PC gaming can get expensive, especially when you enjoy collecting AAA titles every month. Why are you throwing your cash at these games? Is it the immaculate rendering, the immersive storytelling, the fact that it's brand new and must be worthy of your dollars? Just because something is shiny and fresh doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be amazing. Sure, there are exceptions but there is something to be said for good ol' nostalgia.
Yes, retro gaming can save you a lot of money. And the quality of a title is not necessarily dictated by how pretty it looks or sounds either. I'd argue that the Amiga games of old have plenty of artistic value from their distinct soundtracks to their visual aesthetics. I'm not saying that an Amiga is better than a current-gen PC, or maybe I am? There is a vast legacy, a glorious arcade history to discover and you should familiarise yourself with what's freely available on the interwebs.
My earliest childhood memories, aside from eating a crayon in the sandpit, involves Amiga games. Whether you need a nostalgic hit or are keen for something different, consider installing DOSBox or an Amiga emulator like FS-UAE. Now you'll be looking for some old-school games to try. Here are a few I prepared earlier …
Best. Racing. Simulation. Ever. Ok, bit of a hyperbolic statement but it's kind of true. If you are lucky enough to set up a local area network you can burn rubber and outrace your real-life opponent. Although, in my experience, we never raced properly. That's because you drive along a track that has no barriers. We also learnt that it is possible to ram the other player off the road and send them crashing into oblivion. If you ram the other driver successfully you win the race. Yeah, we like playing Stunt Ram Racer.
I sucked at this game because I'm a sadist at heart. Sure, there are these green-haired dudes that need to reach the exit but what do you do when these fellas are shuffling towards a cliff edge? The real fun is watching these dudes plunge to their untimely ends. Or, if you want to progress and save a few lives in the process, you can instruct these freaks to build platforms and crowd control to safety. This is a classic that has seen many remakes.
Someone developed an arcade beat 'em up based on this iconic English rock band and it's great. Play chords of death from your guitar, get into street fights and chug beers during a bonus round. This is probably the second-best game to feature a popular band (the first being Devo Presents: Adventures of the Smart Patrol, but that came out years later for Windows and Macintosh). The ace of spades, aww right.
Image via myabandonware.com
Another side-scroller, and you don't have to buy it for a dollar! You get to strut the streets of Detroit as OCP's cyborg, Murphy. Punch your way to victory and blast perps with your signature pistol. Classic fun. Give it a go. You have five seconds to comply.
Are you looking for a side-scrolling shooter to play with a friend? You need a driver for the armoured car and a pilot for the gunship heli. It's a frenetic blastfest as you blow up everything that moves. The sound effects are awesome, pop something metallic and it goes tink-tink-tink. And the explosions! The explosions are brilliant.
Space Crusade (1992)
This is the ultimate Amiga game. Nothing else compares to this board game adaptation of the same name. Space Crusade is set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. You can control up to three squads of space marines and send them on missions to purge spaceships of gretchins, orks, chaos space marines, soulsuckers, androids and the almighty dreadnought, a mech that can be crushed by a door.
And that's the best exploit of all: closing doors to smoosh the xenos. The game itself is quite brutal. Dice rolls are randomised so no matter how careful you are, there are other in-game events that can lure your marines to the taint of chaos or even kill them outright.
Each squad comprises five space marines and typically includes a commander, a bolter, assault cannon, plasma gun and missile launcher. Each weapon has its own fire arc and must be deployed strategically. Before you embark on a mission you can also customise weapon loadouts and change your order and equipment cards to optimise your playstyle.
As a challenge, try a mission with a single squad. When you only have a squad of five, you really feel it when you lose one of the Emperor's finest in battle. Everyone is expendable, including your commander. It is possible to lose everyone yet complete the mission successfully.
Sure, there's Space Hulk and X-COM but Space Crusade is still loads of fun. Enjoy the soundtrack and watch helplessly as you see your space marines die one by one in isometric glory.
Oh, and here's me playing the inferior DOS version.
Other honourable mentions include:
• Alien Breed (1991)
• Doctor Who: Dalek Attack (1992)
• Thomas the Tank Engine (1992)
• Bubble Bobble (1986)