A confused Millennial tries to… play 1980s home computer games

I THOUGHT only my generation had computer games, in the same way my parents didn’t have streaming or the internet, just wooden spinning tops to entertain them during the war.

So imagine my surprise when Dad set up his historical computer he’d got from his parents’ loft. It was a Commode 64, a big beige brick with a tape recorder, which is actually pretty cool and retro. 

Eventually Dad let me have a go. I wish he hadn’t. I’ve decided to do my resulting gaming session as a series of reviews, just to get across my sense of disgust. Here goes. 

Pirate Cove

WTF – it’s just words! Like doing a book at school! All you do is type ‘go north’ or ‘get spade’ and that’s it. At least our English teacher Mr Yates always puts on the DVD of the book we’re doing because, as he puts it, ‘You’ve all got the attention span of fucking wasps.’ I’m sure saying things like that is child abuse.

Verdict: I’ve got a migraine from all that reading. 0/10.

Chuckie Egg

You’re a farmer who has to collect eggs. Fair enough, it’s a platformer, so not much in the way of backstory, but I wasn’t expecting the sound and graphics to be this shit. If I was the developer I’d sack a team of programmers who hadn’t ever seen a Sonic or Mario game. 

Verdict: I suppose there wasn’t much home entertainment in the 80s, so it was either this or Driller Killer, so 1/10.


What it says about Elite on the box: a space simulation involving battles, narcotics smuggling and aliens attacking from Witch Space.

What Elite actually is: triangles in space.

Yeah it’s wire-frame graphics and you never see inside the space stations you keep visiting. Needless to say there’s no fit female characters like Miranda in Mass Effect, and if there were they’d be made of triangles.

Verdict: Actually a recognisable game where you can shoot things, but still shit. 1/10.


Hard to tell what anything was. Things (aliens?) come down a grid and attack your thing (spaceship?). There’s no variation, it just gets faster and faster. ‘This is rubbish,’ I thought. Then I realised it was so addictive I’d been playing for five hours solid without blinking. I quickly drank a glass of water and ate some biscuits in case I died.

Verdict: Addictive but I’m not sure if it’s actually enjoyable. 1/10.

Tir Na Nog

I think this is meant to be an open world RPG based on Irish legends, and I was really into Skyrim. However this is not Skyrim. You can’t specialise in skills, craft weapons or customise your character, who seems to be a caveman or possibly a tramp. Also you can never tell where you are. Maybe you’re drunk. 

Verdict: I hope Ireland isn’t still like this or there’s no way I’m going on a lad’s holiday to Dublin. -5/10.

Samantha Fox Strip Poker

The old folks had gone to bed and I was sat in front of a computer, so naturally my thoughts turned to masturbation. And as luck would have it, this saucy little game was in the box. (I’m not sure who Samantha Fox was, but she seems important in the 80s, like Margaret Thatcher.)

However the shitty graphics and distraction of playing poker made it incredibly hard to wank myself off. My Dad must have been a massive pervert in his youth. Maybe I should get him put on the sex offenders register just in case? Crimestoppers is anonymous so there needn’t be any interpersonal tension.

Verdict: Makes you feel dirty and ashamed, not a cool look. 0/10.

So overall I’d recommend sticking with your XBox or Playstation. I think people were just more primitive in the 1980s. That would explain a lot about my Dad, who still laughs if he finds a strangely shaped carrot.

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Let’s move to… a place so dull that being murdered by Vikings made a pleasant change. This week: Durham

What’s it about?

Inoffensive, picturesque Durham. Without the fun factor of Newcastle or the ruggedness of Darlington, this medieval site instead thrives on inane wankiness, claiming to have its own shade of purple.

The city is famously the burial place for The Venerable Bede and Saint Cuthbert, providing a sanctuary for pilgrims the world over. But if boring ecclesiastical history isn’t your thing, Klute – voted the worst nightclub in Europe – is a sacrilegious site for those who prefer off-brand vodka, restrooms flooded with excrement and STIs.

It’s fucking freezing all year round, and its notoriously bitter wind is about as thrilling as it gets. The snowy riverside paths provided CS Lewis with inspiration for Narnia and, much like his world of annoying talking animals, Durham is overrun with narcissistic student bellends who all come from Surrey.

Any good points?

Granted, the cathedral and Norman castle are genuinely spectacular, so much so that the rest looks even worse than it already is. The cobbled streets suggest a fairytale, but are actually a needlessly Everestine climb rewarded by a Slug & Lettuce.

The novelty of getting a pasty starter at one Greggs, then rolling downhill to the other 300 metres away for sausage rolls and doughnuts wears off if you need to chuck up cheap meat and greasy pastry in the public toilet, conveniently placed to ruin the splendour of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Wonderful landscapes?

The whimsical tree-clad River Wear isn’t quite as famous as the Tyne, and the smart Kingsgate Bridge that runs over it has unfortunately been desecrated by generations of sick and piss. Neighbouring Dunelm House, a Grade II listed building designed by architect Ove Arup, is a brutalist marvel and genuine site of interest, but most want to rip it down for being a drab concrete eyesore.

The older stone buildings look delightful from the train ride into the station. On closer inspection, they only consist of sleepy stationery shops, a sweater emporium and ubiquitous chain restaurants heralded in Durham as innovative.

Hang out at…

The upmarket coffee shop franchise Flat White offers some variety from the dreadful greasy ‘Parmos’ or soggy hog roast baps which remain a staple part of the Durham diet.

The local scran can luckily be avoided by trying inauthentic Italian fare at a rooftop cavern famed for its two-litre bottles of house wine that went off when the monks lived here. You can follow that with a boogie upstairs to cutting-edge new sounds like Angels by Robbie Williams.

If being drunk and unruly in a public place is more your thing, sadly the North Road bus station hangout looks to have been cleaned up recently. Luckily, the Fighting Cocks retains its aura of dread and unwelcomeness – a simmering one-room pot where Sunderland vs Newcastle derby day football matches really come alive.

Where to buy?

Affordable house prices are linked to how little there is to do here, and you can’t easily use a car on Durham’s roads to escape to York. Gilesgate is a suitably drab liminal space, a far cry from places bought more centrally using daddy’s money. Whinney Hill is a pricier toff stronghold, at least dragged down by its proximity to the high security prison. 

The Viaduct area has had a much-needed revamp since only housing a Wilko and spa treatment centre where you get your toes sucked off by goldfish.

From the streets

Stephen Malley, aged 65: “All I’ve ever wanted from life is to break both my ankles getting mortal on cobbled streets and argue with that aggressive joke book salesman in the main square. In somewhere that looks dead lovely. Howay!”