In “videogames I haven’t thought about in years” corner, it strikes me that it took indie games approximately 30 years to reach the visual heights of the Archie/Amiga game, Top Banana.
Which would be less strange if Top Banana wasn’t an early footnote in indie game history courtesy of (latterly) Pom Pom’s Miles Visman.
Pom Pom, of course, being responsible for Mutant Storm and that – games which would have been a lot of people’s gateway back into the world of the super small team long before anyone had even considered thinking about making Braid or whatever the first indie game is this week.
Here’s the ever reliable HG 101 if you want to know more, though I disagree that “it’s just plain bad”. Personally, I prefer “difficult and before its time”. Also “looks astounding“.
Wading through some old Amiga mags at the moment and last night I ended up down one of my rabbit hole things, stumbled into this old piece (again) on why and how the Amiga version of SDI ended up with curiously defaced credits.
Picture, in your mind’s eye, 1987. A buoyant and flourishing games market on home computers such as the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga, with Activision extremely interested in exploiting it…
What begins as a bit of a “well, this is odd” ends on a bunch of lovely recollections on how things ended up as they did.
I recall reading all this a while back but it’s worth another kick round all the same.
Snip Snip is an occasional look at a magazine cutting from computer games past. Where necessary, names and addresses have been removed to protect the innocent.
I’ve been playing a bit of Gods (courtesy of the PS4 remake which is fine providing you stick to the original game art) in-between other things recently.
I can’t say I got on with a lot of Amiga era arcade adventures, as pretty as a lot of them are there’s a tendency towards showboating sprites and, well, slowness. Given I’m as ADHD up to the eyeballs as can be, this really can rub me the wrong way. So, you know, I tend to avoid them.
However, given I’m more at peace with myself these days I’ve been finding a fair bit of joy in the slowness of Gods. It is an achingly slow game, ponderous even, but that’s precisely why I’m enjoying it. That slowness gives it a curiously satisfying rhythm, one where it encourages you to be meticulous in examining the level around you in order to progress.
Anyway, I went to root out some reviews from the time and in any excuse to read some magazines, ended up browsing through the Amiga Power review. Nothing too exciting there but I did end up thinking about the box out describing what we’d now call “dynamic difficulty” or, in a post Left4Dead world, attribute it to a game director.
It’s not so much that Gods does this stuff but that videogames still find themselves in a position of explaining the exact same stuff in 2021.
Don’t misunderstand me here, I don’t think this is a problem! The audience for games is always going to consist of new people or folks who only normally tinker with one genre but they just couldn’t resist a particular game.
If anything I want us to keep getting better at explaining stuff. There’s a time and a place for videogames being for an incredibly specific, incredibly niche, audience. There’s a time and a place for them being absolutely opaque too.
Videogames can be remarkably insular and obtuse and there’s genre traits which seem mystifying to me still, never mind. Sometimes that’s an important part of what a videogame is!
For those moments where it’s not, I hope we’ll keep explaining stuff and making this stuff easier to grasp even if we’ve been doing it for 30 years.