Saturday ’80s Photo: The BBC Micro Still Works

And so does the five-and-a-quarter-inch floppy that holds all the games we used to play on the BBC Micro in the late ’80s, surprisingly. Or at least they both did in December 2019, when Dad and I booted everything up for the first time in decades.

BBC Micro

I can’t wait to be able to visit Mum and Dad in Edinburgh and play with this amazing old machine again! There’s an Acorn Electron I want to try booting up too…

We used my old TV (my gift for doing well in my Standard Grades in 2000) as the monitor, because it’s the only CRT screen left in the house. It was really trippy to boot up all the programs and suddenly remember games I hadn’t even thought about for thirty years.

Virus is still my favourite, as that was about the limit of my gaming ability when I was three or four. However, I’ve got a real soft spot for Cheese, Planets and Tarot (imaginative names!) too, just for the pure nostalgia rush when they appear on screen.

The real eventual test will be getting some of my own programs to run on the system!

Making space

I found myself burning out a bit this week. The last couple of months have been very productive but also a bit manic, and I’ve realised I need a bit of a break, so I’ve pared down a few of my activities. I log daily or weekly streaks for just about everything I do, because I find it’s the only way I can keep up with things – I’m very obsessional about my hobbies but also very fickle, so I’ll spend a few weeks obsessed with playing videogames and then a few weeks obsessed with making games instead and then a few weeks where running is my main passion… Maintaining daily streaks such as my run streak is the best way I’ve found to make sure that hobbies don’t get neglected during times when they’re not my main ‘thing’. However, when I have a lot of these streaks going, they become overwhelming and take over my life. As such, sometimes I have to decide to let go of some of them, and that can be really hard when I’ve put so much effort into keeping the streak going for so long.

This week I had to quit the Fetchpoint game again. The game involves going out every day and collecting tokens, including a red bug token that appears daily in your local circle and needs to be collected and taken out of the circle in order to be ‘squished’. You get bonus points for a bug-free circle at the end of the day and minus points if there are any bugs remaining. If you squish your bug for thirty days in a row, you get a badge. I have been chasing this badge for a long time and very nearly had it in September – unfortunately, after I ran the Virtual GNR, I felt too ill to collect my bug for that day and so the attempt came to an end. I started playing again in March to make a fresh attempt, but other areas of life have meant that some days I just don’t have time for the two-hour walk that a bug hunt often requires. It’s been a frustrating experience, and so I’ve given up again for the time being. Hopefully there’ll be a time in the summer or autumn when things are a bit quieter.

I’m looking forward to a quiet bank holiday weekend. A bit of running and walking, but mainly just sitting on my sofa with my game code 🙂

Next door's cat
It really makes me laugh when I open my front door to find this familiar figure sitting on top of my car and staring at me balefully! He was still there when I got back from my run thirty-five minutes later.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’
Sia – ‘Cheap Thrills’
MC Hammer – ‘U Can’t Touch This’

And a bonus track that Geth was humming that day:

Michael Land – ‘Phatt Island Waterfall’

Sunday

Michael Land – ‘Upstairs At The Hotel’
Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé – ‘Barcelona’
Public Image Ltd. – ‘Rise’
Levellers – ‘Julie’

Monday

Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’
Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’
MC Hammer – ‘U Can’t Touch This’
Michael Land – ‘Upstairs At The Hotel’

Tuesday

Michael Land – ‘Upstairs At The Hotel’
Princess Superstar and The High & Mighty – ‘Bad Babysitter’

Wednesday

Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’
Pride & Fall – ‘December’
Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’

Thursday

Michael Land – ‘The Barbery Coast’

Friday

Cole Porter – ‘Anything Goes’
Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’

A mellower, more behind-the-scenes week

This week has featured a lot fewer deadlines and manic last-minute things than last week did, so I’ve been able to get back to some semblance of normality in terms of the house upkeep and the exercise/training programme. It’s been especially nice to get back out for my walks, as it’s been really clear and sunny all week. This has meant that early morning runs have been a bit chilly, but afternoon walks have been the perfect temperature. Hope the sunshine continues.

