Quasi una tragedia

I got my first computer when I was ten. It was an 8088 PC XT-compatible machine with two 5.25” floppy drives (no hard disk) and a black-and-white screen. I had a few DOS games that I inherited with that PC: timeless classics like Digger, Pcman, Sokoban… I discovered Prince of Persia a few years later and wrote a program that would respond to a keyboard interrupt and dump the game memory to a file — it was really annoying that every time the Prince was pierced by the spikes planted by evil Jaffar in every imaginable place, the game restarted da capo. But my favorite game was Thexder. Thexder’s character was a robot that could transform into a spaceship — in the later configuration it was able to fly over bottomless abysses, while in the former it could blast alien enemies with a self-homing laser beam. I spent hours flying through lonely corridors filled with alien stuff to the sounds of poignant music playing in the background, very much in tune with the desolate views, rendered in CGA’s brilliant four colors (well, shades of grey, really). When the robot’s earthly remains fell to the ground (nothing lasts forever), the grim view of motionless debris was accompanied by the Moonlight Sonata, faithfully reproduced by the PC speaker. I let Thexder die a cruel death an uncountable number of times to hear Beethoven’s immortal triplets.

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