How the Amstrad CPC464 made me a gamer – Reader’s Feature

Amstrad CPC464 – you have to start somewhere

A reader recalls how his first home computer in the 80s gave him an appreciation for playing as wide a range of games as possible.

Right from the moment my mate showed me his, I knew I had to have one. It was big, and maybe a little clunky too, but I fell in love with it and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it! The thing in question is, of course, the Amstrad CPC464. I was eight-years-old and relatively new to the world of computer gaming back in 1987. And although Lord Sugar’s colourfully keyed machine had a weird looking green screen to it, I knew this was where I needed to be.

Christmas 1987 was when I got my own CPC464. after months of playing Harrier Attack and Oh Mummy! at my friend’s house and it was quite a sight to behold! Sitting there on the desk that my dad had painstakingly carried and built, it was a far cry from our previous ZX Spectrum 16 with its rubber keys and spider’s web of wires to the television, wires to the power point, and wires to the separate tape deck. Honestly, I didn’t know if I was meant to play on it or crawl through the wires to collect a crystal from the centre of the maze! The Amstrad was tidier, had an integrated tape deck for one thing, and had taken mere minutes to set up ready to be played.

Another part of the box that housed my new CPC contained the familiar box of 12 games that came with the computer, which contained the marvellous Harrier Attack and Oh Mummy! as well as Roland on the Ropes, Roland in the Caves and…well that was it really. The rest were educational games like Animal, Vegetable, Mineral and a pointless fruit machine simulator. As you can imagine, a good portion of Christmas Day 1987 was spent shooting at Harrier jets and swinging through rope mazes – my parents had to tear me off it to cram some turkey down my neck at lunchtime!

It wasn’t too long before I started getting other games for the Amstrad, starting with the excellent Daley Thompson’s Decathlon (you can tell it was the ‘80s!) and my dad had bought a joystick (with just a single fire button on it – none of these trigger buttons and touchpads in those days) for it as well, which would be destroyed in months to come by playing this very game! (For any younger readers, running was performed by repeatedly waggling the joystick quickly from side to side – which was fine until it was time for the 1500m race at the end!).

It was through playing the Amstrad that I came into contact with lots of different types of games and characters such as Dizzy, whom I convinced my mum was educational because you had puzzles to solve. I’m not sure she was convinced either. Target: Renegade, Operation Wolf, Hard Drivin’, and The Blues Brothers (Amstrad Action cover tape!) were all games I had a brilliant time playing on. And if you got bored of the games you had, that was fine because you could buy a new one with your pocket every week if you wanted to, as they only cost £2.99 a piece!

It didn’t even matter that all games had a greenish tinge to them from the bizarre green screen (why did they include that?!), playing games on this machine was the platform towards where I am with gaming today. I still play a varied number of games and it’s all thanks to this great little machine. The only problem I ever had with it was on a boxing game from Codemasters where, due to the green screen, you could see the red, orange and green colours on the screen telling you if it was OK to kick your opponent in the nuts.

I hope that in years to come, when my own children are getting into video games, that they have a machine which evokes such memories in them like the Amstrad CPC464 does with me. Hopefully though, they won’t get through as many controllers as I got through koysticks trying to play Daley Thompson’s Decathlon!

By reader Richard Hyde

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk and follow us on Twitter.

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