Stamp it Out

Stamp it Out
27 Jan 20

I’m no stamp collector but my attention was grabbed by Royal Mail’s latest special collection which is dedicated to video games, and not just any old games, games made and developed in the UK over the last 40 years. Obviously this is hugely nostalgic so I thought that I would take a look at which games made the cut and their influence on me.

Elite

Elite was a staple of British gaming back in the day. This vector-based space adventure was released on the BBC Micro in 1984 and as most schools had at least one Micro this was the best way experience the game at the time. It spawned a number of sequels and is still going strong today with the last release ‘Elite Dangerous’.

Populous 

Who wouldn’t want to be god? Well in 1989 the closest thing you could get was to play Populous on the Amiga and Atari ST. Build your world, fight battles and smite your people. I wasn’t such a big player of this title, mainly because I literally have no patience but there was no denying the popularity of Populous.

Dizzy

I always thought this game was called ‘Dizzy Egg’ but apparently it’s just Dizzy. I was introduced to our oval hero with a demo version that came with a cassette on the front of Crash magazine in 1987. The gameplay comes in the format of a side scroller where you navigate the landscape, trying to avoid the baddies and collecting items required to solve puzzles scattered throughout the game.

What really impressed me about Dizzy were the graphics. Where at the time most games on the ZX Spectrum only utilised a couple of colours but this was, at the time, a visual feast. The animations were fluid and the simplicity of the gameplay made it, and its sequels, instant hits.

Lemmings

In 1991 I was lucky enough to get an Amiga 500 which coincidentally coincided with the release of the very first Lemmings game. Your mission, should you choose to accept it is to guide your suicidal friends through levels with ever-increasing difficulty by allocating them tasks such as digging, climbing and many more. There is also sometimes the need to sacrifice some of your crew in order to achieve your goal which is to get a demanded proportion of Lemmings to safety.

Graphically it is as simple as can be but is instantly recognisable. Lemmings was one of ‘those’ games that no matter what your gaming preference all geeks would have played it at one time or another.

Over the years many more Lemmings sequels were released and you can still play it today with a mobile version on iOS and Android.

Micro Machines

Speaking of one of ‘those’ games that most have probably experienced, Micro Machines was one of the most entertaining on this list, especially if playing with friends.

Based on the highly successful line of tiny vehicles the aim of the game is to whizz around tracks based on domestic environments either against a friend or the computer. You have to, obviously, to be faster than your opponent but then get far enough ahead of them so that they go off screen, once this is achieved you score a point and the winner is the player that obtains all of the points available.

The first Micro Machines was released in 1991 and was most popularised on 16-bit consoles such as the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) and the Super Nintendo (Famicom). Since then it has seen many more releases, the last being ‘Micro Machines World Series’ which came out in 2017.

Worms

Probably one of the best multiplayer games of all time I lost so many days of my life back in my student days playing this in our digs. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock all of your life then I don’t really need to explain Worms to you. But in essence this turn-by-turn battle game see’s you selecting a weapon, aiming it, selecting the power and raining hell on your opponents. Originally released in 1995 it spawned more sequels than any other game out there. But no matter which version you play Worms is still an absolute classic.

Sensible Soccer

Talk about an absolute time black hole and the maker or breaker of relationships. Sensible Soccer was ‘that’ game. A lot of the friends that I have today were forged over a friendly kick-about when I started uni back in the day. Played on the Amiga with joysticks the perfect simplicity of SS is what made it so much fun. It was fast-paced but easy to pick up. Visuals were basic but this actually aided the gameplay as you could just concentrate on whooping ass. Still one of my fave footy games ever!

WipeOut

Out of all of the games selected for this collection WipeOut is easily my favourite. Released by Psygnosis in 1995 on the original Playstation it was one of the main reasons to get the console. Up until then 3D in games was sketchy to say the least but WipeOut changed all of that.

There is only one word I can use for WipeOut, which is ‘stunning’. It had absolutely everything. Visually it was breathtaking and I know it can be said that nowadays it has ‘aged’ but at the time there was nothing else like it. Combine that with the gameplay that had you hurtling through futuristic tracks while trying to take out the opposition with a wide range of weapons which can be picked up as you progress to the finish line but also making sure that you don’t get toasted.

Another thing that distinguished WipeOut from what came before was the soundtrack. It contained CD-quality tracks from The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy and many others. This made it so atmospheric and iconic.

I love the series so much that I still have a PS2 slim in my front room just to play my collection of WipeOut games. The most recent acquisition being WipeOut Fusion which I picked up for a quid at my local CEX. Classic!

Tomb Raider

In addition to the main collection of stamps there is an individual mini set dedicated to one of the most iconic video game characters of all time. That being Lara Croft and of course the game is ‘Tomb Raider’.

Maybe the first crush of many a young nerd in the mid-90’s Lara’s adventures saw her exploring a plethora of environments while solving puzzles and taking on anyone who got in her way.

The original game took full advantage of its 3D engine and camera views although sometimes this could become infuriating while trying to traverse the terrain but if you could get over this you have a highly enjoyable game.

The mini stamp collection consisting of four stamps (there is a larger version too) cover the most famous versions of the game. These being the original Tomb Raider (1996), Adventures of Lara Croft (1998), Tomb Raider Chronicles (2000) and finally the first reboot for the current generation of consoles simply called Tomb Raider (2013). The legacy continues to this day with the most recent release Shadow of the Tomb Raider which came out in 2018, although it has come far from its original British roots and is now more of an international project but it all started here on our fair isle.

The Collection

The stamps themselves, if you’re interested come in a sweet presentation pack as is the case with all Royal Mail special releases. It provides information about the games themselves and their origins. There are also other ways to procure the collection such as in frames and postcards etc. so there is something for everyone.

Stamps presentation pack

So I hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane. It’s also given me the urge to play these games again to experience and overdose of nostalgia. Anyone fancy joining me?

Author

Paul Wright

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