90’s flashback adventure!

Revisiting my first game from 1992.

Here comes a slightly nostalgic bit of my game development preshistory: I confess I used to make graphics and a little programming on ZX Spectrum when I was a kid, and that probably conditioned the way I think about games and entertainment in general.

Comodore 64 seems to have been the big thing in Finland back in the days. In Spain we were big fans of Sir Clive Sinclair and his Spectrum computer.

I was specially invovled in the text and illustrated adventures genre, which in Spain was enthusiastically fostered by the guys at Aventuras Dinamic , a company related to Dinamic Software, one of the flagship studios of the “Golden Age” of Spanish games in the late 80's.

I was lucky to be part of a community of people who shared their fascination about games like “The Hobbit”, ”Yength”, “Cozumel”, etc, and who tried to do their bit programming their own games on the incredible “Professional Adventure Writer Software” PAWS, collaborating and writing passionate and incendiary reviews in fanzines like CAAD, El Aventurero and others…

E=mc2

Not long ago I recovered “La Estación” (The Station) from The World of Spectrum archives. I am still amazed by efforts like the World of Spectrum website, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega project and others, to keep the glorious 8bit past alive in the internet era.

It felt nice and a bit strage to play again this game I created when I was 15, and now I could share it with my 12 year old son.

With shameless self-indugence I noticed the graphics where kind of smart, the story was not totally terrible (and only slightly derivative from the games I used to play), the bad jokes were still there and I was amused to realise I didn’t even remember the solution of the game.

My son could feel my enthusiasm and, being nice and empathic as he is, had a very supporting reaction, stating that playing text adventures “is a little bit like coding” (and coding is cool as you all know).

“Text adventures are a little bit like coding”

I like games which offer an atmospheric, aesthetic experience and take you to a beautiful place to hang around and do things and to remember. The delightfully primitive 8x8 pixel graphics, and the pompous storylines of Spectrum illustrated adventures provided me with that, almost a quarter a century ago.

We may not see the text adventure genre come-back soon anytime soon. But if you are currently concerned about whether VR or AR or IA is the future of gaming, you may find some relief in remembering those thick pixels of your youth. Incredible what our brains can do with a few bits!

I guess it is not totally unhealthy to keep a sweet memory for those heroic days, people, technology and experiences. Do you also have a glorious game development past you revisit from time to time? Can anything be learnt from it?

p.s. If curious, you can check “La Estación” yourself . Just download it from World of Spectrum Archive, then run it in a Spectrum emulator like qaop Online Spectrum Emulator.

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