The Single Button Joystick

Tag: Growing up

“I’ll bring my controller…”

by on Oct.06, 2011, under 16-bit, 8-bit, Amiga, Modern, PC, Retro

I read this thing a million times

In my preteen (pre internet) days, I would  imagine a future where multiplayer games would not need visiting anyone. Taking a joystick over to my friend’s house on a lazy Saturday became such a fixture in my life that it doesn’t feel so long ago. He lived on the other side of a valley, an epic journey of ten minutes. It wasn’t as though I found this short walk difficult or annoying, but the sheer convenience of being able to sit down at your computer, press a few buttons and be playing against a friend was a far in future.

Split screen continues to be a popular method of multiplaying, but back in the day it was pretty much your only option. From ages 10-15, Chooie and I would get into any multiplayer action we could get our hands on. Rarely were these games of the boxed and retail variety, but from the magazine Amiga Power. Over three years he and I collected nearly every issue and with it, their coverdisks. Two games we played really stood out; Extreme Violence and Gravity Force 2.

The first game was simple. The players each controlled a man with a hat and a gun, their goal is to be the first to kill the other player a few times. The usual power ups are available, bigger guns, faster boots, etc. While superficially plain, it had a visceral quality, the desperation of avoiding your opponents huge laser wave, and trying to pop him with your crappy bullet was always intense. Intense until my Chooie’s mother hid it from us for SEVERAL years, ugh.

Gravity Force 2 also came from Amiga Power and was an instant hit with us. Two little spaceships piloted through levels that looked like they were out of Lemmings. You’d try not to crash into the walls, avoid the turrets and shoot your opponent naturally, but where it stood out was the vast array of settings. The type of weapons used, the amount of air resistance and of course the effect of the gravity are just a few of the preferences players had control over. The levels included water which realistically slowed you down and caused your ship to float. Amiga Power also liked this game so much, that they sponsored the game’s creators to make a sequel, Gravity Power. It was a better game in almost every way except it never worked properly on my computer. Bummer!

Where is the ethernet port?

Limitations in technology (and funds) curtailed my abilities to play any games remotely or system link. Very few games offered system link at the time, and none of my friends were really able to move their computers around for mere entertainment purposes. Remote play was not only beyond my budget, but largely beyond my imagination! How far we’ve come. Just today I sat down switched on my PC and within five minutes I was driving my custom built tank around a battlefield populated by thirty people, drawn from a hundred thousand strangers from around the world. This World of Tanks, made me realise how far we’ve come.

The internet has made finding opponents and allies for multiplayer games easier, but I’ll always miss those walks across the park, clutching my floppy disks and an extra joystick, eager to blast my friend to pieces.



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Moving out!

by on Dec.10, 2010, under Short updates

Next week I’ll be out and into the world! As long as I avoid the wallet inspector I should have a nice setup running by the end of next week. I think I’ll need a bed too.

I'd be happy if it worked too

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