“Now Lara, take aim, and fire this vaccination arrow through the heart of coronavirus…”

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Tomb Raider (2013)

Well, quite a start to the decade we’ve had, eh? Hindsight on 2020 isn’t going to be very fun. Right from the start of the year there was trouble. Sure, some of it was a holdover from 2019, but I’m waiting for some positive news for 2020 here and I just ain’t getting any. First, the Australian forest fires really started to reach, well, I better not say boiling point. But even the poor old koalas, not normally given to movement if they can avoid it, started to run for cover perhaps as a form of lazy protest.

Then there was more silly buggers between the United States and Iran, with the Land of the Free killing a top Iranian general by drone. To add a nice bit of further unrest to your already depressing January, a commercial plane was shot down in Iran the week after, but nobody seems to want to talk about that anymore.

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Burkey’s a wild card, flies by the seat of his pants. Totally unpredictable

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Top Gun NES (1987)

I already outlined various reasons why I could never really cut it as a jet fighter pilot, and it’s not like I’ve suddenly developed perfect eyesight or sufficient backbone to get into the dreaded Helo Dunker. Those guys want near-perfect vision that’s uncorrected, so even if I did get them lasered, I wouldn’t be allowed in. But how could they possibly know? I would try to risk it, but I’d be afraid of getting caught and then Mr. Strickland would chew on my ass.

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Black Mages are promoted to their level of incompetency

Final Fantasy 1

Final Fantasy (1987)

Sometimes I have to wonder how frustrating it must be to be a manager. Obviously, as I am an unambitious layabout, I haven’t got a staff to manage. But I do have extensive experience with Football Manager, which almost counts. There’s no need to overcomplicate management, because it’s a lot more simple than people realise.

Just have a think about what it’s like for sports managers, or better yet, put yourself in their shoes. You try to empathise with the players, get on the same psychological wavelength as them to make sure the big babies aren’t on the verge of bottling it. You prepare the team as well as possible, make sure they’re conditioned, make sure they’re fit. You lay out the full strategy against your next opponents, several times and as plainly as possible. Then your players go out and act like a bunch of pilchards doing whatever they like, and you’re left tearing your hair out. And in the end, guess who gets the bullet?

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You think you know pressure? Try being the linchpin

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Octopath Traveler (2018)

It’s a privilege sought by many but achieved by few. To be conferred such a status suggests to all lookers that you are the highest value male in your social group. That brings with it female adoration, several cries of you being a legend, and more than a few free drinks. It does of course saddle you with a large burden of expectation, too much for many men, and one bad performance could see you stripped of your title and rendered just another contender, making up the numbers. I’m talking, of course, about being the linchpin of a night out.

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Every game developer is just one bad day away from being mean

Super Mario Bros The Lost Levels

Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels (1986)

Every now and then in your working life you’ll run upon a person who is just unrelenting. The type of person who wakes up, runs into the bathroom and smiles at the mirror, just to get it over with for the day. You can get them in school and college too, but it’s in work where people aren’t under any pretenses to be nice to you anymore. I’m the type of person who gives these grouchy gits concessions – I try to understand them, get a bit of craic going with them, make excuses for their infuriating behaviour. Then they still rebuff me and I’m left feeling like a pilchard.

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Pop quiz, hotshot – there’s a moon about to flatten your borough. What do you do?

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Legend of Zelda, The: Majora’s Mask 3D (2015)

So here’s your story prompt – you’re sat on the loo, taking care of business and picking your nose at the same time. Then it happens: a red alert warning pops up on your phone, screaming at you and informing you that an enormous meteor will impact Earth in three days’ time, and the cataclysmic smash will engulf us all. It’s a good thing you were sat on the throne, because this revelation’s really got things moving for you down there. It’s no false alarm like the nuclear scare that Hawaii had a couple of years ago either, this is a bona fide apocalypse you’ve got on your hands. What’s your next step?

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Lesson one of chatting girls up – don’t lose your bottles

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Super R-Type (1992)

In any of life’s endeavours, you can make bundles of progress and be just about to seal the deal when one little mistake, one tiny spanner in the wrench, causes the whole enterprise to blow up in your face in spectacular fashion and leave you with naught. I know this feeling only too well.

At the risk of alienating myself from my missus and buying myself, oh, about nine years on the sofa, I tried to chat up girls once upon a time. I wasn’t much good at it. I’d only do it when I was near catatonic with drink, and at that stage anything coming out of my mouth more closely resembled a tortured hyena trying to scream bible verses in Afrikaans. But sometimes, it might only happen once or twice in your life, a golden and almost unbelievable opportunity falls into your lap. And in a darkened corner of that night’s den of iniquity, hovering just at the periphery of our round table full of drinks, there she was.

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Peppa Pig is OK, but kids are missing out on Joe Perry’s Spiderman theme

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Final Fantasy V (1992)

I don’t mean to be the type of old fart that goes on about what the kids are missing out on, but let me ask this: are Saturday morning cartoons a thing anymore? Christ, is sitting your child in front of the telly a thing anymore? I can see neo-parents going “OK Google, put Peppa Pig on for 4 hours,” a child entirely raised by Google, morning noon and night. A great symbiotic relationship, actually: the child gets an always-on nanny. And as for Google, look at all that data they’re getting, from the cradle to the grave!

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Kirby finally made me stop wearing my mother’s clothes

kirby super star

Kirby Super Star (1997)

When I was doing gaming videos with my pal in a desperate attempt to find YouTube popularity, I made the observation that I’d rather be caught wearing my mother’s clothes than have someone walk in on me playing a Kirby game. I can gleefully tell all you Kirby lovers out there that my partner did not immediately frown and slap me for making such a cretinous comment. Quite the opposite actually – he laughed, I laughed, we patted each other on the back and our anti-Kirby circlejerk continued.

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Nowt like a bit of grinding to make you go all hard-headed

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Dragon Quest (1986)

Now please believe me: I’d love to spend my days and nights playing only the very best games, the champagne titles, properly sinking 200 or more hours into your Witchers, your GTAs, your Breath of the Wilds, even your Saints Rows. Alas, I’m cursed to play games from all walks of life. I’ve got this first world problem of owning too many games consoles, which means that I’ve got access to a wide range of games, and that’s before you even get to emulators. So when you see that I’ve written a piece on the original Dragon Quest, AKA Dragon Warrior, I know you want to tut, roll your eyes and ask why I’ve bothered. Well, put it this way – at least you can press Back, or you can read on and be finished in a few minutes. Dragon Quest 1 took seven hours from me.

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