Starting the Amiga journey: NAG members speak

Hard to believe now, perhaps, but there was a time when the Amiga – yes, that massive slab of plastic that you could probably knock somebody out with (unless it’s an A600) which boasted a 68000 processor clocked at little over 7Mhz, and a stonking 512K of RAM at one stage – was the pinnacle of home computing and gaming. It was an immense step up from the much-loved 8-bit micros so many people were used to, and gargantuan PCs were still out of reach for the majority of mere mortals at this point (and, let’s face it, you didn’t get one for its entertainment prowess in the early days).

Even harder to believe, perhaps, is that at one point in history, a lot of us never experienced this incredible bit of kit, and when we finally did it was a truly jaw-dropping moment. Naturally, its primary use amongst the then-younger audience was to play games, and seeing Shadow Of The Beast in full flight for the first time must have been a sight for sore eyes. Yes folks, even the good folk of NAG were once a long way from being seasoned veterans, but the Amiga undeniably played a huge part in shaping their gaming and computing lives, possibly even their careers. For this article, I asked our membership over on Facebook what game left the biggest impression on them at the time. The response was impressive, to say the least, and inevitably lots of people couldn’t stick to just one. There’s too many to quote here, but I’ll print a selection below and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be inspired to share your own story in the comments. (And before anyone says: yes, the Amiga is certainly much more than a games machine, and that’s a theme we’ll explore another time.) So, er, let’s go…

I have to say yellow and green does suit Lemmings 2
  • Seeing Lemmings at my cousin’s house made an impression on not just me, but both my parents. We got an Amiga shortly afterwards, and my Mum, in particular, couldn’t put Lemmings 2: The Tribes down (when we acquired it further down the line). She finished the whole game. Iain Sell
  • The first time I saw an Amiga was at Davel Computers in Peterborough, who are still trading. The game that wowed me was Defender Of The Crown which was playing in the shop. It wasn’t long after that I went back to Davel and bought my first Amiga 500, although it was Lemmings that I got hooked on. Nigel French

Unsurprising to see Lemmings make such an impact, really. That alone must have sold hundreds of thousands of Amigas. The second game was better though…

Who would have imagined Chess could be so exciting?
  • I saw Battle Chess in One Step Beyond on Castle Meadow. I was going in to buy a complete BBC setup that was for sale or an ST that I also saw, but then I saw Battle Chess running on one of the first A500s around with Kickstart 1.2 and had to have it. I’ve never been the same since. Robert Royal

One Step Beyond – now that’s a name that will ring more than a few bells for those reading in Norfolk. I bet we could compile an entire article on that store alone, although those expecting a detailed assessment of the Madness song or, indeed, the Amiga game which both share the same name will be disappointed.

  • I had an ST, but it couldn’t play Championship Manager – so that is why I switched to Amiga. CM – and later Football Manager – is the game I’ve spent most hours playing in my life. Civilisation is second after that. Paul Moseley

Championship Manager, you say? A game that looks – and, indeed, sounds – like Teletext. Can’t see that ever catching on. No way.

  • Populous 2. I gave my dad my £20 to buy it at the Special Reserve store in Chelmsford in 1991. I then demanded the money back when he used his credit card to pay for it (I was too young to understand how that worked). I spent hours and hours playing that game, loving every minute. I still have my original A500 and boxed Populous 2 almost 30 years later. Mark Taylor

Well I think that scores very highly on the ol’ value-for-money-o-meter.

  • It Came From the Desert and Shadow of the Beast were the two that really stood out for me on the Software Etc display machines. I had a Tandy 1000TX at home and the Amiga graphics looked so much better than the Tandy 16 colour I was used to (or CGA when that wasn’t available). I had Amiga envy for a long time after that, but didn’t actually get to own one until a few years ago. Randall Hailer
  • So many memories, some of my favourites are the marathon sessions playing Street Fighter II with my best mate Karl (now sadly deceased), we had to load multiple floppies after every single round but that didn’t faze us. Can’t imagine kids these days having as much patience! James Betts

Probably one of the most iconic openings to an Amiga game ever
  • I remember watching the first 10-15 minutes of Another World round a mate’s house on his 500 and thinking it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. He then stuck on the State Of The Art demo which just blew my mind. Got my 1200 a few months later. Gideon Tebbutt
  • Not my favourite game at all but as my brother and I had Shadow Of The Beast 2 included with our first Amiga 500 we, of course, loaded it up. Our mouths were agape as the intro blew us away. The graphics and sound seemed so real it felt like watching a film. I can still see and hear that baby crying and being grabbed in the storm… Chris Sowter

But never mind the evidence you gave in court, Chris, what about the game?

It’s fair to say Noel Edmonds has seen better days
  • I came to Amiga straight from a ZX81 so it was quite a jump – I had used a PET at school, and I was looking for the next ‘upgrade’ so to speak. I had seen Elite on the BBC with its wireframe graphics, but when I saw that the Amiga was able to do it all with filled polygons I knew where I was going. Yes, I enjoyed Elite, but the game that I played most (originally) was The Bard’s Tale – so much so the label was well worn from where I had pushed it into the drive that many times. Ian Emerson
  • For me it will always be Kick Off 2. Played the game for hours on end. Being my favourite team and winning cups was a great feeling. The after touch was a game changer for me, too. Swerving the ball made you feel like a proper pro footballer! Paul Honeyman

I think we know which side of the Kick Off/Sensi debate Paul comes down on. It did come first though and we may not have had the other without it.

  • Think everyone already said the most influential ones for me. The thing is I played so many games back then! I was getting a bunch of games almost weekly, or at least it felt like it, thanks to piracy. That’s not a boast, it was fun, but I often feel like I missed out in a way by not playing fewer games for longer. I was only actually able to understand & play Railroad Tycoon last year. Pity I couldn’t when I had more time for games. Dennis English

A lot of us can relate to this I’m sure. Now with virtually every game ever made at our fingertips it’s hard to invest the time and attention into just one, yet you’d probably get lots more enjoyment from doing just that.

  • Liberation on the CD32 for me. Hearing people talking on screen and discovering a whole new world where you could travel wherever you wanted to go… Alan Wycherley

I included this for being the only CD32 reference. Bonus points awarded to Alan.

  • My first memory was, as already mentioned, watching Battle Chess in One Step Beyond’s shop window while looking for C64 games. Takes me back! First game I played was Lemmings at youth club then watching friends play Mega-Lo-Mania. That’s the game that I still play first just to hear ‘advance tech level’. Or maybe Lotus 2 as it was the first game I completed. No, it’s got to be Nuclear War. No, actually it’s got to be Birds Of Prey, I spent way too many hours flying missions. Or a good shout is Skidmarks that I somehow got to be a beta tester for! Lee Bunkell

Not content with showing a blatant disregard for the “one game” concept, our Lee has casually name-dropped an all-time classic that he just happened to beta test. Incredible scenes here.

Well, that’s a fascinating selection of stories there. It has to be said that ‘Battle Chess fans who shopped at One Step Beyond’ seems like a niche sub-group but it’s clearly one that will gain traction, and there’s some other interesting mentions too. The discussion, I’m sure, will continue on our Facebook group and I thank every single person who contributed their own memories, even if I ultimately didn’t use them in this piece. As for the rest of you… why not let us have your thoughts below or on social media, eh? Don’t be shy now.

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