The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

It’s Humpday Again …
October 8, 2008, 7:24 am
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Light At The End Of The Tunnel by The Big Mr Photo: The Big Mr

Remember a couple of weeks ago I wrote a post saying I would be positive on Wednesdays?

OK so it only lasted one week but I thought I’d give it another go because everything deserves a second chance doesn’t it?

Well, except banking executives.

Anyway this week I want to you to tell me what home arcade game used to make you go weak at the knees.

I’m not talking about Xbox 360 or PS3 type of stuff … I’m talking about the sort of game that existed before characters like Sonic or Mario were even a twinkle in a nerds eye.

Again I’ll start to get things rolling …

Actually this is quite difficult because there were a lot of games that did it for me.

I never got an Atari 2600, I had a Phillips G7000 … mainly because my parents were anti games systems and because it had a keyboard, I was able to convince them it was something that could also help me at school.

The fact this was 1981 and it had all the computer power of a $2.84 calculator from Asda is besides the point, ha!

Whilst the Phillips system was fun … and it had games that were obviously ‘inspired’ by the Pacman and Space Invaders classics … I got more enjoyment from handheld games than stuff you played on the telly, though I have lots of good memories of playing


Over the years I had all sorts of gadgets … from the absolutely shite Merlin [which at the time was truly cutting edge, hahaha] … to Tin Can Alley [which my Dad had to put together one Christmas at 3 in the morning for his over excited son] … to a plethora of ‘Game & Watch’ machines to the shrunken Galaxian arcade genius that was ‘Astro Wars’ … however the 2 games that stand out – even though they were nothing more than battery operated clockwork machines’ – were BLIP and Demon Driver.

Blip was a tennis game that was advertised as being cutting edge because it had a LIGHT EMITTING DIODE. Yes, I remember when an LED was the sort of stuff NASA were producing.

Anyway you could play against a friend or against the ‘computer’ [hahaha] and it revolved around you returning the ‘ball’ by pressing button 1, 2 or 3 in time.

It was so basic that it’s almost embarrassing to admit I loved it – but I did – and when I first saw that LED light up, I thought I had met God.
Demon Driver

Demon Driver was a racing game.

It came out after Atari launched their POLE POSITION arcade classic. The only similarity was that it featured racing cars because the ‘home version’ basically featured some racing cars printed on a cellophane loop that you had to avoid so you could go the furthest distance in the time allowed.

The time allowed was dictated by what is now known as a kitchen timer but the piece de resistance was that Demon Driver had a little gearstick allowing you to change speed between gear 1 and gear 3.

I think I was about 8 or 9 years old when I got these toys but even now at 38 – with all the toys you could want [or not] from Xbox’s and PS’s through to R2D2 and Nabaztag’s – when I think of them, I still feel the same pang of excitement and warmth as I did back when I ripped open the wrapping paper and for the first time saw the ‘future’ …

I’m not really sure why those games made such an impression on me … maybe it’s because they were the closest thing to the real arcade games I would get to play when my parents took me to Goose Fair … maybe it’s because they were the first toys that made cool noises … maybe it’s because rather than being kiddy coloured, they were in evil matt black … maybe it’s because they revolved around sports that were more ‘adult’ than an 8 year old kid was used to … but nothing has come out that has made me feel the same sense of awe as those 2 and I know that makes me sad, especially with the amount of money I blow on technoshit.

So folks, despite the fact some of you were born in a decade where you regard VCR’s as old fashioned, what home arcade game made you go weak at the knees?

34 Comments so far
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This post explains everything including the benefits of being an only child. 🙂

I didn’t really have any of this kind of electronic wizzardry growing up but I did have a casio digital watch with something like 30 alarms that I thought was “it”.

Damn by brothers and sisters for stopping me develop a technology addiction. 🙂

Comment by Pete

I know this might sound a stupid question but when are Andy and George back?

Comment by Pete

Ignore my previous comment I’ll call Katerina. I sometimes forget this blog is only a social hangout. 🙂

Comment by Pete

I still have my Phillips G7000. It’s as good as new and I’ll never let go of it.

Pete, I can relate to that Casio feeling too. I was 12. But mine had only 1 alarm.

