The youth have time and energy, but no money.
The adults have energy and money, but no time.
The elderly have money and time, but no energy.
It’s a profound statement, but even when it comes to video games I find it to be true. When I was a small video game playing boy, I would pore over magazines and just WANT. My parents wouldn’t buy me anything (well not everything) I wanted (which means I appreciate money as an adult), so I was often limited to demo disks and whatever I could borrow from my uncle.
I’m not going to lament about missed opportunities to play games I have wanted since childhood and it isn’t a lack of interest that has prevented me from playing them now, but rather a lack of time. So many other games have come out in the intervening years, that there simply hasn’t been enough hours in the day to revisit them all.
One of my most desired Amiga games, was Guardian. Released for the Commodore CD32, this game was half StarFox and half Defender. Defender is a 1980 game, which
involves your spaceship destroying various enemies that are trying to abduct your planet’s citizens. Guardian uses StarFox style polygon 3D graphics but allows for full 360° movement.
I would always gaze at magazines longingly with their screenshots of Guardian, knowing that I’d likely never own it. The CD32 was very hard to find in Australia, and deep down I knew that it wouldn’t be worth getting one. Now I could hop on an emulator, or even spend a few hundred dollars on the real thing, but I haven’t yet. Maybe I will now though.
Another game that eluded my grasp is Lemmings 2: The Tribes. Yes, I never played the sequel to one of those all time greats. I had Lemmings when it was new and fresh. Lemmings 2 came out well after I had played the original and I was interested in more. However video games were more expensive back then and Dad wasn’t able to shell out 2% of his salary on a single new Amiga game… (Mum had no problem doing this with Pinball Fantasies).
Lemmings 2 took the idea of the original Lemmings (guiding suicidal green haired muppet men to safety), expanding on it enough to make it deserving of a sequel. The original Lemmings are joined by eleven new versions or tribes. Each of these tribes have abilities that relate to their tribe. The Beach Lemmings, for example, can use a hang glider to cross gaps. Canoes offer them the chance to cross water, which was always fatal in the original Lemmings. Egyptian Lemmings can fill gaps with cement, a nod to their Pyramid building abilities… Strange.
From the few videos I have looked at when I chose these two games as my missed games, they both look and sound fantastic. The music of Lemmings, has always been a highlight and the gameplay is just as compelling and tricky now as it was in 1993.
Through choice or circumstance, I’ve often found myself on the losing side of a format war. My family never had Betamax, Laserdisc or HD-DVD, simply VHS until upgrading to DVD in the early 2000s. While lucky on the video front, we were perhaps less fortunate when it came to selecting our gaming platforms.
Buying an Amiga 500 in 1989 was not a mistake, let me get that out into the world. It provided the most affordable and powerful gaming experience for easily the next four years. Last week, I put up a YouTube link comparing the differences between Amiga and IBM PC sound of the early 90s, this by itself would be enough to convince most of its supremacy at the time.
Fast forward to 1994 and the Amiga 500 was really starting to show its age. By now, many of my contemporaries were sitting down and enjoying Wolfenstein 3D, Doom or Ultima Underworld for the very lucky ones, I had no games like that available on my grandpa of a system.
It became a part of my life, trying to defend yesterday’s hero against increasingly powerful PCs and the next generation of video game consoles. I didn’t often think myself as disadvantaged by having such an old computer; I still could comfortably fall back to the sound quality as being far superior.
I remember both console owners and current (486) PC owners being very impressed by Cannon Fodder, one of the Amiga’s last truly great games. The old girl had life in her yet!
Then CD drives became affordable.
There was no real comeback for the Amiga after this bombshell. All Commodore’s efforts to enter the CDROM arena failed and they went bankrupt later in 1994.
Games were still being made on a large-scale for the machine into 1996, but when Amiga Power released its last issue, I knew it was time to move on. By January 1997 my family had a PC and we relegated the Amiga to secondary duties.
In the early 2000s it was covered with an old sheet to protect it from dust.
Veil the Amiga.