A war’s brewing, you say? The country’s on fire? I ain’t your guy, then

Fire Emblem Gaiden (1992)

It’s all going nuts again. Geopolitically, I mean. Of course, even that sentence doesn’t date this piece too badly – a headline like “Tensions mount in Middle East” could be on any online news outlet since the mid 90s and still be relevant. For today’s purposes, let’s just say that the Taliban are at it again. I wonder if they’ll still be at it in 20 years time? Or will there even be a 20 years time, because it gives you a right frightenener down the jacksy when those boys are at it, America and Russia are responding (the UK tries to pop up but deliberately gets ignored) and then suddenly fingers begin hovering over the big red button.

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Looking for a puzzler on the go? Just take your Pic

Mario’s Picross (1995)

You know you’re getting pretty goshdarned by-gum old when you’re getting a bit excited by puzzles. I’ve been well into the cryptic crosswords lately, the easy ones of course. My brain nearly melted right out of my ears the last time I tried to tackle a Guardian cryptic. Talk about hard, just how many viagras can you stuff down a crossword puzzle’s throat? Enough to give it a stiff neck, that’s what.

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There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a woman in the depths of an Animal Crossing binge.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2020)

If you’re sitting out there in a loving relationship, no major tiffs every other day and the two of you are only slightly dysfunctional, then congratulations, I am genuinely happy for you. Singletons, fear not, because there are a lot more unhappy relationships out there than you might realise. And we’re all growing up now, “adulting” as some particularly childminded people might say, so the causes of strain and conflict are more mature now. It’s a bit more than her asking you whose bra this is, or you asking her why your last whazz nearly set the shower curtain on fire.

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Pubmaster Burkey does his best to ensure everyone is here

Super Smash Bros Ultimate

Super Smash Bros Ultimate (2018)

It’s quite the event on the social calendar, you know, and I take great pride in organising it every year, or at least on the years when people can be bothered with it. It quickly becomes front-page news, with everyone talking about it, and I’m ashamed to say some lewd scenes and paparazzi photographs have made it to the back pages on occasion.

Everyone is welcome, but if you haven’t got the stamina for it then you’ll find yourself left behind in an instant. Make it to the end though, and you can take great pride in the fact that there are not many who’ve achieved what you just have. I’m talking, of course, about the 12 Pubs of Christmas.

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Ladies and gentlemen, class and decorum have left the building

Animal Crossing (2004)

Just like you can never really know what your workmates are gonna be like until you’re deeply entrenched in the low-pay grind with them, it’s pretty difficult to consciously choose your neighbours. Mind you, in this day and age you can at least go onto local neighbourhood watch pages on social media and do a quick search for the street or estate you plan to move into. If there’s barely any mentions of your desired area on there, then your children will be able to practice the dulcimer and eat their activated almonds in peace. But if your finger gets tired scrolling through all of the reports of anti-social behaviour, your home life will shape up like a scene from the Walking Dead.

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I’m the best penalty taker in the world… on paper

Paper Mario (2001)

So, do you have a happiest memory in your life? Maybe I’m just depressed, but for me, it’s harder than one might think to come up with memories or days that stick out as being overwhelmingly happy ones. I know we’re supposed to say our wedding days, or the day we graduated from college or something. Or the moment we lost our virginity. But what sticks out ahead of all these is usually a particularly great night out with all your pals present – or even better, a pizza fuelled house party where everyone’s there.

Harry Potter enthusiasts will know that the method of combating the Dementor creatures is to conjure up a very happy memory, and somehow turn that memory into a spirit animal that chases the shadowy demons of depression away. I remember reading that and thinking that I’d be bang in trouble if I ever needed to do that. Ask yourself, what moment would you draw from?

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Toffee breaks ’em down, whether they’re solid or frail

sonic adventure

Sonic Adventure (1999)

I’ve done it. I survived my recent set of trips to the dentist, the first in about 8 years. Nothing short of a medical emergency brings a man back to the dentist after 8 years, but things got desperate. Not to disgust you too much, but one of my fillings popped out of my mouth, with the telltale ping of an M1 Garand. Well, it wasn’t so dramatic as that, but it’s a bloody weird feeling when it happens.

I wasn’t too bothered with that, though. I’m a hard man, of course, so any sort of discomfort from my teeth was just something to be treated like a pitiful challenge to my godlike body. A computer not doing what it’s told, an email that I wouldn’t answer, a teeny electric shock from an appliance. Something that a man needs to be bigger than.

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Could it have all gone differently for Brazil, if they’d had Wario up front…?

Mario Strikers Charged Football (2007)

I have my own theory on football obsession, or soccer to you sceptic Septics. Being crazy into football when you’re a young kid and teenager is absolutely no problem at all, it’s quite understandable. And even as you get longer in the tooth, football is always handy as a universal men’s language, something to awkwardly discuss at surface level with the other henpecked dads at the next kid’s birthday party you both get bullied into attending.

I must say though, and here’s my theory – if you’re over the age of say, 20 or 21, and you’re still obsessed with football, to the point that your team getting a bad result ruins your entire weekend, then I’m sorry, but this is an admittance that you have absolutely no sex life. After all, there’s better things to be doing of a Saturday and Sunday. And let’s face it, you’re probably a plastic supporter of a mega-club anyway, which means you might as well be watching the share price battle between Coca-Cola versus Pepsi – and at least those two don’t change their ingredients every six months.

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Stick all your money on Wario, he’s a dead cert

Wario Land II (1998 / 1999)

Having not had any kind of proper gambling in my life since I was 18, and even that was a measly forty quid. Although let me tell you, it wasn’t measly at the time, in fact it was about 3 nights out. Don’t times change? But once I lost all the dough in my betting account – they wouldn’t let me withdraw any winnings until I’d provided photo ID, the cheeky snakes – I decided to become all boring and conservative, or at least more boring and conservative than usual, and never gamble again.

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Trust me when I say, there’s no reason to time-travel back to ’93

Mario’s Time Machine (1993)

There’s one very simple, selfish reason why I don’t want time-travel to be invented; because it just wrecks all credibility in any given story. Honestly, if fiction has taught us anything, it’s that if you introduce time travel to your book, film or pornographic magazine, there’s no coming back from it. They did time travel in Harry Potter, and it was a nonsense, all kinds of new plot holes everywhere until J.K. Rowling sensibly had the Time Turners destroyed entirely.

They brought time travel into Artemis Fowl as well, although this was a few books after the initial craze had died down, and the Disney-backed film was so badly thought out that time travel may even have saved it, if we could have only gone back in time and destroyed the workprints first.

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