As often happens when I release a game, I feel a bit bereft of my project and am already eagerly planning out the next one. This covers many things: the long planning document acts as my project for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo, and the new game itself is the full version of the excerpt I released for IntroComp 2020 and will also be entered into ParserComp 2021. Planning out the puzzles is fun, but I can’t wait to dive back into coding. I’ve got two and a half months to finish the game, so an important mission is not to get distracted by anything shiny in the meantime!

A blissfully quiet weekend awaits. Looking forward to finishing off the last of the other games from the jam (I’ve been playing the Spanish ones this week and it’s been a really fun way to get some language practice in) and also getting in some time with my much-neglected Switch Lite.

Blue sky
Spring is behaving this week.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’*
The Crüxshadows – ‘Dragonfly’
Dee Cooke – ‘Intro And Exit’

Sunday

Dee Cooke – ‘Path And Tree’
Michael Land – ‘Governor Marley’s Mardi Gras Fish Fry’
The Beatles – ‘Ticket To Ride’
Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’
Lily Allen – ‘The Fear’

Monday

Michael Land – ‘The Barbery Coast’
Lewis Capaldi – ‘Someone You Loved’
Soft Cell – ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’
Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’
George Fenton – ‘Bergerac (Main Theme)’

Tuesday

Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’
Soft Cell – ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’
The Crüxshadows – ‘Ariadne’

Wednesday

Joe Hisaishi – ‘Kokoro No Kakera’
Michael Land – ‘Scabb Island Overview’

Thursday

Michael Land – ‘Scabb Island Overview’

Friday

Dennis Martin and Takeo Miratsu – ‘If You Still Believe’
Michael Land – ‘Scabb Island Overview’
Dee Cooke – ‘Intro And Exit’
Lisa Lougheed – ‘Run With Us’

*Like last week, I have spent an embarrassingly large chunk of the last few days with my own compositions stuck in my head after making them for my game. Given that music is planned for most of my future game projects, this could become a regular occurrence.

Gaming time

I spent all of the Easter weekend working on last-minute polish stuff for my new Adventuron game. It was a really fun project, but these things always get a bit manic just before release and so I now most definitely need a quiet weekend of playing games instead of making them! As such, for the next couple of days I’m going to be curling up on the sofa and playing all the other games that were made for the jam (along with a bit of Bravely Default II, which I’ve been neglecting for the last couple of weeks!).

I submitted the game on Wednesday and have just been catching up with day job work since then. I’m looking forward to a more normal week again next week and am excited about getting out for my nice long walks again 🙂

Easter tree
My Easter tree (all the rage this year from what I’ve read!). The LED lights have started to go a bit dim as the batteries have worn down but they were really bright last week.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Joe Hisaishi – ‘Kokoro No Kakera’
Clean Bandit and Louisa Johnson – ‘Tears’

Sunday

Michael Land – ‘Herman Toothrot’
The Goodies – ‘Funky Gibbon’
Michael Land – ‘Club 41’
Duran Duran – ‘Planet Earth’

Monday

DNCE – ‘Cake By The Ocean’
Johann Pachelbel – ‘Canon In D’

Tuesday

Joe Hisaishi – ‘Kokoro No Kakera’
Walk The Moon – ‘Shut Up And Dance’
Lisa Lougheed – ‘Run With Us’

Wednesday

Michael Land – ‘The Underground Tunnels’

Thursday

Lisa Lougheed – ‘Run With Us’
Dee Cooke – ‘Monster’*
Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’

Friday

Soft Cell – ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’
Lisa Lougheed – ‘Run With Us’
The Firm – ‘Star Trekking’

*Yes, the tunes that I composed on BeepBox for my new game have spent a lot of time stuck in my head the last few days. It’s good that they’re catchy… right?

Slowing down… and a much-anticipated break

It’s been a busy week getting everything done in the run-up to Easter weekend. At the start of the week I was frantically finishing my jam game, but we’ve got a week’s extension for that so I’ve been able to take my time a bit more – I’m looking forward to settling down and getting it finished over the weekend. I also had a lot of day job work that I needed to get cleared before the holiday, which has been pretty much full-time this week.

Still, I got everything done yesterday, and today I’ve been enjoying the time spent drawing graphics!

Running and walking has suffered a bit this week, as I didn’t have as much time for it as I usually do. I’m looking forward to getting out exploring on longer routes over the weekend though.

