Random retro gaming

Just thought I’d give you a little window into a few of the games I’ve been playing lately. As usual, I don’t like to spend too long gaming on one system (apart from the Amiga) so there’s a fair rotation of platforms going on. If you get dizzy, just hold onto the hand rails.

First up was Virtua Racing for the Megadrive. I think I found this at a market in a box of utter trash (not the treasure kind of trash either, the ‘USB printer cables and water damaged Tazos’ kind of trash).  The cartridge box had no label, so I was pleasantly surprised when I opened it to find Virtua Racing.  As you can see from the photo the Virtua Racing card is differently shaped to a standard Megadrive cart thanks to the inclusion of the Sega DSP chip, some nifty silicon that lifts Virtua Racing from an average game to a stonkingly awesome racing simulator.

Thanks to the DSP’s polygon pushing power, Virtua Racing is a seamless, smooth 3D experience that has you hurtling around tracks in F1 cars. Based on the arcade game of the same name, Virtua Racing on the Megadrive is a flawless port. Seriously, you could just find an F1 cockpit shell, a CRT TV, a Megadrive and this cartridge and be experiencing that arcade racing feel. Very impressed.

Next up was the Amiga. I can’t stay away from this machine for long. The addition of the HxC Floppy Emulator to the Amiga 600 means I’ve got 13.5GB of Amiga disks at my disposal. Gaming overload. Recently I’ve been playing a bit of Phantasie III, one of the titles I spent the most time with back in the days when the Amiga was new. An old school RPG with turn based combat and an emphasis on exploring over land and in dungeons, Phantasie III is a great way to lose hours to simply wandering, fighting and micro-managing your party of Wizards, Priests and Warriors.

The games difficulty is equal parts frustrating and awesome.  Thanks to random encounters, you often make it all of three steps out of a town before you’re confronted by monsters whose skills and potency well outstrip your party. In a few rounds, you’ll have armless Priests, dead Rangers and a Wizard sans left hand. You’ll hobble back to town, get new members and venture out again. It can be disheartening, but it does make victories all the sweeter, and the cultivation of a decently high level party of adventurers who can survive the more dangerous encounters is a rewarding experience.

And last but not least, I received a few additions to my Atari Lynx collection recently. The pick of the bunch is Viking Child, an amusing – if slightly pedestrian – platformer.

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