Life As A Retro Gamer: EricRetro
Whether it’s the high score tables, challenges or just forming friendships, Antstream Arcade is all about community and bringing gamers both young and old together. With our carefully-curated selection of retro classics the starting point, there’s a whole new virtual neighbourhood at the heart of what we do.
For our latest gamer profile, we present Eric Park, known as EricRetro on Antstream Arcade. Eric is a special entry in our gamer profiles as we’ll find out – why not friend him up, and throw a challenge his way – if you dare!
Antstream Arcade Handle: EricRetro
First Gaming Love: Amstrad CPC464
Favourite Games on Antstream: Advanced Pinball Simulator, Wizard Willy, Superkid, Generals of the Yang Family and Growl
Favourite Challenge on Antstream: Hundred Million Club on Slam Tilt Night Of The Demon
Like many fortysomething gamers, Eric’s love of videogames began with table top board games before he graduated to the LCD games that were popular in the early to mid Eighties. “This led to the Atari 2600 near the end of its time, which was bought half-price from Boots The Chemist,” he remembers wistfully. Ah those carefree days when videogames sat alongside deodorant and aspirin inside the UK’s biggest apothecary chain. Meanwhile, having used a BBC Micro during his computer studies lesson at school, Eric’s family took the dip and purchased an Amstrad CPC 464 in 1989, just as the 8-bit computer era was beginning to wind down. “That was the start of my hobby coding games, through on to the Amiga 1200 and PC/Mac today. For gaming though, it was mainly the Sega Mega Drive and Super Nintendo.”
As a veteran gamer, Eric loves most of the eras and decades of videogame history; there’s one sweet period, however, that he holds in particular fondness. “Growing up in the late Eighties and early Nineties allowed me to play the best games of the 8-bit home computers, and then head into the 16-bit console days.” The launch of the Mega-CD and general boom of the CD revolution was also a fabulous time. “The idea of having games on CD was fantastic and futuristic back then,” Eric grins. “Having had the Mega-CD since its launch in 1993, I had about 20 games including some expensive ones such as Snatcher and The Terminator.”
Over the last three years, Eric has begun collecting for the system again, buying one or two games a month. “I have 80 out of 98 total games now, but the remaining games are priced at £200-£450. My favourites are Jaguar XJ220, Thunderhawk, Batman Returns and my number one Mega-CD game, The Terminator.” With so many Mega-CD games prohibitively expensive, Eric agrees that seeing the system on Antstream Arcade would be very cool. “Antstream removes the technical barrier as well as the expense – you don’t need to worry about which platform and requirements are needed, opening up easy access to lots of platforms and games beyond those we owned back in the day.”
As Eric mentions above, he has always had a keen interest in coding, and many of his games can be discovered on his website, www.parkproductions.co.uk. “I started on the BBC Micro in school,” he says, “and then moved on to the Amstrad at home. I enjoyed creating games on the Commodore Amiga – but as the internet was still fairly new, there was no real way to share games other than shareware and public domain catalogues.” For Eric, the Readers’ Games section of Amiga Format magazine proved a route to recognition. “I was lucky enough to win a £50 prize, and I coded around 15 games in total. My favourite is a Renegade clone called Rattlesnake and I’ve also done a one-on-one fighter, Blood Brawl, and an overhead racer called County Racers, among others. Hopefully they can appear on Antstream one day for players to discover.”
An Antstream Park
While Eric initially dismissed Antstream Arcade’s Kickstarter campaign due to his disinterest in streaming services in general, he investigated it further with the offer of a free trial. “I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of first use set up and the quality of the stream,” he says, and Eric became so enthused by the range of games on Antstream Arcade that he resolved to play every single one. With over 1100 games available, no small task. “I began by playing the usual favourites such as Pac Man, Renegade and Dizzy,” he explains. “and then I started to play through all the Spectrum games. With over 300 available, I thought that having a turn on each game would be doable, with the goal of setting a respectable score on each leaderboard.”
Moving to Commodore 64 games, Eric burned his way through the entire selection on Antstream, aiming to play each game between ten and fifteen minutes. With 1175 games at the time of writing, that’s 17,625 minutes, or almost 294 hours of solid Antstreaming! “For text adventures, the first five minutes was usually trying to work out the parser, although Murder Off Miami got a longer play because it’s quite an intriguing murder mystery.” Games in Eric’s favourite genres of shooters, brawlers and pinball usually resulted in longer plays. “Advanced Pinball Simulator was completed, however, with the use of the handy save feature!”
Playing all the games on Antstream Arcade is an incredible achievement, and with new games added weekly, it’s a record that Eric is determined to maintain. “I find it extremely fun to play through the same game on different platforms,” he says, “noting the differences in speed, graphics and gameplay. I have also discovered many arcade games of which I was unaware such as POW, Spinmaster and Gang Wars.” One of his old favourite games, Wizard Willy, raises a magical eyebrow. “Going beyond its funny title, it was a game I first bought in 1989,” explains Eric of the obscure Codemasters title. “It’s a very polished game about a wizard who shoots lightning bolts and collects giant eyeballs! It features some nice parallax scrolling and a unique climbing mechanic, where walking behind a platform and jumping will have your wizard climb up it in stages.” With the Amiga version also available on Antstream Arcade – known as Spellfire the Sorcerer – Wizard Willy is a game well worth investigating.
Coder, gamer, retro super fan and Antstream Arcade completist, all things Eric-related can be found at www.parkproductions.co.uk.