Nowt like a bit of grinding to make you go all hard-headed

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Dragon Quest (1986)

Now please believe me: I’d love to spend my days and nights playing only the very best games, the champagne titles, properly sinking 200 or more hours into your Witchers, your GTAs, your Breath of the Wilds, even your Saints Rows. Alas, I’m cursed to play games from all walks of life. I’ve got this first world problem of owning too many games consoles, which means that I’ve got access to a wide range of games, and that’s before you even get to emulators. So when you see that I’ve written a piece on the original Dragon Quest, AKA Dragon Warrior, I know you want to tut, roll your eyes and ask why I’ve bothered. Well, put it this way – at least you can press Back, or you can read on and be finished in a few minutes. Dragon Quest 1 took seven hours from me.

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Iron Mike’s gonna rip out your heart and feed it to the racists

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Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (1987)

They say sport is the great equaliser, and when it’s as accessible and universal as football, I have to agree. And give sport its dues, it helped break down a lot of race barriers. You’ll still get bananas thrown onto football pitches by knuckle-dragger fans. But as moronic as that is, how does that stack up against Muhammad Ali standing up to the white United States government and telling them he had no quarrel with them Viet Cong?

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My dear Dr. Jekyll has several personalities, and they’re all terrible

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1989) 

The ‘Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ is no strange case at all. We all know the ending by now, of course, since it’s become a byword for every bipolar ex you’ve ever been with. The novella itself isn’t much to write home about. It’s nineteenth century, and set in Victorian London, so it’s all stiff upper lips and gollys, and my butler’s given me the incorrect fork for my liver and onions.

“Crivvens, Mr. Utterson, mayhaps I heard you ruminating in the drawing room” “I say, I wonder why you seem to be associated with a monstrous individual?” “Pray we shall speak no more of this” “I understand, old friend, though I don’t seem to be able to put two and two together for love nor farthings” – all that lark.

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The NES is like heroin, and not in a good way

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Nintendo Entertainment System (1987)

To paraphrase Gordon Gekko, retro, for lack of a better word, is good. Retro is right, retro works. Retro clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the gaming spirit. Retro, in all of its forms; retro for life, for money, for love, for knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind. Retro is what sells, and everybody wants to be retro.

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Put me in your best high heels, and I’d do no better

Metroid

Metroid (1988)

I saw a recent picture of Heather Locklear the other day and it was a sad sight, readers, a sad sight. You get this idea in your head that someone like Heather would be what you’d call ‘infinitely attractive’. As in, even after a thousand years, with the polar ice caps fully melted and we’re living in Water World, you’d still get Heather herself cutting about and looking head and shoulders above everybody else. I must sadly report that these days she’s a bit of a mess of collagen, puppy fat and wrinkly eyes, and her bolt is well and truly shot. I suppose it’s an unfortunate fact of life – everybody eventually declines with age. Everybody except Kylie, of course.

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If only they’d dropped Mario cartridges on Pearl Harbour instead

Super Mario Bros Logo

Super Mario Bros. (1987)

I won’t bore you to death on the whole video game crash, blah blah blah, E.T. wrecked the whole thing and all of that other stuff. History was the most boring of school subjects as we know, and anyway, the whole event is pretty much the first thing a prospective gaming YouTuber searches for on Wikipedia, before delivering a webcam filmed lecture about it with jumpy editing. Suffice to say, we had an awful lot of terrible “games” (and I’m talking, less impressive than interactive DVD menus) in the late 70s and early 80s.

I’m not just talking about clag that delivers less than 5 seconds of enjoyment either. Even ‘clag’ is too weak a word for games like Custer’s Revenge, or Beat ‘Em and Eat ‘Em. It was this kind of rubbish that was being sold, morse code graphics and all, into households at premium rates. Eventually the poor old gaming camel took one too many straws to the back, that straw being E.T., and over it went. Electronic TV games were a fad that had come, stank up the place a bit, and now they were gone.

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Top 5 NES Games

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Burkey’s Top 5 NES Games (2019)

The NES, the first bastion of retro goodness – its lively 8-bit chiptunes are as homely as tea by the fire and an Easy Sunday roast. The NES has almost become the retro badge of honour, or even the acid test: you may remember playing Streets of Rage or Tekken against friends, and laugh with a trace of embarrassment to others about it years later. But those games simply don’t dig deep enough into the retro enclaves. A question has to be asked to separate the retro-enthusiast wheat from the chaff: are u old skool enuf for NES?

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The moustache saved him four tenths a lap

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Nigel Mansell’s World Championship Racing (1992 / 1993)

When people ask me who my favourite Formula 1 driver is, to a man (because women never seem interested in asking) they are all amazed when I say Nigel Mansell. By any measure, he is a terrible choice. Why not someone like Nelson Piquet? He was wild, and said what he want. What about Niki Lauda, God rest him, who came back from the dead in 1976? And James Hunt, whose reputation precedes him. Or, from the modern day, big fan favourites like Kimi and Daniel Ricciardo. Stacked up against these characters, Our Nige’s famously boring persona gets magnified and made to look all the more dreary. So why him?

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Nobody dresses up like Frankenstein’s Monster anymore

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Castlevania (1988)

So what’s happened to all the good horror films, then? I wasn’t around for the 1970s, which is probably just as well because I’d have slipping in my own stools at some of the films. If it wasn’t Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it was The Exorcist. Actually, I watched The Exorcist at a far too young age, since me and my pals had heard it was the scariest movie ever made – but honestly, it’s fine.

It’s dated really, the effects and all. I won’t pretend our dungarees didn’t crumple a bit at the scene where she legs it down the stairs crab-style and makes this horrendous sound, blood going everywhere. But honestly, we’d all blown away something just like it in Resident Evil 2 that very day. We handled The Exorcist better than my mother and her pal who snuck into the cinema to watch it, anyway – the moment Tubular Bells started up, they screamed to high heaven and ran out the door.

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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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