I was five when I saw this older kid racing stock cars. Admittedly, he was playing Stock Car Star and it was a Pocketeer ™ game. There were none of graphics you get with PS2, granted. But that probably has something to do with there having been none, just a magnet inside a little hand held game forcing four pieces of plastic round a course. It was revolutionary.
This goes some way to describing collective playground orgasm that shuddered across land by end of seventies when magnets were replaced by batteries and LCD displays, allowing collective prepubescence to stop an alien invasion.
It was Christmas 1981 when I got one of these games. Grandstand, a foreign company that distributed a lot of games from other companies was at centre of this revolution. They brought out a couple of their own games. One was Invader from Space. Repeatedly firing missile button caused display to jam - it wasn’t meant to be salvo-operated obviously. By end of Boxing Day, level three, hardest, had been completed. But I loved it. Muting sound and playing this game under sheets was a Technicolor onslaught.
It broke a few months later from repeated usage and that would appear to have been last of my association with these games. But when I was in a charity shop a couple of years ago and saw Astro Wars, a hobby began. Admittedly, seeing one doesn’t cause me to rub my knees like Vic Reeves, but I’ve collected a few since.
I remember a mate of mine coming round once. He took one look at my Astro Wars – and due to a shocking mixture of Stella Artois and Pink Champagne (yeah, that sort) - offered me £50 there and then. But I kept it. Yes, I’d bought it for £2.50 but I wasn’t giving in to someone’s nostalgia rush, just because his girlfriend had a Chopper in her hallway. He left a broken man.
Someone else I know was sold by my Space Blasters (Vtech) game, simply because it “talks.” So he recorded machine announcing: “Aliens Invading!” into his mobile for his voicemail message. Whether this will cause person on other end to react as if Orson Welles was beginning his narration of War Of The Worlds is doubtful.