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

And yes, I am an only child.

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

I forgot you had a G7000 as well Freddie – no wonder I adore you. I reckon they only sold 4 in the World … you, me, my cousin Oliver and my best mate Paul.

And Pete, I had the Casio watch too …

Played “Jingle Bells” at Christmas and “Happy Birthday” funnily enough, on your birthday. Mine was blue, cost 19 pounds 95 pence from Boots in the Victoria Centre, Nottingham and still has a place in my heart.

Only children rock … though I’m not sure 500 million Chinese may agree.

PS: If you haven’t spoken to K yet, the answer is next week!

Comment by Rob

I have always had a sneaking envy/loathing of ‘only children’… my cousin jason was an only child and got ALL the cool new games – which I would ‘inherit’ when they were no longer cool and had been displaced by his latest toy. I got his ZX81 when he got a Spectrum. I got his Spectrum when he got a Commodore 64. I got his (off topic I know) Betamax video recorder – when (you guessed it) he realized you couldn’t get any movies for it and demanded a VHS. although – the plus side is I can recite every line of script from the 4 movies I did have.
Only kids – I hate you..

Comment by Mr McG

Have you seen the South Park episode of your life Mr McG?

Comment by Pete


Comment by John

I remember that episode Pete, bloody genius and you’re right – it does sound awfully like McG’s life, ha!

And John – why did I think you’d say that? But then electricity wasn’t invented back then so don’t be too hard on your parents. 🙂

Comment by Rob

My parents couldn’t afford this kind of stuff (I have three sisters).

You would, however, find the young Brown in the local cafe, putting 10 pence coins into Defender.

Defender makes me go week at the knees.

Comment by Marcus

Defender by Williams … bloody genius. I especially loved the ‘smart’ bomb feature even though I tended to use them all in about 3 seconds and then have to rely on my ‘dodging’ skills to stay in the game, ha!

Have you seen the doco ‘King of Kong’ Marcus?

Comment by Rob

The Tron handheld game was my favourite at home (not an only child but the only boy) but you couldn’t beat Asteroids at the arcade, with the possible exception of the Space Invaders.

Comment by northern

No I haven’t seen that Rob.

Asteroids! Oh that was heaven.

Comment by Marcus

Does table football count ? Or backgammon ?
(me too – they hadnt invented electricity in my youth in North England either !! We still had B&W TV fgs !)

Comment by fan

Remember those stupid gaming books? They were complete arse.
They’re selling Rolf Harris Stylofones in Urban Outfitters, i may have to get one – nostalgia’s ace.

Comment by northern

You’ve got to watch it Marcus – it’s mad and also true. Details are here …

… and I’m sure there’ll be somewhere where you can watch it for free online, otherwise let me know and I’ll get you a copy. Cough, cough, splutter, splutter.

I’ve just bought a Rolf Harris stylofone – it’s even shitter than I remember, but I never got one as a kid so I felt it a duty to get one before I miss out forever.

That’s my excuse for everything which is why there is a table football machine sitting in my house which I flew from Australia even though in reality I’ve used it ZERO times whilst I’ve been in Asia.

Tron … a guy down the road had that. Wasn’t it made by GRANDSTAND games? They were the electronic MBGames of their day – but like most British companies – went abit shit.

What about INTELLIVISION? Remember that? The Xbox 360 of its day. I went halves on one with Toby Pulford when we saw it in Woolies about 7 years after it went out of date.

Ooooh I like this post …

What about games/toys you wanted but never got?

Without doubt it was a FisherPrice garage [with a lift that let a car fall down a spiral ramp when it reached the top] and Crossfire … jesus how sad am I???

Comment by Rob

I haven’t read this post properly or any of the comments but I had to comment immediately on this such is my disgust.

Comment by Tommer

OK. I think I should perhaps explain that – and actually, on checking – probably owe you an apology.

I have this game at home – but I have the ORIGINAL version ‘Digital Derby’ – I thought ‘Demon Driver’ was a cheap copy..but it turns out it was just name it was released under outside of the UK (or maybe even America). More here:

Anyway – I still play this one. It’s fucking brilliant.

