Sonic Battle (2003)
The steep decline and near-death experience that the Sonic the Hedgehog series went through occurred at roughly the same time that I went to school. From that period of 2003-2009, the series trajectory went a bit like that one really steep fall in Spring Yard Zone. All in that period, you had Sonic Heroes, where the rot started; Shadow the Hedgehog, which I’ve spoken about and has now become genuinely hilarious; Sonic 06, which is infamously bad and which I really must pick up one of these days; and a glut of rubbish for the Wii after that. Running concurrently with all this was the the 4Kids-poisoned Sonic X series. And somewhere amongst all of this was one of the most affronting spinoffs, Sonic Battle for Game Boy Advance.
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Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (1995)
I want you to sit back and see if you can think of your earliest memory. I’m not asking this in the hopes of you giving me your accounts, photos or videos of being breastfed – although if you do, please send them to the usual address. It’s just interesting, isn’t it? You may very well have memories of yourself from back when you were a crying, gibbering, clumsy, self-defecating mess, and I mean from before you turned drinking age. No matter how great you are today, you know that squawking child that caused irritation to every member of the public in a 400-yard radius and prompted mass tutting and unspoken, polite disapproval? That was you that was, and we all hated you.
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Super Mario World (1992)
I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret – I love emulating games, I simply love it. I can’t get enough of the stuff. Configuring BIOS, downloading Good ROM sets, jailbreaking modern consoles to get the bogey games up and running, come at me. I mean I love collecting the actual legal physical games as well, but would I be unreasonable to suggest that ROMs and emulators are the best invention since sliced bread and recordable television?
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Fire Emblem (2004)
It mightn’t much fit my macho image, but I can tell you without any hesitation or modesty that I’m one heckuva chess player. OK, I haven’t played against a human, an AI opponent or even against myself in the last ten years or so. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still kick some ebony or ivory behind if war broke out and the main fighting weaponry turned out to be chess pieces.
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Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town (2004)
On the rare occasions when I find myself forced to go rural, it’s no surprise that the whole experience makes me get down on my hands and knees and thank the urban gods that I wasn’t born out in the sticks. Let me explain: in Ireland, there are 4, maybe 5 cities, and the rest is just sheep-infested fields and high smelling turds. Our well-renowned greens are not always full of four-leaved clovers, I’m afraid – it’s far more likely to be hay and mad farmers instead. Drive too far in the wrong direction and suddenly civilisation dries up, there isn’t a streetlight or road marking to be seen and massive tractors are hurtling towards you at seemingly impossible speeds. Welcome to the jungle.
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Mother 3 (2006/2008)
It’s one of the most natural and dangerous human instincts we possess: we all want what we can’t have. And we PAL gamers ought to know this – after all, how else was I going to react to the news that Super Noah’s Ark 3D and Mahjong 64 wouldn’t be making it to Dublin? So wrapped up in my carnal desire for these games was I that I didn’t even know what an EarthBound was until I kept getting battered by some tubheaded kid called Ness in Super Smash Bros.
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Mortal Kombat Advance (2002)
It’s crazy to think about, but when I look back on my days in primary school (where kids would be roughly the ages of 8 to 13), I can remember there being a brawl in the schoolyard almost every day without fail. And it’d always be the same: we’d all be sitting about in the freezing cold in our respective groups, showing each other how to trigger Missingno. or comparing Simpsons pogs which briefly made a faddy reappearance in my town (my favourite was the vaguely sinister naked Bart Simpsons complete with shiny gold finish).
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