Retro-gaming: Why walking down memory lane can be tiresome

Spyhunter: rage-inducing
I am a computer games fan. Have been since we got our first Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Man was that an exciting time. I’m not sure I really even knew what a home computer was for when it arrived. It didn’t take long to discover that although you could do stuff like program a ball to move across the screen or to draw the three sides of a triangle, this little baby was really all about the games :)

Games like Ant Attack, Horace and the Spiders, Renegade, Halls of the Things, Bard’s Tale (the list goes on) have been cemented into my nostalgic memory forever. You can’t touch this.

After many years and an upgrade (Spectrum 48k+) I begged the breadwinner to buy me an Amiga. That was also one FINE day. Possibly more exciting than the spectrum’s arrival because:
  1. it was mine all-greedy mine as opposed to having to share it with other family members, but also because
  2. I knew what this fresh beast of a computer was capable of, and it blew the spectrum right out of the water
This period of joy however was preceded by a period of extreme research and consideration. I had to make a choice between the Amiga and the Atari-ST. This was an extremely important decision. I couldn’t afford to choose the wrong machine and live with the disappointment for years after. I definitely made the right choice. The Atari was woefully inferior in the games locker in my opinion. And so, the trusty Amiga lasted for many happy years. But like all good things, it  had to come to an end, and this happened mainly because:
  1. I got a new toy – a ‘girlfriend’ (who I discovered wasn’t really excited by computer games) but also because
  2. at said girlfriend’s house one day, I saw one of her brothers playing ‘Doom’ on an IBM-PC and it looked rather good.
So, the relatively short-lived era of PC-based gaming began but didn’t last long because I soon realised that all that faffing with video cards and drivers and memory was way too much of a bore and besides look what popped up, The PlayStation.

Now, I’m not really a PlayStation whore but I do confess to buying one simply so I could play Resident Evil. Our allegiance didn’t last long once the Dreamcast had made its existence known, offering up ‘Resident Evil: Code Veronica’ and boy, was that worth trading in for. Veronica was fab.

Sadly, I liked the Dreamcast and it looked so cool compared to the PlayStation which appearance-wise was always trying to take itself too seriously. It was the console that was experiencing an early and difficult puberty whilst the Dreamcast rejoiced in still being a child. But Sega (the manufacturers) threw the towel in when faced with the stiff competition in the form of Nintendo and Sony’s bitter ‘our-console-is-supreme’ competition.

Enter, wait for it, the “X” box. I got one based mainly on my brother’s insistence that they are worth getting and I’ve never looked back.

The problem these days is (and apologies for taking waaaay to long to get to my point here) that after consuming all the high-definition goodness that microsoft’s fantastic gaming console has to offer, retro gaming, for me, simply does not cut the mustard. Hell, it doesn’t even cut the redcurrant jelly or the mint sauce. I want to weep when within seconds I lose patience and thus interest with games I once adored.

It also raises another question. Did we used to be uber-patient back in the 80’s and 90’s? Because I certainly don’t possess that quality now. I guess we must have been. We played these frustrating games over and over again. ‘Spyhunter’ though was one of the fist games to test my then very generous patience. It caused me on a couple of occasions to throw my Spectrum 48k+ down our cellar steps. It survived the first round of abuse somehow (like a resilient wife at the hands of a Stella-fuelled husband) but sadly it didn’t get up after the second time. “Talk to me down there – I need to know if you’re okaaaaay”

I wasn’t always that high-maintenance. I started off with joystick abuse but sometimes when the irritation got serious, bashing a controller on your knee or head (why those were the instinctive choices I don’t know – I mean, why didn’t we just ram the damn things into your groins??) wasn’t enough to quash the annoyance, Like an addict I had to notch it up a little and well, throwing the computer down some uncompromising stone stairs did just the trick. Then, after a couple of minutes of calm time, the guilt and the regret set in and that didn’t feel too brilliant.

