Nothing like jobhunting to make heroes feel like zeroes

Sonic Heroes (2004)

I’m on the job hunt again, which is an almost unbeatable way to sap your self-confidence. Probably online dating is worse for morale, but at least if you’ve got a bit about you, you can have several dates, buddies and bits on the side. With a job, having more than one means you’ve probably got all kinds of debts to your name, and you’re a much harder worker than me.

Generally you want one job, if even that; if you’re lucky enough to be in a country with a generous dole, then I genuinely don’t mind you taking my taxes, so long as you’re good stuff, you know, not a scrote, not lacking flair. And if you’re a creative type, have a double week on me.

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Throw 25 Pesetas in and feel the Fury

Fatal Fury: King of Fighters (1991)

It must be nice to live in luxury, I thought to meself, as I sat back and loaded up the Metal Slug Anthology. I’d dropped fifty or sixty bones on that in 2006 for the Wii version when I was new to the series. Come 2020, I bought it again, this time on PS4 for a measly fiver. A fiver, for seven games, at least some of which used to come in their own dedicated arcade cabinets with some of the loveliest hand-drawn graphics you’ve ever seen. Posers like me can go on about how you practically need to sell a kidney to be a retro collector these days. But never mind the original, physical copies; if all you want in your life is the 1s and 0s, then it don’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

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Ryu, Ken and the Peanuts Parents’ Association are ready to rumble

Street Fighter (1987)

I don’t embarrass easily, which any one who has ever seen me after a few gargles will know. But when my very awkward childhood is brought up, I find myself going as red as a well smacked arse. You know, I suppose when it’s written down, my childhood of eating coins and cigarettes and being obsessed with traffic lights and wandering around naked is all very funny, but when it’s said to me and brought up in polite company it doesn’t half get embarrassing. But that’s probably the same for everyone right? Right…?

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“What can I do for you today, sir? A Slime afro? Some Dracky dreads?”

Dragon Quest XI

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (2018)

I have been emasculated again. It happens to me quite a lot in life actually, but this one was a real beauty. The scene was the Grafton Barber, a fancy place of mangrooming. Well, I wouldn’t have cared if the red carpet was thrown out for me, because barbershops are never my favourite place to be at the best of times. We’ll get onto the looks of disgust and derision that barbers usually treat me with another time, but I wanted to go on about the Russian (well, former Soviet anyway, it was a big place) lady that was to be my groomer.

You’re offered a drink while you wait, which they say is free but given you’re paying a bit of a premium rate anyway, you’re hardly coming out ahead. Can anything in the high life really be free? Chumps can elect to get sparkling water or a soft drink here; real men like me opt for beer. Though my aspirations of being a real man were summarily shattered when I was called forth to sit in the hot-seat.

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Sudden Belly Syndrome, it could happen to anyone…

Wii Fit

Wii Fit (2008)

Have you ever just woken up fat? I guess it’s possible that you were fat anyway, but it was weight that you knew about. This time however, it’s unknown mass – just fat that seems to appear and makes your shirt unflattering. It goes beyond a mere bloating, and it even happens after you’ve been eating less, not more.

I tend to be in harmony with my body in most aspects, especially when I need it to get sick or if my brain has had a big feed of alcohol, checked out and now I need my bandy legs and blurred eyes to get me home safe. Bring weight, macros, calories, metabolism and all sorts into the mix though, and my corps is as stumped as a Greek doing his tax return.

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Unbreakable, unshakeable, unmistakable, unputdownable

Game Boy / Game Boy Color (1990 / 1998)

I think we can all be pretty much unanimously agreed on what are the three hardest substances known to man. Forget about any of your piddly diamond or adamantium, or even unobtanium if you wanted to get really ridiculous – I’m talking moreso about the three bits of hardware that’ll never let you down, and they could only be, in no particular order: a Nokia phone; an AK47 assault rifle, and most Toyota cars.

Firstly, the humble Nokia phones. I’m thinking of the old 3210 and 3310 here in particular, although one of my own early phones, the 5110, almost smashed my foot into a thousand pieces when I dropped it after another fruitless attempt at getting a great high score in Snake.

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Load up Age of Empires II, and I promise you won’t beheading towards defeat

Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings (1999)

Alright, hands up who’s a sore loser? Today I’m too brow-beaten by life and accepting of mediocrity to really care anymore, but I used to be a right screaming shit back in the day. I distinctly remember playing a relaxing game of chess with my brother, no pressure or tension at all, except for my self-professed young grandmaster status getting in the way and letting my ego get the better of me. It looked like I had the game won, until – wouldn’t you know it – I fell right into the trap.

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Platforming in the shape of a lovely coconut cream-pie

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest (1995)

Look, I know perfectly well why we don’t see any cartoons based on video games anymore; because they’re nearly always terrible. I’d say some of the early 90s Mario cartoons were exceptions, but after that, what have you got? A Zelda that gave Link a voice, which wouldn’t have been a disaster if his voice wasn’t the type you overhear in McDonald’s that makes you start grinding your teeth in rage. A Kirby anime and an F-Zero anime that had about 50 quid an episode behind them, and if you were one of those freaks who preferred dubbed to subbed then you were out of luck.

A Street Fighter cartoon with some hilarious animation and drawing, although the famous M. Bison “Yes, yes!” scene was top-drawer. A Battletoads pilot that never got off the ground. Are any one of these unmissable yet? Perfectly memeable of course, but don’t you watch cartoons for the intricate plot and deep characterisation? What do you mean, you only watch it for the swimsuit episodes…?

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Mario Kart mobile isn’t quite the self-powered tour de force you might expect

Mario Kart Tour (2019)

It seems anytime I hear about self-driving, autonomous cars, it’s usually as part of some news story talking about, at worst a fatal crash and at best, a testing boo-boo. They’re even trialling autonomous racing cars – then motor racing really will be solely down to the car. But again you have to laugh because they only get a morning’s worth of testing out of their roboracer before it loses the will to live and begins the afternoon by plunging headfirst into the wall. Sorry, I shouldn’t personify these things by saying “will to live”. That’s a dangerous game, because one minute you’ll have a cute Herbie Tesla, the next it’s mowing down civilians by itself on nightly death runs and pinning the blame on you.

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If you and your mother wanna have yourself a time…

South Park (1999)

It’s always a bit of a laugh when parents try to censor your viewing and playing habits. Alright, there’s some extreme stuff out there that kids shouldn’t be watching, but it’s always a great thrill for kids when they hear their parents swear, and doubly so when they get to the age when it becomes acceptable for them to swear around their parents. I can’t imagine trying to regulate a kid’s mobile phone in this day and age, not when the kids tend to be more tech savvy than the adults and are usually able to find a way around it.

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