Reading another great post from a Random Gnome’s Random Lair, I was remined of my mis-spent childhood in the 1980s. (Actually I don’t have that many memories, but that’s a combination of a flawed 8-bit memory addressing system and years of abuse, but that’s another post) – It’s not like today, with your EA sequels adding little if any value, movie tie-ins that are absolute crap and games that are all style and no substance. No, in my day we knew what gameplay was (really because it’s all we had to go on): Yars Revenge, Horace goes Skiing, E.T, you know, games (ok, scratch ET then, it was truly awful).
Of course as foolish gullable children (just like the current generation of foolish gullable children) we were regularly led up the garden path with promises of life changing computing power. So what did we do? We led our parents up the garden path of course, kicking and screaming all the way to Currys. Of course, this post is not about games, gameplay or how excellent the Spectrum was (er.. is I mean). This post is about how these classic platforms were marketed.
Who can forget this classic Spectrum advert from the early 80s (the what?). This was the computer that no child wanted (everyone wanted a c64 back then) but ended up with. Within about 2 or 3 years, most kids were reasonably happy with their Spectrums as the majority of computer owning kids in the UK had them. Of course, it was obligitary at school to diss any computer that wasn’t the same as the one you owned, which only really worked if you were the kid with the Amiga in the house. Still, when you have 5 kids telling you that Speccys are far better than stupid Amigas and no-one to swap games with (for at least another 5 years) then you’d be wise to give in a little… Of course, the spectrum was the best 8-bit computer ever
Of course, the C64 was actually a good computer, as many a child would inform me in school, C64 games often had music that would play whilst loading, and a real keyboard to boot. They also had rather crappy looking graphics IMHO, not that the Spectrum was much better, it’s just that whilst the spectrum’s low resolution graphics were encased in a thick border (making the res look much higher than it was), the C64 whilst it lacked the attribute clash of the speccy border had chunkier pixels.
Of course, the retail chains in the UK latched onto the Spectrum as the price point was good and Amstrad had good longstanding relationships with most of the high street electrical retail chains.
Atari were some of the most prolific TV advertisers in the 80s, particularly earlier on. Whilst nothing can match the sheer cheeziness of the ‘Fun is back’ advert for the 2600 Jr, there’s certainly some comedy mileage in this advert below.
And they wonder how my generation grew up to be on Beauty and the Geek. Jeez. Still, I wonder how many parents fell for this line:
If the Amiga was at the top of the school playground, the VIC-20 was most certainly at the bottom. This seemed to be more due to the fact that C64 owners (at least the ones I knew) would bash the crap out of VIC 20 owners (physically and verbally), my guess is that most of the confused psycho serial killers today were VIC 20 owners in their youth. He’s not trying to get into college, he’s trying to get into college.
Ok, that one had to be done. I’m sure you’ve seen it before. I didn’t know any Mac-owning kids at school (I knew a lad who had an Apricot, he got beat up a lot) although I’m sure they’d be just as annoying as Mac-owning fanboys today. I did know some Apple II owners. Poor bastards.
Finally, the Amiga. Ahh yes. After years of being a genuine Spec-chum, then owning a Sam Coupe I finally got my Amiga 500, with 2 Meg of RAM (so I could copy disks in one setting without a need for a second floppy drive) in the early 90s. I’d only spent the last few years watching adverts like the one above. My A500 was good for me till around ‘93, when I got the Amiga 1200, which I used as my main system until 1998 (AmiTCP was too big for workbench floppy disks and the cost of towering up the beast was more than a then top of the range Pentium II). Of course, the A1200 bombed. I have a habit of backing the more powerful but less popular platform: Sam Coupe, Amiga 1200, DreamCast, Xbox (although Xbox never bombed, it’s certainly less popular than the PS2 around here). The Amiga wasn’t an 8-bit, but it was certainly the beast that killed them all off so deserves an honourable mention here.
I’ll leave you with a video of Duke Nukem Forever for the Atari 2600. Believe.
If you have any links, paste your 8-bit adverts in the comments below!