on how he topped any Sonic or Mario game at the time (I do now look back in slight shame). I became so obsessed with Zool that I would spend countless hours drawing the insect-like hero in various poses and situations. My future plan was to use my many sketches to create a stop motion animation and become a famous cartoonist (the ignorance of youth and all that!). Even though my Zool animation project is still a dream, I can console myself to the fact that I proudly wore a Zool T-Shirt in the mid-90s and never felt prouder. I guess that was part and parcel of being an Amiga addict, I would defend the computer and its many games against my SEGA and Nintendo loving friends. In my eyes the Amiga could do no wrong.
Other titles which bought me so much joy on our trusty Amiga include Sensible World of Soccer, Dune 2, Weird Dreams, Another World, Moonstone, Magic Pockets, Lemmings, Walker and so much more. I could go on forever about individual titles. But what I will say about the Amiga is that I have never come across a platform which boasted such a large array of quality games.
It was a sad day in the late 90s when our trusty Amiga was replaced by a shiny new PC. I will never forget my Amiga years and feel out of all the different computers and consoles I have ever owned, not one has ever quite matched the lure of Commodore’s finest.