September 1994. I was ten years old, barely able to tie my shoe laces. By this time, I’d already entered Goro’s Lair twice (if Electronic Arts, Berkshire was indeed to be considered a lair inhabited by an underpant-clad demon).
Alas, Stick Man had tried his best, to no avail. Round one to EA.
Super F-14 Tomcat showed great potential, only to be dealt the equivalent of a pit fatality in the final moments. Double flawless victory.
Two months as a game designer and I’d already been hung out to dry. Cruelly defeated by one woman and her exquisite office stationary. I was at a complete loss. What could I do?
Christmas arrived and Santa (“cough” “cough” my parents “cough” “cough”) got me and my brother a 32X. Virtua Fighter arrived in the household, Doom, Chaotix, and Virtua Racing, and I became lost in a 32-bit(ish) world.
Unable to inspire further game concepts, two years swiftly passed by. Unlike my school friends, I hadn’t been driven into temptation by the Playstation, nor by Nintendo’s 64-bit offerings. In this time, I remained faithfully loyal to my Mega Drive and its bulbous 32-bit buddy. Crash Bandicoot-who?
During this period, EA’s top quality papered letters had no-doubt absorbed the tears of many a game designing child – possibly by the gallon. Not that I was bitter. I was twelve years old and my life was consumed by more pressing matters – the rise in price of Polo mints being foremost in my mind (14p) and the definition of the word ‘Wonderwall’ being the other.
However, all of this was about to change. Not only was it a Thursday, but the 16th of May 1996 also marked the day I awoke from my game designing slumber.
Arriving home from school that day, I was greeted by an envelope, emblazoned with a certain red logo, one the Cool Spot fan in me was all to familiar with – Virgin Interactive Entertainment.
Though the badge design escapes me now, I do remember the questions rattling round my mind at the time: Who was Leila Bokaie? Who/what was Bumble? Why didn’t EA praise me for my Stick Man illustrations? More importantly, who on earth had written to Virgin Interactive? I certainly hadn’t.
Despite these questions, one thing had become abundantly clear. A new challenger had entered the ring, but this was no Ryu, no Scorpion, no Bad Mr Frosty.
It was my brother.