Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Amiga with Good Game

I was recently introduced to an Australian television gaming programme called Good Game – a show which has been on the air since 2006! Hands up if you know of any other TV shows about gaming that have been on air for that long! After watching lots of videos on their Youtube channel, I found a recently made video that celebrates one of the greatest computer brands ever created – Commodore’s AMIGA!

It was too good not to share!

Good Game generally focuses on modern gaming so there isn’t a huge amount for retro fans to dig into but a search for the Good Game Memory Cache brings up some fun retro reviews to get you started.

Playing Computer Games in My Garden

As a child, there was one absolute truth that I lived by. I was always right. It’s likely that I’m not the only one who grew up with such a “truth”, and I’m certain that I found myself in trouble far too often because of it. You might expect this story to be heading towards criminal acts or minor misdemeanors but that didn’t happen. Instead it simply left me in a constant battle with my parents who had to be taught that I was, of course, always right.

One day, around 1988, on a beautiful Summer day, my mum took it upon herself to remind me that I should be outside enjoying the sun instead of being stuck inside playing computer games. In hindsight, she was probably right, but the 10-year-old me was deep into a Chase HQ race and the idea of leaving it to bake in the garden was not at all appealing. I made this clear to my mum, perhaps too clear, as she then pulled the plug on my TV and reminded me who the parent was.

After spending what felt like an eternity with my parents and younger sister, I was granted reprieve to return to my game whilst lunch was prepared. However, I had an idea that I knew would be a winner. Whilst my mum slaved away in the kitchen, I collected together everything I would need for my afternoon in the garden. The look on my mum’s face as she delivered plates of food to the garden table was priceless.

Next to our house, in the garden, OUTSIDE, was a pretty good recreation of my bedroom. An extension plug trailed through the open dining room window and my rather bulky-yet-portable TV stood on my dad’s workbench, along with my computer equipment, all hooked up and ready to go. I think my mum admired my ingenuity, who wouldn’t? The good news was, I had won, my mum had wanted me to play outdoors and I had fulfilled that criteria. Unfortunately my afternoon in the sun wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped – I could barely see the picture on my TV thanks to the bloody sun!

A few years later I had a very similar argument with my mum but by that point I was a teenager and she really shouldn’t have crossed me. Instead of shifting parts of my bedroom outside, I became the owner of a Sega Game Gear and simply spent my time sprawled across the lawn, hidden under a parasol, playing Alex Kidd and Sonic the Hedgehog.

As a parent myself. I am fearful of the arguments that I’ll no doubt have with my offspring, but I’m sure none will end with them dragging expensive computers out into the garden in order to prove me wrong. Hopefully!

Image of the Sinclair ZX81 can be found at Andy Taylor’s excellent Flickr photostream.

The Movie Monster Game (Epyx)

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In 1981, Epyx released Crush, Crumble, and Chomp for home computers. The game was fun, but quaint and resembled other computer games from the early 1980s, featuring basic graphics and gameplay. Epyx did not obtain any official movie licenses for the game, and so it featured monsters with names like “The Glob,” “Mantra,” and a tribute to our favorite giant lizard, “Goshzilla.”

In 1986 Epyx released the unofficial sequel to Crush, Crumble and Chomp. The Movie Monster Game, released for Apple II and Commodore 64 home computers, allowed players to take control of several monsters, pick a city, and do some serious damage.

The game begins by allowing players to choose one of six monsters, put them in one of six different cities, and then choose one of five different “movie plots.” This allows for lots of mixing and matching to produce unique games. You could have the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (I mean “Mister Meringue”) terrorizing New York, Tarantus the Tarantula searching for his offspring in Moscow, or our old pal Godzilla doing what he does best — going berserk in Tokyo.

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The Movie Monster Game was unique in the fact that Epyx did actually acquire proper licensing for the Godzilla character, and displayed the character prominently in advertisements and even on the cover of the box.

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Check out the following YouTube video in which DerSchmu destroys a bit of San Francisco using Godzilla. It’s a smashing good time!

(Movie Monster Game pictures courtesy of MobyGames)

The Kefrens Desert Dream Mega Demo

Desert Dream

One of the many reasons that I loved my Amiga back in 1993 was the prevalence of the MEGA DEMO. These were not demo’s of new games or other software, but a demonstration of the skills of coders who were able to make the machine do some quite amazing things.

These demos were essentially just presentations consisting of amazing music, incredible graphics and special effects that were crammed into the confines of a floppy disk (or two) and distributed at demo scene gatherings and other similar events. To me, these coders were like rock stars and their names and work will be forever etched into my brain.

In my opinion, the best of these demos is Desert Dream from a group called Kefrens. This demo had it all, a soundtrack that was brilliant and perfectly in sync with everything on screen, visuals that were not only fun to watch but technically impressive too, and above all that, a fun little story at the beginning that has a space ship firing a melon at an Egyptian pyramid!

If you’re still reading this after watching the 13 minutes of footage above, what did you think? The saw cutting into the screen in time with the audio is my favourite part. That all this fit into less than 1.6Mb, spread over two disks still astounds me to this day, especially when you learn that disk 2 has a hidden mini demo that can be accessed by inserting disk 2 first!

This demo has had quite an impact since it’s release 20 years ago and has inspired a number of remakes. I’ve included several of those below including a new CGI opener, a complete Commodore C64 remake which is just incredible and a parody remake from 2010.

Oil’s Well (Sierra, 1983)

Oil's Well

In 1983’s Oil’s Well by Sierra (before they were Sierra Online), players control a drill bit and must “devour” pellets of oil. Your drill bit can be broken by hitting land mines and various critters roaming the tunnels beneath the earth. The game is almost identical to another popular game released for home computers in 1983, Datamost’s Ardy the Aardvark, which apparently was based on the 1982 arcade game Anteater.

The dinosaur seen above is Slater the Petrosaur, as seen in the 1990 PC version of the manual. Slater has essentially nothing to do with the game. I guess they just needed a cute mascot to put in the manual for marketing purposes.

Oil’s Well was released for the Apple II, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, MSX, and the IBM PC. I spent some time playing the Apple II version this week and it’s really addictive. Your drill bit is controlled by the joystick, while the button retracts it quickly. If a critter touches any part of your drill bit it breaks, so getting all the oil located on the bottom levels is quite challenging.

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My current “retrocomputing desk” consists of two Raspberry Pi computers, a Commodore 64, an Apple IIe, and a MiST (Amiga and Atari ST) machine. I had hoped to try out a few more games last night but all I did was play Oil’s Well for a couple of hours.

Here’s some footage of the Commodore 64 version of Oil’s Well…

…and here’s some footage from the 1990 MS-DOS version. Keep an eye out for Slater!