The dawn of strategy games, the twilight of real war


Command & Conquer (1995)

All young boys have had army man fantasies, and judging by that airsoft fad we had a number of years ago, not to mention the amount of stag parties that go paintballing, there’s still a whole load of manchildren out there willing to take up the flecktarn. It’s well and good noscoping people in Battlefield and reckoning you could do the same in real life, but they never seem to realise that modern war just isn’t like that.

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Well fire my emblems, I didn’t think the Wii could do Hard Mode

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (2008)

Oh God, it’s happened. I have suffered the most ignominious of gaming embarrassments. No, it’s not that I died to the first Goomba in Super Mario Bros; when you think about it, that guy has probably claimed more Marios worldwide and throughout history than any other.

No, I loaned my PS2 and Metal Gear Solid 2 game to my pal, who was wanting to get up to speed up on the Metal Gear lore. No small task trying to make sense of that whole series, of course. I suppose it must be a bit like wanting to get a copy of War & Peace for your bathroom. But in any case, he took a look at the save file I previously had for the game, and there it was, in plain black and white text – the designated difficulty level for my playthrough was ‘Very Easy’.

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I’ll Tiger Uppercut any company who plans to obsolete my hardware

Street Fighter Alpha 2 (1996)

Well, one of my worst fears may be on the verge of being realised – I think I’ll have to go out and buy another laptop. You know I already hate spending money, but this thriftiness brings its own enormous benefits, including one of my greatest skills – I’m a dab hand at getting the maximum use out of knackered old hardware. This laptop I’m typing on is nine years old now, which is old-age pension territory for a little notebook like this.

Even when everyone else was upgrading their tools at the beginning of pandemic lockdown, ready for months, years, even eternities of working from home, I stuck it out with my trusty little laptop. And technology rewards you for your loyalty, you know, and it’ll look after you so long as you look after it – with the obvious exception of the most spiteful hardware of all, the printer.

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Building the Best Pokémon Team (Part 25)

Building the Best Pokémon Team (Part 25)

Every Generation starts off with a bit of juice. You’ve got the Starters, some quickly evolving Bugs, and even the common birds have been taking level ups in coolness. Pidgeot and Fearow, classic though they may be, were hardly far removed from real-life birds. But Staraptor and Talonflame? Now we’re talking. Unfortunately, you do eventually have to get to the cave dwellers and fishing fodder. Bottom of the barrel merchants, these guys. You won’t find Zubat in Unova, you’ll be happy to hear. Instead, it’s… Woobat and Swoobat. So that’s tedious and uninspired, then.

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Paper Mario may not be dead and buried just yet

Paper Mario: The Origami King (2020)

I’m going to give you a fair advance warning on this one – this is going to get a bit depressive. Have you ever had to lift a coffin? I’m not sure if I’d go so far as saying that I’d rather be lying in the damn thing than carrying it, but I have to say, with all due respect, it’s one heavy bugger of a burden to bear.

I’ve had to carry a coffin before, although I’m being a bit generous to myself there because I basically contributed nothing to the lift at all, and it ain’t like we were burying Marlon Brando. I’m just wondering why they have to nail those things so firmly shut – I’m as proactive against zombie apocalyptic doom as the next person, but we ain’t expecting Thriller to play out some day, are we?

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A pearl of wisdom for you – pressure makes diamonds, but leisure time is platinum

Pokémon Diamond, Pearl & Platinum (2007 / 2009)

I like to think of myself as a pretty patient man, willing to accept cock-ups, malaise and the problems that one generally encounters in life. After all, I don’t tend to care too deeply about anything. I’m perfectly happy to be just sat there, as lazy as a snail, watching Countdown all day. And my primary motivation in work, and anything in life really, is not money, or fame – I just want to avoid any hassle.

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