As people that know me will already know, I’m a gamer. These days, it has to be said, probably more of a ‘casual’ gamer than the hardcore staying-up-until-3am gamer. Age, and indeed, life, catches up with us all eventually.

As you might expect for nearly 35 years of playing video games, there have been some memories that have really impacted me in one way or another, whether it be for comedy value, poignancy, sheer terror or simply just raw enjoyment. So I thought I’d write about a few of them before April 2024 expires and I fail at my not-so-strict-goal of writing at least one post on here every month.

Skool Daze (ZX Spectrum, 1984)

(image from Eurogamer.net)

This was one of the first games that I ever played. I can’t remember if it was on the original ZX Spectrum that my brothers had, or if it came later with the ZX Spectrum +2A that my Dad bought for me.

For the uninitiated, you play as Eric, a schoolboy who wants to steal his report card out of the school safe so that he can avoid his parents seeing his terrible grades. To do this you have to accomplish various tasks around the school, all while avoiding getting lines as punishment from the teachers as if you accrue 10,000 lines you get expelled.

I never really understood how to play the game, but it stuck with me because I used to enjoy the almost sandbox-esque way of playing. You had a timetable to follow but you didn’t have to go to your lessons, you just had to make sure that the teachers didn’t spot you skiving.

The sense of humour in the game was also right up my street. Einstein, one of the other students, and the school swot, is probably the most memorable character. If he saw you, or one of the other students, misbehaving then he would always grass you up to the teacher. Sometimes, he would grass you up even though it was someone else that had misbehaved. What a prick. “Please, Sir… I cannot tell a lie… Eric wrote on the blackboard!”

This game is also what probably started my ‘fear’ of moving up to secondary school from primary. Most likely due to Mr. Wacker, the headmaster, waving his cane menacingly as he patrols the school corridors. As well as the idea that I could be expelled for things I hadn’t done.