I hope everyone has a great weekend, whether or not you are celebrating Easter or anything else 🙂

Street art
Some street art I saw in north Newcastle this week.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Stormzy and MNEK – ‘Blinded By Your Grace (Part II)’
Slade – ‘Run Runaway’
Pet Shop Boys – ‘Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)’

Sunday

Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse – ‘Valerie’
Johnny Hates Jazz – ‘Shattered Dreams’
Clean Bandit and Louisa Johnson – ‘Tears’

Monday

Revo – ‘Savalon Desert’
Tim Heintz, Randy Petersen and Kevin Quinn – ‘Sister, Sister (Main Theme)’
Charli XCX and Troye Sivan – ‘1999’
Scandroid – ‘Thriller’
Lady Gaga and Beyoncé – ‘Telephone’
Michael Land – ‘Governor Marley’s Mardi Gras Fish Fry’

Tuesday

Alexandra Burke and Flo Rida – ‘Bad Boys’
Lady Gaga and Beyoncé – ‘Telephone’
Dawn Penn – ‘You Don’t Love Me’

Wednesday

Steps – ‘One For Sorrow’
Marilyn Monroe – ‘I Wanna Be Loved By You’

Thursday

Owl City – ‘Fireflies’
Blur – ‘Parklife’
Sacre – ‘The London Marathon’
Tim Minchin – ‘White Wine In The Sun’
Lady Gaga and Beyoncé – ‘Telephone’

And a bonus track that Geth was humming:

The Human League – ‘Human’

Friday

Michael Land – ‘The Drinking Contest’
Olly Murs and Flo Rida – ‘Troublemaker’

And a bonus track that Geth was humming:

Counting Crows – ‘Butterfly In Reverse’

Finishing off the month

A fairly hectic week this week as I’ve had a lot of things to get finished before the end of the month. My ear is feeling a lot better after finishing my antibiotics course, and my energy has seemingly returned, so I’ve been able to start improving my running speed again.

My main focus this week has been getting the bulk of the work finished for my current Adventuron jam game. I’ve spent this week finishing off the coding and am looking forward to getting stuck into the graphics over the weekend. I’m really excited about getting everything put together and spending a few days working with playtesters before the deadline!

I’ve also been continuing with my long walks and increased-distance runs, which are really nice now that the spring weather has arrived. It means that I’ve pretty much doubled my pace on the LEJOG challenge I’m doing and should be well on track to finish by the end of the year!

There’s been quite a bit of day job work this week too. Business has picked up a bit recently after last year’s slight COVID slump and I’ve got some important plans for going forward that I’m going to start implementing soon.

Finally, I’ve made sure to get some quality downtime with videogames when possible. I’m still really enjoying Bravely Default II and expect it will take me a good couple of months to finish. So many games on the list afterwards that I can’t wait to play…

I would say I’m hoping that next week will be quieter, but there’s a Camp NaNoWriMo month starting and I expect I’ll end up doing something for that! Maybe not with a super high wordcount this time though…

Jesmond Dene
Still enjoying my spring return to Jesmond Dene!

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Bucks Fizz – ‘My Camera Never Lies’
Sting – ‘Englishman In New York’
Jason Derulo and 2 Chainz – ‘Talk Dirty’

Sunday

Camila Cabello – ‘Liar’
Captain Ska – ‘Liar Liar Ge2017’
Kevin Gillis – ‘Run With Us’

Monday

Lauv and Troye Sivan – ‘I’m So Tired’
Revo – ‘Savalon’

Tuesday

The Midnight and Nikki Flores – ‘Because The Night’

Wednesday

Revo – ‘Savalon Desert’
Kirsty MacColl – ‘Days’
Lauv and Troye Sivan – ‘I’m So Tired’
Coldplay – ‘Fix You’
The Midnight and Nikki Flores – ‘Because The Night’

Thursday

Demi Lovato – ‘Heart Attack’
Jason Derulo and 2 Chainz – ‘Talk Dirty’

Friday

Sia – ‘Cheap Thrills’
The Proclaimers – ‘Make My Heart Fly’

Up and down energy

It’s not been a bad week. The only thing slowing me down has been an ear infection that I picked up last week (god knows where from given that I never see anyone at the moment!). Following a phone appointment with the doctor, I’ve managed to get some antibiotics, but so far I’ve been up and down with them – hoping it settles down over the weekend. I’ve also been feeling a bit stiff and achy again, so there’s been a fair few evening yoga sessions over the last few days!

