Monday, 8 May 2017
what it was like to be a gamer in the 80's
So when you talk about retro gaming lots of people will get an idea in there heads a picture of what you mean and usually they are going to think about old cartridge based console systems like the NES, the SNES, the MegaDrive/Genesis or maybe even slightly newer CD based systems such as the playstation the GameCube etcetera but there is so much more out there. The importance and the popularity of the NES back in its day in the United Kingdom is often overstated, people try to make out that the machine was highly supported over here, the truth was that not many people had them, if you walked in the average british house you were far more likly to be met with the sight of a micro computer a Sinclair Spectrum, a Commadore 64, an Amstrad or some other such type of machine. The truth is that if you were to see a console it would more than likly be a Master System in fact proberbly a Master System 2. The NES as a system is far more popular now in the UK as a retro console than it ever was as a current machine. Most video game fans my age will have grown up with a draw full of microcomputer tapes not NES cartridges and yet hardly anyone seems to celebrate or collect these in anyway close to the same way.
This is not the first time I have talked about this, if you have been a long time reader of this blog then you might remember me writing an article saying that the first school yard arguments were not about if you were pro MegaDrive or pro SNES they were in fact over which microcomputer you had chosen to support. When you talk to most people now though they tend to make out that they were really into Nintendo, that they owned a NES that all of there friends owned Nintendo Entertainment Systems and that they were massive in the UK, in fact you could argue that the whole history of the video game market back then steams to have been painted over it seems to have been washed away and replaced with this false spin doctored image of what things used to be like, an image that makes us appear well more American. Why is this are we as a group ashamed of our own Video Game heritage, do we feel silly and think that we backed the wrong horse? If you look at the figures for how many households in the UK actually had a NES the highest estimates put the machine in 12% of UK houses.
I think it needs to be rememberd that the humble Micro actually had some advantages over the NES, no I am not going to push how it had a keyboard and you could do programming or any of its uses as a computer why? Well thats simple its because other than a little bit of messing around with programming here and there thats just not how I or any of my friends or aquantances used there Microcomputers. Nes carts were very very expensive, when I saw them new I remember them being about £50 which now as an adult does not sound that much as we all pay sums around that level for brand new games on modern consoles but remember £50 in 1986 money (The year of the NES's UK release) is technically speaking a lot more money than £50 in current cash, they also were not anywhere near as wildly available as Micro games. I owned a Spectrum as a kid, at first it was a old hand me down 48k spectrum but then one Christmas this was changed to a brand new 128k +2 model, and where did I get my games from? I got my games from darn near everywhere. You could get games in Boots the Chemist, you could get them in Game stores, deparment stores, and newsagents, you could get them pretty much everywhere. It wasnt just the availability though it was also the price sure some real big deluxe Spectrum games in big boxes with stuff thrown in could go for as much as £14.99 but they were absolutly piles and piles of games for as little as £1.99.
People might argue that the NES games were bigger or more technical than home computer games and I guess some of them were but were they always better? The honest answer is not really, there were plenty of great games on microcomputers, I would list some here but just trust me, I am holding that back for a future top 10 Micro Computer Games post. I am not here to slag of the NES or anything but I just think its about time people stop and admit that the NES wasnt the champion here that it was in the United States, it was a minor note in the sidelines of our video game history, but I dont think we really lost out, most people were busy playing other things and thanks to things such as Mario All Stars and then things like the Zelda gamecube Collectors disc and various virtual console releases and the NES mini most people who didnt experiance these nintendo games back then have now gotten to see the classics that our American friends grew up with.