The great thing about having a fairly well-balanced video team is that we all have our different areas of taste and expertise. Chris is the turn-based nerd (all hail the strategy king), Johnny likes Westerns and anything board game-related, I like queer, sexy, or story-based stuff (preferably all three simultaneously), and Ian likes basically anything with a gun, or anything really old.
Like the callous husband who ignores his wife for weeks, but then comes home early on her birthday with a bouquet of roses and tickets to Paris, so this week's Virtual Console update reminds us why we married the bastard in the first place. Three new games in one day - something that hasn't happened since last year, shockingly - and a whole new platform to play with as well!
Yes, the Commodore 64 joins the Euro VC line up as of today, and it's an event that leaves me torn. As the sort of old git who still sometimes says "computer games" instead of "videogames", the addition of an 8-bit home computer to the line up makes me feel very warm and fuzzy and nostalgic. It also leaves me conflicted, because - like all sensible people - I was a proud Speccy owner, and wanted nothing to do with Commodore's fudge-coloured monstrosity. I've since learned to abandon my partisan ways, of course, but what will it take to get Sir Clive's rubbery wonder on the VC?
But, hey, look at me, waffling on like the Werther's Originals Grandad. There's games to be played.
In an all-time list of great C64 games (or 8-bit games in general), Uridium should be near, if not right at the top of the list. At the absolute peak of his creative powers, Andrew Braybrook created the kind of effortlessly innovative and visually slick horizontal shooter that even die-hard Spectrum fans liked.
Unlike every other shooter in awe of the on-rails coin-op style, Braybrook seemed to realise he could come up with something much better than anything we were playing in the arcades. Uridium set players free, allowing them to fly their Manta Space Class Fighter freely over 'Dreadnoughts' which you had to systematically destroy by shooting the majority of its surface defences.
Doing so wasn't especially straightforward, because wave upon wave of determined enemy fighters would appear from the left or right side of the screen, forcing you to dodge and weave around the metallic environment, desperately trying to avoid impassable obstacles that littered each dreadnought. Worse still, homing mines would appear from certain sections of the dreadnought if you lingered too long, again, forcing you to skilfully outrun it.
After about forty five minutes, my best friend Marc put down his controller in disgust. "This isn't a game," he raged. "This is an assassination!"
This seemed like a fair assessment. Back in 1986, he and I had been hacking away at the first level of Uridium for nearly an hour, only to become a little too familiar with the explosion animation. Space mines spawned below us, incinerating us immediately. If we took our time, fighters would vaporize us before we realized they were even a threat. If we sped through a level, there was no shortage of objects to collide with. We were teens that were groomed in the arcades to expect something entirely different than what Uridium offered, and our gameplay suffered for it.
Marc insisted that we play something else. I agreed, only to return to Uridium once he'd left. I'm not quite sure what drew me back to the game so quickly - I'd reached my maximum frustration level sooner than Marc had. Admittedly, the game was beautiful and well polished (especially for the Commodore 64 in 1986) but my attraction to the game went well beyond that.