Life as a Retro Gamer: Meet Paul
Updated: Mar 27, 2020
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.
Our second gamer profile is Paul Henderson, known as Fenryr. Why not friend him up, and throw a challenge his way – if you dare!
Name: Paul Henderson
Antstream Arcade Handle: Fenryr
Occupation: Community Radio DJ
First Gaming Love: Amstrad CPC464
Favourite Games on Antstream Arcade: Sensible World of Soccer, Cybernoid, Pinball Dreams
Favourite Challenge: Butt Out! Or Lucille Says Hello (Double Dragon)
Paul’s gaming life began in the mid-Eighties when, after much hint-dropping to Santa, he received an Amstrad CPC464 computer one particularly joyful Christmas. “It was there on the table, set up, plugged in and ready to go,” he grins, “and next to it was the 12 game Amsoft pack that came with it. I remember picking out Sultan’s Maze – it took ten minutes to load, but that became the start of a long passion for gaming.”
For Paul, the anti-social stigma of gaming – something Antstream Arcade is doing its best to dispel – was non-existent, even in the unenlightened Eighties. “My friends and I would be round each other’s houses regularly, checking out new games or competing at stuff like California Games or kicking butt in Double Dragon.” Great times, as was the ability to walk into a software shop with two pounds and emerge with a budget title to rival many of the full-price offerings. “Everything was new,” says Paul, “and it was a time of great innovation, with whole new genres kick-started.” Paul’s particular favourite from this time is the sequel to the famous fantasy epic, The Lords Of Midnight. “Doomdark’s Revenge brought to life a 3D landscape where you could explore and recruit armies to wage war against evil. It’s only in hindsight I realised what an incredible feat of game development it was.”
Having experienced video games for the first time, it wasn’t long before Paul began to tinker around with the workings behind them. “I wanted to make my own games, so gradually began to teach myself programming in BASIC so I could do this in a limited way.” With magazines and books printing pages of type-in listings, there was plenty of material for new coders to get their teeth into. “I used to mess about with those [type-in listings], working out which commands did what and what would happen if I changed things around.” Soon Paul was creating his own video games, much to his own wonder. “They were very primitive, but I was amazed at what I was now able to do. My friends were soon asking for crash courses in BASIC!”
It’s Christmas, 1990, and Paul is excited. Again. “I’d actually picked it out of a magazine advertisement, having seen my friends playing Shadow Of The Beast,” he remembers. There, under the tree, was a brand new Amiga 500. “That game blew my mind, and it’s probably no exaggeration to say it likely sold more Amigas on its own than any other game of the time. So the first game I loaded up that Christmas morning was Shadow Of The Beast 2, a breath-taking experience!” For Paul, the 16-bit Commodore computer was unique in how its games provided an all-round experience absent from the home consoles of the time. “I loved how I could explore the galaxy in the open sandbox games such as Frontier: Elite II, insult people in sword fights in Monkey Island and play God in Populous.” While many gamers have great memories of the Sega Mega Drive and Super Nintendo, the option to play great games in nearly every genre makes the Amiga Paul’s special love.
As you’d expect, Amiga games feature a lot when Paul chats about Antstream Arcade. “To be honest I have quite a few favourites! Sensible World Of Soccer is a game I was hugely into as a kid, and it still stands up today as one of the most playable football games ever.” Also high on Paul’s play list are Xenon 2, Pinball Dreams, the Cybernoid games and a few 8-bit classics such as Dizzy and Monty On The Run. But it doesn’t stop with old favourites; for this gamer it’s also about discovering new games. “After seeing people obsessing over a game called Tilt on the Antstream Discord channel, I tried it out, and have to say it’s very addictive. I’ve also discovered quite a few fun arcade titles such as Nitroball and Tumblepop, and with the challenges it gives us an incentive to try things we’ve not seen before.” On the subject of challenges, Paul has tried many of them, including Double Dragon and Speedball 2. “Some of them are really tough but it’s a fun feature and encourages people to play new games and do things in them that they wouldn’t normally do. I like it!”
With his laptop running Antstream and hooked up to his big TV, Paul also plays on his Android tablet and even occasionally via Fire Stick. So, as a big fan of our service, does he have any suggestions? “Maybe add a simple ‘score attack’ challenge so you can challenge someone to a game of something and highest score wins?” he notes, before leaving us with his final thoughts on Antstream Arcade. “It’s great to see retro gaming becoming more popular, not just with those who were there at the time, but also younger people who are discovering the old classics. The problem is, for those without the space and money to collect originals, is that these old games occupy a kind of limbo, abandoned but with copyright still in effect. So it’s great to see Antstream recognising this, and leading the way in bringing these games to us in an official capacity.”