We are gamers volume 8 – Garage Gamers

Mark and James of Garage Gamers

Where did you mainly play, back in the day?
In the comfort of your room (lucky you)? In your parents’ loft (like me)?  Did you have to sneak out of your room at night down to the basement or were you a garage gamer?

If you belong to the last category, then you will be pleased to know that today’s guests have a lot in common with you, and they are putting all of their 40-year love for gaming into their YouTube channel. The “we are gamers” series stops by Mark’s and James’s garage today, and personally I cannot wait to visit it. Come on guys, open the door!

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1. Welcome guys and a big “thank you” for accepting my invitation to be interviewed for the blog. For a starter, please introduce yourself to RGL’s readers.

Hi Andrew, thanks for featuring us on your blog!  We are the Garage Gamers, Mark and James.  We live in Cheshire in the North West of the UK.  We love old and new games alike.  We always play on original hardware and we love a bit of couch co-op!

2. What was the first video game you ever played?

Mark: Thinking back it would be a Pong style tennis game on a Binatone. Having that controller in hand and playing against one of my brothers just blew my mind at the time!

James: I honestly do not remember what it was!  But it would definitely have been something on the Atari 800 or maybe at primary school on a BBC Micro.

3. What about the first gaming system you ever owned?

The Atari 800XL

I have not covered this glorious machine yet. My bad, will fix that soon…

Mark: As mentioned there was a Binatone in our household when growing up, as well as an Atari and Vic 20. However, the first system that was a gift to me was on Christmas Day in the shape of a Spectrum 128k. My Dad wanted me to get into computing stating “Computers are going to change the world”, he was not wrong about that, but I just used it for gaming and not programming. 

James: The Atari 800XL!  An absolute classic!  We had hundreds of games for it on 5.25” floppy disks… Bruce Lee, Arkanoid, Pinhead, Mario Bros, Alley Cat, Jet Set Willy… Too many to mention.  I also used to sit there for hours typing code out of magazines and books to play simple games.  It definitely shaped my love of technology and gaming.

4. Were you guys arcade gamers? If you were, what about your favorite titles back in the 80s / 90s?

Mark: Definitely a big lover of arcades back in the day and would relish our yearly trip to North Wales to play everything I could. My fondest memories are of the Star Wars sit down cabinet, Roadblasters, Double Dragon and Ghosts ‘n Goblins. As I got older I would turn my hand to TMNT, Wrestlefest, Sega Rally and Time Crisis. Just thinking about * arcades now makes me want to go to Arcade Club to relive those memories.

James: Mark’s definitely the arcade connoisseur here.  I used to love going into them at the seaside or the odd machine at the cinema, but really I was not a big arcade goer.  Daytona USA was definitely my favourite when I did get to play.

5. I am going to name a few video game genres: please tell me your favorite retro title for each of them:

A) Adventure

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

I beat Uncharted 2 with James (my kid) on my knees. A masterpiece that will always hold a special place in my heart…

Mark: I absolutely love the Uncharted series, so pick number 2… No wait 3… I am not sure, they are all brilliant in my view. The script, action and whole of them are just like playing out a movie. Very Indiana Jones which is right up my street! 

James: Buenos Dias!  It has got to be Grim Fandango!  LucasArts always takes the adventure game crown for me and Grim Fandango was just a masterpiece from Tim Schafer.  Such memorable characters, great humour and an art style that was so unique at the time.  If you missed it the first time round, the remaster is on most platforms now and looks fantastic!

B) Platform

Mark: Ori and the Blind Forest is a more recent game, but for me it was perfect and everything you want from a platform game. Visually stunning, great story and a soundtrack to boot, with a simple control system that just works. 

James: This one is tough for me, there’s so many and my answer always changes.  I’d say as of today for 2D platforming, it’s either Chip N’ Dale Rescue Rangers on NES or Super Mario Land on the Game Boy.  For 3D, it has to be Super Mario Galaxy on Wii… what an incredible game!

C) Puzzle Games

Mark: You can’t beat Tetris in my eyes! Easy to pick up and difficult to put down. Loving Tetris Effect too which has made the game accessible to a new generation, with awesome visuals and great soundtrack, whilst keeping the game’s fundamentals intact.

James: Agree with Mark on this one, it has to be Tetris.  On the Game Boy is how I played originally.  So many hours of fun playing against my sister with the link cable.  I bet the theme tune is in your head now 😀

D) Role-playing games

Mark: I’m not massively into RPG’s, mainly due to the time you have to sink into them. I often like to have a few games on the go at once and due to my age now, I sometimes forget the controls if I’ve not been on something for a while, haha. 

James: I genuinely feel like I’m missing out on the epic adventures that people experience in RPG’s, but I have tried to play a few and always give up.  Also, I think that now I have a family and a house that needs renovating, I just don’t have the time to sink into one.  Maybe one day when I retire!

