This is the website of Neil McDougall, a musician/blogger/podcaster/bookie from Ayrshire.

My videogaming History

I originally posted this over on ScrewAttack.com, but I thought I’d repost it here, seeing as this is my main blog and all.

Hello, G1s, I’m NeiloMac, a jack-of-all-trades geek from the wintery climes of south-west Scotland.

I’m not sure what prompted me to sign up for a ScrewAttack account, but I thought it’d be fun to start writing about my current thoughts on videogames, as many of you are already doing. I probably won’t be writing anything Earth-shatteringly out-of-the-box, but I hope what I do write is a fun read nonetheless.

Before I start harping on about my opinions, I thought it’d be an interesting excersise to think back over my videogaming life for the past 20+ years.

It all began back in the late 80s, when my parents got me a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, which, in the UK, was the king of home computers at the time.  They had originally bought me an Atari 400, or an Atari 800 – one of those old-school 8-bit Atari home computers anyway – but had taken it back on advice that there was hardly any games available for it.  Regardless of the accuracy of that advice, it turned out to be a wise decision due to the massive amount of Speccy stuff out there at the
time. That Christmas I woke up to a (second-hand) 48k Speccy, a big box o’ games and a bunch of issues of Crash!, the premier Speccy mag at the time.

I remember me, my Mum and Dad scratching our heads at how to get stuff loading, but we eventually got it figured out and I rocked stuff like Horace Goes Skiing, Rock Star Ate My Hamster, Manic Miner, Way of the Exploding Fist, all that good stuff.

I learned some programming stuff on the Speccy, using the built-in BASIC to do some daft stuff. I even had the bravery to attempt typing in POKEs from the pages of Crash!. For those too young to remember POKEs, they were LONG chunks of BASIC code that you would type in to your computer, run it, load the game, and voila, you have a cheat. It was basically the predecessor to Action Replay/GameShark code. Needless to say, if you got the code wrong, no cheat, and sometimes your game wouldn’t load. My, that was a pain in the arse if it was a long tape-load.

Eventually, the old rubber-keyed faithful went belly-up, and I got a Spectrum+, which was basically the same guts as the 48k, but with a plastic keyboard and different look.

After THAT died, I got a C64c (the second-gen C64 with the C128-style keyboard and chassis), and that was the machine that I really got stuck into gaming with. My Dad had passed away by then, and I guess gaming and general geekdom was a bit of an escape for me. Commodore Format, ZZap! 64, Target Renegade, the Last Ninja series, Stunt Car Racer, IK+, all the hype surrounding Mayhem in Monsterland…ahh, the memories.

Eventually, the Commie gave up the ghost and I got my first proper console – a NES, with Super Mario Bros. 1 & 3, Track & Field 2, Metal Gear: Snake’s Revenge aaand…I think that was it. I never bought any more games for it, I don’t think – I swapped it for a Gameboy with someone, and, to be honest, I don’t recall what happened to that, so we’ll skip onwards to my next console, and the beginning of my Sega fanboyism.

I bagged a Megadrive for Christmas, must’ve been 1992, as Sonic 2 was relatively new by then. I had started secondary school, was on the verge of puberty, everyone was buzzing about Street Fighter 2 on the SNES, and I had a Megadrive. I didn’t care – Sonic 2 was rocking my face off, I was killing it at Columns, Super Hang On was my bitch and arses were getting beat down at Last Battle and Wrestle War. Yeah, I had a few clunky games, but I snagged a few classics as well. Gunstar
Heroes, to this day, is *still* one of my all-time favourite games, and I defy anyone to tell me that Streets of Rage 2 isn’t the best side-scrolling beat-em-up ever.

I continued down the Sega path, picking up a Mega CD and 32x on the cheap (I had nabbed an Amiga 500 for buttons, and didn’t use it that much, so swapped it for the MCD – maybe not the wisest choice, in hindsight. :P), and got busy with Virtua Racing Deluxe, Virtua Fighter, Star Wars Arcade, Doom, Sherlock Holmes, Road Avenger (cock-rock intro music FTW!), et cetera, et cetera. I wish I’d bought Snatcher – a friend of mine had it, and I borrowed it once or twice, but I never had my own copy.

The Saturn and the Playstation were on the horizon, but I stuck with the Mega Tower of Doom for a decent length of time, until such a time I could pick up a Saturn for a decent price with a couple of games. This must’ve been back in about ’96, maybe even ’97. I was late to the 32-bit party, yeah, but I had been keeping an eye on what was going on via the Official Sega Magazine, which turned into Sega Saturn Magazine (and was originally spawned from the legendary Mean Machines), so by
the time I bagged my Saturn, the console was a bit more mature, and games like Virtua Fighter 2 and Sega Rally showed better what the console was capable of. I think I played stuff like Street Fighter Alpha 2 more than most of the 3D stuff, though.

I miss my Saturn. I borrowed it to a ‘friend’ and never got it back. I even had stuff like Burning Rangers, and I basically had it all stolen off me. EPIC FAIL on my part, I know.

PC gaming became a big part of my life in the late 90s – by the time I’d ‘lost’ the Saturn, I’d started college doing an HND in Computing and got my first decent PC with my student loan – a P2 Celeron 300 with 64MB of RAM, Windows 98, a 3DFX Voodoo card and a 4GB hard drive. It’s scary to think my phone has more grunt than that PC now. This new-found
PC power coincided with the Star Wars Special Editions, the buzz for the prequels and all that jazz, and I got right into playing stuff like TIE Fighter, X-Wing Alliance, Jedi Knight and all that. I was also getting into Formula 1, so Microprose’s Grand Prix games were getting a good seeing-to.

I didn’t forget my classic gaming roots either, and as my exposure to the Internet began, I discovered emulation, and I rediscovered all my old Megadrive friends via stuff like Genecyst.

The college course didn’t last – I left after I got offered a job as a website designer, that didn’t last either, due to the ‘company’ being a bunch of cowboys, so I effectively left college for nothing. My last student loan payment got used to buy a guitar on a whim, and that led me down the path I went on a year and a half after the website job went tits-up – a course in Music Performance & Promotion, which has led me to having 11 guitars, producing/engineering friends’ bands’ recordings, being in a band myself, writing music….but I’m side-tracking. And getting ahead of myself.

Even with my trip to PC-land, I kept half an eye on the console world,and I decided to bag a Dreamcast sometime in, I think, 2001, while I was doing my music course. Yeah, the PS2 was already out, the Xbox and Gamecube were around the corner, but the DC was going cheap (sense a pattern yet?) and I was still a Sega fan. I had a PSOne by that point (I’d gotten into wrestling by that point, and really fancied getting Smackdown 2, so I finally got the Playstation bug).

I also got more up to date that year and got a PS2 (an original ‘big’ PS2, with the Firewire port, which I still have, still works, and is sat on my shelving unit to my right. w00t). It was Metal Gear Solid 2 and DVD playback that sealed the deal on the PS2 for me. The DC, PS2 and PC were my main systems until I bagged an Xbox cheap (surprise surprise) back in 2005-ish. That was fun, and I got a 360 in 2007 (late to the party again :P).

So, my current roster – PS2, Dreamcast, 360, DS (one of the first-gen silver numbers. Not many games for it), PC and my phone (Nokia N95 8GB – I enjoy the odd game of Tetris or Bejeweled at my work).

(Historical interjection – this was written before I got my iPhone, obviously)

So, that was a little trip through my gaming history. A bit stream-of-consciousness, I know, but hopefully it’ll give a bit of
perspective on any future babbling.

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on November 19, 2009 at 1:16 am, filed under gaming, musings, tech, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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