I may be the youngest of us Astra crew, but already I look back fondly on computing memories of yesteryear. Y'see, I grew up with computers. My brother and sister bought a Vic20 when I was young enough not to remember; my dad would occasionally bring home Apple IIs from school during summer holidays, and I got my first taste of real home-computing power at the age of 8, when my brother bought himself a sweet-ass 286/12 with a whole meg of RAM and a 40 meg harddrive. (We still have the receipts for that filed away someplace; I bumped into it a while ago. He paid well over $500 for that hard drive. Even though that was ten years ago, I still find that tremendously amusing.)

Sure, it was on this 286 where my real computing experience began, but by far my fondest memories are of the Vic and the Apple. I mean, the Vic20 was a kickass machine. It had a whopping 3kb of RAM (6kb with the Super Expander cartridge!), loaded programs off of tape, and had pixels the size of your friggin' head. It rocked my world.

The tape drive lost its ability to save before I learned to spell, so very little of my early work is still around - but the adventures of "Travel And Ted And The Goldin Egg" (featuring the wonderous Mr. Typewriter as your electronic guide) still live on someplace, if the people I sold my old Vic to haven't thrown it out by now.

[Hat Trick screenshot]
Download the Hat Trick ROM
When we got bored with the niftily done Frogger clone ("FROGGIE PRESS FIRE") and the simply-unmatched-anywhere Super Cobra clone (which I can't find a tape image of ANYWHERE... *sob*), we could always play on our Atari 7800. Man, that ruled. Not only did it run all of the completely-pointless-and-bloody-horrible Atari 2600 software, but it ran the hip-hop stylin' 8-bit Atari 7800 games, too. I can recall at one point in Sunday School asking God for help beating level 5 of Desert Falcon. Not to mention such classics as Hat Trick, a hockey game from a top-down perspective where you controlled one bloblike hockey player and had a rectangle for a goalie. Red vs. Blue, who will live, who will die, in the ULTIMATE HOCKEY BATTLE OF THE UNIVERSE!?! Although actually, when me and my brother played, I can recall it being more about which team got more women, due to the wonderful crowd noises which consisted entirely of people randomly whistling seductively at you. I'm not kidding. Apparently they figured this was better than the white noise they usually used. Boy, Atari sure spared no expense for us elite Atari 7800 owners.

And then, the Apple. I damn near cried when my father brought home a truckload of Apple IIs last spring. The Apple ruled, if only because I had a cousin who could get us all sorts of wicked-ass games for it. Even though we only ever had an Apple two months out of the year, we still were able to amass this huge collection of games for it.

Apple's true crowning achievement was that marvel of nature known as the Apple IIgs. For the love of God, IT HAD A 3.5" DISK DRIVE. The ethereal hum it made (as opposed to the horrendous screeching noises of the 5.25" drive) showed you what kind of amazing, superior technology you were dealing with here. As a relative young'un, I was convinced that the thing obviously not only stored 100 times more data, but was 10,000 times faster than those pitiful 5.25" disks. I mean, after all, look at it. It's made for the IIgs. It's the wave of the future. It's gotta be better.

Which brings me to Zany Golf. ZANY FUCKING GOLF. Zany Golf for the Apple IIgs is, without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest thing written for any platform, ever. Will Harvey, designer of Zany Golf (as well as the also-amazing Music Construction Set) is GOD. As a child, I literally had dreams where I got to meet Will Harvey, even though I didn't know what he looked like. Didn't matter. He was God. Zany Golf was his masterpiece, and although it was ported to many different platforms, the only one worth anything in the slightest was the IIgs port. (With the possible exception of the Amiga, since that's probably what it was designed for. But I never owned an Amiga, thus, IIgs version is by far superior to everything else.)

You knew it was going to be a good summer / Christmas holiday when Dad would bring home this wonder of technology. This wasn't just any pansy Apple II he was bringing home, this was the IIgs. This was big. It had a MOUSE and a 3.5" DRIVE and it ran our puny Apple II software at TWICE THE SPEED if we forgot to clock it down in the system menu. And Dad would carefully transport his copy of Zany Golf, worn, beaten, and missing the little metal cover, from the deep recesses of his desk at school to our house. And there we would partake in its zaniness, and all would be good and right in the world, as long as we got to play the hole with the bouncing hamburger.

The thing that pissed me off most about Zany Golf was the fact that the only good version that ever came out was for the IIgs, and that there simply aren't any good IIgs emulators for the PC. The only one I could find, XGS, ran very slow with sound emulation turned on (which was HALF THE FUCKING POINT), and puked on the Pinball hole. Nope, my life was not complete until I finally acquired a IIgs, a 3.5" disk drive, a mouse, and a Zany Golf disk image, which, while a pain to figure out how to transfer, eventually found its way onto an actual 3.5" disk. Now, I finally, FINALLY, am able to achieve the full Zany Golf experience; from the ethereal hum of the 3.5" disk drive while the game loads, to the wacky-fun bizarre theme music, to the abso-fucking-lutely brilliant Hamburger Hole. It's all there. Will Harvey art God.

Next update: Bad BASIC games written at the age of 10 on a 286! With downloads! Blackmail city, here you come!
Related links:
Atari 7800 Emulator (DOS)
ROM required to run emulator
Desert Falcon ROM (7800) (screen shot)
Xevious ROM (7800)
Hat Trick ROM (7800) (screen shot)
Karateka ROM (7800)