I think I just had an event where everything I’ve done as a gamer has coalesced into a single, mind-melting moment. The Amiga Games competition hosted by Amigadave at AmiWest 2010. Don’t bother looking it up.
Remember a Kid in King Arthur’s Court from the days of early 90’s childcare? Yeah, I was the kid and I had a cd-player. I was that little bastard and it felt great.
Long story short, I won a game competition. Not a big one, five-people-big, but it was so one-sided that even my dad could acknowledge that it was like taking candy from a baby.
There were four games in the competition with an eMac as the grand prize. (It’s a vintage, but it actually works in the modern setting.) The heat was on for me, the kid who said that he would win this the day before the competition began. My reputation as a gamer was on the line. Not just for myself, but my dad actually expected me to win. My dad who, reasonably so, disliked how much I gamed throughout my youth. That and I kinda’ wanted that computer. Not so much that I would kill for it, but bodily harm was not out of the question. Everything was coming together for a fun thrill ride.
Check them out after the jump.
The Classic: Gods
Gods is an Amiga game that embodies the spirit of the era. It looks great, plays well and I recalled it being impossible to beat as a little kid. Yeah, it’s still pretty freaking hard.
I knew this game was going to be a nightmare and luckily the guys told me what game was going to be put into the lineup a day before the competition. (No strict advantage, anybody could have asked.) Upon which, I applied very standard 2010 gamer practice: Go on youtube, watch a playthrough.
This is where I realized how well-made this game was.
It’s actually quite an amazing game that looks great and plays into a myriad of different genres. You start out thinking this is going to be an action platformer, but the game ultimately progresses into a non-linear puzzler with a lot of adventure. The problem, of course, is that the game is hard as hell. The game punishes you for missteps and screw-ups at every turn, which often renders the puzzle part a peripheral task. Are the controls bad? Nah, the controls are fine after you get used to the game’s gravity and pace, but the fact is that you might be experimenting for a long time at your peril.
The criteria of the game was score-based, so I committed to learning the first world’s secret chests so I could make as many points as possible before combat and platforming became an issue. I climbed as far as beating the first boss and then getting lost. Part of me was concerned for a moment, until I realized that nobody made it past the second world. It was pretty clear I was the only guy who had any real idea how to play this game beyond the “Oh god, this guy jumps slow” stage. I think I got 191,000 points, where everyone else was scraping the low 90,000s.
The Cool Port: Tracker Hero without a working strum
Tracker hero plays in a manner akin to Guitar Hero with an awful framerate. While it is an impressive feat of prowess, the game itself defies many standards that have been set in place by preceeding rhythm games. For one, you need a solid, consistent framerate, which this game didn’t have. Second, well, there seemed to be little logic applied to the placement of the notes. You’ve seen this before in all sorts of rhythm games and you probably loathe it. Nevertheless, I got stuck with it and I acclimated.
The strum didn’t work because the C64 adapter doesn’t quite work with the Amiga. Instead, the modifier buttons also counted as a strum, so it was more akin to a standard rhythm game. I’m not very good at Guitar Hero because my left hand isn’t trained all that well, but if you give me a four-button rhythm game, I’m going to kill it. Why? DDR and Stepmania were my first rhythm endeavors and I played them religiously back in the day. What did I do? I set the controller across my lap, spread my thighs, and played it like it was 4-key beatmania. Oh, by the way, I was playing DJ Max Portable 3 for 8 hours in the car. It really couldn’t have got more unfair. One digit higher scores, again.
The Bad Port: Secret Maryo Chronicles
This game isn’t an Amiga game as much as it is a Linux/Open Source port of Super Mario. An awful re-imagining. Just google it and play it so you can put its terrible quality into your own words. I mean, hell, there’s a bug where you get stuck near a pipe. In fact, it’s so bad it’s fun. You can run across the screen and fly like a sky-diver, which is much more fun than trying to be precise, which ultimately punishes you for even considering such an avenue. That’s for Maryo with an “i”. The game evokes a recklessness that is strangely exciting, but it doesn’t change its status from feeling cheap. I would have preferred another Amiga game for the sake of continuity, but whatever.
Of course, I am a crafty bastard and I discovered that there was an infinite life loop present in the first boss level. Woops. Two digit higher score.
The Rape Box: Super Street Fighter II (Not Turbo, mind you, hence the not-so-fullscreen vid)
I asked my Starcraft 2/SF2 partner what game he thought would be a great ending game for a competition, or rather, what would be the most one-sided game possible in a competition with non-gamers. He guessed Starcraft 2, then Starcraft, then any RTS. When I told him Street Fighter, my earphones exploded with laughter.
Street Fighter is relatively simple on a low-level, but if you don’t actually know what they are, you will probably lose 99% of the time to someone who does. The kicker, literally, is that the 1-button layout only allowed short-kicks (Neutral button) and roundhouse (Forward + button) So, what did I do? Picked a character with a devastatingly good kick like Sagat, where his fierce kick says no to most jump ins. Naturally, I also picked him because he is the ONLY character in SSFII that can space with fireballs with the kicks only restriction. What does this mean? I pressure the health bar if you keep blocking and then I punish you for jumping in, both of which are the only options newer players usually see. In this strangely limited format, he is actually 100% broken.
Game 2, I picked a female on request. Chun, of course, since she’s the next broken character on the 1-button tier list. Unlike other characters with the kick only restriction, kick-spam does a very impressive amount of damage and is probably the only real combo you can do on a one-button layout. I just applied some footsies and pressure, then voila, victory.
To put it simply, I know more about Street Fighter than anybody else at the convention. It’s not a lot of knowledge, but considering that everybody else had no idea about the basic concepts of the game, it was absolutely unfair, cruel and unusual for the hosts to put that up as the final game.
I feel bad for my opponents. They’re people with respectable hobbies and something called a life. They forked out the same $5 bucks that I did, but I was the only one who actually had fun. Sinister amounts of fun, nonetheless. I felt on top of the freakin’ world, even though I basically played the gaming equivalent of starters.
So, what did I win for my trouble? An eMac! You’re probably wondering what this has to do with Amiga computers. Well, it runs an Amiga-like OS called MorphOS, which retails for 111.11 euros + VAT, included with the prize. It’s a very cool, albeit serious, toy that I’ve placed on my desk. The thing boots up in 15 seconds from a cold boot. Quite amazing, actually.