Work-wise I’ve been trying to do focused days this week rather than trying to do a small amount of ten different things every day. I feel like it works a bit better when I can just sit down and concentrate on one thing for most of the day rather than chopping and changing and trying to squeeze everything in.

I managed a day off on Wednesday, which was great, as I wanted a bit of time to sit down and play videogames (I’ve not had the energy for it in the last couple of weeks, which is usually a bad sign). Wednesday is a good day to take off if necessary, as it’s the weekday when I’m least likely to have urgent work from clients.

I’m playing the Fetchpoint game on Fetch Everyone again, which is kind of like virtual geocaching and involves collecting lots of invisible tokens around my local area. This is getting me out walking more often (and helping to vary my running routes), which is a good thing as we move into spring.

I’m mostly concentrating on the Adventuron jam this month, but in April I’m hoping to have a bit of time to work on my business website – I’m going to be changing a lot of terms soon and need to revamp the site accordingly.

A big week of game-creating ahead as we’re reaching the final push of the current jam. Fingers crossed I can carve out lots of time to get it finished!

Jesmond Dene
Geth and I went to Jesmond Dene for a walk last weekend. It was so nice to be back in the Dene for the first time after the winter.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Simply Red – ‘Money’s Too Tight To Mention’
Kanye West – ‘Stronger’

Sunday

John Newman – ‘Love Me Again’
The Boomtown Rats – ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’
Kesha – ‘Tik Tok’
Frankie Miller – ‘Caledonia’
Girls Aloud – ‘Sound Of The Underground’
Matthew Wilder – ‘Break My Stride’

Monday

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton – ‘Islands In The Stream’
Joe Hisaishi – ‘Battle’
Soft Cell – ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’

Tuesday

Kanye West – ‘Stronger’
Muse – ‘Feeling Good’
UB40 – ‘If It Happens Again’

Wednesday

Joe Hisaishi – ‘Battle’
Cheryl – ‘Call My Name’

Thursday

Bros – ‘I Owe You Nothing’
Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – ‘Human’
Let Loose – ‘Crazy For You’
Demi Lovato – ‘Heart Attack’

Friday

Revo – ‘Halcyonia’
Kesha – ‘Tik Tok’
J Balvin and Willy William – ‘Mi Gente’

Flagging by Friday

Last weekend felt like spring. I made a lot of plans to step up my exercise levels this month, and to catch up with all the things with which I’d fallen behind over the last couple of weeks, and to keep my planned schedule going so that I could continue videogaming in the evenings.

On Monday morning, I went out for my daily run and the temperature had dropped by about ten degrees. Everything was covered in frost and my hands froze as I trotted round my usual route, desperately wishing that I’d put gloves on. This set the tone for the rest of the week.

I’ve worn gloves for my run every morning (though it did finally feel like it was warming up again today). I’ve run slightly more, but not a lot more. I’ve not been out for any of the long walks I was planning. I’ve kept up with cleaning and blogging, but not caught up. I’ve worked on my jam game, but not as much as I wanted to. I’ve not been videogaming at all in the evenings, because I’ve not had the energy for anything more than mindless web browsing and listening to music.

Energy has been sorely lacking in general this week, both physically and mentally. Geth hasn’t had any either because he’s got various absorbing work stuff going on at the moment, and when we’re both in that state we just sort of doze during downtime, half-there. Sleep hasn’t been great, and I’m waking up every morning with a lot of stiffness and aches and pains – something that’s chronic to an extent, but has been very noticeable recently. I’ve been having issues with breathing and joint swelling as well, which are things that largely went away when I lost weight a few years ago. I’m heavier than I’d like to be at the moment, but am still a healthy weight, so I’m not really sure if it’s related or not.

I’ve found it difficult to concentrate this week as well, so I’m really glad it’s nearly the weekend. Normally I’d be excited about videogaming but right now all I want to do is sleep!

Hoping next week will feel a bit brighter.

Full moon
Last weekend’s full moon looked amazing, but my phone camera wasn’t interested!

