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  • Writer's pictureG R Matthews

Power Up

My son, a 12 (going on 17) year old boy of reasonable brain capacity and huge Fortnite capacity, arranged... that is to say informed me we were going to the Science Museum in London to attend a history of video games event and by the way you can play them all... oh and I need to pay.

After a little grumble, more for show and to keep my grumpy character alive (we Dad's are expected to play a certain role at times) I dutifully paid and today we attended. Accompanied by one of my son's friends and their parent, we braved the London Underground (which normally involves me staring at colours and saying, is that green or brown... only to be told it is blue or red or indigo or yellow or gold or chartreuse or egg flipping shell white...) and made our way to the Science Museum.

Apart from the long row of XBoxes running Fortnite, which many children made a beeline for (don't they play it enough at home), there were a plethora, a cornucopia, a riot of memories on display -- and more than that, memories to rediscover and actually play!

The oldest on show, and to play (do I need to keep saying that) was this lovely Binatone which my son (for once with hood down) invited me to give a go. Simple paddles to move the bar on either side of the screen up or down to hit the ball (square) back to the other side -- I explain how it works for those who've never seen such cutting edge graphics and miraculous controls systems.

My son, bless him with ... something, moved on quickly to machines he had more of a connection with.

The Amstrad. The what? Amstrad CPC464 -- that cleared it up for you?

This one was running (with attached tape recorder -- nostalgia) Ghostbusters. A game I loved when it game out, and played it to undeath and beyond.

My son, may heavens rain blessings (or something) upon his head, took a look at the 1980s and said, "Dad, where's the mouse?"

I laughed, then I cried, and finally sobbed. Pointing up the row of computers to the Amiga 500 (I loved that machine) I indicated the mouse.

A ZX Spectrum playing Manic Miner - a game possessing irritating music and so flipping difficult. Worse still, looking back, no facility to save your progress!!!

I know!

No checkpoints, no save function... who actually finished this game?

Not me. Not as 10 yr old and not as 4(mumbles) year old. I can live with that failure.

A C64 too. I owned the Spectrum and this machine before upgrading to an Amiga 500. This is one of those new fangled small ones. The old Kempston joystick - red handled with two large red buttons - brought back a lot of memories and after a few minutes brought back serious wrist ache and painful thumbs from pressing the buttons way too hard!

A kind and young guide, mid-20s is young to me these days, offered to give me a guided tour of the whole history of video games.

"No need, son. I lived it," said I.

Tomb Raider in every incarnation from, now, unplayable Playstation (seriously, how did we cope with those controls and camera angles) up to the XboxOne/PS4 versions. I took a stab at an early version and, sadly, gave up in disgust at my inability to move around the temple I was trying infiltrate. I found out how to jump, but couldn't seem to make the leap to the next ledge...

I think I was in the training bit at the beginning, but if there were instructions I couldn't hear them due to every other beep, whistle and toot from the machines around.

Looking back, I was never much into the Tomb Raider games... probably the early control schemes put me off... and I am sticking to that excuse!

My moment of glory, or rather moments, were on Halo 3. I've just finished Halo and Halo 2 (The Master Chief Collection on XboxOne) and moved onto Halo 3... so I was fresh, practised and ready for all challengers. Round 1 was a total success.... all those young kids (aged 9 to maybe 14) were swept before me in a Deathmatch! Round 2, I managed 2nd place... go me!

The four us played Monkey Fight and Monkey Race on the GameCube... cough winner cough (on fight at least - I was not so good on race). And I played the other parent on a game of GoldenEye -- another game in need of modern controls, it took around 150 bullets to finally achieve one kill as they had found some form of body armour which repelled nuclear bombs! However, the white tiles in the room we battled in were all killed within a few moments of me finding a gun.

I'd happily attend next year, if it runs. I'd also recommend you all do, if you can get there! Great fun!

One last quick bit of a request. I'm trying to get an email list together to actually start sending out the odd update on writing and life etc. You'll find the subscribe link just at the top and on the right... oh and it points you towards two free short stories!


On with some gaming!

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