Gaming in the 1990s


Part 1 a Journey

A long time ago in 1995 to be exact, when money and lack of awareness for game consoles was at a low I made a discovery of our hobby. My dad was friends with a pc builder in the mid 1990s and he gave us some great tech on the cheap. This was my first exposure to something called Windows 95. My young little face beamed even more when I discovered could play games on this new mysterious software. I wasn't completely ignorant to other gaming machines, as I was growing up I have fond memories of using my grandmas upstairs den to play on an Atari ST and Amiga 2700 (?). Floppy discs were the deal then, with the never ending innuendo that would would forever be synonymous. (I must have heard I have a 3 and a half inch floppy a million times). I was expected to use this PC for enriching my schoolwork but Microsoft Word would be elusive till high school.

PC games always seemed to be metaphorically made of smoke as I found them so difficult to grasp. I could obtain them through demo disks and being constantly infuriated how I could only play one level at a time. Any major games were "educational"- booo.

One of the first leaps into a piece of software that wasn't Encarta Encyclopaedia or Noddy's Adventure was a 3D action adventure game that had RPG elements multiple NPCs and crafting in a colourful alien-like world. You could also control vehicles. I am talking of course about the epic, monumental...Lego Island. I know right, the almighty Lego Island. I'm joking of course, but only to a point. The above features I listed are there to some extent. By today's standard the titular Island looks sparsely populated but to a little impressionable 8 year old that I was I was spellbound. You can make pizza deliveries, drive Lego cars and speedboats. I was a huge Lego fan and used to build speedboats that would immediately sink in my bath! I could never understand why waterproof Lego bricks would always sink when they are linked together I guess I am not Archimedes.

Populated with characters such as Bill Ding, The Brickster and Pepper Roni there was actually a story driven plot about stopping evil villains from escaping to control Lego Island and ruining your day. The first memory that arises from this game is the terrible tank controls of flying a Lego helicopter around the very small island and never landing where you want to.

My first exploration of the RTS genre came from a natural progression from Lego Island to Lego Rock Raiders. I had this entire set in my bedroom and was always playing with it and having fun. Even though I would question why this Thunderbirds style team of excavators where raiding rocks but giant drills aplenty would always keep me thrilled after those horrible school days from 4pm onwards. Playing this click and drag system in an underground cavern to find green crystals was fun at first but this soon began to lose its lustre. Boredom was hard to achieve when the entire world was colourful, garish and fun in the 1990s but I found it with this game. I could never complete it even though it shouldn't be hard. I recently watched a play-through of the PlayStation version and wow its mediocre. I had to make a step up to something a little more forbidden. I managed to acquire a little disc that was titled Command & Conquer.

Gareth Nelson