Hey Shot97, your intro hits me pretty hard.
I happen to be turning 45 this August. Your dad dying at such a young age must be been incredibly tough, especially as you two seemed quite close and had a lot in common.
My first computer was a C64. I got really heavy into it when I was in junior high-school. I didn't know how to code, and didn't have a phone in my room for a modem, but my best friend did. Every night he pulled down games off pirate boards - some before they were even up for sale (I remember being handed Top Gun before it hit store shelves). Anyway, he was my conduit. This would have been 86-88 or thereabouts. My absolute favorite title back then was Legend of the Ancients, a very well polished dungeon crawler with Ultima-style world maps. Like an idiot, I traded my C64 to a friend who had an Apple II+ (with a green monochrome monitor) and a few titles. It was the dumbest thing I had ever done in my life, but I think I somehow hoped against all hope that it might scratch the surface of what the Apple II
e could do. It didn't. My software connection had already moved on by then and I was left with a hunk of crap. The joysticks were a total joke, Ultima was lame (IMO) and Castle Wolfenstein was unbearably hard. I remember the first time I heard a soldier announce "Achtung!" and it was so garbled I thought the computer sneezed. What a joke.
Fast-forward a few years and I also moved to the PC as it was 1) affordable, even if unbearably unreliable, and 2) I received a lot of hand-me-down parts from friends. So for several years I simply built frankenstein PCs - back when 80 MB of RAM would cost you hundreds of dollars. Playing Starcraft over a modem with a friend, though, was pretty damned cool.
In 1998 - 1999 with the help of this bizarre little red barn in Texas that only sold Commodore hardware and software (no joke) I rebuilt my C64 collection back up for the 2nd time. A lot of their titles were still shrink-wrapped. It was astounding. Then, in 2000 I moved to the Bay Area and had to unload most of my worldly possessions again.
I'm a designer and by then had moved to OS9 Macs. I used b/w Macs in high-school and always missed that scene (also prohibitively expensive at the time). I still have my ruby iMac that I bought in 1998 in a box. I never had the heart to upgrade it to OS X. About once a year I pull it out and tinker with it. It's still a gorgeous machine. I even hooked a Wi-Fi card into it and surf around (painfully).
A few years ago after moving to Seattle I decided to rebuild my C64 collection again
. I still collect stuff for it to this day (this week I received Deathlord from EA, which I think uses the same game engine as Wasteland
, although it's supposed to he ridiculously hard). I love the old large/flat "boxes" that can be displayed like mini-album covers. I built the new machine out of 2 64's I got off Ebay and this sucker is freaking museum quality. Perfect case (from a dead machine) and perfect guts/new keys (from a case that looked like it has been peed on my a very large ogre). I have 3 drives for it including a 3 1/2 drive, which is mostly for storage, then upgraded to an Ultimate II cart
. That pretty much ended any hardware needs I ever had. I run original and clean Commodore monitors for it and my A1200 (one each). I also hook my SNES into the Commodore monitor that my C64 uses - the colors and look/feel are simply unbeatable and, frankly, the way its supposed to be viewed. These are what these machines were made for, after all. Maybe some day I'll create a sister site for C64s, too.
But I always wanted an Amiga and now that I have one, I'm having a great time. My older brother had a friend who simply loved his (esp D&D based games), but I just never had the cash back then to buy one. I had to save for a year just to buy a printer for my C64... and the one I eventually bought didn't work!
It was a knock-off and the parallel cable simply didn't work. An original Commodore printer was insanely expensive back then. My parents divorced when I was starting 4th grade, and we just never had any money.
Anyway these days its all about the Amiga for me as I race to catch up. I just bought Theme Park, which I should be checking out in a couple of days. I'm headlong into Populous (currently stuck on a level). I've gone down several levels in Eye of the Beholder and The Black Crypt (all of these are so hard, they're borderline sadistic). By the way, I think Populous is meant to be booted into PAL mode. When I boot it into NTSC, and stretch to fit the monitor, the faces are elongated. It runs in either mode, but looks vertically stretched in NTSC mode. So there's one. (ha!)
I'm in the final stages of building a tool to create a Games archive here - just a few days away. I want to put a few hundred titles on the site to attract more users beyond what the forum can provide. Filling it up will take forever, maybe even a couple of years, but that should be fun, too. I'll use the titles you mentioned above as a nice place to start.