Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Gaming

In my life I have owned or had the use of:-


Grandstand Games Unit

Commodore Vic20

Commodore 64

Amiga 1200

3 or 4 Windows PCs

2 or 3 laptops

and 2 Playstations


During that time I’ve played all manner of games from Pong to my current addiction World of Warcraft. Recently events got me thinking about all the other games I’ve enjoyed playing over the years.


ww



Wacky Waiters Wacky Waiters was a game for the Commodore Vic 20. By today’s standards it was shit. But for a 10 year old it was a fantastic bit of escapism. Basically you had to serve drinks to customers in this weird bar which the tables were reached via lifts. Hours of fun.



blitzBlitz – Of course the Vic20 was shit and there were only a handful of decent games for it the other classic I enjoyed was Blitz. This game involved levelling a city with bombs in order that your plane might land and the pilot can get out and wave at you. My dad and I got rather good at it and we really weren’t bothered by the crappy blocky graphics.


Thunderbirds – With the arrival of my Commodore 64 one Christmas my middle brother Chris and I went forth to Bits and Bytes in Liverpools Central Station (now a cheap leather coat shop) and City Software on Lime Street (which, I found out long after it was closed, was owned by my good drinking buddy and former HSE Cell mate Nick’s relative (dad??)). Anyway during this post Christmas shopping excursion we picked up a copy of Thunderbirds by Firebird software. The premise of which was using Thunderbirds 1 & 2 you had to navigate a maze of tunnels and push coloured blocks out of the way so that the craft could reach their destination. Sadly I have not been able to find screenshots of the game but you can download it here for your C64 emulator. I promise you, gaming does not get any more intensive than Thunderbirds!


Cauldron – On the same shopping trip I also obtained Cauldon. In this game you were a witch that had to collect various ingredients for a potion. You flew round on a broomstick shooting bats and things then did a bit of platform jumping in mazes. It was bloody hard! Furthermore, it was down right impossible to complete because there was no save facility. I remember leaving my C64 and this game running one night and all through the school day because I’d gotten so far into it I didn’t want to lose my place. Within minutes of getting back to play it I was killed out right by a frigging pumpkin! I wasnt happy! A sequel came out a few years later entitled Cauldron II this was equally as hard. You can play it online here


Big Mac – The previous two games were a pricey £5 each. Your pound tended to go a lot further in the 80′s. Probably because the world was in meltdown. Fortunately in the new Sainsbury’s supermarket complex in Woolton somebody had thoughtfully included a news agents. This newsagents sold Mastertronic £1.99 games. Of course £1.99 was a lot of money then but never the less I managed to get at least 1 new game a month by saving my 70p pocket money and foraging under the cushions on the sofa. The one of the best finds was Big Mac . A simple platform romp where the player guides Mac (a poor Mario clone) from platform to platform flipping switches. Delightful!


Phantoms of the asteroid – Another seemingly endless game. You played an astronaut navigating a maze within an asteroid. You had to collect a series of blocks and often had to top up your fuel, oxygen and energy levels. Kamikazi ghosties would appear out of nowhere and bash into you draining your energy. I managed to collect all the blocks but I’d used all the fuel and oxygen dumps up so I could never get to the bit where you finished the game. A great loss and waste of time ;-)


Mercenary – I obtained Mercenary as a copy from Ronnie Cham at school. Ronnie was the only other kid in my year to have a Commodore 64 and he was into copying games in a big way. Often I would lend him my games to copy in exchange for copies of games from him. Mercenary was one of the best he gave me (there was another game I got from him which involved landing on a planet to pick up an stranded pilot but you didn’t know if the pilot was a nasty alien or a genuine human. I liked that too but can’t remember for the life of me what it was called) . Mercenary was a primitive vector graphic game where you flew round a city helping out in order to buy a spaceship. There was an easter egg within were you could pilot a piece of cheese about the place. Hours of fun :-)


Jet Set Willy – I cannot forget Jet Set Willy can I? Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy and Jet Set Willy II were games I would often play for hours on end. Again I never knew anyone that finished these game. A simple platform romp where you guided Willy through his untidy house collecting bottles and stuff. Unfortunatley they didn’t have a save feature where you could return to where you were and I would often get bored and send Willy down the toilet into Hades. Timeless fun.


