Sunday, 14 April 2013

The waiting game...

Hello there! There!

I have been crippled with the most severe cold in the history of humanity this week, and as a result my creativity is somewhat diminished. However, as this is crap anyway, you shouldn't notice!

So, through my snot-drenched haze, I started thinking about the elements of gaming that don't seem to fire in my rotting brain anymore. There are many, many.

One of which is the emotion known as anticipation. Is it an emotion? I don't know, I'm not a scientist!

Ah, anticipation. Expectation. Excitement. Eagerness. Being stoked. Feeling pumped. Gagging for.

Back when the gaming blood in my veins was thick, hot and frothy, I wanted to know everything I could about upcoming releases. Screenshots were like little windows into the future, each image coming to life in my tiny brain with a flourish. The accompanying text would be hungrily scanned over and over and over and over until I'd wrung every little detail from it. Then I'd read it again, subconsciously hoping I'd missed a bit. What a disgusting roach!

Of course, this news (or 'future whisper' as I liked to call it as I cried myself to sleep) was printed into magazines, which were the only real source of information back then. The magazines I remember most fondly are Amstrad Computer User, Gamesmaster, Edge and, unavoidably, Official PlayStation. Also, a few copies of PC Gamer but not enough to really warrant a mention. Apart from this mention.

Each magazine would be opened instantly at the reviews. I loved, and still love, reviews. Particularly bad ones. There's a grim entertainment in watching someones baby get kicked in the face by a sniffy, sneering stranger, whom then encourages his/her readership to avoid the face-kicked infant. Also, bad reviews are always funnier than good ones. This is fact, son.

Accompanying the reviews would be the tasty, jewel-encrusted dish of screenshots. These photos would be stared at in silence for anywhere up to and including 45 minutes guaranteed, as my bulging eyes would try to somehow 'feel' how it would play simply by looking at them. Is that the health bar? Is that how many lives you get? Is that the ammo counter? Is that how many laps you have to do? Is that an end of level boss? Is that the version I'll be getting?

Of course, any game-obsessed baboon will remember the infamous trick of using pics taken from other formats to trick you into false hope. When I gamed upon an Amstrad CPC 464 I was forever being taken for a ride by games publishers using Amiga screenshots to flog their milk to me. What I expected to be a lovely, rounded scene of colourful loveliness often was a blocky, black & green portrait of filth on my screen. It was a despicable act of treachery in my book, and one that has caused lasting scars on my personality!

I used to smell the pages!

Secondly, which I know seems a bit backwards, the 'upcoming releases' section was a wonderland of mystery & excitement. Herein games would be named, a brief outline of the point of wasting your precious, over-too-quickly life on them would be made, and a suspected release date would be flicked at you. All of which was great at the time!

I remember a pair of distinct anticipation events in my game-rubbing lifetime. The first was for my CPC 464, and it was a movie tie-in, of all things. I know! Imagine, a time when movie tie-ins weren't half-baked afterthoughts assembled to swizz kids, drunk on merchandising hysteria! The game was Batman. And my god, did I ache for it. I literally YEARNED for it, like an imprisoned man yearns to see if his missus has ran off with his brother. It was all I could think about. Here, share my pain!

Wow, honestly, seeing this makes me tingle.

My anticipation was so huge for this cassette that I got myself into trouble. Even though I knew it wasn't released until next week, I nagged and nagged my parent/guardian into taking me to 'Computer World'. This wasn't a futuristic theme park wherein all the staff had monitors instead of heads, it was merely the name of the game shop in late 80's Bolton. And obviously, when it was revealed I'd told an over-excited porkie in my haste to walk in the gigantic shoes of acting God Michael Keaton, I received a well-deserved metaphorical beheading. Fat oaf!

However, in this case, my anticipation was rewarded. This game was...stunning. I literally squealed with joy at the quality of the graphics. To be honest, I think I may have even shed a giddy tear of excitement as I beheld the beautiful packaging alone in my stinking bedroom. Wow, even now I can feel the matt-black, high-quality cardboard cassette box in my memory hands...!

Games are great, tell everyone you can, as soon as you can.

Sorry, I went off track a bit then. Here, have a picture and try to understand, you fool!

It was lashing with rain outside my bedroom window when I first saw this gorgeous mental patient!

The second of the two cataclysmic anticipation feasts was a racing game....a very, very important racing game. But I intend to blah blah on about it in detail some other time, so I'll leave it until then. If that's alright with you, sweetheart!

So, as I stagger towards the end of this nonsense like a tramp being eaten alive by foxes, I have formed a conclusion. And yes, it is probably WRONG and FLAWED.

Anticipation is gone from me, perhaps from the majority of older gamers. We don't enjoy the constant barrage contemporary gaming subjects us to. We want mystery to return, but when the veils of secrecy draw back, we want quality. Ah wait! There's my conclusion! Here, try this next line:

'We have no anticipation, because we know there is nothing to anticipate that we haven't seen before.'

Seems kind of miserable? It's the truth, sister.

GL & HF!

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