In his recent terrible game compendium Attack of the Flicking Skeletons, YouTuber Ashens reached out to various gaming pundits to discover which 8-bit titles they regretted buying during their youth.
It’s no surprise that everybody had a story to tell. Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, publishers had the knack of luring in would-be victims, making false promises of arcade-style action and coating box art with fancy screenshots that in no way resembled the finished product.
My story is a tad different. I knew full well that I was handing over around six week’s pocket money for an absolute turkey. I was young, had a tenner burning a hole in my pocket, and had no idea at the time about just how bad certain games were. The worst game I’d played up to this point was probably plain old Tennis on the Atari 2600, which simply taught me that sports games weren’t my cup of tea.
This story begins in the run-up to Christmas 1991. The arrival of Sonic the Hedgehog, the biggest thing to happen in the gaming world during my youth, made it clear that my next console should be a SEGA. Had I asked for a Mega Drive, there’s a chance I may have received one for Christmas that year, as cheeky as that request may have been – the £129.99 asking price was a tad higher than prior Christmas presents. However, chances of finding an additional game under the Christmas tree would’ve been slimmer still. With Mega Drive games costing £40+ (SEGA was yet to launch their £20 budget range), the pack-in game would have had to suffice for, quite possibly, months.
So to avoid potential disappointment, and to prevent my poor old dad from working a few extra shifts that December, I decided upon a SEGA Master System. Lots of kids at school owned one, making lending and swapping games possible, and it had its own version of Sonic the Hedgehog. The fact that it wasn’t as powerful as the Mega Drive wasn’t an issue, as it was still a huge step up from the Atari 2600 – my current console, which was starting to look incredibly outdated come 1991.