The TBoD Podcast – 94 – Random Access Memories (the audio version) Part 1

This week we’re doing something a little different, those of you who have followed us since the dawn of TBoD might remember a little post we made by the same title. Today we are re-visiting that post in an audio fashion.

Talking about the games that began our love affair with the medium and cringing at our early inept attempts at blogging, have a listen and let us know what your favourite games were way back before 1080p 60fps was even a thought.

Random Access Memories Part 1

Random Access Memory Lane Part 2: The fizzy drink diet.

Just before we get going on today’s nonsense I thought I would mention the new banner emblazoned across our blog, it was designed by one of the powerful chaps over at the emperors of design Me and Alan, I think it looks epic so please visit their site to see just how mint they are. Cheers.

If you haven’t read our part 1 you can find it here, if you have then lets crack on.

Its 1992 and shit is going down. For the adult world at least.

It is announced that a third of our coal mines are to be closed, which contributes to a record high in unemployment. A spate of IRA attack occur throughout the year across the nation of which Manchester suffers the worst of it. Windsor Castle is severely damaged after a proper massive fire. The economy is in tatters, so much so that it was decided the Queen is going to have to pay taxes.

For me it was a different kettle of fish, for me 1992 was all about my football team Newcastle United signing Alan Shearer for a record 15 million quid, watching some wicked telly including some particularly epic cartoons like X-Men and Animals of Farthing Wood and experiencing my first beat em up on a console. The glory that was Double Dragon

Now I know that technically Double Dragon had several iterations but I played the one on the Mega Drive which the internet tells me released in this year. This seminal game considered to be the progenitor of the modern beat em up. Taking on the role of either Billy or Jimmy Lee (twin brothers obviously) you are tasked with applying the fictional martial art with some ridiculous name, which incidentally was inspired by Jeet Kune Do and is one of the many references to the great Bruce Lee, to smash the snot out of innumerable enemies as you make your way through each level.

When I think about it, this game’s co-operative was probably the first time I felt that multiplayer buzz which would become the dominating force in my adult life as a gamer. Sure co-op was nothing new in the industry but to be 9 years old and to take on the role of a kick ass, muscle-bound Chuck Norris type with your best mate being every bit as ninja whilst to punch and kick your way through as many hapless bad guys whose skulls are standing in the way of you and justice, well that kind of experience will stick with you.

As a kid you wanted to be a hero, preferably one with granite hands and fly kicks up the wazoo (TMNT was huge at this point) and this game gave you that in buckets. To poach a phrase a friend of mind used to describe Dizzy when he read our last post, Double Dragon was ‘the tits’. End of.

As with my last post that offered up a link to play Dizzy, the generosity continues and this time it’s for you hipsters that have an iPhone. Here is Double Dragon for the iPhone for when you get sick of sketching out the same pictures in Draw Something. You will have to pay for it like I’m not made of money, probably due to the fact I’m always distracted playing or writing about games to achieve any true modicum of success on the career front.

– MS Dosser

Cast your mind back to the previous year. It’s ’91 and none of Dossers depressing issues have come to the fore as of yet. Operation desert storm is over, Mario and Sonic are locking horns in the battle of the consoles, Link has a new quest on his hands and Terminator 2 is out at the cinema surely you’d think there would be no reason for tiny green haired blue smock wearing animals to throw them selves off the nearest edge? Well you’re wrong.

Lemmings
(Atari ST ’91)

Lemmings box art

Blocker, Builder, Basher, Climber, Floater if these words bring to mind seven Dwarves for you then a) you didn’t play Lemmings and b) you don’t know much about Snow White. No these names were not those allocated to the Hi-ho chanting little fellas from the classic German fairy tale, they are in fact some of the skills which made these tykes into the lovable (if somewhat frustrating) stars from one of the most popular video games of all time.

Wiki tells me that Lemmings throughout the years has shipped over 15 million units and honestly I can’t think of a title that deserved more success. The thought and care that went into the level design of this game make modern puzzle game creators cry into their coffee every morning. It was a simple idea taken to monumental levels by DMA design, who it is worth noting are now the amazing Rockstar North, sometimes it would feel as though a level was impossible but once you figured it out it would leave you wondering how on earth you failed to spot the correct path through.

lemmings level

Diggers will be necessary.

So this bunch of ludicrously cute little sprites drop down from a trap door in the sky, screaming their trade mark “let’s go”, and it’s up to you to guide them past the various pitfalls, traps, spikes, lava, fire and whatever other devious little tricks the developers had hidden along the way. Through various typical video game sets such as desert, dungeon, ice land etc.

a gif of the two competing walking animations

This gif actually shows the original competing designs for the walking animation.

Originally an Amiga title its instant success led to multiple ports and sequels (it has even seen a re-release on PSP) and soon people all over the world were scratching their heads and smashing their mouse’s (mousai? mice?) in frustration as the poor little chaps met their grizzly end time and time again.

lemming jumping artwork

Let’s go!

So enamored with the artwork as a child I actually wanted a pet Lemming and I’m not ashamed to admit I would’ve dressed him in blue and dyed his hair green had I ever had one but alas I didn’t so I made do with an imaginary one that lived in my watch (I know, I know but I already told you I was a weird kid.). I even used to spend hours sketching crude Lemmings having fun little adventures, driving cars, fighting monsters and so on.

falling lemming

not one of mine

One of the main things I remember about this game was the music. Slightly akin to being stuck in a lift listening to pan pipe versions of classic pop songs the tunes on display here were midi versions of classical music and various random school yard tunes (I may be imaging this but I’m pretty sure one of them is ‘how much is that doggy in the window’) rather than adding to the infuriating nature of this puzzler I find them somewhat calming but that might just be me. Take a listen to one of the more memorable tunes for yourself and you will (hopefully) see what I mean.

So what is essentially an epic puzzle game becomes without a doubt one of the most phenomenal titles of all time. Don’t believe me? Well some clever so and so has ported it into your browser so you can enjoy the original game in all of its glory.(albeit without the fantastic sound effects.) YIPEE!

– Elth

P.S you ever get to the end of Double Dragon in co-op MS-Dosser? I did with my cousin….. it doesn’t end well.

Hope you enjoyed the second part of our trip along nostalgia avenue. Did you love Double Dragon? or were you more of a Streets of Rage kinda guy? Did Lemmings cause you to punch a hole in the nearest wall/person/screen available or were you lulled into a deep calm by the weird ass music? Let us know in the comments and subscribe to keep up with the continuing recap of the games that caused us to be hopelessly addicted today.