Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! (2018)
The year was 1999, and Pokémon did what the Catholic Church could no longer do – got an ecclesiastical grip on children up and down the country (wait a minute, let me edit that one). Even as toothless simpleton kids, we were able to get on with the fact that Pokémon weren’t real and they were never going to poof into existence. It was just a sad fact of life. Big shame though, not having Pokémon all around us. Didn’t matter that the world was already full of thousands of beautiful creatures of all kinds of different species, waiting for us to learn all about them, maybe even help save them from extinction. No no, we wanted them to breathe fire and shoot water cannons, and we each wanted six of our own.
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Mad Max (2015)
A few years ago, I happened to see the new Tom Hardy flick, Mad Max: Fury Road in cinemas. It seemed to have drummed up a fairly substantial amount of hype, so on we plodded to see it. It had all kinds of rave reviews, looked destined for quite a few Oscar nominations, the lot.
Four hours later, having watched a man and a few hangers-on exchange dialogue that didn’t make any kind of sense, drive across a vast desert and keep teasing a big action sequence without ever delivering, the credits finally rolled. Myself and my pals were pretty much left speechless, wondering was this just a fake-out before the film actually began, before one flat Dublin accent behind me opined, “All that for a bit of water?!?”
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Sim City (SNES)
After my gig at running theme parks all ended in tears (quite literally, in the case of the nigh-on 500 children who bore the brunt of that exploding roller-coaster), I thought my days of planning and construction were over. I had managed to swerve the law on that occasion, because on the islands we operated from there wasn’t any law. But unfortunately my space-world theme park went up in flames and took my job with it, and so it was back to the dole for me. It’s tough on the dole, let me tell you, a tough plate to keep spinning. Don’t listen to the naysayers, the ones who call us scroungers. It’s a 24/7 type of affair.
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Mega Man X2 (1995)
One thing from the cartoons that I’ve always wanted to do, apart from being able to travel the world with Misty and Brock, is to float towards food. You know, the succulent smell of a pork roast wafts over to Hector the Bulldog as he rests in his kennel. Eyes closed, nose in the air, expectant smile on his mush, he levitates majestically towards the grub. He might even still be asleep while he’s doing this, a floating toasty cinnamon bun with a rumbling stomach. Then he gets to where the food is, and something terribly disappointing happens. An explosion in his face perhaps, or the house falls down or Tweety throws boiling water all over him.
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Legend of Zelda, The: Oracle of Ages (2001)
I’ve already done a spiel on the changing of the seasons in my look at The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons. In it, I mentioned how Ireland pretty well has two seasons, cold and less cold, and lately we seem to be getting hit by an awful lot of storms and genuinely lethal weather. After all, picture yourself in a rural cottage, ready to sit down by the fire with a hearty mug of tea. Then suddenly the wind of the gods blows all your roof-tiles away and spits a load of asbestos in your face.
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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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Gaelic Games Football (2005)
Whenever people laugh at me for buying Ashes Cricket for the PS3, I’m quick to remind them that my plight is much worse than that, for I own Gaelic Games Football for the PlayStation 2. The PS2 by my conservative estimate has around 400,000 games in its library. I don’t know how any mad fool could ever hope to collect each and every single one of them, and you can be sure that there are plenty of people out there with more money than sense attempting to do exactly that. FIFAs 2001 through 2014 in a row must look great on the shelves I suppose. My takeaway from all this is that game development for the PS2 must have been as easy to get into and as accessible as fetish pornography, and the unfortunate end result of this is that some Irish programmers out there got on the turps and decided it was a great idea to make a Gaelic Football game.
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The Revenge of Shinobi (1990)
It was a tearful experience for me when I realised that ninja was not a viable career path. I couldn’t even choose to study it in college. Basket weaving yes. Harry Potter yes. Even sociology, yes. But no modules on shurikens, ninjutsus, swordplay, kais, nunchuks, jet black clothing… they’re all massive gaps in my knowledge to this day. Uncle Monty wistfully made his eventual conclusion that he would never play the Dane. And I too had to come to terms with the sad fact that I would never be a Shinobi.
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Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (2003)
“OK, class, get into groups of 3 or 4” – words from a teacher more fearsome than the usual guff they give you. I didn’t mind being told by the teacher that I had detention, or that I was to see them after class, or that the lock on the boy’s changing room was double-bolted and I could scream as loud as I liked because nobody was coming to help me. But teamwork? Find a group of people willing to come together and work in harmony? Leave it out. It’s always a dreadful affair – if the teacher places you into random groups, you could be put alongside a group of drongos, or worse still, ambitious people who are hunting to get an A+. And they’ll get that goddam A+ if it means slitting your throat from ear to ear.
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Tales of Symphonia (2004)
I’m sure that this is one of those nostalgic things that everyone can legitimately try to claim for themselves, but I reckon I could easily be justified in saying that the 90s was the Golden Age for cartoons – even ahead of the mighty 80s and whenever it was that Catch the Pigeon first aired. Then, at any given time, you could find the best voice artists in ‘the business’ strutting their vocal stuff for the kids too “sick” to go to school and for the unemployed kids-at-heart to enjoy.
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