Over the past few months my life has been what I would like to call organised chaos. While I try to convince myself that I’m managing to keep on top of all my endeavours, I think I can safely say things have been tricky at best. Aside from work, photography projects, Christmas and, naturally, important gaming time, the main issue in my life recently has been the refurbishing of the house.

I’m sure there is a very suitable saying out there in the ethos somewhere that states ‘you really don’t know how much crap your house can hold until you start to go through it’. If there’s not one, I just invented it. The whole thing has been going on for what feels like forever and despite the upheaval, inconveniences and madness that it causes, there are occasionally little rays of sunshine that warm my cockles and keep me going. Apart from browsing for a kick ass kitchen suite, this month my burst of joy was made by a very dusty, ratty old cardboard box that could possibly be as old as me. If it’s not, it’s really not far off.

Inside was the reason for it all. Why I’m here rattling on to you today; why every night I’m on my Xbox 360 (or having serious withdrawal if I’m not). Why the first thing I did with my new iPod Touch aside from nearly knock over the Christmas tree in excitement was find out how to get to the games section of the App Store. It was my first gaming machine: my Dad’s Commodore Plus/4.


According to what my mum tells me, my first gaming experience occurred some 24 years ago on an ordinary night in 1986. Due to the lack of interest in the plus/4 compared to the more popular Commodore 64, my Dad had picked one up cheaply for his first home word processor, leaving the age of typewriters in the front garden for the dustmen. Although the plus/4 was made to be a home office computer, our bundle had come with a tape deck and a selection of games which in the years after that night continued to grow (and were soon rediscovered in a second, just as manky, box behind the first!).

Being the sneaky little four year old that I was, that night I had taken it upon myself to wander into my dad’s work room and continue his paused game of Icicle Works while the poor unsuspecting man was out at our favourite Chinese takeaway buying dinner. icicle_works_vts_version_mainWhat an ungrateful child I was! Needless to say my Dad hit the roof when he finally got home to find his game in tatters as, lets face it, a toddlers ability to navigate a puzzle room full of deadly frozen boulders, killer penguins and collectable presents can’t be expected to be brilliant.

Something obviously stuck as in the years to come, getting to have a go on my dad’s machine became a more and more desperate task for me; the gaming bug had not only well and truly stuck, but had buried itself deep for a lifetime. Right at the bottom of the delightful yet dusty bundles, were ultimate treasures in the youth of my gaming heart – the ’10 little Indians’ and ‘Perseus and Andromeda’ text adventures.

I blame these games for my overactive imagination; as much as it makes me a creative person it often leaves my brain incapable of knowing where to draw the line as those games knew no bounds of ridiculous. While the commodore 64 versions of the games had very limited scene setting graphics, the ability of the plus/4 to produce such images was non existent, leaving me to picture the entire game scene by scene, room by room.

Imagine a point and click without the ability to point, click or even see the room, let alone the clues within them. I remember being stuck for hours searching my brain as to what clue I might be missing only to discover there was a rusty key in the top draw of an old cabinet that I couldn’t see! It’s all so clear when you know! If a Commodore plus/4 was ever given a chance to recreate classics such as Broken Sword or Monkey Island, George Stobbart would have spent 4 months looking for a red nose in that French café and Guybrush Threepwood would still be looking for the Three Pirate Leaders of Melee Island!

Okay so I’m still surrounded by dust and boxes, and I’m not sure if I can bring myself to part with the Commodore plus/4 just yet, which means trying to find a place to keep it for the time being. But if nothing else it’s always nice to have a reminder of where you’ve come from. What are two more boxes among the masses, right?








6 responses to “Comm-adore”

  1. Kat avatar

    Aww what a find!

  2. John avatar

    There still exists, somewhere in our Dad’s tech warren, my and Simes’ Acorn Atom, BBC micros, Amiga 500, Atari ST, Amiga CDTV and even a CD32.
    I’ve been tempted to get them back and crank them up, but I’m very much afraid that the gloss of memory will be fractured by the 8-bit pixellation of reality.

  3. Ironredboy II avatar
    Ironredboy II

    The plus 4 was a well specced machine at the time, unfortunately it’s release was sandwiched between the C64 and the Amiga, games were few and far between and nobody bought it (well, apart from your Dad).

    I agree with John, if Xbox Live has taught anything, it’s some classics should be left in the past. That said I played Paradroid not so long ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.

  4. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    I know that the attic contains my collection of C64 games on tape and disk. Couldn’t bring myself to part with them, even though they are doing nothing but sitting idle in what must be a very dusty box.

    I started with the Commodore 16. I’m still playing games and still as big a kid. It’s great. 😀

  5. Rhyle avatar

    I’ve been searching for years to a replacement power pack for Sinclair Spectrum + – mine is cracked and broken and a few other choice words…

    All I want is to play Joe Blade and Target Renegade one last time on their original 8-bit home.

    As far as text adventures go – The Runes of Zendos was the start and the finish of that for me. Tried others after but they were never the same.

    Great piece.

  6. Simon avatar

    Leather seat…….window…….hmmmmm.

    The butler did it. Definitely.

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