Frontier: Elite II I picked up my Amiga 1200 from the bargain bucket of the Dixons shop that used to be in Central Station in Liverpool. With it I got Frontier. A space/flight sim again in vector graphics. Looking at the screen shots now one would scoff at their simplicity but you have to remember that when the game came out these where cutting edge! Frontier allowed the player to explore the galaxy, trade and fight pirates. Fantastic stuff. I’ve only ever seen 2 slightly similar games of late Freelancer which was a bit restrictive but seemed to once hold promise of expansion (of course this never surfaced) and the online MMPORG Eve Online which I found too cliquey to actually get anywhere in.


liberationCaptive II – Along with Elite, Captive II helped while away my time on the dole. I would often spend days and days playing this and other Amiga games instead of looking for work. The graphics were crap but the intro movie was stunning and so was the music! It was a type of one player roleplaying game where you guided 4 robots around some cyberpunk futuristic city trying to find out who grassed you up to the coppers and gathering evidence that there were people wrongly imprisoned. You could upgrade the robots with all manner of gubbins and the play went on for hours and hours and hours. I don’t think it actually had an ending but I suppose it taught the player about the futility and mundanity of life.


Civilization – My eldest brother introduced me to Sid Meier’s Civilization. A turn based strategy game about building a civilization. Since that first play of Civ I have bought every version released (though not the add-on packs). Again crap graphics to begin with but like those iconic games before them, cutting edge at the time. One unemployed day I played Civ on my Amiga from 6am to 6am the next day and built a fantastic empire stretching across the globe. Three times. Because I could. A shocking waste of time. But bloody good fun.


UFO:Enemy Unknown UFO was another game for the Amiga that was also available on PC. I was deeply fond of UFO and like Civ, Theme Park, Captive II and EliteII I would dedicate entire days during my unemployed period to trying to complete the game. I managed to complete it on nearly every level of difficulty apart from the super human one. I’d developed strategies and all manner of tricks and tactics to help me win. Unfortunately I should really have been looking for work rather than playing games. But meh! what can you do about it now eh?


Syndicate Syndicate was another cross platform classic. You controlled an army of subversive androids which you used to take over and heavily tax the world. I’d managed most of the levels in this game but the last level was always the hardest when the enemy just kept on coming relentlessly. Still I gave it a bloody good go. They don’t make games as good as this any more. Again the graphics were crap by todays standards but made people ooze with excitement at the time.


Tomb Raider – During my unemployed era, the fuckwit known as Shitbag lent me his Playstation while he went on a “journey of self discovery” somewhere (Butlins with his mam). Bundled with his Playstation came Tomb Raider. If you don’t know Tomb Raider you’ve probably been living in a convent somewhere but basically the player guides sultry proactive archaeologist Lara Croft about mysterious temples around the globe. I absolutely loved this game. In fact I was so smitten with it I broke my two year unemployment status so that I could save and go and buy a Playstation of my own. I completed Tomb Raiders I & II just in time for Tomb Raider III to hit the shelves. But then came the ginger monster Dawn. Girlfriends and computer games do not mix and my Sunday evenings gaming with Chris Herbert soon faded away like the clouds of cigarette smoke that filled Chris’ flat every Sunday night. Dawn suggested I took out a loan and bought a PC so that she could do job applications so in an effort to raise funds the first Playstation went the way of the C64 and was sold through the classifieds section of the Liverpool Echo.


Dungeon Keeper – Ha!! As if that was going to stop me! With the new PC came all manner of new gaming opportunites. One such classic was Dungeon Keeper. In dungeon keeper you were a devil and you had minions. Your minions would help construct a base from which you emitted evil. However the goodie goodie humans would come and try and kill you and it was up to you and your minions to try and prevent this from happening. Hours of gaming fun though not as many as spent on the Amiga games. Still I was impressed enough to fork out on the expasion pack when that came out and also the sequel.


