[Editor’s note: Scientist tz takes a trip down memory lane with the Commodore 64 for his contribution to this month’s Monthly Musing. — CTZ]
I could type that command line with my eyes closed (and I often did) when I was 8.
Back in the deep, dark 1980’s, my parents were simple folk who couldn’t see any point to having a NES in the house. Therefore, I missed out on the golden early days of the NES era. We owned only one television and it was for watching programs (my dad’s words). I never owned the golden Legend of Zelda cartridge nor did I play the first Metroid. More after the jump.
I have fuzzy memories of earlier videogame experiences when I was maybe 4 or 5-years-old. I remember playing that horseshit version of Pac-Man at a Babysitter’s house on an Atari. I remember asking her why Pac-Man can’t eat through the walls and I remember her answer of “because they’re made out of gold.” I remember playing Time Bandit at the Driftwood in Sister Lakes, MI.
But videogames never entered my home until I was 7 (I think.) My mom, a teacher, decided she needed a computer with a word processor. My parents settled on a Commodore 64, that being the most affordable home computer in 1986. I remember driving with them to a mall an hour away to buy it because our local mall didn’t have any in stock. Did we really buy that shit at Kay-Bee Toys? I actually think we did.
Later that week we went to Toys R Us to buy software back when you could buy productivity software at Toys R Us. My mom bought some command line word processor for herself and a game called Motezuma’s Revenge for me. We also had about ten discs of various shareware and pirated games from my Babysitter’s brother who apparently was a l33t haX0r by 1986 standards.
It is because I had this great wealth of games available that I have chosen the simple command line that started them all as the start of the affair. I wasn’t tied down to Mario and Zelda like so many emerging gamers were back then.
In a way it’s remarkable that I kept gaming through the C64 era. A lot of those games were incredibly difficult and many of them were difficult because they were horseshit. As a kid I never considered the fact that a game might be bad; I always assumed that I just lacked the skill to finish it (or I required a color monitor, maybe.) The clerks at Babbages in the mall knew me as one of those kids who habitually bought games and returned them if they were too hard. I returned a few classics such as Hacker.
Everything kind of clicked when I got Beyond the Forbidden Forest for my birthday.
Here was a game with all of the elements that today we consider to be integral to a good game. Graphics, music, atmosphere, plot, controls. Back then I mainly cared about the sweet graphics and cool monsters. I think I probably sank 100 hours into this game. When I beat the Demogorgon at the end I ran around the house like an “idiot” (mom’s words) and had to take a “time out” to calm down.
But I never finished Impossible Mission
“Another visitor. Stay awhile… staaaaay FOREVER!” FUCK YOU ASSHOLE.
I never finished it and I never will…but I digress.
Good games like Beyond the Forbidden Forest and Skate or Die combined with overwhelmingly tough games like Impossible Mission and Jumpman (EPYX ftw) clinched the addiction. In the summer of ’87 I started scraping money together to buy a TV, a NES, and a skateboard. I never got any good at the skateboard but as the 80’s were drawing to a conclusion amidst a sea of stonewashed jeans and inexplicable swatches of neon pink and green all over everything, I had become incurably hooked on videogames.