By CrazyCraven 2 Comments
My adventure into the dark, dusty and spider infested attic was ultimately pointless despite being able to find both the Dragon32 and the Amiga 600hdd neither worked well enough to play any games.
I had money on the Dragon 32 working as there are no moving parts and the dragon worked perfectly. But the cassette tape deck wasn't so fortunate. The atmosphere in the attic isn't ideal for anything metallic and the inner workings of this quarter century old player are filled with once shiny parts but now they are tinged with oxidation and mild rusting. I did my best to clean up this old Sanyo cassette player and I did a good job, the player started up but something wasn't right as the sound was fading in and out and the motor on play wasn't constant.
A quick bit of history for everyone since I very much doubt you know what the Dragon32 actually is.
The Dragon 32 is a home computers that were built in the 1980s. The Dragons are very similar to the TRS-80 Colour Computer (CoCo), and were produced for the European market by Dragon Data, Ltd., in Port Talbot, Wales.
In the early 1980s, the British home computer market was booming. New machines were released almost monthly. In August 1982, Dragon Data joined the fray with the Dragon 32; the Dragon 64 followed a year later. The computers sold quite well initially and attracted the interest of several independent software developers, most notably Microdeal. A magazine, Dragon User also began publication shortly after the machine's launch.
Anyway history lesson aside this is what a Dragon 32 looks like :-
Well I powered up the pride of the Welsh computer industry and hey presto it actually worked
Now here is where things take a turn for the worse. I can remember avidly that cassettes were notoriously difficult to load 20 years ago and talking to my father he said "It wasn't great when he got it home from the shop" so attempting to load a game some 26 years after the system was made was always going to be a long shot.
I proceeded regardless my game of choice Cuthbert goes walkabout, yes a game where the protagonist is called Cuthbert – Not quite as cool as Niko Bellic but Niko never faced a for as cynical as the Moronian.
Now the primes of the game is simple, Cuthbert is on the lunar landing pad, waiting for the federal chief's state visit. He must turn on the lights before he arrives. Simple I hear you say and to be true your right. To make Cuthbert light up the lunar pad, he must activate the swithces, which are located at the corner of the squares, by walking across them. When all four switches are turned on, the whole square will light up.
So I proceeded to start the load sequence.
OK > CLOADM
Result! the cassette player started and the tape began to spool. Slowly but surely the game was loading, the strange Fax/ Dial up modem noises started. The loading of a game could take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. Now here comes the crazy bit, each game manufacturer would specify on the cassette box the actual volume and pitch the game needed to be loaded at. Usually this was Volume 7 and Pitch Norm. (Pitch was split into Low, Norm and High)
As the cassette loaded I sat waiting like a child watching the slowly moving spools and the count timer ticking over with its continuously slow motion. 5, 10, 15 Minutes. CLUNK!! the cassette stops, nothing. Power down and try again.
Despite my initial excitement, 5 games and almost 2 hours of attempting to load them, I gave up somewhat deflated.
With morale being low and Saturday ticking away at some speed I moved onto the other computer in my life, the Amiga 600hdd. After the failure of the Dragon, I held little hope that the amiga would actually working. The Amiga wasn't the most reliable piece of hardware in the early 1990's the floppy disc drive would eat discs and the Hard disc drive would stop without any warning.
Well I was shocked, powered up no problem at all, First game of choice, well there is only one game to play on the Amiga, Sensible World of Soccer.
Grrr! Something not quite right with the amiga, tried various games and I would get the same error every time. So totally deflated I game up with the hardware and sat down with a cold beer and flicked through the game source code magazines that were bundled with all the other Dragon 32 paraphernalia.
The two magazines contained pages and pages of code, now the Dragon was release at the initial explosion of the home made game phenomenon that gripped the British isles and was essential the birth of the British games industry on a mass scale.
Anyway that was my somewhat unsuccessful trip back in time to an age of innocent gaming, I may return to the dragon on another wet weekend and give it another go.
I will leave you with some cool pictures of other bounty I found.
Dragon 32 games
Sega Panini trading cards
Power unit – And people complain about the size of the 360 power unit
And to finish, a small glimpse into the past of highstreet games shops.
Future zone was the first (I believe) computer games chain store in the uk. It was only named Future zone for around 6 to 9 months before it was renamed Games zone then Electronics Boutique which turned into Game and I think the most recent iteration of the chain is Gamestop.