Start of the affair: The Amiga and Mega Drive 2

[Editor’s note: Kif talks about the Amiga and Mega Drive 2 for his contribution to this month’s Monthly Musings. — CTZ]

My venture into the world of videogames started oddly I guess. When I was a kid, my grandad owned an Amiga, and while I was plonked in front of the TV watching God knows what (American football and wrestling according to my mum, which is kinda weird I guess), he would do what he did on there.

So one day I go round to my grandparents house, and he’s playing a game. And instead of minding his own business, he asks me to come and watch. I sit near the screen, watching the blue and green pixels move across the screen aimlessly while my grandad clicked the mouse frantically. And sure enough, his clicking led the blue and green pixels to the other side of the screen where they disappeared into obscurity, and a distorted “Yippie!” could be heard through the speakers in all it’s monotone glory. That was the day I was introduced to Lemmings. More after the jump.

For a while, I only watched him play. He was already on the later stages, the ones which start to insult your intelligence and subtlely laugh every time one of the green-haired critters fell to their death. The amount of action going on that small screen filled me with glee, and soon enough I began helping out (or trying as best a kid can). We worked together, although he still did all the mouse movements, but it was the first moment of pure unadulterated awesome I can remember in my life. Eventually I got to try it out myself, starting out on the Fun levels like any newcomer does. The first few levels were ridiculously easy. “Oh, you want me to get through this floor? Well I only have 99 diggers left, let’s see what I can do with them.”

Must…. resist urge… not to nuke…

That Amiga introduced me to some amazing games that I will never forget. The Dizzy franchise, Zool, Ruff N Tumble, Wiz N Liz, James Pond, Alfred Chicken, Parasol Stars, the list goes on. Lemmings is officially the first game I ever played, and it’s why I hold the Amiga so dearly. I remember the day Oh No! More Lemmings came out, it was like a second birthday. Lemmings is amazing, but the reuse of older levels started to wear thin (not enough to stop playing it, mind you). But ONML was a breath of fresh air. Some of the levels were so ridiculously creative, I was gobsmacked.

Then Lemmings 2: The Tribes came out, and even though a lot of people tended to think badly of it, I still loved it. I could only do some of the levels mind you. Too many bloody jobs for the Lemmings to do. But that series will mean something to me forever.

I could never control the Superlemmings

Keep grinning you useless furry fox…

So thanks to my early initiation into the genre, I had to get a hold of my own system. Clearly my own Amiga was out the window. I didn’t exactly have a few hundred pounds laying around. But for my something-or-other birthday, my parents bought me a Mega Drive 2. Oh yeah, slimline baby. It came with some triple-game cartridge; Columns, World Cup Italia 90 and Super Hang-On.

They were nice enough to introduce me to another furry creature: Sonic, or more specifically, Sonic 2. The speed of it all, the simplicity of it, the huge level designs, and some very impressive music considering the hardware, left me in awe of that blue hedgehog. Me and my friends would play it together, taking turns on each level, and we must have completed Sonic 2 so many times. Well, almost. We never could do Death Egg. Hell, I could barely beat Metal Sonic, but those few times I did and got to face Death Egg only to be ripped a new one were awesome. The special stages in particular I remember. I was always stuck on the second to last one, mostly because I was too young to realize how to turn Tails off, and he’d spend each special stage jumping late and losing me rings. That douchebag fox can burn in hell. But the day I managed to pass it was a huge achievement. Then of course I got to the last one and gave up all hope. There’s random, then there’s cruel.

Oh the amount of time I wasted on those slot machines.

When Sonic 3 eventually hit stores, it was like Christmas had come early. “Holy shit is that a fire bubble?!”, “Who is Knuckles and why is he so annoying?”, “Fuck yeah you are the best special stage ever!”. Sonic 3 looked more gorgeous than Sonic 2. I remember the flashing neon lights of Carnival Night and that annoying fairground music in the background, and thought it was the best looking thing I’d ever seen. Ironically, that is always the level I ran out of time on. I think it was those barrels, but I never stopped loving the game. Then shortly after came Sonic And Knuckles, and all I could wonder was “Why is this cartridge so weird?”. And so I locked on Sonic 3 and ended up running through the game I’d played to death one more time as Knuckles, then I tried for all the emeralds. All these meaningless quests to do in the game, I tried them all just because I loved the series. I remember trying every one of my Mega Drive games on S&K, just to see what kind of special stages they would unlock. Of course most of them were the same, but still, I spent so much time on that.

Funnest boss battle in 2D Sonic history?

The Mega Drive was my first real introduction to gaming. The Amiga definitely showed me what it is, but it wasn’t until my first system that I really understood it. Spending time with friends, trading cartridges, playing multiplayer and such. By the time it came for me to get rid of the system I had a reputable collection. Gunstar Heroes, Aladdin, Mega Bomberman, Dynamite Headdy, Ristar. It wasn’t really hard for my to sell it though. I think the idea of moving up in the gaming world took over my urge to keep my first console. Sadly, what I was moving up to was the Saturn, and I soon missed my Mega Drive. But what can you do?