King of Excellent (according to Scaryduck)

Monday, December 17

The long and the short of gaming

Being a fully paid up member of the Dead Gamer's Society, I thought I'd talk about games that have and haven't impressed me over the years. When I first got a ZX Spectrum back in the mists of time, there weren't many games available so many hours would be spent playing the same ones.
The spectrum came with a tape with 10 programs on it. The first of these was a game called "Thru' the Wall," or wall for short, and was nothing but a basic knocking bricks variant of Pong. The hours played on this must have been truly epic, and the whole family would even join in. We'd also spent real money on a Space invaders clone called Space Raiders, and this would provide hours of entertainment itself. My first Christmas present after getting the Spectrum was a delightful graphical program called "VU-3D," and whilst not a game, again kept me entertained for hours.
What must have been about a year, and I finally got my first 'proper' game. A company based in Leicestershire had been set up, and were churning out one game after another that were truly awesome behemoths of the gaming world. Ashby Computer Games (ACG) or soon to be called "Ultimate, Play the Game" were the Ferrari of the computer games manufacturers. I got my Christmas money and spent all of £5.50 on a game called Atic Atac. This simple affair of running from one room to another shooting ghosts and vampires had us sat for days. No one really knew what the ultimate aim was, but we didn't care, and many (many many) hours were wasted trying to complete it. Then I got a new game that would be even more addictive.
Jet Set Willy was (and still is) the perfect platform game. The tales of the Millionaire Miner who has to clean up after a humongous party before being allowed to bed was probably one of the longest games ever played by the 8 bit generation. This wasn't because it was addictive, but because each month new hacks would appear in magazines so you had every possible way of completing the game but it still didn't happen! One week you'd have unlimited lives, the next all the bad guys would disappear. It was something that would happen for years, and became almost trendy to say you'd had your JSW poke published.
Fast forward some 20 years to today, and lets look back on games I have played for the PC. One that stands out was a game that is still available today but now for the Nintendo DS. Settlers, by Bluebyte, was first published back in 1993. My mate Ian had it for the Amiga, and my Saturdays would be spent at his house, playing a two player game against each other. It became almost religious, Settlers, followed by a Pizza delivery, and the loser would pay. I even have the latest permutation (Settlers 6) on my desktop as we speak, and whilst not as playable as the first one, it still gives the buzz I need as a game addict. Another game that has been steadfastly on my PC for a long time has been any of the Westwood classics, Command and Conquer. The archetypal real time strategy has a huge following worldwide, and it's latest release C&C 3 went straight to the top of the charts in the summer, and has been there ever since. And finally I come to the winner for the longest game ever accolade.

Total Annihilation is 10 years old this week. The RTS was set seriously in the future, and the array of weapons was staggering. To make it last even longer, people have continued to make newer weapons, units and buildings, thus creating a game that is as fresh as ever today. I still have this on my (newly formatted) PC, and I can see no end to it's playability. I have thousands of extras for it, I can play it against 9 computer players on hard and still win without a single loss, but I still enjoy every second of playing it. As a self proclaimed game addict, I'd like to become 'clean' but with class games like this, I can't see any respite in the near future.