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My undying love for the painfully uncool Amiga

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My undying love for the painfully uncool Amiga

Yo I told my wife that I want a Mini Amiga for Christmas. I know it’s only April, but I do this with the things I want in the hopes that when she suddenly shows up at home next week, my wife will think she I bought it. In this way I have gone unnoticed by purchasing seven slot machines, a stuffed tarantula and a deep fryer. In an inconsistent world, I like the way this institution of marriage works.

I read the reviews and was surprised by the appearance of two words that I never associated with the original Amiga: great and love. It may seem strange to say that the Amiga was unloved, because so many people bought and used one. But people use things they don’t like every day: electric shavers, patience, door handles, the train.

People loved the ZX spectrum. They loved the Mega Drive. If you talk to an owner of any Nintendo machines, from a Game Boy to an OLED Switch, sound like Romeo talking about Juliet, Meredith Gray talking about Derek Shepherd or Elon Musk talking about himself.

As someone who was there during the ’80s and ’90s, Amiga just didn’t enjoy that kind of love. Because? Because she didn’t seem cool. The Game Boy looked like an alien artifact straight out of a trendy sci-fi show from the ’70s; The PlayStation was what you’d get if a high-end record player had been combined with the sexiest sandwich maker imaginable. The curved lines of the Xbox 360 were the definition of attractive. It was one of those rare machines that looked as good lying down as it did standing up. Today I still run my fingers along its curves if I see one in the wild.

The Amiga looked like something you’d see a bank teller use. And not for interesting bank things, like thwarting a robbery.

The Amiga 500. How majestic! Very boring! How grey! Photography: Felix Choo/Alamy

I know the Amiga was a computer rather than a console, but so was the ZX Spectrum, and it looked good enough to eat. The Atari ST wasn’t very attractive either, but at least they angled the top row of function buttons to make it look like considered its aesthetics.

They should have at least cut a corner off the Amiga. That would have helped. It worked for Game Boy. (Actually, it worked first for the Fender Stratocaster.)

Personally? I really did it love Friend. I spent more glorious nights with it than with any other machine, in terms of hours played and quality of those hours. It delivered the best party game ever in Sensible Soccer, the best futuristic (and best-looking) sports game in Speedball 2, and the best time-guzzler in Championship Manager, simply beating out Sim City. And I’m not sure there has ever been a more mathematically accurate sports game than Jimmy White’s Whirlwind Snooker.

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Party time… Sensible Football. Photography: Sensitive software

Amiga brought the most originality and humor with Lemmings and Worms. On IK+ she gave you a three players fighting game In the early ’90s, you could get burned inside a giant wicker man just for whispering those things. I never read the Dune books, so while watching the Dune movies I went back to my first introduction to that world: the amazing Dune 2 Amiga game.

It gave us the best adventure game in Secret of Monkey Island, which may also be the most fun game ever. Cannon Fodder was also funny, but at the same time touching and sad. Has there ever been a better game developer than Sensible Software? He made game development sound fun and cool, not words I would have previously associated with game developers.

The Amiga was solid. He was reliable. Even before playing a game, sliding a floppy disk into its slot felt good. That satisfying dull sound. The way he seemed to grab the last millimeters of the puck and pull it. He was very reassuring and trustworthy.

Phwoar…vintage 1980s Commodore Amiga 500 game console. Photograph: Neil Godwin/Future/Getty Images

I don’t remember anything breaking with my Friend. I can’t remember a game that hasn’t loaded. Even the peripherals were solid. My delicate little Cheetah Bug joystick took such a beating in Sensible Soccer alone that it’s hard to believe he survived. All I have to do to break the R1 button on an Xbox controller is give it a disapproving look.

Like the Spectrum before it, the Amiga allowed people who couldn’t afford a PC to play games on a computer. Then the PC killed it: microchips became cheaper, the Amiga didn’t move fast enough, and seemed to die very quickly.

We don’t love the Amiga enough. We were like Andy putting Woody in the closet after getting Buzz Lightyear. Unfortunately, Pixar hasn’t featured Amiga in a single scene in the film: instead, Toy Story featured Speak and Spell. Have you ever tried to play Zool on that?

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