The Sims – I know a lot of you guys like playing the Sims. I did too once until it got a bit too samey and dull. Yeah I too sat there watching my sim go to work, feed, reproduce and get into all kinds of scrapes but it was too close to reality for me and getting up to go to work in order to clothe and feed myself was what I longed to escape from. Still I got an good average of 6 months play out of the entire series (and expansion packs) before my sadistic side came out and I was building disastrous households and bricking up entire families just so that I could laugh demonically at their ghosts causing the new occupants abject terror.


rctRollercoaster Tycoon – Jamie-who-wanks-on-webcams introduced me to RCT. RCT involves designing and managing a virtual theme park on the scale of Alton Towers or Busch Gardens. Cue hours of wholesome fun spent with Mrs Gnomepants building vast theme parks containing all manner of physics defying rollercoasters. My favorite design was one called the “Spinny Spinny Sick Sick”, a corkscrew type coaster with spinning cars, the passengers of which all left the coaster with green faces but they kept on coming back for more! Heh.


This is by no means a definitive list of my favorite games. That would need indepth consideration and I know I’ve missed ton of other games I’ve enjoyed. However you should see this list as a kind of “Best of best of” or a “Games which I have spent more time on than anything else”. More recently I have been tied up with other ground breaking games but nothing as monumental as those listed above. However World of Warcraft has been the only game I’ve played this year and it doesn’t seem like it is going to end (but it will in September when my subscription runs out!).


So what games did/do you like?


EDIT – that game I couldnt remember was called Rescue on Fractalus




Saturday, 19 July 2014

Heat

Dry as a bone

Comfortable as a throne

Made of stone


Humid and sweaty

But cold I am not

The weather has become

Unbearably hot


Plants are wilting

The cat is tilting

As it lounges about in

the heat


My shirt is all damp

I smell like a tramp

And the heat haze shimmers

on the road


But it wont last forever

Because heat waves

They never

Go on for too long over here


But lo! What’s the matter?

A crash

A flash

A patter

Of rain

On the conservatory roof


The rain it rushes

Through the gutter it gushes

And gone in an instant

The heat




Thursday, 17 July 2014

Music Project – Shameless plug

Those longer term readers may recall I started a project where I would listen to every album in my MP3 collection and post about it on my various blogs. They might even remember why they then stopped reading the Compostual Existentialist. Or they might have wondered what happened to the music project. Well, it’s moved. And has done since May.


So if you’re missing a daily post about an album in my record collection, then you should nip over to my other site, with some of your friends.




Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Chuck it aaaart

downloadMrs Gnomepants So we might get our lovely period bath re-enamelled rather than buy a new one. Its a lovely original cast iron bath.

Ma Gnomepants Why would you want to do that? Oh buy a new one instead.


and



Mother-in-law – Why have you made your own cake? You’d have been better off buying a shop bought one.

A bit later..

Sister-in-law phwarr this cake’s lovely

stegzy Oh yes. Its delightful. Really chocolatey and moist. I’ll have another slice there should be plenty seen as your mum would prefer a shop bought one.



Ma Gnomepants Get yourself a new vacuum cleaner

stegzy Why? Whats wrong with the one I’ve got? I’ve only had it for 4 years

Ma Gnomepants It doesn’t suck right. I think it’s broken

stegzy Mum…Its either full or the pipe is blocked. Bit of poking about Ah yes. Look a big ball of cat hair and paper blocking one of the pipes. And look, it sucks….Thats saved me £100




My mum and the wifes mum are part of what I call the “Throw away” generation. The throw away generation tend to be aged between 50 and 80. If something breaks, whereas their parents would have endeavoured to fix or mend the broken item themselves or have the item repaired by someone else, the “Throw Away” Generation simply chuck it out and buy a new one.


junkMy Dad was born on the cusp of the arrival of this generation. If a hole appeared in one of his socks he used to darn the sock and prolong its life by a further 2 years. Similarly if something mechanically simple breaks, my dad will take it apart and have a look to see if he can repair the thing. This attitude saved me loads of cash as a kid when my over used joysticks for my Commodore 64 would break. A simple twist of the screws and a blob of solder would often fix the problem. Likewise with bicycles, bits of furniture, plumbing, general repairs or whatever, if a simple patch and repair could be affected it would. My mum however, is the opposite. Even the slightest tear of fabric in something and it must be thrown out and a new one bought. Note I said thrown out. Rarely are such items given away to anyone other than family and even then prolonged usage would receive comments such as “Why don’t you buy yourself a new one?” or “I see John Lewis have a sale on “.