Comment by Tommer

What do you mean PROBABLY owe me an apology?

How many batteries does it take Tommer? I seem to remember it was quite a few and they lasted about 27 seconds. I am sooooooooooooo jealous you have one but after buying copies of almost every crap 1970’s-1980’s TV show I could remember, I think the wife would shoot me on sight if I came home proudly shouting about some 1970’s technology.

I live vicariously through you. And your trigger temper. 🙂

Comment by Rob

Now the true king of retro machines is the Vectrex.
Just shows that power isn’t everything, a lesson Nintendo know well.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I bought a Vectrex too … again years after it went out of fashion … and you know what I realised? I realised as kids, we were completely ripped off interms of what was supposidly cool!

Comment by Rob

this little miss brown was seen spending the change from buying dad’s cigarettes playing space invaders and pacman on the sit down namcos in the fish’n’chip shop. my sister had barbies, i had books, bikes and blips. some things never change you know..

Comment by miss brown

I also proudly own 2 PacMan arcade versions, 6 ZX Spectrums (48Ks) and a ZX81. I even have JetPac (but where the fuck do you get tape recorders from these days ?) I have Munch Man and Knight Rider (hand held) AND I am the Staffordshire County U13 Bean Bag Race Champion.

They are ALL still better than ANY Playstation game.

Comment by Tommer

AND Horace goes Skiing. I’ve got that as well.

Comment by Tommer

This blog has taught me something today, it’s taught me life was really shit back in the 1920s.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Jesus, Campbell. 1981. I was born in that year. But the first two techno things that made my knees go weak were one good and one bad thing.

The bad thing was the Nintendo Gameboy. Every kid around me had one but my parents didn’t allow me to get one as well. Because it was “just a toy”. So I had to play when being at friends what wasn’t very socialising, ha.

The good thing was my Amiga 500. My parents gave it to me because it was “not a toy” and considered to have educational effects. Back then it had 512kb RAM what is probably the same what a calculator has today. I still remember buying “Monkey Island”, the excitement when I unwrapped the foil and the disappointment when I found out that I had to upgrade my memory to 1MB. It was not only expensive but had a toggle as well that enabled switching between 512kb and 1MB memory (some games didn’t work with that high 1MB, crazy isn’t it?).

No new game on the PS2 ever got me more excited than last year when I found out there is a programme that let’s me play “Monkey Island” on my MacBook.

Comment by Seb

512kb !!!!!!

I wish !

My ZX81 had (and still has) 1. ONE.

O – N – E.

You COULD buy a memory upgrade to give it a total of 17kb however.

Comment by Tommer

17kb? That’s more than the average planner.

Does everyone know we have company nintendo dss? Everyone. Not just at cynic but at google as well. Not everyone at google just the little corner the boys have in their office. It’s the only company I know that orders their staff to fuck about but we have to let the “management” win every now and then to make sure they don’t take them back. It’s the modern day “game of golf” with the boss but I won’t let them win, I have standards to keep which luckily for them are fucking low so they beat me anyway. Except Andy who is fucking shit at it all. 🙂

Comment by Billy Whizz

You’re so brave to tease Andy when he’s away Billy.

Comment by Jemma King

I’m da man.

Comment by Billy Whizz

One of my fondest childhood memories was my mum and dad giving us the Sonic the Hedgehog game for Sega Megadrive. Me and my brother were silently annoyed for a moment as we realised “oh we dont have a megadrive to play it on mum” and then my dad moved aside to reveal the console in all it’s glory. i actually tear up a bit with nostalgia when i think of my older brother screaming with delight as he slid along the kitchen tiles toward it. haha, awesome.

our first gaming experience was a C64… with the old skool tape deck loader that took fucking ages. my fav game was Maniac Mansion. Seb, the original Monkey Island rocked too!

Comment by Age

I played Monkey Island today. The joy of modern phones!

Comment by Dave Mortimer

speaking of the joy of receiving computer games – there is a really creepy video kicking about of a couple of young brothers going ape shit (like you and your bro, age, and then some) over receiving a game console at christmas.. it’s a bit sad really.

Comment by miss brown

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