World War 3, be all you can be

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Advance Wars (2002)

I’ve never been sure if this was a myth or even if it was particularly common, but I’ve been led to believe that if you were caught being a naughty boy in 1960s or 1970s Ireland, the exasperated judge would often give you the choice of doing a six-month stint in jail or a year in the army.

We aren’t exactly what you’d call a belligerent country – if Ireland had been involved in the Gulf War we would’ve sent snowploughs – so a spell in the army always sounded like a bit of a holiday camp to me. But then again, isn’t that what they always accuse the prisons of being? You start to see now why we need a death penalty for all offences, except software piracy.

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It doesn’t matter if I fire blanks, I’ll still miss

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Doom (1993)

Up until now, I’ve always felt somewhat unqualified to talk about shooter games. Yes, I was able to write about Perfect Dark, but that was moreso because the protagonist is a lady. And I know quite a bit about ladies, having tipped my fedora towards many in my time. I’ve also gotten up to some other pretty manly pursuits, like flying planes and bombing it around in go-karts and doing arts and crafts. What I had never done before, however, was fire a gun.

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Do you think James Bond ever had to walk to Gate 999?

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James Bond 007: Nightfire (2002)

I was once told that a big advantage of working in the corporate retail environment is that “you get to meet new and interesting people every day”. I’m sorry, but to me, that is hell on earth. It was bad enough speaking to them over the phone. I couldn’t imagine having hateful negotiations with suppliers and wholesalers in my office, while they pretend to enjoy being in my company, alls so I can cut 2 cent off the price of a box of tablespoons so my department would save a hundred quid extra that month.

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Picture Jerry Seinfeld, painted blue and with spiky hair

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Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)

I make sure to tell everyone who listens that I’m a 90s baby. And believe me, there are some ghastly pretenders out there who’ll call themselves 80s or 90s babies – even when they were born in December ‘99. These fools don’t even remember the Y2K bug, for heaven’s sake. Although I don’t remember any kind of bug like that either, to be honest. Something about the clocks in computers being all wrong. How’s that something worthy of global panic? They should have a word with my microwave oven, if they wanna know all about incorrect times. Fancy some nuclear sausage rolls?

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Black Mages are promoted to their level of incompetency

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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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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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Building the Best Pokémon Team (Part 15)

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Building the Best Pokémon Team (Part 15)

I’ll say this for Generation 3, they sure gave us a whole heap of new Pokémon, over 130 new boys and girls and Claydols to get acquainted with. And unlike Generation 2, which barely even showed you a nipslip of its new Pokémon, Hoenn invited you backstage to a strip show with everything on display.

Everywhere you looked it was bouncing Spoinks and smooth Lunatones and horny Solrocks and thick Wailords. It threw its Pokémon in your face until you couldn’t breathe, and the Gen 1 Pokémon waiting for you at home suddenly looked so bookish and librarian and frumpy in comparison. You know what I mean?

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Building the Best Pokémon Team (Part 14)

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Building the Best Pokémon Team (Part 14)

Toerags, Titanics and thunderous crying – it’s a pretty diverse range of emotions below, to match the pretty diverse range of Pokémon available to you in the Hoenn region. Don’t count your chickens now, because there’s still a zillion water Pokémon to get through in the Hoenn Dex. And in later regions, we obviously have to acquaint ourselves with the fact that there are rubbish bags, ice creams and carkeys all vying for a spot on our team. Next to guys like those, your Minuns and your Volbeats don’t look so bad, do they…? Ah, don’t answer that.

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Wearing a beret to school makes everybody want to be your friend, trust me

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The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (2004)

When I were a younger lad, I tried very much to make hats and caps ‘happen’ for me. I was a proud owner of this naff baseball cap with Sampdoria on the front, an Italian football team that were successful in the early 90s – I was a football hipster before there were football hipsters. I’ve tried several beanie hats over the years, but never got much success out of them what with my humongous head. They did fit my head, of course, with a bit of stretching, but the end result was ridiculous. You can’t keep all of that head bate underneath a small canopy of wool. It’ll burst and tear, or look like a crater on your celestial bonce, and you’ll be left with hat-hair everywhere. There was even a time when I wore a Parisian beret to school every day. As you can expect, that one won me loads of friends.

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It’s not easy being the best portable racer around

F-Zero Maximum Velocity

F-Zero: Maximum Velocity (2001)

Can you claim to be the best in the world at any game out there? It’s tougher than you’d think. You probably reckon that you’re the only one that’s played Super Formation Soccer ‘96 for Super Famicom, but you’re crazy if you think you’ll even get to the last 64 of a tournament for that game in a Japanese tournament. I know what it’s like to be a failed athlete because, despite having played GoldenEye 007 in my childhood for more hours than God was sending, I was still nowhere near the top. Not even top 50,000. And this means that I never got to join the pro-circuit, the GoldenEye circus, travelling the world with the other pros and playing each other in thrilling deathmatches for megamoney.

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