I really can't remember which was first: The Atari ST or the Sega Master System. One of these two systems, both belonging to my parents, introduced me to video gaming. But I'm quite sure I spent more time with the Atari ST, just because it was always available, whereas the Master System spent most of its time in a closet and was only taken out occasionly. On the other hand, I still play on the Master System today, still buy games for it; the Atari ST however was thrown into the trash when my family moved - along with all its games. Thank god I kept a few pieces like the beautiful facsimile of Henry Jones' Grail Diary - a part of the copy protection for the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
I still remember many things about the Atari ST, like the loading sound of the disc drive, the klunky mouse, the wait cursor (which was a bee) and of course, most important, the numerous games that showed me the range of possibilities of this exciting new medium I was about to explore. "This way you can experience various adventures yourself!" My father's words, as he explained the concept of video games to me.
The most important game for me - and probably still my favorite - was the already mentioned Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
, my first adventure game. I instantly loved exploring this world, being able to try a whole lot different things and proceed in the story (which was new to me at that point, I hadn't seen the movie yet).
But beyond classics like that (Populous
, Dungeon Master
, Winter Games
, Railroad Tycoon
- loved them all), there were also a few more obscure games. For example the point-and-click-adventure Chrono Quest
, which had wonderful art design, but horrible game design. Most important though it was scary as hell: The sudden, cheap deaths, which were always followed by a really creepy, synthesized screaming sound, haunted my dreams for a long time. The story was quite interesting: It revolved around using a time machine to travel into different time periods. Too bad you couldn't cross a street in ancient egypt without a bunch of camels running you over!
Another one was called Starglider 2
- an action/simulation/puzzle game with polygon graphics, where you flew around in space and could land on different planets. Since the instruction booklet was in English - a language I couldn't speak at that point - I never figured out what to do. The coolest thing I remember about this game is that if you got too close to the sun, the whole screen began to melt. Which I found pretty awesome at the time. Also, there was a casette tape in the package that had the theme song on it. That was nice too, because the song really rocked.
Then there was a game based on the Pink Panther
cartoon. Its gameplay was a little bit like Lemmings
: You played as the Pink Panther, who had to keep a sleepwalker from waking up by pushing him, building ramps etc. Why? Because you were a burglar trying to loot his house while he was sleepwalking, that's why. Even Inspector Closeau was in the house, chasing you; it was really hard. I couldn't survive ten seconds without cheating.
There is one last game I want to talk about. It was called Hostages
, and it revolved around some special-anti-terror-unit dealing with a hostage situation. Because of this realistic and quite violent scenario my parents didn't allow me to play it, which means I had to do it secretly. Oh, the taste of the forbidden fruit! There were four gameplay stages: Getting to the bulding in which the hostages were held while dodging searchlights, using a sniper rifle to kill a few bad guys inside, then breaking through the window from a helicopter and finally, moving around in the building to find and kill the terrorists and save the hostages. That last stage was my favorite: It was from first person and therefore probably my first FPS-like experience, which I found very exciting at the time.
Anyway, time went on, and when a 486 PC with Windows 3.1 entered the house I began to abandon the old Atari, like I did it with the Master System when the shiny new Mega Drive arrived. But you know what they say: You never forget your first time.