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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Tuesday, 25 September, 2001, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
Your say on classic video games
Pac Man
Pac Man: One of your favourites
Our article on a new book which captures the golden age of classic video games stirred up fond memories from hundreds of you who grew up with Pong and Space Invaders.

HAVE YOUR SAY


I used to love Frogger and Donkey Kong. I always had the highest score for a girl, at our local youth club

Sharon Brigden, England
Our primary school in London was obsessed with a hand-held Pac Man clone called Mini Munchman. Of course, we could all 'clock' it, but the competition came not in high-scores, but in how long it took to get back to the beginning!
Dan Hall, UK

I used to love Frogger and Donkey Kong. I always had the highest score for a girl, at our local youth club.
Sharon Brigden, England

I used to play space invaders on the Atari 2600. The only problem I had with it was that the high-score didn't go high enough, and eventually it cycled back round to 00000! I'm glad that I didn't just play games on computer however, since from starting to write a few programs in Basic on the TRS-80, I'm now a professional software developer. I think it's a shame although inevitable that no modern games can be written by one person. The requirements of the industry have gone beyond that. We'll probably never see the likes of games like Elite again, since large teams struggle with the clarity and vision that one or two people can achieve.
Richard Godivala, UK


Who says these games are a thing of the past? I still play them on my PC at work - in lunchtime of course.


John Ludlam, UK
I have to admit that on the whole I find old arcade games much more entertaining than the recent bunch. As soon as manufacturers started to assume that if a game wasn't in 3D it wouldn't sell, I switched off. It seemed that the whizziness of the game seemed to overshadow gameplay, and making sure you got a few minutes for your money regardless of your skill replaced the learning curve. There's still the occasional game that sparks my interest, but when I find myself returning to games that happily entertained me nearly 20 years ago, you have to question if progress is always such a good thing.
Kev Beeley, UK

Who says these games are a thing of the past? I still play them on my PC at work - in lunchtime of course.
John Ludlam, UK

My first experience of video gaming was with a good old "TV Game" with tennis, squash on it. And a two-tone beep sound. It was great. More fun can be had with that than a lot of the new big lumbering PC games of today. Keep it simple and look to the old days for real enjoyment in gaming. More action per square inch of screen is what it's about.
Ty, UK

I remember being particularly prone to "Atari Finger" as I would spend hour upon hour glued to the TV blasting Space Invaders. The joysticks used to get hidden from time to time to allow the callouses between my thumb and first finger to heal.
Matt Smith, UK

I will never forget the first arcade machine I saw; Donkey Kong when I lived in Zimbabwe. I was about 6 years old and there was loads of grown-ups there. One of them took the toy guns out of my holsters and put them on top of the cabinet. Being so small I couldn't reach them. Nowadays technology makes things so small, I've got a clone of the same game on my PDA!
Keith Wilson, UK

Games programmers today have almost limitless computer power, and also call on software as an aid to creating their games. Let's now think back to the days of the Sinclair Spectrum with only 16 or 48K of memory. Some of the games for such machines were remarkable. The Hobbitt for example.
Dudley Piggott, Georgia


The first game we played was Horace Goes Skiing. It was like the Final Fantasy of its day. Awesome, when you're seven.


Chris Merriman, England
I still remember the giddy thrill of Christmas morning 1984. Our first computer - a ZX Spectrum with "typing on dead flesh" rubber keyboard. The first game we played was Horace Goes Skiing. It was like the Final Fantasy of its day. Awesome, when you're seven.
Chris Merriman, England

It was Atari who brought the game of Pong to the masses in 1972. Anyone remember the Grandstand home video games from the mid 70's? Video gaming took on a new dimension with the introduction of Vectorbeam graphics in 1977 when Atari introduced Space Wars to the arcades. Vector beam produced straight lines on the screen without the low res block effect of other games graphics. This format was also used for Asteroids. When Space Invaders was introduced to the arcades by Taito in 1978, it took the world by storm. My personal favourite came from Williams, the pinball specialists who dipped their toe into video gaming with Defender in 1981. Smooth multi-coloured graphics in a fast 'fly your spaceship and shoot everything' format, you needed all your fingers to play it. A clever piece of programming as the whole game runs in 26K. How things have changed.
David, UK

Donkey Kong and Galaxian were favourites of mine and I still enjoy playing them today on my PC, the theme tune to Galaxian sticks in every kids mind if they are in their early to mid-thirties. Excellent fun because of their simplicity.
Mike, UK