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Nintendo 3DS eShop – ‘Main Theme’
will.i.am and Britney Spears – ‘Scream And Shout’
Idina Menzel – ‘Into The Unknown’
Kate Bush – ‘Running Up That Hill’

Sunday

Depeche Mode – ‘See You’
Duran Duran – ‘Violence Of Summer (Love’s Taking Over) [The Story Mix]’
Roxette – ‘Listen To Your Heart’

Monday

INXS – ‘Need You Tonight’
Ed Sheeran – ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’

Tuesday

Joe Hisaishi – ‘A Battle With Creatures’
will.i.am and Britney Spears – ‘Scream And Shout’
Don Henley – ‘Boys Of Summer’
Taylor Swift – ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’

Wednesday

Pet Shop Boys – ‘Heart’
will.i.am and Britney Spears – ‘Scream And Shout’
The Wonder Stuff – ‘A Wish Away’
Jason Derulo – ‘Want To Want Me’

Thursday

Duran Duran – ‘Do You Believe In Shame?’
Spandau Ballet – ‘True’
David Bowie – ‘Ashes To Ashes’

Friday

The Go-Gos – ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’

Spring feeling

Since the snow melted last week, signs of spring have been everywhere, which has really helped my mood. The croci are budding nicely now along the snowdrops on the paths outside, and the supermarkets have finally started to sell daffodils – a month later than usual, but they’re very welcome! It feels warmer outside for running too, meaning I’m gradually starting to shed my winter layers. Last Sunday, I went for my first proper long run since September, and the weather made it really enjoyable. I’m really hopeful that I can get some good long runs done leading up to the point when races start again.

Since the announcement of the UK government’s roadmap for England on Monday, races (and parkruns… and of course non-running events too!) in 2021 finally feel like a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’, which is a huge source of hope for me. Scotland is still more up in the air, so I’ll have to wait and see what happens before I know when I can visit home, but on the whole I feel a lot more positive about the whole situation now that I’ve got a bit of certainty. I know the proposed dates aren’t set in stone, but at least they give us an idea of when restrictions will ease.

I’ve felt a bit out of sorts for the last fortnight because I’ve not always felt able to stick to my schedule. However, I’ve done a lot better with it the last couple of days. I think it’s just that I need to tweak it regularly to make sure it always works for me – over the last month I’ve been doing a lot more cross-training (yoga and walking) than I was doing when I first drew up the plan, and so like everything else, that needs to be scheduled in so that it doesn’t take up more time than it needs to.

Bravely Default II arrived in the post today! I’ve been looking forward to this game for over a year and am going to be spending every spare second playing it from this weekend onwards. While still making time for all my scheduled stuff as well, of course!

Croci

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Revo – ‘Horizon Of Light And Shadow’
Duran Duran – ‘Ordinary World’
5 Seconds Of Summer – ‘She Looks So Perfect’
Arcadia – ‘Election Day’
Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne – ‘Rather Be’

Sunday

Revo – ‘Horizon Of Light And Shadow’
Will Powers – ‘Kissing With Confidence’
Taylor Swift – ‘You Need To Calm Down’
Ed Sheeran and Stormzy – ‘Take Me Back To London’
Lindisfarne – ‘Lady Eleanor’
5 Seconds Of Summer – ‘She Looks So Perfect’

Monday

Joe Hisaishi – ‘Kokoro No Kakera’
Ryo and Chelly – ‘Great Distance’
5 Seconds Of Summer – ‘She Looks So Perfect’
Levellers – ‘One Way’
John Newman – ‘Love Me Again’

Tuesday

Revo – ‘Horizon Of Light And Shadow’
5 Seconds Of Summer – ‘She Looks So Perfect’
Technotronic – ‘Pump Up The Jam’
Pop Will Eat Itself – ‘Get The Girl! Kill The Baddies!’
Daft Punk- ‘One More Time’

Wednesday

Bloodhound Gang – ‘The Roof Is On Fire’
They Might Be Giants – ‘Birdhouse In Your Soul’
Duran Duran – ‘I Believe/All I Need To Know

Thursday

The Beatles – ‘In My Life’
Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Chaos Shrine’
Robert Allen – ‘Bloxonius’

Friday

Vangelis – ‘Chariots Of Fire’
5 Seconds Of Summer – ‘She Looks So Perfect’

Playlist Creation: Five Favourite Videogame Soundtrack Tunes

As I discussed last week, I’ve not been listening to music in a focused way recently, so I surprised myself a bit last night when I found myself on Spotify, working on my playlists again. I have probably 50-odd playlists on Spotify as my music taste is fairly eclectic, but I hadn’t realised I’d never put together a videogame soundtrack playlist before (other than a specific one for Monkey Island soundtracks). Videogame soundtracks feature frequently on my earworm playlists, as both Geth and I play a lot of videogames and the music is often very catchy, so it’s about time I start collecting my favourites together!

