Life As A Retro Gamer: Matthew Smith
Updated: Nov 26, 2021
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 as the starting point, there’s a whole new virtual neighbourhood at the heart of what we do. For our latest gamer profile, we present Matt Smith, known as AmigaSquare on Antstream Arcade. Matt is Commodore Amiga mad – why not friend him up, and throw a 16-bit challenge his way – if you dare!
Name: Matthew Smith
Antstream Arcade Handle: AmigaSquare
Occupation: Magazine Editor and Columnist
First Gaming Love: Crystal Castles – Atari 2600
Favourite Games on Antstream: Alien Breed: Special Edition ’92, The Chaos Engine, Joe & Mac Returns, The Secret Of Monkey Island
Favourite Challenge on Antstream: Smash TV – It’s Showtime!
Matt begins our chat with a sad gaming admission. “I grew up in a rural town with no arcades nearby and my parents never owned a computer,” he says glumly. But wait, don’t feel down – there’s a happy twist. “But there were always two or three coin-ops at the local leisure centre; the earliest ones I can remember seeing were Space Invaders, Pac-Land and Popeye.” Thus redeemed, Matt soon also discovered home computing thanks to his mates. “Several of my friends had either a Sinclair Spectrum or Commodore 64 and I instantly became fascinated with the games in their collections,” he says. “Many a happy hour was spent at a friend’s house playing Target Renegade, Bruce Lee and Thing On A Spring.” So not such a wasted childhood after all.
It’s Christmas 1987 and young Matthew John Smith has a large parcel waiting for him under the
Christmas Tree. Is it an Atari ST? A Commodore Amiga? A Sega Master System? Nope, nope and nope. “I got an Atari 2600!” he grins. “It cost about £50 at that point and came bundled with a whole bunch of games, so it seemed like quite a bargain.” What did this excitable eight year-old make of the ancient console? “I had absolutely no idea that it had first been released fully a decade earlier and was thus obsolete at the time – but I loved it to bits.” Bestowed with a range of exciting – if rather blocky – arcade games to play, Matt fell in love with the Atari legend. “Crystal Castles swiftly became my favourite of the games I received during that holiday, but Centipede, Crossbow and Jr. Pac-Man all got a lot of play as well.” Even more incredibly, Matt still owns his Atari 2600, the console still working perfectly 35 years later.
Magic Matt Part One
Despite his love for the Atari 2600, Matt’s fondest, most magical tine for gaming is the Nineties,
specifically the 16-bit era. “On Christmas Day, 1991, I became the delighted recipient of a Commodore Amiga 500 Plus,” he proudly reveals, “and it could scarcely have been a more mind-blowing upgrade from the 2600.” While Matt appreciates the importance of the Sega Mega Drive and Super Nintendo today, it’s the Commodore powerhouse that captured his heart.
Magic Matt Part Two
But it wasn’t just the computers and consoles; the industry that sprang up around them was also
intoxicating to this young gamer. “I always found it thrilling to see all the latest games that were coming out and that was something that was increasingly easier to do, thanks to the multitude of games magazines that were appearing, not to mention the arrival of GamesMaster and Bad Influence.” The decade that saw the demise of the ZX Spectrum and also the introduction of the Sega Dreamcast was certainly one of dramatic development in gaming technology. “It was like there was something extraordinary happening every five minutes!” exclaims Matt. “New consoles, new graphical tricks, new sound capabilities, whole new genres of games and whole new ways of playing them. I honestly think my generation was immensely lucky to grow up when we did. Looking back, being a kid in the Nineties was like being let loose in a giant adventure playground made especially for us!”
Amiga with Mattitude
At the time of the Antstream Arcade Kickstarter campaign, Matt was busy with his own particular
promotion. “I didn’t back Antstream but that was solely because I happened to be running my own
Kickstarter campaign to fund Amiga Power: The Album With Attitude.” Matt’s worry was misplaced: 514 backers were inspired by his promise of a double-CD, packed with Amiga game music, and he didn’t forget about Antstream Arcade. “The idea of Antstream was instantly appealing and I was enormously pleased to see it reach its target well ahead of the campaign’s conclusion.”
An Antstream Arcade Matt
Despite missing the Kickstarter campaign, Matt is a fervent fan of Antstream Arcade. “I think it’s
thoroughly splendid,” he beams. “The sheer range of games on offer is the best bit – a great mixture of all-time classics, obscure gems and old favourites.” And given he missed out on most of those wonderful arcade games of the Eighties thanks to his home well away from the beaches, the many arcade games on the service are a particular boon for Matt. “Antstream has introduced me to some seriously spiffing titles that I’d never encountered previously including Boogie Wings, Joe & Mac Returns, Elevator Action Returns and the outstandingly fabulous Nitroball, an inspired fusion of run ‘n’ gun and pinball. I’m having a grand old time!”
As an Amiga fan, the Commodore computer dominates Matt’s list of games he’d ideally like to see on Antstream Arcade. “My personal choices would be Harlequin, Lionheart, Apidya, Banshee and Crazy Cars 3,” he reveals, along with many other favourites. “At the time it came out, [the Amiga] did things that no other computer could do. It offered state-of-the-art graphics, amazing sound and whole host of other handy technical capabilities – all for an affordable price!”
Writer, editor and retro gamer and music fan, check out Matt’s Soundcloud page for some amazing 8 and 16-bit videogame tunes!
Our thanks to Matt for his time – stay tuned for another retro gamer profile soon!