Some time back now I did a big retro collection article which featured the Amiga and the Amstrad CPC 6128. Although I felt it was an impressive collection to show off, it was nothing compared to what I'm about to show you today. After a recent chat with ManCrates, in a reflection of my early years and to reminisce about the items which made my generation better than the rest. I decided to get my act together and to write up a two part series of my generation and what made that era so good for me.
When I was just 5 years old, September 1984 to be precise! I got my very first computer, an Amstrad CPC 464 with green screen. It was a difficult time in my childhood as throughout I was bullied at school and the only thing to keep me company apart from my mum, was my Amstrad! Yes I know it had a green screen, but that's all we could afford at the time. But was I disappointed that I didn't get a C64 or ZX Spectrum? Not at all! Because at 5 years old and it was the 80's, having just a computer was cool! I even learnt how to code cheats, but for whatever reason, the Robocop cheat only worked at my Dad's place, not mine.
During those years though I remember playing some awesome games such as Ghostbusters, Green Beret, Dragons Lair and yes even Dizzy, of which I am a huge fan even now. I remember playing games with my dad and taking my computer to his house on most weekends as he was in the airforce, and of course going in to town just to buy more games. ManCrates if you're reading this, a box full of Amstrad tapes please!
Prices during that time usually ranged from £2.99 and upwards, but the feeling of holding a game tape in your hand was something else, not sure if kids get that feeling today that we did as youngsters. It was also a time I had a closer connection with my dad as we both used to compete against each other on dragons lair, trying to see who would fall of the spinning disc first, yet funny enough, even today he still remembers it well. Who's the big kid here?
But that was my 80's childhood, then after getting an Amiga (another story) I said to a very old friend of mine, here's my Amstrad, here's all my tapes, sell it at a bootfair and give me the money. Since that day, I never saw it again. I never saw the money nor can I remember what games I had. Another stupid mistake on my part, but hey I was young.
Fast forward to some years ahead, my 30's and I was about to delve into the retro scene in a big way. In part thanks to the retro scene and chatting to people through my site Indie Retro News. I decided to get an Amstrad again, and not just any Amstrad but an Amstrad CPC 6128, which this month is celebrating it's 30th birthday (link).
I could've gone for the Amstrad CPC 464 but I wanted an Amstrad that could play disks for quicker loading, an expansion port for HxC usage with hundreds of games (SD) including homebrew's (Bubble Bobble/R-Type 128k) and an external tape port in case I wanted to play Amstrad tapes. This Amstrad also had more ram and it also came with a green screen! But do you know what the funniest thing was? The monitor was bloody small! It was as if someone gave me a notebook screen yet at 5 years old the screen was huge! Remember what I said about nostalgia?
However I wasn't content with just that, I went tape crazy! This is what I was talking about with the retro collection. I don't smoke, nor do I drink, so what better way to keep yourself content is to get the odd tape throughout the years. Thanks to this I've come across some awesome people such as Chris Wilkins of Retro for Sale, The Oliver Twins (Dizzy creators) and many other great people - Alistair, Del, Alan etc. So to start with, I wanted Dizzy, not just one Dizzy but all of them, every single tape released on the Amstrad including Seymour of which I'm just missing one! Oh and I have all the posters, Amiga games and two special signed posters from The Oliver Twins as well.
With that done, I decided to start collecting Hit Squad releases, granted these are the budget tapes of the far higher priced originals. But some of the games are so well known with a great cover that I just had to have them. It's just a shame that many are so hard to get hold of, it's becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with other peoples buying habits. I don't have much money, so people spending £40 a tape is out of the question.
I have a long way to go still!
Next up Codemasters! Now this is funny considering Codemasters are still around today and they do major AAA PC games and the like. But during the 8-bit era it was a time for Rock Star Ate my Hamster, Operation Gunship, Super Tank, Vampire, BMX Simulator, Super Robin Hood, Dizzy, Seymour and many others all on tape in glorious 8-bit! If anything I'd rate the company better then than they are today, perhaps this is nostalgia again?
Now here's a strange twist of events, my Amstrad CPC 6128 disk drive decided after 30 years to say enough was enough, I'm going to make every noise possible, not load your disks and fail completely. Which meant all these lovely Amstrad disks will have to be put aside....Unloved. Oh and the reason I don't have a huge collection of disks, way too bloody expensive. I'd rather spend a fiver than £40! But anyway thanks to a member by the name of Bryce on the CPCWIKI he stepped forward and repaired it while it was in Germany.
But in that time, looking at the un-slightly hole, I wanted another Amstrad to play original tapes the way they were meant to be played. Using an external tape was just not right, having to constantly adjust the volume to get it to be understood up by the computer to avoid block errors.
Even though I had picked up an Amstrad GX4000 in the mean time, The Retro Cavern (link) helped me in a big way by not only sending an original Amstrad CPC 464 in working condition, but a bunch of tapes as well. But here's the weird thing, the Amstrad CPC 464 gave me a bigger memory flash back than playing games on the 6128. It was like I was 5 again, listening to that squeal, seeing the tape loading screen and waiting for the game to launch. Holding that big chunky block and tape in my hand. I pretty much spent all evening playing as many of my tapes as possible!
Amstrad 464, 6128, GX4000 together!
Now when I said I had games, I bet you never thought I had a bed cover full of them! It's insane to think that these could go for as low as 50p, but in those days £2.99 and upwards was expensive. Sure some games go for ridiculous prices on Ebay higher than what they did in the 80's, but that's what cheap deal Retro for Sale is for (link).
(New Video Upload)
Phew, I'm glad that's out the way for the Amstrad at least for now. But before you jump the gun and think this was all collected over this year, it was not. This was probably over the last 5 or so as it's taken me many years to get to this point. But other collections are also happening, other 8-bit's. As I said at the time I didn't have a C64 or ZX Spectrum, at least until now. Welcome to the C64 collection, a small collection indeed, but it's great to have an original breadbin, Terminator box, games and C64C in my hands. It doesn't have the same feeling as the Amstrad, but I'm seriously impressed by the game fluidity, the homebrew scene (link) with games coming out almost daily (cracked by Genesis Project, Laxity, Triad ), and the many hardware devices such as the SD2IEC, Princess and 1541 Ultimate (SD), which I have now.
And that is it for Part 1, I was going to do a Part 2, but this article has taken me hours, not just in photography but writing it all up. I hope there's no major errors but my eyes feel like sawdust and my body needs a rest. I hope you've enjoyed this journey, even if I could go on and on for far more pages, but if you like what you've read, give us a comment below.
Links 1) Amstrad CPC 464 2) Retro for Sale 3) CPCWIKI 4) Mancrates