Tuesday, August 08, 2006

My Life As a Gamer Part 2: The PC Years

With 1981 came college and the continuation of TRS-80 gaming. It also saw the introduction of the IBM PC, a machine I was utterly uninterested in, for esoteric programming-related reasons. Having dealt with CP/M86, I had sworn an oath never to own a machine primarily based on Intel's brain-damaged segmented architecture. This oath I kept until 1997.

There weren't a lot of games for the TRS-80, but in combination with trips to the arcades there were enough to keep the gaming spark alive through around 1990 or so. Most were ports of arcade games, including surprisingly good (considering the 128x48 resolution graphics) versions of Defender, Galaxian and Pac-Man. There were also occasional original games like the hilarious and fun Outhouse. And there were text adventures from Adventure International and later Infocom.

By 1990 I'd been working for a major IT firm for four years and could afford a new PC (dont beat me up over the ''microcomputer vs. PC" distinction; that battle was lost long ago). I stuck to my oath and bought a Commodore Amiga. It was easy. At the time, the PC wars had not yet been decided, and in every technical respect the Amiga was superior to an Intel-based PC running Windows 3.0. It was also superior in some suspects to a Mac, and was considerably cheaper.

And of course it had better games.

These ranged from the unwieldy ArcticFox, Barbarian, Defender of the Crown, Dungeon Master, Falcon, Jet, Pac-Mania, Red Baron, SDI, Space Quest, and Their Finest Hour: Battle of Britain, to the middling Emerald Mine, F-19 Stealth Fighter, Ferrari Formula One, Great Giana Sisters, Gunship 2000, Knights of the Sky, Outrun, Plutos, Silent Service, and StarGlider 2, to the excellent A-10 Tank Killer, Arkanoids, F-16 Combat Pilot, F/A-18 Interceptor, Fighter Duel Pro, Frontier Elite II, Indianapolis 500, Lemmings, Marble Madness, Star Wars, Super Hang-On, Test Drive 2, Turrican, and Wing Commander.

All this kept me in gaming goodness until 1997. My trips to the arcades dropped off drastically; those shallow coin-eating game designs couldn't compete with the hours of enjoyment in titles like Wing Commander, A-10 Tank Killer, or Frontier Elite II. Nor could the Nintendos or Segas, which I perceived as arcade rip-offs. I was unaware of superior titles like Metroid or Final Fantasy.

Then, in 1997, I got married, and the PC-only phase of my gaming life ended. And the next began: After Us, The Deluge.

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