I started this process last night, but it’ll be a little more involved than most Spotify playlist creation processes as most of my favourite videogame soundtracks aren’t on Spotify. As such, I’ll have to track them down separately and store them in my local files in order to put the playlist together. This could be a bit of a long project as a result, but it’d be a great playlist to have, so I will persevere.

I have a lot of favourites, but here are five special tunes that have soundtracked my gaming life (and my life in general as a result).

‘Candion’ (Jazz Jackrabbit: Holiday Hare ’95, 1995)

An unseasonal Christmas example to start off with! Having spent about five years obsessively playing PC platformers – starting with Hunchy on the BBC Micro when I was very young and still spectacularly bad at videogames, then moving onto early ’90s offerings such as Jason Storm (I first played it on a black and white screen!), Word Rescue and Hocus Pocus – I spent pretty much all of 1994 and 1995 playing Jazz Jackrabbit, a Sonic-a-like for the PC. Every single one of the soundtrack tunes for the game’s thirty-odd levels brings back so many memories, but it’s this gorgeous MIDI rendition of ‘Carol Of The Bells’ from the game’s second set of Christmas-themed levels that stands out most for me.

‘Type A’ (Tetris, 1989)

I didn’t get a Nintendo Game Boy until 1997, a good eight years after the system had first come out. My younger brother Malcolm was fairly console-obsessed and spent most of the first half of the ’90s unsuccessfully pestering my parents for a Game Boy and/or a Sega Mega Drive. We were both keen viewers of GamesMaster on Channel 4 at the time, and one of my main memories of it is the constant background refrain of ‘ohhh I wish I could play that…’ Of course, having watched the episodes again on YouTube with Geth in more recent years and realising how eye-watering the prices were for consoles and videogames at the time – £50 for a single game in 1993! That’s £105 in today’s money! – I now understand why my brother’s requests fell on deaf ears! I, on the other hand, was perfectly happy gaming on the PC – that is, until I went on a school trip to France in 1997 and had the opportunity to borrow my friend Fiona’s Game Boy during the long boring hours spent on the coach. Realising the usefulness of portability (Mum and Dad were/are keen travellers and so I spent a lot of my life in the backseat of a car at that point), I requested one for Christmas that year. The prices may have been more wallet-friendly by then, as I got my Game Boy – and so did Malcolm, who wasn’t about to miss out on his long-awaited handheld system now that his big sister was getting one.

I had a few games for the system, including, of course, Tetris, which I believe was bundled with every Game Boy ever sold. I always appreciated the fact that you could choose from a selection of background music, something I don’t remember seeing in any other game of any era (I’m sure other examples exist but I’ve not come across them personally!). While I remember preferring the slightly classical-sounding ‘Type C’ when I was playing the game back in the ’90s, it’s the iconic ‘Type A’ that has seared itself into my brain for the rest of eternity.

Addendum: I can’t talk about the Tetris music without linking to the amazing ‘Russian history’ version!

‘The Swamp’ (Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, 1991)

However, on the odd occasion that I wasn’t in the backseat of a car, the second half of the ’90s (and all of the ’00s… and to some extent the ’10s and ’20s and presumably every decade for the rest of my life) were all about LucasArts graphical adventure games. In 1997 (clearly a big year in gaming for us), Malcolm bought a magazine with a demo for The Curse Of Monkey Island, sending us both down an adventure game rabbithole from which I have yet to emerge nearly quarter of a century later. I’ve played many, many classics from the ’80s and ’90s, as well as a lot of great adventure games that have been made in more modern times, but the Monkey Island series will always be the greatest in my eyes. The soundtracks – an inspired blend of Caribbean reggae and more traditional ‘pirate’ genres such as English hornpipe, composed by Michael Land – are so brilliant that I have a whole separate playlist for them, as mentioned above, so it’s hard to pick a favourite track. However, the one that I think I’ve always loved the most is ‘The Swamp’, a spooky epic from the second entry in the series. It’s like a thousand memories in one.

