Given that ‘Have You Played’ posts tend towards reminiscence, I find I often end up talking about the music I listened to while playing the games in question. I rarely intend to do this, mind, but it happens nonetheless. The tunes are bycatch: scavengers of the benthic mind, which get caught up in my net whenever I trawl the depths for recollections. And when I tip an old game’s memory, flopping, onto the deck of my consciousness, the music scrabbles out of its mouth, blinks in the sunlight, and clacks a catchy rhythm with its pincer-tips as it scurries back into the sea.
This time, the amusement being dragged from the engrammatic brine is Simcity 2000, and its musical parasite is one that shows my age even more than the game itself. Because thinking all the way back to 1996, I didn’t have any CDs, and even 56k internet was still two years off in our household, so my only way of listening to music was via cassette tapes on a sort of portable hifi thing.
Until one day, that is, when my mate gave me a floppy disc full of MIDI files of pop tunes and movie soundtracks. MIDI files! But that was the only digital sound archive I had, and so that was what I listened to. For some reason, therefore, the undisputed theme song for SimCity 2000, in my head, is a MIDI arrangement of The Heat Is On by Glenn Frey, from Beverly Hills Cop 2. It probably sounded a bit like this, but I swear to grond that it seemed a real rip-roarer at the time.
I know I’m now going to reach the end of the post without really discussing SimCity2000 itself, but I’m just captivated thinking about all the broke-ass technological stretches that surrounded my playing of that game. Probably my proudest was in the summer of ‘97, when I edited all the building sprites in the game to be tall, glittering, sci-fi spires, and then loaded up a city I’d built especially on a terraced hill, so it formed this completely sick futuristic pyramid.
It was meant to be what I reckoned Coruscant looked like (that’s the city planet off of Star Wars, by the way, which only existed in books for bullied kids at the time, because there were still only three movies). Anyway, it was bloody good work for a 12 year old, to the extent where I printed the city out on 16 sheets of A4, sellotaped it together, and put it on my bedroom wall. I knew I’d get a bollocking because it was in full colour and it chugged a cartridge half-dry. But damn, as I listened to the Heat Is On bleep along, and nodded proudly at my cool space pyramid, it was all worth it.