Middle-aged monkeys moving to Mark Morrison’s music

Donkey Kong Country Returns (2010)

God, they warned me this would happen. I’m 32 this year and, while mercifully I haven’t degraded to a broken down ould fossil like some, and I’ve even managed to hold on to most of my hair, I can admit it – time is speeding up for me at a bloody alarming rate. It won’t be long now until I’ve got tubes up my nice, hairs in my ears and God knows what up my bum, and I’m racing towards the light, thinking “where did my life go…?”

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Mario sleepwalks us through another money-printing cookie cutter

New Super Mario Bros. 2 (2012)

I’m trying to remember the last time I put absolutely no effort into something, but I couldn’t be bothered engaging my memory for long enough to uncover it. I think you can already tell where I’m going with this piece, but I will say, it’s a wonderful feeling when you go past caring and just decided to drop out completely.

I had that with college, you know, and it was really just a natural progression. The timetable they gave me was something ridiculous like only 11 hours a week, which I took as licence not to turn up at all. After all, the less teaching hours there are, the easier it is to cram. We’d get to exam time and I’d see all these triers and achievers stressing out like crazy. I never really liked the feeling of being stressed, so I just never bothered putting myself under any of it. Besides, I don’t think colleges can fail you anyway, so long as you turn up on the last day. Turning up was, after all, the bare minimum, and I’m always happy to do the bare minimum.

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Live the life of a raccoon, this time in fuzzy 3D

Super Mario 3D Land (2011)

I think we’re all prone to those most dastardly bursts of motivation that strike every so often. You’ll just be sat there, another completely listless, fruitless, pointless day, when you suddenly realise that you are wasting your life and you won’t get another. This could frighten even the most inert sloth into action, and these moments can be triggered by all kinds of menacing sources. These days, you usually get jolted by social media, but that’s something I avoid as much as possible these days so as not to have it rubbed in my face by the Joneses – I suggest you do likewise.

It’s our pesky brains that are to blame, I’m sure of it, secreting some miserable hormone that makes us hate ourselves for not having achieved anything that day. We shouldn’t worry though; I imagine by the time we all hit 40, we’ll realise that, whatever we wanted out of life, it’s not gonna happen for us and we can just become a husk until we’re gracefully told to retire, and go off and die like an old dog.

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Matchmakers these days may find themselves in for a rude Awakening

Fire Emblem Awakening (2013)

I saw a chart the other day which suggested that, as of 2018, almost 40% of people met their partners online, up from the 0.1% of high-tech loonies who did so in 1990. Of course this increase has taken a chunk out of the figures of those couples who met through mutual friends, a figure which has declined to 20% and is still plummeting.

This is a bit of a shame for me, as I’ve always seemed to have a knack for matchmaking. There seemed to be a time when I was always the bridesmaid and never the bride, setting up relationships but never getting an old consolation snog myself, a sort of sweetener for the deal. Don’t they say that the art of good business is being a good middleman? That’s where the returns are, or so you’d think.

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Burkey’s waiting patiently for a Pokémon game where you don’t have to talk to anyone

Pokémon Sun and Moon (2016)

No psychiatrist has ever managed to catch me and pin me to their long sofa yet, and if I valued my continued liberty to live my life outside of an asylum, then I’d better keep it that way. I will give you one psychological nugget (surprisingly not the best type of nugget out there) though. Not because I’m terribly arrogant enough to believe you really care what’s going on in my head, not at all. It’s just to give the police a bit of a clue if ever I’m wanted for murder.

Simply put, I am introverted to an incredible degree. Anyone with any level of introversion will recognise at once the idea of recharging one’s batteries after social interactions. Being introverted doesn’t mean you have to be a shrinking wallflower, a strong and silent type or even, God forbid, a boring prat. You can be the life and soul of the party if you like, but you better believe you’ll need that recharge period, that blessed bit of alone time when it comes.

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“It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years with the mice and sheep”

Animal Crossing: New Leaf (2013)

My last stint at running a city went rather badly. I cared little for the opinion polls, which were grossly misinformed. The pollution and crime were natural by-products of a bustling, modern city. You never hear people criticising Las Vegas do you? My decision to genocide my townsfolk is what really did for me. After having been tried and very nearly convicted of crimes against humanity, it was decided that I would avoid 1,008 years in prison if I promised to never run a town of people ever again.

I needed some group to bully in order to fill my days though, so I took the midnight train towards Cunnyton, a hopeless little berg located far away from human civilisation. So far away in fact that I’d be the only human sod there, a fact brought home to me by the strange cat who began Gestapo questioning me on the train. I swiftly informed him that I was the only totalitarian around here and that he should watch himself. Never saw him again.

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Come along for a guided tour down a gradual Pokédecline

Pokémon X and Y (2013)

I have to wonder what it’s like for those famous people who have completely outgrown their friend group on their way to greatness. It’s happened to me a lot, actually. That is, people around me go on to find success and meanwhile I’m still finding farts funny, especially when I wake myself up with them.

There must be some dreadfully awkward scenarios where the superstar becomes temporarily embarrassed; after having been whisked away into the world of fame and fortune and adulation, they suddenly have to re-face their old childhood.

All those embarrassing moments, when the ordinaries treated you like a peer, all coming back to haunt you at once. Take noted treacherous Sassenach Graham Norton for example. He’s actually from the same neck of the woods as me, but he’d never tell you this himself. In fact, if you transported him right now to my hometown, you’d probably hear the screams from space.

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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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A wild Ian Beale draws near! Phil Mitchell attacks with the Toilet Flush! Critical Hit!

dragon quest 7

Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past (2001)

And now for something completely different, something that might shock and frighten you: I like to watch soaps. It’s probably unwise of me to jump into soap discussion alongside mature women, but it’s always a good talking point, right? The show just always goes on with soaps, and the lure of watching the mundane on television seems to be incredibly strong for humans – see Big Brother, Jersey Shore, Love Island and their derivatives for other depressing examples.

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What’s pocket-sized, bundles of fun and never out of a young man’s hands?

Pokemon GSC

Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal (2001)

I was cleaning out my room the other day, always a thankless task that ends up getting cut short by many a distraction. You’d need a team of top archaeologists to sift through everything in my room, and even if they got past the first few layers of clothes, they’d have to resort to using proper Carbon-14 dating to detail everything else that’s buried in here.

On this occasion, I found my first ever mobile phone: a Mitsubishi Trium Geo flip phone. It’d probably still be working too, if I’d had the charger for it. Actually, I’m surprised it wasn’t still holding on to an inkling of battery. This was a phone from the days when they were designed to last through a nuclear war, if they had to. Well, let’s be fair – their large battery packs didn’t need to power highly complex operating systems, architecture and dozens of applications. Still, WAP was a pretty intense deal, right?

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