Friday, January 15, 2016

How I (A-Lin) became a retro gamer

My first home gaming experience was on a monochrome Amstrad CPC464 with cassette tape, mid 80's. To play a game you first had to load it for 10 to 30 minutes. The other option was to type it from a book, which would take hours. :-)

I was instantly hooked. Every afternoon after school I would put a game to load, do my home work while the game was loading, then play for hours.

Barbarian (Amstrad CPC464) - Terrific gameplay

 Dragon Ninja (Amstrad CPC464) - Decent port of Bad Dudes vs Dragon Ninja

Gryzor (Amstrad CPC464) - Excellent port of Contra

Got an Atari ST a few years later. Just as much hooked, besides I was also composing Music with Equinox SoundTracker and coding in GFA Basic. I loved game and cracktro music and would launch games just to listen to them, record them on cassettes so I could listen to them on my walkman.

Turrican II (Atari ST) - One of favorite game of all times

Xenon 2 (Atari ST) - Excellent shump in spite of being slow

Prince of Persia (Atari ST) - A classic

Somehow got a Commodore C64 in the middle. After that, beginning 90's, I got a PC, played the classics of the time, Doom, etc, made music with FastTracker, as well as coded a few simple games and sound FXs processing in Turbo Pascal and C.

I kept playing games till 2002, the last one being Half-life. In 2003, after yet another blue screen of death I decided to get rid of Windows for good and started using Linux. I threw myself full force into programming and didn't play games for a couple of years. But eventually discovered MAME. This was a revelation to me, I was really craving for good games, which were hard to find under Linux. After discovering MAME I would spend entire week-ends not seeing the light of the day going through the massive library of games, replaying my favorite classics or discovering new old gems. I also started getting into shumps, as a kid I was rather impressed by this genre, wouldn't
dare to put my money because I knew I wouldn't last a second, and it seemed only young adults would play those. I was a young adult now, so it was my turn!

I kept on playing almost exclusively MAME games (as well as other old emulated systems) for a couple more years, till a special event occurred. But this MAME phase taught me something very important: good games age very well, and the technology is less important than the love and art that is put into creating a game.

In 2006 my wife bought me a game for my birthday. This game was Far Cry. So I setup a Windows partition and started playing it with no expectation whatsoever (she's not at all into video gaming, I thought it was most likely gonna be a mediocre game). But not before long I was addicted, and probably had some of the greatest video gaming blasting experience in my life. After finishing it I sought other FPSs but I couldn't find any that I would like as much, so I played numerous Far Cry mods, then eventually replayed the game with the hardest setting (and completed it in a shorter time than the first time!). When Crytek released Crysis, my wife bought it for my birthday (on my demand this time :-). I enjoyed Crysis a lot, about as much as Far Cry.

Far Cry (PC) - Blasting FPS fun, very life like

After that my last AAA gaming experiences were the Prince of Persia series. I then got rid of my Windows partition and played only retro games once in a while. Around 2007 I decided to go heavily into excergaming after discovering the Bodypad.

My plan was to play these awesome fighting MAME games with my bodypad but I couldn't get it recognized, so eventually I purchased a PS2 and played Tekken 5 exclusively. This was completely awesome. But after breaking all my bodypads (that is the main drawback of this game controller) I bought a Kinect in 2011, unfortunately I found the kinect experience was lame compared to that of the Bodypad (with minor exceptions like Kung Fu High Impact). The games themselves were not fun, and the Kinect had too much latency to feel any real embodiment (the Bodypad had no latency), so eventually my interest worn off.

After that I kept playing retro games, sometimes, till Organic IO challenged me to Battle Garegga and taught me the 1CC way, which multiplied the fun manyfold! :-)


  1. Wow, thanks for posting your history!

    I had no idea it took that long to load programs from tape on old computers. I was fortunate that our first computer had a 5.25" floppy drive. It probably took less than 1 minute for most games to load. I remember once or twice I did type a game from a book in BASIC. Just for the heck of it.

    Bad Dudes! Yeah I played that one on NES, pretty good beat em up stuff.

    Wow I actually like the look of the graphics for Gryzor for Amstrad CPC. Pretty cool.

    "good games age very well, and the technology is less important than the love and art that is put into creating a game." - What a great quote!

    So crazy cool that you also enjoyed Far Cry. My favorite thing about it was the islands were so expansive and you could pretty much choose whatever path you wanted to get to the different destinations. There was never 1 set route. Half Life 2 however, although it was good, literally had every player going down the same hallway, the same street, etc.


    Man my first experience with Exergaming was "Top Skater" for arcade. A skateboarding game where you would do tricks on ramps and stuff. The year was around 97-98. It was at our local bowling alley, and I got so addicted... I would go every weekend and I would play so long my shirt was drenched in sweat. Soon I started getting top scores in the game. But there was one other guy in my city who was also good, and we would try to beat each others' high scores.

    Later on I discovered Dance Dance Revolution in 2002, and LOVED it. I played it quite a lot, quite a lot indeed. I played it in the arcades but also had a setup at home to practice. Eventually I started getting competitive and played in some local tournaments, even winning one of them. There were a couple other similar rhythm games too like Pump It Up (slightly different arrow configuration). But by around 2005-2006 I wasn't able to play as much and I think the last time I played any dance game was around 2007-2008.

    Cami and I even built our own wooden DDR pad at one point and we were going to sell them. (Nobody ever bought one), lol our old website is actually still up!!!

    I wish I had a video of myself playing DDR, but they are all lost. But for an idea of how good I was, on the website the song on right is called "Exotic Ethnic".
    Here is someone playing it probably with their fingers :

    I played it on my feet on my wooden pad for that screenshot and got 3 steps that weren't perfect (3 greats). In the video above the person got 15 steps that weren't perfect (13 greats and 2 goods). (The OK's just means you completed the steps that "hold", so even if you got a perfect score on the song you would still get 29 OK's)

    Damn I wish I had a video of me playing back in the day.... :)

    I still think the Wii balance board is interesting and I would like to get into it sometime. On "Wii Fit" there are a bunch of mini games that are pretty interesting including a "3d platformer", it's like you are Mario and you have to jump over obsticles. Also there are some where you have to tilt your body to roll a ball around -- These are my favorite. I've always enjoyed ball rolling games like Marble Madness. It's been my dream to hook up the Balance board to the PC and play "Neverball" with it, but I haven't done it yet.

    You've got my brain thinking about exergaming again and that is a good thing. I could definitely use some exercise. I'm going to keep thinking of ideas for things that would be fun and see if I can get some kind of setup going :)

  2. The Amstrad CPC had a pretty good color palette for computers of its generation. And Gryzor doesn't just look gorgeous, it plays really well too (I never managed to beat it though, I could be interested to have it in a round sometime).

    About Far Cry, I now recall reading about why the developers decided to forbid savestates, cause they wanted to encourage the player to explore the different routes in between the checkpoints.

    Man, I had no idea you used to build and sell wooden DDR, this is so cool! And the website looks really funny, in particular the photo of, I assume, you and Cami. ;-)