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Gaming Lows #5: Corrupted Physical Media in the Bad Old Days of Video Gaming.

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

Unwound cassette
If this happened to your game, it had probably 'had it'

Welcome back, everyone.

Back in the dark days before digital distribution, before Amazon and eBay, before you could buy video games from supermarkets, Best Buy or HMV, and before video game chain stores such as GameStop and GAME, purchasing video games was a lot more difficult.

The only legal way of purchasing video games (at least where I grew up) was from independent video game retailers, or possibly less legally, from ‘the dodgy guy with the dodgy stall on the market.’

Delboy Reliant Robin Only Fools and Horses
Who may have driven one of these...

This was the situation throughout my childhood and adolescence, from my early days in the ‘80s with the Atari 2600 and the ZX Spectrum, all the way through the 16-bit era of the ‘90s.  The independent video game retailer in my home town was situated between a pub full of alcoholics and a mini-casino full of people with gambling problems.

Stay classy *insert town.*

I say 'the' independent video game retailer, as despite the town having a population of around 80,000 they were the only one!

This lack of quantity was matched by a similar lack of quality. I would estimate about 25% of the games I purchased from them – across several platforms – were duds, and would either crash constantly, or straight up refuse to load at all. I was not impressed.

I could insinuate that this shop was the issue, however, this would be unfair, as games purchased from other places were just as unreliable!

You could perhaps expect this from the dodgy guy on the market, but what about video game conventions held at prestigious venues such as the Birmingham NEC and Wembley Arena? I recall taking home a copy of the fantastic Apidya from one of these, only to have the *CENSORED* thing not work. I was not a happy bunny.

Apidya Amiga

I was disappointed. After all, what young boy doesn't want to control an irate wasp?

Games and demos from the covers of magazines were not much better in this regard either. I guess quality control and safety-in-transit were issues back then when games were shipped on cassette tapes and floppy discs.

Thank *Insert Deity* that CDs, DVDs and Blu-Rays are near indestructible, as these issues are now a thing of the past.

That’s it for this article. I'll see you all in the next.

Have you experienced something like this, or know someone who has? If so, feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

Iain is a 40+ author and gamer from England, who started his gaming journey on the Atari 2600 36 years ago. His specialities include obscure cult classics, retro games, mods and fan remakes. He hates all sports games and is allergic to online multiplayer. Since he is British, his body is about 60% tea. He can be reached via Twitter at, and contacted via email at

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Picture Credits:

Del Boy By allen watkin from London, UK (Del Boys Reliant Robin) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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