Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Happy Birthday, Little Grey Waffle Maker

I had been a Sega man up until the release of the so-called 32-bit -- did any of us know what that meant? -- consoles but then everything changed. Sega followed up the Mega Drive -- we don't talk about the 32X -- with the Saturn and that looked good, but where was the old enemy? Where was Nintendo? It turned out Nintendo was a year or so behind everyone else but into the void -- twenty years ago today -- stepped a new challenger.

Sony was an unknown quantity. My father always bought Sony electronics because he had a strong and strange conviction that one could always trust the quality of Sony gear -- where that came from I don't know, nor do I know why he pronounced it "Sonny" -- but I had no reason to believe that the company would be any good at games. Even so I wasted a lot of time and thought weighing up the relative merits of the PlayStation and Saturn, before coming to a decision based on some dubious criteria.

The first was that I was -- and still am -- an Amiga fan and a lot of the better Amiga developers seemed to move over to the PlayStation; indeed, the mighty Psygnosis got absorbed into the Sony hive collective a couple of years before the console launched. This is not a bad reason to favour a games platform, but the other is somewhat more embarrassing; I thought the black discs looked cool.

When a wealthy relative gave me a silly amount of money for a birthday gift I took it straight down to HMV on Western Road in Brighton and bought a console, some controllers, a multitap, an Atari arcade collection containing the original Gauntlet, and the brilliant Tekken 2. Maybe I should have put the money aside and saved it for something sensible, but I'm glad I didn't; the PlayStation was a great little console and one that brought me and my friends hours of joy, and a few years later begat one of my favourite games machines ever.

And those black discs still look cool.

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