For me it all started with the BBC machines where our science teacher in junior school used organise computer game playing sessions after school. A really competitive and at sometimes, hostile, atmosphere built up especially when playing the all time classic Elite from David Braben and Ian Bell, or even the less demanding games such as Snapper, a Pac Man clone and Killer Gorilla. Several of us, due to our games addiction and the schools respect for the Acorn computers as a learning tool persuaded our parents to buy a BBC Micro Model B or in my case the budget "Acorn Electron".
Dave Norman, England


We played Pac Man, Space Invaders, Asteroids. You could never get us off it. We even wrote our own games. It was so easy to understand in the those days, nice and simple

Samantha Norris, London, UK
I remember the first computer we had at home. It was the old BBC Micro Model B. We played Pac Man, Space Invaders, Asteroids. You could never get us off it. We even wrote our own games. It was so easy to understand in the those days, nice and simple. The old ones will always be the best!
Samantha Norris, London, UK

I remember the first games coming out on a Sinclair ZX81 (remember them?). The games used to use characters of the ASCII code to represent an object on a screen, it was also limited to 2 colours, black and white ! It was more fun in them days programming in machine code. My favourite game from this era was Asteroids, simply black and white wireframe graphics.
David Whyte, Britain

Like myself, I think many console owners and games players of today were children when video games first took off. I have fond memories of those early days - Asteroids, Defender, Missile Command were all very simple games but, at the same time, truly absorbing. That may be why we are keen to be reminded of where it all began.
Dave Wright, Oxford, UK

I loved Pac Man when I was younger. Play an online flash version here: http://www.geocities.com/jackospage/pac.htm . This will bring back a few memories.
Paul, England

I must say, that looking back to the very early days of gaming, I still clearly remember the first console my parents bought for me and my brothers. It was the good old tennis game, and I remember it so clearly, for us this was a time back in 1975/76. It snowballed from there on. The almighty Atari, Space Invaders, Missile Attack. Oh those were the days. For that was when you were really surprised at what you saw, where as today, nothing really surprises anymore, we expect reality in a game, we expect to be engulfed in storyline and colours and shapes of all kinds. I remember two games that my brother was nothing short of a true master - Defender and Pac Man. This kid back in 79/80 was a legend in my whole town and somewhat in surrounding towns for his ability and shear skilled he showed.
Darren Tracey, United Kingdom

There were two superb games I grew up with: 1942 an arcade shoot-em up and Harrier Attack a fantastic yet simple game on the Amstrad. I have yet to find an emulator for either of those, can anybody help??
David , UK

During the year of my Inter Cert (O Level exams) (1983) some friends and I would spend almost every lunch time in the back room of a local pub where they had a Pac Man game in a coffee table machine. We discovered it was emptied of money each Wednesday during this time. The game owner (not the bar owner) would arrive take out the money box, go behind the bar to empty it, and then return the money box to the machine. However during this time we would put the same 10p piece into the machine over and over catching it as it fell out each time. This built up lots of credit, and usually we would spend the rest of the day playing, skipping class to play for free.
Larry O'Brien, Ireland

There are ongoing projects to preserve the original arcade video games. One of the best is MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) which is free and can be found at www.mame.net. The games for it can be found at www.mame.dk. You can play every original game mentioned in the article - plus about 1800 others from (my/your) childhood - free. It makes a bit of a difference from spending my dinner money on Moon Cresta at the chip shop near my old school.
Ian, UK

I remember asking my folks for a Zx Spectrum plus 3 but instead getting an Acorn Electron. It had a tape loader so when you plonked your desired game-tape in it it took about 1/2 an hour to load (remembering to turn your tape over half way through) with a characteristic multi frequency screeching. Drove my mum mad. However once loaded, Frogger was the game of choice. Still gets me smiling thinking of the fantastic soundtrack.
Daniel Bradley, UK


My memories of the Spectrum Games are more about mechanics than playing. Taking hours to load from a funny little tape recorder and the sound of having phoned a fax machine.


