There was a time when I’d have been absolutely gutted if I hadn’t found at least a couple of games underneath the Christmas tree, but now that my entire collection is digital, I’m more likely to find a gift in my inbox or Steam account than under any trees. This is good – it prepares me for a future without either gifts or trees.
I miss unwrapping boxes with games in them though so allow me to live vicariously through you. What did your PC get for Christmas? Not just games, but peripherals, VR goggles, new hardware…whatever you got, share your haul with us all. Since I can’t participate this year, having received nowt but booze and vouchers, below you’ll find my favourite PC-related Christmas gifts of yesteryear.
1988 – Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders
A copy of Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders for the family Amiga. I’m increasingly convinced this was a dodgy copy bought from the local market, where things tended to have photocopied manuals and incorrect box art. I never finished it but I made loads of eggs explode on an in-flight microwave, which seems like the kind of thing that’d get you chucked into an illegal prison compound these days.
1993 – First PC + Doom
My first PC! That is if you don’t count the old Atari ST and Amiga as PCs. I wish I could remember the specs but it probably had more memory packed into its chunky RAM sticks than I have in my entire head. I think it was a DX2-50 and know that my next was a DX4-100, but the specifics of the specs escape me. Whatever the case, it was the best thing ever, obviously, and I pretended it was for schoolwork and all the rest even though I really wanted it because I’d played Doom shareware at a mate’s house and needed that hot demon action.
I went from Zool to Doom in one beautiful day.
1994 – Educational Software
You know that whole thing about the computer being educational? In 1994 I got the Encarta CD-ROM encyclopedia and Microsoft Cinemania, which was like imdb but on a CD and not free. In those pre-internet days, Cinemania was legitimately one of my favourite things. I spent hours going through the films alphabetically, listening to the sparse audio samples (there weren’t even trailers), hoping that I’d be able to see them all one day. Now that so many of them are available to stream or buy online, I have seen most of them.
I remember Adam’s Rib being one of the first titles alphabetically, and I developed an obsession with it. A 1940’s romcom worming its way into a young lad’s brain. That’s the magic of Cinemania.
1995 – Transport Tycoon Deluxe
Late to the party, I finally got Transport Tycoon. It might have been the previous year, truth be told, but let’s go with 1995 because I think it was the Deluxe edition. I was a bit bored of shooting things and the isometric landscapes I’d seen on the pages of PC Gamer looked sedate and lovely, and, yes, I wanted to build train tracks. So I did.
Transport Tycoon wasn’t my first management rodeo, but it’s the one that sticks with me and I’ve never quite shaken off my love of transport.
1998 – Die By The Sword
Die By The Sword! Who wouldn’t be happy to find something so preposterously named waiting for them on Christmas day. Shite controls and erratic difficulty couldn’t prevent me from falling in love with this limb-severing oddity and I still remember it fondly.
2000 – Ultima VII
A good friend gave me an original boxed copy of Ultima VII complete with cloth map. The only physical copy of a game I still own!
What did you get, this year or in previous years, that’s made your PC sing with joy right into the new year?