A Trip Down Memory Lane | Part 1 | Sega, Amstrad, The Duke and Max Damage

Things are getting a little lacklustre around here, I’m currently in the process of previewing a yet-to-be-released game but other than that there isn’t really anything that any of our team want to review, so I’ve decided to create a few personal articles documenting the history of gaming in my youth up to the current day.

I’m a 90s lad and as such I got to experience the greatest decade in gaming as it happened, the early 90s defined the future of the industry and laid the groundwork for what was to come and it was one hell of a ride.

Mega Drive
Above: The Sega Mega Drive (model 2), all 3 Mega Drive’s I own are model 2’s | Image courtesy of PicoDrive.

My earliest memories of gaming are with the Sega Mega Drive (or Genesis depending on where you’re from), I remember when I first played Sonic the Hedgehog 2; the game blew me away, the sheer speed of the gameplay and the amount of action in the game was incredible, I remember that I used to play the game for as long as I was allowed to and I really did find it challenging. It was a few years before I ever completed Sonic 2.

We currently have 3 Mega Drives in the house, all 3 of them were bought upon release (no idea why 3 were bought) and they all still work and they’re still used! As you may have guessed by now I was hooked on the Mega Drive, many people think the Super Nintendo won the console wars of the early 90s but for me nothing beat the awesome speed of Sonic on the Mega Drive, Sega was all the rage for me.

Amstrad Mega PC
Above: The Amstrad Mega PC, this is the same model that I owned. | Image courtesy of Play:Right

In 1993 Amstrad released the Mega PC, the Mega PC was a computer with a built in Mega Drive, you could switch between using the Mega Drive and the computer. The computer itself had Windows 3.1 shipped with it and this was my first introduction to a user orientated Operating System. The memories of when I received the Mega PC are vague and I don’t remember when exactly and under what circumstances I acquired my Mega PC, I know that it was my Dad who gave it to me but that’s about it.

I used to use this thing 24/7, as soon as I got home from school I’d fire up the Mega PC, open up some Coral Draw and start drawing on the car templates that were available for it and once I got bored of that it was time to switch to the Mega Drive and play some games! One of the games I used to play a lot on my Mega PC was Crüe Ball, it was a Pinball game based around the Mötley Crüe and it was one of the most difficult Pinball games in my collection at the time (the others being Psycho Pinball, Sonic Spinball, Dragon’s Fury and Dragon’s Revenge. I was big into Pinball games for some reason,) getting high scores on this game was incredibly difficult.

I’ll always remember the cutscene where you’d have to watch somebody drive up to a house, slowly get out of the car and wander to the door, enter the house, turn on every light in the house then blast out a Mötley Crüe song that woke up all of the neighbours. As a child, seeing something like that was so badass.

Now from this point on I’m really going to focus on my experience with PC gaming throughout the 90s, I’ll focus on my experiences with the consoles of the late 90s in Part 2

As time progressed the Amstrad quickly began to show it’s age and it wasn’t long before I got to witness my Father playing games like Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. Doom used to terrify me, running around gunning down grunts wasn’t so bad but the Cacodemon’s were the scariest thing I’d ever seen so I did not play much Doom but I witnessed plenty of it from afar.

Above: Duke Nukem 3D screenshot

1996 was when I really became addicted to gaming and the game that fuelled my (and many others’) addiction was Duke Nukem 3D, one of the greatest games of all time. There was nothing like Duke: he was cool, he kicked ass, he got all the babes and he did all of this with a huge arsenal of weapons at his disposal!

I never got to play Duke 3D on it’s release as I was still sporting the Amstrad but my Father used to play the game on his PC and it was incredible, this game had everything and I simply had to play it! I used to play levels when nobody was at the computer (which was very rare) and when I got my own PC capable of playing Duke 3D, we eventually got the Amstrad into the attic and I was ready for action. I’ll never forget Duke 3D, the layout of each level, every secret area and every one-liner are embedded into my memory.

I remember when my Father had finished playing Duke 3D (for about the 50th time) he began to create new maps for the game using the Build editor that was with Duke 3D, the level of detail he put into the maps he created was insane: He created small, corridoor levels with tons of secrets and monsters hidden around corners, he created maps based on real places and he even made a stunningly accurate map of where he worked; it was great fun to run around my Dad’s work blowing monsters up.

Above: Worms 2 screenshot (notably from a beta build, the mines give it away. heh.)

Worms 2 was the next big thing for us after Duke 3D, I remember playing my Father on that game all of the time and he was so good at it. In all of the time that we had played LAN games together I don’t remember ever beating him. When the later 2D Worms games were released (World Party and Armageddon) I used to play online games and I was pretty bloody good by the time those were released as I’d had my arse handed to me enough to improve to the point where I didn’t want to lose a single game.

Duke Nukem 3D and Worms 2 were not the only games that I remember from my childhood, 1996 and 1997 held so many memories for me, so many great games were released but it is Duke 3D and Worms 2 that stand out above the rest, Need For Speed II follows a close third behind these as one of the games that holds great memories for me in 1996 and Grand Theft Auto was a huge deal for me in 1997.

Above: Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now! screenshot (pre-release build)

Now my entire memory of 1998 is almost completely overshadowed by one game, one out of a small list of five games that I’ve played continually since release, if you haven’t already guessed it by now then you really don’t know me at all! This game got me into trouble both at home and at School, one of the most realistic games released in the 90s and still today it’s damage physics are greater than the majority of games released; it’s Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now!

My first memory of Carmageddon 2 is crystal clear, it’s as if it happened yesterday. I described this exact memory in my Top 10 Games of all time article:

I remember to this day the first time that my father let me play it; I was racing on one of the Beaver City levels and I was trying to waste Jenny Taylia in her Jetcar and I shouted out “Die! Stupid Jenny Taylia!” and my mother was shocked to hear me say such a thing, I had to explain to her that it was a character in the game.

Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now! would definitely be a fitting way to end the 90s and break into the new Millennium but before we could say “engaging storyline”, Half-Life appeared and completely changed the First-Person Shooter genre. Anybody who hasn’t experienced the first Half-Life (forget Half-Life: Source) has missed out on one of gamings greatest gems, Half-Life was powerful, it was scary and it kept your attention throughout; there was never a dull moment in Half-Life.

Above: Quake III Arena screenshot

Surely nothing could top Half-Life, surely Half-Life was the last great game of the 90s, right? No. Wrong because when 1999 reared it’s head it bought with it another innovation in the First-Person Shooter genre, another game on that small list of five games that I’ve played since it’s release; Quake III Arena.

Quake III Arena showed the entire world how big, how successful and how competitive multiplayer gaming could be, it redefined multiplayer gaming and is still today the single greatest piece of esports entertainment to ever grace the world of video games. Quake III Arena was brutal, it was chaotic and it was fast, ever so fast!
I’m lucky enough to have been around when Quake III Arena was the embodiment of online competitive gaming, Quake III Arena is still a popular game today but it’s playerbase is considerably less than it’s ever been which is such a shame, even Quake Live never managed to capture the magic that made Quake III Arena so great.

And on that note I think it’s time to put this one to bed, in the next part I’ll be remembering console gaming of the 90s and all of the high and lows that I experienced with it.

Thanks for reading and good gaming.