Right around the time I was starting secondary school, my dad decided that it was time that we got our first PC. I was the youngest in the family so for me to be able to have a computer at the same time as starting school was pretty cool I’d say. But it isn’t as you might think, because I was the favourite child :P, it was actually because this was the era when computers began to be used for every-day things. From here on homework was typed up on Word, posters and creative assignments were created in Publisher and IT lessons became the norm every Friday afternoon. It’s not that it was a sudden explosion, it just feels like my generation was the first to really experience this wave of technology that hit school and home life. To experience a bit of what life was like back in ’97 see the video example below. Caution: Do not watch more than is strictly necessary – it may cause you to gouge your eyes out.
Of course having only been accustomed to using the very much out-dated Amiga up until then, I was a little daunted to say the least. From what I remember it took me a while to get the hang of the shiny new PC, but once I was there I flourished. A few years later I remember the very first time I heard the whir-biz-wheee-shhh-zzz of our 56k internet connection and I remember just how long it took to actually connect even when it looked like it was working. I became a big fan of shareware games at some point around this time; I can’t pin point when so don’t ask. Among the many that I played, trialed and completed one has always stuck out in my mind: The Adventures of MicroMan.
Oh yeah, I know it looks bloody awful but really, it was actually quite addictive. I’ve had the image of this game stuck in my head for years, with the word MicroMan only recently popping into my head finally. And even with part of the name I still had a job trying to find much out about the game. It’s bizarre really; it was made in 1993 so by the time I found it 3 or 4 years later it wasn’t looking great anyway, but yet something made me play it. Maybe it was free with the computer? Who knows. My memory isn’t that great. It’s not like it even had that much going for it – it was just like a really simple maze that you had to make your way through, avoiding the odd-looking alien or two that might shoot at you and trying to time your jumps right so that you didn’t fall down a hole.
And yet it stuck in my mind so strongly over the years since I last played it; it must have had some sort of appeal. I guess it could just be down to fond memories of when I was younger; I do like to reminisce. The way I remember it I used to play this with my sister too, taking turns to get to the next section. I think games have that sort of effect on you, they give you an experience that is one of a kind – a memory just for you of the specific time in which you played it. Older games just seem to have more of a memorable quality I think. It’s probably because of the ongoing advances that have been made in technology and the way that story-lines have grown and become stronger. It makes all the older games look very ancient, but equally for those who played them it’s like looking back on a childhood friend. We’ve come a long way in 20 odd years: from the 8-bit games of the Amiga, to early dos games, to the chunky and blocky looking first Tomb Raider game and onwards to the current likes of Mass Effect 3 and Skyrim. I’m not sure, with the way things are going, that games will continue to have this effect on me in the future. Maybe I’ll look back in another 15 years and think how retro 3D is, who knows? But for now I’m just going to re-live my childhood days and watch MicroMan in action.