Klaus Brandhorst’s first home computer was a bit underwhelming, a simple Commodore 16. “It only had a datasette and it came with one or two programs to fiddle around with, so there weren’t any games,” he said. “It was only black and white on my old TV at the time and BASIC wasn’t so interesting for most 9 year olds. It wasn’t love at first sight.”
Luckily, it didn’t scare him away from computers for life, because Klaus is the founder of Hugada.com, short for Huge Game Database. The name is the only thing short about the venture, as Hugada is a database of over 63,200 versions of 43,700 video game titles. And all of that is coming to hobbyDB.
Back to ancient history… That original C-16 was followed by a C-64, an Amiga 500, then an Amiga 2000. “On the Commodore, we played everything we could get for so many hours until we were thrown out by my parents to see the sun for a few minutes,” he laughed. “We liked games where you could explore and search for easter eggs or hidden rooms, for example the strange ‘Mad Doctor’… We loved Cinemaware-Games on the Amiga because they looked and played very good but what made them special was the story and the atmosphere. But my all-time favorites are strategy games: “Carriers at War” from SSG, and “Second Front” from Gary Grigsby.”
The Amiga was followed by a string of more modern PCs. By the mid 1990s, PC games were becoming more advanced and but old video-games became worth collecting. That’s when Klaus started looking back.
“People were giving away their old video games like they were worthless,” he said. “I guess they were at the time. One time, I bought an Atari 2600 system with packaging, never used, for about $5 and the owner said, ‘here, this comes with it’ and handed me over a big plastic bag with 60 or more modules, some of them still wrapped and lots of Xenox double enders. I also bought a Vectrex for less than $10, and a whole shoe box of Nintendo games and a watch in original packaging for a few bucks.” Considering the original cost of home video game systems in the 1980s, and what they sell for now, he got great deals all around.
“Within a few years it was maybe 150 video game consoles and home computers and thousands of games for them. After I brought home a DEC PDP-11 the size of 2 washing machines, my parents became a bit worried what i was planing to do with their cellar.”
Along the way, he started a list on the computer of every game he could find for every platform. Like the basement collection, it too began to get out of control. “It started with a list of Playstation 1 games my friends and I owned where we noted who has which one. It quickly grew with the titles we wanted to have and then with other systems like the Nintendo 64 and also PC-titles. Then, retro-gaming with all the emulators started, so we had to make lists of the games of course…” Before long, Excel wasn’t up to the task, so he moved it to a real database and put it online.
That was in 1997 or ’98, making it likely that Hugada was the first ever online database of video games. “But I soon realized it’s a lot of work to take care of the site. When I went to university, I basically closed the data for the public additions and entered data for myself from time to time,” he said. “I was really only interested in collecting the data, but not so much in maintaining the site and caring for a community and forum.” So he started looking for a partner to take over the project. As luck would have it, one day he asked his uncle to help him sell some extra models cars, and one of them was purchased by Christian Braun of hobbyDB.
Klaus said, “It turned out my uncle had known Christian’s Family for years. When I was young, I had a SIKU model cars collectors guide written by Christian’s brother – the world is smaller than we think.” So he contacted Braun and shortly thereafter, he started moving the data to hobbyDB. “I’m very happy to see all the data I collected over so many years is now available to a big public to be used for what they were being started for: your own collection of video games and consoles.” Klaus has joined the hobbyDB Advisory Board, so he will still be active in maintaining the database he worked to hard to compile.
In the meantime, he is still active in video gaming and also collects other interests. “Mostly model SIKU cars, but also model planes and ships (the latter in 1/700 scale) of which I have over a thousand. I also cannot leave any Lego Star Wars set in the store and let’s better not talk about DVDs and Blu Rays…”
His favorite game system is kind of obscure, the Amiga CD32. “It had a shabby looking and creaking case, bad controllers and only a handful of games and almost all of them were just normal Amiga 1200 titles, only on CD. When it came out, we dreamed of all the fantastic titles we would liked to have – and never came. I guess I’m always for the underdog.”
If you do a search for “Video Games” on hobbyDB, you’ll be amazed at the number of items we’ve added lately. More will be showing up over the next few weeks, so keep checking in. And if you have screen shots or videos of these games in action, please sign in and upload those to make the Huge Game Database even more huge!