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Christmas With Antstream Arcade

Christmas is a magical time for gamers, and for retro fans it always brings back memories of large boxes under the Christmas tree, gaming treats ready to be unwrapped on a chilly December morning. We’ve all got special Christmas gaming memories – to celebrate this year, we at Antstream Arcade are again sharing our nostalgic recollections of retro gaming in the season of goodwill. Happy Christmas, everybody!

“My best Christmas memory has to be opening the Amiga 500 on Christmas day – little did I know then how I was tearing the wrapping paper off of my future. Coming from the MSX, I was utterly mesmerised by what, at the time, seemed like life-like graphics and the sound of Rocket Ranger. And this was no ordinary Amiga! I had the 500KB memory expansion, and I spent most of Christmas day trying to explain to bewildered family members the sheer power available at my fingertips. 1 MB was enough to change the world – it certainly changed my world. The rest of the day was spent trying to learn pixel art on Deluxe Paint, a skill that still escapes me to this day.”

Steve spent a whole Christmas tinkering around with Deluxe Paint on his brand-new Amiga.

“Before the Nineties console wars between Sega and Nintendo, I owned a Commodore Amiga 500, which was my official gateway into gaming. I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan, and after getting into point-and-click RPGs with The Secret of Monkey Island, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis was high on my Christmas list in 1992. I'd read the four-part comic book series by Dark Horse comics a year beforehand and loved the story, so to be immersed in the hype was real. I spent about a year on it before completing the game (no hints!) on the team path and would spend a further six months on the Fists and Wits paths. It's a game I played over and over as I also had to get the PC-CD ROM version years later just to hear Indy's voice, although I was disappointed that the voice actor sounded nothing like Harrison Ford! It was a great joy to test it for Antstream Arcade, as this game is my true Indy 4.”

Sacha’s love for Indiana Jones continues to this day.

“The Sega Saturn was my first-ever console, and I lovingly cared for it. It lived in a cabinet, never caught dust, and would be placed onto its mini table and treated like the crown jewels. Being a massive JRPG fan, I liked to take my time making decisions, and the one game that broke the mould was Nights Into Dreams. This game is so unusual, with its iconic art style and great controls as you fly around, doing somersaults to collect balls and battling the ethereal monsters. At Christmas, the one game I wanted was Christmas Nights which didn’t receive a regular release and was only available for promotional use. I found a random shop, enquired about a Sega Saturn magazine, and saw a flyer for Christmas Nights, boldly asking if I could buy it. They told me no, but gave it to me for free! The bells of the Christmas levels still sound out at my house in December.”

Aisha’s suitably Christmas-themed love is Sega’s Christmas Nights Into Dreams.

“My father purchased my Amstrad 464+ three weeks before Christmas one year. I had an Amstrad Action demo tape (with Turrican 2), and the Burning Rubber cart slammed firmly to the side of my new computer. I had looked longingly at the magazine articles and adverts for the colourful Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Coin-Op, and the promise of kicking the shell out of the foot clan had my seven-year-old self painfully excited. I was finally allowed to unwrap my present from Santa on Christmas morning. A big, heavy box filled with a poster, several stickers, a manual and, of course, the game. The loading screen impressed me; all the Turtles were there, and in the background was the imposing Technodrome. I picked Leonardo and set off through the stages, little knowing that this was to be my first case of video game addiction. After that day, I knew I wanted to be involved with gaming for the rest of my life.

Additionally, the moments between playing that game on Christmas day are peppered with good memories, specifically my father taking my hand as we wandered through the streets of my home town, the pavement covered with snow. I remember craning my head up and looking at the lights. It was my favourite Christmas as a kid.”

Part of the Turtles advertising campaign that bewitched Chris.

Darren, Senior Developer

“I suppose my next Christmas gaming memory was some years later, when I had an Amiga. It was afternoon on Christmas day, I'd had Christmas dinner at home and was visiting a friend's house who also had an Amiga. We'd both got hold of Leisure Suit Larry and were convinced it must be really saucy since it was ‘adults only’ – pre-PEGI ratings, of course. There was a quiz at the start to prove you were over 18, but it was easy to get past it with a bit of trial and error (that quiz is the main reason I never forget Spiro Agnew was Nixon's vice president). Anyway, I'd put in some time and completed the game, gradually realising it was much tamer than the stuff we watched on TV. I'd made a saved game just before the final cutscene, so I brought it to show my friend. The crude, pixelated animation of the hot tub followed by fireworks played out, and he was suitably disappointed that there was no actual nudity. At that point, I suddenly felt my dinner rising. I stood up and rushed to their bathroom, where I projectile vomited *almost* into the toilet. The family were very understanding, but it couldn't have been much fun for them to clean it up after I'd been packed off home. Moral of the story: Spiro Agnew was Richard Nixon's vice president.”

A man Darren will never forget: Spiro T. Agnew, 39th Vice President of the United States.

Graeme, writer

“When I finally began gainful employment at the age of 18, one of the first things I did – obviously – was rush out and buy a Sega Mega Drive to replace my crusty old Sinclair Spectrum +2. Suddenly, a wondrous world of amazing arcade conversions and fantastically colourful games was available to me – and I had the money to buy games! That was in October 1991, and by Christmas that year, I had built up a brilliant selection of games that kept me entertained for many months to come. That December, I have fond memories of playing Streets Of Rage, Alien Storm, Gynoug, Strider and The Revenge Of Shinobi, all superb games that outclassed anything I’d ever seen on the poor old Speccy.”

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our Christmas memories – if you want to share yours or just chat games in general, head over to the Antstream Arcade Discord channel.

(The five games that helped Graeme fall in love with the Sega Mega Drive.)

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