Game Over Beer

Me as a little pixelated character for the promotion of episode 2 of Game Over Beer

Gaming has been a mainstay throughout my life. Being a guest on Episode 2 of the ‘Game Over Beer’ podcast has got me reminiscing.

This won’t be a long blog I promise. Just one with a few gaming tidbits from my life and also a chance to show some photos of things I talked about on the podcast.

I have so many vivid memories about gaming, you could say it’s been somewhat of a comfort blanket to me. I remember unboxing my first console like it was yesterday: a massive box with a brain on the front which took ages to open. I’d waited for what felt like an eternity to get my very own console and the Commodore 64 opened up a whole new world for me. It’s a thing of beauty.

The hours I spent on that thing, the patience I cultivated really is incredible when you think about it. I had to get into he habit of switching it on straight after school because the games took eons to load! My impatience now when there’s an tiny glitch in a game seems trivial and unnessary, especially when I also consider that I once spent a few hours coding my Commodore 64 so that the load screen text would be pink!

There are a a few games I distinctly remember from my Commodore 64 era: Panther, Winter Games and the amazing Dizzy (who I discuss in detail on the podcast). Before I launch into my Dizzy commentary, I really wanted to celebrate the Winter Games on Commodore 64 because well, the fact the Winter Olympics is currently on our TV made me think: “Kimberley, you really could have talked about that gams for hours on that podcast”.

The songs and moves on the Figure Skating are ones imprinted in my brain. I remember feeling super smug when I beat my brother who’s 10 years my senior with some sharp choreography. Please watch the below video as I really think this will give you an understanding of the game if you’ve never played it before. I so wish I could play it now.

Just hearing this music gave me goosebumps and it has really brought a happy tear to my eye. Dramatic you might say, but for me gaming was always a way to escape to another world, one where I could retreat and get away from school bullies or any other crap that I was dealing with. It was also a place to be anyone I wanted to be. I might have been stuck in small town Tividale but I could be an Olympic champion one day, serving some figure skating realness and the next day I could be rescuing people on Panther. Incredible.

What I have come to realise now, as I’m on my quest to find out if I have adult ADHD, is that games were a way for me to be hyper focused and gaming still is a tried and tested method for me to self soothe – something someone with high functioning anxiety needs in their armoury.

I don’t want you to feel sorry for young Kimberley who was a solitary gamer a high percentage of the time. I also had shared gaming experiences that I now hold close to my chest and give me a warm fuzzy glow. Take family game time – my Dad was terrible at gaming but it was really a source of amusement for me while I was growing up. Thinking about him trying to master the back-to-front controls on Micro Machines still makes me chuckle. Or how about trading cartridges? More a late primary school endeavour for me in my Sega Megadrive heyday, but that feeling when you opened a game you didn’t have, popped out the cartridge and gave it a first bash – wow, those were the days. I still actually have my original Sonic cartridge for the Sega Megadrive.

I also will definitely not forget the time my brother came over all ‘fancy’ and brought his new Sega Saturn to show off. He let me borrow it when I was at home sick from school and I spent hours mastering Daytona – that game was a vibe! He came back to collect his console and was like: “Shall we have a game?” I had been waiting for this moment like it was the most important moment of my life, finally a chance to showboat on the Sega Saturn. I took my place on the cushion on the floor so close to the screen I was basking in it’s glow, psyching myself up to finally beat him at a game after so many years.

Let’s just say the game seemed like it was in some sort of super sweet slow motion; like the delightful taste of victory was coming my way. My brother being the sore loser he was pulled the plug out the console with such sour energy that I never got my moment. Watching him squirm after underestimating my skills was definitely sweet though. If you haven’t played Daytona, here’s a little taster. Definitely give it a whirl next time you’re at a retro gaming arcade.

While we’re in retro gaming heaven, it’s time to revisit Dizzy. This little charming egg with his smiley face, boxing gloves and bright red boots, he was a massive part of my early gaming adventures. Dizzy was created by the Oliver Twins who I talk about in the Game Over Beer podcast – at one point they were responsible for over 15% of all UK games sales!

The Dizzy collection was close to my heart – I mean look at the beautiful colourful artwork. The games were also magical, an 8-bit adventure frenzy. Fast Food Dizzy was a little bit like Pac-Man and I loved it. However, the main attractions in the Dizzy Collection that I gravitated toward were Treasure Island and Magicland. Have a little gander at the below video to check out Dizzy’s antics with his fellow Yolk-folk.

Living in Leamington Spa a.k.a. Silicon Spa, means that sometimes I go to events or have random encounters with game developers in the pub. My biggest fan-girl moment came when the Oliver’s spoke at a Creative Leamington event. Seriously, look how happy I am in this photo!

Here’s a video of all the glorious retro gaming items to marvel at post the Oliver’s talk. If you have the audio on turn it down as you’ll heard me shouting in excitement!

This hasn’t been my only fangirl encounter as mentioned in the podcast. As a Battlefront 2 obsessive, I jumped at the chance to get my photo taken with Janina Gavankar at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago. Janina plays the central protagonist in the Battlefront 2 campaign, Iden Versio. We truly are a vision of colour I hope you’ll agree.

I won’t talk about Battlefront 2 too much in this blog as my beer glass runneth over with so much love for it on the podcast. However, I can’t help keep thinking about how good Battlefront 3 would be if it was ever released. For now though, I’m going to focus on completing Fallen Order – what a game!

The last game I selected on Game Over Beer was Altered Beast, so to accompany the podcast I wanted to share a little documentary about the remastering of Altered Beast, it opens with the catchphrase that is forever etched in my brain…

I vaguely remember a few of the levels mentioned, so I definitely progressed beyond Level 1 which was a surprise to me as it was so hard! This documentary also reveals the ending to the game and it’s blown my mind! I never saw it as I don’t think Games Master ever revealed a cheat for this game so I’ve never seen the whole thing before!

So the temptation here is to bore (or enthral) you with more of my gaming exploits, like the time I beat a dude 9-1 on Street Fighter in the Rogue Ales bar in San Francisco or the time I made my Dad hotfoot it to Blockbuster video to rent me Mortal Combat so I could play it in all its gory detail while I was underage.

I’ll leave this little blog here though as I think I’m going to make downloading Altered Beast Remastered on The Switch my priority this evening. I hope you enjoyed reminiscing with me and I hope this has inspired you to take your own little trip down memory lane or remind you of your own reasons for loving gaming. Feel free to share them in the comments and any feedback you have after listening to Game Over Beer.

Cheers, K.O.

(Kimberley Owen)


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