Sunday 23 February 2014

My Gaming Life and Collection - by Nash Veggie

My first game console was the Atari 2600 when I was 7. I wanted every game I could find for it. I would go to department stores and stare at the Atari display dreaming of which game to ask my parents for next. 

Asking rarely did much good but I would usually happen upon a gift of Atari during birthdays and special occasions. During the video game crash of the 80s Atari cartridges could be found for a dollar each and I started building a good collection, all of which I still have today along with that first Atari 2600.

During the age of Nintendo many video rental stores also rented NES games. Those stores would close regularly only to sell their stock off at low prices. I bought many NES games this way. Not very long ago, I was approached by a man who once owned a video rental store and still had his stock of NES and SNES games in storage. I had done some computer work for him and he just wanted to trade out the work for the games. No arguments were made.

I have 58 unique consoles as well as a few arcade games in my collection. My favorite will always be the Atari 2600 but my prize pieces would be my boxed Vectrex and a Magnovox Odyssey, the first home video game console. 

Thanks to Nash Veggie for his Guest Glog. You can follow him on Twitter @nashveggie

Thursday 20 February 2014

King of Chicago - a GYL Review

Experience the new game released by Cinemaware in the words of a Chicago Crime Lord - or the nearest we can get to it - GYL Guest Reviewer, Andy Pryer @ClammyLizard

To maximize your reading pleasure, please read this paragraph aloud, in a gruff voice and out of the corner of your mouth:  Tired of bein’ a two-bit hood pullin’ nickle ‘n dime capers?  You’ve bin payin‘ your dues lang enough.  With Capone, the old Chicago boss in da big house,  dis town is wide open for a change a management an’ it’s time for da cream to rise to-da tap.

Indeed.  Al ‘Scarface’ Capone is in chokey and the underworld of Chicago has been shaken to it’s foundations.  This is the moment you’ve been waiting for; now’s the time to take over the ‘family’ business and expand it’s territory.

You’d better have a brain to back up that roscoe, or you ambitions will be cut pretty short.  Skill with a heater won’t get you far if you can’t trust anyone in your own organization after all.

If you’re going to be a successful head of the family, you’ve got to earn the respect of the existing crew, choose you friends and who you can trust wisely, make allegiances and show the other outfits you mean business. And if that isn’t enough, your moll certainly isn’t content to play second fiddle to your racket and has some demands of her own.

KOC is presented as what used used to be called an ‘Interactive Movie’, but not one of those full of FMV and dodgy acting, here we have soulful graphics drawn with an attention to period details which really help to set the mood. Honkey-tonk piano music and spinning newspaper headlines abound. 

The story is a complex and engrossing one and there are many, many paths though the game. The gameplay, which chiefly involves selecting a course of action in a timely manner throughout a series of well scripted conversations and encounters, is well suited to phones and is perfectly playable with one finger - ideal for a little incognito gaming.  Occasionally you may need to swing your gat around and burn some powder, but this too makes efficient use of the touch screen.

I must admit that I’d never played this game before, despite being a huge fan of some other Cinemaware releases, so I can say without the burden of nostalgia that the game holds up extremely well today, with Cinemaware doing what they do so well in setting the mood as perfectly as ever. 

The snappy dialogue is cliche, but in the best possible way.  While not a comedy game, it is amusing for the dialogs accuracy to the source material even when it’s not cracking one of it’s fairly frequent jokes. Opening the app transports you instantly and completely into the pin-stripe world of the 30s gangster movies, and whether you’re a fan of the genre or not, you’d find it hard to resist pull of an underworld that’s this fully realised.  

I thoroughly recommend King of Chicago as a first class piece of portable escapism, which is as relevant now as it was when it was first released, perhaps it’s even found the ideal home on smartphones?  It certainly makes my commute pass much more quickly.

Review by Andy Pryer for GamesYouLoved

You can buy the King of Chicago on:

Monday 10 February 2014

A New Gen Gamer - Reviews an Old Skool 'New' Console

The GamesYouLoved Team is full of different kinds of gamers - different preferences and ages.  For this review of the Sega Sonic Nano by we gave it to one of the younger members of the team. All of 21 years old - Alex Reviews...

Let’s face it…gaming has gone mainstream. In the last 5 years or so the popularity of new-gen consoles has grown exponentially, with millions of people now owning an Xbox, a Playstation, or some form of games console.

