I started doing Gamer Spotlights back when things were incredibly simple and I was desperate for more content. And of course… everything exploded right after starting this. Before everything turned chaotic, I contacted an awesome dude named Dan Balderson who operates a retro video game shop called Warez in the UK. I had the chance to learn more about his personal history with video games as well as what customers can look forward to seeing inside of this kickass retro store!
“My first gaming experience I THINK was on a ZX81 Spectrum – although I can’t really remember that – I do remember my dad buying me a Commodore 64 when I was at first school though. A big heavy, blocky, clunky thing with a 5.1/4″ external floppy disk drive with ACTUAL floppy disks and an external tape desk for cassettes. The C64 was basically a computer though, with a proper DOS-type console when you turned it on, and it ran using commands in a programming language called BASIC. With enough knowledge, you could actually write your OWN programs and games on your OWN C64.
“But most of the games came on cassettes – like you used to get music on! These took about 10 minutes to load and half of them had errors which meant you had to start again anyway. The games though, were great – and I had a few particular favourites on there- in particular The Last Ninja, Platoon, and the best 2 player split-screen deathmatch game ever: Spy Vs Spy.”
“From there I moved onto an Amiga 500 which was a weird cross between a console and a computer. It had an internal 3.5” floppy drive and I upgraded mine to a HEFTY 1Mb RAM! The Amiga was actually a pretty versatile machine – and the higher end models were used by 3d modellers and sound engineers for film production and all sorts. I remember reading that the CGI and ship modelling in Babylon 5 was done using an Amiga. But even the lower end models like the 500 had good sound and graphics. Games-wise I could go crazy again. My favourites though were Syndicate – which was a genre-defining/defying strategy game where players controlled a team of enhanced cybernetic humans in order to rule the world under the domination of their corporation; civilian collateral was expected and almost encouraged!”
“UFO: Enemy unknown – a tactical, turn-based strategy game where players not only had to plan and manage their resources and income but also defend the Earth from alien invasion and eventually fight back with researched, retro-engineered weaponry and technology. UFO’s graphics were slightly limited looking back now, but the music is still great and the GAMEPLAY – although waiting for the amiga to process the enemy’s turn takes forever, is where it’s at. The other classic was Hired guns – a first-person sci-fi RPG shooter where a player could either control a team of four on his own via the split screen or four human players could have a COD-esque deathmatch! Only with Hired Guns, you had to equip weapons from your inventory, you could only carry a limited amount, and there was no auto-heal.”
“After the Amiga I went to high school and things had started to progress to the point where most people were doing their homework and things on a word processor on a PC – so as I recall we got an IBM 386 with Windows 3.0 or something. I think I still had the AMIGA too at this point, so most of my gaming was still done on that – up until the point where I procured a copy of DOOM.
“DOOM was the game that really made me move to PC gaming – although I NEVER managed to get DOOM to connect for an online game; back then there was no ‘gamespy’ or automatic connection software. This was essentially DOS commands and configuring the game to recognize your modem via Port settings and ISP addresses. And this was also the day of the 28.8k data modem that made a sound like a robot having an orgasm.
“DOOM progressed to DOOM 2 and my friend Tom introduced me to the joy of editing your own levels; This was to be a real eye-opener for us and we probably spent more time modding it than actually playing DOOM and DOOM2.”
“More or less the whole of my PC gaming experience was mainly FPS shooters though, going through all the ID releases from DOOM to Quake to Quake 2 – until the release of Half Life and Unreal Tournament. As I mentioned though, one of my favourite things about PC gaming is the opportunity for modding and creating your own levels, objects, sounds, music into a game – whether it’s a map for quake, an outfit for your Sim, or just putting your own MP3s into your ‘radio’ in GTA – it’s something I found hugely addictive.
“The game I spent most time modding was a … I guess you’d call it an FPS infantry-simulator called Operation Flashpoint with massive maps and fantastic AI – I spent ages creating cut scenes with cinematics and recorded speech etc and downloading other people’s add-ons like different vehicles and weapons. Another feature of Operation Flashpoint was that it came with it’s own mission editor – which you could import other add-ons and files into. Eventually sometime after I finished highschool I was bought a Playstation 2… But I didn’t have this very long before that was “borrowed” for my nephews and never returned!
“So for the rest of the time until about 2011 I was a PC gamer – in particular I enjoyed an MMPORG called Planetside which started out being FULL of players- it wasn’t unusual to be fighting alongside a few hundred of your allies against the same number of enemies – including vehicles- over a continent which took maybe 10 minutes to drive across!
“It was in 2010 or 11 that I got a PlayStation 3. Up until now I had always regarded console games to be inferior to ‘computer’ games which I had played before, but after seeing Mirror’s Edge on a friend’s console I was amazed by the originality and the graphics. The gameplay – although a little fiddly and repetitive at times was great when you got into a flow – and I still regard Mirror’s Edge as a hugely under-rated modern classic.”
“Another game which I love and still play on my PS3 is Battlefield: Bad Company 2. It’s just one of those games that you just have fun playing. The single player has a great storyline and great characters – it really isn’t often that a game puts that much effort into character development- and the multiplayer – although buggy at times and frustrating when you do badly or spawn-killed was a real gem – way surpassing Modern Warfare 2 in my opinion – which I had been playing before I got it. I do also have Battlefield 3, which is also good, but for some reason I have a fondness for BC2. And finally my other favourite games on PS3 (to finish up quickly) would be the highly original (although repetitive) Heavy Rain, Uncharted (All of them are great) and Deus Ex. I still game on the PC too – although as I only have a laptop now I’m limited in power I’m currently playing Doom3 and just bought a copy of Vietcong 2 as I liked Vietcong 1.
“As for what’s in Warez, my favourite item personally is definitely the Amiga 1200, although I’ve yet to be able to have the time of space to really show that off. Hopefully we will be able to showcase the Amiga in a tournament sometime in the future (Our idea was to have a different platform each time we have a tournament). There are a lot of individually cool games and items though… I guess all of us are quite proud of the Vectrex though.”
Make sure to visit and like the Warez Facebook page for more info!
Address: 489-491 Wimborne Road, Winton, Dorset, BH92AW UK.
Phone Number: (UK ext. +44) 01202 258 214