E) Racing Games

Mark: I love standard racing games, Gran Turismo, Dirt series and even F1, but for me, I love a bit of chaos too! So games like Flatout, and more recently Wreckfest, just do something for me. So I have to choose Destruction Derby 2, the 1st was brilliant at the time, but the sequel was better in my opinion. 

James: I generally tend to lean more towards arcade style racers like Outrun or Need for Speed, but I must have sank 100+ hours into Gran Turismo 2 on PS1.  Such precision racing that really changed the genre for me at the time.

F) Soccer/Football

James: I’m not a football fan really, but always enjoyed playing sports games.  Sensible Soccer is a classic and I played this a lot on my friend’s Amiga back in the day.

Mark: I was thinking of picking James’ choice, but I had the most fun with Pro Evolution Soccer. Going through a tournament in that game with a friend was just the best experience, despite beating all the ‘difficult’ teams only to face Africa in the final and lose! 

G) Sports Games

NBA Jam for the arcade

Yeah, it’s gotta be the shoes, Mark! 😀

James: He’s on FIIIRE!!  It’s got to be NBA Jam: Tournament Edition.  I loved watching and playing basketball in the 90s and this game just captures basketball and the 90s perfectly!  It added a bit of craziness to the standard fare and is just a ton of fun multiplayer.

Mark: Sorry to be boring, but I have to pick the same as James on this one! So much fun with a buddy, quick paced and fantastic gameplay!! Is it the shoes?!!?

H) Any other games whose genre I did not mention?

Mark: Beat em Up / Fighting ? For this genre I would have to go with Tekken. Just takes me back to popping into the Silver Coins gambler with my brother and spending so much on this classic, even though I wasn’t old enough ….OOOopps

James: FPS: Half Life was a really special moment in the history of gaming, it really changed the landscape of games forever… incredible stuff.  And Duke Nukem 3D is still just so much fun, single player and multiplayer.  I remember having to type a phone number into the game and it would use your modem to dial your friend directly for 1v1 deathmatch action.

* Microsoft Surface Book 3

6. While growing up, what gaming system did you have the most fun with? Are you guys still regular gamers?

Mark: For me it has to be the Mega Drive, I had so many games for that system, I was really spoilt for choice! My school mates would come over for GamesMaster style challenges and we would log all the scores. I still game on a (if I can) daily basis with current generation consoles and still try to find time to go back on retro systems also, although my Mega Drive collection is not as big as it was originally. 

James: I’m tempted to say Mega Drive as I have so many good memories of playing it, but I think it has to be the Atari 800XL.  I still game regularly, just not as much as I’d like to at the moment and all my vintage consoles are in storage right now.  Once the house renovation is complete and the new garage is up and running, I’ll have plenty more time on my hands!

7. What is your relationship with the online gaming world? Do you play online with your friends/family members/random gamers?

Mark: I love online gaming and can’t honestly believe the things we can do and play these days. Due to the current situation, myself and James have had to resort to playing online to keep the channel content going really. Having said that I personally love a single player game also, so I don’t spend too much time on Battle Royale style games.

James: During the Xbox 360 era, I played Call of Duty games online 99% of the time.  A few friends and I had a clan and it was so much fun.  But as we all grew older and had less free time, we didn’t play as much.  Nowadays I don’t do much online, just a bit of Rocket League here and there with family and friends and then whatever me and Mark play on stream together.  I’ve definitely always preferred playing in private games with people I know than hundreds of complete strangers.

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8. What are your finest memories related to video games?

Mark: Too many to mention really, we would be here all day! But answering these questions really does make me appreciate the whole technology and what goes into making a video game. “We” have come such a long way and I can’t wait to carry on playing, making more memories along the way.

James: I think it has to be sleepovers at friend’s houses as a kid.  Playing on consoles I didn’t own.  Staying up all night eating sweets and playing NES, SNES, N64, PS1… Great times.  And nowadays, so many great memories from our channel.  It’s an awesome community of people and I love getting to chat and laugh with everyone during live streams.

9. What prompted you to start a YouTube channel?

Mark's and James' YouTube channel: Garage Gamers

Mark’s and James’s YouTube Channel: Garage Gamers

We always have a laugh hanging out playing video games, so we thought, why not share it with everyone!?

10. What is the goal of Garage Gamers?

Just to carry on doing what we’re doing, have fun playing games and build a community of fellow like minded people.

11. Last but not least: any future plans or secret wishes?

We can’t wait for the pandemic to be over so we can get together in person again in the (new) garage and get back to making new episodes of The Garage Gamers Show!  We’re really looking forward to meeting up with all the friends we’ve made through the channel some day!

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Toynk Toys

About Andrew A.

Andrew is the founder and owner of RetroGamingLoft. He considers himself a natural-born gamer and is on a mission to keep our younger gaming years alive through the medium of Retro Stories. His event recount includes hopes, dreams, broken joysticks, magic, nostalgia and another final boss defeated.

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