It all started with my dad's Commodore 64. Games were cheap, plentiful and occasionally decent. Standout examples would be Turrican, International Karate, Bombjack, Arkanoid and 180 Darts which actually yelled "One Hundred and Eighty" when you got the top score (sadly after a while something went wrong with the tape so that the game crashed when you scored 180, subsequently 177 became the new 180). I remember my amazement when my dad completed Arkanoid, which was quite a feat considering you couldn't pause the game, making toilet breaks tricky.
I still curse Alan Sugar for my mum's green screen Amstrad which she was duped into buying by a silver-tongued Dixons employee. It's only redeeming feature was Golden Axe which eventually bust and led to me shedding genuine nerd tears.
This was all a precursor to receiving my own NES on my 13th birthday with Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt (to this day I still can't understand how that light gun works). The joys of Bugs Bunny's Birthday Blowout, Snake Rattle and Roll and Low G Man are indescribable and by today's standards unplayable. I was fabulously wealthy in those days, having a £7 per week paper round on top of my pocket money so I could splash out on the occasional luxury, like spending £45 on Battle Toads. Other highlights include clocking Super Mario Bros. 3 (dead easy with those magic flutes) and playing Lemmings (with a whopping 14 lemmings on screen at any one time).
Then came the inevitable step into the next generation with the Super Nintendo and it's 16 bit power and pretending to know what that meant - twice as good as an 8 bit, duh? I had all the top titles: Bomberman, Mario Kart, Super Mario World and Street Fighter II. I have no sugar coated view of retro games but I feel that each of those games is still playable today. Especially Bomberman which has not been improved at all by any of it's updates.
Somehow there seems to be a few years in the gaming wilderness, where I discovered grown-up things such as drinking and failing to impress women. I excelled at both these activities. I loved playing X-Wing on a mates computer but I was truly crap and had to have the advanced controls done for me . "Power to lasers, no, shields, why have we stopped?"
In my second year at uni, I spent £200 on a PlayStation with Tomb Raider, V-Rally, Colony Wars and one other I can never remember. The jump here was amazing. Having played Tomb Raider in HMV for a couple of minutes with sweaty palmed kids queueing up behind me, I knew I wanted to leap into the 3D generation. I couldn't believe it when that big ground-shaking dinosaur lumbered towards Lara Croft. I suddenly noticed the audio in the game. From the ambient noises in the Oddworld games to the music of Final Fantasy VII to the amazingly clever static radio device employed in Silent Hill. Being a student meant lots and lots of free time and I used it playing Worms all day with housemates and exploring every inch of Soul Reaver, a truly wonderful game.
When uni ended, a part-time job at GAME began. This truly was pig in sh!t territory. The staff discount on pre-owned games was great and I took full advantage of it to catch up on all the N64 games that I had missed out on like Mario 64, Rogue Squadron, Perfect Dark and Goldeneye (the last two I completed only last month). I practiced Tekken 3 like crazy to beat the store manager but no matter how many ten-hit combos I mastered, he beat me three times out of four and I truly suffered at the hands of Heihachi Mishima. All good stuff.
End of Part 1