Sunday, 17 July 2011

Coin Operated Childhood

I hate video games. Basically, you can take your myriad shiny consoles and stick them up Jabba's nasty place. It didn't used to be like this. There were halcyon days during which video games were the best thing in the world to me, but games and gaming have long since left me behind. It's not that I think they're particularly bad now, far from it, they're awe-inspiring things to behold and I'm sure they're a blast to play, but at this point in my life I have too much to do to be playing games for hours on end.

Now I like games that take a few minutes, just little filler games on my iPad or iPod Touch for killing a bit of time while waiting in a queue or whatever. That I can deal with. Major games now are too involved and complicated for me to care about. I know, they're brilliant, ground-breaking, engrossing etc, but I just don't have the time or the patience now.

Back in the day it was a different story, as the second I could get close to a proper video games arcade (remember them?), I would spend every penny I had in order to stand at those gorgeous machines. They were magical giant boxes of purest awesome, and there are a few that define parts of my childhood. A few of them stick out as being particularly wonderful, for different reasons.

The first is Moon Cresta, a scrolling spaceships-and-aliens game which was the only interesting thing about the 'Family Room' at the Norfolk Arms, a pub back home in Yorkshire that I spent far too much time in on weekends with my dad as a child. I checked out some videos of the game on YouTube recently and the music alone took me right back to those days thrashing at the joystick in frustration.

Another was Space Harrier, that classic sci-fi shoot 'em up, which when I was playing it, was set into a huge gyroscope that you would climb into, get strapped into, and be flung around and upside down as the game progressed. That was amazing. Pop culture related games soon took over my interest, with titles such as X-Men, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, Captain America and The Avengers and more sucking coins from my pockets.

Granted, I was rubbish at most of these games, but I had a ton of fun playing them, and am a little sad that there doesn't seem to be a great deal of actual fun in the games that are huge now. Am I viewing this era of video gaming through the rose-tinted kaleidoscope of nostalgia? Yes, I bloody am, and that's how I like it. Those games were superb and didn't take days or even weeks to play. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to find an original Space Invaders table and weep over its beauty.

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