When my parents bought me an Amiga 500+ in 1991 my whole life changed. I still look back with a great deal of nostalgia when I think of the amount of time I spent hunched over at my desk toggling my joystick.
And I played a few games on the computer as well! Boom boom!
Even though computers have moved on to a completely different level over the past 20 years, I still genuinely believe that nothing has come close to the sound of clicking in that floppy disc and loading up one of the hundreds of games that were easily accessible for 99p if you knew the right person at school!
So here is my countdown of the games that kept me up to all hours of the night and undoubtedly played a huge part in my appalling GCSE exam results... but it was well worth it!
My Top 10 Amiga Games!
Kid Gloves is a game that rarely gets mentioned in other 'Best Amiga Games' lists that I've seen, but for me the multi-platform game featuring a baby boxer who punched his way past the bad guys offered hours of gameplay. This may have been largely down to the fact that is was pretty damn hard, but out of the hundreds of games I had back then, I still remember this one, especially the random array of enemies that included snakes, elves and crocodiles, as well as flames and spinning wheels. It was a bit random, and the music was certainly a touch on the annoying side, but for some reason I was quite intrigued by this little dude who paraded around with his boxing gloves!
Before Championship Manager took over my life, I got myself warmed up for the world of footy management sims by playing Premier Manager 2. You started your career in the Conference and worked your way up through the leagues. As well as managing the team you were also responsible for the clubs finances by negotiating advertising deals, bank loans, and ticket sales. It's a bit like letting Harry Redknapp have free reign over all financial aspects for the club, and we all know how well that turned out for QPR! It had a few nice touches in the game that arguably was ahead of its time with options such as stadium rebuilds and contacting other managers via the telephone.
Alongside Outrun and GTA Vice City, this game had the best soundtrack of any computer game ever made. Ever! Okay, that's quite a boast, especially as it's not a soundtrack at all - more of a theme tune really. But listening back to that little snippet of music stirs up an abundance of nostalgic excitement! The pointless middle screen shot between attacks, the strange sound of a basketball supposedly bouncing on the court, the accusations that the computer would cheat if you were winning by too much of a margin! It was all part of a routine of nipping around to my mates house at lunch to get a quick half hour game in as we both hummed the tune to our hearts content!
I know people bang on about the golden years of Mario and Sonic, but if you owned an Amiga rather than a Nintendo or Sega back in the day, then this is the only platform game you needed! What was there not to like about this game? You were a prince who had been turned into a frog by an evil witch, and now you wore a superheroes cape, drank Lucozade to restore energy levels, popped pills to increase your skill, played slot machines, shot at people with a strange little yo-yo type amphibian in your pocket, and you had a princess to save! The game was highly addictive, and I was easily kept entertained throughout the five different worlds you had to travel through.
This was a game ahead of its time! A crazy mixture of handball, ice hockey, and five-a-side football; this futuristic sports game rewarded players for scoring goals and extreme violence, all while the shouts for 'Ice cream!' can be heard from the crowd. There was something very special about assembling your own team of thugs and then sending them out to beat the hell out of the opposition. A great example of this was to launch the ball at the goalkeeper and then throw yourself at him to steal the ball back and score.And nothing beat playing against a friend and going full pelt to see who could cause the most amount of damage in the shortest amount of time possible!
Who would have thought that blowing up a bunch of small rodents could have been so much fun! Long before amazing graphics, ridiculously hard joystick combinations, and story telling Hollywood would be proud of, us gamers were kept entertained by guiding a bunch of humanoid lemmings through a number of obstacles with a skillset that included building bridges, digging holes, and acting as a lollipop lady to direct lemming traffic. But as the minutes turned to hours, and the hours turned to days, the only communication we had was a simple woo-hoo that the Lemmings would cry in celebration or uh-oh before exploding!
In a time when pressing a dozen buttons in a particular sequence became the norm with computer games, point and click ruled the world, and that was thanks in no small part to LucasArts. Whilst Monkey Island was the undisputed king of the genre, when Indy and his whip hit our screens as our pixelated hero in Fate of Atlantis, it just as addictive as the adventures of swash-buckling pirate Guybrush Threepwood! After the success of this game, it makes you wonder why Indiana Jones didn't turn up in sequel point and click adventures, or why other Hollywood movies didn't follow suit. I mean, could you imagine a point and click version of a Nightmare of Elm Street or The Running Man?!
You can keep your Fifa's and you can stuff your Pro Evolution Soccer's up your backside, because if there was one football game I could happily play for the rest of my life it was Sensible Soccer - or Sensi as it was affectionately known! The birds-eye view, the fact the ball went left when you turned right, the ability to win games by cricket scores by cutting in from the edge of the box and curling the ball past the keeper! It was simple and brilliant all at the same time, and when they introduced the managerial element of the game which allowed you to transfer players in and out, it took this beautiful game to a whole another level of addiction.
I pretty much peed my pants in glee when The Secret of Monkey Island was released as an app on the iPhone. Here I was, a man in my 30s celebrating the fact that a game I played when I was 13 was back in the palm of my hands.And then when LeChuck's Revenge followed I was a dribbling mess. Because that is what the brilliance of this game does to you. It was like playing the lead role in a movie with the most wonderful of scripts, yet you have no idea how it's all going to end. It was a time before Pirates of the Caribbean and looking back you realise that Captain Jack Sparrow is nothing more than a poor man's Guybrush Threepwood.
Many have tried to emulate it, but when it comes to the world of football management games, there is - and always will be - only one game that matters. I'm pretty sure this game was single-handedly was the reason why I didn't do as well in my exams as I would have liked, and then later on in life the reason for poor performance at work, girlfriends leaving me, and my damaged eyesight from staring at a computer screen for too long (although there might be another reason for that last one...). It's hard to believe that 20 years after I first popped the floppy disc into my Amiga that I am still just as hooked as I was back then, forever hopeful that I'll unearth the next Nii Lamptey!
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