Hello! I've been a member of the forum for years and I have read, I reckon, pretty much every word of the website now. I can't thank Iain enough for the hard work - you have given me and many others a hell of a lot of enjoyment. I've never really introduced myself or brought much to the table in the forum before so I thought I'd make a contribution.
I came to the Commodore 64 late. My parents bought me one in about 1989. I'd have been 10. I'd always shown an interest in computers but my Mum and Dad hadn't been able to afford one, so the event of actually getting a C64 is a really fond memory. All my friends had Amstrad CPCs. Ha!
Dad started getting Zzap! 64 for me every month straight away. I used to really enjoy Lloyd Mangram (he's real to me) and Phil King. But even as a kid I realised the Lucy Hickman era was abysmal. I read somewhere that they were going for a younger audience with that era of Zzap. I guess I'd have been a younger reader, though, and didn't like it at all. It just had a really nasty tone, especially the letters pages. We started getting Commodore Format at launch, which I think actually was much better than the very late Zzaps. You can see that during the Hickman era they were even copying CF a little bit.
My favourite games were Midnight Resistance and Bounder, the latter of which I think came on a Commodore Format covertape. I also remember buying a few games on cartridge when the C64GS appeared. I was disappointed: I don't know what I was expecting, but Chase HQ 2 and Navy Seals looked pretty but weren't much fun. The game I looked forward to buying most was Creatures 2. When I finally was able to get it, I thought the graphics were amazing but that it was really tough to finish. Oh, and remember the Creatures cheat mode where you had to lick your finger and rub it over joystick port 2 or something? Genius.
And then, of course, came Commodore Force! The first few, buoyed I suppose by Mayhem/Lemmings, I really liked. That issue with a review of both games, plus Alien 3, was excellent. We went on holiday to America and I remember reading every word on the plane. Whilst I agree Force was terrible by the very end, those first few issues I really did enjoy.
Anyway, I wonder how you guys feel about videogames these days? I eventually got a SNES with Super Mario World as an "upgrade" from my '64. No word of a lie, after about 6 months I was using my '64 again! There's a six month gap in my collection of '64 games/magazines, literally, and then I returned. I felt that the games of that era were basically the same as the old 8 bit ones, except a bit nicer looking. There were some standout games - like Mario Kart - but an awful lot of dross. These days, though, I have a PS3 and Xbox and I don't think any old '64 games can truly hold a candle to, say, the depth of Uncharted 2. I have tried a few games on emulator, but prefer to keep the memories of my Commodore 64 games as exactly those - memories.
I wasn't a happy kid but my '64, and Zzap!/Commodore Format, are really warm happy recollections. Running (literally!) to the shop to get the latest issue and try the covertape...birthday money that I used for full price games (a rare treat!)...and I even got a letter in a very late issue of CF.
I'm able to relive all of this via your website, Iain. I'm now in my 30s, married, and living in Dubai. You might like or be amused to know I've read an awful lot of the website and scans on my tablet computer on Dubai Metro to pass the time! I'm a journalist - I even get to write about games sometimes, which I love! - and I visit your forums often. I've found out a great deal more about a machine and magazine I loved very much through you. The contributions from James Price, Steve Jarrett and Gordo are brilliant.