‘It’s Detective Gumshoe, Pal!’ (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, 2001)

I’m generally a late adopter of console and handheld systems. In my case it’s because I have such a backlog of old games that I don’t mind waiting a while to play the new ones (exceptions over the last year have included Paper Mario: The Origami King as I bought into the hype, Beyond A Steel Sky as I’d been excited about it for years, and Bravely Default II (arriving Friday! so excited!) as the previous entries were my favourite 3DS games ever. Geth is the same, which has probably been for the best this last year; I think we would have been inordinately stressed if we’d tried to partake in the PS5 / XBOX Series X launch palaver. I’d still like to get one or the other, but I’m happy to wait for a couple of years!

As such, I only got my first 3DS* in early 2014, three years after it had come out. Geth and I had been avid Wii gamers since the turn of the decade, but the Wii seemed like it was dying a death, as the official Nintendo magazine focused more and more on 3DS games. These 3DS games sounded REALLY good, and so I bought my 3DS for my 29th birthday. It was my first handheld since the Game Boy Colour (something I still almost regret buying** as I never actually bought any games for it, just used it to make my old Game Boy games look slightly more colourful. I only bought one because Malcolm spent the entirety of our 1999 summer holiday in France trying to find an affordable one in the supermarkets, and by the end of the holiday I wanted one too. Don’t buy into the hype!).

I love the 3DS and still play it a lot, even though I’ve got a Switch Lite too now. The system has provided what are now some of my favourite games of all time, such as the first two Bravely games, Fire Emblem: Awakening, and of course the brilliant Ace Attorney series, which was my first introduction to Japanese visual novel-style adventure gaming.

The Ace Attorney soundtracks are fantastic. The games were originally released in the early ’00s in Japan before being upgraded for worldwide release on the 3DS a decade later, and so the music is still very MIDI-sounding and retro. All the tracks are great, but my favourite is the character theme for Dick Gumshoe. (He’s not my favourite character but he has far and away the best music!)

*I’m now on my second. My first one died bravely in battle (like, literally in the middle of a Bravely Default battle) in 2016. That was a bad day.

**Almost, but not quite. Due to the vagaries of cartridge decay, my copy of Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land now refuses to play on my Game Boy, but plays perfectly on my Game Boy Colour. My Game Boy is still fine with my other cartridges, so it’s just one of those technical mysteries!

‘Leaving Earth’ (Mass Effect 3, 2012)

Around the same time as I was enjoying the Ace Attorney games for the first time, I finally got round to playing the Mass Effect series.

I mentioned earlier in this post that Geth and I are late console adopters, but we’re not as bad as we used to be. Back in the early ’10s, we waited a whole console generation so that we could pick up an XBOX 360 for cheap when the XBOX One came out in 2013. As such, we didn’t own the Mass Effect games until then, and though I watched Geth doing a couple of playthroughs in 2014, I didn’t get round to playing them myself until the following summer.

Mass Effect was a huge and important gaming experience for me. It was what inspired me to start running (because I watched Commander Shepard running around the universe and thought ‘I’d like to be able to run forever, too’). It shifted my expectations and perceived baselines around videogames, and has become a major comparison point for me when I’m evaluating new ones. Unlike the other games on this list, however, I wouldn’t say that the Mass Effect soundtrack is uniformly brilliant or even that memorable. It’s one particular track – ‘Leaving Earth’ from Mass Effect 3 – that stands out so much that it will always be one of my all-time favourites.

I always find it lovely that ‘Leaving Earth’ – along with many other soundtrack classics – was composed by Clint Mansell, who in the late ’80s and early ’90s was in Pop Will Eat Itself, one of the greebo bands loved by a teenage Geth back in the day. Greebo and epic soundtracks are worlds apart to me, but maybe not as much as I think!

In closer-to-home musical news: the Zoom band night I was attending on Wednesdays has come to an end for now 🙁 However, I intend to keep doing a bit of ukulele practice at the same time every Wednesday so that I don’t get out of the habit again. Maybe I’ll start learning some of my favourite videogame soundtracks on ukulele!

More musical thoughts next week.