The Three Amigas

The 3 Amigas

Mom left when I was about 10. It was a good break, as far as breaks go — hardly ideal, but everyone was an adult about it, and there was no playing us against the other parent or any of that destructive stuff.

After a few years, my parents bought Commodore 64s for my brother and me — both parents did, so we didn’t have to go without a gaming computer no matter whose place we stayed at.

But, you see, it was all a trick. A dirty, lovely trick. The C64s weren’t the big deal; the Amigas were. See, our parents got us Amigas as well — again, both parents did — though they didn’t tell us about the Amigas until we’d shown them that we’d use the C64s properly (put disks away and all that great stuff). The C64s were like the tutorial; the Amigas were like the game.

The best part is that I got to use the Amigas heaps, no matter where we were, because my brother was more into the C64.

I liked to use apps on the Amiga, particularly ProTracker, a music program. I’d never been able to make computer music before, and it was scary and exciting and liberating and demeaning and hard — but more than anything it was an adventure. When I figured out how to sample (i.e. insert custom audio clips), well, that was it for me. I rarely left my room. I wrote more songs in my teens than I have since; I was hooked on creating.

Of course, gaming became something I did to wind down. It was still a major part of my life, but it wasn’t all about the gaming. Kind of like how these days the actual gaming itself is only one aspect of any gaming community.

If you were around at the time, you’re probably thinking to yourself: “I thought the Atari ST was supposed to be the one for music.” Well, the Atari ST had all the parts and industry support, but the Amiga was the one that could actually sample effectively, and it had a really good sound chip.

I’ve recorded some of my old Amiga stuff, and I’d like to share this one tune with you. This tune in particular was made from ripped samples from the theme for Bitmap Brothers’ game Magic Pockets, which I didn’t find out was actually “Doing the Do” by Betty Boo until years later.

This song is a great example of how easy it was for a 13-year-old kid to make music on the Amiga, and of the audio quality that the machine could put out. (The beatboxing apparently comes from a Beastie Boys song, but I’ve never been able to source it.) Not bad for only 4 tracks — 2 in each side of your stereo speaker, but I “fixed” that when editing the song.

My third Amiga, which I recently acquired, is sitting on my computer desk. I’m looking directly at it right now. I’ve plugged it in, and I’ve got all the disks ready. I just need to work up the courage to turn it on. What if it doesn’t work? What if none of my old disks (which I still have) work anymore? It’s been ages. What if it does work? What if I play my old music on it, and it sounds worse than I remember?

What if I play the games I loved as a boy and I hate them now? Even worse, what if I love them but can’t get into them because modern gaming is so different and this is how I find out I’m now a “moderner gamer,” whatever that means?

I guess there’s only one way to find out.

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5 years ago

There were so many great games for the Amiga. Killing Game Show, Sensible Soccer, Superfrog, Moonstone …

5 years ago

There were so many great games for the Amiga. Killing Game Show, Sensible Soccer, Superfrog, Moonstone …

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