James Matson hurtles backwards through time to find out what was hot with devoted Amiga fans circa 1989.
The problem with time travel is that it’s so damn expensive it’s simply out of reach of us poor average sods.
Let’s look at the facts: First up (as anyone will tell you) you’re going to need a Delorean. A 1981 DMC-12 Delorean is probably going to set you back a cool $30,000 – $40,000 right off the mark.
Then you’ll need to retrofit that sucker with a flux capacitor that’s rated for generating 1.21 Giga-watts of energy. There’s another $100,000 laid out. There’s at least another $2000 in fitting out LCDs and other console tomfoolery to the dash so you can set your desired dates and parameters and at least another $12,000 to get yourself a crazy scientist on retainer. $12,050 if you want his hair pre-frizzed with that crazy scientist look.
All up that hits a staggering $154,050 just for the privilege of going back in time to 1993 and killing Justin Biebers parents. What, that’s not what you’d use a time machine for?
While the cost is prohibitive, we’re an astute bunch here at Retro Domination, so we’re all about coming to the table with solutions, rather than obstacles. That’s why we heartily recommend that if you’re a retro gamer with a penchant for time travel you simply dig up, uncover or track down some super old copies of gaming magazines. We’re talking Megazone, Zzap 64, Nintendo Power or Amiga Format.
Do it, now. Hunt down a bundle of mags from your garage, market or eBay – because nestled between the dog-eared pages of each of these magazines from the 80s and 90s lies your very own personal time machine.
Sure, you could continue to stick to getting your retro fix off admittedly fantastic sites like Retro Domination, but going back over old hardcopy magazines is a different flavour of retro love that you just can’t get anywhere else. You see, Daz, Tim, myself and anyone else covering the games and systems of bygone eras have one very powerful paradigm shifting tool at our disposal.
We write about the games when we already know the outcome. We write with the confidence of knowing all the angles, and all the tales. We’ve lived alongside the successes and failures, we’ve seen, mapped and charted the rise and fall of the Sega Dreamcast or the MB Vectrex. The journalists of the 80s or 90s didn’t have that luxury, that power. They wrote with wonder and speculation freshly born from being surrounded by the creativity of an industry in its infancy. Games that we might consider absolute turds now may have been heralded as brilliant back in the day, because they weren’t looked at through that lens of hindsight.
So, with all that in mind we decided to treat you – dear RD reader – to a free trip backwards in time through the power of one super old issue of CU Amiga. The year? 1989. The subject? What were all the hottest things for Amiga users back at the close of the 80s based on reader polls?
Will Wright’s Sim City was voted the best strategy game of 1989. Looking back, it might seem pretty simplistic compared to some of the multilayered strategy epics that have been released since, but this was a different time. Sid’s mighty Civilization wouldn’t be released for another 2 years, leaving Sim City as the king of the hill. In the ‘Best Sound’ category, vertical shooter Xenon II got the lion’s share of the votes with its pumping intro soundtrack that to this day showcases the aural power of the Amiga in the right hands, with developer The Bitmap Brothers going from strength to strength in the late 80s and early 90s with several amazing titles.
In the ‘Best Graphics’ category, Shadow of the Beast – a fan favorite that remains popular to this day – was pipped a the post by Space Ace, a Dragons Lair style title with cinematic quality animation and cut scenes. We’re not sure we agree with the 89 folk on this one, considering Shadow of the Beast was showcasing its beautiful landscapes and sprites without the aid of mostly pre-rendered and static animations. (Mental note: Go back in time to 1989, ensure Space Ace is never developed and Shadow of the Beast wins Best Graphics category)
Fortunately, Shadow of the Beast did redeem itself by winning ‘Best Packaging’ for including a wicked SOTB t-shirt with the game. If we owned that t-shirt now, we’d probably do unnatural things with it, just so you know.
Wrapping up the best-in-genre categories saw a US Gold Indiana Jones license grab ‘Best Adventure’, Dungeon Master score ‘Best RPG’ and the mighty Falcon deservedly winning ‘Best Simulation’ (and if you haven’t played Falcon on an Amiga, we suggest you get onto the real deal – or an emulated copy – post haste. It’s the only way to fly a digital F-16)
Fans voted The Bitmap Brothers – creators of some of the most highly acclaimed Amiga games in history – as the best Programming Team of 1989, but we suspect if there was an ‘of all time’ vote they’d have to be somewhere in the top 5. Of course, any video game voting from the 80s or 90s would have to include a category on the ever popular arcade/coin-op conversion, and so it was that readers voted Operation Thunderbolt as the most popular and well liked arcade to Amiga conversion for the year. Our verdict, looking back? Good game, good conversion, but you just can’t beat playing Op Thunderbolt on the actual cabinet hardware.
Voting wasn’t restricted to just Amiga games either. Readers got to vote on their favorite arcade cab of the year, with Chase HQ II winning out, followed closely by Strider and – once again – Operation Thunderbolt.
Of course, all these other categories are just fluff really, aren’t they? What everyone held their breath for, the biggest news of 1989 as far as CU Amiga readers were concerned was which title scored ‘Game of the Year’. That honour was bestowed upon none other than the indomitable soccer classic Kick Off. Even if you don’t have a thing for sports games, you can’t deny the impact Kick Off had for gamers and the Amiga platform itself.
So, as much as we’ve had fun touring 1989 with you, the fact is (as any sci-fi flick worth its salt will tell you) spending too long in the past can lead to all kinds of risky future altering butterfly effect actions, so it’s probably best we yank you back to 2013 now, and leave more time travelling for another day.
After all, you wouldn’t want to radically alter the timeline and come back to a present where the Apple Bandai Pippin was a commercial success, would you? Perish the freakin’ thought.