Saturday, March 7, 2009

Joust and Synchronicity

I was, and am, a big fan of the game Joust; since that moment I saw it while on a trip to North Berwick, some time around 1982 or 1983. The only other thing there is a large rock out to sea and lots of rain, so finding a small building with two arcade machines in it was like an oasis in the desert. It had the cabinets Xevious and Joust, that neither my brother or I had seen before. Being him, my brother took the Xevious machine but I was really drawn to Joust. We were with our great aunts if I remember correctly and they allowed us some 10p pieces to enjoy ourselves. It was fab; the controls, the graphics and the great feeling of finding and playing a game that you had never even conceived of.

It was all over much too soon and we departed North Berwick to the normality of no arcade machines and the Spectrum we had at home. But I started my search for a Joust game that I could play at home. It was a long and fruitless search of John Menzies, WH Smith and even Boots. It was also pointless as I didn't have any money to buy it should it have availed itself to me. Becoming so obsessed that one day when scouring the shelves of cassettes I came across a Joust-type game that I asked for a demo of, which was duly refused. "Its as good as the arcade game," I was told by the all-unknowing sales assistant there. So I told my friends about it when I saw them. "Really? Did you see it running?" They asked me. "Yes," I replied, hoping to convince them that it was worth some their money. I can still remember the looks on their faces when I arrived a couple of days later with this terrible game running on the machine; the graphics flickered and looked terrible with no real gameplay existing when they tried to leverage any kind of control . They were very unhappy with me and I cannot blame them; it still bothers me that I would have done what I did and I guess it's one of those experiences that ends up shaping your character.

Fast forward quite a while; the boy to a man (or as close as) and who departing to Australia is given a Gameboy by one of those friends as a gift for something to play on the flight. It is a fab present and the monochrome hand-held still sits in pride of place on my shelf today. While at the airport I find a gameboy cartridge for the game Joust (it also has Defender on it). It was with trepidation and expectation that I fired it up, but it was indeed very playable and helped pass many hours (and batteries) on the flight. Synchronicity in action.

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