Alpha males are born, not manufactured in robotic laboratories

Mega_Man_X4_logo

Mega Man X4 (1997)

It’s a competitive time to be a man, and you might be well aware that there’s nothing more fragile than the male ego. As a man, you may have had occasions in your life where you found yourself at risk of looking small or weak, and you had to fight back – like those impassioned little terrier dogs you see causing a ruckus, or when Napoleon started running amuck in Europe. And as a woman, you may have borne witness to your boyfriend making a right show of himself, after some well-hung hunk tried to chat you up. A man lives in fear that the bigger fish, the more dominant alpha male, will be along very shortly to prey on him. And when it happens, you just have to take your licks.

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I wish the Dark Queen would whip me every day

Battletoads

Battletoads (NES) (1993)

I always thought I’d fancy a bit of sado-masochism, whips and chains and all that. It sounds right up my alley, until I realised that you sort of have to get hurt or hurt other people yourself to get anything from it. I’m more of a delicate care bear, you know, and despite my famously rugged exterior I’m actually quite a softie. I’ve had handshakes where I thought I got rough treatment, and I’m the type of person to say “Sorry” when they bump right into me. If I see any kind of bruise coming up on my leg, I fret for days. This doesn’t make me a real man, I’m aware, but at least my skin stays nice and soft and unwhipped. Anyway, who wants to be tied-up when there’s yoga to be done?

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I coulda been a game dev contender

Donkey_Kong_Country_logo

Donkey Kong Country (1994)

Game design. The one thing that we’ve always wanted to do. Well, not all of us. Most young lads growing up wanted to be footballers or astronauts of course, but I was aware of my limitations early. As a result, even in my most wildly unrealistic fantasies, I was still essentially a no-name code monkey. Isn’t that sad?

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

The_Legend_of_Zelda_The_Minish_Cap

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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Fancy hanging out with Zero? Just remortgage your house first

Mega_Man_X3_logo

Mega Man X3 (1996)

When people ask me how I believe the world is going to end, my cold, dead heart says that it’ll be as a result of some Terminator 2-esque nuclear nightmare. However, my head knows the real suss – and not only that, my head is hugely surprised that it hasn’t happened yet. Simply put, a rapidly spreading virus, some horrendous man-made biological weapon, is going to get released from a lab whether by mistake or not. It’ll spread like wildfire, but it’ll be one of those invisible fires like you get when alcohol burns. So you’ll be sat down, about to tuck into your Yorkshire pudd, when suddenly you get an instant waft of the sequel to Sarin gas that’ll do you ten times as fast as any piddly carbon monoxide poisoning. Sounds like a decent way to go out, right?

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Just let me reach for my Viagra Prime

Metroid Prime

Metroid Prime (2003)

I don’t usually get blown sideways by these cute pop culture comparisons that are meant to make me suddenly feel old. I already told you that I’ve had grey hair since about age 15. I have a properly lived-in face. I’m often to be found drinking Smithwick’s. I am old, there’s no way you can surprise me with anything. That was, until a throwaway YouTube comment had me nearly spitting out my Viagra and Deep Heat soup – Metroid Prime’s release date is closer to the original Metroid on NES than it is to today. And a slight detail that seemed to compound the pain tenfold – that was true as of 2018, never mind 2019.

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If your Growlithe doesn’t tear children apart on sight, then forget about it

Pokemon Stadium

Pokémon Stadium (2000)

One thing that always amazed me about the Pokémon series is that, for all the controversy it garnered from things like causing seizures or being satanic or requiring you to buy 50 games to catch ‘em all, nobody ever really seemed to care that it was essentially about pitting two cute animals into a fight to the finish with each other.

I think it’s rather easy to draw comparisons with Pokémon and that film Amores Perros – if you want to become a serious, competitive Pokémon battler, then you’ll be doing much the same thing as those vicious muchachos: breeding Mons in foul conditions, slaughtering those whose genes won’t quite cut it, drugging up the best monster you have and forcing it to battle almost from the moment it’s born. If it wins, great: you get the plaudits while the beast gets the larrups. If it loses… the slaughter begins anew.

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Mario’s lost all hope, and all for want of an A-press

Super_Mario_64

Super Mario 64 (1997)

Do you ever feel like you’re putting too much effort into a game? A bit too much time min-maxing, or playing online, until your Steam account says you’ve been playing Team Fortress 2 like there isn’t gonna be internet tomorrow? Do you ever sit back and wonder what it was all for? I don’t, because my approach to playing games these days, as there are so many and I’m cursed with bundles of disposable income, is to leave them on the shelf in their cellophane wrapping. Occasionally I’ll feel a bit guilty, and load up some AAA game of the month like God of War, and give it a whole 30 minutes of play. And 23 of those minutes are spent waiting for it to finish installing.

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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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R-Type is the series that says goodbye to everyone at a party twice

rtypefinal

R-Type Final (2004)

A performer needs to know when to bow out. There’s nothing worse than seeing an aged, washed-up athlete who just won’t admit it to themselves that they have reached ‘The End’. Their legs have gone, mentally they’re no longer that vital step or two ahead, they can no longer last the distance. No matter how prime an athlete they once were, time eventually caught up to them, as it always does. They just haven’t accepted that cruel fact yet.

It’s not just the sportspeople either – it seems all of show business suffers from a reluctance to accept that their day in the sun is long over. This has to be true, otherwise the Rolling Stones wouldn’t have embarked on their sixth Worldwide Farewell Tour. They even came to Ireland, for God’s sake. And as my grandad always observed, they only come here when they’re finished.

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