I’ve bounced back and forth between gaming on consoles and gaming on personal computers throughout my life. In the late ’70s my family had a game console that just played a Pong-like game (no cartridges or other ways to change the game). Then we got a proper game console in the early ’80s, the legendary Mattel Intellivision.
That was followed-up by a Commodore VIC-20 personal computer, though, not another game console (in part because the game console industry died out in 1983). After that I saved up my allowance and bought a used Commodore 64 with my allowance when I was in grade 8. I was all-in for personal computer gaming. I liked the greater complexity offered by a keyboard, such as strategy games. My family later got a Nintendo Entertainment System, and even a Super Nintendo, but the NES (and later the SNES) went only marginally used by me. I preferred to game on my Commodore 64, and later a Commodore Amiga. I played a computer version of the board game Risk on the C64, and Sid Meier’s Civilization on the Amiga, amongst many others. Super Mario, for all its strengths, really couldn’t compare to that for me. With the benefit of hindsight, had I had “Military Madness” for the TurboGrafx-16 or Dune 2 for the Sega Genesis, I might have found console gaming a bit more appealing.
But I was about to find it more appealing anyway. I switched to console gaming for the Atari Jaguar. Yes, the Jaguar. I loved Alien Vs. Predator, Tempest 2000, Iron Soldier, Theme Park, and Hover Strike, amongst others. I really enjoyed that system and was happy with my purchase, despite its lack of commercial success.
But personal computing was about to win me back, in a big way, and for the first time it was on an “IBM Compatible” (as PCs were known at the time). One of the games I had loved on the Commodore Amiga was “Star Control”. I couldn’t resist playing its sequel on an MS-DOS PC. I played it, and its sequel Star Control 3, and put hundreds of hours into each of them. Had I known that Star Control 2 came out on the 3DO console (in a version widely seen as the definitive one) I might have got one of those instead, especially since I didn’t own a PC and was borrowing a roommates.
Consoles were about to win me again anyway. The Dreamcast. Ah, the Dreamcast. Who could resist Sonic Adventure, Hydro Thunder, Toy Commander, Jet Grind Radio, Shenmue, and so much more? Not me! A couple of my favourite Dreamcast games were also available on PC, namely Star Lancer, Railroad Tycoon, and a roller coaster game or two. But I enjoyed the ergonomics of playing them on the console, and particularly with Railroad Tycoon my roommates and I had fun playing the game collaboratively in the living room.
From there I got an Xbox, an Xbox 360, started this blog, and then an Xbox One. Console gaming had won out, right? I loved each of those systems, after all.
Well, not so fast. I’m a little conflicted. And the Alienware Alpha is why. For 35 years I’ve (more…)