Life as a Retro Gamer: Brandon
  • Graeme Mason

Life as a Retro Gamer: Brandon

Updated: Mar 27

Meet Brandon.


Brandon grew up in the Seventies and Eighties. He had a chopper bike, loved Star Wars and used to play Space Invaders at the local fish and chip shop. The Eighties were great for Brandon; he was at school, and in 1985 he finally got the personal home computer that he’d been begging his parents for. He claimed it was for educational purposes, and that he was going to do his homework on this new-fangled device, a guaranteed A+ for every assignment. But Brandon knew this wasn’t true. Brandon knew that all he wanted it for was to play videogames.


The old computer was ditched five years later, donated to his younger brother, and Brandon got a bigger and better one. Then, as manufacturers finally got wise to the fact that most people wanted dedicated games machines more than they wanted spreadsheets and the opportunity to program, Brandon finally got a games console. Then he got married, and had kids, and sadly forgot about videogames for a bit. But wait, don’t go! This story has a happy ending, for Brandon has discovered Antstream Arcade, and hundreds of the classics that he played all those years ago are now easily available to him again, all for the price of a modest monthly subscription. When the kids, actually not really kids any more, aren’t playing FIFA and Call Of Duty, he pours himself a glass of wine and excitedly grabs the Xbox controller.


Where first?


As we know, Brandon got a home computer in 1985, and it was one of the UK’s most successful inventions: a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. His parents thoughtfully bought him some games to go with his computer (being intelligent folk, they knew that he didn’t really want it to help with his homework), so he initially gravitates towards those. He remembers playing the Durell classic spy-ninja caper Saboteur, so fires that up first; soon Brandon is leaping around the enemy base, hurling shurikens at guards and gleefully exploring the mass of dark and atmospheric screens. Thinking he likes puzzles, and that maybe they were a touch more cerebral than other games, Brandon’s parents also got him Confuzion, a manic race against the clock where you must connect sparks to bombs arranged around the edge of each level.


He winces; playing it on Antstream Arcade, it’s a lot tougher than he remembers, but still fun.


The following year, 1986, was a golden twelve months for the ZX Spectrum, and Brandon spends the next hour drifting across a variety of brilliant retro games from this era. From fantastic arcade adventures such as The Great Escape and Heartland, to the shoot-‘em-ups he adored, Uridium, Zynaps and Who Dares Wins II, Brandon’s wine glass sits untouched two hours later. He grins when he realises he’s on the high score table for at least three games. You never lose that touch, friend.


With his younger sibling inheriting the Speccy in the late Eighties, Brandon saved up for a 16-bit computer with the earnings from his paper round. A Commodore Amiga, its games were larger and more advanced, both in terms of gameplay and graphics and, like many, Brandon fell in love with the fantastic output of Sensible Software and The Bitmap Brothers. He’s in his element here, merrily loading up Sensible Soccer and evoking memories of that time when he thrashed his best friend Mike 7-2 in the world cup final. Ferocious future sports game Speedball 2 and platformer Gods follows, before Brandon even discovers some games he missed out back in the day thanks to Antstream Arcade’s ‘similar’ feature. He remembers thinking daft cartoon platform games were to be avoided in the Nineties, and wonders why he was so haughty to obey that mantra, given it ensured he missed out on wonderful games such as Zool and Videokid.


Brandon still hasn’t drunk any wine, and it’s midnight. But he’s not finished yet. The Sega Mega Drive is calling.



Brandon got a job in 1992, and the first thing he bought with his pay was, of course, a games console. He’d already played some of the Mega Drive’s games on the Amiga, but now he could connect his machine to the TV in the lounge and experience great videogames on his CRT 32-inch screen Sony. He plays the violent first-person shooter Zero Tolerance, a game that felt impossibly cool back in 1994, and sees how far he can get in The Immortal, an isometric action-RPG that he’d forgotten how much he had loved. Brandon notices another RPG recommended by Antstream Arcade, and it’s the magical Brave Battle Saga. This time he can’t kick himself for not playing it at the time, as Brave Battle Saga never saw Western release in the Nineties. Fortunately, thanks to the wonder of Antstream Arcade, Brandon is able to experience this delightful RPG for the first time, streamed directly to his flat-screen 50-inch TV.


Brandon is happy, and also very tired. As he tips his glass of Rioja back into the bottle, he ponders on what retro games from his youth he can discover tomorrow night, and thinks Antstream Arcade is the best thing he’s ever seen. Maybe he can even show those teenagers how much better games used to be when he was their age.


Night, night Brandon. Enjoy those pixel dreams.


Want to rediscover your retro favourites just as Brandon did? Download Antstream Arcade now!