I suppose the post war years and the post rationing years promised that generation exciting and disposable things. Instant Car! Just add water! or Our sofas are made of 100% cheap and nasty non-biodegradable polymer based materials. SO cheap! Why buy one? Buy four! If one breaks…chuck it out! Hurrah!!. Their rationed parents and grandparents looking on in bewilderment. “Hey wow look Ethel! Dorothy has bought yet another labour saving device! Gosh do you remember when you had to spend all day Wednesday working on the mangle?”.


So we come full circle again.


Things break

I’ll have a look at the thing.

Assess if I can fix it.

Ask my dad if he can fix it.

Buy a new one but keep the old one for spares.

Get bollocked by the wife for keeping shite that I’ll never get round to fixing

Dispose of thing in recognised place of refuse disposal.


Even when in our house where we have separate bins for recyclables and compostables. After the olds have visited we tend to find things in the wrong bin. I think if Liverpool council hadn’t had a “If you don’t compost we’ll frown at you” campaign, the olds would still be chucking out plastics and glass to landfill. Although to be fair my dad has always separated his bottles and papers, but mum just puts anything resembling rubbish into the bin. I think my dad separates the bottles because when he was young he could take bottles back to the shop for the penny deposit and newspapers were always useful for a variety of purposes. Whereas my mum sees that as a bit lower class and although my mum comes from the roughest arse end of Garston, she sees herself as having worked her way up to near the top and is quite proud.


The wife’s mum tends to just lump everything into the same bin despite constantly being told by her daughters that there are greener ways to do things. Though to give her her due she does switch everything off at the wall when she has finished. Not something I can hold my hand up and say I do religiously and she doesn’t drive a car (my dad drives a petrol guzzling Ford Focus) so I suppose that off sets some of her carbon foot print slightly.


I read this…..Is it right? Are your olds part of the throw away generation? How about you?




Friday, 4 July 2014

The Binmen

binHere come the men to take

Away the rubbish that I make

The clutter I want tossed onto the heap

In orange bibs they’re dressed

Slung casual o’er their vest

With Daventry District Council

Writ ‘cross their van


They make an awful racket

But take home a tidy packet

To spend on treats and holidays abroad

They hoist up the bins

Onto the lorry’s rear pins

Which empties their contents

In to the void


In will go the shoes

The empty bottles of booze

The boxes and detritus from the sink

The mouldy old kipper

A half chewed slipper

And all the things that really

Start to stink


Then down the street they’ll go

In rain or sleet or snow

And take away the waste from the house

The truck gets emptied out

The socks, the box and trout

To end their days as debris

In the ground




Friday, 27 June 2014

The Office Goblin (A Poem)

goblin I am the office goblin

I live under your desk

I eat up all your paper clips

And I like to look grotesque


I pinch and hide your stapler

I break your pencil tips

I move your paperwork about

And snaffle bulldog clips


I am he that Wipes your white board

He that alters your chair

Deleting important computer files

Especially when you’re not there


I leave crusty bits in your collegues mug

And push the blame on you

Put finger marks on your monitor

And leave the lids off glue


I am the office goblin

Treat me good and right

Keep a look out for me

When you head off home tonight




Friday, 20 June 2014

Train

I can hear the rumble

Of metal on track

A far off tumble

As wheels clack

The ticket office closed

In 1982

Thrown out with lost property

A glove and a shoe

I wait on the platform

And look down the line

Your train is delayed

But I am on time

Passengers stare

They don’t say hello

But that’s because me

They, they don’t know

I see the lights distant

Your train it is here

I’m so glad you’re back home with me

My dear20140616-210732-76052035.jpg