So in today’s era of modern gaming where bigger, faster and sharper always means better, you could be forgiven for struggling to understand why someone would opt to play a smaller, simpler, retro games console like the Sega Mega Drive Arcade Nano.
As a new-gen gamer myself, I too had a certain degree of uncertainty about what I might be about to play.

But oh how wrong I was.

This little beauty is amazing, plug it into the TV and you’re away in less than 10 seconds. Considering many modern games have loading times long enough to grow a beard in, this is brilliant, and a definite positive if you’re looking for a ‘quick fix’ gaming session.
And if you’re a fan of variety, you’ll be pleased to know that straight out of the box there’s almost as many games on this as there are in your local GAME store.

Sure, the graphics aren’t quite up to the same level as the (massively overpriced) Xbox ONE, but in the age of ultra-fast processors and almost perfect graphics, we seem to have become ‘graphics sluts’, losing any loyalty and prostituting ourselves just to find a game with better graphics, and completely forgetting our roots.

Games don’t need to be perfect to be enjoyable.

The Arcade Nano is the perfect example of this. It’s quick, simple and massively fun to play…and what other games console will clip onto your key ring! It makes a so-called ‘sexy and slim’ Xbox ONE look like a fat geezer that single-handedly keeps his local McDonalds afloat.

I wasn’t around in the age of the original Sega Mega Drive and this retro style of gaming, I was still years away from being born in fact, but I am so glad I can still enjoy those great games today in such an easy, hassle free way.

There’s only one thing wrong with the Arcade Nano…it needs a warning message on the box: WARNING, HIGHLY ADDICTIVE

Get yours here with 10% off - use code GYL10:

Friday 7 February 2014

GYL Visits the Centre for Computing History

Here at GamesYouLoved we can’t get enough of all things retro...Games, toys, gadgets – we love nothing more than revisiting the past and firing up those memories that we had all but forgotten! 

Needless to say, when we were invited up to Cambridge to visit the Centre for Computing History we could not believe our luck! So, on a glorious Saturday morning the GamesYouLoved team hopped into our Deloreon (we wish!) and took a journey back to the future...

The Centre for Computing History is a computer museum that ‘tells the story of the Information Age’. It explores the historical, social and cultural impacts of personal computing by looking at the hardware and software that has made an imprint on our lives. Registered as a charity, it is backed by Google, Microsoft and the Open University (amongst others), and hopes to educate a new generation who know very little about the history of computing.

The first thing you will notice walking into the museum is a wealth of computer hardware spanning all the way back to 1958. From Commodore to Sinclair -  Apple to Amstrad, there is an astonishing collection of computer hardware to play with and explore, some of which you will recognise, some you will not. What was most striking about having different generations of computers in one place is how they have evolved over time. Physical design, software and function have all been transformed by technological capability and consumer demand, and it leaves one wondering where computers will go next...

In this modern age of laptops, phones and tablets it’s easy to forget that in the past computers were uncommon for consumers. The first personal computers were unwieldy and lacking in function, and it’s fair to say that these early machines were received with scepticism by the public (not least due to their excessive price!). Many would argue that it wasn’t until the dawn of the games console that computers truly excited consumers – they opened up new realms of interactivity and were a platform for creativity and storytelling. 

The museum pays full attention to this viewpoint by including an impressive collection of games consoles for visitors to play. With a roster that spans all the way from Pong to the PS2, you are able to see how consoles and games have evolved.  One minute we were thrashing it out on Tekken 1, the next we were putting our reflexes to the test with Sonic. There are also 3 arcade cabs to check out, which perfectly demonstrate the sheer variety of computing hardware.

The museum often plays host to events, and we were lucky enough to attend during a Super Smash Bros tournament (check out our review of Super Smash Bros 64  

As the first event of its kind at the venue, there was a little uncertainty about what the turnout would be, but these concerns were swiftly put to bed as over 60 of the country’s best Smash players filtered in, carrying with them N64s, Gamecubes and Wiis on which to do battle.

Overall we were incredibly impressed with the museum. With its astonishing collection of computer and gaming hardware there is so much to see and do. For adults and children alike, there is so much to discover at the Centre for Computing History. 

