Was the VIC-20 your first computer?
Yes, I got my VIC 20 in the early 1980s. Computers had just started to be introduced into schools and my dad, being a teacher, thought it was a great educational tool. I obviously had other ideas about games. In lockdown I bought a RetroGames TheVic20 and immediately fell back in love with it… but it wasn’t quite right, as I missed the tape deck and the expandability of the original. EBay is a wonderful thing. I now have a real VIC again, with a Penultimate + expansion, plus tape deck, 1541 disk drive and a new SD card reader. And I love it.
What were your favourite games at the time?
Some of my VIC old skool favourites include Jetpac, Perils of Willy, Metagalactic Llamas, Omega Race, Matrix and Jelly Monsters (which is a far better clone of Pac-Man than Atari’s VIC cartridge and probably why Commodore got sued for it!). I also have a soft spot for Clowns given how addictive that simple game is!
After the VIC, what other computers and consoles did you have?
I had an Atari 2600 games console at the same time as the VIC. Depending on my mood, and on the games I wanted to play, I’d swap between them. After the VIC I went straight to an Amiga 500 – a massive technological jump.
The fact you have a VIC-20 set up on your desk, makes it seem like you still play on it. Do you keep up with the Homebrew scene? If so what gems have you found?
I do still play on it. I’m (slowly) reacquainting myself with BASIC again and having some fun trying to create small programmes. Some of the Homebrew games for the VIC are mindblowingly good considering the limitations of this 4 decade old machine, even expanded to a massive 40k. The new games I love include Cheese and Onion, Get More Diamonds, Pentogarat, LaLa Prologue, Cheesy Trials, SuperMonza GP and PETSCII robots. For a brilliant shoot-em-Up it has to be Pulse. But the modern crop of games are just so good and a testament to the programmers pushing the VIC to the absolute limits.
Cheese & Onion
What do you like about the older games compared to modern ones
The simplicity and the addictiveness of them. They’re fun. They’re simple. And they’re games you can happily return to 40 years later!
You also have a CDTV, which are becoming quite rare now. Was this a contemporary purchase or something you acquired much later
My CDTV was a contemporary purchase in 1993. For some reason Comet in Manchester had the Amiga CDTV package selling for £100 cheaper than a new A500 (which I already had) so I used some of my wages to buy it. I’d left it at my dad’s house for the past 27 years and forgot about it until we had to have a clear-out. It’s all still working and it’s great to be able to play all my Amiga games on it again.
What would your 5 desert island games be (any platform!)
Would you push for getting BBC Micros back in to schools?
Yes. Didn’t do us any harm… but on a serious point, having to work a computer without any Graphical User Interface means you have to learn even the most rudimentary computer programming. And that can be no bad thing!