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?

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