For me, I think this form of games-related rage is based on two key criteria.
  1. A feeling of extreme anger based on your inability to complete a level, kill a boss, jump onto a platform, whatever
  2. Perhaps even more potent is the frustration of losing to another player and them rubbing it right in your face.and you having to sit there like a loser, taking the shame.
I wonder whether in the future I will harbour the same reservations about returning to my old xbox games for a spot of retro gaming action? Or will they have become too tiresome?

Mobile Lois

Chatsworth in autumn colours
Lois has started walking. We believe she’s been able to for some time but something prevents her from wanting to. She can manage a few steps and happily stands and plays with toys. She happily goes from squat to stand and then back down again but walking is still a bit of a hassle for her. She’s starting to make a variety of different noises in an attempt to pronounce words too and she’s loud. Boy is she loud. She makes other nearby families move to further away tables in cafes. I’m sure she’ll find the volume switch soon :)

A bug has been doing the rounds in our house which for me highlights how incredibly challenging it is to be a parent when you are unable to care for yourself let alone other minor dependents. I was in bed for 48 hours and vommed and cried (the former I hadn’t done for at 3 years, the latter for maybe 8?). On one occasion when I couldn’t quite reach the toilet I managed to generously line the bottom of the bath (it’s quite a big bath) with partially-digested golden porridge. At least I think that’s what it was. Not sure what else it could have been. Also there was the diarroea. Man, was there a lot of that!

Anyway, I got over it and now Lisa has come down with it. Isn’t that just the way.
Since last blogging, Maisie has now become a regular and happy user of her potty (and sometimes the toilet!). We no longer need to reward its use either, she just goes and does it. The gifts may have ceased but the proud smiles all around are still very much part of the process. So she now wears pants instead of nappies (except for during the night).

The ‘Kinect’ (wireless, controller-less input device based on sensors which triangulate your body’s position etc.) is due to be released on the 10th November, I suddenly decided yesterday that I needed one on the release day and that I hadn’t bothered pre-ordering one and that maybe I should look into doing so. Everywhere was sold out except Argos so I quickly ordered one. I’m not 100% confident that it will arrive on the 10th although they seemed to be saying it would. After ordering I logged in to ‘track my order’ and they are now saying it will ship tomorrow. Hmmm. I very much doubt it. I suspect Maisie like it because she currently likes the idea of xbox games (and loved watching me play ‘Where the WIld Things Are’) however she just can’t cope with using the controller. Also, the Kinect has a launch title called ‘Kinectimals’ which is a bit like a glorified virtual pets game by the looks of things but the beauty of it is she can stroke and snuggle a baby tiger (other species are available) with getting horribly mauled in the process.

Someone shot a emperor stag yesterday in cornwall in the news and now there’s a massive hoo-har cos it was 9ft and about to start mating and passing on its rather desirable genes. Not sure why we think that shooting anything is a good idea in the first place really anyway.

On friday it is ‘fancy dress day’ at Lois and Maisie’s nursery what with halloween being close and all. We asked Maisie what she would like to dress up as for that day and she said ‘a cat’. Not just any old cat though, she wants to dress up as Louis. Also she has decided that Lois can should be a ‘wicked witch’.Seems a bit unfair, no? Anyway, she then changed her mind and decided she wanted to be the witch from ‘Room on the Broom’ so Lisa bought her a rather cool witch outfit but I think she has since reverted back to the cat idea again. Choices, choices.

The house is beginning to fall apart due to the enhanced wear and tear which comes with two small children and also because due to said small children, we don’t have time or money to remedy the erosions. The carpets and sofas and looking increasingly tired.

The sleep however is on the whole vastly improved on this time last year for example. Maisie is going to bed more readily. Her bedtime involves me reading her some stories before Mum brings her some milk up and sits with her until she falls asleep (whilst reading her new Kindle e-book reader). She also tends to sleep better and often without waking. Lois is pretty good too. She is placed in her cot and she normally falls straight to sleep. Some recent teething issues and illness (we think) have caused her to wake up more often lately but all in all it’s a big improvement on our last system, the system I will now refer to as 'the ridiculous-and-hopeless-hello-are-we-parents-or-zombies-you-decide method’.