Greenhouse may not have been the coolest Game & Watch title, it was DexX's childhood favourite.
Let's take a walk down memory lane, readers. Can you remember your first game?
I've played a lot of computer and video games in my life, but I have never been quite sure which would count as my first. It's hard to sort a clear chronology from all those glittering shards of childhood memory, so working out which one was the earliest is going to be a bit of a fuzzy exercise.
I suspect that the first games I ever played were early arcade machines in the late 1970s and early 1980s, though I'd be hard pressed to nail down an exact title. I know I played some monochrome games. While I never played Pong (not until the Game On exhibition at ACMI, at least) I did play an odd little game called Gunfight, created by the same designer who went on to make Space Invaders. I can remember nagging my brother for 20 cents so I could have a try, during a trip to Sydney with my family.
It had weird controls. You would move your cowboy with a traditional joystick, but would aim your gun with a rotating knob, like the channel-changing knob on an old TV, and fire by pushing the knob in. In retrospect, it can't have been my first game, because even though I was only six or seven years old, I remember thinking that the knob controller was strange.
I can clearly remember that my favourite coin-op game during that early part of my childhood was Frogger. At the time games like Galaxian and Pac-Man were cooler, but I loved that Frogger was so different from all of the other games in the arcade.
All of these were occasional indulgences, though - I never had much pocket money, so I could never play regularly and get good at any of these games. For that, a home gaming system was needed, and there was no way my parents could afford one. I would watch the TV ads for the Atari 2600 with a deep, almost painful longing.
My cousin Stephen and my primary school friend Adrian both had Ataris, and I played on them when I could. that was how I was exposed to the unforgiving brutality of Pitfall and the proto-adventure gaming of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
I can still remember the first game I ever clocked - does anyone still use that term, clocking? Some friends who lived close by got three little devices that would really change my life: Nintendo Game & Watch double-screen games. Donkey Kong was the most popular with my friends, and Oil Panic was also popular. Neither of them really liked Greenhouse, though, so that's the one I concentrated on.
It seems so rudimentary now, but running around in a greenhouse, puffing insecticide to keep grubs and spiders off my plants was mesmerising, hypnotic. All of those original Game & Watch units only had three digit scoring, so if you topped 999 points, the game would stop, flashing the score. I got to 997 on Oil Panic, and 998 on Donkey Kong, but Greenhouse was the only one I ever got that flashing 999, which came with a sense of triumph I can still remember today. Yes, I bragged about it at school the next day. (As I recall, nobody was impressed.)
I wouldn't actually get my own gaming machine (aside from the simple LED Pac-Man machine I got one Christmas - I clocked that too) until my parents decided my siblings and I needed a computer for school, and I talked them into an Amiga 500. Damn, I loved that machine. Dungeon Master on the Amiga was the first game I ever played until dawn. I was supposed to be doing a school assignment at the time.
But enough of my reminiscences; I want to hear yours. Can you remember the first game you ever played? How about the first one you ever beat? (Or clocked, if you will.) Can you remember which game was your first addiction or obsession? Please share your memories in the comments below.
- James "DexX" Dominguez
Screen Play is on Twitter: @jamesjdominguez