Archive for July, 2013
This won’t be some retrospective on how this computer fits (fitted) into my life. I’ll leave the philosophising to the professionals. Today I’m thinking back to when my Amiga was bought and how much of an ordeal it was to get together.
I should be honest that it really wasn’t much of an ordeal for me, but more for my parents who had to do all the running around and stressing. Oh, and paying for it. You can’t forget the money.
Costing $900, the Amiga pack came with, among other things, a TV adapter. This large and frumpy plug served as a gateway between the serious computer user and the man on the street. This connector allowed the Amiga to connect to a television (much like the Commodore 64 before it). This removed a barrier that prevented many from affording a computer.
The odyssey began when we brought our first monitor home. Despite my dad asking and checking at the shop (K-Mart), it was not stereo. After we realised this, we had to RUSH it back before K-Mart closed. The monitor was returned and we got our money back. I am not sure why we had to rush. I think it was because we assumed they had a stereo monitor in stock. They didn’t.
So we had to put up with the TV for a few more weeks/months.
On the way back from my uncle’s property in Outrrim (Gippsland, Victoria), we made a stop at the K-Mart in Cranbourne. All I remember is sitting in the car for 10-15 minutes and then seeing my dad come out with a big box.
An Amiga monitor.
It might have taken a few months for to get our hands on one, but it was completely worth it.
I asked my parents about their thoughts on their first console.
They worked out that they bought the 2600 before I was born, so at least as early as 1980. Apparently it cost about $500 AUD when Dad bought it. This was at a time when average wages were $250 per week. Doing an estimate, the PS4 costing $550 AUD is MUCH more affordable than the Atari, or indeed many other consoles from times past.
Having the Atari 2600 gave my parents the freedom to choose what the TV screen showed them which was rare for that time. It was also something they could interact with. There was very little else at the time that could replicate this level of interactivity, especially something that could make use of the television.
It’s a strange world to think of, where the ‘modern’ entertainment was so limited. Remember this was an age when my parents (and many other people) had to stay up past midnight to watch Blake’s 7 and Doctor Who. VCRs were still fairly rare in 1980. Conventional wisdom would always put gaming consoles after video tapes, but it was not the case. It is interesting to think that my parents were indeed avid gamers, and my Dad remains one today.
As usual, I’m a few (9) months behind with games. One of these games I got to late and spent a long time playing, was Mark of the Ninja. I think I started it in March and finished it today! Slow is me.
Mark of the Ninja has you controlling a tattoo covered anonymous Ninja, through a series of fairly open ended 2D platform levels. The beginning has your ninja and his companion repulse an attack on their ‘secret’ hideout and then seek revenge against their attackers. I’ll say now, this is the game I had always dreamed of back in the early ’90s.
Stealth is the name of the game and avoiding confrontation is encouraged. When you must kill, you can hide bodies to remain undetected and continue your infiltration. All successful, stealthy kills, must be done when the target is unaware of you. This is not a fair fight.
Traps and tricks are available to you in your mission (some traps also stand in your path), meaning any one obstacle can be dealt with in many ways. Enemy guards can be distracted by a noise, killed by a spiked trap or (my favourite) terrorised by poisoned dart causing them to shoot wildly, often killing their fellow guards and leaving your hands ‘clean’. Unlike the Thief series, you are not heavily penalized for killing those in your way, but you do receive a bonus for letting everyone on a mission live.
The plot is clear and easy to follow, with fewer than six named characters. The art style is very reminiscent of Samurai Jack or the older Clone Wars cartoon. It’s that angular, kinda jerky and super colourful ‘New American’ style. Sound is also a triumph, reminding me again of Thief, my favourite stealth game, which is a ‘GOOD THING’ in my book.
Reading some reviews (always a mistake) I was amused by some reviewers finding some of the puzzles too difficult, and wanting the game to feature normal face to face combat. Ridiculous and it would defeat the purpose of the game; Staying to the shadows, not waltzing in and fighting everyone in a mêlée.
I’m definitely going to try the new game+ mode. I doubt many of the reviewers tried that out, poor dears. Edge magazine gave it an 8/10, the lowest score of any major publication. Oh Edge, will we ever agree?
The game is $15 and will last between 10-15 hours on your first play-through. One of the best from last year.
Mark of the Ninja 10/10