Jolly japes – it’s Famous Five Friday!

Posted: September 2, 2011 in Gaming
Tags: , , , , ,

Like most people whose childhood spanned the late eighties/early nineties, I had a Commodore 64: to this day, the best selling personal computer model of all time. Indeed, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that some of my earliest memories involve my time spent as an anthropomorphised egg, or waiting impossibly long for one of those cassette tapes (yes: tapes) to load, only to receive a message thirty minutes later that the C64 had encountered a ?SYNTAX ERROR forcing me to start the process anew. And yet, despite my entire teenage years into adulthood spent in the service of obsessive completism, I don’t recall ever finishing a single game on the C64. Whether this speaks to the difficulty level of games then vs. now, or whether I was – at six years old – simply unfit to meet the 8-bit challenge, I can’t say; but the fact remains that I was never able to make a single one of those tapes run to its horribly-rendered conclusion.

The most egregious offender by far remains, to my mind, the text-based “adventure”, Five on a Treasure Island. The game tasked you with leading Enid Blyton’s intrepid, prepubescent explorers on a jolly ripping adventure through coastal England; with lashings of ginger beer and coding so poor that it took no less than ten attempts before one chanced upon the one, hyper-specific phrase that would allow the children to disembark from a train in the opening scene. We’re talking Mario Teaches Typing-levels of excitement here. Whilst the game did provide unintentional hilarity in allowing you to beat your siblings (“Ouch! That’s a bit off!”) or reprimanding the use of bad language in an otherwise “wholesome adventure”, it also presented a challenge so impossible that neither my brother nor I ever made it onto that god-forsaken island, but rather were left to wander the streets of Kirrin Village for all eternity.

But now – armed with two decades of gaming knowledge and the somewhat embarrassing admission that I actually went through a Famous Five phase at some misguided point in my youth and know generally how the story is supposed to play out – I’ve decided to set sail once more for Treasure Island. Will I succeed? Will I ever escape Aunt Fanny’s seaside home? Will I even make it off the train or will Julian, Dick and Anne be left in that first-class carriage to murder one another Battle Royale-style for the last remaining sandwich?

Join me each Friday for jolly japes and a gay old time with the Famous Five!

Next time: gender dysmorphia and blatant child endangerment. Hurrah!

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