The 6th Member of My Family

My love for gaming started with a console. One that became a part of our family.

Distant memories of squeaky tapes and floppy discs during the mid 80’s are certainly somewhere in the back of my mind, but my love affair with computer games did not truly begin until the early 90s.

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One chilly Christmas morning my two sisters and I shrieked with joy as the paper on the largest box under the tree was frantically ripped away to reveal “the best present ever,” a SEGA Megadrive.

This delightful, sleek little console with its modern, chunky game cartridges and funky hand-held controllers was probably the “coolest” thing we had ever seen, let alone owned in our own home.

After Mum and Dad had connected up the mysterious tangle of wires the fun began. Our whole family spent pretty much all of that Christmas holiday glued to the screen and we even forgot to watch the Queen’s Christmas speech, much to my mother’s horror (and my sisters’ delight).

My game of choice was Sonic The Hedgehog. Even now the “Green Hill” zone theme takes me straight back to my 12 year old self (and I confess I even wrote lyrics to the Marble Zone tune… yes I was a lonely child at times). That spinning blue wonder and his golden rings kept me busy for hours and at times frustrated beyond belief. One of my fondest memories was discovering cheat codes from a friend at school. I was truly a God in front of my siblings when I revealed the magic of up/down/down/C/up/A/B/down/C… oh yeah baby, I’m an invincible crab!

Ghouls and Ghosts: The only time my sister and I played nicely together

My second sister and I loved to play Ghouls and Ghosts. That poor little knight could only dream of his “Golden Armour” when we played as, due to our terrible skills, he was stuck in his underpants for hours. But we loved it all the same. I still remember the horrified look on a friends’ face, when she called round for me to come out and play. Usually I couldn’t wait to get out of the house but on this occasion I turned her down because my sister had just reached a new level in G&G and so we were all sat round the TV watching!

You don’t need to wave your arms about Mum

I am particularly fond of the memories of my Mum playing Echo the Dolphin. A brilliant and beautiful game, it quickly appealed to her as an older player. Sadly, she never quite got the hang of not moving the controller in the direction you wanted Echo to go and thus she would sit there waving her arms about, almost falling off the sofa, whilst moaning about “that stupid bloody dolphin.”

Another excellent game was Earthworm Jim. Who knew that having a worm for a hero would work so well? It was hilarious and a lot of fun to play. Speaking of worms, well… Worms. Another hilarious game. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that all family arguments should be solved with a match of Worms.

Games were Hard, but Winning was Fun

Something that annoyed me at the time but which I miss now is how hard it all was. In the early days, long before the internet had become the resource that it is today, there was no easy access to cheats, hints, walk-throughs, forums or downloadable mods. And, perhaps just in my opinion, the games were so much harder. The Lion King, despite being based on a Disney film, was a delightful game. But I am not joking when I say it was seriously hard. Especially that bloody mauling move.

Back then we had magazines and rumors from boys at school to help us out, but that was about it. Whilst I fear it makes me sound like an old lady, I really do think that, whilst the tech, stories and graphics have moved on, we have it far too easy these days and sadly that takes something away from the enjoyment and sense of achievement that we once got from having to work so much harder.

But the thing I loved, and miss, the most about our Megadrive was the family time it gave us. Yes, a computer console gave us family time. And maybe that is why it holds such fond memories for me. It’s not just the games themselves but the laughs we had together along the way. This was not a console stored away in a dusty bedroom and played alone in the dark. It sat proudly on display, in the living room, and accessible to everyone in our house, aged 5 to 40.

Our Megadrive was very much a part of the family and as much a part of my childhood as Skipits, Terry Wogan and teenage mutant ninja turtles.


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