Visit their website to check out more -

Saturday 1 February 2014

Jet Set Willy II - a love for this game - by Andy Pryer

Before we begin in ernest I think I should make clear that in I am unable to write a fair and balanced review of Jet Set Willy II as I am extremely bias towards this game.  You see, this was my ‘gateway game’, the first game I ever played (excluding my mindless fumblings as a toddler in the arcade) and the first game that I owned:  purchased on impulse from Superdrug no less back when everywhere sold games, and actually before I even owned a computer!  

Not only was it an immediate portal to a vast and surreal universe (once I’d secured my rubber-keyed spectrum a few days later), but in many ways it was a conduit to the gaming world at large, so I hope you’ll understand and forgive me my prejudices.

Jet Set Willy is the third outing for the character of Miner Willy of Manic Miner fame (Jet Set Willy II is kind of an expansion pack for the first JSW game adding more rooms and different music).  Flush with cash after his success in the mines, Willy decided swap his helmet for a topper and treat himself to a large country pile and celebrate with a party of biblical proportions.  Now, there’s a party I would like to have been at; although I would only have been seven at the time, so I may not have gotten the full benefit.  

To say this house is large is a ridiculous understatement.  It’s also very well appointed and comes equipped with all the conveniences you’d expect in a playboy gazillionair’s pad: Swimming pool, private beach with yacht mooring, a space rocket to transport you to the space station annex and of course all the young go-getter’s want the latest must-have gadget: a gateway to hell. 

As the previous resident, an eccentric professor, left the residence in mysterious circumstances, many of his experiments and contraptions are still running.  I can’t even begin to fathom what unholy experiments this crackpot must have been working on, but the resultant fallout seriously prevents ergonomic movement through the property.  One would imagine that being accosted on the stairs by a huge, flaming skull would play to the buyers favor at the negotiating table, so the house presumably came at a knock down price.

Somehow, Willy was able to convince guests to join him for a soiree at his death trap of a mansion, but we arrive on the scene after the final guest has either left or fallen victim to one of the many peculiar hazards.  We can only presume that the party was a success judging my the amount of glassware strew throughout the house.  Willy awakes in the bathroom where our hero has been purging his system of the excesses of the previous evening, as graphically illustrated on the cover.  But unfortunately for Willy, who’s understandably quite keen to hit the hay by this point, his housekeeper Maria doesn’t think risking her neck to gather the dirty glasses is in her job description, so she stands guard over his bed, denying him access until the last of the mess is cleared up.

Personally I’d have sacked her on the spot, but I guess Willy either loves a challenge or has matriarchal issues. And so Willy embarks upon the greatest adventure ever undertaken without leaving the house.

Unlike Manic Miner, the individually named screens can be attempted in any order, which delivers an amazing sense of scale and encourages epic exploration whether you decide to collect the items or not (I usually didn’t).  Just navigating through the game world can while away hours and there is always something more to see.  Collecting all the crockery is a somewhat daunting task to say the least, many of the room layouts will leave you scratching your head or thumping it raw with frustration, and the Prof.’s experiments certainly don’t make it any easier.  Whether your head is smashed in by a large rotating lemon, or your jaxi is being speared by a levitating rooftop guard, death is instantaneous and with only seven lives it's often not long before you’re crushed under the naked foot of failure in a Monty Pythonesqe scene signaling that your final life as been depleted.  

You certainly can’t blame the controls for you failure, with just Left, Right and Jump you aren’t going to get confused.  I prefer to use keyboard over joystick, but that may be because I didn’t have a joystick when I first had the game.

The music is simple, but like everything else is perfectly judged.  The title screen treats you to a superb 8-bit rendition of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, while the scale of the actual adventure is enhanced no-end by looping In the Hall of the Mountain King (or If I Were a Rich Man from Fiddler on the Roof in the case of the original JSW)

A game with this much character can only have been made at this magical time of bedroom coders, where one person’s wonderful eccentricity could be tapped and converted to code. The game was and is immensely popular and elevated it’s author Matthew Smith, already idolised for Manic Miner, to legendary status.  

I feel rather lucky that my first game was one which was bound to strike such a chord with me.  The sense of humour coupled with the spirit of exploration and discovery still wows me to this day, almost as if the game was aimed especially at me to entice me off my bike and into games.  Intentional or not, it worked.  I know not all games can be like this, but it would be nice if there was a little something of the spirit of JSW in games today.

Thanks to Guest Blogger - Andy Pryer
You can also follow Andy on Twitter @ClammyLizard