Sunday, 26 June 2011

Retro Videogaming: The Great Space Race.


This takes me way back to my earliest days of computer gaming on the ZX Spectrum. One of the first and most influential games I bought for the system was Valhalla. An adventure game all about Thunder Gods, evil Tricksters and really skinny women. But what made Valhalla special was that it was visual unlike most adventurers back then which were text based with the odd graphic thrown in to fire your teenage imagination. In this game, you saw the results of your input as characters moved into frame and interacted with each other. I loved it. This thing was at the cutting edge of bleeding cool. I couldn't wait for their next game. A game they called the Great Space Race.

I remember walking into my local game shop one Saturday morning, well, it wasn't exactly a game shop as there were none back then, it was more a newsagents with a black and white telly in the back which was hooked up to a speccy and tape machine and a selection of the latest games to hit the market were displayed on a rickety shelf above said telly. The owner was a bit of a tech head and his shop used to be packed with kids who were the pioneers of the computer gaming age. There on the shelf was a huge black box with the above logo on. Holy smokes, it was OUT. It was also £12 which was a fortune back then for a game. "TWELVE ENGLISH POUNDS, ARE THEY KIDDING?!" Heck, I'd have to save up for that. But I didn't have to because the owner had installed the game and was playing it as I came into his shop. Hmmmm, what was this? Static screens with a ton of text? Where's the movie? The owner glanced over at me and shook his head. "Not as good as Valhalla. It's a bit crap."

Oh noes!! It's crap?! You mean it's rubbish?!! And it was. I watched this thing beep, burp and generally do nothing with an deep dark sense of doom. All those hopes and anticipation. Gone. Blown away by dodgy pixels which looked nothing like a spaceship. I left the shop wanting to kick a cat. The Great Space Race - I call thee disappointment by any other name.

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