A list of games that I enjoyed immensely when they were new and which, in some cases, I still enjoy many years later.
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Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
I was working for the original incarnation of GameSpot UK in London when Vice City was released and, while it didn't blow me away in quite the way that the genre-defining GTA III had a year earlier, it definitely made a more lasting impression. To this day, I think Vice City is the only game I've ever played in which I was content, for maybe an hour at a time, to simply explore the open world and soak in the atmosphere. Whether cruising on a chopper or flying in one, the soundtrack was the perfect accompaniment to Rockstar's caricature of Miami and the CD boxed set that I imported to my first iPod in 2004 gets plenty of play time to this day.
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Definitely my favorite Commodore 64 game of all-time. I'm not sure that I really knew what the game was when I asked my dad to buy it for me, but I knew that Zzap 64 magazine had given it a gold medal score of 97%, so that was all I needed. Back in the day it took me countless attempts to clear the freighter and I recall not being entirely sure how to feel when, upon completing this seemingly gargantuan task, I was simply presented with a second freighter to get to work on.
Pokemon Blue Version
I picked up my copy of Pokemon Blue while visiting the US from the UK to attend E3. None of the Pokemon games were available in Europe yet, so my friend Simon (who bought Pokemon Red) and I thought we were pretty special as we battled and traded Pokemon on the flight home. I've played all but maybe two or three Pokemon games in the years since, and my original Pokemon Blue Bulbasaur joined me for a few of them. He'll never be able to make the jump to my copy of Pokemon X, but I have so many Pokemon that can use Leech Seed at this point that I no longer miss him.
Sensible World of Soccer
To this day, there aren't many football games that can top SWOS on the Amiga played with either a Cheetah Bug or a Competition Pro 5000 joystick. It's crazy to think that there could ever be a great sports game playable with only a single button, but SWOS never felt like it was lacking anything meaningful from the beautiful game. The action on the pitch was accessible but incredibly deep, and the same could be said for the transfer market.
I was SO obsessed with my team in SWOS that, shortly after accepting an office job at a haulage company in 1994 I spent the best part of a day using the office's primitive computer to create team spreadsheets on which I could track the prices and performances of every player I ever signed.
Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe
The first time I saw Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe it was inside an Amiga magazine that, for some reason, had illustrated its review of the game with screenshots taken from the inferior Atari ST version. I was in hospital at the time. I actually don't remember why I was in there (something to do with my tonsils, possibly), but I read that magazine cover to cover more than once and, by the time I was back home, I wanted nothing more than a copy of Speedball 2. I got one some time later, and spent countless hours playing and replaying leagues and inviting friends over so that I could beat them as we marveled at the quality of the "Ice cream!" voice sample that would play during replays.
Years later, I've been fortunate enough to meet and befriend one or two of the guys who worked on the game. I can honestly say that, even after attending all manner of conventions all over the world, visiting the Bitmap Brothers' London office in 2001 and playing the original Amiga game with the guys who made it qualifies as a career highlight.