Elizabeth, UK
Ah, the days of the Binatone plugged in to the telly! Plip...plip...plip...plip! My memories of the Spectrum Games are more about mechanics than playing. Taking hours to load from a funny little tape recorder and the sound of having phoned a fax machine. Do you remember typing in massive long programs from a Spectrum magazine for three hours, only to find out that it had a bug in and wouldn't run!
Elizabeth, UK

I remember being the first kid on my block to have an Atari Video Computer System. We had Pac Man, Missile Command, Night Driver, Air-Sea Battle from Atari, then we bought Laser Command and Home Run Baseball by Activision. Soon, there was a new toy on the block - the first generation Nintendo Family Computer. That spelled the end of the Atari Era but I'll never forget it. It was one of those watersheds in my life.
Oscar Buduan, The Republic of the Philippines

I remember the early games so clearly - the late 70s and early 80s were defined by them, for me. And many of them are still incredibly enjoyable, too, even now.
Mohammed, UK

The Hobbit for the Spectrum was my first experience with computer AI. You could talk to the characters and they'd talk back! It inspired me. I now work on the cutting edge of the internet for the world's biggest ISP and put down my passion to my early years playing games
Alistair Hemming, UK

For those of us who remember the 8-Bit period (and before), I still marvel at kids today who have grown up with Playstations and N64's not experiencing the fun and creativity that was abundant with home computer coders making truly original games. Remember 2.99 games? Dual formatted cassettes? Ah, those were the days. That was when dreams came true for many bedroom coders with just a 100 system could code and release a commercial product. Just a shame you can't do that these days.
Jason Hayman, UK


I used to play Asteroids. My record was four hours scoring 1.5 million. I had to stop when my legs cramped up.

Eric Forcythe-Reid, UK
TV Tennis was the business. Everyone must surely remember that feeling of pure satisfaction when you half-volleyed the 'ball' so fast you never saw it again!
Simon Mansfield, Belgium

I used to play Asteroids. My record was four hours scoring 1.5 million. (the score 'clocked' at 100,000 so people used to count for me). I had to stop when my legs cramped up. I also used to play Defender and recall how the whole game would slow down when you reached 990,000 into something that looked like bullet time in the Matrix.
Eric Forcythe-Reid (EGS), UK

My PDA resembles more of a retro arcade than anything else. Galaxian, Pacman, Elite (called StarTrader now) and many many more oldies have been stored on there. At least they come in useful for boring lectures at university.
Ant Allen, UK

I have hazy rose tinted memories of the games I played some 16 years ago. Defender drove me mad as I was never tall enough to fully see what was going on, a deadly flaw in my game playing. Still good twitch play though. Console-wise I have good memories of my Atari 2600 at the time. The computer game though was Head over Heels, far too many hours of my youth spent on this. Any one remember seeing the arcade Dragons Lair for the first time?

Oh, in reply to David looking for 1942, you could try Mame emulation, or Capcom themselves released the actual game and it's sequels on the Playstation and Saturn as Capcom generations. Check out cex.co.uk they might have it.
Keiran Harvey, UK

I remember when I was young, I saved money for over a year to buy Atari and Space Invaders. In the arcades, I especially remember a game called Lady Bug, which was a kind of new Pac Man game. I didn't at that time eat sweets, because I used all my money for this new world to me. Now that I have my own powerful laptop I still play, but of course more advanced games, though I remember a nice time with the beginning of games.
Torben Dan, Denmark


The games that really got me hooked, though, were Tempest and Joust - other girls went to the burger place to hang out and check out boys. I was the nerdy girl racking up the high scores on those games - the only girl!

Kim, USA
I've loved arcade games since the age of eight. That was the first time I walked into the 'Teen Center' located above one of my hometown's grocery stores. I started on air hockey and was great at it, then I went on to pinball. The games that really got me hooked, though, were Tempest and Joust - other girls went to the burger place to hang out and check out boys; I was the nerdy girl racking up the high scores on those games - the only girl!
Kim, USA

Don't forget Scamble ! Absolutely loved this one along with Phoenix, where you had to blow the huge spaceship up. It was the noise that got you going... I can still hear it in my dreams... I used to find the sit down machines great, as the game went on you would lean further forward and masses of people would start to lean over too. It was more like a performance, unless you were awful of course.
Gareth, Singapore

The 'dun,dun,dun,dun' rhythm of a space game must rate alongside the music for "Jaws" as a symbol of ominous threat, even 20+ years on.
Colin, New Zealand

One of my old favorites is a game called Mazewar for the Atari 8-bit computers. It was written by Mark Price, IIRC. You'd select how many computers (Zombies) and how many players (Wizards, up to four on a computer with four joystick ports) and then you'd get in there and start blowing stuff up.
TJ Edmister, USA

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