In this series I'll explore the videogames that had the most profound effect on me during my upbringing.  

I didn't consider myself a gamer during the eighties, although I occasionally played some videogames on a C64. In this period we'd break out the computer once in a full moon and play for one or two hours at most, and that's it.  

The real turning point came when one of our neighbours, a wealthy businessman had shown me Test Drive III on his x86 laptop in 1990. Until then I didn't realize videogames can be so immersive and realistic. I know realistic sounds far fetched for that game looking at it now 30 years later, but trust me it was an instant mind blower for me at the time.

Test Drive III Splash Screen

Of course the effect was exasperated by the fact that I was a  car nerd as a kid. Everything was about cars for me, 99% of my toys were cars. I was building cars from LEGO, you get the idea.

Test Drive III had luke warm reception at best among critics, not many liked its departure from the traditional 2D graphics of the previous two instalments. But I didn't even know those existed at the time.

To wrap up my part of the story, of course I wanted to play this game at home so badly. My nagging must have been horroristic to my parents. Since the game only released for MS-DOS, and a PC was not something a middle class family could afford behind the iron curtain, the best they could do is buy a Disk Drive for the C64 so I can play Test Drive I and II on the C64 for the time being. So the game remained this elusive pipe dream for me for a little over a year, but for a 10 year old, a year seems like all eternity. In 1991 my parents could get hold of a decomissioned PC from the company they worked at. So finally the dream became reality.

The game was so much more than the previous two I don't understand why people disliked it. As opposed to the 2D sprites of the predecessors it had 3D polygon graphics for the maps and the cars. But the most forward looking aspect of the game was the open world. Yes, it was open world, you could go off-road in it, the tracks even contained alternate routes and shortcuts.

So this was the game that launched me into gaming, and for a while I revolved around car games and nothing else.  I'll explore another great influencer in the next part, but first I'll list a few honorable mentions that don't quite get their own article, but still hold a lot of pleasant memories for me:

Lombard Rally
Power Drive
Toyota Celica GT Rally